Wednesday, February 8, 2017

[Review] This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
Rating: 4 stars

Release Date: September 22nd 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.
His brother, Oliver—dead.
His sweetheart, Mary—gone.
His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Steampunk! Frankenstein! Historical fiction!

It's a mashing of various ideas into what led to a surprisingly great book. I've read several steampunk books in the past and despite how cool I find steampunk aesthetically, I find it hard to immerse myself in the lore. There's so many technicalities and so much worldbuilding, that it ends up confusing me. But in This Monstrous Thing, the concept of Shadow Boys and mechanical ligaments serving as aids for those who need - that's akin to modern technology, is it not? Adding in Mary Shelley and retelling Frankenstein in the sense that this was her inspiration makes that all the more interesting.

Monday, February 6, 2017

[Review] Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods

Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods
Rating: 3 stars

Release Date: May 10th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
As the daughter of an expert astrologer, Wilamena Carlisle knows that truth lies within the stars. So when she discovers a planetary alignment that won’t repeat for a decade, she’s forced to tackle her greatest astrological fear: The Fifth House—relationships and love. But Wil must decide whether to trust her heart or her chart when she falls for a sensitive guitar player whose zodiac sign points to cosmic disaster.
If Wil’s fate is truly written in the stars, then this summer is about to go supernova. . . .

Wilamena Carlisle has only a few weeks to find her one shot at love, according to her astrological chart. Her mother, famed astrologer, taught her that the stars never lie. But would she fall for someone outside of chart?

Conceptually, this sounds adorable. Falling for someone unexpected? Cute. Unfortunately, I didn't really like this as much as I wanted to.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

[Review] Vicious (Vicious #1) by V.E. Schwab

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Series: Vicious #1
Rating: 4.5 stars

Release Date: September 24th 2013

Goodreads Synopsis:
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Victoria Schwab's Vicious is quite... vicious indeed. This is not the bloodless, black-and-white, stereotypical superhero story for the faint of heart.

Eliot Cardale (later Eli Ever) and Victor Vale are arrogant and ambitious pre-med students who test the limits of life by testing out the theories of EO's, otherwise known as ExtraOrdinary people. To become an EO requires a NDE (near death experience) that is propelled by the will to live. But by becoming EOs, they destroy their friendship, and turn into enemies, playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse ten years later.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Raisa's Recap: Best Books of 2016

I haven't had much time to blog lately... but I've been trying to get back into the habit. I never discussed my favorite books of 2016, nor did I reach my goal of 100 books read on Goodreads (but I was pretty close!). Better late than never, no?

Favorites of 2016

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

[Review] The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Rating: 4.5 stars

Version: ARC Paperback
Published: January 10th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis: 
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

"You will ride to where earth meets sky. You will be born three times: once of illusions, once of flesh, and once of spirit. You will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, weep for a nightingale, and die by your own choosing." 

This was just to beautifully written to put down. It was truly a mystical fairy tale that captivated me, from the poetic language to the marvelous characters. Every time I saw a Russian word I understood I was happy (from years of taking it in high school).

Katherine Arden outdid herself, bringing together bits of old Russian folklore and combining all into one marvelous story. I felt as though I was in the forest with Vasya, immersed in the magic and mystery behind the woods.