Monday, June 30, 2014

Books of Note: June Reads

Well, I didn't read as many books as I wanted to get to this month due to trying to get a few writing projects finished, and then going away for a long weekend, but I did get more than I probably would have otherwise, thanks to the Sweet Summer Read A Thon I was able to take part in which was really fun.

Complete June Reads List:

Curse of the Thirteenth Fey by Jane Yolen (3 stars)
Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga (4 stars)
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (4 stars)
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer (3 stars)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin (4 stars)
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud (4 stars)
Moonshine (Cal Leandros #2) by Rob Thurman (4 stars)
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer (4 stars)

Books I Bought:

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga
Nightlife (Cal Leandros #1) by Rob Thurman
Moonshine (Cal Leandros #2) by Rob Thurman
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
The Falconer's Knot by Mary Hoffman
The Unfortunate Son by Constance Leeds
Shelter (Mickey Bolitar #1) by Harlan Corban

Favorite Reads of the Month

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I never read Sci-Fi, but I had it on good authority that this series was good, and I love any retelling, and this one was so strange I had to give it a try, and it turned out that I was glad I did, because I ended up enjoying it very much.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I do like the cover. It pretty much makes you realize it's going to be a Cinderella retelling, but since you can see the cyborg element in the leg, you can tell it's not going to be a normal one.

Characters: I really liked Cinder right off the bat. She doesn't have an attitude, and when she gets angry, it's really for understandable reasons. Her stepmother and oldest stepsister are really horrible. I liked how she was resourceful and could take care of herself, but was also not afraid to ask for help or welcomed it when it came unexpectedly. Kai was also a great character. He was so sweet and had just the kind of character I love seeing in princes or your rulers. He was humble and yet he was also willing to do his duty and what was best for his people. There was a lot of great supporting characters too. I really didn't know how I felt about Dr. Erland until probably the very end of the book. I still think he's kind of creepy though, I never got over my initial reaction. Peony was sweet and a great little sister character. Levana, the Lunar queen was super creepy, but I loved her character. She reminded me of the classic fairy queens with her domineering attitude and her glamour. I also almost never like robot/android characters (except in Star Wars) but I did like Iko, she was adorable.

The Romance: I actually ship Cinder and Kai a lot. I love them together, and I think they are just adorable.

Writing Style: I guess there's not anything majorly special about the actual writing style itself, but the way the story is told and the world it is set it was awesome. I usually don't like future-set stories (In fact I can't even remember reading one before this) but I liked this because it didn't portray society as completely destroyed. It was more like a Star Wars setting, which is the kind of Sci-Fi I like, so I appreciated that. It seemed normal and okay, and not freaky and disturbing, is what I'm trying to say. I would not mind living in this future apart from the plague outbreak. But the descriptions were great, and I was able to visualize it all very easily. I loved how the author worked in elements of Cinderella and yet gave us a really fun twist to the original story as well. It's a pretty action-packed book, but you also get to learn a lot about the characters too, which I like. There's also bits of rather subtle humor which I always appreciate.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable. But again, I liked the world building, and as far as that goes, I guess it kind of is a pretty believable future setting.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing major, only personal preference. I hate plague books, I don't like reading them, and I hate medical experimentation. But apart from those bits, I had no problem with the book and none of it was as bad as I feared either.

Conclusion: 3.5 stars. I enjoyed this book, and I'm very glad I decided to give it a go. I think the author has something really unique here, and I hope she continues to write more of this calibre.

Recommended Audience: If you are getting tired of normal retellings, try these, because they're unique. Probably more a girl read than a guy read ages 13 and up.

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.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I've been wanting to read this one for a while, but finally waited until I had read Frankenstein itself before I did so. I've not read a Kenneth Oppel book I didn't like, and this one was no different.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes. While it has a character on it, I really love the cover. It has a very cool gothic feel to it.

Characters: I'm one of the people who actually felt sorry for Victor and liked him inFrankenstein so I enjoyed reading a book about him when he's younger (though this is really only a few years before the original book takes place.) Victor is an interesting character, because he is a wonderful brother and a wonderful friend but he also has a jealous streak that makes him a little dark at times. In contrast, his twin brother, Konrad is the sweet one, and works well to keeping Victor on his feet. I really enjoyed their relationship, that undying loyalty that I love to see in brothers. I liked getting to see more of Elizabeth and I have always liked Henry, so while there wasn't much of him, I enjoyed having him along. Polidori was also a very interesting character (view spoiler)

The Romance: This was the only problem I had with the book. While I love Kenneth Oppel's stories, he sometimes has the penchant for introducing love triangles and this one being between Victor, Elizabeth and Konrad and I can't stand it when brothers fight over a girl, it always goes bad. It this case, it didn't play a huge role in the story, but it was still more than I liked, and the fact that whenever I wanted to shake my head at Victor the situation had something to do with Elizabeth, also made it someone intolerable.

Writing Style: As usual, Kenneth Oppel presents a wonderful adventure story with a dark, gothic feel. This is probably the darkest book I have read by him. I always love his writing. This one reads like a classic, and I loved Victor's first person narration. Everything seemed to fit the time period well and I have no complaints about that whatsoever. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes for a quick read. It actually fits pretty well with Mary Shelly's novel in style, though of course isn't exact. But I liked how it kind of gave backstory for the original and gave a reason for why Frankenstein did what he did.

Accuracy/ Believability: I really don't know much about Germany during this time period but it seemed all right to me. Anything that seemed a little fantastic, was obviously meant to be, and I liked how science was pretty much regarded how it was back then, as magic and alchemy. The things that they used and did actually made sense to me.

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from the love triangle, I didn't really have any complaints.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I enjoyed this a lot, and even though it's sad and I cried at the end, it will just be another favorite by Kenneth Oppel.

Recommended Audience: If you liked the original novel, you'll probably enjoy this. Anyone who enjoyed gothic adventure novels should try it. Girl or guy read 16 and up.

(Read this review with Spoilers on Goodreads

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I always love a good ghost story, and what's better than professional ghost hunters? I thought this book had a really cool twist to the traditional ghost story and was overall a really awesome adventure with cool characters.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes! I really love the cover. While there are people on it, you can't see any definitive features and I think it works. It has a cool ghostly look to it to indicate the kind of book this is.

Characters: Lucy is the protagonist and narrator of the story and I really liked her a lot. She's a sensible heroine, she knows what she's doing and when she does make mistakes it's more in the way that people are human and not because she does it out of stupidity. In fact, usually her mistakes ended up being for the better in the long run. Lockwood was also a totally awesome character. I loved him; he's just the kind of guy character I love to read about. He was humble, somewhat quiet, and not afraid to speak his mind. He was a very mature individual and he also had an awesome fashion sense ;) George was your typical quirky member of the group, the geeky one, but he definitely stepped up to the plate when needed, and despite his shortcomings, I liked him as well. What I loved most about them was that there was no romance at all between them. They worked as partners and had a very familial relationship which was totally awesome. I'm not going to say much about a lot of the supporting characters because I don't want to give away spoilers, but I liked the supporting cast a lot too, and the baddie while not totally present was creepy even if he did monologue a little more than needed.

The Romance: None!!

Writing Style: I really loved the writing style; Lucy's narration is awesome, because she has a very dry sense of humor which I always love, and though the book never really became actually scary, at least in my opinion (but it takes a lot to creep me out) it had a really almost noir feel to it. The book is actually set in modern days, but it has the feel of a Victorian novel. In fact, I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't, even though modern technology does show up. Apart from being a ghost story this was an awesome mystery and I loved how all the seemingly unconnected bits fit together. The story itself is set in kind of an alternate version of our world; it's all the same places and everything, but for some reason in Britain, there has been an influx of ghostly activity and that's why they have to create ghost fighting companies. Since Children are able to see ghosts better than adults, they make up the most of the companies. It was all a very clever and unique idea, even if the reason for all the ghostly activity is never really explained. No one knows why in the book either, so it didn't really bother me, and is not entirely relevant to the plot, at least not in this book. It also had a very British feel to it which I loved. My only complaint, which isn't even really a complaint because it's not the author's fault at all, was that when the book was published in America they Americanized it and I HATE it when they do that. It sounds so wrong to have American words in place of British ones that should be there and it kind of took the feel away for me on occasion. I never understand why they do this anyway, it's not that hard to figure out. It will teach kids something. Kids aren't stupid, after all. I was also insulted when people spelled things out for me in books when I was a kid.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable. But the ghostly lore from what I've known prior is pretty traditional; iron, salt, that sort of thing, but I loved the gadgets they used too. Very fun!

Problems/What bothered me: No problems, I enjoyed the book a lot.

Conclusion: 4 stars. This is the first book I have read by Jonathan Stroud and I can't believe I haven't read any of his books before. I really enjoyed this a lot, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

Recommended Audience: If you enjoy ghost stories, this is a great one to add to your shelves. Girl or guy read 12 and up.


  1. My book club is reading THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE in September. Can't wait to read it!!

    1. I think you'll like that one a lot, especially Lockwood :)