Book Review: White Cat

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White Cat White Cat by
Series: Curse Workers #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: , , ,
Pages: 320
Source: ,

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

My Review:

I always seem to forget how unique and entertaining Holly Black’s novels are. I read Tithe and Ironside many years ago and enjoyed them but never got around to reading the rest. Then, after all the hype surrounding Red Glove, I decided I’d better see what all the fuss was.

The first thing that really caught my attention on this one was the setting. Cassel comes from a family of “workers” that live to serve their Mob boss overlords. Even though he’s not a worker and isn’t of any use to the crimelords, everything is about the con for him. He even runs a small gambling pool at school to keep his hand in. Holly Black’s edgy style and modern voice fit this setting perfectly, lending to an extremely interesting Urban Fantasy setting.

I tend to divide the books I read into 3 categories: ones where I can see the ending a mile off, ones where I can see the ending but have no clue how to get there, and ones where I have no clue what’s going on in the first place. They can all be good reads, depending on how well they’re written, but the first can get boring and the last can be frustrating. The most interesting, and yet probably the hardest to write, is the second of the three, and I would unreservedly put White Cat in that category. I could see what had to happen coming but I had no idea how they were going to make it happen without screwing over the future books. I was amazed every time she revealed a tidbit and several times I had to stop and read a section over again.

If you’re still on the fence about reading this book, then I’ll tell you it comes with my highest recommendation. This fantasy is a masterpiece and you won’t regret it!

Disclaimer: Some of the facts I’ve told you about the book turn out to be blatant lies. I just couldn’t bring myself to spoil it for you. The opinions on the other hand, are still and will always be 100% truth.

Book Review: City of Fallen Angels

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City of Fallen Angels City of Fallen Angels by
Series: The Mortal Instruments #4
Published by , in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 424

City of Fallen Angels takes place two months after the events of City of Glass. In it, a mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever.

Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

My Review:

Have you ever had one of those books where everyone loves it and you want to too but you just can’t? I mean, it’s not that I didn’t like the book, I did. I just don’t have a very strong opinion about it either way. I’ve been feeling a little burnt out recently so it may be my fault. No matter what the problem is it’s making it extremely difficult to write a review. 

Unfortunately, for me, I felt like this was a filler book. This often happens when a series is extended past its original intention (wasn’t TMI supposed to be only 3 books long?) It certainly wasn’t on par with Clockwork Angel, my favorite of hers. Then again even Cassie Clare’s worst book would be better than many authors’ best books, so what am I complaining about, right?

All that said, there were some things I really liked about this book. It focused a lot on Simon, who has always been my favorite character. (Jace is too angsty and Clary is too drama-y for me.) I thought that the story did move forward, plot-wise which was the intention, though I don’t feel the characters grew as much as they could have.

I guess the bottom line is that this one is essential to the story line so please do read it if you’re into the series. I just didn’t find it quite as good as the rest.

Book Review: Ice

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Ice Ice by
Published by in 2009
Genres: ,
Pages: 308

When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.
That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.

My Review:

This is what happens when I am on break. I’ll read two or three books simultaneously for a few days and then finish them all at once! I’m very sorry for bombarding your feeds, really!

In essence, this book is a modernized retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I love fairy tale retellings, and though this particular fairy tale isn’t my favorite, it is one of my friends’ favorites and so I have read a fair amount of retellings of this story. Of course, the problem then is I am very picky about my fairytale retellings. I expect a lot from them. This one did a passable job, but it unfortunately hasn’t made my favorites list.

One of the things I really liked was the modern setting of the retelling. Durst did a really good job updating the tale, and making it plausible in modern day, at least at the beginning. I liked the flavor of Native American tales she brought to the story, and I liked that it was up in the Arctic Circle – while the Norse versions are fun they lend themselves more to a fantastical retelling and to truly make this a modern day tale, I think an Arctic Circle research lab was the only way to go.

The main thing that would have pushed this up onto the favorites list was a little more development in the characters. I felt that Durst jumped straight into the story without giving us much time to get to know the main characters, which is ok as long as you give us a chance to get to know them later. I never felt it, though, and I was less invested in what happened as a result.

Overall, though, an interesting retelling that deserves a read by anyone interested in this fairy tale or fairy tale retellings in general.

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

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Clockwork Angel Clockwork Angel by
Series: The Infernal Devices #1
Published by , in 2010
Genres: , ,
Pages: 476

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.

My Review:

I thought I loved The Mortal Instruments series. I was wrong. While I liked TMI, the term love should have been reserved for Clare’s newest series, The Infernal Devices. What can I say, I’ve come to love steampunk!

It wasn’t the fact that this was nominally Steampunk that made me love this one though.  In TMI the thing I most had to suspend disbelief for was the whole “secret society” bit. I loved it, because it was extremely well done and explained, but I think I will always be a little skeptical of a secret society in this information age. It’s almost impossible to keep something like that out of the papers and off the internet. Put the Clave in Victorian England though, and suddenly you have an extremely believable scenario (with pretty dresses too!) The Pandemonium Club could have happened then, whereas now, people would probably start questioning if they didn’t know who was leading a group they were in.

I also loved the characters in this one. While Will felt like a repeat of Jace for most of the book, Jem, Tessa, Jessamine and Sophie were all wonderfully new. I’m not saying the repeat is a bad thing – this lifestyle does things to a person and it is perfectly believable that Jace is not the only one who ever acted the way he did. And I have to be honest – while there wasn’t any one character I valued over the others in TMI (sorry Team Jace or Team Simon or whatever you call yourselves) I’ve finally found my character to love! I absolutely loved the character of Jem and I would never get tired of him! Oh and I’ve changed my mind since my City of Glass post – Darren Criss can’t be Magnus, because he would make an AMAZING Jem and Magnus is in both!

Clare has left me curious about so many things that I am anxiously awaiting Clockwork Prince perhaps even more than City of Fallen Angels! It is a gorgeous realization of her world as it might have been before, and left me wanting more!

Book Review: City of Glass

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City of Glass City of Glass by
Series: The Mortal Instruments #3
Published by in 2009
Genres: , ,
Pages: 541

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her new found powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?

My Review:

Wow! What an epic way to end an amazing series! As I read the first two before I started blogging, I’m going to use this as more of a review of the whole series,  mostly so I don’t spoil too badly (despite their hype on the blogosphere, many people IRL have yet to read these – a majority of my friends included!)

One of the things I really loved about this series is the way Clare mixes her fantasy genres. I mean, obviously this is a paranormal series, but it combines different genres of paranormal into a world that makes sense. She explains how all the paranormals came to be in the world, which I love, and then expects them to work together (which they don’t always, but such is the way of things, isn’t it?). Eventually they work it out though and she finally fixes all the things that just struck me as wrong in the end. (Actually, that’s the wrong way to put it. It’s not that there was anything wrong with her writing, it’s just there are a few things that she sets up to be “wrong” and she finally tells us how they can actually not be wrong… and I’m making it worse, aren’t I? Just go read it!)

Another thing I love about the series is how vivid Clare’s writing is when it comes to personality. When I read a book, I don’t much care what the characters look like. In fact, most likely I’ll have skipped over the character description without realizing it and fabricated the character’s looks in my head based on their personality. Before the first Harry Potter film came out I could have sworn Malfoy had black hair. Not even kidding. Character description just isn’t that important to the story for me (except when it is, of course. Nobody could miss that Harry’s eyes are Emerald Green). Clare gives the characters such vivid personalities that I not only had pictures of them in my head, I was casting them for a possible film. I see books that way anyways, and I’m always very excited when one of the most vivid ones ends up becoming a film! I’m so excited for this one, and while I’m a little sad they didn’t get Molly Quinn for Clary, I’m still holding out hope for Darren Criss as Magnus (OMG yes please!)

That’s probably it for me before the weekend (birthday tomorrow, Jury Friday, Opera Sat. night EEP! I’m too busy!) Thank you all for sticking with me through this dry spell. I promise to make it worth your while as soon as I can – keep an eye out!

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