Wow. Just wow. Once again, Cassandra Clare delivers. City of Glass had a super perfect ending to it, and I felt that instead of dumping everything on...moreWow. Just wow. Once again, Cassandra Clare delivers. City of Glass had a super perfect ending to it, and I felt that instead of dumping everything on us in the end, she played everything out. In this book, it's the first one, but all the clues, the parts, connected and fit like a rug.
I need to start with the cover first, because I absolutely need to discuss this! At first, I didn't know who it was, but I think they're the (SPOILER ALERT!) automatons. (SPOILER ENDED!) He also looks sort of like Will. But, I know for a fact that the person in the front of the Clockwork Prince is Jem. He has the cane and everything, so who can argue with that? He even has the cool silver hair. So that's why I was led to believe that this cover was Will.
The details. Once again, Cassie delivers with figurative language, detailed...details (for lack of a better word) and the layout of the story was ingenious. Everything she wrote built up and up and up until that one moment in the end. Not one detail was wasted, and everything was meaningful in some way. If something really stupid happened, it would only because it was meant for something later on.
So in summary, well done! I look forward to the Clockwork Prince, since the Clockwork Angel ended on such a mysterious note. That's what I hate about coming into a series early. You have to wait. If you come into it when it's already ended, you can read everything at your own pace without having to wait months at a time for it to come out, and then when it does come out, you forget everything in the previous one! Tedious, right?(less)
When looking for books, if I see anything that's set in the very present, I will literally turn away and start running for it. That's not the case for...moreWhen looking for books, if I see anything that's set in the very present, I will literally turn away and start running for it. That's not the case for this one because I knew how awesome the first three books of the Mortal Instruments were. (Notice how I didn't say the fourth book; I felt that one wasn't necessary to the series. She should have just stopped at a trilogy)
This cover is great, I think, because it resembled the Mortal Instruments' covers, connecting it to the series, and it was closely related to the first one, indicating it was a series. I think that the model on this cover is Jem, because he has that cane, and the one in the first book was Will, because of the black hair, and the Clockwork Princess will have Tessa as the model. Just a guess, but tell me what you think in the comments section.
First of all, the love triangle in this book is maybe one of the best I've ever seen. As much as I don't want to say that the Iron Fey, my favorite series so far, didn't have a strong love triangle like this one, I have to. Both boys were equally great and in the Iron Fey, it was made clear early on that Ash was the one for Meghan and that Puck would never satisfy her. But in Clockwork Prince, Tessa was having trouble because Will—my obvious favorite because he's the mysterious and handsome badboy who's really tortured and deep—was pushing her away one second, and wanting Tess the next. And Jem was always the stable friend to Tessa, until he revealed his true feelings for her, right about the same time that Will does the same.
I was really rooting for Will at the end, and this book was when Tessa chose who she would end up with, but I won't say who in fear of spoilers. The ending was definitely dramatic, with secrets unfolding and the drama making my blood race and my heart pound uncontrollably. (If you really have to know what the spoiler is now, then just email me or something and then I'll spill the beans, but I won't do it to the other people who don't want to know the ending.)
The action in this book was nonstop and there were artfully crafted twists and turns everywhere, keeping me on edge. I'm pretty sure I made so many mistakes on my Chinese final that week in my haste just so I could pull Clockwork Prince out and finish it. This book was really good and Cassandra Clare is definitely an awesome author. She's definitely gotten better since City of Bones.
Why are you still reading this? Go and get it if you haven't read it already! Now! (less)
In the third book of the Fallen series, this is where Luce really starts to learn more about herself. She travels through time, finding more about her...moreIn the third book of the Fallen series, this is where Luce really starts to learn more about herself. She travels through time, finding more about herself, falling deeper into love with Daniel. This book, by far, was my favorite book of the bunch, but I didn't feel that "unrequited love" that was supposed to be going on. Luce was looking to find true love behind everything, and she did. But I didn't. That's why these books have been such downers to me. It's about having an unrequited love, but I haven't been feeling it in the past books, including this on. The only reason it may have scored higher than the last two books because it was written well, like the last books, but in this one, there was more adventure and more to look forward to. I enjoyed the different POVs, going from Luce to Daniel, also.(less)
First of all, I am basically in love with this cover! I think that it portrays the entire book so beautifully. It basically is the costume from the Ha...moreFirst of all, I am basically in love with this cover! I think that it portrays the entire book so beautifully. It basically is the costume from the Halloween Masquerade at Lizzie's school, and that's the first time she has a flashback from the Regency Era with Drew. (We were both young, when I first saw you. I close my eyes and the flashback starts. I'm standing there, on a balcony in summer air. From Taylor Swift's Love Story) Hey! I just had a really good idea for my blog! I think whenever I put something in my reviews that I think relates to a song, I'll put that song in parenthesis, italics, and red font. I think it'll be a great way to include song posts and book posts in my reviews from now on. (For the labels, it will still be categorized under "Book Posts," but I'm going to add a label that says "Relatable Lyric" for this.) Another great thing I can thank this awesome book for! (BY THE WAY, THIS WILL OBVIOUSLY NOT APPLY FOR GOODREADS, SO I'M JUST GOING TO BOLD IT INTHIS CASE)
I love Taylor Swift, as you can obviously tell from all the ranting I've done on this blog. I look up to her and aspire to be like her when—if—I make it to be a singer, which I'm still trying really hard to do. So I was ecstatic to get this from Michelle, who so kindly donated it to me for review. I went into this book with the bar set extremely high, and my expectations were met full-on. The plot of this book was very well weaved, and I was guessing the entire time of what would happen with Lizzie and Drew.
The characters were really well-developed in this book. Everything really played together well, and the characters were something important to ensuring the success of the book, so I really congratulate Ms. Madow for doing that. Once again, I'm so happy that this is the first book ever that I've been given for review by an author/publisher, and it's about Taylor Swift, which makes it even more of a milestone for me. And the book turned out to be great, too!
I think that the romance was great. Lizzie knew that Drew knew something about them and when they were being reincarnated, and Drew refused to tell her anything. Lizzie was really great in this and she got the answers in the end. And Drew and Lizzie grew even more close together. I usually duck and run—quite literally—when I see anything with a trace of history in it. I rarely make exceptions, especially when there isn't a paranormal or action touch somewhere in there, but I'm so glad I did for this one. (less)
It was a good book, but the beginning was slow and it took me way too much time to read. This book took me three days to read. And that was without an...moreIt was a good book, but the beginning was slow and it took me way too much time to read. This book took me three days to read. And that was without any books in the middle that account for another book's lengthy time to read. I read this continuously, without any breaks in the middle for another book. So I definitely think the beginning was dry and sluggish. But then there was this sort of "trigger point" that finally engaged me and I started to like it. It was dramatic and scandalous, sort of, and very romantic. When it comes to anything purely historical fiction, I will literally RUN in the other direction. And this book definitely exceeded my--albeit low--expectations and I'll definitely be reading the next book. This book ended up proving itself and being a pretty good read because I loved the characters, the plot, and the drama that was involved, despite the sluggish beginning and lack of attention it drew. If you decide to read this, give it a chance and push on because it'll be worth it.
First, I want to thank Debdatta from BooK ReviewS so, so, so much for sharing her copy of this with me! I really can't get through classics at all, an...moreFirst, I want to thank Debdatta from BooK ReviewS so, so, so much for sharing her copy of this with me! I really can't get through classics at all, and I'm so happy that she was willing to share this copy because this book actually sounded interesting, and I've never read Jane Eyre before, so this seemed like a good time. I don't know how actually accurate this book is to the real thing, but I think it got the main idea quite nicely, considering Jane Eyre is a love story and all that.
In the beginning, I thought it went really slow since Nico hadn't actually showed up at Thornfield Park until a lot later, and until then, Jane was just toting around Nico's kid, doing her job. But then he came, and I think things started to pick up a little more. It was a while, I think, until the real romance came into play, and that's when I really started liking it.
The writing in this book sort of felt like we were still in old times, and I kept thinking that we were where Jane Eyre was taking place. It slowly fizzled out, though, and I was really happy with the end, despite the little twist that was thrown in near the end. I really did not like it, but every good love story needs a twist, right?
Jane was a really independent character in this book. Not only did she stay strong when everything came crashing down on her, she also was really independent and didn't require help from those around her, not that often. She always held her head up high and never let anybody get the best of her. I really admired that about her and I think that's what really made the deal for me.(less)
When I was informed that this book was going to be free on Amazon for a limited time, I pretty much seized the opportunity and downloaded the book. It...moreWhen I was informed that this book was going to be free on Amazon for a limited time, I pretty much seized the opportunity and downloaded the book. It's been on my Kindle for months now and I just decided to read it. Isn't this cover absolutely beautiful, for one? I certainly think it's an attention-grabbing cover, and the synopsis was great, as well. Everything about this book just lures you in and keep reading, and I honestly really loved it.
This book starts after Macy Lockhart, a seemingly average 17-year-old, gets cheated on by her seemingly perfect boyfriend, Derek. Macy goes through that whole "revenge on your boyfriend" procedure, and then she's met in the garage by a mysterious stranger, a priest, who claims that he knows all about who she really is and what her destiny is. And it turns out that Macy is actually Charmian, Cleopatra's best friend and faithful servant.
She's then thrust into this unknown and foreign world and she's expected to just play along like nothing ever happened, and the priest will only give Macy vague, cryptic answers for a reply. So Macy—aka Charmian, as I'm going to refer to her as from now on—is basically all on her own. Sort of. She has a pharaoh best friend, an all-knowing guide who claims that the priest is speaking rubbish, and a handsome military general who's head over heals for Charmian.
I was immediately grabbed by this really unique take on Cleopatra, and the fantasy element that was added into it. I also really loved Hasani, the love interest in this book. He and Charmian had already established a very stable relationship so they're basically at the prime of their relationship and if you don't like going through the notions of falling in love and building a stable relationship, then this is the book for you. However, if you really love seeing two people fall in love, this still is the book for you because they don't seem like they're falling for each other, it's still a really great book.
A problem I've had recently with books is that they start off way too slowly to my liking, but I didn't have anything like that in this book. It started perfectly and the entire book was extremely well-paced. I didn't feel anything was too rushed and nothing was too slow. However, there was this one part, when Macy transitioned into her role as Charmian. I found that a little unbelievable that Macy would just take on her role like it was what she was supposed to do her entire life.
In the end, I was satisfied with the book, and now I really want to read Fated. This was really a great book and you guys should all go and read this now. It's free for Amazon Prime members and only $2.99 for just ordinary Amazon members. Obviously, I have neither of those accounts, or one on Barnes & Noble, so I'm just going to have to hoof it until I can find a way to buy it. :)(less)
Wow! I was not expecting that at all! Fiona Paul has outdone herself in Venom. From the gripping intrigues to the danger-ridden canals of Venice, Venom will grab you and yank your stays tight.
Venom opens with an introduction to Cass, our leading protagonist. We're introduced to this high society that Cass lives in, similar to that of a caste system that they did have in the Renaissance era. While Cass had that prim and proper classy girl, she also had a rebellious streak that is introduced when she first meets Falco, our main love interest. I, for one, immediately fell in love with Falco's character. Venom spends a lot of time developing Falco and Cass's relationship in the romance aspect of the plot, and to say that I fell head-over-heels for Falco was an understatement. He was compassionate, mysterious, handsome, and your classic Renaissance artist.
The mystery of Venom was so intriguing and mesmerizing that it captured you from Page One and kept you engaged all the way through. The web of deceit, the unpredictability of where the clues would take Cass and Falco next, and which girl would be taken next. Venom's entire plot revolves around Cass and Falco endeavoring to uncover who has started to kill young girls around Venice, and why they're targeting Cass. The mystery of Venom really completes the book; it doesn't make it stuffy and really unbearable with talk of clothes and husbands, but it adds a really creepy lining to the whole thing.
Renaissance Italy is maybe one of my favorite historical settings. It's official. Actually, Venom and My Super Sixteenth Centuries are the only two historical fictions I have read recently, and both take place in Renaissance Italy, so in the end, it's kind of self-explanatory. However, in Venom, I felt like I had been transported and the entire story played in my head like a black-and-white old, filmy movie. The canals of Venice really jumped off the page along with the dark alleyways and lush, extravagant dresses.
Enchanting, dark, romantic, and mesmerizing, Venom has it all: the story, the historical standpoint, and the lush and rich mystery. Fans of a fantastic historical romance with a little extra danger than you would expect will love this novel.
YOU CAN WIN A COPY OF SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY HERE!
I've been on somewhat of a zombie kick recently, and this is the second zombie book I've read this week, all of which were in a two-day time span. Personally, I am in love with this cover although I have no idea what the puffy skirts have to do with anything, mainly because most of the action occurred while she was wearing trousers and the only dress I remember her wearing was a purple dress. I really don't see the connection between the story and the cover, but it does make you want to read the book because of how eye-catching Something Strange and Deadly's cover is, with all those voluminous skirts.
Something Strange and Deadly starts off with a smash, when the Dead—zombie corpses—attack Philadelphia and a corpse hands her a note. It settles down a little after that, but soon it spikes up when she meets the Spirit-Hunters. I really won't enlighten you on what happened in between that moment, but I really fell in love with Daniel when he first started screaming at Eleanor for stepping on grave dirt. *Insert dreamy face* He had that quality about him that I really loved and he was a really sarcastic and snarky person towards Eleanor, and I always fall for either the bad boy first, and if there isn't one, the sarcastic guy. Daniel was the latter in this case, so I ended up loving him and sometimes theatrically sobbing for him just to kiss Eleanor already and stop pretending he didn't like her.
Although Eleanor got extremely annoying at times because of the way she could never really stand up to her mother despite how much she wanted to, it was really weak of her and she was always succumbing to her. Her mother was going practically insane because she was being greedy and honestly, that is reason enough just to stand up to her, especially if those reasons are extremely unjustified. But most of the time, Eleanor was a very composed and calm girl who had a heart of gold underneath. She could be bold when she wanted to—just not to her mother—and could hold her own—just not to her mother.
Something Strange and Deadly had a very intricately weaved plot. Nothing moved too slow but nothing moved too quickly either. The pacing was extremely well done that it managed to keep you engaged in the story and very invested. When you managed to stop reading, you wanted to immediately go back to the story and discover the next step of Eleanor's life. It was so easy to lost yourself in the plot and the writing that you couldn't help but want to go back again and again to keep reading and it was hard to rip yourself away from Something Strange and Deadly.
I'd definitely recommend this book to anybody who hasn't tried zombie books or aren't too familiar with them because it's a nice ice-breaker into zombie books, because the zombies weren't too present throughout the book like maybe a die-hard zombie lover would like, but the zombies are still present throughout the story and Susan will steal your breath away with this zombie tale she has created.
We're finally here. We're at the end of a coveted and treasured trilogy, again, and are we happy? Said? Wistful? What emotions could possibly describe Clockwork Princess?
I definitely felt a lot of emotions. Cassandra Clare has this way to envelop her readers in the story and have them personally sympathizing with our characters. I loved Will's angst and monsters; I loved Tessa's love and passion; and I loved Jem's vulnerability and honesty. They were such a fantastic and admirable trio, and with all of our supporting characters, I loved them even more. They each made each other stronger, in a way, and they were all so close. These characters were the kind that were good and pure characters, but they didn't to get on our nerves with their good and perfectly imperfect personalities. Especially Will. I love Will so hard it's not even funny.
However, I did not like something about Clockwork Princess, and that was the world-building. Yes, the descriptions and the world-building was lush and beautiful, but once I discovered entire pages were dedicated to describing the countryside as Tessa passed it in a carriage, I skipped ahead. Overall, all the of the settings were handled with this complexity, when really it was just a simplistic thing. I get how people who enjoy this kind of thing would love this aspect, but for me, it ruined my reading mode, and it made me almost want to put the book down because the first half was all description and maybe two major plot points. I feel like the hugest black sheep for not loving this part of it, but it's definitely true.
My favorite part of Clockwork Princess was the romance. I bet you're all familiar with the Jem-Tessa-Will love triangle, with Tessa being the obvious mutual point of attraction. They were practically brothers, Will and Jem, and they loved each other so much that they themselves would me miserable just to keep the other happy. And, while they both protected Tessa, it was partly because of their own love for her and the other one's love. I loved Jem and Will both so much that even if Jem ended up with Tessa, no matter how much I loved Will, I would still be happy, and vice-versa. Although I'd be slightly more happier if Will got the happy ending because Team Will! Not that Tessa ends up with Jem. Or Will. I'm using it as an example, so just go with it, and read it for yourself!
A fantastic and fitting ending to the Infernal Devices trilogy, you'll be crying or cheering for the entire thing, no doubt. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare is romantic, endearing, and wholly satisfying.(less)
As a person who hears "historical fiction" and runs in the other direction, I was really reluctant to read My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century (from now on it will be dubbed Super Sweet for convenience purposes. And yes, I am really that lazy). But Super Sweet wasn't your typical historical fiction. It involved time travel, which, come on guys, we all know time travel is epic. And not to mention, Rachel is one of my author friends and she's super funny and managed to carry that into her novel. She also managed to keep the pace moving so I wasn't yawning at all...except when I looked over and saw how late it was. (Shh, my parents don't know about that!)
At first, Cat Crawford was the daughter of two Hollywood icons, now divorced, and one with plans to marry someone new. Personally, I found her pretty relatable. I mean, we've all had that period in our lives when we're rebelling against what our parents want us to do. Cat was a real character and you kind of wanted to sympathize with her all the time. She was loyal, and she really did care about other people's well beings. She wasn't on of those characters who were extremely selfish and just threw everything away for their own needs. Which, thank goodness, is fantastic because I needed a break from selfish characters.
Lorenzo. He gets his own paragraph. He should get his own post. Lorenzo was sweet, hot, smart, hot, an artist, hot, and he's from the Renaissance period! You don't get more swoon-worthy than that. Did I mention he was hot? Also, he's a major part in Super Sweet. He influenced a lot of decisions Cat made, and in the end, I was heartbroken over the ending. But, I'll slowly recover. Kind of. Eventually. So there may be a gaping hole in my heart over the ending of Super Sweet (don't worry, I'm blowing it way out of proportions, but nonetheless it still chipped part of my soul). He had my heart pounding and I even have a Lorenzo trading card which I will keep and hoard forever. Nobody gets my Lorenzo trading card. Nobody.
Also, the plot of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century moved so quickly and the setting was painted so vividly. I felt like I had been transported into the Renaissance and the setting picked me up and let me experience a new place. I would never visit Italy in my life because I wouldn't survive the plane ride (airsickness...8 hours. I lost my lunch 5 times on the way there and back. NOT fun) but I felt like I did get to visit Italy by the time I finished Super Sweet. I could feel myself walking down the cobblestone streets with Cat.
From determined characters to a real-life visit to the Renaissance era, My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century will sweep you off your feet with a swoon-worthy romance, fluid writing, and a beautifully painted setting.
Chantress was a really surprising read for me, not only because I found myself enjoying it, but it also came with the fact that my three-star ratings are usually associated with some of the tour books I receive. But that was not the case here.
What I loved most about Chantress was the this whole Chantress idea. As a singer myself, I really could sympathize with Lucy's struggle to learn how to sing. She went through hours and hours and hours of scales and songs, and she did it with such determination. Lucy wasn't one to keel over and admit defeat as soon as things got tough, and in a way it was really inspiring. It kind of made you think that if she could be this heroine who saved the day, when she started off as a plain Jane, then you could definitely do it, as well. Not to mention, she had a fantastic group of supporters who would risk everything to help her right the wrongs in the world.
With every heroine, there usually is a love interest that will swoop her off her feet and carry her off into the sunset. In this case, that love interest's name was Nat. I didn't really agree with their romance, considering the fact that they encountered each other possibly once or twice in the entire story. Subsequently after, Lucy's friends were noticing how Nat looked at her with such desire, that the romance felt too rushed. There wasn't anything physical that happened, but it still felt like a fake attraction from the beginning. Their relationship didn't develop any further either, until maybe the very last few chapters.
However, another very positive aspect was definitely the plot. I just kept turning and turning the pages until I reached the very end, and then I was wondering where all the time went. I just couldn't help but get lost in the story of Lucy and her heritage; soon I was on the last page and wondering where the last three hours had went. It was definitely something that Amy accomplished with flying colors and I loved every single second of it. Also, because Chantress didn't focus primarily on the historical fiction part, and more on the paranormal part, even if you despise historical fiction, you will definitely really enjoy this one!
Unique and inspirational, Chantress is perfect for those who love or hate historical fiction, and it's perfect for those who love paranormal stories with an engaging plot. This one will not disappoint.(less)
I fell into Grave Mercy's trap, even though I'm not a usual fan of historical fiction. However, despite my many protests, I still managed to ensnare myself in its intriguing premise and the hope that it would exceed my bad rep with historical fictions.
I have to admit, I was ensnared. I loved Ismae and how strong she was. She was fourteen when she was first went to the convent, I believe, and she was there for three years before the real plot of Grave Mercy began. As flighty that I am, I didn't realize that Ismae was seventeen (I assumed she was still fourteen) and when I realized that Duval, our love interest, was, like, twenty-three, I was seriously creeped out, but it turns out that a lot of time had passed in between. Speaking of Gavriel Duval, I couldn't get enough of him. I wanted to love him so much that I was itching to get to know more about him. He was a fine, upstanding man, don't get me wrong, but I didn't feel their romance lived up to my expectations.
For one, it was kind of on the underdeveloped side. I didn't buy it at all since they never really learned much about each other. I felt like the most I knew about Duval was his approximate age, and that he was loyal to his country and those around him. Maybe he was tall, too? There wasn't a true chemistry between them, even though I fell in love with him as soon as he was introduced. He sounded mysteriously alluring, two things I love in a love interest who's meant to be tough, but then I got to know him. Or, rather, didn't get to know him.
Another thing that began to irritate me after a while was how the plot dragged down. The book is, like, 550 pages! I thought it would action-packed and intense. But it started to slow down like a train preparing to pull into the station. We had this exciting historical fiction premise, and knowing me, I am not a big fan of most historical fictions based solely on the fact that it usually drags on when it begins to talk about corsets and government issues. So Grave Mercy began on a high note, because of the promise of assassin nuns, and then it slithered back down.
Although I would definitely recommend Grave Mercy, I found many things wrong with it that prevented me from fully loving the story.(less)
It's not unknown knowledge that I simply cannot read most historical fiction books I come across. But, Belladonna seemed to be that one exception because Fiona Paul completely enraptured me and I really did love it.
Belladonna begins shortly after Venom ended, with Cass trying to pick up the pieces of what happened previously. She had her heart shattered, and when a series of crazy things start happening again, she's sent all the way to Florence where people were accused of being vampires, and it was just totally insane. Those Florentine people were absolutely out of their minds. Seriously. They were listening to these crazy old bats, who kept screaming, "This person is a vampire! This other person is a vampire! DROWN THEM!" If I could hate one whole group of people more, I'd definitely take this entire town. They were so...annoying, but I absolutely loved watching them be complete idiots, because I definitely got a few laughs out of it. So for the record, this isn't a bad thing. It was definitely a positive point.
Additionally, another person I found increasingly annoying was Cass. A reason I'm usually impartial to historical fiction novels is because I find the main character to be a little petty and/or weak. Cass, for the most part, stayed away from this category, except for a few unfortunate moments when she started obsessing over Luca and Falco. She wouldn't stop whining about them, and she sometimes starting going, "I wish Falco was more like Luca. I wish Luca was more like Falco." It really got onto my nerves because she had these two adorable guys who would do anything for her, and she was trying to change them.
Like any well-done historical fiction, Belladonna brings on the visual imagery with gusto. Even if you've never been to Italy and haven't gotten an inkling of what the scenery is like there, it doesn't matter because Fiona describes it so vividly and fully that even if you've never even heard of Italy, you can imagine this beautiful place. And then take it back to the Renaissance period, and you have beautiful dresses and secrets, and you have your characters (FALCO!) and your mysteries, all wrapped into one pretty, little package.
Belladonna by Fiona Paul, the sequel to Venom, is both even more mysterious and romantic as you thought it could be. Fans of historical fictions everywhere will adore this one!(less)
Anna's voice is perhaps one of the best I've ever read. You really get into her head and figure out what she's thinking. Additionally, I love her wit. She's so funny and quick that you can't help but laugh at her responses to certain questions. Her passion for magic was also so admirable, because she had done it for such a long time and it made her unbelievably happy. I have a certain soft spot for the books that contain these smidgens of bright spots in our main character's lives. Although Anna does grow a significant amount in terms of her relationship with her mom, she's always known that she wants to entertain people with her magic act, which made me think, "There's a girl who has her head screwed on straight."
Born of Illusion is essentially a historical fiction with a significant element of magic. It's magic, but not glamours of fey or the spells of wizards. It's classic Harry Houdini-style magic. Speaking of which, Houdini even lived when this book took place, so he made a few appearances, which I relished because although I don't know much about Houdini, Teri's take on him was a sweet spot. Furthermore, we have a bunch of tricks that got incorporated into the story, like unlocking yourself from a bunch of chains or undoing a tight knot that binds your hands together. That element along gave all of the story an extra "Oomph!" which, in turn, made me ecstatic beyond belief at the originality.
Ambitiously plotted, Teri Brown weaved several things to make the story fly by with the endless amount of hububaloo. I couldn't get enough of the way this plot was mapped out, making it effortless to follow along and read through Anna's point of view. However, with all of the hububaloo came the inevitable confusion. (Don't forget I confuse so easily that it isn't exactly surprising I was this flabbergasted.) I will be the first to say that there was too much going on. There's quite a large cast and most of them have a very significant factor in the story, so we have to spend a lot of time building them up, which leaves a little bit of space left to deliver the plot in a coherent manner. Born of Illusion, in the end, was slightly more anticlimactic than I had anticipated because of how much happened in such a small period.
Original, captivating, and riddled with magic, Born of Illusion will have you spoiling to go to a seance or a magic show in the very near future. This one is a definite hit for historical fiction fans and even people who don't mind historical fiction but would rather stay away from it!(less)
I had difficulty rating Out of the Easy. On one hand, I really enjoyed it. On the other hand, I felt indifferent to it at the same exact time. I most certainly feel like the biggest black sheep because of how disappointed I was.
The atypical thing about Out of the Easy is the prominent lack of something going on. I noticed that Jo's life was that of a fairly boring one, and there was a lot of random things going on. Additionally, there was a startlingly large set of characters, which kind of made everything seem sort of anticlimactic later on. I can remember some of their names, but their significance is a whole other story. And I read this less than a week ago. I appreciated the effort taken to make the novel seem more real and represent New Orleans in the 50's, but it still didn't have much of an impact on me.
Out of the Easy concentrates mostly on the characters, which got me excited to see how some of the characters would grow and change as we progress. I don't think any of our characters really changed, as I was hoping for. Left feeling anticipation, I read the last page with dread, because I wanted so much more to happen. As life gets thrown at our characters, they don't really change. If Josie wants to go to college, she's going to keep that dream until the very end. If her mom is going to be a prostitute, then she was never going to change her ways, and Josie was never going to stop trying to protect her from danger like Josie was the parent. This is a natural instinct for all of the people you love, but I wanted to see Josie get pushed and shoved a little more when it came to this.
My favorite portion of Out of the Easy was, oddly enough, our eclectic group of characters. Even though as a whole they were a setback, individually, they were assets. We really got a taste for how different New Orleans was in the 1950's with all of our characters, ranging from an upper-class family to a bunch of bookshop keepers to prostitutes. We have the help and we have the elite. We have a budding romance between two young teens, a poisoned romance between two adults, and a secret sort of romance between two other individuals. These people were all inexplicably tied to different sides of Josie's life, which was refreshing, because she had such a different group of close friends to guide her through the tough spots in life.
While slightly disappointing, I did enjoy Out of the Easy in the end. This is a sure-fire hit with all historical fiction fans interested in the mid-1900's!(less)
Her Dark Curiosity, while surely not as exciting and eventful as The Madman's Daughter, surely brings something new to think about as an addition to this Gothic series.
Now that Juliet isn't on the island where her father was anymore, we've traded the wild life of the island for the industrial city life. In a way, it's even more dangerous to be in such an organized society because it's getting harder to conceal Juliet's condition and her deformities. Most of Her Dark Curiosity revolves around Juliet's mad dash to find a cure to solve her pain and sickness. The atmosphere associated with London is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, and the image I had in my mind throughout the book was a dark, smoky city with shadows lurking behind every corner. Even without the thrill and unpredictability of the island, the danger and urgency of it carries through. The concept of vivisection particularly spoke out with the increasing development of Juliet's experience as a scientist and the transformation she undergoes that brings her closer to her father's old career.
Juliet’s character in itself was an absolute disaster. I have to be vague because there are spoilers involved, and I don’t want to give too much away. She repeatedly pined after Montgomery, blaming him for leaving her, begging some force similar to fate to get Montgomery back. It was a little whiny of her at first, but I understood that she needed a period of grief after losing the man she loved because he chose something else over her. But at the same time, who could blame Montgomery for leaving her to pursue his passion and what he considered to be a family? Either way, Juliet continued this trend with Edward, as well. She felt guilty for what she did to Edward, and she constantly worried and complained about what people would think. Like with Montgomery, it was acceptable at first. But then when the trend continued, her inner dialogue grew tiresome.
Unfortunately, the plot did nothing to thrill me. The last half was okay, probably on the better side of the book, but the beginning had me doubting. It moved at a snail’s pace, prioritizing romance over the action and development of vivisection. While I was put into the right mindset with the setting, there was absolutely nothing to expand on the initial mood. Then, the plot did nothing to progress it. With the island, there was always something going on that had me intrigued. But when Her Dark Curiosity came along, all Juliet did was visit her best friend Lucy, complain about her actions, and find dead bodies. The rivaling side to Juliet was quite obvious from square one, so there was already no mystery aspect. Nothing truly happened until the last twenty percent, to be quite honest.
Overall, Her Dark Curiosity was decent. It wasn’t as fantastic as I originally anticipated, but the atmosphere was inspiring.(less)
I was excited to star this one, because of how much the setting intrigued me. How many books take place in Russia? However, that was probably the only thing going for this one because I put it down after reading 50%. For one, nothing happened at all. After Yulia was introduced to the place where she would be staying, nothing happened except for them talking about their powers and attempting to do some training exercises for it. I felt like the plot moved at a snail’s pace and I had no desire to continue reading. Maybe it was the blandness of the writing or the inactivity of our characters, but I was not motivated to read this book.
Secondly, the world building was a huge issue. I wanted background information for the powers that Yulia and her friends had, and why they were considered dangerous. They had powers that were coveted by others and ones that seemed to be unknown to the general public. However, before Yulia was brought to the thing with the people with powers (I honestly have no idea what to call it because I have no idea what it even WAS), she referred to herself as a fugitive. And because it was also made clear that her family didn’t know about her powers, it wouldn’t be because people knew she had powers. Then why? Why was her entire family hiding from the government? I don’t know if I just missed that part or if it truly wasn’t made clear.
My last problem that finally caused me to put it down was the biggest issue. Paired with the lack of world building, there was also no indication of the time period Sekret was taking place. At first, I assumed a little after the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s to 1900s from Yulia’s reference to romantic pieces like the Overture of 1812 which transpired during the Industrial Revolution in Russia. There was the mention of Marxist communist theories from the same time period, which led me to think that it took place during that time, but then they mentioned the Holocaust and the Cuban missile crisis. Those, I’m pretty sure, took place fairly recently, forcing me to draw my conclusions a little closer to the 1900s. But then Yulia mentioned discord between Russia and the United States, which obviously is an issue in the present day. Maybe it takes place in the future then, but the setting was completely unclear for me. The entire reading experience would have been a better one if I knew when this book was taking place, and while it’s only a small aspect, it was the one that bugged me the most.(less)
This book is so fun! It's mild and tame in terms of the horror factor, but nonetheless thrilling. It’s odd, how well the pieces of this book fit toget...moreThis book is so fun! It's mild and tame in terms of the horror factor, but nonetheless thrilling. It’s odd, how well the pieces of this book fit together, because so much happened, including a new character addition, Oliver. The introduction of his character raised quite a few red flags, posing the question: was Susan choosing to include a love triangle? It was still unclear what Oliver’s true feelings towards Eleanor were by the last page, but I have a good feeling that their relationship won’t cross the line between platonic and romantic. Oliver was mysterious, but he also humanized Eleanor’s older brother Elijah’s character. While he was not present in A Darkness Strange and Lovely, Oliver’s previous relationship with Elijah (which occurred sometime during the first book) really helped me understand Elijah’s old self and establish why Oliver was so interested in Eleanor. If I could describe Eleanor and Oliver’s relationship, I’d call them desperate friends groping for a semblance of company in a society of isolation.
Plot-wise, a lot of things happened to compromise what we previously thought was true. Amidst Eleanor’s fervent chase to find Marcus, she expanded her knowledge of necromancy with the help of Oliver, and she fought the Dead alongside the Spirit-Hunters. What I’ve found with this series is that it’s mostly a mystery, with its fair share of subplots. Along the way, the Dead got slightly lost in translation, however all other aspects were wonderfully handled. The mystery unfurls like a rose, blooming only at after it has had enough nourishment from the sun and soil. Right before the rose is able to fully bloom into something beautiful, an earthquake happens, smothering the flower, inhibiting its growth pattern, ultimately killing it. The same was with the mystery, leading us on until the very last moment. I felt like I was going to gain something valuable from the mystery, until something happened that put our characters at square one. It was infuriating and addicting.
I must admire Susan for her writing, because Eleanor’s narrative exemplified her emotions and personality perfectly. Her actions and thoughts were realistic and reflective of her surroundings, surprising me with how accurate her reactions proved to be. Another thing I admire Susan for was how accurately she captured the setting. I can never imagine her writing anything except for historical fiction, but maybe that’s only because she writes her genre so well. Her vocabulary and syntax, ranging from words like “gooseflesh” to the overall elegance of everything, completes the novel for me. With her writing, the book flies by in a blur of hungry zombies and conspiracies.
A historical fiction that incorporates horror and steampunk, Susan Dennard’s unforgettable sequel to her hit Something Strange and Deadly is here with an unforgettable protagonist, impeccable writing, and unnerving plot.(less)
Strange and Ever After is an explosive ending to an equally explosive series, combining everything we knew about the last two books and building upon it even further. Susan Dennard has wrapped up this trilogy like an artisan, leaving your bones aching with remnants of emotion.
It’s hard to believe that this book takes place over only merely a week or two, but it’s not any less rewarding. It’s difficult to properly review Strange and Ever After because it’s as consistent as it was during the first two books. The plot remains the same high-strung series of Dead, mystery, romance, and necromancy. This time, the book is set in Egypt, and I love how each book takes place in a different setting because it adds a fresh addition to what’s going on, as well as clearing our minds for new possible clues and opportunities. What’s mentioned in previous books don’t necessarily tie into the big picture of this book, and only general topics and subplots are transferred through to relate the titles together. Otherwise, I’d never say they were in a continuous series because they’re so individual from each other while still engaging and wholesome. Either way, I’d recommend that you read A Darkness Strange and Deadly right before you start Strange and Ever After, because this book begins only a few hours where the other concludes, therefore you’re still reeling from the end and can jump right into the action with a short recovery period.
Eleanor really comes full circle in the final installment of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy. Her feel-first, rationalize-later method of approaching situations bothered me at first, especially with how she continuously pushed and pushed people away. It seemed at the beginning of the book, when she was angry and out for blood, she would treat everybody around her poorly as a result of her rage towards Marcus. She never quite realized how this destructive way of living would eventually harm all of her companions. The issue was also present in the first two books, but it wasn’t as obvious since Eleanor didn’t truly begin feeling the level of intensity of her anger until Strange and Ever After. That was when I realized the ingenuity of Susan’s writing because Eleanor started off as a hostile, unforgiving character and somehow in a few hundred pages completely one-eightied into someone completely unlike herself.
And I must touch upon that ending. That ending. It’s bittersweet, encompassing both the imperfection of life and the ability to find happiness in even the darkest of storms. When I first registered what was happening, I was devastated at the audacity of Susan to decide on such a conclusion. However, after a given amount of time, a certain feeling of justification and rightness filled my veins, replacing the thinly veiled outrage. While certain found it unnecessary, the majority of the falling action and resolution included a number of sacrifices that revealed how truly unforgiving a power struggle can be, bringing more and more innocent people into the wake of destruction. The ending finally pushed me up to a four and a half star read, because of how fitting it was for the series. As much as I wanted to deny the reality of that particular ending, I found it to be the best one that could half been chosen.(less)
As much as I loved the idea of a book set during Hitler’s rule in Germany, this one ended disappointing me. Prisoner of Night and Fog takes place during the early 1900s, while Hitler is rising towards power and spreading his influence. The beautiful thing about this book is how Anne tried to almost humanize Hitler in the beginning, truly showing off his charisma and how he was able to get as far as he did with his vision to purge Germany of the Jewish population. The amount of research that’s put into this story is truly remarkable, and it’s obvious that Anne knows what she’s talking about. It’s not hard to tell that she spent an extensive amount of time looking into Hitler and his life outside of his political views. Not only does she properly build the setting with the right amount of facts without it becoming too overbearing, her attention to detail is breathtaking. The setting is wonderfully constructed, and the characterization is something to be admired. Gretchen’s brother Reinhard is one of the most chilling characters that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, considering his extensive role in the book.
Despite the wonderful premise and characterization, I felt like nothing happened in between. Gretchen was supposed to be focused on unearthing the grounds under which her father died, but it felt like she really didn’t care. The story was that her father had died a martyr, jumping in front of Hitler to save him from being shot, but soon she starts to question that popular belief. However, the mystery didn’t really start to unravel until the last twenty percent. I just felt like nothing really happened for the first two thirds, because the focus was mainly on the character development, romance, and setting. Even though it was interesting, it wasn’t enough to keep my attention. I didn’t want to keep reading, and I feel like Gretchen talked about possible theories but never really found anything of much use to her.
There’s obviously a romance between Gretchen and a Jew named Daniel, and I found that I didn’t even like that part. She’s the niece of the one person that hates Jewish people more than anything, but she seemed to jump into the romance without any hesitation. I wanted there to be some kind of social clash between them, or there to be a bigger conflict between Hitler and the Jewish population in Germany. While Prisoner of Night and Fog took place during the first phase of Hitler’s rule, when he was still campaigning for the extermination of everyone who followed that particular religion, maybe there could have been a more significant sign of the abuse and oppression from the hands of Hitler’s Party and regiment. Not that I condone his actions, and I don’t know enough about the Holocaust to know what was happening at that specific time, but that was just one of the pieces of the puzzle that didn’t fit perfectly.
Prisoner of Night and Fog is a must-read for historical fiction regulars, but for those who aren’t familiar with the genre and don’t find a liking to strong character-oriented stories, I would pass on this one.(less)