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: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

From Goodreads: This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers – monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell – she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie’s powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her – an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie’s soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian’s most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives – including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

What can I say about Angelfire that isn’t going to sound like I am just garbling out a litany of adjectives!? If you follow my Twitter account you may know that this first half of February has been a funk of reading for me but Angelfire has been the one book I keep going back to and the only book I have finished this month so far. That in itself should say a lot.

As someone who is not religious in nature I immensely enjoyed the way Moulton employed not only Christian Bible religion but other Eastern traditions as well. I enjoyed her mythology and I thought it was very well done. I have read most of the Angel Lit (as I have dubbed it) out there and I truly only feel comfortable recommending this book and one other (Unearthly) as those you should read. This book is begging to be read!

Some of the mythology:

“Do you mean that real angels exist? The Fallen are demons, aren’t they? Does that mean that God exists? Satan too?”
He took a breath. “Yes. Lucifer rebelled against God and lost the First War, as you have probably learned at some point in your life. God banished Lucifer from Heaven, and he fell into Hell, but his war fell to Earth. The angels who joined Lucifer’s cause fell with him and became demons – the Fallen. Two of the Fallen bore horrible children, whose decedents are the creatures we know today as the demonic reapers. In desperation for more soldiers to fuel his army of the damned, Lucifer uses the reapers to collect human souls.” Pg 123 ARC

Moulton writes action scenes that are big screen worthy. The characters are well fleshed out and fabulous. Ellie is reluctant but not whiny. I had no problems with the writing, and generally nothing to to complain about at all, except maybe for the shady way her father acts but my instincts tell me that is going to play a part in books to come.

Ellie has a fantastic Mom which is something I love seeing in YA fiction, while her Dad leaves a lot to be desired, like I said I think this is going to play a part later to come. Will is a fantastic love interest but we meet a dashing young man closer to the end of the novel and I find myself wondering a lot about him.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5 only because the fantastic action scenes felt a bit repetitive at times and amnesia is a personal problem for me I want my characters all knowing and even though Moulton does a fantastic job with Ellie not remembering everything and it didn’t annoy me in the slightest, I had I’m on a boat syndrome.

Ragnuk at times seemed that he was going to utter Wizard of Oz lines his evilness was tinge over the top but I am telling you people. That is what makes Ragnuk so bad-ass. You really must read Angelfire.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in ARC form in return I gave them a fair review.

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Review: Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl

Goodreads: Prisoners in the Palace — London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza’s dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady’s maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant’s world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?

Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this riveting novel is as rich in historical detail as Catherine, Called Birdy, and as sizzling with intrigue as The Luxe.

I have been trying to think for a while and compile a list of great historical fiction for the YA sect. I have had a hard time doing so. You can say oh there is plenty of it out there but no there is not. Most YA hist fic has some sort of paranormal or fantastical element to it. What I want to see is the Philippa Gregory of YA if you will.

Michaela MacColl has astounded me with this novel. I recently watched The Young Victoria and made myself a note to find some fiction surrounding her early life. I had read previously Jean Plaidy’s account of her childhood but nothing about her and Prince Albert.

When I got the email from Chronicle asking if I would like to review this book I bounced in my chair with happiness.

This book gives you fiction, scandal, intrigue, fantastically well written characters and it blends it all with history in such an amazing way that MacColl is set to be my new queen of YA hist fic!

It is said that a King is only as good as his people and in this novel that proved true for Victoria. If it weren’t for Liza, Will and other servants surrounding her that cared for her greatly and went out of their way to make sure Victoria took the throne she very well may have not had a throne in the first place!

The early part of Victoria and Albert’s relationship deemed true to historical events and I was very intrigued by Liza’s romance. This novel has it all for any lover of historical events.

For a limited time Chronicle has allowed me to share with you a link that will give you 25% off and free shipping your ENTIRE purchase of any Chronicle books! Just use the coupon code PRISONER when you check out. Click here to go to Chronicle and learn more about Prisoners in the Palace!

FTC Disclosure: I received a hardbound copy of this book from the publisher for review.

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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: Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

From GoodReads: Jennie’s connection with her twin brother, Toby, grew stronger after he died in 1864. Now Jennie must rely on her ability to communicate with the dead to find out what has happened to her beloved fiance, Will, while he was off at war. The army says he died honorably in battle. His brother confides that he became a violent criminal and died in a prison camp. Jennie begins to doubt that anyone is telling her the truth.

This intriguing combination of historical romance, paranormal thriller, and clever mystery is illustrated by bestselling artist Lisa Brown. The unique visuals originated from real Civil War daguerreotypes that were transformed into eerie mementos for Jennie’s scrapbook.

With the help of a spiritualist photographer, the spirit of her dead fiance, and the clues she discovers and keeps in her scrapbook, Jennie must put together the pieces of this mystery before she loses her home, her fortune, and possibly her life.

What a gem Sourcebooks Fire has in this book! Adele Griffin paints a thriller with words while Lisa Brown fills your head with lovely period costume adaptations. Jennie is a remarkable character and shares traits with some of the most formidable herione’s in literature. Orphaned and relying on creepy mean relatives for support. Penniless and degraded daily she has to seem to take it all in stride. Snubbed by her peers and when her fiance is killed in battle completely ignored by everyone and moved to an attic room. Jennie takes on the role of a spy.

As she moves through the book and finds out a little piece of the mystery at a time you must pace yourself to keep from flying through the pages. There are a lot of subtle nuances here you will miss if you speed read it. The ending is perfect although I didn’t imagine any of it. I missed a lot of clues I believe. I wouldn’t have survived spy school I dare say.

I think the ending will surprise you all I totally didn’t see it coming. If you enjoyed books like Hex Hall, A Graveyard Book, or A Certain Slant of Light you will enjoy Picture the Dead.

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