August 29, 2012

RTW: August Read

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 
This week's topic:
What was the best book you read in August?

I've read a really wide variety of books this month, but two really stood out:

This Dark Endeavor - Kenneth Oppel

Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real. They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrad’s life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another. (from Goodreads)

This was recommended very highly to me by my sister, and the fact that it is basically a prequel to the Frankenstein story by Mary Shelley (which I've read) was really fascinating. We're inside of Victor Frankenstein's mind and as such, we get a glimpse into his motivation for doing the things he does which will eventually lead to his creation of the famous monster. Victor is rash and impulsive and at times arrogant, but ultimately he's just craving a little praise for his abilitiesunderstandable when he's held up against his own seemingly perfect twin brother. This Dark Endeavor takes Frankenstein's wackadoodle re-animator and turns him into a sympathetic individual who we actually want to see succeed in his endeavor, as dark as it may be. Plus, there's romance and a fascinating setting—Geneva. Enough said.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do. (from Goodreads)

After speeding through Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore back in the spring, I was looking for more great fantasy and Rae Carson definitely delivered. (As did Jess Silverstein at Reading on the F TrainI won this on her blog!) This was unlike anything else I've ever read, which right away made it appealing. The setting was reminiscent of one of the settings in Tamora Pierce's Alanna series (which I also love), and added a lot to the story. As for the MC Elisa, I thought her story was compelling right from the beginning. This is definitely an underdog story meets a 'chosen one' story, which was an interesting pairing. Elisa is weak as often (if not more) than she is strong, and I loved that about her. Her growth as a character was noticeable and believable, in my opinion. A great group of companions, super creepy enemies, romance, and a compelling heroine...all great reasons to check this one out. This is the first in a series, and I really look forward to reading more of Elisa's story.

How about you? Read anything good in August?


  1. I LOVED TGOFAT! LOVED. And I read it this month as well and if I hadn't read Perks again, this would have been my top choice.

    Also, I have a student who lists Frankenstein as her favorite book every time I teach her. I will see if she's read The Dark Endeavour!

  2. I really, really need to read GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. I keep hearing such great things about it and it sounds awesome. I'm totally adding THIS DARK ENDEAVOR to my list.

  3. Loved This Dark Endeavor! Victor is such an interesting main character because he's so flawed and the author does a great job of showing how his dark side often threatens to take over. I think I especially enjoyed that inner conflict because it made Victor seem like he could be the villain, even though the story is told from his perspective. It kept me wondering what decisions he was going to make. And yet I still sympathized with him because Kenneth Oppel wrote him with an appropriate amount of vulnerability and moral conviction, qualities that definitely get murkier in him however. Glad you enjoyed this one, especially seeing as I won my copy from your blog giveaway! The sequel is in the mail right now and I’m so excited!

  4. Hi there! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog :)

    THIS DARK ENDEAVOR sounds really good - I have a soft spot for those kinds of novels that present an alternate story to the one we all know so this one might have to go on my to-read shelf. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. THIS DARK ENDEAVOR kind of sounds to me, like what WICKED did for the WIZARD OF OZ. It gives you that great back story to help fill in the blanks on an old tale you've grown up knowing. I think this is definitely something I'd love to read - so thank you for the great reco!

    And thanks for stopping by my site - you definitely need to read THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. Really, I'm still thinking about this one. I loved it that much (and I think my timing to read it was perfect, too!).

    Thanks again for the great reco!

  6. I have not read GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, but now I really want to. I read the Graceling Realm this month and am craving something like that (but different, of course.) Thanks for the tips.

  7. THIS DARK ENDEAVOR sounds really cool. I think FRANKENSTEIN and I especially like the idea of some backstory.

  8. I hadn't heard of THE DARK ENDEAVOR--sounds very cool! And glad you liked GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS! Somehow I missed Tamora Pierce growing up--always passed her by in favor of either children's/YA historical and contemporary, or adult fantasy/science fiction! Silly me. People whose taste I like really seem to love her. And the TBR list gets a little longer...

  9. I really like Kenneth Oppel's books, and I haven't heard of this one! I think I will have to check "This Dark Endeavor" out. Thanks for the review. I read "The Girl of Fire and Thorns" a few months back and I'm really interested to see what happens to Elisa in the next book.

  10. Ooo... what an interesting idea--a prequel to a classic novel. And using FRANKENSTEIN, no less, as the inspiration. That might be worth checking out. Thanks for the tip, Jaime. :)

  11. Awesome list Jaime. I've heard a lot of The Girl of Fire and Thorns but haven't heard of The Dark Endeavor. That sounds really captivating! Thanks for sharing!

  12. I confess I didn't read any of those. And I also confess TGOFAT doesn't really do it for me, not the blurb at least. I may have to take your word (and of many others) for it and try it.
    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Never heard of the first one, but my god it sounds delightful. Want! Want!

  14. I've never heard of the first one but it sounds intriguing. And the universe is beating me over the head with suggestions to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns! Okay, okay, I hear you, universe! It's on the list. :)

  15. Oh they sound so good, especially This Dark Endeavor. I am reading Frankenstein this semester so maybe I will pick it up.

  16. I've heard such great things about GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS... Definitely one I need to move up my list. I'm currently reading Meagan Spooner's SKYLARK, and I'm enjoying it so far. She has a very classic writing style, which is an interesting contrast to the desolate dystopian setting of her story.

    1. Same here about Girl of Fire and Thorns. I'm not huge on epic fantasy but when a book is recommended a lot I tend to check it out anyway :)

  17. These both sound very interesting! You have such a great reading list. :)

  18. Ooo I never even knew about the prequel to Frankenstein! Sounds fascinating!

  19. You had me at twin and Frankenstein!!

  20. I haven't read either of these but they sound excellent! I loved Frankenstein, and I can only imagine that's a really interesting world to hear more about.


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