Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

From Hicklebee’s: 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.

I feel very confident saying that Cassandra Clare is one of the most stunning fantasy authors in YA Literature. I have dutifully read each and every one of her books and I have found myself in love with each book for different reasons. Her Infernal Devices series is my favorite of her two. If you haven’t read Clockwork Angel this review will hold spoilers from that book. Also, if you haven’t read Clockwork Angel – get on that now. I promise you won’t regret it.

There are a great many things I loved about Clockwork Prince. The evolution of Jem from being pitiable and weak to a strong young man with a brilliant disposition on life. Jem was understanding, constantly there for Tessa and isn’t bitter with the lot he has been given. He is swiftly becoming my favorite character from Clare’s cannon.

Will on the other hand acted like an entitled ass through most of the novel. Yes, it is explained why he is an ass, and its sad tear-worthy even- especially when you learn the truth about him and Magnus Bane helps him solve his biggest life mystery. It was the last few pages of the book and his “Jem can take it” attitude that made me incredibly mad at him. I am in awe of Clare’s ability to elicit such strong emotions from me, especially related to the characters.

Tessa is still Tessa, smart, funny and well read. We are little closer to finding out what she really is at the end of the novel and the wait for book three where I hope we do find out is going to kill me. Tessa grows so much in this novel, she goes from proper American lady living in England to kick ass down and dirty I will do anything to save any of you and that was my favorite part of this novel.

The Lightwoods are introduced, Morty is still deliciously evil, there are still clockwork devices but they aren’t the main focus of the book. I did enjoy how the devices took a backseat here for plot and I have a feeling they will play a major part in book three.

The most important thing Henry is still awesome. Charlotte is going through a very hard time in Clockwork Prince and I hope everything works out and she and Henry become very happy together; they deserve it.

New characters, new hints and mysteries are introduced. The world building is superb and if I had the next book I would have dove into it immediately. If you haven’t had a chance to read Clare I highly suggest you drop everything and do that now.

For those who have read Clockwork Prince here is the balcony scene re-imagined by Vanya from VLC Photo:

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Review: The Secret Prince by Violet Haberdasher

From Goodreads: Knightley Academy is back in session, and Henry Grim is confident that nothing else can prevent him from earning his knighthood. But Henry and his friends quickly discover that their professors have made some troubling changes to the curriculum — an old classroom filled with forgotten weapons. It is the discovery of this classroom that prompts Henry and Valmont to become the unlikely leaders of a secret battle society. But disaster strikes as Henry, Adam and Frankie find themselves stuck as Partisan School servants. Yet something is rotten in Partisan Keep. And when Henry is discovered by a secret society of outlaws with a sinister purpose, he must come to terms with a great sacrifice that will take him away from everything he has ever known and wanted. The stakes get higher and tension mounts in the second installment of Violet Haberdasher’s fresh, fast-paced, and always surprising Knightley Academy books.

While I was a bit confused when I reviewed Knightley Academy I have since asked questions of the author about what what Harry Potter Inspired Fiction really is. Now that I understand this concept so much better I went into The Secret Prince armed with knowledge and was able to simply just fall in love with the story and the characters. Oh, and fall in love I did. The book starts off with amazingly intriguing prose:

In the pale gloom of the unusually cold January afternoon when our story starts, the roads are desolate but their emptiness is not due entirely to the dreadful weather.
As you have probably heard, or read, or suspected without quite knowing why, sinister things indeed were happening up north, and in those dark days, fearful rumors were more common than holiday cheer.

But where there is suspicion there is also doubt, and some people still pretended that nothing was the matter. After all, appearances have to be maintained, especially by those looked to as an example. “Let the superstitious servants worry!” the aristocracy scoffed from the comfort of their elegant town houses.

After all, it wasn’t as though there were proof to any rumor. pg2 of the ARC

The Secret Prince was quite honestly an adventure mystery. I loved every minute of reading this and I adore Henry and his ragtag group of friends. I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the love story side plot and that we as the reader get to know more about the Nordlands and what makes them so different from where Henry lives.

There is love, laughter, death and life decisions made that are forced upon our protagonists. We learn more about Henry and his history, we learn about his friends and what their home life is like, and it reads like a suitor to Harry Potter.

I cannot wait to read book three and see what Henry and crew come up with to combat all of the things they learned in this book. Fantastic reading.

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Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

From Goodreads: It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

There is something you should know about me. I am a bit of a mythology geek. I spent my whole year in fourth grade nose in a book reading anything I could get my hands on and then profiling the gods in notebooks. Hades was always my favorite. I thought he got a raw deal, pulling the short straw and having to deal with the dead.

The Goddess Test was a mesh of all of my favorite myths. The tests for immortality that the demigods had to surpass in order to become a god, and the story of Persephone that I thought was oh so romantic. At ten years old who doesn’t want to become a Queen by any means?

I went into The Goddess Test very excited, and hoping that I wasn’t setting myself up for a disappointment. I am oh so pleased to announce that Aimee Carter did a brilliant job with the myth and adding in her own contemporary vibe and fresh new outlook on the story. I loved The Goddess Test.

Hades God of the Underworld

Kate was a smart girl, she wasn’t the kind of character that grated on your nerves with whining or making tons of bad decisions to move the plot along. Carter was able to write Kate as a strong independent teenager who has spent the past four years caring for her mother who was given six months to live. Kate did not whine about missing dating or High School or anything else that teenagers care about, Kate just wanted her mother to live and wouldn’t have had it any other way. She wanted to spend as much time as possible with her mother for as much time as her mother had left to live.

Kate’s mother wanted to go back home to pass on so Kate drove them from her beloved New York City to a small town named Eden. Kate meets Henry and he offers her a deal that she can’t refuse. Stay with him six months out of the year and he will keep her mother alive until Kate can bear to say goodbye.

The plot moves forward at a lightening quick pace and there are so many twisty bits in The Goddess Test that make you want to read even faster to come to the conclusion of the story. I love that this book is one of the very few that make you sympathetic to Hades, because he never has been as evil as modern literature paints him. He just happened to draw the short straw when it came to who would rule where. Poseidon took domain of the sea while Zeus grabbed dominion over the air and Hades was left to deal with twisted underworld and guard The River Styx.

I think no matter what level of love you have for mythology you will appreciate Carter’s retelling of Persephone’s troubles. This book is great for those who stick towards the contemporary side of YA as well because there isn’t much of the paranormal going on here just some awesome contemporary writing meshed with fabulous mythology.

The end of the book is a fantastic conclusion that isn’t the crazy I want to throw the book against the wall cliffhanger but it still leaves you waiting with bated breath for the next edition. I truly cannot say enough good things about this book.

I have a feeling these books will become just as popular as Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey for us Harlequin Teen readers.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this book from Netgalley as an ARC.

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Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Goodreads: 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: Jem, 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.

If you thought the action between Jace and Clary was hot in The Mortal Instrument Series you better get yourself a fan and an Iced Chai to tackle Clockwork Angel. Clare comes back with a vengeance in this first book in the new series The Infernal Devices.

Set once again in the world of Shadow Hunters this story begins in Victorian England. Still a dark and twisted romp through an urban area, just a bit in the past. The world building is even more fantastic than the last series if that is even possible.

Clare has a penchant for writing swoon worthy boys in novels. Edward Cullen who? Move over pasty guy. There are two not one, yes count them two, avenging angels that are going to press all your right literary buttons. I am torn between my love for Will and Jem, but I think I am pulling a solid Team Will here.

Magnus makes an appearance or two and is still hilariously evocative.

The steam punk people are so exciting I was thinking of building one for myself! I rip roared through the streets of London on a horse, I walked across Black Friars Bridge at dark, I smelled the rot of the Thames and I fell in love. Who doesn’t want to do all that?

If you ask me “Pam darling, are you gushing?”, I would have to answer “Why, yes I do believe I am, how uncharacteristic of me”.

Seriously folks this is the big YA hit of the fall. Read it, really, just read it.

FTC Disclosure: I picked this up at BEA I was not paid for the review.

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Review: Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink

GoodReads: The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for …more The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy, her twin sister Alice hones the skills she’ll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister’s role in the prophecy, and that’s not the only thing she wants: There’s also Lia’s boyfriend James.

Lia and Alice always knew the Prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn’t know what betrayal could lead them to do. In the end, only one sister will be left standing.

Michelle Zink has a masterpiece of a trilogy coming together with the latest release of book two in the Prophecy of Sisters Series. I was enamored with the Sisters and the story in book one. Guardian of the Gate has me gasping for air and waiting with bated breath for book three. When is it coming? When are there going to be ARCs. I need the conclusion now people!

Zink’s world building is phenomenal, her character creation stellar, and her dialogue stunning. I cannot say enough amazing things about this series. If you haven’t read Prophecy of the Sister’s hop to. It’s out in paperback now. Then get to Guardian of the Gate. If you read Prophecy then go out to your local indie and grab a copy of Guardian now! Right now. Drop that cup of coffee, strap yourself in the car and get to the store. You won’t regret it.

Lia has grown so much in this second book. She has become a woman in her own right and is stronger than ever despite all the losses the prophecy itself has claimed from her. She is willing and able to put an end to this once and for all even if that means either she or Alice has to die.

There is betrayal so vile in these pages but it is laced with the hope of the future Lia wants for herself. Will that future be in New York with James or in the land of the Sisters with the newly introduced mysterious Dimitri. I for one vote for Dimitri.

This book is a definite for the best of 2010 from Bookalicio.us and will be featured in the Holiday Gift Guide. Let me know what you think of the series.

Here is the wonderful trailer for Prophecy of the Sisters by Vania of VLC Productions.

FTC Disclosure: (lame) I received this book at the Teen Author Carnival in New York.

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