Friday, June 13, 2014

Books of Note: Spring Reads Part 2

Okay, here's the late part two of my favorite reads of spring =)

All aboard for an action-packed escapade from the internationally bestselling author of Airborne and the Silverwing trilogy.

The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life!

When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will's father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?


Thoughts on the Overall Book: Typical of Kenneth Oppel, this is a classic adventure novel with a flair of steampunk and the fantastical. I have never read one of his books that I didn't like!

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes! I love this cover so much, I think it fits perfect with the feel of the story and I also love the eyes in the forest :)

Characters: Will Everett was a very enjoyable character to read about. I really liked him because, unlike a lot of characters in middle-grade adventure novels, he is rather shy and quiet, and quite a bit of an introvert. But watching him grow in confidence was nice to see, and I think creating a character like that is good for kids who are the same way. He was very brave and loyal and had a good sense of what was right and wrong. I also liked Maren a lot. She kind of reminds me of Kenneth Oppel's usual heroines, but I have always liked them, so I had no problem with that. She's the outgoing one, and she knows how to get a job done, and is quite capable of doing it, but she never has an attitude and when Will has to help her, she doesn't get angry about it, but accepts it as something that needs to be done. Mr. Dorian was also a very interesting character. I won't say too much about him because I don't want to spoil the story, but I did like him despite his faults. And needless to say I LOVED the circus performers. Give me a troupe of players and I'm happy. Brogan wasn't the best villain I have ever read, he was just kind of ordinary, but in this kind of book and being MG, he worked perfectly fine.

The Romance: No romance, it is a MG book, but there is, of course, a hint that perhaps in later years Will and Maren's friendship will grow into romance.

Writing Style: This book was actually a bit different in styles from Kenneth Oppel's usual writing. It's third person and present tense. I'll admit, I didn't think it flowed as well as his usual first person past tense narration, but it wasn't terrible either. It took me a little to get used to it, but it wasn't as choppy as some I have read. Because of it, I think this book just slightly lacked a little of the voice that his others, like Airborn did, but it was still awesome, and the descriptions were just as vivid and wonderful as usual. This book literally had everything I love in an adventure novel: trains, secret compartments with booby traps, traveling players, and a fine young hero. And hey, it also has sasquashes . How on earth can someone not like this book? It's like Jules Verne meets Indiana Jones.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable, the point of this book is that it's fantastical, but I love the idea of the Boundless and I think it would be totally awesome and could have happened.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing, I loved it!

Conclusion: 5 stars. Just another awesome book by one of my favorite authors. This one ended great, but I wouldn't mind seeing more in the same world.

Recommended Audience: If you have not read one of Kenneth Oppel's books yet, what are you waiting for? If you haven't, and you liked books like Jules Verne, than this is one author you need to try. This would make a great guy read, as well as girl read, ages 12 and up.

The once highly in-demand detective Alan Knightley has just woken up after an unexplained incident kept him asleep for four years. While he was out cold, his son, Darkus, took it upon himself to read of all his dad's old cases, and he's learned a lot about the art of detection. It's a good thing too—because suddenly the duo find themselves caught up in a crazy conspiracy that involves a group of villainous masterminds (who keep appearing and then vanishing), some high-speed car chases (that will have everyone fastening their seat belts), and a national, bestselling book with the power to make people do terrible, terrible things. But because Alan is still suffering the effects of his coma, he tends to, well, fall asleep at the worst possible moments, Meaning that young Darkus might just have to solve this mystery . . . by himself.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was a book that caught my eye the instant I saw it in the bookstore, but I still ended up getting it from the library since I've never read the author before, and, well, you never know, but I was not disappointed in this book. For the most part, it was exactly what I expected.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Love the cover. That's what caught my eye. It looks like a mystery novel and, hey, it has the London skyline on it, what's not to like.

Characters: Darkus Knightley (okay, I thought his name just made him sound like a villain, but oh well) was a really awesome protagonist. He is almost exactly how I pictured Sherlock Holmes as a teenager. He's smart, self taught mostly, though he obviously inherited his father's genes too, and he's very mature for his age, sometimes, I think, forgetting that he is only thirteen when he's trying to solve a case. Alan Knightley, his father, was an interesting character too. He was your typical obsessed man, but he also really did care about Darkus and even his ex-wife. Tilly, Darkus' stepsister, I wasn't sure I would like at first, but she never had the Attitude, and I liked her bluntness and how she just got a job done and never tried to take the head from Darkus because she thought she was smarter. She was a good partner for him. Uncle Bill was an interesting character. He's kind of quirky and unassuming, but he gets a job done. Darkus' stepfather, Clive, was an annoying character, but also amusing. No, I didn't like him, but one isn't really supposed to. My favorite supporting character was definitely Bogna, Alan's Polish secretary. She was awesome :)

The Romance: None!

Writing Style: I did like the writing style-third person past tense. It did take a while to get used to though. Mainly because sometimes it would be hard to figure out who's perspective it was coming from. Usually, the author kept it within chapter or chapter break, but sometimes it would seem like it was from one perspective and then it turned out to be in another, but that was really only in the first few chapters. Apart from that, I liked how we got to see other people's perspectives. It gave more to the story without giving anything away. It actually read like a mystery show kind of like Sherlock it had the same pacing and "cuts". Not the most fluent and beautiful of writing styles but for the kind of book it was, it worked.

The story-line itself however, was what intrigued me in the first place. It was just too weird to pass up. A book that is making people commit crimes? Very cool! And I loved the way the author brought it about. I really can't say anymore about it because it would give too much away, but I was not disappointed as I feared I might be on occasion.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable in this. The deductive skills and reasoning were sound though.

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from my few niggles about the writing style, I didn't have any problems to report. It's kind of one of those books you go along for the ride with.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I really look forward to continuing this series. I really can't wait to see what happens next. I can see this idea going many places and doing really well.

Recommended Audience: Girl or guy read 13 and up. Fans of Sherlock Holmes would enjoy this, and anyone who likes mysteries with an odd twist would also enjoy.

There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one ... Well, half of one, anyway.

Welcome to New York City - a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half human.

His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares – and his entire otherworldly elf race are after Cal. His half brother, Niko, gave up college to keep them on the run for four years, but now the Grendel monsters are back. And Cal is about to learn why they want him. He is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life..


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was one of those books that I kind of stumbled across through Goodreads and not really because of anyone's recommendation, and I don't always go for that, but I was feeling adventurous, and frankly, I will read anything once as long as it has brothers in it, and I am so so glad I did, because I loved it. I loved Cal and Niko, and I love the writing style, and turned out not to be really what I was expecting, and that was a good thing in this case.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Meh, I like the situation of the cover, but that's not how I pictured Cal. I do think it gives a good feeling of the book.

Characters: I already said I loved Cal and Niko. See, I've already begun to refer to them as "my boys". Yes, I have a lot of "my boys" but it is still not a term lightly given. As individuals, I liked them. Cal is so snarky and yet in a good way, the way I like where he's like that because he's just a teenager and not because he has an attitude. What I loved most about him, was that so many times characters in his position are all angst, and yeah, there's a little angst, but Cal covers it up with the sarcasm, and somehow it works. Niko on the other hand is like his exact opposite. He's calm and controlled and quiet, and I really loved that about him. He reminded me a little bit of Eliot Spencer from one of my favorite tv shows Leverage but not quite with the flashpan anger ;) I think they would have gotten on well though. As brothers though--I was done. I search so hard to find books that have good brother duos, and I rarely find them. This was one of the best ever. Their dynamic as brothers was perfect in my book, just how I like to read it. Niko is an awesome older brother, he's just the right amount of stern to keep his crazy little brother in line and yes not so much that he comes across as controlling, just protective. And Cal through all his razzing which is his right as a younger sibling, never up and said he didn't want Niko to take care of him. What I loved most about them as a dynamic, was that they knew that they were all each other had, and they did not want to risk that and they would do anything for each other. Another thing I liked was that there's no resentment because of that either like there so often is between fictional siblings (like no one can do anything for the other without getting his head torn off). And oh my gosh, the best part? There was hugging. Like, actual hugging, not just a slap on the back. I was starting to think I was the only writer who believed emotional damage needs hugs. Thankfully I was proved wrong.

Okay, and now that my happy rant it over, on to the other characters. I'm honestly still not sure how I feel about Robin Goodfellow. I didn't hate him, but that's about all I can say. I think he's probably one of those characters I'll end up liking more and more as the series progresses. There were parts I really liked him, and parts I didn't so much, but that's kind of typical with his type of character. I really did like Rafferty though, and I hope we see more of him. For some reason he just reminded me of Bones from Star Trek :P

The Romance: None!

Writing Style: This was what sold be from page one. After getting this book from the library and reading the synopsis again, I thought it would probably be one I would drag my feet though, maybe not even finish, but I picked it up one night before bed to look at and ended up reading three chapters and having to stop because I had to get up in the morning. I love Cal's narration. As I said before, he's snarky and has a great dark humor, which I love to see in books like this. It made the book a lot less dark than I was expecting made for super easy reading. I'd also like to mention because I was a little unclear about this which was my main hesitation to starting the story; it might sound like demons but the baddies are actually dark elves which kind of made it easier for me to like. I loved the world Rob Thurman created in this book. For some reason supernatural creatures residing in New York is not all that unbelievable and I like how she fit them in. They were creepy too, a lot of them. I really like how Ms. Thurman incorporates a lot of literature references in her stories, and not ones you would think either. Ones like Beowulf, and even some Shakespeare and I liked that a lot. Typically, there's not a lot in the classic lore behind the beasties in this, but I kind of like that too. There are bits though, like the dark elves you can kind of trace back to the Norse mythology. Not really the same, but closer than somethings. The beasties were scary though, and I like that.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable, but, okay, I have to mention Niko's hair. I'm sorry, but I know Cal is supposed to be half elf, but seriously. How does Niko keep his long blond locks from dishevelment? The only person I've ever seen pull that off was Legolas.

Problems/What bothered me: (view spoiler)

Conclusion: 4 stars. I knocked a few points off for language and a few other things, but as far as characters, this is a five star book. I'm so excited to read more of this series. Cal and Niko just made me utterly happy :-)

Recommended Audience: Great guy read, 18 and up, I'd definitely say fans of Raven Boys and Maggie Stiefvater's books in general would like this. Not that it's exactly like hers, but it kind of had the same feel to me. 

(To read this review with spoilers, see the review on Goodreads


  1. I'm putting BOUNDLESS on my August TBR list. It just sounds too awesome to wait any longer to read!

    1. I think you'll like it. "Knightley and Son" is good too.