Monday, 29 April 2013

A Short Break

Hello, my lovelies. Just writing this to let you know that once again, exam time  has come a-knocking, and because I am a good egg, I have to prioritize my education over my blog. I'm not taking a full on break, and I'll try and post when I can, but it'll probably be even less frequently than usual, especially seeing as I just plain haven't been reading as much. So, yeah. 

But I'll still be on the internet, as per, mainly because I don't know how to revise without wanting to bang my head repeatedly against my bookshelf and I have to take frequent breaks from it to keep myself from dying. (I am not a good reviser. I think I've already done more revision for my AS levels than I did throughout the whole 5 years I spent in high school and it is NOT FUN.)

Sorry for that rant! So anyway, yeah, a break. That was the point of this.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Letterbox Love #31

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

Woo, look at that quality! I finally found a good use for my new phone ;)

Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike
Imposter by Jill Hathaway (Thanks HarperCollins! Never read any of Aprilynne's books before, but I like the cover of this one, and I enjoyed Slide, too.)
Shadow and Bone/Siege and Storm omnibus by Leigh Bardugo (very exciting post! Thank you Indigo! I've been wanting to reread Shadow and Bone anyway to see if I'd like it more 2nd time around, and now I can read the second book straight after!)
The Drowning by Rachel Ward
You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett (Thank you Chicken House for these two! Not read any of Rachel Ward's books either, but this sounds good. And Sophia Bennett is amazing.)
Kite Spirit by Sita Brahmacharmi (Just reviewed this yesterday, thank you Macmillan!)
The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch (started this yesterday and really enjoying it. Thank you Random House!)

What did you get in your letterbox? :) 

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Kite Spirit review

Kite Spirit
Sita Brahmachari
May 9th 2013
Macmillan Children's Books

During the summer of her GCSEs Kite's world falls apart. Her best friend, Dawn, commits suicide after a long struggle with feeling under pressure to achieve. Kite's dad takes her to the Lake District, to give her time and space to grieve. In London Kite is a confident girl, at home in the noisy, bustling city, but in the countryside she feels vulnerable and disorientated. Kite senses Dawn's spirit around her and is consumed by powerful, confusing emotions - anger, guilt, sadness and frustration, all of which are locked inside. It's not until she meets local boy, Garth, that Kite begins to open up - talking to a stranger is easier somehow. Kite deeply misses her friend and would do anything to speak to Dawn just once more, to understand why . . . Otherwise how can she ever say goodbye? A potent story about grief, friendship, acceptance and making your heart whole again.

I really enjoyed Kite Spirit a lot, but I had a lot of problems connecting to it at the beginning and it took me a while to get into it. However, I liked Kite's story and felt like it was a strong book about grief and suicide and learning how to accept those things.

The main barrier for me was the fact that it was written in 3rd person. Usually, I don't mind and it can be nice to read a book in 3rd person after reading so many that are in 1st (in can get confusing when trying to remember what main characters are called and sometimes the voices all sort of blend into one), but when reading a contemporary, especially that's so personal to the character, I want to be able to get directly into their heads and experience the grief raw and real as it's happening to them, you know? What was weird was that the prologue was in first, and that's what made me want to read it, but then it switched and it just took me a while to adjust. I think that if it had been all the way through in 3rd and we hadn't had that first brief period of 1st person, then I wouldn't have minded as much.

However, despite the emotional disconnect, I did like Kite and the plot of the book a lot. Kite was a really interesting character and it was good to see how her grief about Dawn had affected her so much and really changed her as a person, as well as getting to see her adjust to her situation and just trying to understand it. I could really feel for her. Also, I don't read a lot of books about suicide in general, but it must be a really hard subject to write about and I think that Sita did it really well. I was glad that it was never revealed why Dawn did it (mainly because nobody knew, I guess - she didn't leave a note), but that it was heavily implied that it was just because of the pressure of high school, GCSEs and A Levels, because it's true, we do get a lot of pressure put on us and it isn't fair (this may be more relevant to me especially at this time because I have exams in less than 3 weeks and STRESS.)

Kite Spirit really got going for me when Kite got to the Lake District, because for the first hundred pages or so, it felt like not all that much was happening. Also, you could really tell that Sita knew the Lake District well because the descriptions were so great and I don't think I've ever wanted to go to the Lake District in my life as much I did while reading this book. And the house that they (Kite and her dad, Seth) stayed in just sounded amazing! The people that they met there, too, were some of my favourite parts about the book. Not just Garth (though he was adorable), but Jack and Agnes, and getting to find out parts of their story from when they were young. It was really sweet.

While Kite Spirit wasn't the visceral, emotional read I was hoping for, it was still an interesting and enjoyable and sad book about losing someone you love, and I look forward to reading more of Sita Brahmachari's books.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Touch of Power review

Touch of Power
Maria V Snyder
December 20th 2011


Avry’s power to heal the sick should earn her respect in the plague-torn land of Kazan. Instead she is feared. Her kind are blamed for the horrifying disease that has taken hold of the nation. When Avry uses her forbidden magic to save a dying child, she faces the guillotine. Until a dark, mysterious man rescues her from her prison cell. His people need Avry’s magic to save their dying prince. The very prince who first unleashed the plague on Kazan.

Saving the prince is certain to kill Avry – yet she already faces a violent death. Now she must choose – use her healing touch to show the ultimate mercy or die a martyr to a lost cause?

After reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that Maria V Snyder's books are like crack. I cannot put them down once I've picked them up. It's weird because as much as I love fantasy, it usually takes me a while to settle into the world and get used to the writing and what have you, but with these books I just get sucked straight in.

Generally, I know that I'm in safe hands with Maria V Snyder, but when I started reading the book and realised how Avry's healing powers worked, I was a bit worried that she'd just keep on sacrificing herself for everyone again and again and again (not that there's anything wrong with that, but after a while it gets a bit repetitive). Luckily, I don't think that it was overdone at all. And I liked Avry a lot as well, so there's that. And I did really like the way that her healing magic worked. It does kind of peeve me sometimes when people just go about healing people and all it does it use up a bit of energy. In this world, when a Healer, well, heals someone, they take on the illness or the wound in their own body, and have an increased healing rate than everyone else. It just seemed to make a lot of sense.

My other favourite part of the book was Kerrick. And Belen, too, actually. And the monkeys, and Flea. Basically all of them. Kerrick and Avry's relationship was really well done, and it was all lovely and slow burning and love-hatey and great. And Belen was so lovely. Well, when he wasn't fighting people off. But it made me glad to see male-female relationships that aren't romantic and have them be really important, too (and yes, I know I always go on about this, and it's not even really a problem anymore but still.)

I really liked the backstory behind the plague and the Healers, and Tohon. It was all well developed and the mystery kept me reading as much as the action and the burgeoning romance. And Tohon, boy do I have a lot to say about him. And none of it is good. I mean, he was a good character, but he was such a dick it was unreal. It's been a while since I've read a book with a villian that I've loved hating as much as him. Think the level of hatred Joffery causes you to have, with the best magical powers in the Realm, older, and possibly even more of a megalomaniac. Seriously, what is it with megalomaniacs with super daddy issues getting into power and ruining everything for everyone. 

While Touch of Power was a really enjoyable book, I think I would've fell in love with more if I hadn't read it (kind of) in the shadow of Girl of Fire and Thorns, because that book has both made me crave fantasy and ruined all other fantasy for me by just being so excellent. Reading Touch of Power, though, has reminded me of how much I truly enjoy Maria's books and how much I actually need to finish the Study series and read Scent of Magic and start the Glass series, because even though there have been sort of similarities between this and Poison Study (nothing overt, but just the way the story was told, I guess? It's been a while since I read PS), her books are just so readable and enjoyable.

Touch of Power was a fast paced, exciting, well developed fantasy novel that started the series well, while also being a story contained in itself. If there's anyone out there who's looking for an accessible novel to start themselves off with as a gateway into fantasy, then I'd definitely recommend this (or any of her books, really).

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Dead Silence review

Dead Silence
Kimberly Derting
16th April 2013

Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.

When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.

Dead Silence, while not being my favourite of the Body Finder series, was great. The tension is amped up and it's as creepy as ever, as well as revealing some things that we about the team that Violet's a part of and  her own ability.

The main reason that I think I didn't quite enjoy Dead Silence like I had The Last Echo was because I was just sort of expecting more. It's the last book in the Body Finder series, but it didn't really feel like it at all. I like the fact that all of the mysteries in the books are separate, but for the final book I was expecting something with way more oomph, like some sort of conspiracy-murder thing going on with the actual team. The series of murders that were in the books were really interesting and exciting and horrifying, but I think that they would have been better earlier on in the series while something even more central to Violet's life happened than what did actually happen at the end.

I still enjoyed the murderer's chapters, though, as always. Well, maybe enjoyed isn't exactly the right word... But you know what I mean. It's like when you get to see flashbacks of the crime happening in CSI or something. Just makes the books that much more interesting, on top of the whole Girl-who-can-find-dead-people-with-psychic-powers thing. Let's not forget about that. But yeah, the killer in this book is seriously damaged. Like, there may have been a little bit nearish the beginning where I was like, wow your life has really sucked, but that soon changed. It was just so uncomfortable to read about him and his 'family' and his need for control. Seriously, I don't know how Kimberly Derting does it, but I'll be damned if she doesn't write a good psychopath. Okay, that's probably not the most PC way I could've put that, but it is true!

Ah, Violet. And Jay. They were both great in Dead Silence, too, and I still love them together. They're alright as a fictional couple because sometimes when people get together they are just all over each other all the time and it's gross, but Violet and Jay are pretty great and not Too Much around each other. Also, Violet learns a lot more about her ability in this book as the result of her reading her grandmother's diaries (the one who had the same powers as her) and of her discovering a particularly gruesome crime scene. I thought that the developments were interesting and it was nice to get some more information and what it is she can actually do, as well as seeing how she responded to that information. 

Going to just keep this one short because I don't want to reveal too much about what happens, but Dead Silence is a solid final book and while I wish that the mystery had been a bit bigger or that there had just been more to it, as well as a less open ending, I enjoyed it a lot and I'll miss the Body Finder series and it's characters muchly.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Going Vintage review

Going Vintage
Lindsey Leavitt
April 1st 2013

Sixteen-year-old Mallory loves her boyfriend, Jeremy. Or at least likes him more than she's ever liked any other boy. She's sure he feels the same way. Until she happens upon his online Authentic Life game and discovers he's cheating on her Mallory's life is falling apart and technology is the cause. And then she finds a list, written by her grandma when she was Mallory's age. All her grandma had to worry about was sewing dresses and planning dinner parties. Things were so much simpler in the 1960s. And there's nothing on the list that Mallory couldn't do herself. Maybe it's time for Mallory to go vintage and find the answers to her modern-day problems.

If I had to sum up Going Vintage in one word, it would be cute.  Like, downright-adorable-if-it-were-a-person-I'd-pinch-their-cheeks-CUTE. It wasn't amazing, but it was very enjoyable and I really loved the concept behind it. Probably one of the more (if not most) original YA contemps that I've read - though to be fair I haven't really read all that many.

I liked Mallory a lot. When we meet her in the book, it's just before she finds out that her boyfriend Jeremy has been cheating on her with a cyberwife, meaning that we get to see how she felt about him before as well as everything after. It took me a while to get to like Mallory, not because she's unlikeable, but just because... I don't even really know. I just didn't connect with her straight away. It might just be because I rarely read books where the main character has a boyfriend at the start of the book who they've been with for a year and who they love. However, I completely thought that her reaction to Jeremy's cyberwife was justified and even though the while anti-technology 1960's thing might have seemed like a step too far, it was really fun to read about.

I cannot imagine life without technology. Especially after reading this and seeing how much Mallory struggled with it at first. But I do think it makes a good pint about how much technology has become part of our lives and how hard we would find it/how different it would be to live without it after becoming so used to it. I'm not saying technology is a bad thing (I wouldn't even be here [on this blog, not in general] if it wasn't for technology) but it did make me realise how dependent I am on the internet and just having the convenience of these things. I have the utmost admiration for Mallory though for being able to pull it off! I would've caved after, like, an hour. 

Also, the fact that it was specifically the 60's that she was trying to emanate made it that much better. I hadn't known before that everything she was trying to do was based on a list she'd found from her grandmothers sophomore year. I don't know that much about the 60's in America so it was interesting from that perspective, as well as it just being cute and a refreshing way to go about reinventing yourself. Though it's not that Mallory intended that with the 60's thing, it just sort of happened along the way as a result of it and the people she met because of it.

Speaking of people, I loved Oliver. He's the slightly hipster-y love interest and Douchebag Jeremy's cousin, and Mallory's opinion of him at first is not all that great, but after getting to know him through Pep Club (the club she had to create so she could be its secretary - it was on the list) we realise that he's actually a pretty great guy. And even though the love story isn't central, it is very cute. My favourite character (and relationship) in the book was without a doubt Mallory's younger sister Ginny. She was just awesome and it kind of made me wish that I had that good of a relationship with my sister. She's clever and witty and a soccer sports star and only, like, 14 and she's so down to earth and realistic about stuff and I want to be her friend a little bit.

Going Vintage was a super cute read that's perfect for passing the time on a sunny day, and though I didn't quite enjoy it as much as I did Sean Griswold's Head, it's still sweet and funny and a little bit romantic which is all I really need in a contemp.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Letterbox Love #30

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (I really liked Under The Never Sky, so I'm looking forward to this - even though I don't remember much that happened in book 1...)
Let's Get Lost by Sarra Manning (Sarra Freaking Manning. I love her.)
(not pictured) Nobody's Girl by Sarra Manning (Already read and reviewed this here)
Ferryman by Claire McFall (Sort of an impulse buy. I liked the sound of it, is all. Not heard much about it.)
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt (Already read this and it's SO CUTE.)

Angelfall by Susan Ee (A lovely surprise from Hodder! I didn't know it was getting traditionally published. Heard great things about it!)
Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (Already read it and really enjoyed it, thought it's not my fave in the series. Thank you Headline!)

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers (Won it from Fatima, who is constantly telling me to read one of Courtney Summers's books. Thank you!)

What did you get in your letterbox? :)

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Girl of Fire and Thorns review

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Rae Carson
September 20th 2011

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

I love fantasy. It's something that I only fairly recently learnt about myself, but I do. High fantasy is an amazing genre. And Girl of Fire and Thorns is easily one of the best high fantasy books that I've read, full stop. It had the perfect combination of an amazingly well realised setting, incredible character development, well done relationships and a ruthless plot (and if you've read it, you'll know what I mean. I'm still a bit in shock.)

Elisa was a wonderful character. The easiest way for me to explain her arc to you is that she's a bit like a crossover between Sansa Stark and Dany Targaeryen (though that last one might be a little bit because Elisa sounds a bit like Khaleesi). She's both thrown suddenly into court which she has to learn to navigate to survive, and she has to learn to take authority and become a ruler. And there's a lot of stuff that happens with her in the desert when she starts to take the lead on a small rebellion with the Hill people. That last sentence probably didn't make any sense to you whatsoever, but it's difficult to explain. What I'm trying to say is that she is a really, really well developed character who undergoes a lot of physical and emotional changes due to a lot of suffering and sacrifice, and having to change just to learn to cope and move on from those things.

The world building was awesome. Just Rae Carson's prose alone blew my socks off (I cannot believe that this is a debut novel), and you can tell that each sentence has been crafted with purpose. Usually with beautifully written books, it can sometimes feel like the plot is dragging a bit because they can get a bit bogged down with description, but I didn't feel that happen very often with Girl and Fire and Thorns. The balance between description and action felt just about right. I loved the world, too. It was a bit like, Spain/Mediterranean mixed with North Africa mixed with the Middle East - the overall impression being hot and sandy. It was refreshing for me to read a fantasy that wasn't set in a more English Medieval-type setting, and I really liked the way the culture was expressed, as well as the way that the religion aspect was intertwined in the story.

In fact, the religious aspect is going to get it's own paragraph. My main worry with Girl of Fire and Thorns was that the Religion would be too much and that it would start to feel a bit preachy, but because it's a fantasy it isn't really a specified religion anyway and it wasn't as much about God as it was about Elisa's relationship with God and her coming to terms with why she was chosen and what she was supposed to do. It worked really well, and if it was something that may have been putting you off of reading it, then I assure you that it only enriches the novel's world and our understanding of the characters.

The cast of side characters is also awesome. Elisa, before she was married to Alejandro, had never really had that many friends apart from her lady's maids Aneaxi and Ximena, and while they both go with to Joya D'Arena (the country that Alejandro is king of), she soon gets separated from them. When she's in the desert, we get to meet Humberto and his sister Cosme who guide her across the desert to where the Hill people live near the outskirts of the country, and she realises that the war with Invierne had never really ended, and that they were still attacking the villages and burning them down. I loved Humberto from about the first page we met him, but Cosme ended up being one of my favourite characters by the end, too. She's very guarded and can be mean and unfriendly, but her and Elisa also end up being really good friends by the end. Also, Lord Hector. I cannot wait to see more with him and Elisa in the next book, and I kind of hope that he'll end up being the love interest. But even if he isn't, I like his and Elisa's friendship a lot (reminds me a little bit of Ser Jorah and Dany. Okay, enough withdrawing GoT parallels.)

Another of my favourite things about this book is that even though it's the first book of a trilogy  it was also a story of it's own. It didn't just feel like a book that was setting up the overall plot of a series, it was all like one, closed off story. I think that it must have set up a lot of things for the next books, too, but I really enjoyed getting to read a book in a series without it ending on a horrible cliffhanger. And I'm really, really glad that it is a trilogy because I would be really upset it that was it and I didn't get to spend any more time in these character's world.

I definitely haven't covered everything in this review, but I really did love this book, and I happily recommend it to anyone who's a fan of high fantasy because it is just so good. I need to find a copy of Crown of Embers right now.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Nobody's Girl review

Nobody's Girl
Sarra Manning
February 4th 2010
Hodder Children's Books

Bea thinks she's the most boring seventeen-year-old in the world. She's not pretty or popular or funny, unlike her mother who had Bea when she was 17. The only glamorous thing about Bea is the French father who left before she was born and lives in Paris. She yearns for la vie Parisienne every moment of her dull existence. 

So when Ruby Davies, the leader of her school's most elite clique picks Bea as her new best friend and asks her to go on holiday with them, she's wary but delighted. If nothing else it's two weeks away from her over-protective mother . But when the gang arrive in Spain, Bea is crushed to realise that Ruby and her posse have simply been using her. 

Bea wreaks vengeance on her so-called friends, and plans to decamp to Paris to find her father. But when she falls asleep on the train and wakes up in Bilbao, she meets a group of American students who are backpacking around Europe and bonds with them straight away, especially the gorgeous Toph, who helps heal Bea's hurting heart. And though Bea has a shock in store when they finally get to Paris, the 'City of Lovers ' really works it magic on Bea and Toph, who spend a week wandering the sun-dappled streets of Paris, talking, holding hands and falling in love. 

When it comes time to go home to confront her Mum about her mysterious father, the new version of Bea is determined that she 'll never go back to her old, boring way of life - she's no longer Nobody's Girl; she belongs to herself and to Toph...But with an ocean between them, will he wait for her?

I think that Sarra Manning is going to end up being one of my favourite authors if the rest of her books are anything like this (or the other book by her that I've read, Adorkable). Nobody's Girl is just a really, really great contemporary with a heroine that I adored and a love interest who was just, well, lovely. I think it's gone straight up to the top of my list of favourite contemps, right with Anna and the French Kiss, Adorkable and Just One Day.

For about the first 100 pages or so, I could have sworn that Bea was actually me. That's the great thing about her. She's so easy to relate to (though I think that I could officially take the crown for 'Most Boring Teenager'.) The only problem is, when I read books like this and Just One Day about girls who think that they're boring and then go off and have awesome adventures - usually in Paris- with a hot foreign boy, and get some gumption and find themselves along the way, it makes me want to go on adventures! That being said, I loved seeing Bea getting to figure out who she is and accept the new angrier, more assertive side to herself that she hadn't really been aware of. There were times where I just thought that she was being immature or silly and I wanted to shake her, but that's all part of realism and it wouldn't be right if she'd just acted all fine and perfect through the whole book.

Can we also just talk about Toph for a bit. Because, let me tell you, you will love him. I still can't get the hang of saying his name right, though (it's supposed to rhyme with 'loaf' because it's short for Christopher, but I watch a lot of Avatar The Last Airbender and there's a girl called Toph in that and it's pronounced like 'scoff'. I didn't really need all of that to explain it. I just thought that I would anyway...) We don't meet him until about 100 odd pages in, and we don't get to see a lot of him until about 150 pages in because at first him and Bea don't really get along all that well, but their romance is slow burning and just perfect. And the epilogue! Jeez, I nearly died from the cute. Seriously.

I like books that are set in Paris a lot, almost as much as I like books set in London (or just England/the UK in general) because Paris is one of the few places outside of the UK that I've actually been, albeit only for about 4 days about 4 years ago, so I can actually sort imagine where they're going - even when they got stuck in a hotel in the red light district near the Moulin Rouge (and yes, after all these years I've finally figured out that moulin is French for windmill. I did French for 3 years, folks.) (s.n - we get lost a lot when we go on holidays. I've accidentally ended up in more red light districts than I ever want to see - thought not the really really skeevy dangerous ones, don't worry.) I just want to go to Paris again so badly after reading this, and walk around and go to all the places that Bea and Toph went to. Maybe next year...

A lot of people (I say a lot...) thought that the beginning was quite slow and that they almost stopped reading, and I was fully prepared to feel the same way, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I think it may have been mostly due to the fact that I could see myself a lot in Bea, but I also think that it was really important to see all of the events that lead up to Bea deciding to leave Malaga. I wanted Ruby and her friends to so badly actually be nice and like Bea, though, so I was kind of upset to find out that they'd just used her so they could get permission to go on holiday without parental supervision. I really liked what Bea did after though. Some might say that it was a bit over the top, but they totally got what they deserved and I wish that I could one day have the balls to do something like that is somebody pretended to be my friend for 3 months, and then treated me like shit when they'd got what they wanted. You go, Bea. Four for you, Bea.

If you like contemporary books and are yet to be introduced to the delight that is Sarra Manning, I think that this is a perfect place to start. I love Adorkable more than I can say, but a lot people don't gel with Jeane (can I just say that I loved seeing Jeane in this, even if it was for a really brief mention!), and Nobody's Girl is a great place to begin. I really loved it, and I think that if you like contemp then you will love it too.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Clockwork Princess review

Clockwork Princess
Cassandra Clare
19th March 2013
Walker Books

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

 *I can not guarantee that this review will be spoiler free. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK*

I'm going to preemptively start this review by warning any of you who are reading this that I didn't love this book. I'm getting that off of my chest at the get-go because I figure if you want to read a review that's just fangirling for it, don't waste your time here. Sure, there were a lot of parts that I enjoyed, and it wasn't bad, and I will happily leave links at the end to more positive reviews, it's just that after this book I am done with Cassie Clare. It's nothing personal, her books have just lost their magic for me, and that saddens me a lot, but whatever. That just happens sometimes.

Let's start this with the positives. I loved the side characters plots - Sophie, Gideon, Gabriel, Cecily, Charlotte and Henry. I love those guys like WHOA. I would happily read a whole book that was just about them. Cassie Clare has a real talent with crafting completely loveable, realistic side characters that I want to cuddle and protect them from all the horrible stuff that's going on with Mortmain and the Consul. Also, I thought all of the little romances that were going on between them were adorable and just their presence helped lighten the atmosphere of the book (which really did need a bit of lightening up). I also thought that Cecily and Will's relationship was really well done, though I think I wanted more of it in the second half of the book.

Cassie's writing in this book was also, I think, some of the best it's ever been. The descriptions were rich and alive, and even though there were times that I found myself thinking 'was that description really necessary' or just generally cringing at the more romantic bits, for the most part it was great. And despite my general dislike of poetry, I do like the snippets that come at the start of every chapter and getting to see how they tie in with the chapter and the book as a whole.

However, I spent much of my time reading the book just being generally annoyed and apathetic. It took me over a week to read it because I found myself just not being bothered. Before I really get in on the negatives, I just want to emphasise that these were my own personal problems with the book and that I am not blaming Cassie for my lack of enjoyment at all. Want to get that out in case any voracious CC fangirls read this, get the wrong idea and try and kill me in my sleep. 

The core of my annoyance with Clockwork Princess was with the love triangle. I probably wouldn't have minded it as much if I had reread the other books in the series first and reassessed how I felt about those (and remembered everything that had actually happened in them) before I'd started this one, but I just didn't have the time. Maybe in the future I'll marathon the whole series and my feelings will change. It's just that I don't really like Tessa that much, and I don't really like Will that much any more and Jem spent much of the book not really being in the book (for reasons that I won't say) and it was all just so dramatic and over the top that I probably spent more time rolling my eyes than actually reading. It's fine if you like that kind of thing, that whole self-sacrificing, super romantic thing, but it kind of gets on my nerves. I don't remember it being that bad in the earlier books.

Again, before anybody freaks out and screams at me for not really liking Tessa or Will, let me explain why. I don't like Tessa because I feel like, similarly to Clary, she's boring and a non-entity. She has no personality, and I don't understand why everybody loves her. I don't hate her, she just doesn't interest me at all as a character, and I feel like instead of being given evidence for why everyone loves her, we just get told time and time again how great she is. And bloody hell! Would people please stop referring to her as being like Boudicea! She is one of the least Boudicea-y people I've read about because as much as Tessa is bookish and clever and brave (I will give her that) she is not by any stretch of the imagination a warrior. If anything, I feel like Bridget is the unsung hero of this book because without her at least 5 of the main characters would be dead. Bridget is the Boudicea in this trilogy. And Will. Yes, he's witty and funny, and I like him when he's like that, but on the other hand he is such a drip! I liked it in small doses, and I don't think that it's a bad character trait, it's just that it was so piled on in this book that it annoyed me a bit. *takes deep breaths* I'm sorry, I didn't realise I had this much pent up frustration about this book. 

Finally, I felt like the plot with Mortmain and the Infernal Devices climaxed way too early. I understand that the trilogy needed to be wrapped up nice and neatly, but the actual action finished about 110 pages from the end of the book. I know it's a fairly hefty tome, and there's a lot of loose ends, but there was not 110 pages of loose ends that needed tying up I can assure you. Three chapters and an epilogue. Three chapters and an epilogue to basically say all of the couples who you knew were going to get together got engaged/married, and epilogue-y stuff (details of which I shall not reveal because spoilers - though, yes, the epilogue did annoy me, though I can see why people would like it and think that it was sweet).  

I'm sorry about this. I did want to like this book more that I did, but I just found it irritating in a lot of places. I'm kind of disappointed by the fact that I didn't even cry once. The ending was far too neat and cuddly for me, and the fact that Tessa'a relationship with each of the boys took precedence over their bond too each other frustrated me too, and that that everyone was just so OK with everything. That being said, most people loved it and if you haven't read this book or this series, I wouldn't let my review put you off unless you've had the same problems as me with her other books. And if you did read it and like it, please tell me! I welcome discussion, just don't hate (even though I know I did get a bit ranty and I apologise for that - I may be being a bit unfair in places, and I'm probably going to regret ever posting this, but I don't want it to come across like I'm all out hating on this book because I'm not. It just looks like I am. That always happens with books where my overall feeling is disappointment. Maybe I just need to not write reviews for books that have stressed me out about ten minutes after I finish reading them.) 

Here are some links to some reviews from people who liked this book more than I did: 

Mundie Moms, Queen of Contemporary (contains spoilers for CP2), Jess Hearts Books (Spoilers), Starry Eyed Revue (Audiobook), Carina's Books - and many, MANY more. Just check out it's Goodreads page and you will see.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Getting Over Garrett Delaney review

Getting Over Garrett Delaney
Abby McDonald
2nd May 2013
Walker Books

Can a twelve-step program help Sadie kick her unrequited crush for good? Abby McDonald serves up her trademark wit and wisdom in a hilarious new novel.

Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly one-sided. The object of her obsession — ahem, affection — is her best friend, Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie’s feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep-blue eyes). For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett’s constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to '80s indie rock — all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder — until he calls to say he’s fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she’s finally had enough. It’s time for a total Garrett detox! Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized self-help guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

Do you know how long it's been since I last read a cute, contemporary book? Do you?! You probably don't, but I can assure it has a been a while. After bogging myself down in January and February with heavy fantasy novels and serious books with little to no fun, I decided that to cheer myself up just as the sun was (finally) starting to break out in late March, I should read a nice, fun, summery book. (Edit, I take back that finally because it's the 4th of April and it's SNOWING. STILL.)

Sadie is completely in love with her best friend Garrett and has been since she first met him. Unfortunately, he's never reciprocated her feelings, and when he goes off to a summer writing camp that Sadie couldn't go to and tells her that he is once again in love with someone else, she finally decides to get over him. Now, I (and I am sure many, if not all readers) of this book will be very glad about this, because I am telling you now Garrett is a Douchebag with a capital D. I don't blame Sadie at all though for falling in love with him - if I'd been reading a book of poetry in a coffee shop when some hot, smart boy came in  and started a conversation with me about it, I probably would've fainted. But beyond the surface of being  that hot, smart boy, Garrett is an egocentric, superficial, pretentious, clingy douchebag, and making the decision to get over him was probably the smartest thing that Sadie has ever done.

I liked Sadie a lot, but I liked her more after Garrett went off to camp. I enjoyed getting a new perspective in a contemp and not have it be all about falling in love with a guy like Garrett, instead getting to see the bad side to people like that and how toxic it can be to pretend to be friends with someone that you're obsessively in love with. Not only that, Sadie had spent so much time trying to make Garrett love her back by being into all the same things that Garrett was into even if she didn't really like them, and she'd sort of lost herself along the way. Really, at it's heart, this is a book of self-discovery and moving on. There is a bit of romance on the sidelines, but it's subtle and it's not vital to the plot in the same way that Sadie's new friends - LuAnn and Kayla -are.

Can I just say that I absolutely loved LuAnn and Kayla. Scrap that, I loved everyone who worked at the coffee shop (Totally Wired) that Sadie gets a summer job at. Even Dominique. They were all there to help her with her Detox program that she made up and backed her up with everything, even though there were times when they argued. They helped her not reinvent herself as such, but figure out who she is without all the Garrett, and also how to make friends with people who aren't Garrett. He'd been, really, her only actual friend for about two years.

The whole book kind of reminded of Sarah Dessen. It just had that sort of vibe where family and friends and self-discovery are the centre of the book, and though I think it was funnier than a Sarah Dessen book (it genuinely made me laugh out of loud a few times - there are some very cringey/unbelievable scenes), I think that it just lacked that sort of charm and, well, Dessen-ness that her books have. And I know that it isn't trying to be a Dessen book and that I'm just making tenuous links to one of the few contemporary authors that I actually obsessively read (it's April and I haven't even reread any of her books this year - I'M A MONSTER), but I think that it's there, and that I would recommend it to Sarah Dessen fans.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney (I keep on wanting to write Garrett Hedlund... I think that would've been a VERY different book) is a very cute, warm and funny contemp that I enjoyed a lot, but it's not one of my favourites. I would definitely recommend to to anyone just looking for a cute summery read like I was, though. 
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