Emerald Bound by Teresa Richards

Emerald Bound by Teresa Richards
Emerald Bound by Teresa Richards
Publisher: Evernight Publishing Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (233 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

A princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses. This is the sliver that survives of a story more nightmare than fairytale…

Maggie Rhodes, high school junior and semi-reformed stalker, learns the tale’s true roots after a spying attempt goes awry and her best friend Kate ends up as the victim of an ancient curse. At the center of the curse lies an enchanted emerald that has been residing quietly in a museum for the past fifty years. Admirers of the gem have no idea that it feeds on life. Or that it’s found its next victim in Kate.

Enter Lindy, a school acquaintance who knows more than she’s letting on, and Garon, a handsome stranger claiming he knows how to help, and Maggie is left wondering who to trust and how to save her best friend before it’s too late.

If only Maggie knew her connection to the fairy tale was rooted far deeper than an endangered best friend.

Magic isn’t always used with good intentions. Would you be able to sense when it was being used to do something terrible?

The world building was extremely well done. It involved complicated backstories for more than one character as well as a long and tangled history of the enchanted emerald. I always knew exactly what was going on, though, because the narrators spent so much time showing how everything fit together. This was especially handy later on in the plot when I needed to remember small details that had been briefly mentioned earlier. Thanks to the author’s spellbinding writing style, this wasn’t a problem for me in the least. If this is any indication of Ms. Richards’ ability to whip up such memorable scenes, I will be quite interested to see what she comes up with next!

My only criticism has to do with the romantic subplot. While I appreciated how much time was put into developing it, it never blended into the storyline the way all of the other subplots did. The characters involved in it had so many other things going on in their lives that I was surprised to see either of them showing interest in any sort of romance. The chemistry between them also didn’t gel for me because of how divided their attention was between the romance and the rest of their lives. This would have been a logical and satisfying premise for a sequel if the author ever writes one, but it didn’t make sense to pursue it so soon.

There’s something to be said for a mystery that doesn’t reveal many clues at first. I’m the kind of reader who enjoys being challenged when I’m reading this genre, so I was fascinated by the small number of clues that the characters had to work with in the beginning. It was nice to be able to concentrate on them for a while before any more hints were added. As much as I adored everything else that was going on with this book, figuring out the mystery was by far my favorite part of it all.

Emerald Bound kept me glued to the page from beginning to end. This is a great choice for anyone who enjoys modern twists on classic fairy tales as much as I do.

Amanda in England: The Missing Novel by Darlene Foster

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Amanda in England: The Missing Novel by Darlene Foster
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (118 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Amanda Ross is visiting England and taking in all the sights. She gets lost in the maze at Hampton Court, does some shopping at Harrods, meets the ravens in the Tower of London, explores Windsor Castle, and rides the London Eye. When she discovers a vintage book is missing from a collection, she is determined to find out who stole it. Amanda befriends a pair of tough teenagers from the streets of London, an elderly bookshop owner, and a big, friendly, clever, Maine Coon cat named Rupert. Follow Amanda through cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and underground tunnels in her quest to find the missing novel!

No sooner does Amanda’s spring break vacation begin than she’s confronted with a series of mysterious events. Will she be able to figure out what has really been happening to the missing books in Charlie’s store?

The most memorable scenes in this story involve Amanda discovering the cultural differences between her hometown in Alberta and London. Everything from clotted cream to the advanced age of certain buildings is new and exciting to her. Amanda’s joyful reactions to the rich histories of the places she visits piqued my interest in learning more about them.

What made the plot even more rewarding was how slowly the mystery of the missing books unfolds. Amanda has to work hard to uncover every single clue, and none of them are easy to piece together. I expected to figure out what was happening much earlier on in the plot than I actually did, and it was quite rewarding to finally come to the correct conclusion.

This is the third book in the series, but I had no issues catching up with the highlights of Amanda’s previous adventures. If anything the tantalizing glimpses of the mysteries she’s attempted to solve in the past made me want to go back and read the first two instalments! Amanda is intelligent, resourceful and plucky, and those traits make reading about her adventures a real pleasure.

Amanda in England: The Missing Novel is a delightful romp through modern-day London. I highly recommend it for readers in late elementary school or for anyone who loves solving playful mysteries that do not reveal their secrets easily.