Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Novella Reviews: Throne of Glass Novellas by Sarah J. Maass

Throne of Glass Novellas (#0.1 - 0.4)
by Sarah J. Maass

Genre: Fantasy
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: between Jan 2012 – July 2012
Source: Kindle store
Age Rating: 14+

A Throne of Glass novella (synopsis for #0.1).

On a remote island in a tropical sea, Celaena Sardothien, feared assassin, has come for retribution. She’s been sent by the Assassin’s Guild to collect on a debt they are owed by the Lord of the Pirates. But when Celaena learns that the agreed payment is not in money, but in slaves, her mission suddenly changes—and she will risk everything to right the wrong she’s been sent to bring about. 

My Review

I read these novellas during the summer and they are fantastic! These are all prequels to the novel series, Throne of Glass, which is already out now. As of writing and publishing this review, I have yet to read the first novel, but reading these novellas completely sold me on buying the novel, so I have it waiting on my shelf.

These are fully realized, complete stories about the trained assassin, Celaena Sardothien, who is the number one assassin in her country of residence. There are, like a lot of fantasy novels, neighboring kingdoms and she does get to travel to some of the nearby kingdoms during her adventures in assassinating people. She's a funny girl and very much a girly-girl, despite being so deadly. She loves to wear pretty dresses and play the pianoforte. She starts out really spoiled and bratty at age 16, but, through her trials of these novellas, she matures.

I really like Sam, her childhood friend and rival assassin in the Assassin's Guild who becomes her love interest. Definitely no insta-love-upon-meeting-her-soul-mate-nonsense going on here. She just learns to see him a different way because they're both maturing before each others' eyes and he's become pretty darn good-looking in his young adulthood, ahem. I also hate, hate, HATE their boss Arobynn, who really is a truly worthy villain character. My lord, this man is so heinous and Machiavellian, it's sick. What he does to Celaena and Sam is beyond. I've never been so in hate with a villain character. It's pretty awesome.

Celaena doesn't spend a whole lot of time killing people because the stories are more about what she goes through that makes her become who she is by the time you read Book 1, and by then, she has spent some time as a slave/prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier due to the king's punishment. It really sets things up for the novel and I figure I'll have a much firmer grasp on it than would somebody else who just jumps into it without batting an eyelash at the novellas. I love having so much of the story set up and extra material for this amazing series. Check these out, people!

Average score: 4.5/5 stars.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Review: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

by Daniel Marks

Genre: Paranormal/Horror
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
Source: ARC from publisher
Age Rating: 16+

Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.


Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days. It’ll be brutal... and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her. 

My Review

Velveteen is a book I've been waiting to read for about two years now because I found Danny Marks somehow through his YouTube vlogging. He's such a great personality and he'd vlog about editing Velveteen, getting it ready for his agent to go on out on sub with it, and then had a very quick sale of the manuscript to his publisher. Of course, I was really happy to have been approved for an ARC several months ago.

But, after reading Velveteen, it really wasn't a book that captured my attention for the right reasons. Sure, it's very different YA paranormal fiction from what you've likely encountered, and that is good. The world building is unique and well-detailed—it's interesting, and I had no trouble at all envisioning the world of purgatory and understanding the logic of how it operated. Still, this ends up not being enough to completely save this book for me.

First off, the writing is verbose—very verbose—so, it should have been pared down. It would have trimmed off 100+ pages, as this was a tad too long of a read. Velvet, being the protagonist, starts out with the goal to kill the serial killer, Bonesaw, who is her killer. I love that whole angle, but, weirdly, she doesn't do the most obvious thing and just grab one of his many precious knives and stab him to death in his sleep. As badly as she wants to kill him, I think her reason for not killing him doesn't work. She's too afraid, apparently. Meh....

She spends most of her time in purgatory because she's not even supposed to be in the world of the living at all. She is part of a Salvage team—a group of purgatory souls who go to 'daylight,' where living people live, and take care of problems caused by wayward purgatory souls messing up things and causing shadowquakes in purgatory. Apparently, doing anything in daylight causes shadowquakes in purgatory.

This is why Velvet feels guilty every time she haunts Bonesaw, or tries to free his victims. She has to do this all secretly. That's fine, hun, but could you just get your revenge over with already? It's kind of sucky having all these shadowquakes because you're so darn undetermined to kill your killer.

Next, I must move on to Nick, Velvet's love interest who just doesn't really need to be in the story because he seems like he could have been excluded and it wouldn't have changed the story much. Although, he does do some heroic things with his inexplicable specialness. He's a golden boy, perfect jock guy whose pretty funny, but still, not really layered with any depth. Neither is anyone else. Although, I suppose Bonesaw is the lone character with any hint of depth, oddly enough.

My biggest problem with this novel is that the real rub of the story, the story itself, doesn't emerge until the very end. Get this: a group of wayward souls, revolutionists, want to escape purgatory and possess the living bodies of humans in order to have a second life. That would make a cool premise for a story, if only it had been used as the actual story for this novel. But, we don't find out that's the motive of the revolutionists until it's nearly over, so it is mostly just a story about an unremarkable teen girl living in purgatory trying not to jump on the hot new guy in front of everybody. She has no purpose, no goal until the end and it's too late to keep the story engaging.

It's not a bad read, but one that doesn't engage the emotions much because life is too easy for Velvet until the very, very end and it's just too late to cop a care for her, or anybody else, by then. Depending on taste, you may find this a really fun story, so go ahead and try it if it sounds like your cup o' tea.

My score: 3/5 stars.

*I received a copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Such Wicked Intent (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #2)
by Kenneth Oppel

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Gothic/Horror
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
Source: hardcover purchase
Age Rating: 14+
Devotion turns deadly in this second Gothic thriller from Kenneth Oppel. When does obsession become madness? Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again—just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother’s betrothed.

If only these things were not so tempting.

When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor’s twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, the four venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return. 

My Review

This was another epic installment in The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series, arguably better than the first one. I really have no choice but to write spoilers, so don't read the MIDDLE of this review if you have any intention of reading the first book, This Dark Endeavor. The plot is centered around what takes place at the end of the first novel and, trust me, you don't want to ruin it for yourself!There are no significant spoilers for the second book.


Victor has found a way into the spirit world where his twin brother, Konrad, now resides because he died at the end of the first book. (See what I mean? I told you not to read the middle of this review!) Victor vowed to himself that he'd find a way to bring Konrad back because he just can't leave well enough alone. With a special elixir taken orally, he, Elizabeth and Henry all run amok in the spirit world, which is literally in the same location as Chateau Frankenstein. It's so cool how they simply take the elixir, close their eyes, open them again and they're in the spirit world where the spirits of those who once inhabited the chateau still linger until they can be 'gathered.'

Victor's dark library was burned down along with almost all its books, except one, and that surviving book gives him the key to discovering more secret attics and other secret passages. Once inside the spirit world, he finds that everything there is the spirit of what once existed, thus the dark library is fully intact there. He finds more answers to his questions about how to grow a body for Konrad in the world of the living and he sets out to accomplish it.

Of course, nothing Victor ever does goes according to plan and chaos ensues when he, Elizabeth and Henry tread down that path. Along the way, he faces his own inner demons, again, his continuing feelings for Elizabeth, and his new found jealously of Henry for Elizabeth's affections. Despite how much he says he wants Elizabeth for himself, he still has every intention of bringing Konrad, her fiance, back to life. Blood is thicker than water, I suppose.

There is another love triangle and, in fact, there are two! But, they are done exquisitely and shouldn't worry those who hate love triangles in YA fiction. No one strings anybody along just for the sake of it. Jealousies and rivalries arise organically and work just like how they do in real life. It's well done and adds so much good drama to the story and never overtakes the plot. The plot always remains centered around getting Konrad a body to inhabit in the living world again.


(Okay, now you can read this review again.) Does Victor obtain his goal? Well, you'll just have to read the book and find out for yourself. It's so beautifully written and such a well-told story with amazing characters, I can't see anybody not liking this unless you just don't like good storytelling and great drama. It's exhilarating and adventurous, although not adventurous in the same way as the first book, since they never really leave the chateau. But, I think I might have liked this book better because they journey, in a manner of speaking, so much farther away, despite never leaving home. Really cool little paradox there.

This is possibly the last book in the series, meaning it's a duology. Which is fine with me, if that's all the author has to say about the characters and the story. As much as I'd love another book, I'm all for authors writing only what really needs to be written and avoiding filler fluff as best as possible. At any rate, even if this truly is the end of this series, the story most definitely continues in the original classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

My score: 5/5 stars. (Total fave!)

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