Mini Reviews (Maya Banks, Sarah MacLean, Kenneth Oppel)

I seem to love letting the read books pile up after I finish them, so I’ll be doing a mini review post for some of the ones I’ve finished to save some space. Of course “mini” review means short, so we’ll see how longwinded I get … 

never seduce a scotNever Seduce a Scot (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs, #1) by Maya Banks

Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Bought (ebook)
Rating: 5/5

So this was my very first Maya Banks book! I had heard SO many wonderful things about her books and decided to finally – FINALLY! – give her a try since I love historical romance and wanted something fun to read. This one fit the bill perfectly! Although, when I started reading, I was a little nervous since the main character was deaf — not a bad thing about her, but how would that convey in the book? Would we constantly be in her head? Would there be chemistry between her and the male lead? Soon I was completely devouring the book and loving the fact that even though one of the characters really didn’t speak, there was still TONS of chemistry between her and the male lead and SUCH a great story to be had! The characters in this story were very engaging and had such depth to them. And I kind of loved the whole family-hating-family aspect of it all, like a forbidden romance. It was kind of predictable towards the end, but I had so much fun reading this story and know that I’ll have to go back to the series soon — as well as try some of Maya’s (many) other series.

rogue by any other nameA Rogue By Any Other Name (The Rule of Scoundrels, #1) by Sarah MacLean

Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Won (Paperback)
Rating: 4/5

Just like Maya Banks, I had heard so many good things about Sarah MacLean. I had won this book and was very interested to read it, but thought I might not like it because of the hype. Turns out, it was a nice little book, though I definitely didn’t love it like everyone else. I think a lot of this was because of the whole “adventure” part of Penelope’s life. All she wanted was adventure and really, what she got didn’t seem very adventurous to me, and by the end of the book I was kind of annoyed by the whole “adventure” prospect. However, I did kind of love Bourne and I felt like him and Penelope had some great chemistry, AND I loved that they were getting together after knowing each other as children. This was one of those books that went on and on and had me thinking that all things could be resolved if only the two characters would just talk to one another, for goodness sake, BUT it was still a nice historical romance read. I’m still interested in the rest of the series … I’m sure it has to do with Penelope’s sisters, or the other men at Bourne’s gambling hell, but either way I’m sure they’ll be fun as well.

such wicked intentSuch Wicked Intent (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #2) by Kenneth Oppel

Genre: YA Horror
Source: Won (Hardcover)
Rating: 5/5

When I won a copy of Such Wicked Intent from the publisher, I was so excited. I had just finished the first book in the series and was eager to dive into the second. This was two years ago. Clearly, I wasn’t as eager as I had thought. I was hesitant about diving in this past week because I figured I would forget everything from the first book and this one wouldn’t make sense, BUT I just don’t have time to reread ALL the books now, so I dove in. And was pleasantly surprised at how engaging the whole story was, how super creepy aspects of it were, AND how easy it as to really get into it, having read the previous one years ago. Kenneth Oppel sure knows how to write creepy! And it’s written in such a gothic and interesting way. I loved all of the characters, especially how different Victor, Henry, and Elizabeth were from one another. And for most of the book I wanted to strangle Elizabeth, but that was a good thing. I’m pretty sure the reader was supposed to feel that way. What else can I say? Mud babies. No, no thank you. Super awesome book – I’m not sure if there are going to be more in the series, but I sure hope so! It ended in a way that made me think there could be more, so we’ll see. At any rate, I do want to read more Kenneth Oppel!

Have you read these books? What are your thoughts?

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[Audiobook] Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

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172 hours on the moonTitle: 172 Hours on the Moon
Author: Johan Harstad
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Source: Library (Overdrive)

Length: 8 hours 43 minutes (Unabridged)
Narrated by: Casey Holloway
Published by: Hachette Audio

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It’s been more than forty years since NASA sent the first men to the moon, and to grab some much-needed funding and attention, they decide to launch an historic international lottery in which three lucky teenagers can win a week-long trip to moon base DARLAH 2–a place that no one but top government officials even knew existed until now. The three winners, Antoine, Midori, and Mia, come from all over the world, and they have only one thing in common: they aren’t especially interested in space travel.

But just before the scheduled launch, the teenagers each experience strange, inexplicable events, one of which contains a direct warning not to travel to the moon. Little do they know that there was a reason NASA never sent anyone back there until now–a sinister reason. But the countdown has already begun, and as soon as they set foot on the moon… everything goes wrong.

Strap yourself in for this chilling adventure from a young Norwegian author on the rise. You’ll want to keep your lights on long after you’ve heard the last chapter.

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So there’s this Doctor Who episode that takes place on Mars. People think, “Oh, there’s water on Mars! It must be habitable!” And then they go there and all hell breaks lose. Does that speak to the naivete of humans? That we’d just assume that anywhere would be hospitable towards us? Just because we’re humans? I mean, I may go way out on a limb with this, but I’m sure there is some GREAT evil lurking out there.

This book has been on my radar for quite some time. I looked at it ALL THE TIME at the bookstore and never picked it up. I think I had the paperback out from the library for a while, but never read it. But then I remember book blogger Christa (from More Than Magic) talking about the book and its creepy factor and I knew I had to give it another chance. Thankfully, my library had the audio available for download.

I’d like to say that right off the bat I was hooked, but a lot of the story in the beginning is set up. We meet different characters and learn their situations. We get to see how they hear about this mission to the moon and how they’re chosen. Then it’s a lot of preparation for the moon and whatnot and then FINALLY we get to the moon. The first part of the book was definitely quite anti-climactic for me. But then we get into the crazy spooky parts of the last half of the book and I have to say — it’s terrifying!

I’m not sure how believable the idea of the government choosing a bunch of teenagers to go to space is, but it was a fun journey. It’s not *just* teenages (because THAT would definitely be unbelievable), but there are adults on the mission as well. There are also other … entities … that are in the story and between them and the setting and the creepiness of traveling somewhere where you can’t escape evil worked well together. In fact, at times it was quite disturbing.

The narration wasn’t bad for this story. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the narrator. She tended to have weird pauses in the story — kind of like if William Shatner were narrating. But I did like her accents for the different characters and liked how easy it was to differentiate between them all as I listened. Her pacing was good, but I almost wanted someone older, or maybe even a male narrator. But since our main character is a female, I guess that wouldn’t work.

I love stories like this and was so happy with the ending. The last 30 – 40% of the story was perfect. The pacing, the set-ups, the twists and turns … it all made me want to just keep listening to the story. In fact, I listened to the whole thing in an afternoon and a morning and was so happy to have finally given it a chance. Reading other reviews, though, I think there were pictures in the physical book to accompany the story, so I’m not sure if I missed out or not, but it might be worth a look the next time I’m in the bookstore or the library. I look forward to more creepy stories like this!

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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the ocean at the end of the laneTitle: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author:
Neil Gaiman
Genre:
Fantasy
Source:
Purchased (Hardcover)

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Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

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This book was definitely not what I was expecting. But then, when it comes to Neil Gaiman, do we ever really know what to expect?

Call me crazy, but I thought this was going to be an ordinary, contemporary novel. Yes, I’m crazy. Instead, I got a sweeping story about a boy and his friend, a really gross worm, an odd family on a farm, and an ocean that looks like a pond.

“As we age, we become our parents; live long enough and we see faces repeat in time.”

Honestly, when I finished reading this story, I knew it had been a gooder. It had made me squirm, it made me swoon (mainly over Neil’s gorgeous writing), and it had me wondering what was going on. There was a hint of witchcraft going on throughout the story and I kept wondering if it was intentional or if it was just the thing to come out of a young 7-year-old boy’s imagination.

Of course, even with the fantastical elements, there’s a lot of serious stuff going on. At times, the story reads like any of Neil’s books for younger audiences (I saw hints of Coraline at times with Ursula), but then there are very adult, very dark things that happen. Really, it’s a book that could use a second reading to really take in everything, to make sure that it’s all understood. With its unique blend of fairytale and altered memories, a reader is left to wonder what was real and what was not?

In the end, Neil still remains to be one of my favourite authors. I will admit that I haven’t dove into his adult books as readily as I should, but I know I will change that in the future. His books may be slightly twisted and dark, but they’re still so rewarding to read.

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