The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kirsten White is a young adult retelling of the classic Frankenstein told from the perspective of Elizabeth Frankenstein, an orphan taken in by the Frankenstein’s as a young girl.

Elizabeth Lavenza was an abused orphan until she was taken in by the Frankenstein family as a companion for their strange, all-but genius, son Victor. In Victor, Elizabeth finds a safe haven and salvation from lonely hunger of her childhood and she will do anything to stay in his good graces. Soon the two are inseparable. Elizabeth teaches Victor to control his emotions and in return he keeps her safe.

That is until his studies takes him away from her. Left without news for months, Elizabeth is determined to track down her Victor. But what she finds is depravity, death and mystery. Elizabeth must use all her wits to protect Victor from societies wrath but who is she really protecting and at what cost?

I really enjoyed this one. White really knows how to spin a tale and I love it! It’s been a long, long time since I’ve read Frankenstein but this was definitely a new take on the story. One of the things I really liked was that I thought the story was heading in one direction and about two-thirds of the way through, it went a completely different way than I was thinking and it was better for it.

Elizabeth and “evil” Victor really make this story. Elizabeth’s mind, her ability to adapt to any situation, makes her such an interesting character and although there is supposed to be this sort of discovery of her true self, I felt that she was extremely self-aware. And the moment when Victor drops all of his carefully learned pretenses, he just became this dark sociopath and the story itself got darker for it.

I really enjoyed this retelling. Keep ’em coming White! This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Wildcard

Wildcard by Marie Lu is the sequel and conclusion to Lu’s Warcross.

Emika Chen only made it out of the Warcross Championships with her mind in tact by the skin of her teeth. Now that Hideo’s algorithm has been uploaded to everyone using the NeuroLink, she has been left with only a few allies.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s flawed plan to keep evil from the world, Emika must put aside her own safety and risk everything to save… everyone. Can she stop the Blackcoats and Zero from taking over the NeuroLink? Can she destroy the algorithm and give everyone back their freewill? And finally, will she be able to bring Hideo back from the ledge that led him to this course of action?

Well, I will say off the bat that I wasn’t as impressed with Wildcard as I was with Warcross. I just couldn’t get into the story as easily as I did the first one. Warcross sucked me in and I couldn’t wait to learn more. But there was just something missing here for me.

A major part of what was missing for me was the relationships. I felt like we built up these really great characters, who had dynamic relationships, in the first book but they just weren’t as strong in the second. Emika was a lot weaker and not nearly as interesting as before. Tramaine was probably my favorite character in this one actually.

That being said, I did love this world of virtual reality. I think Lu did a fabulous job building a world where technology is literally in every part of our lives. Makes you think about where we are heading. And I just loved the quote that once technology has been created that you can’t un-make it. This is very true.

I did also like the twist. I sort of saw it coming with the various hints the author put in, but it was still a neat little surprise. I also like that things were wrapped up in a way that we suspected what would happen but weren’t actually told.

This duology kept me entertained. Warcross was stellar but Wildcard was only so-so. I hope we see more of these virtual reality type fiction books in the future–and ones as well built as this one. This book gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Two Dark Reigns

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake is the third book in the Three Dark Crowns series.

We pick up only a few weeks after the end of One Dark Throne. Katherine is the Queen Crowned. Mirabella and Arsinoe are in hiding on the mainland with Billy. And Jules is in hiding on the island, dealing with the repercussions of being legion born.

But the island isn’t done with these girls. The mist is rising, causing panic and fear. It has a life of it’s own and it takes whomever it wants. As the undead queen, Katherine’s rule is threatened, not only by the mist but also by a renegade band of rebels who want to end the line of the queens and rule the island as it has never been ruled before.

While Katherine tries to hold on to her thrown, Arsinoe and Miabella try to forge a new life away from the island. But a dark shadow threatens and refuses to allow the past to lie.  Nothing is settled and this story is far from done.

Two Dark Reigns started out pretty slow for me. There was a lot of talk and very little action. It wasn’t until two-thirds of the way through the book that things start to actually happen. Some background was needed in the beginning to build up where the story is ultimately leading to but I just felt that we could have gotten to the point sooner.

Some things happen really slowly in this series, while others go almost too fast. There were pockets of action in this book that could have be dragged out a little more, whereas several discussions could have been chopped down to a page max.

That being said, I do love this world that Blake has built up. And it’s just gotten more interesting with the legion curse and the history being revealed. I am also loving how the mist, the islands protector, seems to be turning on the island itself.

I am excited to see where this last book will take us… who will survive and who will not. Mostly, I want to know what is instore for the island. Will it survive the mist or will this be the end of it altogether?

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Mirage

Mirage by Somaiya Daud is the first book in a new YA science fiction series.

In a section of the galaxy, a brutal race rules with an iron fist. And on a quiet planet in this system is an eighteen-year-old girl named Amani, who loves poetry and dreams of signs from the god Dihya. When Amani is kidnapped by the Vathek, she has no clue that her life is about to change forever.

Amani looks identical to the young princess, Maram, next in-line to inherit the Vathek empire. Because of this, she is forced to become Maram’s body double. She must sound like Maram, walk like Maram, act like Maram or else she will die.

Forced into this new role, Amani finds herself exposed to a world she could never have imagined. But beneath the beauty is fear. Will Amani succeed in impersonating Maram?And will she lose herself to this role? Or will she fight in her own way to maintain her life–her freedom?

This was an entertaining read. Not stellar, but I think we are going to get there. Mirage was pretty average for me until the second half, then we start to see more of the politics and we get that world building that was lacking in the beginning. I can see the sequel doing a lot for the series as a whole.

This was a sci-fi, space odyssey, without feeling like science fiction. That is one of the major props I give this book. It will appeal to a reader even if sci-fi isn’t in their wheelhouse. I loved how you could see elements of futuristic, space-travel, but the world still felt… almost Middle-Eastern in setting. At least that was the impression I got.

One thing I seriously struggled with in this book is the fact that Amani’s family wasn’t brought into it sooner. Not once, does Amani say she fears for the safety of her family–not until the end. All the way up to that point, her driving force for complying with being a body double was her own personal safety. I just found this a little hard to believe. I just didn’t believe that Amani, as a character, would have given in, in the first place, just to protect herself.

This is one that I have high hopes for. Hopefully the sequel will live up to my imaginings. This one get’s 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

To Kill a Kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo is a YA fiction, standalone novel.

Lira is a Siren princesses, ruthless, cruel… a prince killer. She holds the hearts of 17 prince’s under her bed; one for each year of her life. Her legend, the prince’s bane, is known both above and below the ocean. Until chance or maybe fate forces her to kill one of her own and for punishment her mother, the Sea Queen, turns Lira into a human. Now she must capture the heart of one of the richest Princes in the world.

Prince Elian is not your usual prince. He is a Siren killer. He feels more at home on the sea, captain of his ship, hunting monsters than he does holding court or dancing at balls. He is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world and with that comes certain responsibilities… responsibilities he shirks as often as he can.

Now Elian is on a quest to rid the world of Siren’s forever. When he saves a young woman from the middle of the ocean, she promises to help him with his task. But her secrets may cost him everything.

Will Lira capture the heart of her prince and reclaim her place beside her deadly mother? Or will Elian succeed in his quest to rid the world of monsters once and for all?

It is refreshing to read a standalone novel once in awhile. Nice not to have to wait for sequels and get one full story in one book. And To Kill a Kingdom did that. Sometimes with a standalone you feel like the world isn’t fully developed or the author tries to sneak in too much but Christo had a nice balance of world building and storytelling.

I liked this world of Siren’s and Pirates. I actually would have liked to explore Lira’s world a little bit more but it was neat to see this mini world of pirates and the countries that specialize in specific traits–thieves, spies, gold, love, etc. It did give you the feeling of the Little Mermaid without being obvious.

The only thing I didn’t really like about this book was that in the first half, I felt like I was being told how to feel about the characters. Lira is cruel and the most wicked thing in the ocean. Sure she had attitude but it is one thing to say someone is mean and another thing for me to feel that it is true. I needed to see it more here.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Death and Night

Death and Night by Roshani Chokshi is A Star-Touched Novella.

Every great love story has a beginning and this is the story that comes before The Star-Touched Queen. The Lord of Death, aloof and remote, ruled his kingdom with little companionship and for the most part he was content. Until the tapestry of fates showed him what was lacking in his life… a wife. But Death was cursed and doomed to live a loveless life.

Night ushered in the evening and guarded the night-time sky. She was alone and she fit in nowhere; not in the human world or in the world of the immortals. But after a chance meeting with Death, Night wondered if she could be more.

This is the story of when Night met Death.

If you’ve read my review of The Star-Touched Queen, then you will know how much I loved the story of Maya and Amar and their love that spanned lives. Death and Night is the story of how Maya and Amar, Death and Night, met and fell in love. It is full of the same flourishes and magic you find in all of Chokshi’s books. I swear, I have no idea what she is talking about half the time and yet the language just works. I don’t know if the world itself allows for this break from linguistic reason but the language itself instills magic into the work.

This was a quick, cute read. There is no excitement and none of the urgency you get in Chokshi’s other books. But this is a novella. It is meant to be light and airy and just give you more of the stories you love. It felt like a prequel to me and makes me want to go re-read or even listen to the audio book of The Star-Touched Queen.

This one gets a high 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Smoke in the Sun

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh is the sequel to Flame in the Mist.

We pick up where we left off in book one. Okami has been captured and Mariko allows herself to be “rescued,” tricking her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held hostage by the Black Clan. Now Mariko is playing the part of obedient fiancee and meek woman, all the while seeking to free Okami and bring down the vicious new emperor.

But the inner workings of the court leave Mariko little time to plot and plan, so she begins to look for allies from within. Meanwhile the Black Clan has been busy; recruiting and building their numbers. No longer are they the small force hidden within the Jukai forest. The flames of unrest are heating up and a mysterious plague leave many deranged or dead.

Can Mariko save the man she loves? Can she ever be free from the chains her sex ties her to? Will there ever be peace?

You know a book has it’s problems when your summary of it barely makes any sense! Guys… I don’t like to bash books. I don’t. But this one has some serious flaws. The first book was amazing! There was depth, the world building was great, the characters were diverse and dynamic and, mainly I just wanted to keep reading. Where this one started out slow, then finally picked up and gave me all sorts of breadcrumbs I wanted to explore and then it just ended in a rush, with very sloppily tied up ends. Where were my breadcrumbs! It was like the author either wasn’t invested in this one or she had plans for a third book but decided to nix it.

This really should have been three books. We were given such wonderful hints into our side characters lives–hints that felt very much like promises of whats to come–and they are just ignored. What about Yumi? We get whole chapters from her perspective about how she will not be left behind by her brother and yet all we see is her bolting away on a horse with a disparaging look from her brother. What about Tsukai (sp?) and Okami and the insight we get into Tsukai’s feelings and Hiakru (sp?) and the hints we get there! I mean really there was so much beneath the surface here that was never explored. And this isn’t just me wishing there were more to the book. NO. I felt like I was being promised things that were not delivered.

I also felt like Mariko got a little lost. Yes, we are told she is stronger for what she went through in the forest and we see it but she really didn’t impress me like she did in the first book.

Sigh. I had such high hopes for this one and unfortunately it only gets 2.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-