3.5 stars Not perfect, but there were parts that surprised me and some things I really, really liked, including the portrayal of New York City, John,3.5 stars Not perfect, but there were parts that surprised me and some things I really, really liked, including the portrayal of New York City, John, and the ability to find imprefect compromises in relationships.
My first Colasanti, but it won't be my last. I like the author's voice. ...more
Let me save you some time: this book is a paranormal romance. There is precisely one chapter--the very last one--devoted to any sort of magic lastingLet me save you some time: this book is a paranormal romance. There is precisely one chapter--the very last one--devoted to any sort of magic lasting more than a few paragraphs. ALL of the magic, however, involves the tragic separation of these star-crossed lovers in some way. There is nothing else going on here except for a romance between two characters who are harmless but so blandly unremarkable that they are actually perfectly suited for each other. Every conversation, every secondary character, and every plot line revolves around Tristan and Savannah.
A paranormal romance that focuses more on the relationship than anything else could be okay if the romance were actually interesting, but after reading countless passages devoted to their interactions as managers of the school drill team--yes, both of them, he even gets thrown off the football team so that we get more scenes with them together--my eyes started to cross. Seriously, it even got the point where I was idly hoping for a prom scene, just so something would happen--and I normally hate prom scenes.
That this "forbidden romance" story is actually a series is mind-boggling. I finished this one because it was my bathtub reading, but I was hard-pressed not to drown my impatience--and more besides--before the story mercifully ended.
Promising prologue and a nicely atmospheric setting, but this story wasn't nearly as deep or complex as I'd hoped it would be. To be honest, the dialoPromising prologue and a nicely atmospheric setting, but this story wasn't nearly as deep or complex as I'd hoped it would be. To be honest, the dialogue is so clunky and the pedantic plotting occasionally got so tiresome that I almost gave this a 2, but towards the end it picked up again(view spoiler)[, especially with a non-typical conclusion to the romance (hide spoiler)]....more
3.5 stars Enjoyed it, though not quite as much as I did the first. Alona seemed pretty selfish in this one, and it made me a teeny bit uncomfortable a3.5 stars Enjoyed it, though not quite as much as I did the first. Alona seemed pretty selfish in this one, and it made me a teeny bit uncomfortable at times. Still, I'm looking forward to the next one to see where the story goes....more
4.5 out of 5 stars Finally, a well-written angel series! Clara's physical appearance, the wings, the flying, the "glory"--make angels sound impossibly4.5 out of 5 stars Finally, a well-written angel series! Clara's physical appearance, the wings, the flying, the "glory"--make angels sound impossibly beautiful. The descriptions are so well done that you can really picture and feel what it would like to be in the presence of one. The supernatural aspects are well-balanced by a solid grounding in Clara's day to day life as a teenager with excellent descriptions of school projects, relationships with her friends and her brother, and especially her conflicted relationship with her extraordinary mother.
The characters are well-developed and there's terrific courtship that is blessedly normal and crazy appealing. I appreciate the unusual choice to wait until much later in the book to get things really started on the dating front, as you've already gotten to know Clara pretty well by this point *and* it's in the right context of her life. Important and fulfilling for sure, but not the be-all and end-all of her life, as so often happens in YA books. Once it comes, however, it's very sweet and very convincing.
I did find the beginning of the book a little disjointed, and there were a few sections that could have used smoother transitions, but overall it's really terrific. It's easy to understand Clara's conflict and it's easy to like Clara, who has unearthly perfections but who is also just trying to find her way in life. An excellent start to a what should be an excellent series.
But for now, my initial reaction to the first book remains below. It's fascinating to see this society that the author created.
2.5 stars I really wanted to like this book, but holy moly. I try very hard not to let my opinion be colored when fictional characters make choices I wouldn't necessarily make, but...I just can't do that in this case. The offhand way gang rape is handled, the dismissive attitude towards an abuse victim, and the sudden introduction of an inconceivable love interest (turning it into a triangle) late in the book left me cold. The action scenes and interesting premise aren't nearly enough to make up for a heroine who is physically extremely capable, but unfortunately, someone who also seems to be emotionally empty....more
* the concept * some fun action sequences * a scary imaginary friend name3.5 stars? 2 stars? I don't know.
There were some great things about this book:
* the concept * some fun action sequences * a scary imaginary friend named Rachel * the unexpected depth of the scenes with her stepmother * an intriguing ending
some ho-hum things:
* okay-but-not-spectacular hero and heroine * instalove * muddled, predictable FBI shenanigans * not a whole lot of depth or intricacy to the plot or characters
and some bordering-on-distasteful things:
* some violence later in the book (view spoiler)[involving her dad (hide spoiler)], which I thought crossed the line a little. I love great action scenes as much as the next person, but I was turned off by some of the ones (view spoiler)[involving Rachel punishing an adult, a finger blown off that shows the bone poking through (hide spoiler)], etc., etc. Mostly because they felt like they were done for shock value, without the physical or emotional consequences that should follow.
but most of all, I think I just couldn't get over what Jesse's imaginary creature was. It's revealed a few chapters in, but in the interests of not spoiling it at all, I'll hide it here. (view spoiler)[It's a dragon. A DRAGON! Which felt so out of place in a book that doesn't have any other mythological or fanciful touches. (hide spoiler)] It's pretty much the equivalent of having a dinosaur in the room that no one else can see. It would have been nice to at least have a sense of humor about the ridiculousness of this scenario, but unfortunately it was all serious business for just about all of the book.
I'm mildly curious about where the story will go in the next book, but I'll most likely wait to see what others have to say about it first...
In the beginning, it starts with a single feather drifting slowly down from the sky. When 17-year-old Penryn sees this simple sight, she is filled witIn the beginning, it starts with a single feather drifting slowly down from the sky. When 17-year-old Penryn sees this simple sight, she is filled with incredible dread, because this lovely, floating, ephemeral thing is an unlikely sign of terrible things to come.
Six weeks after a devastating attack on earth, the world has been torn apart by a war between angels and humans. Caught up in a battle she doesn't understand, Penryn watches in horror as an angel named Raffe is cornered and brutally stripped of his wings. In trying to help, she antagonizes one of the perpetrators and is forced to watch as her wheelchair-bound little sister is taken away. Penryn angrily demands that Raffe provides information and assistance in finding her sibling, and the two natural enemies must work together to outwit danger at every turn.
If you've been searching high and low for a worthy successor to The Hunger Games, the wait is finally over. Susan Ee's stunning debut novel is the perfect combination of post-apocalyptic YA + cannibals + badass angels + kickass heroine, and it blew me away with its perfectly paced blend of action, story, and emotional tension. Penryn is a fantastic heroine, a whip-smart, funny girl who happens to be awesome in combat. I also found her interactions with her schizophrenic mother to be very touching, and it's impossible not to admire how her desperate resolve to find her sister never falters. As for Raffe...who the hell thinks of writing an agnostic angel? Brilliant! And so intriguing. Raffe is clearly hiding secrets, but it's impossible not to be drawn to him anyway. His relationship with Penryn develops slowly and naturally as they struggle to find shelter and to survive in bleak circumstances (yeah, they eat cat food at one point), all against a bleak backdrop of a war and all kinds of unspeakable horrors.
Readers who are uneasy with more gruesome books should be warned that there are some pretty intense scenarios, although they are tastefully (view spoiler)[hah hah, tastefully! (hide spoiler)] done and mostly appear in aftermath, rather than in present action. For my somewhat twisted sense of humor and enjoyment of creepy visuals, it was exciting to find an author who writes such dark and vivid imagery, however, and I'd say that if you're someone who's comfortable reading zombie books, you'd probably be okay with what happens here. Not that I didn't want to run around screaming when Penryn and Raffe happen upon the...things hanging in trees, mind you. But that's all part of the fun.
I have a few minor quibbles, mostly about Penryn's failure to ask and demand enough answers, as this seemed completely out of character for someone who grits her teeth and cool-headedly calculates whether she can keep someone alive long enough to be of use to her. It was frustrating and implausible that in such forced intimacy, a girl like this wouldn't have mercilessly hounded the information out of her traveling partner. I also wish we'd learned a bit more about the war and about the ghoulish experimentations that were going on, although you can certainly put some of that down to my general impatience to read the rest of this 5-part series. My quibbles are far outweighed by my rampant enthusiasm over this book, however, as the action-packed story, sharp and funny dialogue, macabre touches, unforgettable characters, and well-researched angelology all make for an incredible read. The twists and turns in this story are superbly done, and even if you happen to guess one of the major plot points that will have a major effect on the future books, it's not going to matter. And that's the mark of a book that can and will be read again and again.
I'd strongly recommend this book for: readers who were mesmerized by the grim beauty of The Reapers Are the Angels, zombie enthusiasts who enjoyed the spectacular first half of Ashes, people who loved the creepiness of Anna Dressed in Blood, anyone who was drawn to the idea of evil angels in Angel Burn, skeptics who thought that chick in Aftertime should have spent more time thinking about her daughter, action junkies who enjoyed the fight scenes in Divergent and Blood Red Road and Legend but wanted a little more substance, anyone who liked Daughter of Smoke and Bone, anyone who expected more from Smoke & Bone. And finally, anyone who appreciates a truly original and exciting story. Period.
Buy this book NOW! It's only 99 cents as an ebook at the moment for Kindle and Nook, and may also be read on your computer or Smartphone. If you're undecided even after seeing all the phenomenal reviews of this book, you should read the first 5 chapters on the author's website. Update: the book is also available for purchase as a paperback from Amazon.
And believe it or not, this book also happens to be self-published. I'm not sure why Susan Ee decided to go the indie route with this book, but I'm quite sure it was by her choice and her design. Regardless of whether you read it now or whether you read it later when it's available as a print book, I can't imagine that most readers won't have a tremendous time with it. This is an author worth supporting, and how exciting it is to find her so early in her writing career.
A Thank You to My Lovely Friends
This is one of those cases where GoodReads must be thanked for providing such a great platform for all of us to find out about such incredible books. If it weren't for the amazing reviews written by Michelle and AH back in July and for Jen's nudging a few weeks ago, I never would have read it, and neither would many of my friends. If you've found your way to this book and enjoyed it, I hope you'll please do your part in helping someone else find it as well.
How was it fair that I had to conduct a murder investigation and do trig?
If Nancy Drew had a cheeky sense of humor, she would be Hartley Featherstone.How was it fair that I had to conduct a murder investigation and do trig?
If Nancy Drew had a cheeky sense of humor, she would be Hartley Featherstone. Hartley's boyfriend Josh has been cheating on her, and even worse, the girl turns up dead and Josh is now the prime suspect in Courtney's murder. What's a girl to do except band together with her best friend Sam and the good-looking Chase to try and solve the crime?
Reading Deadly Cool is like eating a bowl of ice cream. It's a refreshing treat following the afterburn of reading so many mopey and middling young adult novels, and it's one that goes down smoothly and will leave you craving more more more! I didn't expect for a murder mystery to keep me laughing throughout the entire story, but this one totally did. Hartley's observations are hilarious, and so are her interactions with everyone around her. At one point, an anonymous note demands a meeting with her on the football field at midnight, and she rolls her eyes and says,
"Seriously? Am I living in an episode of CSI: Silicon Valley?"
And when Josh tells her he's created a new account to chat with her, she says,
"My Space? No one is on that anymore."
"Exactly. What better way to hide out?"
This book feels very current and modern in a way that I'm not sure I've seen in any other YA novel, but the contemporary details are seamlessly interwoven and feel like a natural part of the story. There are also tons of funny pop culture references (sympathetic head tilts, etc.), Hartley's believably exasperated but loving relationship with her health-nut mom, and adults who aren't just props and actually try to help her...even if one of them does smell like Fancy Feast. I also appreciated that Hartley absolutely confirms that Josh has been cheating on her and dumps him (see the way she dresses him down in my status updates), but she decides immediately that she will help him anyway. Besides, how can you not love a girl who hides Ben & Jerry's in the back of the freezer, says "eff you" to her crappy mood by putting on sparkly flats, and admits to eating two slices of lasagna in one sitting? It's gluten-free tofu lasagna, but still.
The mystery is also pretty entertaining, with a good amount of plausible detailing, but it doesn't go overboard on the technical details. Even if you guess who the murderer is, it isn't going to spoil the experience of reading the book since the narrative voice is so bouncy and cute. The investigation, by the way, leads to a really funny scene where Hartley is trapped under a hot guy's bed who's unaware that she's there and he starts to undress. There are a number of scenarios like that might normally raise my eyebrows if they're tastelessly done, but Gemma Halliday writes with such wit and charm that they don't seem at all forced or tacky. Instead, you feel every bit of Hartley's embarrassment and anxiety, as well as her, um, inability to look away.
This book put me in such a good mood, and has a similar vibe to fresh and funny books such as Hex Hall and Flying Blind. Hartley is a lot like a cross between Sophie Mercer and Nancy Drew, actually, and she also quickly became one of my favorite YA characters. I had such a good time with this book, and I'm really looking forward to the sequel Social Suicide, which will be out soon in Spring 2012. If you enjoy non-angsty YA, Deadly Cool is a book you'll definitely want to take for a spin.
P.S. I thought it was funny that one of the secondary character's names was Cody Banks, which made me think of the movie from awhile back. The name "Hartley" reminded me of Beverly Cleary's The Luckiest Girl, however, which was a big bonus in my book. :)...more
3.5 stars Oh Eugenie, Eugenie, Eugenie. Throughout all four of the Dark Swan books, I feel like you could have used a good girlfriend you could call w3.5 stars Oh Eugenie, Eugenie, Eugenie. Throughout all four of the Dark Swan books, I feel like you could have used a good girlfriend you could call whenever you had the urge to do something silly. Unfortunately, you didn't have my number, and as much as I've enjoyed your company, I still have to fight the urge to shake some sense into you, even after all this time.
In Shadow Heir, Eugenie Markham has her twin babies but hides them away in fear of their safety. She returns to the faery world to find that a disaster has fallen on her land, and she must work together with both allies and enemies in order to save the Otherworld that she's come to love. Eugenie's story has always been a lot of fun from the very beginning, when we first learned she was a half-human, half-fae shaman for hire who learns that she's destined to be part of a prophecy that will wreak havoc upon the mortal world. I've really enjoyed her learning to harness her powers (she can control water elements!), uncovering the truth behind her past, and watching her become a more powerful, more dedicated Queen in the faery kingdom. All of the battle scenes are really fun, and if some of the plot points are a bit on the predictable side, that hasn't mattered as much to me because the characters are all nuanced and interesting, the dialogue is snappy and humorous, and the overall story lines are fast-paced and entertaining.
What's been much less enjoyable has been watching Eugenie bounce back and forth between her two love interests, the half-Japanese, half-fox shapeshifter Kiyo, and the madly flirtatious, deadly ambitious King Dorian. While both men were equally attractive in the beginning, the love triangle dragged out interminably, with pretty bad behaviors from everyone concerned. Both men have their own agendas and secrets that they keep from Eugenie, but in the last book Iron Crowned, one of them made a horribly treacherous and unforgivable move, and I went into this book absolutely gunning for blood. (view spoiler)[ Or a fur coat. :D (hide spoiler)] One really funny thing about this last installment is that pretty much everyone else in the book hates him, too! Different characters kept bringing up the idea of killing the traitor again and again, to my great satisfaction.
I did very much enjoy reading this story and I was happy that many of the threads that were left hanging in the last book were concluded--but I'm not sure I'm happy about the way they were resolved. Eugenie makes some pretty awful tactical errors, seems deliberately obtuse throughout much of the story, and in the end sets upon a course that made my blood pressure go up a few notches. There is just no reason that she shouldn't have learned by now that dishonesty and deception are never going to pay off. Her decisions at the end were illogical, poorly conceived, and completely unfair to everyone concerned. Also...(view spoiler)[I could have used a little bit more makeout time with Dorian. (hide spoiler)]
Richelle Mead's heroines are always strong, dominant women, which is part of what I like about them--but after producing three series which manage to entertain and frustrate readers in nearly equal measure, it's pretty clear to me that the biggest issue is that in trying to make her main character flawed, she so often makes the main character stupid as well. Or at least irrational and thoughtless, which is so frustrating when our heroine usually otherwise behaves with a great deal of courage and integrity and common sense. That's not to say that obstacles shouldn't be thrown in the main character's way or that she shouldn't make mistakes, since that's what keeps things interesting. But there should be solid reasons given for withholding information/not taking action/etc, etc., other than just to extend the story. We can't root for the heroine if we're suddenly rolling our eyes at her all the time.
So this is, once again, a mixed conclusion to a Richelle Mead series. I still enjoy her books quite a lot because they're so darned entertaining--but things never seem to end with my having as much respect for the heroine as I did in the beginning. It is so very disappointing when it appears that readers believe in the characters' self-worth and honor more than their author does.
**My thanks go out to the lovely Flannery for knowing how much I was dying to read this book and being kind enough to share her ARC.**
Have you ever pictured yourself wandering among the tombs at Westminster Abbey, marveling at the sheer wonder of being among the greatest literary figHave you ever pictured yourself wandering among the tombs at Westminster Abbey, marveling at the sheer wonder of being among the greatest literary figures in history? Sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray is taken to Poets' Corner by someone who understands exactly what such an experience will mean to her, and this lovely little moment in the sequel to Clockwork Angel perfectly encapsulates everything I love about the Infernal Devices series. Tessa is a shapeshifting Shadowhunter who is becoming accustomed to her powers, but in the middle of all the magic and mystery in Victorian England, the relationships between Tessa, the enigmatic Will, and the thoughtful, sensitive Jem remain the very heart of the story.
Following a rather, ahem, provocative prologue, the story really begins as the London Institute of Shadowhunters is given two weeks to find the evil Magister, who is still determined to gain control of Tessa’s powers and bring down the Enclave. Tessa and the Shadowhunters must battle dreadful clockwork creatures, demons, and even treachery within their own ranks before everything around them is forever altered. Readers who agonized over the last book will be happy to know that we see the beginnings of the ties between the Lightwood and Herondale families, find out what the initials "JTS" mean, and spend more time getting to know all the characters, including Magnus, Jessamine, Henry, Charlotte, and Sophie.
Here are the other important elements that I loved from this story:
Tessa, Will, and Jem
Tessa becomes more sure of her unique position and powers, and her relationships with both the boys in her life deepen in a life-changing way. Jem unexpectedly reveals an incredibly alluring side to him that we’ve never seen before, and we finally discover the devastating secret in handsome Will’s tragic past. This is one of the most well-written love triangles I’ve ever read, with a strong girl torn between two very attractive and honorable boys; there are good reasons for Tessa to love them both, but also excellent reasons for her to give her heart to neither. It is nothing short of torture to feel Tessa’s deep pull towards Jem and Will, both of whom have swooningly romantic and wildly sensual moments with our heroine. Believe me, the infamous Dirty Sexy Balcony Scene more than lives up to its promise, and I clutched my pearls more than once while reading this book!
What Tessa never forgets, however, is that as confused as she is about her feelings for Jem and Will, there is also a lifelong friendship between them that she must honor. Jem’s illness, Will’s love for and dependence upon him, and her own need for self-respect all contribute to an intensely difficult situation, and one that made me hurt for everyone involved.
The Victorian details in this novel make me quite ill with pleasure. That's right, ill with pleasure. I'm not even speaking solely of catnip such as the clothes and carriages and the like, but of a finer, deeper authenticity that has to do with a way of truly immersive thinking, rather than just trifling details. It seems to be so difficult for many YA historical fiction authors to refrain from projecting anachronistic modern attitudes onto period characters, but Tessa Gray stands out as a true Victorian heroine. She shows courage and spirit, but it's within the appropriate behaviors and thinking patterns for a girl living in the 19th century; if she breaks tradition, she thinks about it (and we know it's unusual) before she does so.
Even while she's being trained for self-defense by other Shadowhunters, Tessa spends a great deal of her time struggling to reconcile her magical powers and responsibilities with her upbringing and social decorum. The role of women in oppressive circumstances has always interested me, and Tessa’s internal dialogue and conduct (along with Sophie’s) are notably in keeping with all the other spot-on period details, which are meticulously researched and beautifully woven into the story. Before she began writing this series, the author rather famously moved to England for six months and read nothing but books written or set in the Victorian era, and even walked all the streets that her characters might have traveled. There is a certain mood and style that is decidedly steeped in the foundations of this research, and the dexterous language and witty dialogue feel pretty nearly perfect and true to the time—with allowances for fantasy and magic, of course. Tessa transcends the thinking of the time and uses clever magic and thinking to outwit her adversaries at every turn.
A Love of Literature
Another thing I also adore about this series is how much appreciation all the characters have for literature. I still remember the awe I felt the first time I went to Westminster Abbey, and it struck a chord to hear Tessa say, “I can’t explain it. It’s like being among friends, being among these names.” Upon traveling to the countryside for the first time, she also says, "I feel as though I have seen it before. In books. I keep imagining I’ll see Thornfield Hall rising up beyond the trees, or Wuthering Heights perched on a stony crag.“ It is nearly impossible for any lover of books, particularly those with an unruly bit of romance in her soul, to fail to thrill when reading words like this. Tessa is a kindred spirit for me, and I think she would be for many other thinking, dreaming readers as well.
If you were dying for this second installment in the Infernal Devices series, rest assured that it has been more than worth the wait. It's full of great action scenes, a clever use of magic, and the hilarious dialogue that we've come to expect from these characters. It is, however, also an intensely emotional read for those invested in the characters, so be prepared with tissues—I cried several times near the heartbreaking end and it's going to be so hard to wait another whole year for Clockwork Princess. Was the book satisfying? Yes. Was it agonizing? A thousand times, yes. But it was painful in the most exquisite and emotionally truthful of ways.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.