Category Archives: fantasy

Review Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) by Cassandra Clare

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Page Count: 502
Source: My copy.
Rating: 5/5
I mentioned in my updates that I am not tired of Clare’s books yet. That after seven books, you’d think I would get tired of Shadowhunters, but I’m so not. If anything, this book has renewed my love for Shadowhunters. You get a better sense of who they are and what they believe in in the prequel series to The Mortal Instruments and I found myself really understanding them. Family and strength and staying true to yourself is part of what makes them tick and I realized that they are truly amazing people.

I don’t get love triangles. I don’t. Kissing one boy in the drawing room and then kissing the other boy in the carriage the next day was not acceptable then and it isn’t now. (At least I don’t think so. When is hurting someone you supposedly love acceptable?) Tessa needs to make a choice. She has needed to make a choice for a while now, and I think what she is doing is wrong. And though she may think she has, I don’t think she has truly made that choice. And it is unfair. How long she has strung these boys along, it is unfair to them, and to herself. But I indulge the love triangles. Why? I don’t know. Why do I watch The Vampire Diaries? It’s unclear, but I think my interest in this story is the setting. The world they live in, not so much the characters (even though I love Will. And Magnus.). Which is weird for me. I have always said I can forgive plot, but never bad characters. And the characters aren’t bad, really, they’re just kind of there. I don’t feel overwhelming emotion for Tessa or for Jem or for Charlotte but I do love the magic. And the danger. And the badassery.

I said the characters didn’t wow me yet I still rated the book five stars. I really do love the world Clare has created, and don’t think I’ll ever get enough of it. I keep waiting for Clare to write a bad book, for me to open one of these books and scream WHAT IS THIS SHIT but I never do. She is an author who never leaves anything out while trusting us to read intelligently. She is wonderful and I will read her work for as long as she puts it out. No matter how many Shadowhunter books she writes.


Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Page Count: 458
Source: My copy.
Rating: 3/5

This book began with some serious eye-rolling from me. I mean, the monsters were called Zoms (is the word zombie so long that it warrants abbreviation?), and our main character was a lazy, angst-ridden teenager who had no appreciation for the cozy world he lived in or the people who worked hard to keep him safe. I said in one of my status updates that Benny had better undergo some serious character development for me to even remotely get along with him, and thankfully, he did. The problem is, I just don’t feel invested in these characters. Or maybe I do. Maybe I just don’t like them very much. But I don’t think that is entirely their fault. The problem is, that the people, the adults that belong to this town of Mountainside shelter themselves and their children so much, that they have no idea what life is really like outside the fences. I mean, really, Benny thinks killing zombies is fun and there are fucking zombie cards. This is not a game. Surviving in the zombie apocalypse is not fun. It’s fucking terrifying. And the adults of this novel are so, so stupid (and Tom you are not exempt because you did the same thing). I just… I can’t even. I can’t wrap my head around the stupidity and negligence of these people. No one wants to talk about anything with each other or with the children, and yet they think it’s okay to send their children out to something that’s called the “Rot & Ruin” when their fifteen. Fifteen. Which, okay, is not that young, especially in the apocalypse, but at least prepare them! I mean, shit, one of your own kids thinks the local factory is producing soda when it is in fact producing cadaverine or whatever the name is… zombie juice. I mean, it makes you smell dead. So, yeah. Not soda. But how could you let your own child walk around that oblivious to everything? I’ve never encountered anything so foolish in my life.

Jonathan Maberry can write a sentence. There’s no doubt about that. I found beauty in normality every few pages. Having said that, the book still reads like a B Movie. I don’t know if that’s a zombie thing or what (this is my first zombie book). I watch The Walking Dead, which is, to me, very real and not B movie-ish at all, but the dialogue and inner monologue here kind of killed me. I couldn’t help but think that people don’t really think like that and definitely (at times) don’t talk like that. It was kind of corny, some of it. So, yeah. I’m not experienced in zombie matters so I don’t know if that’s what zombie-lovers look for (my husband LOVES “corny zombie movies”), but it stood out for me. And the cover and spine are sort of B movie-ish, too. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s just “the thing”.

Besides the stupidity of the characters, the novel was pretty predictable. There were at least two instances where I said to myself, I totally saw that coming. I thought it was drawn out. I went into this novel expecting a suspenseful adventure and that’s not really what I got. At all. It was more of a slow and steady kind a novel. Which is fine, in some cases, but this being a zombie book, I expected more action & adventure. I think I would have been a lot more invested if it was a non-stop thriller kind of thing. Instead, by page 300 (just over halfway through), I wanted to be done with it. Finishing the book was more of a chore for me.

The characters do develop eventually, especially Benny, Nix, and even Tom, so they get easier to deal with. Nix mostly annoyed me with her overwrought emotions, but she is a badass chick who can hold her own, so there’s that. And Maberry did a good job with the bad guys, I truly hated them and wanted them all to die. Wholly though, I just didn’t find myself being very invested in the story or its characters. It was kind of a meh book for me where I didn’t love it or hate it and that’s not the kind of story I really look forward to revisiting. I am conflicted about reading the sequel though. Lilah, though everyone thinks she’s crazy, to me, is the most sane character out of all of them. And the second book seems to focus on that. So I may pick it up. I haven’t decided yet.


Review Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act – singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry’s world, however, buried secrets stir. 
Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry’s involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton’s stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date: February 1, 2010
Page Count: 225
Source: My copy.
Rating: 2/5

I did not like this book. I rolled my eyes a lot. Fantastically, the second half was better than the first, but there was still eye-rolling. And that ending!

Page 63, and hello insta-love. Our protagonist has fallen for an automaton. Which is not that far fetched, I guess, considering he is alive, but, up to that point, barely anything has passed between them! They have had like, one conversation, that involved them communicating their names to each other. Which is hardly grounds for true love. I mean, I could even understand the insta-love, the story being set in Jane Austen days (I’m guessing, there were carriages?) but I just expected more from Nimira. She didn’t appear to be one of those girls. She exuded strength, even in the very beginning when times were tough for her, and I expected more character from her. And I could totally see her falling in love with Erris when he is no longer an automaton (well not really an automaton) – I mean the guy is hot. And charming. And a prince. – but not before.

The characters are memorable (even the bad ones), I have to give the author that. The world building was even good – I pictured the story’s setting very easily, especially as the characters moved place to place. And though nothing particularly wonderful stands out about the writing, the story did flow well. But the romance was so, so cheesy.

And that ending! It was terrible. It was one of those endings that tried to be mysterious in leaving the reader to think about it and come to their own conclusions about where the characters end up? But it didn’t work. The most pertinent question that you want the answer to never gets resolved. And as far as I know, there is not a sequel. So if you’re like me, and you can’t stand insta-lovey books that leave you with more questions than answers, I wouldn’t recommend this book.


Review Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

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Lucky Linderman didn’t ask for his life. He didn’t ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn’t ask for a father who never got over it. He didn’t ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn’t ask to be the target of Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret–one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos–the prison his grandfather couldn’t escape–where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It’s dangerous and wild, and it’s a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King’s smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you and taking a stand against it.

Genre: YA Fiction/Magical Realism
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 3, 2011
Page Count: 279
Source: My copy.
Rating: 4.5/5

Generally, during my reading experience with a book, I have something (or somethings) to think or to say about it along the way. With Everybody Sees the Ants, I was at a loss for thoughts. I could only focus all my energy on the heartbreaking story and the author’s way of pulling you into it head first.

Our Lucky Linderman is not only likable, but lovable. He is a kid who is bullied to the breaking point and, because of his mentally-absent parents (they’re there, but not really there), only has his dreams of the jungle and his beloved granddad in which to escape. And yet he doesn’t appear to feel sorry for himself. He does, actually, feel sorry for himself, and feels thatsomeone, anyone should help him, but doesn’t come across as whiny or helpless. How Lucky feels, is how it should be. Yet it’s not. And that’s what infuriated me most about this book. There are so many adults around who are willing to punish him for his expression and deem him depressed, but no one willing to stand up to this bully (who not only bullies, but is responsible for sexual assault).

“It got him in trouble.”

“Yeah, well, it got me in fucking trouble, too, and if he doesn’t watch himself, he’s going to be in more trouble. Those rumors about him rushing girls are going to land him in jail if he’s not careful.”

He laughed. “It’s not illegal. The only reason girls have tits is so we can grab ’em, right?”

What do you say to this? What do you say to an idiot who’d repeat anything Nader told him?

I said nothing.

That day was my monthly guidance meeting, and it took everything I had not to tell the guidance counselor about Charlotte’s completed questionnaires. I did mention the groping rumors, though.

“Does it bother you?” the counselor asked.

“It bothers me that no one is doing anything about it,” I said.

“Believe me, if we acted on every rumor that went around this place, we’d never have time to do our jobs.”

This pretty much sent me over the edge. Reading this, I was a raving lunatic. You wouldn’t have time to do your job. What exactly is your job, lady? Because I don’t know about you, but my idea of a school is somewhere children can be safe. And if they cannot count on the adults to enforce that, who can they count on?

The slight paranormal element to this story gave a glimpse of hope. At first I thought it didn’t belong in this novel, but eventually it just melted in and worked. It was like magic without the story actually being magical. It reminded me of Sarah Addison Allen’s books, which I love.

(removed for spoilers)

King is a very talented writer. I think she took a real issue such as bullying and weaved in self-discovery to a teenager who is such a great kid, he is destined to be a great man, despite his family problems. It’s one of the most realistic novels I’ve read in a long time. The title of the book is absolutely brilliant and encompasses the entire story. I’ve been wanting to read her work for a while, and am so glad I did. I’ll be picking up her other books very soon.


Review The Walker in Shadows by Barbara Michaels

 

The house next door to Pat Robbins–eerily identical to the home Pat shares with her college-aged son, Mark–has been empty for years, the darkness within seeming to warn all to stay away. Now new tenants are moving in: affable Josef Friedrichs and his lovely daughter, Kathy, who has stolen Mark’s heart on first glance. But something is not right–something old and secret lurking in the shadows that fresh paint and new furnishings cannot mask or exorcise. There is evil alive in the heart of the house next door–and it means to feed on the fears of two families . . . and drag Kathy Friedrichs with it into peril.

Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: HarperTorch
Release Date: 1979
Page Count: 352
Source: My copy.
Rating: 2/5

I don’t really like ghost stories. But this was a book club read so… yeah. I read it. Thankfully it wasn’t scary, or I may have put it down. I don’t do scary things.

The rating system says a two star rating is for “it was okay”. And this book was okay, I guess, despite the general boringness and lack of development. I liked the writing style – it had that going for it.

I wasn’t impressed by the background or the supposed “twist” at the end. Which is strange because I generally enjoy historical fiction (not that that is what this was, but it had some elements). I loved Between Shades of Gray and The Russian Concubine series, and The Red Scarf is one of my all time favorite books. But this backstory failed to capture my attention. I found it all to be very uninteresting. The worst was the ghost. It only appeared at 1 AM? Was that ever explained? How unbelievable is that??

It’s obvious that the author really tried to focus on the romance of the story, but I just wasn’t buying it. Mark and Kathy’s (whose name definitely didn’t match her naïve, young girl personality – I could see Katherine or Katie or even Kath, as Mark sometimes referred to her as, but Kathy? It didn’t work for her) romance was practically nonexistent, if anything all appearances pointed to them being very good friends. And Josef and Pat’s romance? Where the hell did that come from? I sensed not one attraction even, through the entire course of the book, and all the sudden he’s jealous that some other man is touching her? And then they’re kissing? (removed for spoilers)

So that was annoying. But there were some elements I enjoyed. The writing was very refined – I found the whole thing very easy to read. And I liked Mark’s character – my reaction to him was almost automatic. He lived a very humorous, easygoing existence and I found myself smiling whenever he would speak.

Mostly though, the book bored me. The backstory was very meh, and I literally fell asleep reading the last twenty pages. The romance was completely botched. The book just really wasn’t for me.