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: Wither

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Wither Wither by
Series: Chemical Garden #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 358

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

My Review:

More than anything else, Wither reminds me of The Handmaid’s Tale. True, it’s less graphic and less frightening overall, but Wither seems like what Handmaid’s Tale would be if it were a YA novel.

Despite the strangeness of the future setting, Rhine is very normal-seeming. Of course, she’s mostly normal in comparison to other dystopian heroines like Katniss from The Hunger Games and Vera from The Water Wars, but these strong-but-reluctant heroines seem to have become the norm. Not that it’s a bad thing, though it does make me wonder at the cultural implications. Either way, Rhine reacts to the situation in the same way I’d like to think I would in such an awful setting.

But the thing I liked the most is the way Destefano treated Rhine’s husband, the House Master. Even though Rhine was being forced into an unwilling marriage, it was very clear that her husband was not the one to blame. He may have been clueless and guilty by association, but it was very obvious that he should not be considered “the bad guy.” The one to watch out for is the Governor. That man is not only evil, he’s downright creepy! Here is the real mastermind of all the troubles. Even if he personally didn’t create the virus, he is the one you want to blame for everything. He’s the perfect villain, keeping me scared and angry and defiant all at once.

Overall, this was a great read. It explored all the ways society would change if we began dying so young and through that it was a wonderful cautionary tale. Let us hope the right people take heed!

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: The Shadow Dragons

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I have far too much to catch up on! This past weekend, the Honors department at my uni sponsored a trip to Stratford CA for the Shakespeare festival. I went (it was fabulous), saw Christopher Plummer as Prospero in the Tempest (OMG I can die happy now, lol) and most importantly, I read. Pretty much everyone else went shopping, but I brought a stack of books a foot tall and took the entire trip as my own private read-a-thon. It worked. I made it through three and a half books in two days. Of course, that means I am now 5 reviews behind =/

But before we get to the review, I have to give a little plug. One of the things I look forward to every time I go to Stratford (besides the awesome theatre) is the bookstore. If you are ever in Stratford, YOU MUST GO TO THE BOOK VAULT!!! It’s this tiny little storefront on Erie Street, sandwiched in between a cafe and a furniture store. BUT, they have the best sales EVER! While there this weekend, I bought 4 books. Retail price: approx $60 CDN. Price I paid: approx $10 CDN. No kidding. I love this store. Unfortunately, they don’t have a website I can link you to, other than the lists of “This is where to shop in this city” which are frankly not very helpful. But it’s not that hard to find, so if you ever find yourself in the area, go check it out!!!

The Shadow Dragons The Shadow Dragons by
Series: Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica #4
Published by in 2009
Genres: ,
Pages: 432

War is coming in the fourth entry of The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. The Winter King’s Shadow is using the Spear of Destiny to make a shadow army in the Archipelago of Dreams, while World War II looms in the real world. As the Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica meet with past legendary Caretakers, the Grail Child and her companions search for a mythic sword.

My Review:

I have been waiting for this book for a VERY long time. It’s the fourth book in my absolute favorite series, The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, and it was set to come out almost immediately after I left for England. I was very frustrated, because I wanted it NOW. Unfortunately, after reading it, I’m starting to feel my desperation was a bit unwarranted.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. In fact there were several things I liked. A lot of this series is about pulling on things that you already know – the Archipelago is a sort of collection of every story you’ve ever heard/read so it’s all there. By the time you get to the fourth in a series, it’s pretty likely that you’ll be running out of references, but Owen just delves deeper, bringing up references to books that I only just barely remember reading. He also uses very modern references – one that stuck out to me was one to the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix, though I have since learned that the reference wasn’t originally his. I have so much fun trying to pick out what he means by everything he says, that I sometimes forget to read the bits about plot.

Unfortunately, though, this one felt like it dragged. It took me forever to finish this one, where I flew through the last three. It takes far too long to get to the action, and even when things begin to happen, they happen very slowly, in the manner of meetings and arguments over the best way to proceed. I understand what he was trying to do, but it was just so hard to stay interested!

Overall, I’d say not the best of his work. I still love the series, and I will probably follow it to its end (it takes more than one bad book to put me off a series altogether). Oh, and if I’ve convinced you to go and read this series, start with Here There Be Dragons, or you will be royally confused!

Upcoming Reviews:
Fire by Kristin Cashore
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Book Review: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour

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I am an awful blogger. It’s been nearly two weeks and all I’ve done is the Book Blogger Hop. Sure, it’s the first week of school and my schedule is nuts even without the fact that I haven’t entirely figured it out yet (results for auditions went up last night – I got what I wanted, picc in orch YAY, but that means I now have to actually decide which class I want to drop. See I currently have two courses that are very similar that count for the same requirement, but one of them I couldn’t take if I was put in band because it’s the same time, so I signed up for both, figuring I’d drop whichever I couldn’t take. But now, my schedule will allow me to take both. Therefore I have to decide which I’d prefer. Major dilemma.) But that is no excuse. My pile of books to be reviewed keeps growing – one thing I love about school is all those tiny little 10 minute windows you get to sneak a few pages. So. I am going to post once a day now until I finish reviewing the books on my “finished but un-reviewed” pile. It’s part of my homework.

So, on to what we came for.
Roger and Amy's Epic Detour Roger and Amy's Epic Detour by
Published by in 2010
Genres: ,
Pages: 352

Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.


One of the things I loved about this book was how different it was from my normal fare. When I received it (as part of Candace’s mini-tour) I was right in the middle of Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Normally his stuff is just fun, fluffy thinkers that take no time at all, but Shades of Grey was really heavy and I needed the break. Within 24 hours of receiving the book I’d finished it. It was a fast, easy read, breaking up the prose with fun “pages” from Amy’s travel diary and Roger’s playlists. After a novel that made my head hurt every few sentences, this was what I needed.

The thing about this book is it isn’t just a light fluffy summer read. I would put this book nearly on a level with John Green’s Paper Towns at least topic-wise. Amy is grieving and handles her grief in a certain way for very specific reasons. The reader isn’t spared from the awfulness of Amy’s past and her memories of the accident. And why should they be? Amy is the same age as her intended audience, and she was not spared (forget that she’s fictional for a minute, k?). Teens have to deal with big issues the same as adults when something like this happens, and it’s unfair to patronize them and say “you can’t handle this, because you’re not old enough yet.” Age has nothing to do with it! I have a grandmother who isn’t mature enough to handle this stuff and she’s going on 85, while I have other friends who have had much worse happen at a younger age and while they’re not fine, they can handle it. (/end rant)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book does what I wish books would have done when I was that age: treats Young Adults as young adults, not as kids.

Sorry that took so long to get up. I’ve just been running around all over the place with so much going on. Anyways, next up, review of Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Gideon The Cutpurse

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Gideon the Cutpurse Gideon the Cutpurse by
Series: Gideon Trilogy #1
Published by in 6/7/06
Pages: 364

Peter and Kate are involved in a strange accident that causes them to be sent back to 1763. Once there they meet Gideon, a former cutpurse on the run from his employer, who promises to help them retrieve the stolen time-travel machine. 300-odd years later, a full blown police investigation is launched. But how can they explain the "ghosts?"

My Review:

This one is really problematic for me (the review, not the book). I keep telling myself that this would have been a great book if only it didn’t have time travel in it. Time travel is starting to get a bit overused and if it’s not handled properly, it just sort of falls flat. This particular version does well with what it handles – the problem is that there are so many things it doesn’t answer. For example, one of the first things you have to answer when using time travel as a device is whether time is fixed or changeable (fixed means you don’t have issues with the Butterfly Effect, which makes life soooo much easier as a writer). The thing is, it’s hardly even dealt with in this novel. I suppose this could be explained by the characters’ lack of knowledge in the area, but that doesn’t account for the fact that the time travel sections felt a little stiff and forced (there’s only so many jokes about the future you can make, and quite frankly only so many famous people you can have your characters meet before it gets old).

That’s not to say it was all bad. When the novel stuck to 1763, it was much easier to read. I would love to read a historical novel by her, because her historical writing is really well done. If the story could have held it’s own without the time travel it would have been fabulous. So, in balance, I’d say on a scale of 1-5 this is a 3. It’s good enough for a casual read, but not impressive enough to warrant anything higher.

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