Saturday, March 31, 2012

April Reading List

April Reading List: Angels and Demons

Okay I have a problem focusing on books, or better said, trying to decide which ones to read.  I've developed system after system, but nothing ever seems right.  So, I've decided for this month to coincide my reading with a Goodreads Group, Never to Old For YA.  It seemed the simplest solution... and I was already kinda on track.  For April they have decided to read about two topics: Angels and Demons.   They have done all the work and I just picked some up from my library. 

So here's the list...
1. City of Glass
2. City of Fallen Angels
3. The Space Between
4. Hex Hall
5. Demonglass
6. Spellbound
7. Fallling Under
8. Forsaken Series
9. A Touch Mortal
10. Daughter of Smoke and Bones
11. Embrace
12. Illuminate
13. A Beautiful Dark
14. Forbidden

Other books not in this genre:
1. True Love and Other Lies
2. My Summer of Southern Discomfort

This seems like my best solution.  One, it helps me stay organized.  Two, it keeps me actively participating in a reading group. Three, these books are already on my TBR, DBA, and BBR list so I get to complete my challenges at the same time.  If this works, I think I have found a new system for my reading selection. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Reading Reflection: Wither

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1)
by Lauren Destefano
Published March 22, 2011
P. 358
Rating: 4/5

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems.

Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom

What a super creepy book.  The whole concept, the characters, and the setting -- all of it-- just super creepy.  In this novel the newer generations only live to the ages of 20 for women and 25 for men.  Because of this short life span women are kidnapped by the wealthy and forced to marry.  In this situation Rhine, Cecily, and Jenna are all chosen out of a group of stolen women to marry Linden. 

Rhine is not at all happy about this situation like Cecily is, or willing to accept this fate as Jenna is, instead she plans and plots to escape.  She spends the time in the novel earning the trust of her new husband Linden to gain access the other women do not have, in other words to be the first wife, the favorite. 

She builds relationships with her "sister wives" (another uber creepy concept).  Young Cecily is entirely to excited to be a Mrs. and does everything to make their husband happy.  Jenna knows she'll be dying soon and feels this place is as good as any.  Rhine wants an escape to find her twin brother.  They work together at times and really form a bond, each taking different roles in the mansion. 

Rhine also builds a relationship with a servant in the mansion: Gabriel.  They spend time talking when they can, share a kiss or two, and when Rhine plans her escape she is determined to take him with her.  The only real problem is Vaughn, the master of the house and Linden's father.  He is the real villian.  He is cruel and manipulating, definitely that mad scientist vibe going on in everything he does. 

Now, my weird quirk with this book is how bad I feel for Linden, the husband.  He had no idea that these girls were captured and are being held hostage.  He assumed they came willingly, he's so naive I actually feel bad for him.  Not only that, he really loves Rhine.  I feel sooo sorry for him.  Is that considered Stockholm's Syndrome?  Because his father is the lunatic, not him.  I hope he realizes his father is evil and does something -- anything. 


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reading Reflection: Born Wicked

Born Wicked
by Jessica Spotswood
Published February 7th 2012
P. 330
Rating: 4/5

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other

I really enjoyed this book.  It wasn't anything overly amazing or awe inspiring, but it was a really well written and interesting read.  Furthermore, I was able to devour the entire novel in one sitting, which I love to do.

The story is based on Cate Cahill, a witch and her two sisters: Tess and Maura.  After their mother died Cate has taken her role as the oldest very seriously.  She is devoted to protecting her two younger sisters, something she takes to extremes at times.  She prevents them from practicing magic, but the two younger girls are rebellious and don't take the matter seriously.  They should, the Brotherhood persecutes and condemns all suspected of being witches. 

Cate finds a note form her mother which warns her about a prophecy, but doesn't offer any real solutions.  So now she has to worry about her sisters, the prophecy, and decide who or if she'll marry in the next several months. 

Her marriage predicament seems to be the easiest to fix since her only suitor is her lifelong friend Paul.  He came back into the area and has declared his intention on marrying Cate, which seems better than her other options: joining the Sisterhood or having the Brotherhood find her a husband.   Paul seems like the perfect solution.  He's handsome, funny, and has known Cate all his life. 

But, Finn gets in the way.  Finn is Cate's gardener and they share some chemistry.  Though he isn't wealthy, like Cate, they can't fight their attraction for one another.  So Cate makes her decision by the end of this book, but its based on her need to protect her sisters.

Like I said earlier this book is very well written, the characters were interesting, and there were enough little twists in the story line that kept me from falling asleep until I knew how it ended.  I will definitely be looking for book two.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reading Reflection: Fracture

by Megan Miranda
Published January 17th 2012
P. 262
Rating: 3/5

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

Fracture starts with Delaney Maxwell falling through the ice of a lake and her best friend, Decker, finally pulls her out after 11 minutes.  She should be dead, but she isn't.  Instead the doctors scan her brain and find brain damage, but Delaney appears to be utterly normal... except for the weird pull in her brain toward people who are dying.  It was a little strange, but interesting.  She also meets Troy, someone who also developed the same ability after being in a coma. 

I feel that this book could have been soooo much better, that it didn't quite reach its full potential. It still wasn't a bad read, but it could have been so much more.  What I mentioned above is it, that's all.  Well, no, I'm lying.  There's a inkling of romantic interest that begins with Troy and a painfully obvious one with her best friend Decker -- but other than that the story felt flat.  I'm not sure what the story lacked, maybe tension or real suspense, but I never the emotional roller coaster I do when I read books.  I didn't even realize Troy was supposed to be the villain until the end.  I never felt Delaney's struggle with her new draw to the almost dead.  The only time I felt anything was during those awkward and frustrating moments with Decker.

So that's it.  The story had potential that I feel was never really reached, but this is a debut novel so II feel the authors work can only get better from here.       

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reading Reflection: City of Ashes

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #2)
by Casssandra Clare
Published March 25th 2008
P. 453
Rating: 3/5

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

This book captured my attention more than the first one.  The storyline and the writing seemed better refined and I started to appreciate the characters more.  I found myself returning to the first book to clarify some points that I seemed to skim through because I wasn't entirely interested the first time around. 

In the previous book, City of Bones, Clary finds out about her mother's past and the world of Shadowhunters.  The only way to save Jocelyn (her mom) is to track down Valentine (her newly discovered and crazy evil father).  Clary is a bit clueless, or like a fish out of water when it comes to this Shadowhunter business, but she tries so I give her credit for that. 

Jace is under scrutiny by the Inquisitor, Imogen Herondale.  She suspects him of being further involved with Valentine than he says, but she also holds her own personal vendetta against Valentine.  What I liked about her appearance in this novel is that it provides a genealogical link to Will Herondale from the Clockwork Angel... I have my own suspicions, but I'll wait until reading the series to see if I'm right.

The real twist to this story is that Simon and Clary are attempting to date, but she is completely taken by Jace... her brother.  Granted they didn't know they were siblings, but now they do and can't seem to stop pursuing each other.  Weird.  It's a little unnerving that they have such a strong attraction to one another... very strange.

Luke and Simon are characters I'm starting to appreciate in this book as well.  I love Luke.  I like his role in Clary's life and I hope he remains in it.  Simon too.  I don't like the dating theme between him and Clary, but I like all the other aspects of his character.  Now that he's a vampire I hope stuff works out for him, I find him endearing (but not right for Clary).   

All in all I liked this book much better than the first, it motivated me to read the series.  But, I still find it difficult to navigate through the excessive language.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reading Reflection: City of Bones

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1)
by Cassandra Clare
Published March 27th 2007
p. 485
Rating: 3/5

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . 

I wasn't a big fan of this book, it wasn't horrible, but I didn't love it.  I read the Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince and loved those books, this one fell short of my expectations.  It wasn't as well written as the other two. 

I did like the book.  I liked the characters: Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabel, Alec, and Hodge.  But I couldn't help but to compare them to Tessa, Will, and Gem.  These modern characters seemed milder in comparison and I didn't know if I liked it our not.  When compared to Tessa, Clary just seemed obnoxious, which doesn't seem fair.  On her own she wasn't bad, sort of spunky, but mild at the same time.  I didn't find Jace any way near as severe as Will.  Will was hurtful, Jace just seemed brutally honest.  However, their were definite similarities in their roles. 

In this story Clary discovers the world of Shadowhunters and all that it entails, including a witty, sarcastic, and somewhat rude boy named Jace.  Along with all this, she finds herself closer to this group than she would have thought possible: her mother was once a Shadowhunter.  However, something from the past has come and her mother is gone. Clary is thrown into this new world without the slightest idea of what to expect or how to save her mom.  The story takes you into Clary discovering her own history, the one her mother tried to conceal.   

I think my biggest problem with the book was my confusion.  It was like BAM! Shadowhunters, runes, marks, and weapons with names.  Did that get explained?  Did I miss it?  Why do the weapons have names?  I didn't get it.  I don't know if I missed this information or it was simply never provided, but I wish I knew more about all these little facts. 

Other than that, it was a decent storyline, the characters were entertaining enough, the writing was a little excessive, but I still enjoyed the novel.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reading Reflection: Divergent

by Veronica Roth
Published May 3rd 2011
p. 487
Rating: 5/5

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

Alright, I thought I was opposed to dystopian novels because of the first series I read in this genre, Hunger Games, but apparently I just wasn't very fond of those three books.  It made me hesitate to check out Divergent, but I'm glad I did... I liked this book sooo much better. 

The concept behind Divergent is that at the age of 16 everyone must decide what faction they will devote the rest of their lives to: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite.  They can decide to go along with their families, or choose something entirely different.  However, once the decision is made the person is expected to live accordingly for the rest of their lives.

Beattrice, later taking on the name Tris, is from a family originally Abnegation - the selfless group.  Everyone in this faction places others' needs and wants above their own.  They live life plainly with very strict rules always placing others first.  Tris decides after 16 years of being associated with the  Abnegation, she wanted to  join the Dauntless faction -- the brave.

Um, the Dauntless are crazy.  They jump on and off moving trians, off roofs, learn hand to hand combat, shoot guns, throw knives, and are expected to face their own fears.  I thought it was very interesting that a girl who was not allowed to look in the mirror (because it promotes vanity) or speak at the dinner table would choose this type of faction.  But she did, was awesome at it, and has a secret.

Tris is a unique character.  There is something almost cold and rigid about her, but I found her fascinating.  I expected someone from the Abnegation group to be almost timid and mild, but she wasn't.  She excelled in the Dauntless faction.  I enjoyed reading about her bravery and how she simply just seemed to fit in so seamlessly into the group.  The good thing about her was that she wasn't hostile, or brutal, like some of the other characters who joined the faction.  She really encompassed the meaning of bravery.

Of course there is a love interest, Four, who turns out to be Tobias.  He is one of Tris' trainers and always seems to be providing support, however she may need it.  I'm glad they get together because they remind me of one another.  They're are both strong, but compassionate at the same time. 

Along with training to ensure she stays in a faction and dealing with a relationship, Tris has to deal with her secret: she is a Divergent.  I'm still not entirely sure what it means, but if certain people find out she won't survive.  Also, this trait of hers comes in handy at the end of the story, when things go awry and a war begins. 

I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the characters and the plot, they were really interesting and the story was very well put together.  I cannot wait for the next book in the series. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reading Reflection: Pandemonium

by Lauren Oliver
Publushed February 28th 2012
P. 375
Rating: 5/5

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Holy extremely awkward ending Batman!
I've been waiting for this book forever.. okay not forever.  I only read Delirium last month, but 30 days felt like a long time. 

Okay, I'm not sure if I love this book for the sole purpose of loving the book or because it left me super amped for the next one.  I haven't yet decided, but there is minimal or possibly nothing I found really wrong with the plot line. 

In the previous book, Lena and Alex tried to escape into the wilds, but Alex didn't make it which literally broke my heart.  I loved Alex and Lena together, after reading the first book I had to submerge myself in hours of Family Guy to get over my depression.  This book picks up right after that horrible instance.  However, the author flips back and forth between different time periods of Lena's life.  One chapter in the Wilds, the next chapter present day, one chapter in the Wilds, the next chapter present day, and so forth.  I have to admit, a ridiculously embarrassing dumb moment kept me from understanding the first few chapters, then I remembered that I had critical thinking skills and used them. 

Then... I loved the concept.  Every other chapter you saw Lena's struggle through heart break, loss, and unfamiliarity in the Wilds.  You learned about the characters that created this new home, their struggle, and the process of Lena acclimating to the new environment.  Then, the other chapters you get to see Lena and her new role, taking on responsibilites and missions for the resistance... it was like two stories in one and I liked the style. 

Now, in Lena's new role, or her mission, she is told to follow Julian: a young man whose family is a major part of the cure.  They both get kidnapped and held hostage together.  Needless to say they grow a bond.  Do I like Julian, not at first because I love Alex, but I see how the relationship can build.  I also felt that Lena had changed roles with Alex.  He was the one who introduced her to new ideas, sensations, and love.  Now Lena is playing that role with Julian.  He might be slightly brainwashed, but theirs hope, curiosity, and strength in him - which is why I can't hate him.  He reminds me of clueless Lena.

Now... the last page of this book... HOLY HORIFFICALLY AWKWARD MOMENT BATMAN!
That's all I have to say.  I don't know if I should wish bad things on Lauren Oliver or applaud her for ingeniousness, because the next book I'll be purchasing the day it is released. 

Reading Reflection: Before I Fall

Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver
Published March 2nd 2010
P. 470
Rating: 3/5

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Is it possible to hate the lead character so much in the beginning of a novel that you wished she died?  Because I did.  And when Sam did die in the beginning I was like: GOOD RIDANCE!  I know, very harsh, but I hate mean girl bullies.  In high school I would've given her a black eye. 

My hatred for her almost stopped me from finishing the book, but I figured she died and came back for a reason.  I hoped it was to learn that it wasn't okay to be such a snobby b****.  I was right.  The whole book had a "Groundhog's Day" motif.  Sam went through a normal Friday, being a snob with her group of friends, but on their way home from a party her drunk best friend Lindsey swerved and hit a tree: hence Sam dying.  But, she woke up the next morning, actually the same day of her death: Friday.  She relived the day over and over again, each time learning or experiencing something new. 

The reason I finished the book is because sge did learn, it took her a few tries, but she finally got it.  She learned her idiot boyfriend was, well, an idiot.  She learned to accept her friends, faults and all.  She found real acceptance and adoration in her family and she experienced the inklings of real life.  She just bacame more aware and appreciative of her world in general.  By the end of the book I found myself rooting for her, the polar opposite of my initial feelings.  I wanted her to have all these experiences and learn.  She did, but just when I hoped for more... nothing.  These are the book endings where I wish I stopped reading just a few pages sooner.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reading Reflection: The Probability of Miracles

Probability of Miracles
by Wendy Wunder
Published December 8th 2011 
P. 360
Rating 3/5

Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page

God I hate cancer books!!! Yes, it's a cancer book.  Family and personal history keeps me from being drawn to these types of novels... hate them.  But, I'll try to overlook my prejudices... I picked out the novel knowing what it was.
Cam, a teenage girl who has been battling cancer for the past few years finally received knews about her condition.  Not good news, there was nothing the doctors could do to save her, absolutely sucks.  Because modern medicine won't cure her at this point, her mother turns to other avenues eventually leading them to a miracle town: Promise, Maine.  Strange things do happen in this town, but Cam the cynic fights the magic, while her sister and mother are ready to believe.

Slowly, Cam begins to accept the magic and lets her guard down.  She begins to enjoy life, crossing things off her "Flamingo List" (a bucket list she created with her also cancer diagnosed best friend), but its more than just crossing off a to-do list, she really learns to live.

I loved the characters of this book.  Cam was amazing with her witty cynicism, always thinking the worst of every thing while her sister and mother became overzealous in the search for miracles.  She was intelligent, something I liked, though I could care less about some of her ramblings.  Of course there is a love interest and it played out better than I thought it would, I love those awww.... finally moments in books.  One of my favorite lines of the book was actually in that moment:

Asher: I'm going to kiss you know.
Cam: Do you always announce it like that?
Asher: You just seemed like the type that might get spooked.

Loved that scene.

Anyway, the story is good.  You really see her start to open up.  It's an act at first, but she finally gets there.  That's probably why I think the ending sucked.  Agian, my own personaly opinion because of the reason I read books in the first place: to forget about all the hard stuff in life.  I won't say what happens, I hate spoilers and I already put one in this post, but the ending broke my heart because I wanted more.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reading Reflection: Clockwork Prince

Clockwork Prince

by Cassandra Clare
Published December 6, 2011 
P. 486
Rating: 5/5

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.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?
As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Yes, I was right... I have found my favorite series of the year.  Maybe I should wait until the third novel in this series comes out in November 2013, but thus far, I'm convinced.  

Tessa, is still my favorite heroine, I absolutely love her.  My opinion of her hasn't changed from the first novel to the second, I love the balance between the womanly charm of her time period and the strength and determination she portrays.  She's witty, courageous, and fearless, also a little bit naughty, but in a good way.  I'm sure passionately kissing boys (more than one) is not acceptable behavior for girls her age (again, remember it's the 1870's), but she does it anyway.  I'm usually against female characters going back and forth between two boys, but with Tessa it's different and I can't explain why.  Like I said, I feel it's naughty but in a good way -- curious almost, without trying to be hurtful, simply exploring new sensations she never knew she could feel.  Because it is such a faux paus (and I'm a boundary pusher) I accept her behavior more than I would any other characters'.

Ah, the boys... Will and Jem.  I know a lot of people hate Will, he is a jerk 95% of the time, but I love him.  I think he is friggin' hysterical!  I love witty sarcasm.  Don't get me wrong, the things he says to Tessa at times infuriates me and I want to reach in and give him a quick backhand, but other times... hysterical.  Would I date a Will?  Probably not.  Would I find him interesting?  Absolutely.   I would expect him to cross lines, that's what people who push boundaries do.  Furthermore, in this second novel the explanations for his really malicious behavior is revealed -- I felt sad for him on more than one occasion.  I hope he doesn't lose his wit in the next book, but I do hope everything works out for him.  

Jem, I love Jem too!  I love his calmness and true sincerity in all his actions and words.  I found him amazing.  The thing about him though, is that he might be that sensitive character, but I don't see it as a weakness.  Sometimes the "sensitive guy" in books is a big baby, not Jem though.  He's still strong, just honest and caring too.  A great combination.  Would I date a Jem? Abso-friggin-lutely!  Though I love wit (which he has), there's an elegance in his silent strength that I love. 

I focused more on the love triangle than the story line, sorry it sucked me in.  I thought I was over them for the year, but Jem-- Tessa-- Will... how could I fight it?  I loved them all and no matter what happens, my heart will break for one of them.  

But, there is more to the story than kissing boys and breaking hearts: Will's secret is revealed, Jem actually loses his temper, the Institute being judged, an engagement, a baby, and a surprise at the end.  Also, we don't find out what Tessa really is and it's driving me crazy.  I keep trying to reread sections to see if there clues that I missed, or something to lead me at a guess, but I find nothing.  It's killing me.  I hope the third book is as great as the first two... but I've been disappointed before.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reading Reflection: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel

by Cassandra Clare
Published August 31st 2010
P. 476
Rating: 5/5

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.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

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. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

I think I have found my favorite series for 2012.  My love for this novel crept up on me slowly, not while reading, but a few days later.  First let me say that when I started reading this novel I did not read the cover or reviews, it was on a list and my library had it so I pulled it off the shelf and went to the first page.  I had no idea what to expect.  Shadowhunters, demons, warlocks, London 1878, and magic all within the first few chapters.  I was taken back, and not entirely sure if I followed correctly, but my interest was so high that I couldn't fall asleep until I finished it.  So I did, in one night.

Then I didn't really know if I loved the story or not, I liked a lot of it,the characters were great, the setting right, plot twists were okay... but I just didn't know.  Two days later I found myself renewing the book, and burrowing the second in the series, because I couldn't let the book leave my house.  I began going back to revisit certain scenes, rereading whole portions, and finally just rereading the entire book.  That's when I knew I loved the book, when the characters stayed with me days after and I had to go back to them... had to. 

Tessa, the heroine, might be my favorite of all time.  She's feminine in a societal approved way (remember it's 1878), but she's undoubtedly brave and strong.  Also, she's witty and curious, and absolutely lovable.  The mixture of strength and womanly charm is what drew me in, there was a perfect balance to the two. 

Of course there is a love interest: Will.  He's cocky, arrogant, strong, and gorgeous.  I loved his character too.  He was a jerk, most of the time, but Clare created just the right amount of compassion and softness around him to exhibit another layer.  Then there's Jem (James), Will's best friend and his opposite in every way possible.  He's calm, collected, and caring.  There's something wonderful about his calm demeanor and gentle honesty.  The relationship between Jem and Will is fantastic, they balance and genuinely care for one another.  Jem is Will's saving grace, proof that he is capable of more than he lets people see.  In this book, there isn't an obvious love triangle, but hints of one in the future.  For the first time, I don't have a favorite.

The story line is alright, but its the characters that really make this book.  I think they could have been doing anything and I'd want to know, not just the three I mentioned, but the rest found in the story:  Charlotte, Henry, Jessamine, and the whole lot of them.  Because I'm so drawn to them, I'm drawn into the story and can't wait to see what happens.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Reading Reflection: Halflings

Halflings (Halflings #1)

by Heather Burch
Published February 1st 2012
P. 288
Rating: 3/5

After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world

This book was okay... nothing fabulous, but not horrible either.  I think I'm jaded on the whole love triangle predicament in every book I've read in the past few months.  I don't want to lash out on Halflings, but I have had my full for the year. 

The story line, again, was okay.  Nikki is a young girl caught in a war with beings she never knew existed.  Of course these three half-angel half-humans sent to protect her are gorgeous and she falls for two of them (hence the love triangle). And guess what?  One is a good wholesome character and the other is... wait for it... the bad boy type.  However, Nikki cannot be with either one because it's against the rules of halflings.   

There's not much else I can say about the book, it didn't stand out in my mind.  I enjoyed reading it as a quick story, but didn't fall in love with the characters and their plight.  It wasn't bad, but nothing jaw dropping amazing.  With that, I will still read the next book in the series.  There was a moment between Raven and Mace (the boys) at the end that piqued my curiosity and I am intereseted to see how their relationship, along with Nikki's, develop in the future.