The Madness Underneath

Spoilers! Read Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star, the first book in her Shades of London series, before continuing. I just finished the second book in the series, The Madness Underneath, and you really need to experience the first book before diving into the second. This sequel is definitely not a stand-alone novel. You’ve been warned!

A little over a year and a half ago, I read The Name of the Star (which is now on the nominee list for this year’s South Carolina Young Adult Book Award). I picked this book up for two reasons. 1. The author, Maureen Johnson, is one of the funniest people on the planet. (If you don’t already follow her on Twitter, you should.) 2. Jack the Ripper. I’ve always been kind of morbidly fascinated by stories of the Ripper, and I figured this one–with its new supernatural twist–would intrigue me. As usual, I was right.

I absolutely adored The Name of the Star (one of my top 10 books of 2011), so I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick up the sequel. (It was released in October 2012.) At any rate, I made time for it this week, and it didn’t take long to get right back into the world created in this series.

Now, the Ripper-esque story in the first book was–more or less–wrapped up, but the aftermath opened up a whole new world to our main character, Rory Deveaux, a Louisiana native transplanted in London while her parents are on sabbatical. (Hmm…a southern girl in London. I wonder why that appeals to me…)

Following her near-death experience at Wexford, her boarding school, Rory is now staying in Bristol under the watchful eyes of her parents and her therapist. While Rory would normally be thrilled to talk about herself–especially to someone who is basically paid to listen–she just can’t tell her therapist (or her parents) what really happened. No, she must keep quiet about her encounter with the Ripper copycat who stabbed and nearly killed her. She can never reveal that she can see ghosts…and can now somehow kill them (or help them move on to the next spiritual plane) with a touch. Who would believer her anyway? Is there any way for Rory to get back to some semblance of a normal life and maybe–just maybe–not have to hide so much? Perhaps…

With the help of some high-ranking government officials, Rory is allowed to return to Wexford. She’s behind in all of her classes, and she has a bit of trouble adjusting to school after so much time away, but Rory is back with friends…including the Shades of London, a top secret “police force” capable of seeing and interacting with ghosts. And the Shades–Stephen, Callum, and Boo–need Rory. Now that their all-important termini (ghost-eliminators) are gone, Rory is the only being that can send ghosts on. (On to where, I have no idea.) A simple touch makes ghosts go bye-bye. So, in addition to worrying about grades, friends, boys, and the warped psyche that comes with nearly being murdered, Rory must also deal with being a human terminus, a weapon against ghosts with a grudge.

And boy, do some of the ghosts in London carry grudges. But they’re not the only beings up to no good. It seems that something–or someone–even more disturbing may be at work, and Rory finds herself right in the middle of yet another mess. Her longing to get away from her problems and find a place to belong may have landed her into a predicament that even her quick wit can’t get out of. What has Rory gotten herself into this time, and will she be able to find a way out…before she or someone she cares about pays the price? Learn what madness lurks underneath the streets of London–and in the hearts and minds of people–when you read The Madness Underneath, the second book in Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series.

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While I enjoyed The Name of the Star a bit more than this book, I have to say that The Madness Underneath was a wonderful read. The character’s distinctive, often sarcastic, voice was perfect, and I felt her turmoil over trying to return to a somewhat normal life after going through so much horror. At several points in the story, I felt like screaming at Rory because I could kind of see that she was about to walk into bad situations. (What seventeen-year-old doesn’t?) I was thoroughly engaged and, at the end, kind of heartbroken. (When you read this book, you’ll know what I mean. If I didn’t treasure books so much, this one would have taken a lovely flight across the room and landed against my wall.) I’m hoping for some kind of happy resolution in the next book. (But I honestly don’t see how things can get happy after what happened at the end of this one. Hopefully, Maureen Johnson can find some way to “unbreak my heart,” to borrow a phrase from one of my all-time least favorite songs.)

Speaking of the next book, it’s supposedly titled The Shadow Cabinet and is due for release sometime in 2014 according to Goodreads. There is no information on the third book on Maureen Johnson’s website. With any luck, she’ll tweet about it in the near future. (This woman is all about some Twitter. So am I, so that’s cool.)

I guess that’s all for now. I’ll leave you with a book trailer for The Madness Underneath from Penguin Young Readers. It’s creepy, but it doesn’t give away much of anything about the book. It does a good job of setting the mood for a good supernatural mystery though. Enjoy!

Published in: on July 25, 2013 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ripper

I’ll admit that I have a somewhat morbid fascination with the unsolved mystery that surrounds Jack the Ripper. (I’m no ripperologist, but my personal bucket list does include taking the Jack the Ripper tour in London.) In the past couple of years, there have been a number of YA fiction books published that revolve around the unknown serial killer. Last year, I was lucky enough to read Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star, in which someone is recreating the crimes of the Ripper. (It’s an absolutely fantastic read, and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel, The Madness Underneath, which will be released on February 26th.) Several days ago, I started reading Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves. I first heard about this book from the author herself. She presented information about her book at the annual SCASL (South Carolina Association of School Librarians) conference earlier this year. I was enthralled by her research process and the little details that went into the making of Ripper. I meant to read the book as soon as I could get my hands on it, but one thing or another inevitably got in the way, and I didn’t make the time to really get into this book until a few days ago (when I got out of school for winter break). Now, I’ll go ahead and tell you (if you didn’t already know) that historical fiction is not exactly my cup of tea…unless it happens to take place in London. There’s just something about that city that totally captivates me, and Ripper only added to my obsession…

The year is 1888, and a young girl, recently orphaned, has moved to London to live with her strict, unyielding grandmother. Arabella Sharp is not exactly a typical Kensington lady…much to her grandmother’s chagrin. Abbie would much rather be doing something interesting rather that sitting around all day waiting for her grandmother to select a suitable husband for her. Unexpectedly, Abbie receives an invitation to work at Whitechapel Hospital, assisting a doctor and family friend with the care of poor women (mostly prostitutes) and their children. Even though the work is most unpleasant at times, Abbie feels drawn to the medical field and is considering doing something totally unheard of–applying to attend medical school.

While Abbie is learning much at Whitechapel Hospital–and dealing with rather puzzling feelings for not one but two young physicians–something more sinister is occurring nearby. Prostitutes, all of them former patients at the hospital, are being murdered. No one seems to know anything about the culprit, but his heinous crimes soon earn him the nickname Jack the Ripper. All of London, specifically the rundown area of Whitechapel, is in an uproar. Who is this killer? Why is he targeting prostitutes? And why can the police find no trace of him?

Abbie, much to her dismay, may be in possession of answers to these questions. Ever since she first entered the Whitechapel area, she’s been plagued by visions. Visions of the Ripper’s crimes as they are committed. She’s seen what he does to his victims. She’s felt his breath on her neck. She knows that he’s somehow got his eye on her. But why? And what is his connection to the hospital where she feels so needed?

As Abbie does all that she can to uncover the mystery of the Ripper, she uncovers something that she is totally unprepared for. Jack the Ripper is not the only being wreaking havoc on London. Something much bigger may be at work, and the Ripper might just be one small piece of the puzzle. Can Abbie unveil the truth before she’s lost to a power that spans centuries? Before she–or someone close to her–becomes the Ripper’s next victim? Read Ripper, Amy Carol Reeves’ gripping tale, to reveal the horrible, hidden truth about the world’s most infamous serial killer.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the supernatural twist at the end of this book. (I liked it, but it was a bit surprising.) Ripper isn’t simply a retelling of the crimes of Jack the Ripper. It does contain lots of information based on actual events, locations, and people, but this is most definitely a fictional account of what could have happened during that horrible time in 1888…if you believe in the strange and supernatural, that is. (I’m not saying that I do, but it is kind of fun to read about.) Amy Carol Reeves detailed what was and wasn’t factual in her book when she spoke at the SCASL conference, but I must confess that I can’t remember everything. (It was in March, after all.) I will, however, get the opportunity to go over this information with her again, as she is speaking at the conference again this year. (And I get to facilitate a panel with her and several other YA authors.  Hooray for me!) I also look forward to talking with her about the next book in this series, Renegade, which is due out in April of 2013.

If you’d like more information about Ripper and author Amy Carol Reeves, I encourage you to visit the author’s website. For those of you searching for information on Jack the Ripper, there are thousands of websites that contain loads of information, many of them saying different things. Theories abound on the true identity of this killer, so it’s no surprise that this enigma has found its way to YA fiction. If you can recommend any other YA Ripper books, let me know, and I’ll add them to my towering to-read pile!

Published in: on December 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Sometimes I like to put the fantasy, science fiction, and dystopia aside and just read a really good love story (though some of the more pessimistic among us would argue that love stories are also fantasies).  My most recent favorites have been Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  Now I can add one more to that list:  The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  At first, I thought this book would be a romance between math nerds (which would have been totally cool with this former Palmetto High School Math Team member), but I was wrong.  At its core, this book is about how a chance meeting can change a person’s life forever…

Hadley Sullivan is running late. What’s worse is that she’s running late to something that she wants no part of in the first place–her father’s wedding to “that British woman” in London.  She misses her flight by about four minutes is forced to take the next plane–which will arrive at Heathrow approximately two hours before the blessed event.  A bit of a time crunch, to say the least.  So, now she has a time to kill in a crowded airport.  Time to think about how much she doesn’t want to see her dad or his new bride.  Time to worry about the flight and being trapped in a tube thousands of feet in the air.  Time to stew over what she said to her mom this morning.

Purely by chance (or fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it), Hadley meets Oliver, a London native (who’s kind of a looker) who will be sitting next to her on her upcoming flight.  The two hit it off instantly, and Hadley feels like she can tell Oliver anything…and she does.  She tells him little things about herself (favorite color, animal, etc.) as well as big things (how she feels about her dad and this wedding, how her relationship with her mom is going, and how things ended with her ex-boyfriend).  Oliver shares some stories of his own, including a glimpse of his relationship with his own father.  Hadley and Oliver are so wrapped up in getting to know each other that their time at the airport and the flight to London seem to pass in a blur.

Before either of them are ready, Hadley and Oliver arrive in London, and they are forced to go their separate ways–Hadley to the dreaded wedding, and Oliver to his own family drama.  Will they ever meet again, or has fate brought them together for only this one flight?  Will Hadley be able to get over her anger with her father and be part of his new life?  Will Oliver be able to deal with his own family issues?  Is there any hope that these two will meet again despite the odds?  What’s the probability that two young people could meet, fall in love, and find each other again in the span of 24 hours?  Find out when you fall in love with Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight!

Even though I totally knew there would be a happy ending, I was still enraptured by this story.  I love the idea that you can meet someone tomorrow, and that will ultimately be someone you’ll spend the rest of your life with.  If even one little thing had changed leading up to that meeting, entire lives could have been completely different.  It’s kind of cool (and scary) to think about.

I also enjoyed how Hadley–and even Oliver–explored their family situations.  Hadley spent much of the book angry at her dad–and her mom and future stepmother–and it was interesting to see how her views of those relationships evolved during the course of one very long day.  Oliver’s issues were thought-provoking as well and helped Hadley put her own problems in perspective.  In a lot of YA novels, the parents are secondary figures–and are often horrible–but this book allowed both characters and readers to see the humanness of parents.  We were all given a look into the relationships between husbands and wives, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, and mothers and daughters.  These family dynamics are not always calm and smooth, but, at the end, these people are still family.

If you’re looking for a quick, fun, engaging read, I strongly urge you to give The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight a try.  You won’t be disappointed!

You can find out more about author Jennifer E. Smith and her books at http://www.jenniferesmith.com/.  You can also follow her on Twitter @JenESmith.

Published in: on March 30, 2012 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Name of the Star

It’s so great when I come across a book that grabs me from the first page.  My latest read, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, is one of these books.  I loved the voice of the main character, Rory, and I was entranced by the London setting.  This book has also provided me with one of my new favorite quotes that adequately sums up what it’s like to converse with a Southerner.

“I come from people who know how to draw things out.  Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.”

It’s almost like the author had a camera or microphone planted in every gathering I’ve ever been to in my small, Southern town.  I laughed out loud when I read this–all the while picturing several of my family members (who I’ll be seeing in just a few days) who have that special Southern ability to drain the life out of anyone they happen to rope into conversation.  (This may explain why I always bring a book to family gatherings.  It may be rude and antisocial, but even pretending to be engrossed in a book provides me with a much-needed escape.)  (See what I just did there?  I provided you with way too much information and drew things out and probably drove some of you away with this unnecessarily detailed paragraph about holiday gatherings with my family.  Welcome to the South.)

Anyhoo, The Name of the Star is a thoroughly entertaining–and kind of creepy–read that plays upon fear.  It seems that someone is recreating the crimes of Jack the Ripper, and our heroine Rory might be the only one capable of stopping the mysterious murderer…

While her parents are spending a sabbatical year at a university in England, Rory Deveaux, a teenage girl from Louisiana, has decided to spend her senior year of high school at a boarding school in London. She’s never been to boarding school–much less London–and it’s a bit of an adjustment for her. Things are a lot more intense than in America, and they’re about to get even worse. See, her school is in the East End of London, and someone in the area is recreating the murders perpetrated by Jack the Ripper in 1888. The entire area is in a panic, especially because there are no clues as to who might be committing these heinous acts. The cops have no evidence. Security cameras captured the murders, but not the murderer. Everyone is at a loss…until Rory sees someone on the night of one of the murders. Someone no one else saw.

Could the weird guy she saw outside of her dorm be the new Ripper?  Why didn’t her roommate Jazza see him?  Could this have any connection to the security cameras not being able to see the Ripper?  As Rory tries to uncover a mystery without losing her mind, she encounters some disturbing truths along with a strange new ability.  Why can she see people no one else can see?  Does anyone around her share this ability?  And can she use it to find out who the Ripper is and stop him before she’s his next victim?  Enter the shady world of London to reveal the truth in The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.

If you want a funny yet creepy read that will leave you wanting more–but still kind of scared to turn the next page–then The Name of the Star is the book for you.  I read it during two extremely gloomy days here in South Carolina.  The weather outside matched the setting and tone of this book perfectly, and I refused to answer unexpected knocks at the door while I was reading.  I will admit that I was terrified that someone was at the door to kill me.  (I tend to get a little involved in books I read, and I am aware that a potential murderer would probably not knock.  I found out a little while ago that it was my grandmother who was at my door.  Oops.)

If you’re interested in The Name of the Star or any other books by Maureen Johnson, you should visit her website at http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/index1.html.  I’ll go ahead and let you know that The Name of the Star is the first book in The Shades of London series.  The second book, The Madness Underneath, is expected to be released in October 2012.  Based on how the first book ended, we can look forward to even more mysteries to solve in the second.

Published in: on December 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm  Comments (3)  
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Clockwork Prince

Even though this post will not be a typical one for me, I will be talking a bit about Clockwork Prince, the second book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy (which is the prequel trilogy to her Mortal Instruments series).  If you haven’t read all of the books that precede Clockwork Prince–especially Clockwork Angel–I strongly urge you to do that as soon as possible.  All of these books are unbelievably amazing, and the events of today only increased my love of these series.

Now, for the good stuff…

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Cassandra Clare.  As part of her book tour for Clockwork Prince, which was released on Tuesday (and which I finished reading last night), Ms. Clare paid a visit to Greenville, South Carolina.  I live just a few miles away from Greenville, and I was understandably excited about meeting one of my favorite authors.  The event was sponsored by a local independent bookstore, Fiction Addiction, and held in a spot called the Hangar at the Runway Cafe (near the downtown airport, obviously).  And I have to say it was one of the most well organized book signings I’ve ever attended.  (I went to see Stephenie Meyer at a Barnes & Noble in Georgia four years ago, and it was absolute chaos.  Imagine thousands of people crammed into a B&N for upwards of five hours.  Shudder.) 

Anyhoo, Cassandra Clare entered the Hangar and answered questions from the audience.  The first few people who asked questions even got a free t-shirt.  I was one of those people…and here’s the back of the shirt:

I asked who she would pick to play Magnus Bane if she had any say in the movie casting.  Her answer both surprised and delighted me–Darren Criss, who plays Blaine on Glee.  She said that his ethnicity matched Magnus’, and he seems to have no problems kissing a boy.  For those of you who’ve read the Mortal Instruments series, you know how important this is.

Ms. Clare answered lots more questions on how she overcomes writer’s block, using outlines in her writing, how much influence she has over the upcoming City of Bones movie (very little, sadly), the love triangle between Will, Jem, and Tessa in Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, other books she would recommend, how she would encourage aspiring writers, where her ideas for her books came from, the real-life settings used in the books, the inspiration for the character of Magnus Bane (one of my favorites), and much more.  Throughout the question-and-answer session, Ms. Clare kept the audience laughing and made us fall more in love with her and her wonderful stories.

Then, it was time for the autographing to begin.  I took seven books to be autographed–City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Steampunk!–and Ms. Clare graciously signed all of them.  Check it out:

 

Everyone who attended also received a cool Shadow Hunter poster. 

Christmas came early for yours truly this year.  I got to meet one of my favorite authors, tell her how much I loved her books, and I even had the opportunity to recommend a few books to her–Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series was at the top of my list.  This was an awesome afternoon for Knight Reader.

Now, I’m sure you might be wondering a little about Clockwork Prince, the latest book in the Infernal Devices trilogy.  Well, I’m not going to tell you much about the book because there would be spoiler alerts all over the place if I did.  I will tell you, though, that we learn more about why Will is such a butthead most of the time.  We also delve into Mortmain’s past and what he might be planning for the Shadow Hunters.  For me, however, the driving force in this book was the dramatic love triangle between Will, Jem, and Tessa.  It was infuriating, powerful, and traumatic–for them and for me.  I just hope their situation resolves the way I want it to in Clockwork Princess.

Speaking of Clockwork Princess, it has an expected release date of December 1st, 2012.  (Yes, we have to wait nearly a year for it.  Curses!)  Also, there are two more books in the Mortal Instruments series to look forward to:  City of Lost Souls, due out May 8th, 2012 (and the cover should be released soon), and City of Heavenly Fire, due in September of 2013.  There’s also another Shadow Hunter series in development, the Dark Artifices, which will take place roughly five years after the events in City of Heavenly Fire.  So, there’s lots more Shadow Hunter goodness to look forward to.

If you’d like to learn more about Cassandra Clare and her amazing books, you might want to check out these websites:

You can also follow Cassandra Clare on Twitter @cassieclare.

I will leave you now, dear readers, for I am spent.  It has been a great day filled with books, authors, and fellow word nerds.  I wish every day could be so awesome.

Published in: on December 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Chaos

Spoiler alert!!!  Before proceeding with this post, read Num8ers by Rachel Ward.  Although this sequel can stand alone, your reading experience will only be enhanced if you know some of the back story provided in Num8ers.

About a year ago, I read Num8ers by Rachel Ward.  I was fascinated by the book’s concept, and, when I heard that there would be two more books, I was super excited.  Well, I just finished reading the second book in this series, The Chaos, and let me tell you that this book was well worth the wait.  I think it’s even better than the previous book, and I look forward to seeing how things progress in the third book, Infinity.

The events in The Chaos take place roughly sixteen years after the end of Num8ers.  The year is 2026.

Adam inherited his mother’s curse of seeing the date of a person’s death when he looks into his/her eyes.  But his ability comes with a twist.  Adam can also see how the person will die–if it will be peaceful, brutal, quiet, or violent.  This curse is quickly driving him mad, especially when it becomes clear that a lot of people in London are going die very soon…on January 1st, 2027, just a few short months away.  The deaths will not be peaceful.  They will be full of pain, violence, fire, and fear.  Is there anything Adam can do to stop what is sure to come?  Will anyone even listen to him?

Sarah is a young girl with problems of her own.  She is pregnant and scared, even moreso when she first sees Adam at school.  She’s seen him before…in her worst nightmares.  They’re in a blazing fire, and he’s taking her baby away from her.  Sarah knows she must run away from the threat she feels when she looks at Adam and the abuse she faced at home that led to her current situation.  But where will she go?  How can a fifteen-year-old mother survive with no money, no food, and no home?  And can Sarah figure out what Adam has to do with her future before nightmare turns to reality?

As these two tortured teens battle demons no child or adult should face, their paths become entwined.  There is fear of both the known and unknown in their eyes, but they know that something bad is about to happen.  Can they work together to stop the chaos and save those they love, or will fate decide that their numbers are up?  Find out when you read The Chaos, book two in the Num8ers series, by Rachel Ward.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of everything that happens in this book.  You’ll just have to read it and discover the awesomeness for yourself.  There is some adult content and language, so this book (and the one preceding it) may not be appropriate for younger readers.  I am eagerly anticipating the U.S. release of the third book in this trilogy, Infinity.  I think it’s going to be released in the U.K. this week, but I’m not sure yet when we can expect it here in the States.

For more information on the Num8ers series and author Rachel Ward, visit http://www.rachelwardbooks.com/.

Demonglass

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, proceed with caution!  Demonglass is book two in the Hex Hall series, and this post will be very spoilery.  (New word alert!)

If you just heard a scream of frustration that seemed to originate from a small town in upstate South Carolina, that was me.  I just finished reading Demonglass, the second book in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall trilogy, and it ended on such an unbelievable cliffhanger that I am having difficulty suppressing my urge to throw things.  I want to read book three NOW, but I’m sad to report that I’ll have to wait until at least March of next year to find out what is going on in this amazing story.

If you liked Hex Hall, then I think you will like Demonglass even more.  The story picks up where Hex Hall ended.  Sophie Mercer, as wonderfully sarcastic as ever, is still at Hecate Hall.  She’s waiting on her dad to come and get her so that she can begin the process of removing her powers.  (Just to refresh your memory, Sophie is a demon with nearly uncontrollable powers.)  She’s scared of what she could do, and she wants the powers gone.  But things might not be quite so straightforward.

Sophie’s dad, the head of the Prodigium (magic folk) Council, takes Sophie and a couple of friends to London for the summer so that Sophie can reconsider the Removal.  She decides pretty quickly against removing her powers but only because she senses that things around her are somehow wrong.  Add to that a betrothal she knew nothing about, a couple of “new” demons, getting to know dear old dad, a ghost who’s seemingly attached to Sophie, and her feelings for Archer (who happens to be a member of the Eye, a group sworn to wipe out the Prodigium), and it’s going to be quite the eventful summer.

A war is brewing between the Prodigium and the Eye.  Sophie’s powers, and those of her father and the other demons (whose origins are unknown), could be used as weapons in this coming war.  Is Sophie willing to use her powers to fight for the Prodigium even if it means battling Archer, the boy who holds her heart?  Is there a way to avoid the war that is coming?  If Sophie can only find out who is creating demons, she knows that she can at least minimize the threat of war.  Her search for answers will take her to some unexpected places, and she may be unprepared for what she finds.  Can Sophie reconcile her duty to the Prodigium with her love for her sworn enemy, or will that choice be taken out of her hands?  Read Demonglass to find out!

I thorougly enjoyed Demonglass, and, like I said, I cannot wait for the third installment in this series.  Sophie’s voice is so refreshing and snarky.  Even with everything crumbling around her, she finds a way to break tension with a well-placed sarcastic comment.  I love that, and I think a lot of readers, especially teens, will be able to relate to Sophie’s fluency in sarcasm.

The third book in the Hex Hall series is currently (at least to my knowledge) untitled, and it is scheduled for a spring 2012 release.  I am happy to report, though, that there is a spin-off series in the works (Yay!) which will include cameos of our favorite characters from the Hex Hall series (at least those that survive…and maybe some that don’t).  Author Rachel Hawkins is also working on a new series that promises to include more snarkiness, kissing, and swordfights.  (Yay again!)  For more information on the Hex Hall series and what’s going on with the author, visit Rachel Hawkins’ blog at http://readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com/.

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Clockwork Angel

So, I’ve finally finished reading the first book in Cassandra Clare’s prequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments series.  The prequel trilogy is referred to as The Infernal Devices, and book one is Clockwork Angel.  I’ve been looking forward to this book for quite some time since I am a huge fan of the Mortal Instruments series.  I was not disappointed.  Clockwork Angel was just as action-packed as any of the books in the Mortal Instruments series.  I was invested in the characters, Clare’s attention to detail again amazed me, and I was bummed when the book ended.  I am eagerly anticipating the next book in this awesome series, as well as any other book that Clare publishes (and that includes City of Fallen Angels, released April 5, 2011).

Clockwork Angel takes readers on a journey to Victorian London.  Tessa Gray has just arrived from America to look for her brother, Nate.  He has disappeared, and she just knows that something bad has happened to him.  (She’s not wrong.)  Almost immediately, Tessa is spirited away by the Dark Sisters.  These two creepy women force Tessa to face what she truly is if she ever wishes to see her brother again.  And what is Tessa?  No one really knows, but it seems she has the power to transform into another person.  Tessa did not realize she had this power, and she does not know how it relates to her parents, her brother, or what is happening to her now.

Just when Tessa is ready to give up all hope, she is rescued and taken in by a group of Shadowhunters, or demon killers.  These fierce warriors agree to help her find her brother if she will use her newly discovered ability to help them uncover the evil at work in London’s Downworld.  Tessa agrees, and during her time at the Shadowhunter’s London Institute, she grows closer to those who have taken her in:  Will, the arrogant, beautiful boy who keeps everyone at a distance (sound familiar?); Jem, the silver-haired, silver-eyed boy with a mysterious secret; Jessamine, who sees her life as a Shadowhunter as an unbearable burden; Henry, the “mad scientist” of the group who is always tinkering with new inventions; and Charlotte, the head of the Institute, who is fighting for her own measure of control in a world where women must battle for a voice.

As a mysterious plot is uncovered that could destroy the Shadowhunters forever, Tessa must make some tough decisions.  Will she try to remain the girl she once was and deny her new-found powers, or will she embrace what she is?  Will she succumb to those who wish to use her abilities for evil, or will she help the Shadowhunters?  The choice may not be as simple as Tessa, or anyone else, thinks.  Tessa may even have to choose between the only family she has left and the new friends who have given her sanctuary in her time of greatest need.  What will she do?  Read Clockwork Angel to find out.

It should come as no shock to anyone that I loved this book, especially since, at some points, I was able to draw parallels to that masterpiece of cinema, the Star Wars saga.  (Mainly the original trilogy…I’ll be the first to admit that the Star Wars prequels were less than spectacular.)  Anyway, I really hope you’ll read this book as well as the Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and, coming soon, City of Fallen Angels).  I just wish the next book in the Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Prince, were being released tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see where this story is going.

For more information on Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments, and The Infernal Devices, visit http://cassandraclare.com/cms/home.

Published in: on September 4, 2010 at 8:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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Bewitching Season

Well, I’ve finally finished Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle.  To be perfectly honest, I’ve been trying to finish this book for about two months.  It’s not a book I would generally pick up, so I wasn’t really motivated to finish it.  (I finally did because it’s nominated for my state’s young adult book award for next year.)  While it took an exceedingly long time to get interested in this book, once I got about halfway through, I couldn’t wait to finish it.  The action really picks up in the middle, and I could finally say that I was invested in the story.

Persephone and Penelope are about to be launched on London society.  The year is 1837, and the twin sisters are preparing for their first London season.  These aren’t two ordinary sisters, though.  They are witches.  For years, they’ve been training with their governess, Miss Allardyce, who not only teaches them writing and math but also how to use and control their magical gifts.

As the season is set to begin, however, Miss Allardyce goes missing.  Persy and Pen have no idea where to find her.  The two sisters must also deal with unbelievably tedious dress fittings (at least, I found them to be tedious), a nosy little brother, and the inevitable husband hunting of the season.  Persy wants little or nothing to do with the season and would love to devote all of her time to finding her missing governess, but her plans are complicated when she catches the eyes of two potential suitors.

As events unfold, Persy and Pen learn of a foul plot to control the Princess Victoria, heir to the throne, and their missing governess is somehow involved.  Can they thwart this evil plan while maintaining their decorum in London’s most prestigious ballrooms?  Is this even possible?  And how can Persy concentrate on rescuing Miss Allardyce when she’s trying to decide who she should marry or if she should wed at all?  Read Bewitching Season to learn how truly magical Victorian London can be.

While I admit that it took me forever to finally finish this book, I do plan to check out the sequel, Betraying Season, soon.  Now that I’ve read Persy’s story, I’m eager to see how things develop for her sister Pen.

Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Devil’s Kiss

My latest read is Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda. This book was an uncomfortable book for me to read simply because of the subject matter. Religion plays a big part in this book, and many of the events of the book sort of flew in the face of everything I’ve ever been taught as a Christian. That being said, the book was a good one with a strong plot and sympathetic characters.

Bilqis SanGreal is the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, a group of warriors charged with protecting the world from the Unholy. Life, as you may imagine, is no picnic for Billi. In addition to attending “normal” school, where she has to dodge questions about bruises, cuts, and other injuries, she must endure rigorous training to prepare her for her battles against creatures who wish to spread evil and fear in the world.

Billi’s only real friend is Kay who has just returned from his year-long training as Templar Oracle in Jerusalem. Billi is a little bitter that Kay never tried to contact her during the past year. She also notices some changes in Kay that she’s none too pleased with. Where is the boy she used to call her best friend? And who is this new guy, Mike, who seems to be ready to take Kay’s place in Billi’s life? (Hint: Mike is not who–or what–he seems.)

As Billi deals with many changes in her life, she struggles with her place as a Templar. Does she want to spend the rest of her life battling the Unholy? She knows her lifespan is drastically reduced if she remains.

As events unfold, it becomes clearer and clearer that Billi’s destiny lies with the Knights Templar. It is up to her to fight against one who would unleash the Tenth Plague on the firstborn of London. Can she do it? Will she be able to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to save millions?

I highly recommend this book to fantasy fans, especially those who like their fantasy with religious undertones. If you like Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda may be the book for you.

If you would like more information on the Knights Templar, the website below is a good place to start.

http://www.templarhistory.com/

Published in: on February 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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