Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare

CLARE, CASSANDRA Clockwork Angel

 

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales, Inc

Release Date: August 31, 2010

Genre: YA Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Steampunk

Format: Hardback, ebook, audio

Rating: 5 Lattes

Heat Level: Light Roast

Blurb

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still. Discover the riveting first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them….

First impression.

Before I even get into the review – I truly can’t believe I have never written a review of this book EVER. I’ve read it at least 7 times, and each time it is like falling for your first love all over again…

The book opens with Will and Jem out on patrol in the middle of the night in 1878 London. The two boys immediately captured my heart, and they have never left. While I certainly love Tessa, and though the story wouldn’t exist without her, it is always the relationship and bond between the boys that draws me back into the story.

What kept me reading (or didn’t).

Jem’s wisdom and almost shy kindness, and his patient, mostly amused way of dealing with Will. Will’s boldness and icy defection of anyone besides Jem who might dare to get close to him. Tessa’s sweet but courageous personality and fresh innocence as she is introduced to the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

Though I have already admitted I have read this series multiple times, I am always amazed by the way Ms. Clare defines so many complex relationships between the characters. You can truly FEEL how much they care for each other, and when the story breaks their hearts, it will break yours also.

The other character I adore, is Magnus Bane. He is the voice of wisdom and calm throughout the Shadowhunter world. He is flippant, at times irreverent, and often pluckish, but his tender heart and willingness to help a hurting 17 year old boy makes him fun and refreshing as a counterpoint to the tension threading through the rest of the book.

After taste.

I felt everything these characters felt, including the evil ones. That is a testament to great writing, when as a reader, I can identify with – and to a point, sympathize even with the antagonist.

Overall impression.

While the Mortal Instruments Series came first, this series (The Infernal Devices) was my introduction to Shadowhunters, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the world Ms. Clare has created.

Quotes or Highlights

“Must you go? I was rather hoping you’d stay and be a ministering angel, but if you must go, you must.”
“I’ll stay,” Will said a bit crossly, and threw himself down in the armchair Tessa had just vacated. “I can minister angelically.”
“None too convincingly. And you’re not as pretty to look at as Tessa is,” Jem said, closing his eyes as he leaned back against the pillow.
“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.”
*****

“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.”

*****

“I see you’re determined to miss my point.”
“If you’re point is that there was a pretty girl in the room and it was distracting you, then I think I’ve taken your point handily.”
“You think she’s pretty?” Will was surprised; Jem rarely opinioned this sort of thing.
“Yes, and you do too.”
“I hadn’t noticed, really.”
“Yes, you have, and I’ve noticed you noticing.”

About the Author

Clare, Cassandra

Cassandra Clare is the author of the #1 New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Mortal Instruments series and the Infernal Devices trilogy, and coauthor of the Bane Chronicles with Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson. She also wrote The Shadowhunter’s Codex with her husband, Joshua Lewis. Her books have more than 36 million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. Cassandra lives in western Massachusetts. Visit her at CassandraClare.com. Learn more about the world of the Shadowhunters at Shadowhunters.com.

Purchase link:

Amazon

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Whatcha Reading Wednesday

Sowing

I am up to my eyeballs in edits and re-writes for my next book release, and that means the time I have to read an ebook is drastically reduced.

Hopefully, I will have some time this holiday weekend to get a few chapters in.

You can follow my progress through Sowing on Goodreads.

If you would like to follow my own writing journey, you can sign up for my newsletter, or check out my author blog.

The Battlemage, by Taran Matharu

Battlemage_1

Title: The Battlemage

Author: Taran Matharu

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Teen and Young Adult, Science Fiction and Fantasy

Format: ebook, Paperback, Hardback, audio

Rating: 4 Lattes

Heat Level: Light Roast

Blurb

Fletcher and his friends fight for survival in the ether, where they pursue a mortally dangerous quest to rebuild their world and broker peace.

Even as hatred threatens to turn friend into foe in The Battlemage, Fletcher must lead a small army of soldiers into battle to protect his ancestral homeland, and face his biggest challenge yet: his nemesis, the albino orc, Khan, who seeks to destroy everything Fletcher holds dear.

Review:

First impression.

(I LOVE THIS COVER! It is my favorite of the four. I can’t wait to add it to my collection.)

I jumped right into this one when I finished The Inquisition because I couldn’t stand the suspense! I had many questions and I am not sure all of them have been answered.

What kept me reading (or didn’t).

I am not usually a fan of multiple battle scenes and tend to scan them, but the author did a great job maintaining an emotional connection to the characters throughout the action. The first part of the story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once.

The way Fletcher and the people of Pelt worked together with the dwarves to begin rebuilding his family home solidified a lot of the characters and gave them time to unify before the battle. Funny thing though – because I was listening to the book via audio, I thought the old knight’s name was Sicaulda, not Sir Caulder through the entire series.

I was at about 90% when I started to realize there were not enough chapters. The thick of battle was still going on, and I had a feeling things were not going to be wrapped up in a neat bow. I was right. The battle ran all the way to nearly the last page and a brief epilogue left me wanting TONS more answers.

What happened to Ignatius and Athena? What does Fletcher’s mother remember? Why didn’t Fletcher offer to help Sylva? Why didn’t he tell her how he felt about her? What is Burdon going to do? Are they going to make a market for the ebony?

After taste.

I loved the story, and the author created a world I fell in love with, but the end of the series left a lot of open ended story lines, and left me feeling like the story is incomplete. That is why this book got 4 stars instead of 5. I was completely invested in the character lives, and have no idea how they really are at the end. The orcs are defeated, but….I don’t know. Maybe I’m being selfish, but I almost feel cheated. Not a good way to end the series.

Overall impression.

This is an excellent young adult epic fantasy series. I would recommend it to any parent who wants to introduce their kids to a fantasy world.

About the Author

Matharu, Taran

Taran Matharu is a New York Times bestselling author. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for reading at a very early age. His love for stories developed into a desire to create his own during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.

Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’.

Thanks to Wattpad.com and updating daily, its popularity dramatically increased, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months.

After being featured by NBC News, Taran decided to launch his professional writing career and has never looked back.

Purchase links:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

 

Sowing, by Angie Grigaliunas

Sowing.jpg

I met Angie through a Facebook group about a year ago, and have followed her posts as she has written this series. We recently met at a local Christian writer’s group, and she is as engaging and creative in person as she is online.

I was able to purchase a signed copy of Sowing, but since I don’t actually READ my signed paperbacks (no touchy touchy!), I picked up the Kindle version also. I’ve been looking forward to reading this series.

As always, you can follow my progress on Goodreads!

The Inquisition, By Taran Matharu

 

 

InquisitionTitle: The Inquisition

Author: Taran Matharu

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Genre: YA, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Epic

Format: Ebook, Audio, Hardcover, Paperback

Rating: 5 Lattes

Heat Level: Light Roast

Blurb:

A year has passed since the Tournament. Fletcher and Ignatius have been locked away in Pelt’s dungeons, but now they must face trial at the hands of the Inquisition, a powerful institution controlled by those who would delight in Fletcher’s downfall.

The trial is haunted by ghosts from the past with shocking revelations about Fletcher’s origins, but he has little time to dwell on them; the graduating students of Vocans are to be sent deep into the orc jungles to complete a dangerous mission for the king and his council. If they fail, the orcish armies will rise to power beyond anything the Empire has ever seen.

With loyal friends Othello and Sylva by his side, Fletcher must battle his way to the heart of Orcdom and save Hominum from destruction . . . or die trying, in this sequel to The Novice by Taran Matharu.

Review:

First impression:

These COVERS! The artwork is amazing, and I can’t wait to add the hardbacks to my collection.

At the end of The Novice, I was eager to find out what happened after Fletcher was captured and jumped into book two right away. I was surprised that a whole year had passed, and when the trial started, I was intrigued by all the revelations about his past and what had happened while he was in prison. While I want very much to believe the young king, I was left wondering what other ways he would use Fletcher and his friends to achieve his own goals.

What kept me reading (or didn’t).

I knew the little blue gremlin would come into play later in the story, but I wasn’t prepared for the turn the orc backstory took with the appearance of Mother. I am interested to see how her revelations play out in the next books.

Fletcher’s growth as a team leader wasn’t as dramatic as I hoped. His character arc has remained fairly constant other than the revelation of who his parents really are. The intrigue around who the saboteur on the mission was kept me guessing, and I did not suspect the culprit until he was revealed. The way Fletcher kept the team moving despite the distrust among them was admirable, but I felt it was more a testament to who the other characters were than his leadership.

What I am finding I truly love about this series is the interaction the characters have with each other, and the world building is absolutely wonderful. I can envision the settings easily, and the personalities of the demons are interesting and unique. As I think about it, they might be my favorite part of the whole series.

I am quite interested to know what is going on between Fletcher and Silva. I ship it! And based on his growth spurt after the swim in the lave and the cover image for book three, I am guessing little Ignatius is about to surprise everyone.

After taste:

I am enjoying the world the author has created and I’m looking forward to finishing the series to find out what happens to our brave Summoners!

This is a fantastic series for younger YA Fantasy readers. Lots of action, a good moral undertone, and great characters.

About the Author

Matharu, Taran

Taran Matharu is a New York Times bestselling author. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for reading at a very early age. His love for stories developed into a desire to create his own during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.

Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’.

Thanks to Wattpad.com and updating daily, its popularity dramatically increased, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months.

After being featured by NBC News, Taran decided to launch his professional writing career and has never looked back.

Purchase links:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

The Inquisition, by Taran Matharu

The Inquisition

I am loving this one just as much as the first. (Check out my review of The Novice.)

AND – I am incredibly disappointed I can’t make it to Flint, MI tomorrow to meet him during his US tour. What an incredible opportunity it would be! For a list of his tour dates in the states, check out his Facebook Page.

I did however, manage to score some Summoner swag by pre-ordering the series prequel, The Outcast. I also ordered a signed copy that I can’t wait to get. I kinda wish I would have requested a second set of the cards because I won’t be opening these. I’ll store the sealed set with the hardback set of books once I have them.

IMG_1918

Do you pre-order books when cool swag is offered?

Don’t forget to follow my progress on Goodreads!

Silent Harmony, by Michele Scott

 

 

Scott, Michele SILENT HARMONY

Title: Silent Harmony

Author: Michele Scott

Publisher: Skyscape

Release Date: May 28, 2013

Genre: Young Adult, Horses, Peer Pressure

Format: ebook, audio, paperback

Rating: 4 Lattes

Heat Rating: Light Roast

 

Blurb:

Small town seventeen-year-old Vivienne Taylor is a talented equestrian with Olympic dreams and a little something extra going on—she is also an “equine empath,” someone who has the ability to read horses’ minds and moods. When she receives a full scholarship to attend Fairmont Riding Academy, a prep school with a famous riding program, she struggles with homesickness, hazing by the school’s snooty drama queen, intense competition in the sport of three-day-eventing, and the not-altogether-unwelcome interest of a hot guy. On top of all of that the horse given to Vivienne via the scholarship is an animal that she cannot “read” or understand. When Vivienne learns that her new horse Harmony belonged to the school’s vet, who recently died in a freak accident, she senses that the horse’s aloof behavior may be the result of her witnessing this accident. But as a connection begins to unfold between Vivienne and Harmony, Vivienne begins to believe that the vet’s death was no accident at all–but rather murder–and she resolves, at considerable peril, to track down the killer.

Review

First impression:

I had to get about a quarter of the way into this book before I felt connected to Vivienne. The story felt very young YA at first, and I wasn’t sure it was going to be good read for me. BUT – I am glad I stuck with it. The last quarter of the book moved it from a three latte read to a four.

What kept me reading (or didn’t).

Initially, it was my curiosity about Riley that kept me reading, but then I was nearly put off from that when his (and Tristan’s) POV was written in third person while the rest of the book was with Vivienne in first person. It was a jarring transition. (This is the writer in me that had a hard time with this, so take that for what it is worth.) It was nice to get a smattering of the boys’ POV, so once I got used to the change, it didn’t bother me as much.

What I loved was the way Vivienne NEVER backed down from who she was. She went from being a small town girl with not much to her name, to living among the high society of the horse world. But she didn’t try to fit in with them. She was comfortable in her own skin right from the beginning, and didn’t have to make the journey of trying to be something she wasn’t. I LOVED that about the book.

I also appreciated how they boys were boys, and stayed out of the mean girl drama. Riley obviously had his own reasons for keeping away from the girls, and I was so proud of Tristan for finding a way to stand up to the pressure his girlfriend was putting on him.

And – being a horse lover and former eventer myself (in my MUCH younger days!), I truly enjoyed the interaction between Vivienne, Riley, Tristan, and their horses.

After taste.

This is a young YA who-done-it with some great lessons about being true to yourself and trusting your instincts.

Overall impression.

I have no idea if or when I will read the next book, but I would recommend it to young horse lovers and fans of super sweet romance.

About the Author:

Scott, Michele

Michele grew up thirty minutes east of San Diego in an area called Jamul. It was out there in the country that her parents bought Michele’s first horse and she learned how to ride at five. At nine years old she knew she loved to write and one day wrote a short story that she showed to her dad. She’d written it on one of his legal pads. After he read it, he looked at her and said, “You are a writer.” With those words spoken, she’s never stopped writing stories.

She graduated from The University of Southern California with a degree in communications, where she studied journalism and hoped to be a reporter. But deep down inside, she’d never given up on being a fiction author. Fate intervened and during Michele’s senior year at college she became pregnant with her first son who was born six weeks prematurely. She had to stay home with her newborn who needed constant care and it was at that time she decided to write her first book.

She contacted Writer’s Digest and ordered their correspondence course on writing a novel. For ten years Michele kept writing, submitting, attending conferences and workshops and receiving rejections but never giving up.

Finally in March 2004, Jessica Faust at Bookends signed her as a client. One month later Michele received THE CALL from Jessica telling her that she had a publisher—Berkley Prime Crime, and that they wanted to sign her for three books in The Wine Lover’s Mystery Series. “It was surreal, wonderful and a dream come true when my agent called and told me. That night my husband and I got a really nice bottle of Champagne and celebrated.” Then in December that second call came in about The Equine Mystery Series.

Michele has written eight mysteries for Berkley and is currently working on her first women’s fiction novel, which will of course involve wine and probably a horse or two.

Michele writes full time now and lives in San Diego with her very supportive husband, two sons and daughter.

Purchase links:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Currently Reading

CR Silent Harmony (1)

I picked this one up because…well…horses!

I am listening to the audio and it is wonderfully produced and the writing is tight.

However, I think it might be a little too YA for me. I am at 13% and I’m just not all that connected with Vivienne’s character. The story is well written, it just might not be for me.

We shall see.
You can follow my progress on Goodreads.

What are you reading today?

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

 

Thirteen Reasons Why

 

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Group

Release Date: June 14, 2011

Genre: Teen and Young Adult, Social and Family Issues, Suicide

Format: ebook, Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

Rating: 5 Lattes

Heat Rating: Dark to Espresso Roast

 

Blurb

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Review:

First impression.
The only real difficulty I had with the book at first were the descriptions of Clay’s actions. They were inserted at ‘random’ points, sometimes jarringly so, as he listened to the tapes. I suppose it was the only real way to remind you that the whole point was that he was listening and reacting to the story just like you were.

And the effect was impressive. You didn’t get lost in the narration as if someone were telling a story, instead, you were pulled into the emotions and thoughts of Clay as he processed what he was hearing.
What kept me reading (or didn’t).

My husband and I listened to the audio version while on a road trip. We listened to it over the course of two days, the second of which was about 5 hours straight.

I had to request – no, demand – one stop near the middle of the book so I could collect my emotions before listening to the rest.

I knew the context of the book before I started it, which I thought would have prepared me for a heart wrenching read/listen. I was wrong. Having been the victim of what was sometimes severe bullying in school, I was not at all prepared for the emotional impact this story would have on me nearly 30 years after I graduated.

The harder topics in the book (rape, drug and alcohol usage, etc.) were not candy coated, but neither were they presented gratuitously. There was no denying what was happening, how the character felt about the event, or what their reaction was after. To say the emotions in the book are raw would be an understatement.

After taste.

All that being said, I walked away from this end of this book hopeful. Which is good, because there are moments when you absolutely FEEL the hopelessness of all the characters. I was nervous as we got toward the end that the author was going to leave us feeling completely brutalized by the intensity of the story, but at the last moment, the whole story has a purpose, and THAT is what made the emotional wringer of this book worth it.

Overall impression.

I have listened to the audio version twice, and read the ebook.

About the Author:

Asher, Jay

Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing.

He has published only one book to date, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was published in October 2007. He is currently working on his second Young Adult novel, and has written several picture books and screenplays. Thirteen Reasons Why has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review. It also has received high reviews from fellow authors such as Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher, and Gordon Kormon.

Purchase links: 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble