Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book Review: This Dark Endeavor, by Kenneth Oppel

Title: This Dark Endeavor
Series/Sequel? The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Romance
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 304
Perspective: First Person (Male)

Summary from Goodreads: Victor Frankenstein leads a charmed life. He and his twin brother, Konrad, and their beautiful cousin Elizabeth take lessons at home and spend their spare time fencing and horseback riding. Along with their friend Henry, they have explored all the hidden passageways and secret rooms of the palatial Frankenstein chateau. Except one.

The Dark Library contains ancient tomes written in strange languages and filled with forbidden knowledge. Their father makes them promise never to visit the library, but when Konrad becomes deathly ill, Victor knows he must find the book that contains the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life.

The elixir needs only three ingredients. But impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail. Yet his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and love—and how much he is willing to sacrifice.

Review: I've never read Frankenstein. I mean, I know the basic story; everyone does. But I just thought I'd tell you that I have never read Mary Shelley's classic, so I may not understand all the allusions to the original.

I didn't think I would enjoy this book very much. I only read it because the cover looked simply amazing and there were a couple of really cool quotes in the summary and on the back cover.

How wrong I was.

I loved the characters in this. Victor was a very interesting character, a personification of the animalistic characteristics of human nature: passion, violence, instinct, pride. On the other end of things, his twin Konrad seemed to be a personification of the qualities that make humans human: intelligence, charm. And then Elizabeth seemed to be caught in the middle, a mix between the human and animal natures, between Konrad and Victor. I also loved how independent and strong Elizabeth was, so unusual for a woman of that time period. (During the French Revolution.) All the other characters were well developed also, but those three, as the three main characters, really stood out to me.

I loved reading about the alchemy involved in this, and how the alchemy (and science) was influenced by the time period, and vice versa. I've never really been able to find any (good) books about alchemy, and it was really well explained and interesting to read about in this book.

This book was really well-written, there was no turn of phrase that needed editing. I greatly respect Mr. Oppel!

I greatly recommend this book to fans of alchemy, Frankenstein, male protagonists, and/or historical fiction!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Title: The Dark Divine
Series/Sequel? The Dark Divine #1
Author: Bree Despain
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 375 (Hardcover)
Perspective: First Person (Female)

Summary from Goodreads: Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul.

Review: This book was very well-written and perfectly plotted: a breathtaking romance, paranormal creatures, and a mystery that kept you on your toes make a for an amazing,wonderful book.

Religion, God, and the church were main points in this book, as Grace was the pastor's daughter, and went to a religious school,and so very involved in her religion, religious beliefs, and the church. I normally dislike fiction books that talk a lot and have to do with religion, because a lot of the times, it seems to me as if the authors are trying to shove their beliefs down your throat. However, this book wasn't like that. Religion played a major part in solving the mystery and the plot point finding a resolution, but there wasn't really any of the characters' beliefs being talked about or argued over or even brought up. And I like the book (and the author) just that much more for that.

The romance was fantastic. You were able to see the relationship grow and blossom between the characters naturally as the plot continued, grew, and changed. And, I must say, Grace and Daniel make a perfect match.

The characters were very well-written, each person having there own special niche and personality, making it easy to distinguish between them. Each person was unique, and with the number of characters in this book, that makes it hard to do.

As I said, the mystery kept you on your toes as well, with numerous twists and turns that you couldn't have possibly seen coming. Completely satisfying!

A wonderful, amazing book that I would recommend to fans of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush series.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Review: The False Princess, by Eilis O'Neal

The False PrincessTitle: The False Princess
Series/Sequel? No
Author: Eilis O'Neal
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 319 (Hardcover)
Perspective: First person (female)

Summary from Goodreads: Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

Review: This was a good book. It isn't a book that changes a generation or brings up deep, philosophical questions. But it was a good book nonetheless.

Sinda was a likeable character, but her best friend Kiernan was even more so. He was simply hilarious, charming, and sweet. Which was good that I saw him this way, because that was how Sinda described him. Truthfully, I believe he was my favorite character - and my favorite part - of the entire book.

Another thing I really liked: the plot twists. This was kind of a triple-twister, if you understand what I mean: one second, it seems as if there's one thing. A plot twist happens, and you think that's that. But then ANOTHER plot twists happens, essentially negating the first. And I loved it.

A third thing I really liked: for the first half or so of the book, Sinda is really weak and complacent. She doesn't have much of a backbone. But as you read, as she discovers who she really is and what she can do, you see her change and grow into someone stronger and wiser. And I loved being able to see that.

A very good fantasy book. Recommended for fans of Eragon and the Inheritance Cycle!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, by Kody Keplinger

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat FriendTitle: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Series/Sequel? No
Author: Kody Keplinger
Genre(s): Realistic fiction, Romance, Relationships
Age Level: YA (14-18)
Page Count: 280
Perspective: First person (female)

Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Review: This was a really good book. I checked it out of the library because the situation of the character reminded me of the relationship in a book I'm trying to write, and I wondered how this author would handle the type of relationship.

The answer is: beautifully.

This is the type of book that doesn't really have a for-certain plot. It's more of a rambling book. Even so, I greatly enjoyed it. I enjoyed reading about Wesley's and Bianca's relationship, how their relationship - if it could even be called that - was based on sex, distraction, and escape from more complicated life matters. I loved reading about it as their relationship changed and grew and morphed into something else. I loved reading about Bianca's other relationships, with her friends and the other kids and school and her mother and father. And I most definitely loved Bianca's sarcastic, cynical, hilarious narrative.

This is a wonderful realistic fiction book about relationships and love. I highly recommend it!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

In My Mailbox (8)

I went to three different libraries this week and I ransacked each. So, instead of putting up a picture of each cover, I'm just going to list them. Because, truthfully, I'm interested to see how many I got total. I'm estimating something like 30. Let's see:

1. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
2. How To Save A Life, by Sarah Zarr
3. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
4. Memoir of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin
5. Bewitching, by Alex Flinn
6. The False Princess, by Ellis O'Neal
7. Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick (already read, but I'm won't be reviewing it)
8. Silence, by Becca Fitzpatrick
9. This Dark Endeavor, by Kenneth Oppel
10. The DUFF, by Kody Keplinger
11. Wings, by Aprilynne Pike
12. Spells, by Aprilynne Pike
13. Illusions, by Aprilynne Pike
14. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
15. The Eternal Ones, by Kirsten Miller
16. The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain
17. The Lost Saint, by Bree Despain
18. The Fallen #1, by Thomas E. Snigoski
19. The Splendor Falls, by Rosemary Clement-Moore
20. Evermore, by Alyson Noel
21. The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness
22. Alphas, by Lisi Harrison
23. The Obsidian Blade, by Pete Hautman
24. Maximum Ride, Manga Adaptation #5, by James Patterson/Nara Lee (Already read, and it won't be reviewed)

So, not as many as I thought. But still, 24 books? I think that's pretty ambitious, even for me. I probably won't be doing another IMM for at least two more weeks, until this stack is gone. Until next review!


Book Review: Forgotten, by Cat Patrick

Title: Forgotten
Series/Sequel? No
Author: Cat Patrick
Genre(s): Scifi/Paranormal Romance
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 304 (Hardcover)
Perspective: 1st person, female
Summary from Goodreads: Each night at precisely 4:33 am, while sixteen-year-old London Lane is asleep, her memory of that day is erased. In the morning, all she can "remember" are events from her future. London is used to relying on reminder notes and a trusted friend to get through the day, but things get complicated when a new boy at school enters the picture. Luke Henry is not someone you'd easily forget, yet try as she might, London can't find him in her memories of things to come.

When London starts experiencing disturbing flashbacks, or flash-
forwards, as the case may be, she realizes it's time to learn about the past she keeps forgetting—before it destroys her future. 

Review: This was an incredibly unique book. There seem to be so much of the same out there, so many authors with the same basic plot and cliched plot twists, but Cat Patrick was great at not falling into any of those cliche traps. The premise of this book was unique; I have never read anything like this. Yes, there was some romance, but it wasn't the cliched love triangle. London, the main character, had a boyfriend who she stuck with throughout the entire book, with no additional boy-drama - at least not any boy drama of her own.

However, I thought London could sometimes be a little snobby and annoying with her ability to see into the future. It caused waves with both her boyfriend (who, by the end of it, I was falling in love with as well) and with her best friend.

I also thought this book ended kind of abruptly, with no real conclusion. I mean, since she could see the future, she could see what was going to happen, and how it was all going to turn out okay and everything. But there really was no solid conclusion, and that annoyed me.
All in all, an amazing addition to the book world! I greatly recommend it!


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