Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

First Lines: The demon exploded in a shower of ichor and guts.  William Herondale jerked back the dagger he was holding, but it was too late.

In The Mortal Instruments heyday, I was a pretty big fan (though not as big a fan as I was of HP, but nothing tops Potter).  Of course, I objected to a 4th book in that series, but a prequel sounded cool enough.  Plus, one of my friends (who reads the same books I do) told me in no uncertain terms that I HAD to read this book.  So here you go, Steph, I read it.

The year is 1878.  The place is London, England.  In an attempt to find her missing brother, Tessa Gray heads to England, only to be kidnapped by sisters who call themselves “The Dark Sisters”.  Tessa has a rare power: shape shifting.  But not only does she just change shape, she becomes that person.  After being told she must marry a man known as “the Magister” or her brother will die, Tessa attempts to make a break for it.  Lucky for her, there are Shadow hunters nearby to help her.  She’s taken to the Institute, where she meets Will and Jem, two best friends.  Tessa needs their help to find her brother and figure out who this “Magister” is.

I liked it enough, but I didn’t love it like I had the other Mortal Instrument books.  I was psyched that this was a historical fiction overlaid with Shadow hunter lore and action.  But I just didn’t think it was amazing.

Tessa’s a great female hero.  She’s not Clary, for sure, but she is strong and willing to do what she needs to.  And Jem was a total sweetheart.  I fell for him the moment I met him.  Will…Will needs a serious attitude adjustment.  I found him to be utterly rude and caustic.  I thought his sarcasm was going to be like Jace’s, funny but not necessarily mean, but it wasn’t.  I don’t think Will always intended to be hurtful, but he usually said something spiteful that made everyone cringe.  I know he’s hiding something, so whatever it is had better be an extremely good reason for why he’s being so awful.

It was actually more of a sci-fi than a Mortal Instruments book.  I remember when Clary was learning all about Shadow hunters and their different weapons from Jace.  That was cool.  This didn’t have that at all.  This was about tinkering with inventions and contraptions known as “automatons”.  So it was decidedly less cool than I’d thought it would be.

Will I read the next one?  Yes.  I’m interested to see more of what happens between Tessa, Jem, and Will.  Did I love this one?  No.  It was good, but I think Will’s bad attitude just made certain scenes unbearable.

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Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, #4)

First Lines: We worked beneath the shine of floodlights that punched holes in the darkness of Hyde Park–nearly one hundred vampires airing rugs, painting cabinet doors, and sanding trim.

O.  M.  G.  I thought I was totally prepared for whatever vamp politics and action Chloe Neill was going to throw my way this time, but I wasn’t.  Not even close.  I was so blindsided by everything that happened.  I’m still in recovery mode.

*SERIES SPOILERS* Honestly, it’s the 4th in the series.  There’ll be spoilers from the past 3 books.

As usual, Chicago needs Cadogan help (and most of it from Merit).  Vamps are running around, acting more violent than normal.  It has Mayor Tate so worried, he’s blackmailed Ethan and Merit into solving the problem or Ethan will be arrested.  Merit’s doing all she can, but it’s not that simple.  Things between her and Ethan are still pretty tense.  Oh, and the Greenwich Presidium has told Ethan that Cadogan needs to stop their “investigation” into the issue because it’s not their concern.  So on top of trying to figure out what’s going on, she has to keep Tate and the GP off their backs…and do it all without being caught.

There’s so much that happens in this book that I’m still processing.  Continuous action, politics, and moments with Ethan and Merit (which are my favorite).  Every movement has a consequence.  I’m just trying to figure out how many of the little things that were mentioned casually are going to come back into play in the next book.  I’m totally banking on one, but I won’t tell you what it is or why I want it to come back.

I still love Merit and Ethan and getting to know them better.  It’s what makes this story so amazing to begin with.  If I didn’t feel this huge connection to the two of them, I wouldn’t be as drawn to it as I am.  What made this book even cooler is that we get to see more of the characters who tend to play smaller roles.  Like Malik and Luc.  Both of them are wicked cool and I’ve always thought so, but I’m not sure I remember hearing Malik speak before this one.  Also, I’m trying to figure Jonah out.  He’s intriguing.

The stakes (no pun intended) are much higher this time.  Everything has a more severe consequence than it ever has before.  One wrong move and people will die.  It made everything more immediate, which made the book harder to put down.

Fabulous.  Absolutely fabulous.  November 1st can’t come fast enough.

Spotlight Friday (3)

Spotlight Friday is a weekly segment where I pick three books I’m looking forward to coming out and discuss why.  It’s super fun and you should totally check out the others while you’re here.

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

Release Date: September 27, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites–like fire and ice–Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move–only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past. 

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.

What’s To Like: The love triangle!  I think I speak for every girl when I say that we’ve all met boys like Asher and Devin.  Asher is the stereotypical boy we know we shouldn’t like because he’s going to break our hearts and Devin, who is the kind of  guy who slowly worms his way into our hearts until we don’t want to be without him.  Also, this cover is simply gorgeous.  I have no idea what actually happens in this story, but I’m definitely interested in finding out.

Goliath (Leviathan, #3) by Scott Westerfeld

Release Date: September 20, 2011

**Keep in mind ,this is the final book in the trilogy, so if you haven’t read the first 2, the summary may be confusing/give away points in the story.  So just skip it and go to “What’s To Like.”

Summary (from Goodreads): Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies. 

The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy.

What’s To Like: If you keep up with my Next Big Thing segment, I mentioned Goliath in my latest installment because of the super awesome illustrations in it.  I’m fascinated by this story because it’s a historical fiction/sci-fi that takes place in WWI.  And one of our main characters, Deryn, is a girl disguised as a boy to serve in the army.  If that wasn’t awesome enough, the other main character, Alek, is an Austrian prince.  I love seeing what kinds of trouble they get into and I’m very excited to see how this saga ends.

My review of Goliath.

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1) by Richelle Mead

Release Date: August 23, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads):

The first book in Richelle Mead’s brand-new teen fiction series – set in the same world as Vampire Academy. 

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning. 

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive – this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

What’s To Like: Vampire Academy fans rejoice!  The wait is almost over!  So, VA was like my life for a few years there and when Last Sacrifice came out, it was like Harry Potter ending all over again.  But we have a spin-off series that will (hopefully) feed our VA addiction.  The same great characters are back (I’ve heard Adrian plays a larger part in this one, but I can’t say whether or not that’s actually true or just rumor), but there’ll also be a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with.  I’m so excited!

My review of Bloodlines.

Twice Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, #3)

First Lines: It was the beginning of Route 66, the spot where “America’s Main Street” began to traverse the United States.  Buckingham Fountain, the heart of Grant Park, was named for the brother of the woman who donated the fountain to the city of Chicago.

Oh, do I love this series.  Merit is a vampire who can kick butt, and not only with her fists and sword.  She’s got wit so fast it’ll leave burns on her victims.

*POTENTIAL SERIES SPOILERS*  It is book 3, after all.

Merit’s world seems to be getting bigger and bigger.  Just when she thought things couldn’t get much weirder, the North American pack leader, Gabriel Keene, asks Merit and Ethan to be his body guards while the shifters decide whether to stay where they are or head to Alaska to avoid the publicity the vamps are causing.  After someone takes a shot at Gabriel, Merit knows there’s something bigger going on than just an unhappy shifter.  As if that wasn’t enough drama, Ethan seems to be upping his charm for her.  Could it be possible to start a relationship with her Master and have it not get awkward?

Merit and Ethan…they’re just awesome characters.  Each one has their own ticks (most of Ethan’s come into play as a joke in this one) and they’re distinct in personality.  While it would be extraordinarily easy to hate Ethan, I just can’t help but love the guy.  I can see his motivation for things (even if I don’t like what he does).  That understanding helps him grow as a character in my eyes.

This is probably the most politically charged of all the books so far.  Not only does it deal with vamp politics, it introduces shifter politics as well.  I think it’s all incredibly interesting, but that’s me.  (And I avoid human politics at all costs, so this even strikes me as weird.)

And personally, I think it’s also probably the most action packed and romantic of all the books.  Ethan’s softer side comes out as he tries to charm Merit and I love it.  And you just can’t pass up action like this.

Friday Night Bites (Chicagoland Vampires, #2)

First Lines: “Higher, Merit.  Bring up that kick.  Mmm-hmm.  Better.”  I kicked again, this time higher, trying to remember to point my toes, squeeze my core, and flutter my fingers in the “jazz hands” our instructor ceaselessly demanded.

I just got back from vacation and this was the book I read in the car (thank God for Dramomine).  I read it last summer too, but the 4th book in this series was released a few months back and I didn’t remember what happened very well and wanted a refresher.  I love this series too much to pass up the chance to reread it.

*POTENTIAL SERIES SPOILERS FROM BOOK 1*

Now that Merit’s Sentinel of Cadogan House, things are way more complex than they’ve ever been.  She’s dating someone her boss assigned to her.  She has to deal with vampire “raves” which may or may not make their way into the papers and cause mass panic.  She has to deal with her Master, Ethan Sullivan, who is a gorgeous pain in the butt.  Oh, and her best friend happens to be a very powerful sorceress.  Could life get any more complex?  But it does when Merit’s nemesis is free to roam and cause chaos that makes Merit’s life harder.  Did she also mention that Ethan wants her to make friends with her parents (whom she loaths) so they can get into elite circles?

I love how kick-butt Merit is.  It’s so awesome.  She went from a student who spent most of her days in a library to learning how to weld a sword and hold her own in a fight.  That and her wicked sarcasm always makes it more interesting.

And Ethan.  I love the guy, I swear I do, but he can be a pain in the ass.  The sexual tension between him and Merit is nearly palpable in this one.  I love it, don’t get me wrong (it practically drives the story itself), but after a while you’re just like, “Can y’all get a room and do it already?”  Oh, but it makes for such good fun.

This series has everything.  Mystery, suspense, action, romance, fantasy (in the form of fairies, shifters, vampires [obviously], and sorcerers), and seriously awesome humor.  The wit is amazing.

I know I’ve already read it, but I’m nearly chomping at the bit to get the 3rd book (and 4th!) from the library.  Ethan and Merit, here I come!

Tuck Everlasting

First Lines: The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.

This is such a classic.  I love the story.  I’ve probably only read this a couple times, but I’ve seen the movie my fair share of times.  Alexis Bledel is awesome as Winnie and I adore Victor Garber, who plays her father.  But this is about the book, not the movie.

Winnie Foster hates how caged she feels in her home and yard.  She wants to explore by herself, without everyone yelling her name.  One morning, she leaves to explore the wood next to her house and meets Jesse Tuck, who introduces her to a world that can’t possibly exist…a world where people can live forever if only they drink from a special spring.

In a time where stories almost always seem to focus on characters with immortality, it’s nice to see one where the main character has to think it through before she decides whether or not its a good idea.  You know, unlike Bella Swan, who practically jumps Edward for a chance to be immortal.  For being 10 years old, Winnie is so practical and understanding.  I know at 10, I was not like her.  Practical, yes (to a fault, at times).  Understanding?  Not even marginally some of the time.

There’s such wisdom in this book that I think adults don’t comprehend after a certain time in their lives.  As I was reading it, I was critiquing the way Winnie acted in certain situations.  It didn’t seem logical, which I feel Winnie is in spades.  So that’s my critique with that.

Like I was saying, I think kids just grasp the story better than adults.  Adults are jaded while kids still see it with a purity that only kids can.  That’s where its magic lies.

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)

First Lines: My small Southern hometown is beautiful in the haunting way an aging debutante is beautiful.  The bones are exquisite, but the skin could use a lift.

This is one of the books I got for my birthday.  Man, did I know how to pick them this year!

Emerson knows she has to be crazy.  What sane person would be able to see people in Civil War era clothes wandering the streets?  She’s the only one who can see them.  It all started just before her parents died and Emerson blames herself for what happened.  Then her brother hires Michael from Hourglass to help her.  He sees these ghosts too and makes her feel more normal.  But who is Michael really, and why does she always feel an electric connection to him?  What can he possibly do to change her past?

Not only does this have ghosts (which we all know I love), but it’s also a sci-fi!  Normally, I don’t like sci-fi’s (even if my favorite show is The Big Bang Theory), but totally worked for me.  I didn’t even know it was a sci-fi until I researched it a little more before reading it.

I am totally in love with Emerson’s spunk.  She’s so sassy.  It was always interesting to read because she’d slip in a sarcastic comment in the middle of anything.  I was always like, “Way to go, Em!”  Especially when they made fun of how short she was, because I’ve grown up with those too (even though I’m not short by the standards of people outside my family).

A lot of the characters were really neat.  I liked getting to know Em and Kaleb most, but Michael was also a puzzle.  I think it’s because he was a puzzle that I didn’t get to know him as well as I did Kaleb, who wears his heart on his sleeve.  Regardless, they’re awesome people.

There were a lot of plot twists I didn’t see coming.  That’s really awesome after you read a few books that are slightly predictable.  So many times, I went, “Well, that was completely unexpected.”  Or “—- did WHAT?!”

Some plot twists weren’t adequately wrapped up, in my opinion, but it could be because they’re going to be worked with further in books in this series.

Be prepared, though.  It starts off fairly light and fun, but it will get heavy by the end.  Some things can’t be made light.