Friday, 25 November 2011

Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books
Released: December 6th 2011
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

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.
(from Goodreads)

I don’t know if it’s possible to describe how much I loved Clockwork Prince without it sounding like a bunch of rambling, gushing gibberish, but I’ll try. So here goes.

Everything about Clockwork Prince was amazing. Everything. I’m normally quite a critical reviewer. Whenever I read a book, there is always usually something I think that could have been better, or improved upon. With Clockwork Prince, I have literally racked my brains to find some kind of fault with it, and there just isn’t any. I loved it. The characters, the writing, the mystery – every single thing! I don’t even know where to start to try and explain all of this. I guess I’ll go with characters. The characters in this book...brilliant. Tessa was possibly one of the best heroines I have ever come across. She was so likeable and so strong and funny and fierce that, unlike with most heroines, I didn’t even question why both Will and Jem liked her so much. I can see why they did. She wasn’t perfect by any means, but she was definitely an intriguing girl. The love triangle didn’t seem contrived or just there as some plot to device to make things less boring – it seemed realistic, possible, and like it could genuinely happen. I could definitely see these two boys fall for this girl. I could see why she would like them both back! This love triangle, I have agonised over it, I tell you. AGONISED. It’s actually killing me. When Tessa was with Jem, I could understand just why she would want to be. But then I felt so bad for Will – Will who had no idea what was going on and who loved Tessa as well, though he tried so hard not to. And when she was with Will, I could also understand her feelings then (and she never seemed like one of those dithering back and forth girls, surprisingly – I enjoyed all her scenes [trust me, there are some awesome ones], whether with Will or Jem or alone, thinking about Will or Jem). But then I would feel sorry for Jem, kind Jem who was happy with just the possibility that Tessa might like him back. I mean, I do kind of favour Will over Jem, but to choose one of them over the other, it just can’t be done! Whatever Tessa does, she’d end up hurting someone, I just don’t see how this could ever work out. I don’t envy her, I’ll tell you that. As much as I’d like a Will or Jem of my own, I don’t know how I’d survive, being Tessa.

Jem was a character we got to know a lot better in Clockwork Prince. It was so fascinating, finding out about his flaws and his fears and his desires. I liked him even more in this book, and discovering his feelings and secrets made me feel like I really understood him better. As he and Tessa grew closer, I felt like I grew closer to him too. I loved every moment he had with Tessa – and with Will – each time, we got to see another little bit of him. He was so different to Will, and yet there was this deep connection between the two that no-one could ever really explain. Though we did get greater insight into Will and Jem’s relationship, and how much they’d be willing to sacrifice for each other, parabatai will always remain curious things, I think.

Speaking of sacrifice. Will. I just...ah. Whenever I write a review, I handwrite notes about the book as I’m reading it. And in my notebook, in the middle of the page in huge writing, are the words “poor Will”. Underlined three times. Because I think “poor Will” is how I felt throughout most of the book. We finally find out the dark secret he had been hiding, and wow. That poor boy, I can’t even begin to describe the horrible things he went through. Nothing ever went right for him. Whenever some good happened, some bad came along to wash it all away. By the end, I was almost in tears. He finally gained a glimmer of hope just to be knocked back down again. I don’t know how he lived as he had all that time. I don’t even know how to properly describe his situation. Dire, I guess. Unfair. Undeserved. And though I’ve always assumed it was Jem who understood Will the best, I think in Clockwork Prince, this shifted a little to Magnus. Magnus, as I’ve mentioned before, is my favourite character (so I was mega happy he was in the novel a lot). And in this book, he and Will developed this weird sort of familial relationship I can’t really describe. All I know is that I loved their scenes together. We got to see a different side of Will – and of Magnus – and I think the two grew closer than either of them imagined. Magnus certainly was surprised at home much he came to care for Will, and I think he was one of the only people in the book that could possibly understand his pain. That being said, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Will. I’m making it sound like he acted all depressed all the time, but that’s not it – his internal thoughts could be pretty damn hilarious at times, and of course, he still retained his wit and charm.

A character that really surprised me was Gideon Lightwood. I seriously did not expect to like him so much! And of course, Sophie (the best maidservant ever, in my opinion), Charlotte and Henry were being their usual awesome selves too. Henry – that man spent more time in his head than in the real world! But he was very sweet, and adorable when with Charlotte. They had a little side-story of their own which I thought was so cute :).

One thing I found in Clockwork Prince was that you could never guess what was going to happen. The plot was so twisty-turny – you could go from a discovery of a huge secret, to action, to searching for someone, to kissing, to action – I had no idea what to expect when I turned the page, and I loved that about it! One of the main reasons I prefer The Infernal Devices series to The Mortal Instruments is that I think there is much more mystery to the plot. It’s pretty damn clever – I still don’t know what Mortmain wants with Tessa, I don’t know how things will turn out, can’t even hazard a guess. Especially after the cliffhanger at the end of this one – what was that?! Didn’t expect it at all. Can’t even guess what it means. Already dying for Clockwork Princess and Clockwork Prince hasn’t even been released yet.

Overall, Clockwork Prince was a brilliant read. Every person needs a copy of this book. And if you haven’t read Clockwork Angel yet, well, then get on that. Honestly, I’m not even exaggerating, this series is just THAT good. Cassie Clare is some kind of evil genius mastermind. So read this book.  It comes with my highest recommendation.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #38

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Moonrise (Low Red Moon #2) by Ivy Devlin
January 31st 2012
Find it on Goodreads

Avery and Ben are just beginning to explore the depth of the bond that links them. Their ability to sense each others' feelings and Avery's mysterious connection to the forest mean that their love is unlike any other. But even such a perfect bond can be strained by jealousy, and when Hope, a gorgeous girl from Ben's old life, arrives in town, Avery can't help but feel threatened. And in more ways than one-because someone is trying to kill her, again.

Also new in town are a pair of Hunters-men who know about werewolves and who seek only to destroy what they can't understand. Hope is connected to the Hunters somehow, but by the time Avery figures out her secret, it's too late-and someone will pay with their life. With the glowing, emotional language that made Low Red Moon such an irresistible read, Moonrise ups the romantic stakes with a heart-tugging sacrifice that testifies to the power of love.
(from Goodreads)

Not entirely sure if this is the final cover...but considering I didn't even KNOW there was a sequel to Low Red Moon until two days ago, I'm not too fussed to be honest. Pretty damn excited for this! I didn't love-love the first book, but I'm definitely curious enough to want to read this one. I want to know why exactly Avery has this connection to the forest! Plus with the arrival of Hope, I'm sure there'll be some interesting drama to read about too! :P

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Guest Post: Why We Shouldn't Go to College/University

Today I have a guest post from the lovely Asher @ Paranormal Indulgence! I actually did a similar post on her blog a few days ago, if you want to check it out. Anyway, enjoy the post! :)

Why We Shouldn't Go to College 

Liz and I are both going to be attending 'uni' (in staying true to Liz's 'Britishness' XP) next year, being that we're both seniors in high school now. I think it's safe to say that we both put an enormous amount of work, time, and effort into our respective blogs and we get little sleep as is as a result. Between school and blogging (which, for me, can sometimes feel like a job) there's little time for other things.
Yup, it seems we're going to
forfeit OUR SLEEP, ladies and males.
We're just so sweet, OBVS.

Then on Twitter, Liz and I began pondering what our lives were going to be like once next year actually happened. And it finally dawned on us that going to school, starting up with a job, AND blogging may very well kill us. I started to panic a tiny bit-->

So after some more fun panicky tweets and Liz's jokes, Liz sparked a *light-bulb* moment in me. And the two of us put our heads together and here we are. Books We Want to Read Without the Interruptions of College/Uni (including related activities beforehand) aka, in much more clever terms, Why We Shouldn't Go to College/University.


The Selection by Kiera Cass

Can I start out by pointing out that this cover should be enough TO MAKE ANYONE WANT TO READ IT? It has a bit of a Cinderella theme going on, what with it being about girls brought in en masse to be selected by a Prince as his new beau and future bride. Only difference? This "Cinderella" isn't a poor one and she most certainly isn't in love with might be her intended... at least at first.

The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

You know something, I'm just as intrigued by the author's name as I am by the cover and synopsis? I mean who names themselves GALAXY CRAZE *looks bewildered*. ANYWAYS, besides the obvious (hello, pretty cover!), I selected this because of the fact that it's DYSTOPIAN. I don't know about all of you, but this year especially, I've recently been blown away by this sub-genre and, frankly, can't get enough.

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

So I love all things beautifully paranormally amphibian/fishy (especially part-amphibians like mermaids!). I'm getting mermaid vibes from this despite the fact that the blurb seems to be trying to dispel the possibility. A girl who can communicate with fish? Come. On. The only thing that has me slightly worried is this "feeling something strange - is it attraction?" bit. Whenever that happens it has a tendency to be leading to the dreaded instaluv.

Devine Intervention
by Martha Brockenbrough

Add it to Goodreads?

In spite of my unequivocal hatred for the name Jerome - I don't know why, just do - I so want to read this. I'm tired of the deadly, perilous angel business in paranormal books these days. I actually like the idea of a contemporary romance with a slight paranormal element. It sounds charming and funny and sweet. And I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to cry my eyes out. But I've been wrong before.

Lies Beneath
by Anne Greenwood Brown

KILLER MERMAIDS, people. First big plus? It's told in the guy's, Calder, POV and he is a mermaid and he falls for his prey. Kinda like vampires, or Twilight. Whatevs. I can't wait to find out how Calder manages to worm his way out of this deadly situation with his sisters!

Something Strange and Deadly
by Susan Dennard 

ZOMBIES. Another of my favorite paranormal critters. In some time period that's not our own, with pretty, big dresses. It comes off a little like the Iron Fey - girl wanders out of her comfort zone to track down her little brother and meets a handsome boy along the way. Still, this sounds fresh somehow.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things 
by Ruth Frances Long

I love faerie books, and it always surprises me that not many people feel the same. But I love that faeries are tricksters by nature and generally up to no good. This book sounds like the Ultimate Faerie Book. The cover is sinfully gorgeous and the premise has snagged my attention indefinitely.

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

Faeries. Steampunkish elements. Blue streaks. And a deadly sacrifice. Equals an auto-buy.

Geez, I can't wait to read this. The cover should have been on my bookshelf yesterday.

Thanks to my sister's
mad skillz!
Asher's "Brief" Bio:

Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Liz! I'd say Liz and I are blogging pals and despite being set what feels like worlds apart (England vs. US of A), we share many of the same reading interests.

On my blog, Paranormal Indulgence, I indulge in YA reading prospects from up and down the genre. I am a disciple of the Cover Art gods (whom I fervently thank religiously for their strokes of genius that happen to grace my eyes) and am a serious advocate for anti-bullying.
Glad to have you, Asher! Thanks for the awesome post! I am actually looking forward to every single one of those books. I think 2012 might be the year I collapse from bookish excitement...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Please Read: Note to Everyone Who Grabbed My Button

So a week ago, I had a button made for my blog. However, something really screwy happened and my image got deleted and replaced with some ultra creepy one. I've removed it from my sidebar and if any of you did kindly add my button to your sidebars too, I suggest you remove it as well, because it has seriously gone really weird. I'm looking into what happened and I'll try to fix this issue soon. Sorry to everyone who has ended up with huge, weird images on their sidebars :/. I have no idea what went wrong...

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #37

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Forgiven (The Demon Trappers #3) by Jana Oliver
February 3rd 2012
Find it on Goodreads

The days are growing darker for 17-year-old demon trapper Riley Blackthorne. With her father’s reanimated body back safely, Beck barely speaking to her because of her tryst with a hunky fallen angel and a deal freshly made with Lucifer, she has enough on her hands to last a normal teenage lifetime. Though she bargained with Heaven to save his life, her ex-boyfriend Simon has told the Vatican’s elite team of demon hunters that she’s working with Hell. So now she’s on the run, at the top of everyone’s most-wanted list.

But it’s becoming clear that this is bigger than either Riley or Beck, and rapidly getting out of control. Someone's tampering with Atlanta's Holy Water, and it’s on Riley to figure out who. On top of that, there’s something wrong with the demons; they’re working together—and refusing to die. The trappers and hunters are doing their best, but civilians are falling in harm’s way.

Caught between her bargain with Heaven and her promise to Lucifer, Riley fears the final war is coming—and it may be closer than anyone thinks…
(from Goodreads)

Cannot WAIT to read this one. After the events of the last book, I think it's safe to say that Riley is in a sticky situation. Have no idea what she's going to do next, but I can't wait to find out! Plus, looking forward to more Beck, he's my favourite male character in this series :). Hoping to see a little romance between him and Riley, but I'm not gonna get my hopes up, just in case...

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg & Ten Spine-tingling 2011 Books to Read Before Christmas

Sent for review as part of WHSmith's Christmas campaign.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Publisher: Razorbill Penguin
Released: 2nd February 2012
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning... Welcome to forever.

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

"Inventive, gorgeous, funny and yes . . . heartbreaking. You will absolutely love this book." — Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and Delirium.
(from Goodreads)

First of all, I just have to comment on what an awesome title The Catastrophic History of You and Me is. Even at first glance, it’s an intriguing title, but after reading the book, I appreciate it so much more. Speaking of reading the book – wow. When I started TCHOYAM, I thought it would be a simple story about a girl who died and now had to figure out how to “move on” to the next stage of existence. But it’s actually much more complex than that. Brie, our main character, died when her heart literally broke in half. To her, it’s obvious it happened because the boy she loved broke up with her, but to her family – and her father especially – her death seems more mysterious and inexplicable. As Brie watches her friends and family fall apart, she desires revenge against the boy who caused it all – Jacob. But with the help of her guide to the afterlife, Patrick, Brie soon realises that things aren’t as simple as they seem and getting revenge won’t fix the problems left behind after her death. As Brie goes through the five stages of grief and struggles to come to terms with her death, she learns a lot about herself and the people that loved her – but will she ever be able to reach the last stage, “acceptance”?

Brie was an awesome main character. I connected with her from the start, because she was so funny and likeable, but I think the she completely won me over when she made a “your mum” joke to Patrick. From that point on, I adored her, seriously. She had the kind of humour that I love and managed to make perfectly ordinary things seem hilarious! I actually can’t tell you just how funny she was, but all I know is that I found myself struggling not to laugh out loud. I definitely got a lot of weird looks from the rest of the people in my school library – probably because I was reading this book with a crazy grin on my face, trying not to burst into laughter. But along with being fun and witty, Brie was actually quite a tough character too. She had to deal with a lot of horrible things that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to handle, and even though she made a few stupid mistakes along the way, she always admitted when she was wrong, which I really liked about her. She could feel herself going through the stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression/sadness – and she tried her best to get through it all. I admired her coping ability, and I felt like I could really relate to her. I sort of went with her emotions – what she felt, I felt. If she was angry at a person, I was angry at them too. If she changed her mind, so did I. The kind of problems she was experiencing, and the ones she saw other people experience, were real life problems, things that could happen to anyone. This book deals with a lot of difficult issues, and it’s done very well in my opinion.

Patrick, a boy who died in the 80s but was still hanging around in the weird in-between world for some strange reason, was another character I loved. His humour was similar to Brie’s, and he was another one that was hilarious from the start. He had all these crazy nicknames for Brie, that made fun of the fact she was named after a type of cheese, and I think my favourite was “Chedster”. I just thought he was so cute whenever he called her a cheesy nickname, and I loved the banter between the two. There was this big mystery surrounding Patrick too, which really got me curious about him. He never explained why he hadn’t moved on or what he was doing, and he seemed to be hanging out with Brie just because she was new and he was bored. As the book went on however, things slowly unravelled, and I loved finding out more about him (though personally, I could have done with more info on Patrick, because I liked him so much). Another thing I loved was that the relationship between Brie and Patrick actually developed slowly – there was potential to easily fall into the insta-love trap here, but Rothenberg was really clever with the way she did things, so that Brie actually got to know Patrick and get to that stage where she felt comfortable around him. It was so great to read about!

Other characters that were interesting were Brie’s friends and her ex-boyfriend, Jacob. None of them were at all what I expected. The great thing about the plot in this one was that so many things happened that I never guessed would. I immediately assumed Brie’s friend Sadie was a horrible person, but there was more to it than that. Same with Jacob and Brie’s father. Nothing was as simple as it seemed, and as I read on, I realised that we’d really only scratched the surface with these characters. All my predictions went out of the window, and I did not see the end coming until a few chapters before when I started to realise what was happening. Even then, I was not prepared for that ending! I did not guess that at all! I loved it though – a great ending to a great book.

Overall, The Catastrophic History of You and Me was a wonderful, hilarious, heartbreaking young adult read. From the chapters named after song lyrics to the amazing plot to the wonderful 3D characters – it was seriously just excellent. Though the writing started off a little hard to get into, it got so engaging and compelling a little further in – I can’t recommend this book enough. Read it, is all I can say.
As TCHOYAM was sent to me as part of WHSmith's Christmas campaign, I've decided to do a little Christmassy post to take part in it, and I've come up with a list of books I think you all need to read before Christmas. Books so good, you'll be missing out if you don't read them! Plus, they make excellent Christmas presents too, so if you've got any friends that like reading, that's them sorted. So, on with the list!

Ten Spine-tingling 2011 Books to Read Before Christmas

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth - if you haven't already read this book, I have nothing to say except go buy it right now. This very second. Seriously. I read Divergent way back in March, and it's still my favourite read of 2011! An absolute amazing read - and Tris and Four are probably some of the best characters I've come across in a while. 

2. Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson - like characters with cool powers? Like lots of action, amazing romance and suspenseful mystery? Then Hunting Lila is the book for you! Lila was such an awesome protagonist and her relationship with of the best romances I've read in YA. I devoured this book the day I got it, and it comes with my highest recommendation.

3. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare - okay, so this one isn't out yet, but you can pre-order it in time for Christmas, and guys, I really think you should. No, I KNOW you should. You think Clockwork Angel was good? Wait until you read this book. I think it may be my favourite Cassie Clare book yet! The characters make this series - Tessa is a brilliant heroine, and together with Will and Jem is the greatest love triangle in all of YA. No joke. I have a review coming soon for this, where I've tried to explain the Love Triangle of Greatness, but I don't know if it did it justice.

4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - so Laini Taylor is a genius. I commend her for writing such a wonderful, funny, heartbreaking, romantic - basically anything you could wish for - book. Karou's story is unique and intriguing, and the world Laini has created is unlike anything I've ever come across - it's just fantastic. A must read.

5. Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts - if you like books with that creep factor, ones that make you look around as you're reading to check no-one suspicious is staring at you and make you sleep with the light on at night, then read Dark Inside. It's definitely creepy, but also very interesting and full of mystery. The characters all have their own story that form a very important part of the plot, and it's great working out how everything fits together! 

6. Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter - because who doesn't want to read about teenage spies? Especially when a mysterious organisation with bad intentions is involved. Plus, with a love interest as amazing as Zach, I honestly don't know why anyone wouldn't enjoy this book. Fourth in the series, and possibly the best book yet! 

7. Deception by Lee Nichols - I'm a huge fan of ghost stories, and I think Deception is one of the best ghost books out there at the moment. Emma is a really likeable main character she has a really interesting gift that allows her to do more than just see ghosts, which was great because it was different to a lot of other ghost stories I've read. The romance aspect is very, very good too - recommended!

8. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - this is the first book I've read by Maggie, and it definitely won't be the last. The Scorpio Races is beautifully written, and I became completely absorbed in Puck and Sean's world of water horses. A truly fantastic book - if you're looking for something that stands out from the crowd, give this one a go.

9. Forbidden by Jana Oliver - second in the The Demon Trappers series, and an excellent sequel! Riley is back and just as feisty as ever - I love her character because she's always so strong and determined! This book is a little darker than the first, but we get to discover a lot more about the demons and about Riley. And of course, there's Beck. This series wouldn't be the same without him! If you liked the first book, Forsaken, then you absolutely have to read this.

10. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini - a very interesting spin on Greek mythology that will definitely have you intrigued. Starcrossed is one of those books that pulls you in from the start, and keeps you engrossed until it's over. With a forbidden romance thrown into the mix too, this book is sure to attract a range of different readers. I loved it, and I'm already desperate for the sequel!

And that's it! I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe added some books to your Christmas list this year! Thanks to Jodi and WHSmith for letting me be part of the campaign :).

Sunday, 13 November 2011

In My Mailbox (#36)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

Can't believe it's November 13th already. Why is time flying by so quickly?! So many things to do, so little time...ugh. Anyway, here's what I got:

And because it needs its own photo:

Clockwork Prince!!! I was so excited when I opened this package yesterday that I just sat and stared at it for about five minutes. And then started reading immediately after. I'm about three-quarters way through, and it is AWESOME so far. 

For Review:
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Won (from the amazing Mia @ Gripped into Books):
Torment by Lauren Kate
Hereafter by Tara Hudson
Angel's Fury by Bryony Pearce

And that's it for me! I'm gonna go back to reading CP, write a few reviews, then start my homework. 

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Many thanks to Ruth, Walker Books and Mia.

EDIT: Also, I forgot to mention, I finally have a blog button! The lovely Asher from Paranormal Indulgence kindly offered to make me one after realising that I'd gone a year on this blog without one :P, and I absolutely love it! I am in awe of her graphics skills!

So yay! Now I have a button on my sidebar! :). Thanks to Asher for taking the time to make it for me :).

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Review: The Dig by Audrey Hart

The Dig (Zoe & Zeus #1) by Audrey Hart
Publisher: Backlit Fiction
Released: November 7th 2011
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Zoe Calder has always been an outsider. Stashed away in boarding schools since her parents died, Zoe buries herself in the study of ancient worlds. Her greatest thrill is spending her summers with her archeologist aunt and uncle on digs around the world. And one day, while investigating a newly unearthed temple in Crete, Zoe discovers a luminous artifact that transports her to ancient Greece.

As Zoe quickly learns, the Olympian Gods are real, living people—humans with mysterious powers… Powers that Zoe quickly realizes she has come to possess, as well. However, when the people of ancient Greece mistake Zoe for an Olympian, the Gods must restore the balance of the ancient world… No matter what.

Zoe is forced to play a confusing and dangerous game as Hera rallies the gods against her—all except for Zeus, the beautiful, winged young god who risks everything to save her.
(from Goodreads)

The Dig was a fun, light-hearted, humorous read – the kind of book you’d want to read on a rainy day to make you smile. It starts off with our main character Zoe getting ready for her trip to Crete. When she arrives, she goes on a dig with her archaeologist aunt and uncle, and wonders off to do some exploring. She makes a strange discovery – and finds herself transported back in time to ancient Greece. With nothing but her non-functioning iPhone and a backpack full of granola bars, Zoe has to find a way to get back home as soon as she can. But as Zoe learns more about herself and the strange new powers she has recently acquired, she wonders if returning home will ever be a possibility.

If you’re looking for a book to make you laugh, then The Dig is for you. Zoe was a very funny main character with a great sarcastic sense of humour, and she was always coming up with these little one-liners that made me grin. She wasn’t like most teens – she had a hatred for Facebook, slang and drama TV, and loved archaeology and history. She took a bit of getting used to, but was a good main character and her experiences in ancient Greece made for some great reading! I loved the way she reacted to certain things – coming from an age of technology to a place where showers haven’t been invented yet would be pretty hard for anyone!

Another thing I liked was the spin on Greek mythology. If you know me, then you’ll know I’m a big fan of Greek mythology in YA, so the new take on it really had me intrigued. The Greek gods in this book were not the ones you know – it was really interesting to find out about them and how they got their powers. They seemed a lot more human than the gods from the stories, even though they claimed they were far superior, and I think it was great seeing the way they were so distant from the human world yet completely relied on it at the same time. Zeus was definitely my favourite; he was charming and witty and I loved the interaction between him and Zoe! Though things progressed a little too fast for my liking and I didn’t really understand why Zeus was prepared to give up so much for Zoe, I did really enjoyed their scenes together, especially when they were alone and away from the other gods.

The Dig was well-paced and never boring, and though a little suspension of disbelief was necessary, it was a great read that I think readers of all ages could enjoy.  The best part for me was that while it didn’t end on a huge cliffhanger, it still left me wanting to know more, so I was glad to discover that The Dig is the first in a new trilogy. I’m excited to find out what happens to Zoe next and how different everything will be for her!

Overall, The Dig was a quick, funny book and a fab start to a new series. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something fun or anyone who likes Greek mythology with a twist.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #36

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Bitterblue (The Seven Kingdoms #3) by Kristin Cashore
May 1st 2012
Find it on Goodreads

Bitterblue is a companion book to both Graceling and Fire and takes place in the seven kingdoms eight years after Graceling. This third book will tie all three books together in some way. Bitterblue is the sixteen-year-old protagonist, and Katsa, Po, Giddon, Helda, and other characters from Graceling will be part of the fabric of the book. (from Goodreads)

So I loved Graceling and can't wait to read this one! I never actually read Fire, which is book two in the series, but I will get round to it one day. I'm looking forward to Bitterblue a lot though, because we get to see all the characters from the first book again :). I wonder how everything has changed since then! 

What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

In My Mailbox (#34 + #35)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

I was crazy busy last Sunday and missed IMM, so today is all the books I've gotten over the last two weeks.

For Review:
The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg (I got this one as part of WHSmith's Christmas campaign, so look out for a review and a related post soon!)
Forgive My Fins (Fins #1) by Tera Lynn Childs
Fins are Forever (Fins #2) by Tera Lynn Childs
Arcadia Awakens (Arkadien #1) by Kai Meyer
Immortal Beloved (Immortal Beloved #1) by Cate Tiernan
Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved #2) by Cate Tiernan
Blood (Mercian Trilogy #1) by K. J. Wignall

And that's what I got in the last two weeks! Blood I got free from the Foyles Cassie Clare event which I went to with Cait from The Cait Files (and she's written a much more detailed post about it here). It was absolutely amazing! Cassie was there with Sarah Rees Brennan, and they were both so hilarious! It was a lot of fun (even though I ended up completely embarrassing myself in front of Cassie and Sarah from nerves :P). In other news, this week has been a very exciting week for books! Lots of cover reveals (Endlessly, For Darkness Shows the Stars, Fated - to name a few!) that have got me really excited for 2012! Which covers do you like best? And which 2012 books are you looking forward to most? There are so many great-sounding books releasing, it's hard to narrow it down...

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Many thanks to Jodi and WHSmith, Hodder, Egmont and Templar Publishing.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge (The Pledge #1) by Kimberly Derting
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Released: November 15th 2011
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
(from Goodreads)

The Pledge was definitely a great start to a new series! However, while I did really enjoy reading it, I also felt like there was something missing, which is why I can’t give it more than four stars. On one hand, I loved the world that Kimberly Derting had created; Ludania was such an interesting place, and I liked reading about the way language was used to represent class and social status – it was very different to anything else I’d read, and I was definitely intrigued by this society that relied so heavily on these class barriers. On the other hand, there was something lacking, and I think this was mostly down to the characters. While I really liked Charlaina, Max and everyone else, I just felt there wasn’t much connecting them together. The relationship between Charlaina and Max suffered from this the most; I really didn’t understand what attracted them to each other and the romance just seemed a bit off and a little unrealistic to me. I guess I just felt distanced from everyone a bit – which can be effective in some ways, but for me, it gave the feeling that there was something absent from the book. That being said, that’s pretty much the only problem I had with the book, except a few minor things here and there.

The thing that interested me most about The Pledge was the society Charlie lived in. I study both Politics and History at school, so I know a few of the basics about stuff like monarchy and democracy etc. etc. That’s why I was so taken in by Ludania. It was a strange place – a place with a monarchy, where only female heirs could take the throne. Male heirs were shunned and mistreated while the females were treated with great respect and reverence. It was like a complete reversal of any form of monarchy we’ve seen over the centuries, and the inclusion of a class system, where people were divided by language (those who spoke or even listened to a language above their own social status without lowering their head and gaze to the floor could be executed) gave the society a very old-fashioned feel despite the fact the book was set in a futuristic universe. There was also a kind of, well, magical is the only word I can think to describe it, aspect to the book involving the previous heirs of the throne, and it was all fascinating stuff! I loved reading the chapters from the Queen’s point of view - it was interesting to see everything that was going on in her head.    

Charlaina was a very likeable, strong-minded protagonist, and I did form a connection with her quite easily. She was hiding a special ability from the world – the fact she could understand all languages, even ones she had never been taught - because it was an ability that could get her killed in a society where most people considered social status the most important thing. I think Charlie dealt with her situation quite well; I know that if I were in the same position as her and had the same ability, I would find it very difficult to keep my head down and ignore my surroundings and what was happening around me. I also really liked how Charlie valued her family – she would do anything to protect her little sister, and she was smart enough to realise the repercussions her actions would have on everyone she cared about. My only problem with her was that I felt she became a bit too “amazing” towards the end – everyone was after her, everyone was trying to protect her and she was treated like some priceless gem that everybody wanted a piece of. It was a bit too much at times, though I think I’m the only one who had this problem, because from the other reviews I’ve seen, no-one else has mentioned it :P.

Max, the love interest, was another character I liked. We actually got a few sporadic chapters from his POV, which I really enjoyed because we got to see a side of him that Charlie didn’t. He was mysterious, funny, good-looking, and generally had that vibe that makes you go “I don’t know who you are or what you want, but I’m not too fussed if you follow me around because you’re pretty and funny and I liiiike you” (or at least, that’s what I would be thinking if I met Max the way Charlie did). Despite this, however, I didn’t really get why he liked Charlie so much. I mean, I understand what he was supposed to do and everything, but I didn’t know why he felt so strongly about her after they barely spent any time together. It seemed a little unbelievable that he would throw away everything for her, when he had only known her a few weeks!  Especially since the original reason he took any interest in her in the first place was all a bit sketchy. Though to be fair, I do understand why he would want to protect Charlie. I just feel the romantic part of their relationship was underdeveloped.

The other characters were generally likeable – Brooklyn, Charlie’s best friend – was a little annoying at first, but she was quite fun and good to read about, especially in the second half when we found out more about her. Xander was definitely an interesting guy and I hope to find out more about him in future books! Possible the most intriguing character though was Charlie’s sister, Angelina. Angelina didn’t speak, and had a special ability of her own. I have a feeling she’s going to become much more important in the sequel.

Overall, The Pledge was an enjoyable read, with a few great plot twists and a unique setting. Though I did have some issues with it, I would still recommend it, especially to fans of dystopian – it’s definitely worth reading!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #35

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy
May 1st 2012
Find it on Goodreads

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl's perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys' band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free...until it isn't any more.

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl...and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char...being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated. (from Goodreads)

So I've never read anything by this author before, but I love the sound of this one! The girl in it is friends with a bunch of boys because she thinks girls are too much drama - veery interesting. I'm wondering what happened to her to make her think like that. Plus, there are lots of boys. I can only assume they are very awesome, hot boys that I want to read about. Interesting MC + lots of hot boys = Liz's kind of book. 

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books
Released: September 6th 2010
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Find it on 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.
(from Goodreads)

Clockwork Angel was an amazing start to The Infernal Devices series – I loved it so much, I think I can go as far as to say I preferred it to the The Mortal Instruments. I’ve said this before, but I’m not usually a huge fan of historical books. However, with Clockwork Angel...I loved it. The setting, the people, the language...everything worked!

Tessa was a great main character. She was strong and very inquisitive, and I liked how she wasn’t afraid to ask questions. She was a fast-learner, and adapted to the situations she was in quite quickly. I also liked the way talked back to Will when he was being out of order instead of just sitting there and taking it – she wasn’t a walkover, but she wasn’t all spoilt and selfish either and stood up not only for herself but for others that Will had been nasty to. And another reason she was such a great characters was because she was really funny and quick-witted and I just loved her whole personality! I think I preferred her to Clary from TMI – don’t get me wrong, I did like Clary, but I just feel Tessa had a more mature air about her, and she just seemed easier to relate to for me. She was generally a very likeable character and I really enjoyed reading about her (especially all the interaction between her, Will and Jem).

Speaking of Will and Jem – wow. I have never been so torn before. I’m one of those people who always moans about love triangles – I go on and on about them and how sick I am of them in YA. I’ve said on several occasions that I only like them when they’re done well, and not when they’re thrown in just for the sake of it. In Clockwork Angel, it was done better than well. It was done...I don’t even know the word! All I know is that both Will and Jem were amazing characters. Will was the dark, mysterious type with an air of arrogance and a rather sarcastic kind of humour. He was cryptic in the sense that you never knew what was really up with him. He could say one thing and mean something else entirely. And he was also hiding something...something dark. It was clear he was troubled, and I’m pretty sure he is referred to as the “emotionally broken” one.  But there was something about him that just drew me in. I wanted to know more. I relished every scene he was in. He was gorgeous, funny, flawed and ah! Amazing. But then there was Jem. Jem, who fought so hard despite suffering from a horrible illness. The “physically broken” one. Jem the cool, calm and collected one, the kind one, the one who tried to get to know Tessa. He was just so sweet and lovely and caring, but also strong and determined too. He and Will were like brothers (they were parabatai) and no-one knew Will better than Jem. Ah, it’s just so hard to choose between the two! If I had to, had to had to pick, say, if someone were going to burn all my books if I didn’t, then I’d say my favourite is probably Will. But I am a sucker for the dark-haired bad-boys...

The supporting characters were all fantastic too. I loved Charlotte, who was the head of the Institute – she was lovely, and seemed to really care about Tessa, despite the fact they hadn’t known each other very long. I also liked the way she was in control of everything – she showed everyone that woman were just as capable as men. Henry, Charlotte’s husband, was probably the character that made me laugh the most (poor Henry) – he was an inventor, but his inventions were never quite right and he always ended up in rather unexpected situations that were hilarious to read about. I did feel bad for him sometimes though, because he was never treated with any respect from anyone else in the Clave – but he was so off in his own world, I think he rarely noticed :P. Jessamine, who was another Shadowhunter, was probably one of the most interesting characters. She wasn’t very nice and was extremely selfish, but she was stuck in a world she didn’t want to be in. She hated being a Shadowhunter, hated risking her life and just wanted to be a normal girl with a normal life. I’m really curious as to why she hated being a Shadowhunter so much, and I hope we get to find out more about her!

Plot-wise, Clockwork Angel was near-perfect for me. Though it centred mainly on Tessa trying to find her brother, there was a mixture of everything I want in a plot – comedy, romance, mystery, danger, drama, tension – it was amazing! And the mystery was definitely a mystery. Though you may be able to guess some things, you will be left surprised at others! I really have no idea what’s going to happen next, so one thing I can say about The Infernal Devices series is that it’s definitely unpredictable.

My only complaint, which isn’t really a complaint, is that my favourite character (Magnus, of course) was not in this book enough. I expected to see a lot more of him, but he was only in a few scenes! I definitely missed his humour and fabulous dress sense. However, I have been reassured that he appears much more in Clockwork Prince, so I’m not too upset by his absence here.

Overall, Clockwork Angel was an amazing, amazing book. Everyone needs to read it. Even if you think you won’t like it, give it a go. I was really wary, but ended up loving it!  And now I absolutely cannot wait to read Clockwork Prince!