Book Review | This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

I received an ARC of This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee from Harper Teen for an honest review.

It’s set in a steampunk version of Europe in 1816, mostly in Genevia, Switzerland. The main character, Alasdair Finch, was loosely based off the student of Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, however the intentions that Alasdair has for resurrecting his brother, Oliver Finch, are different from Frankenstein’s. The depth of the brothers’ relationship cuts down deep, so deep that Alasdair felt he couldn’t live without his brother after Oliver’s fall from the clock tower. Mystery and lies shroud the night of Oliver’s death up until the climax at the end.

Another thing that drives the story is the inclusion of Mary Shelley as a character. Mary becomes a friend of the brothers at the beginning of the summer before Oliver’s death and resurrection. Lee has given her an active role and voice in This Monstrous Thing. It was refreshing to see Mary, as well as dislike her for things she did and didn’t do whenever she popped into a scene. It actually shed light on what Mary’s life had been like at the time that she wrote Frankenstein because of course she publishes Frankenstein within This Monstrous Thing, at first anonymously (as she had in reality), then republished it under her own name. I thought Mackenzi Lee wrote in Mary Shelley so well in being as true to what we know of Shelley’s past and inserting into this fictitious world.

It was also refreshing to read a novel without any romance. There were friendships, whether newly formed, or otherwise frayed and broken. I thought some of the side characters were just as strong and relevant to the story as the main characters who were driving it were. Over all, great novel and I highly recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a new release to read this fall and/or October. It just hit book stores today, so check it out.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Top Five Wednesday | Title Fonts

Top Five Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey on youtube and anyone is welcome to join the group on goodreads. This week’s top is title fonts. My interest definitely peaks when I seen a title font that I like, almost as much as a handsome book cover. This’ll be hard to choose from, but I guess I’ll pick my favorites from my shelve.

  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – I grew up reading these books and the fact that the lightning bolt font stayed the same for the movies just made this series even more for me. I just automatically associate it with Harry Potter. If I see a book with similar font I always think Harry Potter before I actually read it to discover it’s something else. There’s just too much of my childhood attached with reading the series to not mention it.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik [U.S. cover] – This font just makes me think of the font in the old, illustrated copies of Cinderella where it starts ‘Once upon a time…’. I just love it so much. Anything that has a fairy tale theme/font and I’m sold. I’m such a [day]dreamer.
  • The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider – I went through a phase in middle school and high school where I would change up my handwriting (like so many of my friends) when I wrote notes in those comp books back and forth between my friends and I. And the font on this cover reminds me of one of the most common handwriting fonts my friends and I wrote in the majority of the time.
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – The font just screams high fantasy, which I love reading. I also associate dragons with high fantasy, so it’s always a huge plus when there are dragons in any high fantasy novel that I read. Plus I feel like the Grisha trilogy is self-explanatory.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir [the original U.S. paperback cover] – I love the simplicity of this font against the orange-red backdrop of Mars with the astronaut on the cover.

Top Fantasy Reads | 2015

I like a good fantasy novel, so here are some of my favorites. Just to be fair on other fantasy novels, I’m not going to include Harry Potter in this list; look at my list of posts for the Harry Potter book tag. It’s no competition with Harry Potter because I grew up with that series; it was the series that got me into reading.

  • An Ember in the Ashes by Saba Tahir – This is the first book in a new series that came out a few months ago. I liked it a lot, especially the fact that there really isn’t any romance in it. You see more character development because the two main characters that the perspective shifts between don’t even meet until close to the halfway part, and even then their encounters are spaced out. It has a middle eastern feel to the atmosphere of the world the story’s set in. The author also doesn’t shy away from violence, which is nice to read because most of the time in YA violence and sensitive topics/themes are glossed over, barely touched, but Tahir goes all in. The action/adventure in this will also pull you right in.
  • Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – Another first book in a new series that came out last month. If you love books and reading, then you need to read this. The Great Library in Alexandria controls what can be read and the librarians don’t allow anyone to own originals. You have to read what’s available on the Codex, which the library controls by keeping titles that they allow the people to read. The main character, Jess, is one of the teenagers that gets accepted into the librarian training program. It’s definitely an adventure type of fantasy. It gave me the same feeling that reading Harry Potter gives me, which naturally means it’s sucked me right in.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novak – This is everything and more that I want in a fantasy. It’s an original fairy tale of its own making. There’s a dragon, of sorts, a girl who discovers she can harness magic, and a magical wood. The world that this story is crafted in feels as real as our own. I loved everything about it. It’s also a standalone fantasy, and its extremely satisfying as just a standalone, which is hard to come by with other standalone novels in the fantasy genre.
  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman – This list wouldn’t be complete without a Neil Gaiman novel. American Gods is also notable, though I like Anansi Boys just a bit more. It’s twisted and fantastical and I loved every bit of it. It’s also an adult fantasy. Gaiman just rules over the genre of fantasy. If you only read one of his books, then make it this one.
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – This is a first book in a new series (or is it a trilogy?); the sequel comes out this fall. I loved this. It’s a great high fantasy and the world is crafted into four seasons (places) that are at war, so to speak. Well, at least Autumn and Winter are at war. Winter was wiped out by Autumn and years later the Winter heir lashes back. The writing is also beautiful.

There you have it. These are my top fantasy favorites. I’ve left out some purposely because they deserve their own posts. Let me know if you’ve read some of these, or any that you want to read. Happy reading!

September TBR | 2015

Hopefully I’ll be able to read more this month now that I’m settled back into work for the new school year. I’m going to start my half-marathon training in the middle of this month, but that won’t suck up too much of my free time since I mostly find time to read on my break and in the evenings before bed. Here are a few books I hope to get to this month.

  • This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee – A steampunk reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I’ve already started reading this and am loving it. I have a physical ARC that I won on goodreads so I’ll be posting an honest review after I finish it. It releases at the end of this month.
  • Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo – Because I need to read this conclusion to the Grisha trilogy.
  • Forged by Erin Bowman – Need to read this conclusion to the Taken trilogy.
  • Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater – Need to read both these books since Raven King comes out at the beginning of next year. I’m also ready to dive back into this world.
  • Finish reading Armada by Ernest Cline so I can post my honest review.
  • I also have a couple other ARCs I need to read (should be fast reads since they’re relatively short).

We’ll see how many of these I get to this month as I’m sure I won’t read this whole list. It’s just nice to have a set list to pull titles from so that I know what to read next. It also gives the illusion that I’m organized.

August Wrap Up | 2015

I didn’t get as much reading this month as I would have liked, but that was mainly due to the fact that I went back to work since school started back up this month (I’m a behavioral health teacher assistant in the K-3rd grades ASD lower-functioning classroom at an elementary school). But here are the books that I either read or are working on finishing.

  • Princess in Love by Meg Cabot – I’m still working my way back through this series and I managed reread this at the beginning of the month. I loved it even more than I did the first time.
  • Princess in Waiting by Meg Cabot – Ditto what I said about PiL. This series is just near and dear to my heart because they’re such a big part of my childhood as far as books I read as a kid.
  • Another Day by David Levithan – It’s not a sequel to “Every Day,” which is important to know going in. If you haven’t read “Every Day,” then you can read this without any confusion as it truly can be read as a standalone. It’s a companion, yet it takes place during the same timeline of “Every Day.” The big difference is that “Another Day” follows the perspective of Rhiannon instead of A. I gave this 3.5 to 4 stars because I still love Every Day more and Another Day just didn’t whoa me in the same way.
  • Armada by Ernest Cline – I’m halfway through this and I’m planning on finishing it. I’m enjoying it a lot. Not as much as I loved Cline’s debut novel (“Ready Player One”), but still like it. I’ll write a review of it once I’m finished with it.

There’s my short list of books read this month. Hopefully I can read more in September.

Harry Potter Book Tag | 2015

Thought I’d do the Harry Potter Book Tag since I haven’t yet and it’s past overdo, especially I grew up right along with the series as the books were released. Harry Potter was a big part of my childhood. I always have fond memories of reading the books and surrounding the series as a whole. I’ve met some of my best friends just by attending LeakyCon events and being involved in multiple forums that make up the fandom. Harry Potter fans are truly the nicest and friendliest batch of nerds that are out there. I couldn’t have chosen a better fandom to be a part of. So, without further ado, let’s get this party started.

  • What is your favorite Harry Potter book? I’m going to have to go with Prisoner of Azkaban because it’s the book we’re first introduced to Remus Lupin and Sirius Black (two of my favorite characters from the series). We also learn more about Harry’s dad and his friends in this book, which I enjoyed reading. This book also got me through my awkward phase in middle school as I reread it countless times. Let’s just say that my copy of PoA is literally falling a part and if I ever want to read it again (which I intend to), I’ll need to purchase another copy. But I’ll never get rid of my first copy because of the memories I have of reading it during my time in middle school as it truly acted as security blanket.
  • What is your favorite movie? As much as I love Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, I’m going to have to go with Half-Blood Prince on this one. It was just so laugh out loud funny and even though a lot was left out from the book, I felt it was still a great adaption.
  • What is your least favorite book in the series? This is a hard one because I love all the books so much for different reasons, but since I have to choose one that I liked the least, then I’d say Order of the Phoenix. It was just so long and drawn out, and it took forever for Harry and co. to go back to Hogwarts. The summer just felt longer than it should have been. But once they were back at Hogwarts, I loved it.
  • What are some parts in the books/movies that made you cry? Basically every character death made me cry. I cried the most over the last three books (OotP, HBP, and DH) than I did when I read any of the others. The Prince’s Tale chapter in DH because I felt like we saw more of Snape and everything just fell into place. My heart definitely ached as I cried my eyes out.
  • What is your favorite character in the series? Luna Lovegood. She’s just so unique and quirky. She also doesn’t care what others think of her. She flaunts her weirdness and that’s pretty dang cool.
  • What would your Patronus be? Not sure… probably a dog because that’s my favorite animal. Dogs also loyal and friendly, which I’m both. Plus, Sirius/Padfoot is one of my favorite characters.
  • If you could have the Resurrection Stone, Elder Wand, or Invisibility Cloak, which one would you choose? Without a doubt, I’d choose the Invisibility Cloak.
  • What House would you be in? Hufflepuff. Even before Pottermore, I identified as more of a Hufflepuff than any of the other houses. The tests pre-Pottermore sorted me in both Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, then Pottermore sorted me in Hufflepuff. I suppose I also relate to Ravenclaw, but I’m definitely more Hufflepuff.
  • If you could meet any of the cast, who would it be? I’ve already met quite a handful of the actors that played side characters at LeakyCon events I’ve gone to (Seamus, Pansy (the actress from the last few movies, Scarlet Byrn), Luna, Percy, young Lily from DH, young Severus from DH, and the next generation actors from the epilogue at LeakyCon events I’ve attended. I’d really like to meet Daniel, Emma, and Rupert, though.
  • Have you played any of the video games? Nope, though I want to.
  • If you were on the Quidditch team, which position would you play? I’m not very good at sports, but I think I’d make a decent seeker.
  • Were you happy with the ending? Epilogue not withstanding, I was satisfied with the ending. I do like the epilogue, but I feel like it was just too much like fanfiction when I first read it.
  • How much does Harry Potter mean to you? It means a lot to me because as I already stated it was a big part of my childhood. It was also what nourished my love of books and reading.

And there you have it. I can finally cross the Harry Potter book tag off of my things to blog about. Hope you enjoyed this post and let me know what are some things you like about the series.