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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

September 10, 2010 5 comments

Last week, Cassandra Clare came to my local library to do a signing as part of her book tour.

The Mortal Instruments (MI) series is at the top of my favorites list, so I had been waiting for this new book, Clockwork Angel.

Clockwork Angel is the first book in a new prequel Shadowhunter series called The Infernal Devices.  It takes place in 1878 in Victorian London, which is (obviously) such a contrast from modern New York City, where MI takes place.

Here’s the synopsis:

Magic is dangerous–but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by–and torn between–two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

(By the way, you can read the first 100 pages here.)

Like I mentioned, I have been waiting for this book for a long time, and when I was in line with it, waiting to get it signed, I had this brief moment of panic when I thought, “What if it’s bad?  What if I don’t like it?”

I don’t know how I could have ever thought that.

I loved this book.  Loved it.  And it quickly earned a place on my favorites list.

I already loved the whole Shadowhunting world, but add witty and clever protagonists and steampunk villains, and what more could I want?

This book was quite funny.  A lot funnier than most of the MI.  Maybe because Tessa is really clever and doesn’t put up with flack from anyone, whereas in MI, all the wit comes from Simon and sometimes Jace.

I really liked the main characters and found them to be believable and lovable.  They’re really easy to like, although Henry is certainly high on my list because of his red hair.

I was happy to find that Tessa, the  main girl in the story, was so different from Clary (although she faces similar conflicts).  Although Will, who is an ancestor of Jace’s, seems so much like Jace at times, you wonder if snarkiness and self-destruction are inherited traits.  I don’t think it’s bad that they’re so alike, because it feels more like they’re supposed to be.  Because they’re two apples from the same crazy Herondale tree.

Meeting Cassandra Clare was awesome.  She was cool and funny and everything I hoped she’d be.  She had hot shoes and purple streaks in her hair that really made me think about dying mine, too.  I felt like a big dork, which I am wont to do when I meet people who are obviously so much cooler than me.  But Cassandra Clare was nice and cool about it.  So, thanks for that, Cassandra Clare.

Thanks for being cool to all the dorks out there who love you.

After that picture, I went home and started reading Clockwork Angel right away. I finished it the next day.

I have no self-control when it comes to books.

Thank goodness that her next book, City of Fallen Angels (MI #4), comes out in 207 days.

Five stars for being totally brill and living up to the hype.  Too bad Clockwork Prince (ID #2) doesn’t come out for another year.

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Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

August 31, 2010 1 comment

This is definitely one of those paranormal/modern fantasy/young adult/romance books that I mentioned in my last review.  I don’t remember how I heard about it, probably just came up on a list like, “If you like Twilight, you might like this” sort of thing.

Anyway, however I found it, I’m really glad I did.  I loved this book!  It had a great premise, a lot of mystery and just enough romance with (of course) a hot boy, to keep the pages turning faster and faster.

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Sophie is a great YA character.  She’s got the right amount of teenage angst without being whiny (like, say, Ever Bloom!), she cares about her friends and she’s got a lot of courage.  She’s pretty sarcastic and funny, too.  You can’t help but like her (and want to be her friend).

A friend of mine says she likes YA books best when the guy in the them is “hot and rich.”  If that’s you too, then check out Hex Hall, you won’t be disappointed.  Archer Cross (cool name, huh?) is the unavailable (at first) crush of Sophie’s who is always on her side when the kids and teachers give her a hard time.

If you’re a fan of this genre, you’ll be a fan of this book.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Demonglass, which comes out in March 2011.

Four and a half stars for being awesome, but not quite a favorite.  I’m going to have to wait for the rest of the series before I decided that one. 😉

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

August 24, 2010 1 comment

Linger is the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  The first book, Shiver was released last year.  I heard about it from my good friend, Jenni Elyse.  This another one of those paranormal/urban fantasy/young adult/romance (PUFYAR, for short I decided) books that are so HUGE right now.

Here’s the blurb from Maggie’s website:

In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love—the light and the dark, the warm and the cold—in a way you will never forget.

I don’t want to say too much about this book in case you haven’t read Shiver yet (and I haven’t figured out how to do that cool spoilers thing where you make the text blend in with the background).

The one thing I really want to say about the book is this:  In Shiver, Grace’s parents are totally absentee, couldn’t care less about their daughter, basically adult roommates.  They let her do whatever she wants, expect her to fend for herself, and are rarely home at the same time as her.  Now, in Linger, they’re suddenly in-her-face, high strung, overprotective, and totally forbidding of anything she wants to do– especially be with Sam, the one stable thing in her life? 

I just don’t buy it.  I don’t buy the sudden about-face of her parents.  They lived for sixteen years as one type of parents and then radically change their ways when Grace gets a boyfriend.  I really just can’t believe it.  I had such a hard time believing it that it almost made me angry.

But maybe that’s the point.  Grace doesn’t believe it either, and it makes her mad too.

So maybe Maggie Stiefvater is a genius and got me thinking exactly how she wanted me to.

Who’s to say?

But I really liked Linger.  I thought it was a well-written, well-thought-Shiverout sequel.   was, in itself, a complete story with a definite conclusion, but Linger really explored the ramifications and possible aftermath of the events that took place in Shiver.

That sounds kind of confusing, so I hope you get the gist of what I mean.

Shiver = really good.
Linger = also really good.

So.

If you enjoy a good PUFYAR, this series is for you.  Also, this is one of only two series I’ve read strictly about werewolves.  No vampire, faeries, mermaids, princesses or anything.  The other series is The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, which is also awesome.

Overall, I give Linger four stars for being really good, but not super-amazing-fantastic-bangarang.  (My husband is trying to bring that word back; let me know what you think about it.)

More reviews are hopefully coming soon, but I’m on vacation right now (which is why I missed Fab Five Friday), so…

No promises. 😀

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

August 13, 2010 2 comments

I remember the exact place I first saw this book.  It was about three years ago in my local Borders, on the “Employee Recommendations” endcap.  It caught my eye because, hello, the cover is so striking.  And also, so is the title!  Uglies?!  With a pretty girl on the cover?!

I didn’t buy it, but jotted down the title and author to read at a later date.  A few weeks later, I found out that one of my friends owned the books and really liked them, so I borrowed them and read all four in about a week.

To be short, I loved them.  Well, Extras (the fourth in the series) is kinda meh, but it’s not really related anyway.

So, when our book club was picking our 2010 books at the end of last year, I recommended Uglies, and it actually got picked!  (It made me feel very important.)

Here’s what it’s all about, according to Scott Westerfeld:

It’s about a world in which everyone has an operation when they turn sixteen, making them supermodel beautiful. Big eyes, full lips, no one fat or skinny. This seems like a good thing, but it’s not. Especially if you’re one of the uglies, a bunch of radical teens who’ve decided they want to keep their own faces. (How anti-social of them.)

This is included in the dystopian fantasy genre (home to other great books such as The Hunger Games), but it’s got all the elements of YA that we love– a boy, fighting with another girl over said boy, adventure, romance, and good old-fashioned problems with authority.

The main character is a girl named Tally Youngblood.  (She’s facing off against Katniss Everdeen in the YA Fantasy Showdown.)  She has been waiting her whole life for the operation, and since her best friend Peris got the operation, she’s been counting down the days until she can join him.

While she waits, she makes friends with a girl named Shay, who is also waiting to turn 16.  But Shay doesn’t want the operation and runs away, leaving Tally to deal with the consequences.

I love this series.  It’s on my favorites list, and it’s one of the first series I recommend to people.

So.

I recommend it to you.  🙂

Five stars = a favorite.  If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing out.  Go out and read it, or I’ll send Special Circumstances after you. (You won’t get that until after you read it, sorry.)

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

August 1, 2010 1 comment

The Sugar Queen is the last book of Sarah Addison Allen’s that I read.  She’s only written three so far– Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen and The Girl Who Chased the Moon.

I liked The Girl Who Chased the Moon, so then I read Garden Spells. I REALLY liked Garden Spells.  And I LOVED The Sugar Queen.

Here’s the blurb:

Josey Cirinni is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and her passion for the man she loves is best kept a secret, even from him. Josey has grudgingly settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, but her one consolation is the secret stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she keeps in her closet. One morning, she opens her closet for a sweet, but finds Della Lee Baker hiding there instead. Della Lee is a local waitress on the run who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. Under Della Lee’s guidance, Josey is soon living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion is so real it can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.

I just don’t even know where to start with this book.  I loved it.  I loved the magical elements of this book.  Maybe I just related to Josey.  I don’t have a secret stash of goodies, but I wish I did.  And I wish I could make a sandwich like Chloe.

And I wish that books just showed up whenever I needed them.  That has got to be the coolest magic ever.  I really liked Claire’s ability to cook foods that could do certain things in Garden Spells.  But books that follow you around and give you advice?  So cool!

The main protagonist, Josey, is 27.  But she’s been shut up in her house playing dutiful daughter to her aging Southern belle mother.  So she kind of acts more like a teenager.  That may be another reason this book appeals to me– it’s got a little YA attitude hiding in it. 🙂

Just like her in her other two books, Sarah Addison Allen builds a believable small town in North Carolina.  In this book, it’s called Bald Slope.  Now Bald Slope doesn’t really exist, but you wouldn’t know it by reading this book.  I actually looked it up on Wikipedia after I was finished reading.

Nope.  Not a real place.  But I believed that it was.

Sarah Addison Allen is such a talented writer.  She’s my best find this year, and you’ve haven’t read her– you’re missing out on some delightful storytelling.

Five stars because I can’t say enough good about this book.  I loved it, and I’ve added it to my favorites list.

Ink Exchange & Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

July 31, 2010 Leave a comment

After reading Wicked Lovely, I hurried and got the next two in the series: Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity.

Ink Exchange focuses mostly on Leslie, a friend of Aislynn’s, and Niall, one of Keenan’s court advisers.

Here’s the synopsis from Melissa Marr’s site:

Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Court has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.

Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.

The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .

Here’s the thing: I don’t usually like sequels that aren’t about the same characters from the first book.  Aislynn, Keenan and Seth do make appearances in this book, but only peripherally.  (This is the same thing that bothered me about Holly Black’s Modern Tales of Faerie series– the books weren’t all about the same characters.)

That being said, I did like the book a lot, and after reading the third book, the second one seemed to fit a lot better.

Ink Exchange was a lot grittier than Wicked Lovely.  Leslie has had a lot of horrible things to deal with in her life– a runaway mother, an absent father and a drug addict brother who basically prostituted her to his friends against her will.  But she does find happiness and a way to be herself again at the end, and you know how I like a happy ending.

Three stars because even though it didn’t feature my favorite characters from the first book, I liked it.  But that’s all.  I didn’t really like it or love it, I just. liked it.

In Fragile Eternity, the story really focuses more on Seth and Aislynn.  I totally love the character of Seth.  He’s loyal and charming, and he totally loves Ash, even when she’s busy being somebody else’s queen.

Here’s the synopsis:

Seth never expected he would want to settle down with anyone—but that was before Aislinn. She is everything he’d ever dreamed of, and he wants to be with her forever. Forever takes on new meaning, though, when your girlfriend is an immortal faery queen.

Aislinn never expected to rule the very creatures who’d always terrified her—but that was before Keenan. He stole her mortality to make her a monarch, and now she faces challenges and enticements beyond any she’d ever imagined.

In Melissa Marr’s third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos.

I mentioned that I love Seth, right?  Because I do.  So I really enjoyed a book that was mostly about him– how he is dealing with Aislynn’s royalty, her new-found faery powers, and her king who keeps trying to steal her away.  Not to mention that his best friend, Niall, has some issues to deal with (as you will find out in Ink Exchange).

Seth wants to be with Aislynn forever.  But how can he be?

Dun dun dun!

I’m still waiting for the fourth book, Radiant Shadows, to come in at the library, but so far I’m enjoying this series.

Three and a half stars for being good.  Not as good as the first, but slightly better than the second.  Three down, one to go!

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

July 18, 2010 2 comments

Okay, so there is the website called Gnod.  It’s a site for read-alikes, sort-of.  You put in your favorite author (or band or movie), and it will give you a cloud of authors similar to the one you put in.

That’s how I found Melissa Marr.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s the blurb from Melissa Marr’s site:

Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries.

Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries.

Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.

But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr’s stunning 21st century faery tale.

Okay, so this is a faerie book.  I’ve read a few of those recently– Wings by Aprilynne Pike, the Modern Faerie Tales trilogy by Holly Black (the first book is called Tithe), Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston.  All of which I liked.

I liked this one second best.  I really liked this one– It was unique and interesting with a great cast of believable characters.

Hooray for a heroine who stands up for what she wants!  Aislinn is very real– she isn’t sure how she’s going to make things happen, but she isn’t willing to back down or give up.

(Also, her boyfriend calls her Ash for short, so you know I like that.) 🙂

Speaking of boyfriends, if the bad boy is more your style than the preppy Edward type, look no further than Seth.  He’s devoted, attentive and protective, but he’s also got jet black hair and a LOT of piercings.  Not to mention that he regularly hangs out in a tattoo shop.

So, there’s that.

The bonus about this book is that it was published in 2006, so there are three more books in the series already published, with a fifth one in the works.  So you don’t have to wait to find out what happens next!  The next two are already waiting for me at the library.

Four stars for being the second best faerie YA novel I’ve ever read.  But I’m happy to have another series to sate me for a while.