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-

Smoke and Iron

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine is the fourth book in The Great Library series.

In this one we pick up where we left off. Jess is pretending to be his brother Brandon in order to destroy corruption within The Great Library from the inside. Morgan is back in the Iron Tower and attempting to liberate the Obscurist’s from their shackles, while not becoming trapped herself. Wolf is back in prison and the rest of the gang are on a boat, captive or guest, the lines are blurred. But one thing is for sure, no one is safe.

The battle for the Library has begun and what started out as a rebellion to rescue a friend, has now turned into an all out war. But who is fighting who and will the costs outweigh the benefits?

This is an interesting series. There are parts I love and then there are times where I am sitting there thinking, come on, lets go. It’s one, at this point, where I could probably take it or leave it but I ultimately want to know what will happen, so I am sticking with it.

One of my complaints about this series is that is runs in a circle. The gang realizes something or hatches a plan, then they either get caught or have to save someone, they get free, plans go awry and they are “captured” again. Yes, each time is unique and ultimately the story does move forward but for me, this circle needs to be broken.

I did really like that we get Khalila’s point of view in this one. She has a unique perspective. She has hardly any ulterior motives other than her devotion to the library and her hopes for it’s return to the pure entity it was meant to be. Where as Jess and Morgan believe in the library but their actions are also colored by their emotions and their past. There is also a lovely battle scene toward the end that I would love to see on screen if done well.

Ultimately, this was another entertaining read by Rachel Caine and I am ready to see how it will conclude in the final book, hopefully coming out next year. This one gets a solid 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Bright We Burn

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White is the third and final book in The Conqueror’s series.

Lada’s unwillingness to bend and her extreme justice has created a free Wallachia. Her brutal brand of retribution for all wrong doings has created a land that is free of crime, free from the boyars who starved and mistreated their people, and free from paying tribute in boys and blood. But can a country freed in blood and violence, stay free?

Across the continent, Radu is haunted by the actions and sacrifices he made in Constantinople. Mehmed has called him back to the very place he dreads to be by his side and help him rule. But Radu’s love, his infatuation for Mehmed has begun to wane and he doesn’t know how much longer he can live without really living.

Mehmed, sultan, emperor, and a long list of other titles, has everything he ever wanted, except for Lada. He knows that she belongs with him and Radu and he is willing to destroyer her to keep her. But is he underestimating the vicious, indomitable girl he grew up with?

A story that begun in Wallachia will end in Wallachia but who will be standing as the last page turns?

What a series. It was dark and bloody and honest and true. There was a little bit of everything. That being said, this was probably my least favorite of the three books and yet as a conclusion it was satisfying.

For me, Lada makes this series. Her violent, dark, not quite a hero, persona really worked for me. Which is why I think the final book fell short for me. In the first two books their was just enough emotion and feels to make her a person, but just barely. In this third one, Lada still puts Wallachia over all else but you can tell how much of a toll it takes on her and that just wasn’t the Lada I was expecting. Radu, on the other hand, really grew throughout this series and I was really happy with his transformation.

Now, I will admit, I don’t know much about the history of this time period to say whether or not this is a true retelling of Vlad as a woman. BUT, I want to know more and that is what makes this book great. I guarantee people at least Google Vlad and Constantinople after reading this series.

This is one series that definitely makes it to my bookshelf. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Strange The Dreamer

Stranger The Dreamer by Laini Taylor is the first book in a young adult fantasy series.

Lazlo Strange has dreamed of finding the forgotten city of Weep since he was a five-year-old orphan with no name and no history. As a man and a bookish librarian, Lazlo is still a dreamer and he fears that he will only ever fantasize about his dream, never chase it. That is, until Lazlo is faced with a chance of a lifetime that could put him within reach of his dreams.

What happened to Weep centuries ago that all-but wiped it from the history books? What could a man named the God Slayer possible need from a people he never knew existed? And how on earth does a city lose it’s name?

Boy am I late to the party on this one! I came across some promotional material for the sequel to this series and when I went to read the synopsis, I realized I had to get my hands on the first one. And this book didn’t disappoint.

It’s always refreshing to find a new fantasy series with a truly unique theme. From the very beginning when five-year-old Lazlo is fighting imaginary warriors and loses Weeps true name, I was hooked. There was just enough world building to help contribute to the mystery of the story but not too much to give everything away.

Looking back, one of the things that struck me about this book was how the language shifted when we were in Lazlo’s dreams/stories/imaginings. The language seamlessly goes from descriptive (maybe even wordy) narrative to this flowy prose that just fits with these impossibly vivid dreams. It was lovely.

These lovely, impossible dreams were also a nice balance to the truly awful things surrounding the city of Weep. Some of the plot points of this story are really horrible but the way Laini Taylor sprinkles the magic and keeps the “terrible” on the fringes, creates a good balance.

I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait until the sequel comes out in October. This one gets 4-4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-