Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

From Hicklebees: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

There are several things I love about Maureen Johnson’s writing. Her ability to describe a setting in such a way that causes vivid imagery to accompany her words, and her incredibly intellectual wit that makes me laugh out loud while reading. When I read that Johnson was publishing a paranormal YA book I knew I had to read it.

Rory is a Southern girl going to school in London, I adore the way Rory sees the city and the brilliant deductions she makes about all things British. She is having an okay time at school, making friends and learning to fit in then she starts seeing things, things that no one else sees.

Not long after Rory sees a man that her roommate didn’t Rippermania seizes London. Is this the work of a copy cat killer? Can the police stop the next murders on the list since they know when and where they will happen? What can anyone glean from CCTV footage that doesn’t show an assailant?

Rory soon realizes what she saw wasn’t normal and is thrown into a world of secret police and paranormal investigation. Will the special team of Scotland Yard detectives be able to stop the Ripper before he strikes again?

The Name of the Star is full of edge-of-your-seat thrills, laugh-out-loud moments and quotable phrases. Johnson has breathed life into a genre swiftly turning stale and blended thriller with paranormal with humor in a recipe that is guaranteed to please. I promise you that this book is wholly unputdownable. As this is a first in a series, I am bouncing about waiting to see what will happen next with Rory and the gang!

The Name of the Star comes out September 29th and features blurbs from paranormal goddesses like Cassie Clare and Holly Black. Preorder your copy now from Hicklebees (This is not an affiliate link)

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Review: Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

From Goodreads: As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn’t normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order’s ancient battle against the Unholy.

Billi’s cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He’s ready to reclaim his place in Billi’s life, but she’s met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.

But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order’s ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years — a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London’s firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.

I bought this book as soon as it came out. It has sat on my shelf glaring at me at times, almost screaming “pull me down and read me.” Now I know why. Billi is not to be messed with and I should have read her long ago, I read her now for two reasons, first I have an ARC of Dark Goddess that I am dying to read and secondly Sarwat Chadda is coming to a town near me for a book signing. I wish I hadn’t shelved it. I would have loved to have had the painful anticipation of waiting for Dark Goddess. It doesn’t happen often to me folks but I am a full on fan of Mr. Chadda and I may have to go fangirly or do something silly like have the vapors at the event.

The book starts off in an extremely grim spot. Billi Sangreal is on her way to becoming a Templar like her father always wanted but there is one final step. The Ordeal. Holy Batman of Tests! Hers is a whopper. There is a six year old escapee who is actually a ghul running around, even though he is cute and cuddly his soul is gone, but Billi has a heart so it goes a little something like this:

He’s just a little boy…
“No, Billi!” shouted Arthur, but too late. Billi dropped to her knees and embraced Alex. She pulled him close to her heart and–
the chill seeps into her pores, saturation her skin with ice. Like venom, black ichor floods her veins, pumping her with Alexs’s despair, envy, and
HATE
that he was snatched from the sunlight by sweaty hands and crushing fingers, in the dirt and fallen leaves, never to feel the
WARMTH
he misses so much and wants more than anything, and so he sucks it from her, leaving only coldness that is brittle and bone-deep, the air out of her lungs white frost, and her
FLESH
blisters, and tears freeze on her cheeks, and she stares into Alex’s eyes, black and malice-filled, remembering only the
AGONY
that he cannot forget, and it eats him, an abysmal virus that he can’t contain, so she must
SUFFER
like he did, and the cold burns her heart as he infests her with his darkness burrowing deeper and-

So even though he is only six you can see what type of beast the Templar’s are up against and why they are still in business. There is a lot of mythology surrounding the Templar in this book but it isn’t the same hum-drum stuff. I went through a phase where I tried to read that hence me buying this book. I DNF’d a lot. I was like “Oh yeah Templar’s woohoo” but when I got it home it was all conspiracy theory, shadow government stuff. What Chadda did that was so very interesting is use an almost shadow world full of ghuls and rogue agents of God who the Templar’s protect. Billi’s mother was lost in an earlier battle, that you learn more about in the ending of the book.

I do have to say that if you find Billi a bit whiny in the beginning stick with her, she grows on your by the end. Try to place yourself in her situation, ratty apartment, despondent dad, best friend shows up after being gone a year. She doesn’t even really want to be a Templar. I think Billi evolves through-out this book and I truly enjoyed seeing this evolution of character. Sarwat Chadda is an amazing author, I loved the bits of story like the one I excerpted for you above where you see the really dark stuff, and I laughed out loud a lot too. I will say he writes like a British drama so don’t get overly attached to any of the characters.

It was also oh so refreshing to read a book where the main character wasn’t white! Billi is half Pakistani and I loved the description of her so much. You could just see her kicking some ghul ass with a sword.

If you haven’t read this book you should pick it up. Dark Goddess book two in the Billi Sangreal Series is out now!

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book from my local indie.

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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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