Book Review: Department 19

Jun
28
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Department 19 Department 19 by
Series: Department 19 #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 540
Source:
Goodreads

Jamie Carpenter's life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein's monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

My Review:

Yet another debut novel. Officially my twelfth, so YAY I completed the Debut Author Challenge, though of course I will continue to read debuts as they present themselves to me.

The best way to describe Department 19 is a combination of James Bond and Dracula. At the age of 14 Jamie Carpenter watches as his father is gunned down for terrorism. 2 years later he discovers just what kind of group his father was in, and it wasn’t terrorists! Jamie soon meets Frankenstein (yes The Frankenstein) and the descendants of several famous characters from the original Vampire story, Dracula. The mix was so interesting  – the mixture of spy thriller and paranormal makes for an action novel that can appeal to all.


Just one disclaimer: this novel is extremely violent and gory. More than once I found myself gagging and passing over several paragraphs. So, if you have an easily turned stomach, this is NOT the book for you, no matter how good it sounds. Sorry.





Book Review: White Cat

Jun
25
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
White Cat White Cat by
Series: Curse Workers #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: , , ,
Pages: 320
Source: ,
Goodreads

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

My Review:

I always seem to forget how unique and entertaining Holly Black’s novels are. I read Tithe and Ironside many years ago and enjoyed them but never got around to reading the rest. Then, after all the hype surrounding Red Glove, I decided I’d better see what all the fuss was.

The first thing that really caught my attention on this one was the setting. Cassel comes from a family of “workers” that live to serve their Mob boss overlords. Even though he’s not a worker and isn’t of any use to the crimelords, everything is about the con for him. He even runs a small gambling pool at school to keep his hand in. Holly Black’s edgy style and modern voice fit this setting perfectly, lending to an extremely interesting Urban Fantasy setting.

I tend to divide the books I read into 3 categories: ones where I can see the ending a mile off, ones where I can see the ending but have no clue how to get there, and ones where I have no clue what’s going on in the first place. They can all be good reads, depending on how well they’re written, but the first can get boring and the last can be frustrating. The most interesting, and yet probably the hardest to write, is the second of the three, and I would unreservedly put White Cat in that category. I could see what had to happen coming but I had no idea how they were going to make it happen without screwing over the future books. I was amazed every time she revealed a tidbit and several times I had to stop and read a section over again.

If you’re still on the fence about reading this book, then I’ll tell you it comes with my highest recommendation. This fantasy is a masterpiece and you won’t regret it!

Disclaimer: Some of the facts I’ve told you about the book turn out to be blatant lies. I just couldn’t bring myself to spoil it for you. The opinions on the other hand, are still and will always be 100% truth.





Book Review: Shadow Hills

Jun
15
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Shadow Hills Shadow Hills by
Series: Shadow Hills #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: , ,
Pages: 388
Source:
Goodreads

After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA — a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died.

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach — the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after — seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

My Review:

Yet another boarding school book! (I told you I loved those right?) This one had a slight flavor of Greek Mythology with a tinge of Salem Witch Trials to it, both big plusses in my book!

The premise is pretty typical, but then again not. Phe goes to Devenish after finding a journal of her sister’s that talks about it. She has no clue about anything at this school except that it may be the answer to the strange dreams she’s been having. I thought the mystery of the whole scenario was really interesting. I’m still working it all out in my head, but I loved the fact that it was based in science. The closer and author brings their “magic” to a real possibility, the better. So having her explain it all with completely modern and scientifical terms is extremely exciting. Devenish could actually exist!


And of course there’s always the plus of a gorgeous male lead – Zach sounds too good to be true! He is totally my type, from her descriptions, and he has the charm and gentlemanly manners that I would want from a man. Move over Phe, Zach’s mine!


Anyway, I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially those who liked books like Haven or Fallen!





Book Review: City of Fallen Angels

Jun
14
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
City of Fallen Angels City of Fallen Angels by
Series: The Mortal Instruments #4
Published by , in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 424
Source:
Goodreads

City of Fallen Angels takes place two months after the events of City of Glass. In it, a mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever.

Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

My Review:

Have you ever had one of those books where everyone loves it and you want to too but you just can’t? I mean, it’s not that I didn’t like the book, I did. I just don’t have a very strong opinion about it either way. I’ve been feeling a little burnt out recently so it may be my fault. No matter what the problem is it’s making it extremely difficult to write a review. 

Unfortunately, for me, I felt like this was a filler book. This often happens when a series is extended past its original intention (wasn’t TMI supposed to be only 3 books long?) It certainly wasn’t on par with Clockwork Angel, my favorite of hers. Then again even Cassie Clare’s worst book would be better than many authors’ best books, so what am I complaining about, right?


All that said, there were some things I really liked about this book. It focused a lot on Simon, who has always been my favorite character. (Jace is too angsty and Clary is too drama-y for me.) I thought that the story did move forward, plot-wise which was the intention, though I don’t feel the characters grew as much as they could have.


I guess the bottom line is that this one is essential to the story line so please do read it if you’re into the series. I just didn’t find it quite as good as the rest.





Book Review: Darkest Mercy

May
25
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Darkest Mercy Darkest Mercy by
Series: Wicked Lovely #5
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 327
Source:
Goodreads

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.
Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.
Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.

My Review:

Finally, after far too long a wait, I have been able to read the final installment in the Wicked Lovely series. It was a long wait, but it was well worth it. I have loved this series since I opened the very first book last fall, and it continues to be one of my absolute favorite series’ of all time! That said, this will probably be a rather short review. It is unbelievably easy to spoil earlier books just by talking about this one, and I hate to spoil any book if I can avoid it.

The gang’s all here for one final adventure. It must have been some kind of juggling act keeping up with all the story lines she set up in the earlier books, and I’m well impressed with the result. By the end of the book I found that my curiosity about all the storylines was finally sated, and despite feeling sad that a good thing had ended, I felt that this was the perfect ending to a wonderful series.

If you haven’t read the rest of the series, don’t start here. You’ll be far too confused. Start at the beginning and work your way here, though, it is well worth it!





Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

May
24
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Girl in the Steel Corset The Girl in the Steel Corset by
Series: Steampunk Chronicles #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 473
Source:
Goodreads

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one...except the "thing" inside her...
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a fullgrown man with one punch....
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on—even if it seems no one believes her.

My Review:

As those of you who have been around here for a while may know, I’m kind of obsessed with steampunk anything right now. Something about this genre really speaks to me, for some reason. But Kady Cross’s Girl in the Steel Corset has outstripped many others for me. This book was truly Amazing with a capital “A”! There are so many wonderful things about this book that I hardly know where to start raving! (You’ll have to excuse me gushing all over myself. It really was that good.)

One of the many amazing things about this book was how wonderful all the characters were. I really, honestly had very strong pictures of them in my mind, and even started a dream cast, from very early on in the book. For example, especially towards the end, Sam and Emily reminded me very strongly of Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother based on how they were described physically. But the best part was, even though I could picture them so vividly, was how original these characters were. They felt like real people to me, people that I desperately want to meet someday.

I also loved the way Cross brought in so many other works. There was the obvious Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reference, but there were flavours throughout the book of other relevant stories. It is clear that Cross reads across many genres and knows how to incorporate elements she loves into the stories she writes.

There are so many more wonderful things I could say about the novel, but I’m starting to risk spoilers, and you wouldn’t want that. The book is so much more satisfying when you go into it knowing next to nothing! I am so excited about this book. I can guarantee I will treasure it for a very long time!





Book Review: Wither

May
23
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Wither Wither by
Series: Chemical Garden #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 358
Source:
Goodreads

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

My Review:

More than anything else, Wither reminds me of The Handmaid’s Tale. True, it’s less graphic and less frightening overall, but Wither seems like what Handmaid’s Tale would be if it were a YA novel.


Despite the strangeness of the future setting, Rhine is very normal-seeming. Of course, she’s mostly normal in comparison to other dystopian heroines like Katniss from The Hunger Games and Vera from The Water Wars, but these strong-but-reluctant heroines seem to have become the norm. Not that it’s a bad thing, though it does make me wonder at the cultural implications. Either way, Rhine reacts to the situation in the same way I’d like to think I would in such an awful setting.


But the thing I liked the most is the way Destefano treated Rhine’s husband, the House Master. Even though Rhine was being forced into an unwilling marriage, it was very clear that her husband was not the one to blame. He may have been clueless and guilty by association, but it was very obvious that he should not be considered “the bad guy.” The one to watch out for is the Governor. That man is not only evil, he’s downright creepy! Here is the real mastermind of all the troubles. Even if he personally didn’t create the virus, he is the one you want to blame for everything. He’s the perfect villain, keeping me scared and angry and defiant all at once.


Overall, this was a great read. It explored all the ways society would change if we began dying so young and through that it was a wonderful cautionary tale. Let us hope the right people take heed!





Book Review: Haven

May
17
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Haven Haven by
Series: Winterhaven #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 401
Goodreads

One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start--a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there--every student, every teacher--has psychic abilities, 'gifts and talents,' they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend--Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye--much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy--if only they can do so without destroying each other first.

My review:

OK, so I know I’m a little behind on this but I simply must add to the Haven love going around the blogoverse right now. Short version: Haven is AMAZING!

First of all, I’m sure we all know by now I have a weakness for boarding school stories. But a boarding school for the psychically gifted? Uh, yes please! I am so there! I want to know all about it, from how it was started to what classes are offered and all the different “Gifts” over the years. Heck, forget wanting to know all about it, I want to live there!

I also found the cast of characters really enjoyable. I don’t think I loved any one character so much as loving their interactions with each other. They remind me of my group of friends in high school, and even more of the group of friends I wished I had. These girls seem just like normal girls, just with some unusual quirks.

My only complaint, and it’s not really one at all, is that the romance happened just a tiny bit too fast. That said, when I finished the book, I was not upset about it at all. Cook gave us a very reasonable explanation for the sudden initial attraction and the progression of the relationship from there seemed natural. So, like I say, not really a complaint at all.

I’m so looking forward to the next book that I went hunting for release date of book 2 to mark on my calendar (couldn’t find it though – anybody know?) Where will you be?





Book Review(ish): Howl’s Moving Castle

May
13
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Howl's Moving Castle Howl's Moving Castle by
Series: Castle #1
Published by in 2001
Genres: ,
Pages: 336
Source:
Goodreads

In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.
After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.
The Hatter sisters--Sophie, Lettie, and Martha--and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.
In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle?

My Review:

I love Diana Wynne Jones. Why? Because every single book or series is different. Sure, there are some I can’t stand but that s because she’s done everything and I don’t like everything. Howl’s Moving Castle is a favorite of mine second only to the Chrestomanci series, and I decided to re-read it in honor of her passing away recently. But go read them both, like yesterday, if you haven’t. SERIOUSLY!

Since I almost always have trouble with reviewing re-reads without gushing all over myself, I thought I’d do something fun and different today. Though there has been an animated movie made, this book is so good it deserves to be made into a Live Action film, so I decided to share my dream cast. (Keep in mind that the story is set in an alternate UK so I tried to keep it an all British cast)

Howl: This is the first read-through that I’ve actually been able to cast Howl, he’s so difficult and quirky. But, finally, I think I have the perfect choice (at least for me).

Quirky and lovable as the 11th Doctor, I could actually hear Matt Smith saying Howl’s lines in my head.

Sophie Hatter:

Emma Thompson is a wonderful actress and I think she could really pull off both young and old versions of Sophie.

Calcifer: (no picture for this one, because it’s just about the voice) Either Andy-Lee Potts, known for his roles in Primeval and Syfy’s Alice, or David Tennant, known for the title role of Doctor Who (though I prefer his scottish accent for this particular role).

The Witch of the Waste:

For those who have never seen Emilia Fox in anything, she does an AMAZING beautiful bad lady. Look her up in Merlin as Morgause. Pretty, yeah, but so evil!

Lettie Hatter:

I actually haven’t seen Holliday Grainger in that much, but I think she’s perfect for the gorgeous younger sister Lettie.

Martha Hatter:

And finally, for Sophie’s youngest sister Martha, Talulah Riley, known for her roles in Pride and Prejudice and St. Trinian’s. It is only too bad that Martha wouldn’t show up as much, because Talulah is an amazing actress.

I could go on (Maggie Smith as Mrs. Pentstemmon, don’t you think?) but that’s the main characters. What are your thoughts on casting?





Book Review: Timeless

May
11
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Timeless Timeless by
Series: Timeless #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 290
Source:
Goodreads

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

My Review:

I have always loved out-of-time love stories. I was rather obsessed with Kate and Leopold and The Lake House when they came out, and I love the Doctor Who episodes like “The Girl in the Fireplace.” So when I heard about Timeless I got really excited!


The story itself was fairly interesting. I loved Philip! I always feel like I should have been born in another time because I cannot stand modern boys (for the most part). I want gentlemanly behavior and chivalrous treatment, and frankly boys look better in suits. (This is probably why I love steampunk as a genre – I’m too attached to my modern appliances to truly live back then, but I want to live before chivalry died.) I also thought she solved most of the convoluted-ness of the situation fairly well, but in some ways she explained everything, while in others nothing. 


This brings me to my second point. While I wanted to love the book, it felt like a prequel. It didn’t grab me and suck me in the way I wanted it to, because I spent the whole time waiting for something big to happen. Then, the last few pages finally felt like the start of the real story, but it ended! I think this is a result of what she chose to explain. In my mind, a prequel explains all of the little details in the backstory that weren’t absolutely essential to the original story, while the true “first book” explains all the really big important stuff. I wanted to know how Irving/Henry figured out how to time travel, and why he chose Michele’s mom and more of that story, but instead I got the side story of Michele’s romance.


That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book, and I will definitely be looking for the second in the series. It’s a great book, especially for a debut! If you think you’ll like it, try it. If not, maybe wait until the rest of the series comes out and then try it.





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