Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Clockwork Prince.

Clockwork Prince
by: Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)
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.

This book hurt me, but was also just wonderful. I now sympathize with those who read this series before Clockwork Princess came out. That would have been more than horrible.

Smart and Brave Heroine: CHECK
I love that Tessa is very compassionate and empathetic. She still might not be able to read people, but she does put herself in their place quite often before making decisions. I think she's different than a lot of heroines, but in an excellent way. She's proper in the way that the time period demands of her, she's kind in a way that would try most people's patience, and she's clever in a way that makes her interesting to read. I love her love of books and poetry. She's the kind of character who you wouldn't mind being friends with and I once again I appreciate how non-frustrating she is. Her reasoning is easily followed and most of the time the only choice available to her.
and Tessa putting Gabriel in his place so politely was quite hilarious. I saw even more in this book how humble Tessa is, she's not prideful in the least. She accepts responsibility for her actions and the things she says (sometimes she even takes far too much responsibility or more than her share).  I also loved how open she was to apologize to people, she didn't consider it below her. She saw when she did something wrong and worked to make it right.
I think the love triangle in this book is handled in a way that I actually love. In having Tessa not tear the two boys apart. She sacrificed happiness to ensure the boys' friendship would survive. She knew they couldn't survive without each other and they're parabatai and that that's more important. It showed how devoted she was to the both of them (even though it definitely wasn't fun to read).

Clever and Courageous Heroes: CHECKX2
 Jem: He is so dang encouraging to everyone. Only Jem could manage to be decent to the Gabriel Lightwood. It's quite ironic that Jem is the one with such a positive outlook on things, despite his illness. and Jem is such a gentleman to everyone (and especially to Tessa). Jem's and Will's conversations simultaneously hurt my heart and mend it a bit. I am still in love with their friendship and how much they mean to each other. While in Clockwork Angel we see the lighthearted, supportive side of their friendship, in this book we see the deeper and more intense side to their relationship. And yet there were plenty of lighthearted bits too, for example,

"Charlotte, Will's being vexing."
"And the sun has come up in the east," said Jem to no one in particular.

“Ah,” said a voice from the doorway, “having your annual ‘everyone thinks Will is a lunatic’ meeting, are you?
“It’s biannual,” said Jem. “And no, this is not that meeting.”

“I promise to charm the dickens out of him,' said Will, sitting up and readjusting his crushed hat. 'I shall charm him with such force that when I am done, he will be left lying limply on the ground, trying to remember his own name.'
'The man's eighty-nine', muttered Jem. 'He may well have the problem anyway.”

As for Jem's relationship with Tessa, I'm okay with it but I'm not okay with it. I love both of them too much to choose, but Will broke my heart more... The problem is I don't want either of them to be without Tessa. I like her relationship with both of them for different reasons, because they're quite different relationships. Jem is so sweet to Tessa all of the time, for example,

"To write poetry for you..."
"You don't even like poetry," said Tessa.
"No, but you make me want to write it..."
I just can't handle the adorableness.
Will: AHHHH. William Herondale, you have broken my heart. I nearly cried when Will was telling Magnus about his curse and why he had to keep everyone (and Tessa) at arms length. He could only show his love for those around him when he sandwiched it in between giant slices of harsh words and infuriating sarcasm. He had to be painfully aware of how each and every cruel word he spoke affected those he loved. He had to keep track of how much uncharacteristic harshness he put into every day. He has to live his life doing himself and his character disservice after disservice, pretending to be steeped in scandal and bad decisions while knowing he wants none of it but only to have the chance to be loved. His admission to Magnus was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever read. And you realize that the whole business with Tatiana Lightwood and him reading her diary aloud would have been the first time Will realized that he didn't just have to run away from familial love, but also from any idea of romantic attachment. Here are just a few Will quotes that hurt my heart,

"I did not realize, at first, that I was walking into a second family."

"Not just better than you pretend to be, but better than most people could hope to be."

"Jem is my greatest sin."

“He’s very broken,” said Magnus. “Like a lovely vase that someone has smashed. Only luck and skill can put it back together the way it was before.”

"They all have always loved you, Will Herondale, for you cannot hide what is good about yourself, however hard you try.”  

“He wanted to make her laugh. He wanted to sit and listen to her talk about books until his ears fell off."

And let's be honest, we all freaked out when Will quoted Tessa's letters when he was talking to Magnus. And how he read all the books she recommended to him. And how they loved the same literature and poetry. He was just waiting for the day when he could be honest with Tessa about what he felt with no fear of the repercussion on her, but that time came mere hours too late. When he realized that and fell apart, it hurt him so deeply (and, therefore, me as well). Not only that, but he had to realize that he wasted all of that time for nothing, that the thing that been plaguing him all this time was nonexistent in the first place.
Past that, I loved hearing about how Will asked (told) Jem to be his parabatai. I love that Will chose to sacrifice his happiness with Tessa to show his love and devotion to Jem, but without asking anything in return. and yes, Jem is an absolute gentleman, but we learn that Will never had the chance to be one, he couldn't without endangering those he interacted with.
Beyond the curse, we see just how intelligent Will is. He was the one who made the majority of the strategic plans to find Mortmain. And I love how after learning the truth about the curse Will was still witty, but in a different way. He became less cruelly sarcastic and more playfully sarcastic.

Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
I don't think there is a way to read this book without falling in love with the side characters too.
Sophie: I knew there was a reason I liked her. First she SLAPS Gabriel across the face for insulting Charlotte and then she knocks Jessamine out with a mirror for betraying them. I think she injured the people who needed to be injured and everyone else was just too polite to do it. Beyond that she's smart and kind. I love her friendship with Tessa and how genuine it felt. It was interesting to see all of the other characters (like Tessa, Jem, and Jessamine) from Sophie's perspective a few times.
Charlotte and Henry: The way their marriage developed in this book was completely adorable! When they both realized that the other really loved them was so perfect, because they were both just shocked and happy. Henry trying to be supportive and helpful was always both endearing and hilarious in equal measures. And I love how well Charlotte pulled herself together to question Jessamine as it needed to be done. Here, have a cute Charlotte/Henry moment. You're welcome.

“My darling, you are indisposed! You must remain abed for the next eight months. Little Buford.."
"I am NOT naming our child Buford...”

Bridget: She creeped me out, man. But that last song of hers about a boy named William right as Jem was announcing his proposal to Tessa, it was both funny and horrible (and, once again, creepy).
Benedict Lightwood: First this idiot says that Charlotte cannot think logically or act justly simply because she's a woman. Seriously not cool, dude. Then we find out that he's a traitorous loser. (Also, I find it funny that his idea of an insult to Will is calling him an, "insolent puppy." I mean, what is that even supposed to mean? He's not even very good at being a bad guy... haha
Gideon: I quite like him. And I definitely like him for Sophie. He was always so calm, but the way he was prepared to testify against his father was so very brave.

Fantastic Writing and Dialogue: CHECK
The writing in this book was absolutely excellent. It sounds appropriate for its time and is still understandable and often moving. I still love the references to language and literature (to Greek, Latin, books, and poems) and to the poems at the beginnings of the chapters. Something I noticed was that each character had a very specific way of talking that was both consistent through the book and consistent with their overall character. Jem's speech was very gentlemanly and a touch formal. Tessa spoke mostly in a straightforward and inquisitive way and Will spoke in grand and bright words. And they each had their own style of humor--although very similar--that played off each other. The humor in this book was spot on. From Tessa and Will's interactions,

"I spoke,” said Will, in sepulchral tones, “of the pitch-black inner depths of their souls.”
Tessa snorted. “And what color do you suppose the inner depths of your soul are, Will Herondale?”

“Mauve,” said Will.”

and Will just being Will,

“I don’t,” Gabriel said. “I just dislike him.” He pointed at Will.
“Dear me,” said Will, and he took another bite of his apple. “Is it because I’m better-looking than you?”

 “Charlotte slammed the paper down onto her desk with an exclamation of rage. “Aloysius Starkweather is the most stubborn, hypocritical, obstinate, degenerate—” She broke off...
“Would you like a thesaurus?” Will inquired. “You seem to be running out of words.”

and possibly my favorite laugh-out-loud moment of the entire book, when Will sang his song about being right that Demon Pox exist,

Demon pox, oh demon pox
Just how is it acquired?
One must go down to the bad part of town
Until one is very tired.
Demon pox, oh demon pox, I had it all along—
Not the pox, you foolish blocks,
I mean this very song—
For I was right, and you were wrong!"


"Astriola. That IS demon pox. You had evidence that demon pox existed and you didn't mention it to me! Et tu, Brute!" He rolled up the paper and hit Jem over the head with it.”

Okay, there are probably more that I could put, but just know that there were a lot of hilarious moments and that I loved them all completely and utterly. 
Wonderful World-Building: CHECK
In this book we learned more about the Clave and the council and how those things were run. We saw their type of government set-up and the politics behind it. We learned about Parabatai and a bit about the fairies. We learned what comes of Shadowhunter/demon relations and were given some clues as to what Tessa might be. We saw some shadowhunter training and the city of the silent brothers. Overall we gleaned a lot of information from this book that I have a feeling will come into prominence in the next book. I found the religious references (such as to the wedding rune ceremony and David and Jonathan being the foundation story to parabatai). They added an interesting and almost twisted depth to the world.

Plot and Action: CHECK
This book was admittedly less action-packed (as far as actual action scenes go),  but that doesn't mean that things didn't happen. Quite the contrary, actually. The difference was that this book was less about fighting and more about treachery and politics and even a bit of espionage. They planned secret meetings and snuck into parties, they sent off a private investigator and visited possible sources of information. It was always intriguing, just with a bit less fighting. and I loved that about it. Even though we never saw Mortmain in this book, we could still feel his influence over everything that happened. It was eerie and dark and ever so wonderful.

**Yes, yes. I KNOW I included a ton of quotes in the review section, but...but... oh come on. This book was heartbreaking! Cut me some slack...
"Memories did no one good, not when one knew the truth in the present..."

"They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite, over. This is a fresh wound every day."

"You cannot buy or drug or dream your way out of pain."

"One finds nobility in the oddest places..."

"We're alike. We live and breath words. It was books that...made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me and I with them. Reading your words, what you wrote, how you were lonely sometimes and afraid, but always brave; the way you saw the world, its colors and textures and sounds, I felt--I felt the way you thought, hoped, felt, dreamt. I felt I was dreaming and thinking and feeling with you. "

"...the difference between the recklessness of despair and the abandonment of happiness."

“I've never minded it," he went on. "Being lost, that is. I had always thought one could not truly be lost if one knew one's own heart. But I fear I may be lost without knowing yours.”

“She had never imagined she had the power to make someone else so happy. And not a magical power, either--a purely human one.”  

"And here he was standing in front of her, telling her he loved the words of her heart, the shape of her soul. Telling her something she had never imagined anyone would ever tell her."

"Somehow I don't think it's the stars that have changed.”

"Beauty is harsh."

“Was this what it meant to love someone? That any burden was a burden shared..."

“When two people are at one in their inmost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or bronze.”   

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Clockwork Angel.

Clockwork Angel
by: Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)
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. 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.

I have no idea why I waited so long to jump into Cassandra Clare's shadowhunter world. Maybe it was because I'm not typically a fan of paranormal books (or at least the typical paranormal books, which this is not). Maybe it was because I heard a lot of mixed reviews on The Mortal Instruments series and I thought I needed to read those first. but then I heard that you could start with these (which I've heard nothing but great things about). But regardless, I decided to jump in. And I am so glad that I did! This book and this world were both incredible.

Brave and Clever Heroine: CHECK
Tessa:  Tessa is more than a little naïve, but understandably so. She just discovered this whole new world within the one she's always known. And despite that she's pretty brave and very clever. I love how she can handle Will and Jem so easily. She learns so quickly how to converse with them by being witty and always finds a way to surprise them. I love that she was okay with admitting that she still loved Nate even when she knew what he had done and she still claimed him as her brother even when she was ashamed of it. I  enjoyed the quiet irony that even while Tessa can physically become other people, she often has trouble reading them and their intentions. She's straightforward and a lady, but she's also very strong. I loved the details that Cassandra Clare put in about her finding it strange that women were fighting or that a servant was addressing them in such plain ways or that everyone was going by their "Christian name". These details really added to the world building and made the historical aspect more apparent. Tessa didn't annoy me at all (which after reading The Elite, I can appreciate even more in a heroine). I'm very excited to keep reading about her.

Witty and Courageous and Interesting Heroes: CHECKX2
I'll start out by saying that Will and Jem's bromance is one of the cutest things about this book. They respected and understood each other. Their relationship had just as much depth and nearly as much page-time as either of their relationships with Tessa did, which was really refreshing to read. I loved their banter. For example,

“Well, she's not responding to my advances," he observed more brightly than he felt, "so she must be dead." "Or she's a woman of good taste and sense"
“How rude. Many who have gazed upon me have compared the experience to gazing at the radiance of the sun." Jem still had his eyes closed. "If they mean it gives you a headache, they aren't wrong.”  

Will: He is mischievous and sarcastic but with very dark undertones. He's infuriating and amusing. and it's sometimes hard to tell what's the real him and what is his façade. But he's witty and he makes you laugh. It must take a lot of talent and work to invent a character that so simultaneously is so endearing and so frustrating. Who both makes you want to hug him and slap him. I can't say that he was good to or for Tessa, but I know he was staying away on purpose, though I don't quite know why yet. You could tell it pained him to hurt her, but that for some reason he thought it was necessary. Nearly any time he opened his mouth you knew you were in for a laugh or an eye-roll and you got excited to hear what he would say next. I love the view we have at Will's character when he is talking to Thomas as he is dying. We see sadness, but also his repression of sadness. And we see his view on how others often view him (and how he, in turn, views himself), as a nuisance. It's beautiful.
 Also when he walks in and thinks that Tessa is dead and when he is carrying her while still thinking she's dead...what a darling. It's there that we see the depth of his character and his overwhelming attempt to veil it.
Jem: I do so love Jem. He's very gentlemanly and polite to everyone and not just for show. You can see his true affection for Will and Tessa and Charlotte and everyone else. In contrast to Tessa, Jem so perfectly understands those around him. He's spot on in describing everyone that Tessa has trouble reading. Especially when he says toward the end,

"And though Jessamine pretends to hate everything and Will would never admit to needing anything..." 

When he said that I just sat there for a moment thinking, "that was absolutely perfect." But even while he is understanding and honest he's still very witty. He made me laugh nearly as often as Will did, but in a quieter and more subtle way.

Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
I really enjoyed how Will, Jem, and Tessa weren't the only complex and genuinely interesting characters in this book. There wasn't a single flat or one-dimensional character. They all had purpose and some even had heart.
Charlotte: She can be tough and a kick butt fighter, yet she's still motherly and caring to the others. I think we all want to be a bit more like Charlotte. She has to make the tough decisions and, goodness knows, anyone in charge of Will and Jem has a lot on their hands. But she manages everything with grace and wisdom (despite her young age).
Henry: I just love Henry. He's great. Someone else in their review likened him to Mr. Weasley and that was so accurate that I had to include it here. He's often forgetful or silly, but he's loveable.
De Quincey: He might not be the Magister, but that doesn't mean I have to like him any more. He was really creepy and vampire-y (I know, I'm great at adjectives... ;) ).
Camille: Another very interesting, albeit minor, character. Her speech to De Quincey about why she was betraying them that she delivered through Tessa gave me goosebumps with how frightening it was. I feel bad for anyone on her bad side.
Mortmain: We don't actually know that much truth about him yet, but he makes you want to know more. I want to find out what he has against Nephilim and the Clave and what he has planned. I'm sure it'll be just as bone-chilling as I'm assuming.
Sophie: Another small character who was very interesting. She was a very strong character and unexpectedly wise.
Jessamine: Selfish, but an intriguing character. You think she's going to have some decency, but she always finds a way to exceed herself in selfishness. But also very consistent when it comes to goals. Her motive always made sense.
Nate: He is sick and twisted, but in a very human way. He fails to grasp that immortal life means nothing if you live it in dishonor and without love. That's what made him so horrible to read, I think. Because his struggle was so basic to the human mindset, because we see non-paranormal humans living this way just with less access to the supernatural power that Nate had been tempted with.

Fantastic World-building: CHECK
There was a lot of description in this book, but it gave it an air of the past. It set the stage up for its historical setting quite well. The world was both intriguing and engaging. You were presented with enough understanding to grasp the world that was being built, but also just the right amount to keep surprises coming. I'm interested in seeing more of the workings of the Clave. And the dynamic of all of the members of the institute was very interesting, like how Charlotte felt very much like a mother/older sister to Will, Jem, and Jessamine, but they weren't sure how they felt of her.

Wonderful Writing: CHECK
 I actually quite enjoyed the third-person past-tense writing style. It worked with the story and it never felt dull (which can sometimes happen with this type of writing). Beautiful world and development and wonderful characters. The world drew me in completely. I appreciated that the romance wasn't overwhelming to the story, but was still pleasantly there. And I adored the pieces of poetry at the beginnings of the chapters. It gave it a very distinct feeling of both whimsy and a haunting kind of danger simultaneously.

For the record, I listened to the audio book version and loved it. The accents were really well done and each character was discernible from the others.


“Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.”  

"Sometimes when I have to do something I don't want to do, I pretend I'm a character from a book. It's easier to know what they would do."

"Goodness, real goodness, has its own sort of cruelty to it."

"It was so odd...what brought out tenderness in people. It was never what you would have expected."

"It is as great a thing to love as to be loved. Love is not something that can be wasted."

“There's plenty of sense in nonsense sometimes, if you wish to look for it.”

“Whatever you are physically...male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy--all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.”  

"Pulvis et umbra sumus," said Will, not looking at her as he spoke. "I believe we are dust and shadows. What else is there?”

“Sometimes," Jem said, "our lives can change so fast that the change outpaces our minds and hearts. It's those times, I think, when our lives have altered but we still long for the time before everything was altered-- that is when we feel the greatest pain. I can tell you, though, from experience, you grow accustomed to it. You learn to live your new life, and you can't imagine, or even really remember, how things were before.”  

“Whoever loves you now—and you must also love yourself—will love the truth of you.”

“And I think that you do not understand that sometimes the only choice is between acceptance and madness.”  

“Inanimate objects are harmless indeed, Mr. Mortmain. But one cannot always say the same of the men who use them.”

"That though he is weak, he can still burn.”  

"...as he found everything in the world both infinitely funny and infinitely tragic all at the same time.”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Elite.

The Elite
by: Kiera Cass
The Elite (The Selection, #2)

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
There is so much I need to say about this book, i's a bit overwhelming. Let's start with the obvious, this book was completely frustrating. Quite a few times I felt the need to punch Aspen or slap America across the face. But, it wasn't necessarily not enjoyable. I still love Maxon and the concept is still intriguing. So I'm finding myself torn. Is the writing great? not really. Is it entertaining? you bet.

Smart and Funny Heroine: SURE...I guess
America: Girl, get it together! America's main quality in this book is selfishness. She hardly thinks of other's feelings (particularly Maxon's) and is generally pretty naïve. This isn't always a bad thing in a character (character flaws being a vital part of creating a realistic character), but when that person keeps falling for the same things or fooling herself out of the same things over and over and over again, it gets really annoying. I will say that her expecting Maxon to let her down or betray her IS explained decently toward the end of the book, but until that point it was agony to read. She was also really jealous. This would be acceptable if she hadn't refused to make a decision between Aspen and Maxon. She shouldn't have the right to reserve them both until she has enough time to make up her precious little mind. (Another example of selfishness). Maxon had to find a second option in case America did withdraw her affection from him. It was unfair of her to assume he would just put everyone else on hold when she was being flaky and indecisive. All of that being aired out, I still find America a fairly well-developed character. She's flighty and selfish, but you know who she is. You can think of her reactions and they make sense for her character. I even found myself liking her at some points, despite being deeply irritated with her. I'm also glad that her name made at least a bit more sense in this book...a bit.

Brave and Intelligent Hero: CHECK
Aspen: Oh, prepare yourself for a rant. Because I have a LOT to say about Mr. Bighead here.  He's degrading and oftentimes rude. He discourages America for his own benefit (so that she'll want to come home) and he compliments himself about as much as he compliments her. Also NOT smart in the least, for example, How do you cheer up a girl who just saw her best friend be whipped for going on a date with a guard? Set up a date for that girl with yourself, who just so happens to be a guard. Honestly, Aspen, you are an idiot. He's egocentric, jerkish and all-around not a nice guy. For example,

"Mer, do you think I'm smart?"
"Of course."
"That's because I am. And I'm way too smart to be in love with a stupid girl. So you can drop that right now."

EVEN WHEN HE IS COMPLIMENTING HER, HE'S REALLY JUST COMPLIMENTING HIMSELF. His attitude is basically, "I deserve the PRETTIEST GIRL OF ALL...soooo, you." More often than not when Aspen was in a scene I wanted to puke my guts out all over his face. He tells her she wouldn't make a good princess just so that she'll come home and be his little wifey, not even thinking about how much of a difference she could make by taking the crown. Also, this just made me want to punch him,

"What's the assignment? Tiara designing?"

I know his lines like this were supposed to be funny, but he was just too degrading of America for me to take it seriously. And his lines that weren't degrading (though few and far between) were basically dripping with cheese and clichés.
Maxon: good, because I need to calm myself down a bit before proceeding with the review. I like that we saw a different side of him in this book. We saw him angry and frustrated and hurt. We saw his veneer of calm break and we saw him terrified of his father and yet so determined. I thought it was so lovely how if he hadn't been stuck in a hide-out room with America, he wasn't going to mention how much he had suffered to keep her safe from his father. I had my issues with him, but overall I just love his character. He's harder to figure out in this book than in the last one, but I think I like him better this way. When he said this I'm pretty sure all the scales were forever tipped in his favor,

"Is it so awful of me to want fifteen minutes of my life not to matter? To feel good? To pretend for a little while that someone loves me?"

America kept wondering if Maxon even cared that she was unhappy...OF COURSE HE DID. If he didn't care about her happiness then he would have just eliminated everyone else without even asking her to accept him. He could have done that and subjected her to a life of possible unhappiness, but he didn't. He waited for her to want him and want to be with him. I'm hoping that the last bit of this book means that there will be less back and forth with America's semi-flimsy emotions and that we'll get to some political intrigue and actually learn something about the rebels.
Good Side Characters: CHECK
Amberly: I'm glad we saw more of her in this book. She seems like a nice person and a good queen, but all of that is mostly overshadowed by her horrible husband.
Clarkson: I was expecting to see more of him and was surprised that we didn't really until the very end, but I'm hoping his new involvement will mean more of his horribleness in the last book. It was smart of Kiera Cass to actually make him the bad guy, because I always felt the books were missing some sort of villain (because if it was supposed to be Celeste, she just wasn't cutting it). Example A: How he told Natalie the news about her sister was just plain horrible.
Kriss: I really like her too and I think her and Maxon would make a great couple under different circumstances. As it stands, however, knowing how much he cares for America I feel compelled to dislike her, if only just a bit.
May: I want to see more of May, too. She's such a sweetie.
Mary, Anne, Lucy: I loved how devoted they were to America, they were friends with her. They laughed with her and believed in her as a leader.
Marlee: Let's not pretend that her secret wasn't glaringly obvious. But it did showcase just how good of a ruler Maxon is going to be. And I'm glad she got a happy ending.
The Writing: NOPE
These books aren't particularly well-written and the adjectives get a bit repetitive. I don't want to sound too harsh, but the writing along with the writing style could use some work. There were so many contradictory sentences put back-to-back so that I would find myself reading passages again to figure out which was the truth (and usually to no avail). For example,

"there was anger in his eyes...but there was no rage in him."

Little things like that threw me off and some passages were so contradictory that I didn't even bother with what America was actually trying to say.

World-building and Setting: Not really.
I saw a bit more of it in this book (with what the rebels were stealing and with the war in New Asia and Gregory Ilea's diary), but I'm not sure it's enough yet. I am going to be patient though and hold off judgment until the series comes to its conclusion. The origin of the world makes more reliable sense after reading this book, but I still find myself wanting more detail into what exactly is going on. I think that with the king's role coming into more prominence in the next book we'll get a lot of information on that front. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I also can't say that this series is without glaring plot holes, but again, I'm trying to hold off judgment and be patient like a good little reviewer. I do like that the competition got more serious. The girls still liked each other, but they were more open about their race for the crown.

"But I liked these tears."

"and that fraction of a moment that was so important to who we were would be gone."

"It wasn't some explosion; it wasn't fireworks. It was a fire, burning slowly from the inside out."

The Princess Diaries (#1-3).

The Princess Diaries (#1-3)
by: Meg Cabot
The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries, #1)Princess in the Spotlight (The Princess Diaries, #2)Princess in Love (The Princess Diaries, #3)
What can I say about these books, they're so endearing. I wish I had read them when I was younger, but I still find the characters really likeable overall. I feel like they are people that you could meet in real life; they are people that you can root for. I decided to read a few and then review them together if I liked them, and trust me, I loved them. I'm going to go through by the things I like most of this series so far. Also, I always loved the movies when I was a girl (I must have watched each around ten thousand times) and so I'm really glad I love the books too. Even though they are now two separate entities in my head (being as different as they are).
Mia: Sure, she's dramatic and sometimes whiny, but she's fifteen! Weren't we all kind of annoying at that point in our lives? I'll answer that...yes, yes we were. It's fun to watch her worry about tiny things, it makes life seem a little more manageable. These books are just lighthearted and fun (and also hilarious). I started to think of Mia as a friend to relate to and to root for. And that's the point, she is someone that you WANT to root for. You want her to pull through and enjoy things. She's also a genuinely nice person, and she tries to be there for her friends. Even when she's irrational or immature (which, if we're honest, is a lot of the time) you still like her.
Lily: Not a great friend to Mia seeing as she often is jealous and doesn't support her, but at least in the third book she helps Mia and Michael out (which is one of the best things she could do for them). She's also really funny when she's analyzing Mia.
Tina Hakim Baba: She is easily one of my favorite characters because she's just such a sweetheart. Naïve? a bit. But encouraging? Always. She is SUCH a great friend to Mia, too.
Michael Moscovitz: Just going to ask, can I PLEASE have my own Michael Moscovitz? Please? because I want one. He is such a sweetie and always lovely to Mia. In Princess in Love, he was adorable and just...uhhh ADORABLE. I want a copy. now. Someone get on that, please and thank you. I can't even describe how great he is as a character. Every line he delivers to Mia could have been really cheesy, but it ended up just sounding endearing and genuine. Meg Cabot is great at writing love interests.
Lars: Maybe it's because I keep picturing him as Joe from the movies, but he makes me laugh and I love him. (Also, his little bromance with Michael is absolutely wonderful in everything ever. yes.)
Her Dad: I am blanking on his name right now, but I like getting to know her dad as opposed to in the movie. He has a bigger impact than you would expect.
Grandmere: She's slightly less endearing in the books (possibly because I'm not picturing her as Julie Andrews anymore) but you can still tell that she cares about Mia and is trying to show it in the ways she knows how.
Mr. Gianini: Another awesome character. He's just really sweet to Mia and Helen and everyone. I just like him a lot. 
I do recommend the audio books for these, as well. Anne Hathaway read them and I must say she does a fantastic job. She taps into her Mia-ness and really gets the correct tone for the books. And even the algebra note parts don't get boring when she read them, I still find myself wanting to pay attention.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Prince.

The Prince
by: Kiera Cass
The Prince (The Selection, #0.5)
Considering that this is a prequel novella, I'm going to just write a couple paragraphs about what I thought of this. I decided to read this in preparation for The Elite coming out tomorrow, and goodness, am I glad I did! I forgot how much I love Maxon as a character and as a person. He is such a sweetheart and kind of awkward, but always in a sort-of-charming way. I wouldn't mind if this entire series had been written completely from Maxon's point of view. He's very easy to read and relate to. I also loved being in his head and realizing that he is genuinely intelligent and witty. One tiny problem that I had with Maxon when I first met him in The Selection was how uptight and formal he sounded when he talked. At first it felt a bit forced, but in this book you learn that he doesn't talk that way in his mind, he has just been educated to speak like the soon-to-be-king of a country, which makes perfect sense.
I hope that his relationship with his parents is showcased more in The Elite, because that was one of the most fascinating things about his perspective. We don't see it from America, but his dad was pretty hard on him and his mom is an absolute darling. That creates a lot of tension and anxiety in him that he has to learn to deal with. I loved that we saw Maxon both vulnerable and insecure, but we also saw him honest and true.
I'm also glad that Kiera Cass didn't decide to make it "love at first sight" for Maxon. Even after meeting America he had some moments with a few of the other girls as well, such as Kriss or Celeste. Sure, he felt something toward America, but he didn't see her and go, "oh, it has to be her." That would have felt more like insta-love than I am comfortable with in a book. That is what made it seem more believable. Even so, America responded to all of Maxon's fears in a really unique way. That is showcased when Maxon says concerning her,
"this girl was the antithesis of everything I'd been expecting."
He was intrigued because she was different and honest, the very reasons America first thought she would be thrown out.
I'm not kidding though, can the rest of the books be from Maxon's perspective? Please?
"Knowledge isn't love"
"I hadn't known I was capable of breaking a heart."
"These girls were already turning me into a puddle of stupid."
"...and I realized she was a walking rebellion."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Serpent's Shadow.

The Serpent's Shadow
by: Rick Riordan
The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)

Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sadie Kane can't seem to keep Apophis, the chaos snake, down. Now Apophis is threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness, and the Kanes are faced with the impossible task of having to destroy him once and for all. Unfortunately, the magicians of the House of Life are on the brink of civil war, the gods are divided, and the young initiates of Brooklyn House stand almost alone against the forces of chaos.

Awesome Main Characters: CHECK
Carter: I loved watching him change in the short span of these three books. He's come a long way from the quiet, kind-of-awkward kid who traveled the world with his father. Riordan is a master at creating realistic and relatable characters and then letting the reader grow with them. By the end of this book I was so sad to say goodbye to all the characters I've come to know in this series, especially Carter and Sadie. They've matured into powerful magicians and responsible teenagers (I've heard that saving the world from the forces of evil and chaos several times will do that to you). Carter proves himself as a leader in this book. I love that that doesn't mean he's always the bravest or the strongest, it meant that everyone could trust him and look up to him; it meant he made the tough decisions and the right decisions. Also, he was an adorable boyfriend to Zia. It was the small things, like how he worried about things like Zia waking up to his protective charm and being reminded of her water-tomb-thing.
Sadie: One of my favorite things about Sadie is that even though she grew up a LOT in these books, she never stopped being a teenage girl. Riordan never let her become this perfect model of a heroine. She still had a lot of growing left to do by the end, but that was what made her realistic. Also she's the kind of character that you'd love to have as a best friend, she's crazy and smart and funny, but also loyal and brave. Riordan does a brilliant job writing the brother/sister dynamic between Carter and Sadie. They balance each other out like Ma'at and Chaos. Without Sadie's impulsive and creative ideas the plan would have fallen apart. The same goes for Carter's dedication to not deviating from the plan. They could only succeed together.
Another thing that was so crazy to keep in mind were that these were KIDS. A thirteen year old and a fifteen year old who learned about magic and Egyptian gods not even a year ago and they had to save the FREAKING world because no one else could or would...that's pretty dang impressive!

Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
Leonid: I knew barely anything about Leonid and yet I loved him. Him trying to speak English to communicate with Sadie was really funny and adorable. That's why I'm glad he survived doomsday.
Felix: I want to meet this kid! He was hilarious with his penguins and shouting merry Christmas at mortals from the flying boat.
Setne: He was a really interesting character, in both a good and a bad way. Obviously he's a crazy sociopathic killer, but he was really funny. He made you want to like him.
Neith: an Egyptian god that is all stocked up for the apocalypse? ...okayyyyy. I loved the whole story about jelly babies and ribena hunting even though I had to google what both of those things are seeing as I'm not british.
Thoth: I liked that they visited Thoth even though he had nothing to do with the story. Also his basketball stadium headquarters was really very cool.
Apophis: Especially in this book I found him to be just as evil and terrifying as Gaea or Kronos are (or were). I was interested by the implication that he was worse than just evil, he was chaos. Set was the god of evil and even HE was fighting against Apophis. That gives light to just how twisted and corrupt Aphophis was. As great as Riordan is at ambiguous villains, he is also great at villains that are pure evil and completely terrifying.
Bes: I was so happy that they got Bes back and that he finally decided to man up and be with Tawaret.
Walt/Anubis: Woahhh. I honestly didn't expect that to happen until about a third of the way through this book. I was with Sadie in the beginning when she thought it was creepy to literally have two guys in one. But a few distinct lines at least resolved me to their solution,

"We speak with one voice...Especially on this matter. No one harms Sadie Kane."

"And, yes, I accepted Walt and Anubis...I gave up my anger and dismay. I imagined both of them with me, and if that was peculiar, well then, it fit right in with the rest of my life."

When you think about it, they really are very similar, that's why Sadie liked them both so much. And, in the end, the only way for her to be with either of them was to be with both of them. I loved them both for Sadie, so I found myself almost liking their arrangement.
Zia: I am all for her and Carter! and her following the path of the Ra? that was a surprise. I wish we could have seen a bit more of her in this book, but I loved the scene of her and Carter at the Mall of America. I can see her fitting in at the Brooklyn House as a teacher just fine.

Wonderful Plot and Setting: CHECK
This book was wonderful. A lot of action and adventure and a LOT of tying up loose ends. So many dots were connected from each of the three books. The different parts of personality and the sheuts. The path of the gods being not just the answer for Carter and Sadie, but also for Zia, Amos, Walt, and plenty others. We were told from the beginning that the world could only be saved by relearning the paths of the gods and that came to prominence especially in this book. The whole story that wound its way through this trilogy was answered and completed in this book. Carter became the pharaoh we knew he was going to and Sadie chose (or didn't choose) between her two boys. I am so sad to see the end of this trilogy, I honestly would be okay with seeing two more books in this series, even though I don't think they could defeat any evil bigger than Apophis. That's why I am so excited about The Son of Sobek crossover between this series and the PJO series.

I had one problem with this book (even though it is a small one). I wish that the book had ended with an interaction between Carter and Sadie, because that was my favorite relationship in this series. Seeing them go from near strangers to true brother and sister was quite charming and I think ending with them would have hit at the roots of what this story is.

More Percy Jackson References: CHECK
I could see Rick setting up for the crossover story, which excited me greatly. I want to see some Percy/Carter, Percy/Sadie, Annabeth/Carter, Annabeth/Sadie, Annabeth/Zia interactions. I think my life would be complete at that point. The good news is that that is coming in a short sixteen days. Example,

"But Egypt has always faced challenges from outside-magicians from elsewhere, even gods from elsewhere. Just be vigilant."


"(Carter says I should tell you why it's called that. It's a cave full of all sorts of birds. Again-duh. [Carter, why are you banging your head against the table?])"

"We don't kill our enemies for things they might do in the future."

"Knowledge of any value can't be given. It must be sought and earned."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Throne of Fire.

The Throne of Fire
by: Rick Riordan
The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles, #2)

Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. And now their most threatening enemy yet - the chaos snake Apophis - is rising. If they don't prevent him from breaking free in a few days' time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it's a typical week for the Kane family. To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished.

Awesome Main Characters: CHECK
Sadie: In this book Sadie was both more annoying and vastly more loveable as a character. But isn't that kind of what thirteen-year-old girls supposed to be like? She returns in this book as brave, funny, silly, and sometimes frustrating. But in the end you root for her. You want her to win battles and accomplish things. Yet again, I am impressed with how well Rick Riordan is able to write from a girl's perspective. She seemed like a typical thirteen year old girl who just happened to have to fight evil Egyptian gods and such. I love that about Riordan's books, the heroes are just normal kids in unusual and challenging circumstances.
Carter: Carter became much more of a leader in this book. He manages to be both incredibly smart and a little dense at the same time. I appreciated how even when he was tempted to tap into Horus' power or take matters into his own hands, he was smart enough to accept his role and help others accept theirs. Again, I loved watching Carter and Sadie's relationship develop even more. They learned in the last book how to be brother and sister and in this book they learned all the responsibilities that came with that. I love that Sadie now knows Carter's true name.
Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
Bes: Bes made his way into being one of my all-time favorite gods in any of Riordan's books. He was funny and kind of sweet. He reminded me of a less smash-y Coach Hedge in a great way. And his sacrifice may have hit me pretty hard...It was very "Ron Weasley" of him. He also made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion (a dwarf god scaring people away by wearing a speedo? Now that's hilarious). Sadie described him best when she said,

"He had an enormous, colorful, ludicrous, wonderful personality..."

Menshikov: For the record, I never said his name right in my head the first time I read it (not just the first time I read his name, every single sentence it appeared in I had to go back and reread so I could get it right). Besides that, he was a completely convincing and disturbing villain.
Ptah: Another character that made me laugh out loud. "I am not the god of spit." end of story.
Walt: The poor dear. When I first met him I didn't really like him, I didn't dislike him he just seemed kind of annoying. Then as we got to know him I realized that he's really a sweetheart. He really cares about Sadie and it's adorable.
Desjardins: Once again, Riordan shows you a antagonist that is mostly fighting against the goal of the protagonists and yet, he shows you why you should about this character anyway. He was a good guy just trying to live up to the legacy of his family. In the end he made the right choice and sacrificed his life to maintain order.
Khnum: Adorable in a giant-who-is-confused kind of way.
Jaz: I want to see more of Jaz. She was a small character, but she made a big impact on the story. You didn't know much about her and yet her almost dying hurt. I wanted her to make it so I could learn more about.

The Action: CHECK
The first sentence of the chapters were dangerous to read. You find yourself both laughing and wanting it to be explained. Take, for example,
"It's disturbing to wake up as a chicken. "
Now tell me that doesn't make you want to find out exactly what is happening in this chapter. So if you read that you could easily find yourself sucked into another piece of the story.
Once again Riordan shows his skill at writing fight scenes. You can picture exactly what is going on because he doesn't weigh down the scenes with unnecessary detail. The fight scenes easily form in your mind like a movie rolling.
Fantastic Setting and Plot: CHECK
Riordan expanded the world that he built in The Red Pyramid quite wonderfully in this book. The Ren added an interesting aspect. I'm interested to see if any other parts of the personality show up since we've seen both a person's ba and ren. I was definitely not expecting Amos to become Chief Lector or really any of the twists that happened in this book, like with Walt's "little problem." I'm excited to see where the third book takes this series and how Riordan manages to tie up all the loose ends.
You know, I'm starting to think that Riordan just LOVES messing with his readers, first he sends Percy and Annabeth straight into the depths of Tartarus and force us to wait a year for that to be fixed. Then in this book he kept throwing in Percy Jackson references just for the fun of it. Examples,
"Once I thought I saw a flying horse."
"I wished I had sea god powers..."
Needless to say, I freaked when I read these sentences! PEOPLE, THIS IS WHY I LOVE RICK RIORDAN. And I'm even more excited for The Son of Sobek short story with the crossover with characters from these books and Percy Jackson. I have a feeling it is going to be awesome!
"Chaos feeds on weak leaders, divided loyalties."
"Maybe that was all we could do: keep on trying, keep on believing we could salvage something from the disaster."
"Chaos is impatient. It's random. And above all it's selfish. It tears down everything just for the sake of change, feeding on itself in constant hunger. But Chaos can also be appealing. It tempts you to believe that nothing matters except what you want."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Red Pyramid.

The Red Pyramid
by: Rick Riordan
The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles, #1)
Sadie and Carter Kane discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

This book is just so typical Rick Riordan (and if you didn't know, that is a VERY good thing). And I'm going to try my very best not to compare this book to the Percy Jackson books. I really loved this book and learning so much about Egypt mythology. I knew a fairly good amount about Greek mythology when starting out the Percy Jackson series (having read The Odyssey for school and just general knowledge) but Egyptian mythology is a lot less common to come across in everyday life. So I didn't know hardly anything about it. That made it a really different experience from the PJO series.
Awesome Main Characters: CHECK
Carter: I kind of love Carter. He starts out this sort of scared kid without much strength or guts or anything and he transforms into this not so scared kid who is realistically heroic. I liked that he didn't completely transform in this book, he was still himself by the end, just himself with some improvements. And he was even really funny in places! Overall a really great character. I really enjoyed watching Carter and Sadie go from practically strangers to a real brother and sister within the course of the book. It was done incredibly well and became this really realistic sort of relationship.
Sadie: I absolutely adored Sadie! She sort of reminded me of a more sarcastic, less analytical Annabeth, that is to say that she's really tough and just all around awesome (Okay, I'm done comparing now...I promise). She was hilarious and pretty dang brave for a twelve year old. Her and Carter lost everything but each other at some point in their journey and they found a way to keep going.
Fantastic Setting and Plot: CHECK
As stated above, the mythology was done with the typical Riordan brilliance. It was funny and interesting and exciting. You (at least, I) never get tired of the way Riordan can weave together a story and all its parts. This book had a whole lot of moving around and traveling, from London to Manhattan then to Egypt, Paris, Texas, Arizona, and then to D.C. they were nearly constantly moving from place to place. Something that struck me though was that it never got confusing. You knew why they were going to that place and what they were hoping to accomplish there. Also, Rick does a great job of describing those places in pretty good detail.
Interesting Side Characters: CHECK
Isis and Horus: The whole gods-hosts thing was pretty crazy and it added a bit more confusion to the story. I thought the gods' conversations with Sadie and Carter were all hilarious.
Bast: At the beginning I thought she was going to be this minor character who didn't have much of a role, but much to my surprise she was one of the biggest players. I can't wait to see how her role gets expanded and changed in the next two books.
Set: As much as a villain as he is, I couldn't help feel bad for the guy. I mean, he was basically doomed to come up with these evil, take-the-throne plots for all of time only to be stopped each and every time by same people. Also he was kind of a dummy...
Zia: Hers was the plot twist that I was least expecting! I couldn't believe that the Zia we knew throughout the whole thing was not even the real Zia. I definitely am all for her and Carter eventually getting closer because, gosh, the guy is just so earnest about it all and it's adorable.
Great Writing: CHECK
One thing that I noticed in this book (and I'm assuming this series) was the amount of foreshadowing that Rick used, and used effectively. Occasionally you noticed it enough to point and say, "That's foreshadowing, but I have absolutely no idea what it is foreshadowing." I'm also struck by how well Rick writes the action and fight scenes. You can always tell who is punching who and where and why (which is harder to find than you'd think).
"Fairness doesn't mean everyone gets the same...Fairness means everyone gets what they need."
"...but only humans have creativity, the power to change history rather than simply repeat it."
"Why hasn't your family married you off to someone far away?"
"Chaos cannot be kept down forever. It grows. It seeps into the cracks of civilization, breaks down the edges. It cannot be kept in balance. That is simply its nature."

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Last Dragonslayer.

The Last Dragonslayer
by: Jasper Fforde
The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic
This book is absolutely brilliant! It was really funny and clever and just so creative. This is my first Jasper Fforde book I've read and I entirely plan to read more (next up is probably the Thursday Next series which sounds awesome!) very soon.
Things I liked:
1. Jennifer Strange
Basically Jennifer was an awesome protagonist for this story. She was really sarcastic and clever and very genuine. And goodness, she had a lot of things she had to deal with, what with power-hungry monarchs, a confusing dragon, and a very important prophecy to fulfill. My favorite part about her was that she didn't pretend to go along with the unethical things going on, no matter what. She stood her ground and had to find a way around all the obstacles that stupid people put in her way.
2. Quarkbeast
So maybe I want a Quarkbeast now. I never got tired of him interrupting an important conversation with that all-inclusive word, "Quark." Also, now I'm sad.
3. The Whole Cast of Characters
From my favorites (Moobin, Kevin Zipp, and Tiger) to the ones I loved to hate (Mawgon and Gordon von Gordon), all of the side characters added hilarity and depth to the story. The little bit that we got to know these characters just made me want to know them more. Jasper Fforde must have so much creativity to come up with all of these different characters (not to mention this whole world.
4. The Setting and the World Building
This world was so unique and so cool because it was basically England nowadays with magic (albeit waning magic) and dragons. But at the same time, it doesn't come off cheesy or stupid. It ends up being this really interesting mix between fantasy and real life. The world building is what makes it so convincing because it's some of the best world building I've ever read (and on a tricky subject too). The amount of fake (and hilarious) history he had to come up with blew my mind in the best possible way.
I loved the tale of Mu'shad Waseed and the Mighty Shandar that Mother Zenobia told Jennifer and I loved all the magic science that was involved in this book (a shandar and a giga-shandar and Big Magic). It was all so well-thought out and perfectly executed.
5. Tiger
Tiger gets his own number as well as a mention in my favorite side characters section because I love him that much. I sort of wish all 12 year old boys were like him because he was hilarious and way too smart and just awesome. GAH. I want to see a whole lot more of Tiger in the other books of the series.
6. The Humor
This sort of quirky-book-humor is right up my alley. I loved that Zambini was shamed because he worked at kid birthday parties and the fact that King Snodd's brother's official title was the Useless Brother. And all of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) almost satirical references to big corporation greed and how stupid the media is were most welcomed and enjoyed.
Just a few examples of laugh-out-loud moments in the book:
"Frightful, frightful woman. Her love of glittery things, fine robes, and bathing in rabbit's milk set feminism back four centuries."
"Yogi darling! yelled his producer, holding the telephone, "I've got the Zebra Society on the phone. They think we're negatively portraying zebras as passive victims. Will you have a word? They're a bit upset."
..."And I've got Vulture Foundation on line two. They think your program is spreading unfair stereotypes about a noble bird."
7. The Writing
The thing that struck me the most about this writing style is that while very accessible, it was also very clever. What I mean is, it wasn't hard to read and it didn't take loads of concentration yet it still was very witty in its roots. You didn't have to look very hard to see the humor but you could appreciate how brilliant it was. This is a combination that is undoubtedly very hard to pull off.
Things I Didn't Like:
1. Nothing
Self-explanatory. I thought this book was practically perfect and just fantastic.
"Sometimes choice is a luxury that fate does not let us afford, Miss Strange."
"That's the thing about destiny: It can't be predicted, and it's usually pretty odd."
"Powerful ideas have a life of their own; they carry on, unshakable, from person to person."

“You have many fine qualities that I admire. But you are out of time. You should have been born a century ago, when values such as yours meant something.”


Wednesday, April 10, 2013


by: Marcus Sedgwick
So this book is a lot different than anything I have ever read, but it was a very nice break from what I typically read. It was really creepy and intriguing and the prose was beautiful in places. And I've never read a book based solely on a painting before, so that was interesting.
Things I liked:
1. The Continuity
One of the coolest things about this book was that, though it was separated into seven separate and distinct stories, all of the stories intertwined in this really fascinating way. The tiniest details or phrases were used as devices to show you the connections (like "so it is" or "speak of the devil and his horns appear"). There were a ton of repeating symbols and such (like the little blessed dragon flowers, the hares, and the tea), but they were repeated in ways that were unique and useful to each new story. I also loved how in the one story things might not make sense until you read a later story and say to yourself, "ohhh, so that's what that meant." In the same way, Sometimes because you had already read details about a certain thing, you understood it when it was used in a later story.
Also, It was really great to be reading each story and trying to find Eric and Merle and how their lives intersecting because in each story it was different.
2. Different Relationships Highlighted
I thought it was interesting how in one story Eric and Merle were a couple while in others that love may have manifested itself in a mother-son relationship or even two strangers who never once met and yet changed the other's life or a girl who gave a retired painter a reason to paint again. This could have come off creepy (in a bad way) in some places, but it was always done well. The point was to say that they loved each other in every life, even when they weren't a couple.
3. Great Writing
Marcus' writing style was very easy to read in this book. At times when things could have gotten confusing or boring, his writing kept the reader involved and gave them just the right amount of understanding.
4. Creepiness (in a good way)
I normally don't read things this creepy (well, I did read and love Unwind and Unwholly and those are both incredibly creepy, but that's about it). But I really enjoyed this. It was a kind of like a palate-cleanser* from the norm for me and I liked that. I mean, human sacrifices and real-life Viking vampires? Now that's something new and different.
5. The Timeline
I am a fan of the fact that this book started in the sort-of distant future and worked its way back to the very different past. Yet it made complete sense for it to do so.
Things I Didn't Like:
1. Difficult Start
It might be me and have nothing to do with this book, but I had a little trouble getting into the first story. This might have been because the reader doesn't know quite what is going on yet. But it ended up not being that big of a deal and I was able to get past that to the rest of this weird, interesting, great book.
*side note: That phrase always reminds me of The Princess Diaries movie when Mia is at that dinner and she eats that palate-cleansing ice cream stuff too fast and gets a brain-freeze. Is that just me? okay, then...)
"He wonders if a few moments of utter and total joy can be worth a lifetime of struggle."
"They are indefatigable, tireless, stoic, and given the tragedy of their daughter, David decides, they are still people with life inside them."
"About how paintbrushes can tame the beasts, and put them on the canvas, to make beauty, or power."
"Just because we have entered the modern world, have we done with suffering? Have we done with love, and loss? Have we done with wars? Then, there will be sacrifice!"
"Strange how walking the journey once more brings back both shade and detail."
"Before the ice breaks, before the tree falls, before the sword lands. It might only be a fraction of a moment, but that time can dilate, can swell and grow, can fill the world around it with its power, till it lasts for a lifetime."