Clockwork Princess

Clockwork PrincessTitle: Clcokwork Princess
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: Infernal Devices #3
Also in this series: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 593
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on 2013-09-05
ISBN: 978-1416975915
ASIN: B0088OTY20
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

THE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

My Review

Clockwork Princess is the final book in the Infernal Devices trilogy, the prequel series to the Mortal Instruments series.  It picked up right at the end of Clockwork Prince.  It was a beautiful end to a great series, with happy moments as well as sad.

The action was just as fierce in this book with some truly epic battle scenes.  Throughout this series, I found Mortmain’s creatures horrifying and they were even more so in this book.  The combination of steampunk elements and magic was fantastic, totally embodied in these creations.

The romance in this installment was at times beautiful and at other times heart wrenching.  The love between Jem and Tessa is beautiful, while Will’s heart is being broken.  But that love is not the only love in this book, either.  We see it growing between some of the other couples in ways that are just heart warming.

The characters are what make this series so wonderful for me, both the good guys and the bad.  Even those that we are supposed to hate were often surprising, showing just enough humanity to make the reader empathize with them.  It may not excuse their behavior, but it gave a whole other level to their characters.  The supporting characters are not just background props to the protagonists, but characters with their own stories to tell.  I love how their stories, while not always in the forefront, were woven into the whole.  Magnus remains one of my favorites in the series, as he was in the Mortal Instruments.  He’s so different as a person in this series, but in many ways, you can see the person he will become.  Jem, Tess, and Will… three distinct characters who in many ways are one.  In very real ways, they are who they are because of one another.  It’s a love triangle like none other, with no true jealously or hate.  Just love and loyalty and a deep selfless desire to see the others happy, even at the cost of their own.

One of the things I love most about these books is that we don’t always get what we want with the characters.  It isn’t all perfectly wrapped up HEAs, but instead reflect real life in that sometimes life just doesn’t work out as planned and that there are obstacles in life.  It is tragic and heart breaking, yes, but I like that the author doesn’t shy away from that.

My Recommendation

Fantastic series that adds so much to the story told in the Mortal Instruments!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.4

About Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.

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Looking for Alaska

Looking for AlaskaTitle: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 254
Published by Speak on 2006-12-28
ISBN: 978-0142402511
ASIN: B000YI1K0C
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

My Review

I initially picked this book to read for a literature class I am taking for a module on the censorship and banning of books for children and young adults.  Having absolutely loved The Fault in Our Stars, when I saw this John Green novel on the ALA’s list of most frequently banned books in the 21st century, I jumped at it.  The grounds for its censorship has been the presence of profanity, underage drinking and smoking, drug use, and sexual content.  It is true, there is all of that, but presented in a realistic, true-to-life way.  I am staunchly opposed to censorship and banning and this is a book that I not only don’t believe deserves to be banned, but it is one that I have made a “must read” for my own kids.

The novel takes place within the Culver Creek Preparatory High School near Birmingham, Alabama.  Miles “Pudge” Halter is the new student, obsessed with the last words of famous people.  He has transferred to Culver Creek in the hopes that he can find his own “Great Perhaps,” an idea that has come from the last words of François Rabelais, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”  At his last school, Miles was a bit socially awkward, more obsessed with reading biographies than with socializing with friends, and he wants to start fresh at Culver Creek.  The first person he meets is Chip “The Colonel” Martin, his new roommate who introduces Miles to his own best friends.  Takumi Hikohito is obsessed with hip hop and rapping and Alaska Young is a beautiful girl, although emotionally rather unstable, for whom Miles immediately falls.

In many ways, Alaska is the glue that holds the group of friends together.  She is beautiful and intelligent and fun to be with and very enigmatic.  Although we see different parts of her throughout the book, we, as readers, never really know her any more than her friends do.  Even at the end, there are questions that leave you angsty and emotional.  Her story is her own and threads of it run through the stories of all of her friends.  She is irrevocably a part of their own histories in a myriad of ways.

More than anything, it is a story of coming of age, with all of the pain and angst that goes along with it.  There are beautiful moments, funny moments heart wrenching moments, touching moments.  There are moments of laughter and moments of sadness.  It is an absolutely beautiful story.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the book was its structure.  It is created in two parts, “Before” and “After,” leading us to and from a pivotal point that I won’t describe.  The chapters underscored that concept, marking time like “forty-five days before.”  You know something is going to happen, but you have no idea what it is.

My Recommendation

I think that this is a beautiful book that touches on real situations in ways that are both touching and tragic.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About John Green

John Green is the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars. His many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. He has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers (youtube.com/vlogbrothers), one of the most popular online video projects in the world. You can join the millions who follow John on Twitter (@realjohngreen) and tumblr (fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com) or visit him online at johngreenbooks.com.

John lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Of Fire and Ash

Of Fire and AshTitle: Of Fire and Ash
Author: Amber Argyle
Series: Fairy Queens #1.5
Also in this series: Winter Queen, Summer Queen
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 64
Published by Starling Publishing on 2014-01-01
ISBN: 978-1310408984
ASIN: B00QFUKVOE
Format: eARC
Source: author

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

One promise can change everything.

The fairies must never know of Nelay’s sight, for the attention of such dark and terrible creatures brings more things dark and terrible.

But when Nelay's father is near death, the fairies are the only ones who can save him. All they require is a simple promise that she'll return the favor one day.

Sometimes promises are deadly.

My Review

Of Fire and Ash is a short novella in the Fairy Queens series by Amber Argyle.  It introduces us to Nelay, a young girl who had spent her life hiding the reality of her special gift… the fact that she could see fairies.  Her mother had taught her from a very young age to avoid them at all costs.  For one thing, the help of a fairy meant a very high price would have to be paid.  In addition, it could bring her to the attention of the priestesses, taking her away to a life apart from your family.  But Nelay learns that sometimes it is a price worth paying, or is it?

This is a short read, but a great back story to the upcoming Summer Queen!

My Recommendation

While you could probably read Summer Queen without it, it adds quite a bit to Nelay’s story!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 3.9

About Amber Argyle

Amber Argyle grew up with three brothers on a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains. She spent hours riding horses, roaming the mountains, and playing in her family’s creepy barn. This environment fueled her imagination for writing high fantasy.

She has worked as a short order cook, janitor, and staff member in a mental institution. All of which has given her great insight into the human condition and has made for some unique characters.

She received her bachelor’s degree in English and Physical Education from Utah State University.

She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three small children.

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Soulprint

SoulprintTitle: Soulprint
Author: Megan Miranda
Genre(s): Dystopian Fiction, Love & Romance, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on 2015-02-03
ISBN: 978-1408855409
ASIN: B00QKK6G1Q
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private. June had accomplished the impossible: hacking into the soul-database, ruining countless lives in the process.

Now, there are whispers that June has left something behind for her next life—something that would allow Alina to access the information in the soul-database again. A way to finish the crimes she started.

Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.

Alina doesn’t know who to trust, or what June intends for her to know, and the closer she gets to the answers, the more she wonders who June was, who she is, whether she’s destined to repeat the past, whether there are truths best kept hidden—and what one life is really worth.

My Review

Soulprint is a new sci-fi/thriller novel with an extremely fascinating premise.  It looks at the soul in an interesting way, looking at it from social and scientific viewpoints, rather than as a part of any particular spirituality.  It takes place in a world in which science has advanced to the point of being able to soulprint, much like fingerprinting.  The social ramifications of that ability are at the center of this book and the protagonist, Alina Chase.

Alina is not imprisoned, but “contained,” solely on the basis of her soul having previously belonged to a woman that was considered to be an extremely dangerous criminal.  The science and thought behind soulprinting was that the soul remains unchanged from life to life, leaving one predisposed to certain behaviors.  Because of that belief and the depth of the criminality that her soul has supposedly possessed, Alina has lived almost her entire life isolated on an island, surrounded only by an ever rotating staff of people that take care of her without ever truly caring for her.  And then things change and she has been broken out of her prison?  But for what reason?  And is her new life any less a prison?

This is a fast-pased thriller with so many twists and turns as Alina, and those who broke her free, explore her past to find answers.  Her character is one I truly loved.  She is smart, strong, and determined, unwilling to meekly follow others without finding answers for herself.  The author leaves bread crumbs for readers, bits and pieces of the mystery that allow the reader to guess at different parts of it without giing it all away.  It was a great way to build anticipation along the way.

Alina never really believed that her soul’s previous incarnation meant that she, too, would be a criminal.  But as her path to discovering more led her to question that and wonder if perhaps the soulprinter advocates were correct in their theory.  The story was as much one of growth and change for Alina as it was a sci-fi thriller.

I loved that the book looked at the idea of souls, and reincarnation, from a point of view that was not religious.  It was a nice twist to look at it from such a different perspective and it made for a interesting read.

My Recommendation

I would definitely recommend this for sci-fi and thriller lovers alike!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

About Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda is the author of the young adult novels Fracture, Hysteria, Vengeance, and Soulprint (all from Bloomsbury). Her debut adult suspense novel, Disappear, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2016. Megan has a degree in Biology from MIT and currently lives near Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and two children.

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The Forgetting

The ForgettingTitle: The Forgetting
Author: Nicole Maggi
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Mystery & Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on 2015-02-03
ISBN: 978-1492603566
ASIN: B00ORXKT98
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Georgie's new heart saved her life...but now she's losing her mind.

Georgie Kendrick wakes up after a heart transplant, but the organ beating in her chest doesn't seem to be in tune with the rest of her body. Why does she have a sudden urge for strawberries when she's been allergic for years? Why can't she remember last Christmas?

Driven to find her donor, Georgie discovers her heart belonged to a girl her own age who fell out of the foster care system and into a rough life on the streets. Everyone thinks she committed suicide, but Georgie is compelled to find the truth-before she loses herself completely.

My Review

The Forgetting was not a fluffy young adult novel, but a novel that looks at the very real issue of sex trafficking.  It is dark and often disturbing, but it is also beautiful with its moments of love and change.  Georgie has just had a heart transplant and she can’t help but feel like something is a just a bit off with her new heart.  It is as if the new heart still belongs to someone else and, at first, she doesn’t know what to make of that or what to do about it.  But she follows it’s guide, feeling as if she needs to find out what it is trying to tell her in order to get her own life back.  But the path the heart takes her is one that is dark and dangerous and it irrevocably changes her.

As Georgie goes deeper and deeper into the underworld of Boston, she sees things that she never knew existed in her sheltered world.  No matter how dangerous it may be, she cannot let things rest, cannot turn away from what she has seen and what she has learned.  One of the things I like best is that Georgie, when she acts impulsively, has enough self-awareness to know it and admit it, rather than be portrayed as a foolish girl.  I also like that she doesn’t try to do everything herself and knows when she needs help.

There are so many elements to this book… love, loss, friendship, change, growth.  In the course of Georgie’s search for answers, she meets Nate.  He is inextricably involved with her search and he opens her eyes to the reality of these young girls.  As Georgie learns more, she loses parts of herself in ways and for reasons that she never expected.  Her friendships change as she changes and there is a bit of a message about how deeply life-altering events can affect all aspects of your life.

My Recommendation

The author does a great job of describing a world that most of us know exists, but tend not to see or consider.  These girls are forced into the sex trade, controlled and abused.  They are very young and they are used in unspeakable ways.  This is an eye-opening and thought-provoking book that I think is a must-read for girls and adults alike.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Nicole Maggi

Nicole was born in the suburban farm country of upstate New York, and began writing at a very early age. Of course, her early works consisted mainly of poems about rainbows and unicorns, although one of them was good enough to win honorable mention in a national poetry contest! (Perhaps one of the judges was a ten-year-old girl.) Throughout high school, her creative writing was always nurtured and encouraged.

Nicole attended Emerson College as an acting major, and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Post-college, she worked as an actress in New York City for over a decade, focusing mainly on Shakespeare and the classics.

Now living in Los Angeles, Nicole balances writing full-time with motherhood.

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