July Recent Reads Reviews

It’s time for some reviews on books I’ve read recently (well, since my last reviews in April). As a reminder of my new scoring system, I’m using emoticons. Here’s what they mean:

Open-mouthed smileWOW—I loved this book and will talk/have talked about/shared it with others.

Smile–Not totally in love, but this was a great book and I may talk about/share it with others.

Thinking smile–This was okay. I enjoyed reading it, but it’s not my favorite.

Sad smile–This wasn’t for me. I stopped reading and couldn’t bring myself to finish.

Steaming mad–How did this get published?

If you happen to be the author of one of the books I review, please remember this is my honest opinion. Don’t hate me if I don’t give your book a great big happy grin. I am only one reader in the whole wide readership and I’m sure there are those who’ll love your work—it just wasn’t me.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel–Open-mouthed smile–I picked this up at a book fair at the middle school last year. It sat in my TBR pile for quite a while—not because I didn’t want to read it, but because there were so many other books I had added to the pile first (yes, I’m reviewing out of order). I passed over some of the books that had been in the pile much longer and picked up this one. I guess I was in the mood for something dark. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I loved how Oppel treated Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein and other characters. The idea of showing Victor’s earlier years is brilliant! It looked interesting when I picked it up in the book fair, but I may not have if the librarian (a trusted friend) had mentioned she picked herself up a copy. I’m glad I bought it! Oppel’s tale is rich with beautiful prose, and he handles the dark mind of Victor in a sympathetic and engrossing way. This is one I’ve added to my re-read pile.

The story—Sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein’s twin brother, Konrad, is ill and the doctors can’t seem to cure him. Desperate to save his brother, Victor enlists the help of his friend, Henry, and his beautiful cousin, Elizabeth, to help him find a cure. They think they’ve found the answer when they stumble on a secret library filled with Alchemy books. The practice of Alchemy is against the law, but Victor is willing to risk it when he discovers a recipe for the Elixir of Life. Certain it will cure his brother, he’s willing to make great sacrifices (I won’t tell you what and spoil it) to get the ingredients and see the potion made.

 

Dangerous Favor by Joyce DiPastena–Open-mouthed smile–While this wasn’t a “recent” read, I don’t remember reviewing it and wanted to. I love how DiPastena gives a brand new story and characters while still blending in past characters from her novels, Loyalty’s Web and Illuminations of the Heart. This is another sweet (and clean) romance that transports the reader to the middle ages. I loved traipsing across medieval France with Mathilde and Etienne!

The story—Mathilde’s family was thrust into poverty when her father was accused of stealing from the king. Mathilde knows he’s innocent, but without a rich and connected husband, she has no way to prove it. She’s set her sights on Lord Therri and is determined to win his hand—and money and connections. She sets out to grant Therri her favor (an embroidered white ribbon her brother let her borrow) for the knight’s tournament. Instead, she’s tricked into granting her favor to Therri’s friend, Etienne. This sets in motion a chain of events that puts Mathilde and those around her in danger. Etinne is smitten by Mathilde and determined to save her from the dangerous nightmares of her past.

 

Drawn by Marie Lamba–Open-mouthed smile–Lamba’s great characters pulled me into the story, but it was the fascination of time travel/ghosts of the past that kept me reading. I’m a sucker for castles and loved the one in Drawn. The twining of past and present was brilliantly done, as was the romance and growth of the characters in both time periods. There were a few things I figured out before they were revealed (including who the “bad guy” was). I’ve been known to stop reading books when they are too predictable—but there has to be an eye-roll factor present for me to put it down, and there wasn’t any eye-rolling while I read Drawn. Even though I figured it out, Lamba’s characters and world were interesting and real enough to keep me reading.

The story—Michelle De Freccio isn’t sure she’s going to like living in England with her father or attending Wallingford Academy, but she’s willing to give it a try. Especially since no one knows her, and she won’t have the embarrassment of being known as the daughter of a psychic mother and schizophrenic brother to deal with. She’s making a new life for herself and enjoying drawing the mysterious man who’s showed up in her drawings—until she comes face to face with him. She’s immediately drawn to him, but things get complicated when she discovers who he really is. When she tries to unravel the mystery of him, it changes her future and his.

 

Those are some of my recent (or not so recent) reads. There are more I’ve read and need to review, but this is already a long post so they’ll have to wait until next time.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books have been your favorite reads recently?

 

Read on!

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About joanstradling

I’m a wife, mother, writer, pet wrangler, crafter, student, and anything else I can fit into my busy schedule. I still hope to ride a dragon, discover a new world by walking through a wardrobe, meet a Hobbit, or any of the other amazing things I read about as a child. In the meantime, I imagine and write about my own incredible worlds and characters–and continue to live vicariously through books.
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