Waiting on Wednesday: “The Unnaturalists” by Tiffany Trent

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and highlights upcoming releases that we just can’t wait to get our hands on. 🙂

  Title: The Unnaturalists (Click this link for Amazon, the cover for Goodreads.)

  Author: Tiffany Trent

  Expected Publication Date: August 14th, 2012

  Summary from Goodreads:

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

  Why I’m Waiting: I have a weakness for steampunk, and this looks like it’s going to be phenomenal. I love that the MC is kind of a historical anthropologist/librarian, and that Nikola Tesla was involved in the original creation of New London.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Feel free to comment below/link me back to your own WoW post and let me know!

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Book Review: “Clockwork Prince” by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices, #2)

(In case you missed it, my review of Clockwork Angel is here.)

 

Title: Clockwork Prince (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Available In: Hardcover, Audiobook, eBook for Nook, eBook for Kindle

Maturity Level: 14+. Lots of some makeout scenes, quite a lot of violence, and disturbing imagery. Magnus Bane still exists, and Jem has  a steamy side. :3

You May Like This Book if: you like gothic romance, steampunk, or YA; if you want to read a really good portrayal of an awesome love triangle; if you’re a fan of Cassie Clare’s other work.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you will not read a love triangle NO MATTER WHAT; if you’re averse to romance in general; IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOOK ONE, CLOCKWORK ANGEL (I cannot stress this enough!). [Though I would like to include a shout-out to those who, like me, were not really impressed with The Mortal Instruments—THIS SERIES IS UMPTEEN TIMES BETTER. CC has really grown up as a writer and it shows.]

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND EXCESSIVE FANGIRLING. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Clockwork Prince. Hmm. I have a hard time being eloquent about this book—usually I dissolve into meaningless sounds and massive amounts of hand-flailing—but I’m going to try.

Clockwork Prince picks up a little after the events of Clockwork Angel. Tessa has had some time to settle into her new life at the Institute, and indeed London, and she’s beginning to find some peace. However, that peace is abruptly shattered when a plot emerges within Shadowhunter society to unseat Charlotte as the head of the Institute. The Consul gives Charlotte and her followers an ultimatum—find Mortmain and bring him to justice in the prescribed amount of time, or lose her position, leaving Tessa and the others without protection.

Overall, I really, really, REALLY loved this book. The romance/love triangle was wonderfully handled, and there were so many scenes that either made me laugh out loud or made my throat close with tears. Occasionally, Clare over-describes, but for the most part, she appears to have attained a certain degree of proficiency in her craft that she simply didn’t have when she started out. If you’re still on the fence about this series, please do read this book; it’s definitely worth your time. 😀

Pros

  • Jem/Tessa/Will. This is quite possibly the best love triangle that I’ve seen in YA for awhile—neither of the dudes are jerks*, they both appear to truly love Tessa, and Tessa kind of truly loves both of them. And also? All three of these people are sexy as hell. I can’t help but wonder if Clare intends to make this less of a triangle and more of a threesome**, which would be awesome but might make it less marketable as YA.

*Well, Will. But there’s a story behind that. I will try not to spoil too much.

**Quick scan of the GR reviews for this book shows me that I’m not the first person who thought of this. HMM. There’s also a tweet that I remember but cannot find, where Clare actually mentions threesomes. I AM SEARCHING.

  • the humor, particularly any scene with Henry :3
  • details on Ascension and parabatai. I’m guessing some of these topics are covered in TMI, but I’ve only read the first book in that series, so I appreciated the detail.
  • Sophie and Henry becoming badass.
  • DEMON POX 😀 If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then I am saying NOTHING. Find out for yourself 😀
  • Magnus! (with Camille. And Woolsey. Oh, Magnus. I love you.)

Cons

  • Occasional over-description.
  • Unwieldy exposition in places.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Page 63, where Henry simply forgets what he was about to say. ❤
  • Page 202-205. No explanation required. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about.
  • Page 327. I’m pretty sure the everyone-thinks-Will-is-a-lunatic meeting is a thing 😀

Favorite Line: “If you will not help me, I swear I will change into you and I will lift him myself. And then everyone here will see what you look like in a dress.” Tessa to Jem, pg 193 of Clockwork Prince.

Star Rating on Goodreads/Final Grade:  4.5 stars. A+.

Top Ten Books I Would Save if Disaster Struck

(Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish.)

I don’t have a tremendous amount of time to blog this morning– I’m on a rather tight schedule for today and am also suffering from the Head Cold of Doom– but when I saw this TTT topic, I couldn’t resist jotting my list down really quick. 🙂

And the books are…

  1. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This book is a classic for me, and definitely something I’d want to be reading if there was a disaster 😀
  2. Wild Magicby Tamora Pierce. Ideally, I’d be able to save all my Pierce books, but if I had to pick just one, it would be this one.
  3. Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. I love the humor in this book, and the romance, and just… pretty much everything about it.
  4. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Best steampunk I’ve read in a while.
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stoneby JK Rowling. Again, I’d prefer to save all of them, but this particular copy has sentimental value.
  6. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. I just love this book too much– from the moment Nick Ryves popped his head and his sword out from under the kitchen sink, I was hooked.
  7. Drink Slay Loveby Sarah Beth Durst. Best vampire book EVER.
  8. White Cat by Holly Black. This copy also has sentimental value– it has been signed and doodled in by Black herself!
  9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Again, signed copy. Also, the most emotionally wrenching book I’ve ever read.
  10. My audiobook copy of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Because awesome story + Neil Gaiman’s voice= unforgettable.

What books are in  your top ten? Feel free to link me to your post or let me know in the comments!

 

Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices, #1)

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Available In: eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook, Paperback, Hardcover, Audio CD

Warnings: PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and Magnus Bane’s existence.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG, HONEST OPINIONS. ALSO, DECLARATIONS OF LOVE FOR CERTAIN CHARACTERS.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

When I first picked up Clockwork Angel, I had not yet realized that this book was a prequel to The Mortal Instruments series. I’m kind of glad I didn’t; since I’ve only read City of Bones, my inclination would have been to put the book down and read the rest of TMI first. I kept going, however, and was pleased to discover that my very basic working knowledge of the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders was enough to carry me through this book.

The story opens with our heroine, Tessa, sailing from the familiar streets of New York City to the unfamiliar atmosphere of London Town at the behest of her brother Nathaniel and in the wake of her beloved aunt’s death. Tessa’s already nervous enough about leaving the city that has been her home, and when she is met at the docks by a sinister pair of women who claim to be acting on Nathaniel’s behalf, she is understandably perturbed. She goes along with it, however, thinking that surely Nathaniel knows best. It turns out, however, that the Dark Sisters are interested in her for their own reasons– particularly, her strange power to Change into others at will.

And when Tessa meets Will Herondale, a young Shadowhunter, she discovers that the Dark Sisters aren’t the only ones intrigued by her…

Overall, I really thought this book was much better than City of Bones. I liked Tessa more as a main character than I liked Clary—mainly because there is no reason for Clary to be as passive as she is given that she’s a modern gal. Tessa, on the other hand, is very much a classical Gothic heroine, bound by society’s expectations but determined to fight back, and towards the end of the book, she really has started to grow a backbone of steel. I am also completely in love with Jem, and the love triangle that Clare has set up is delicious. Throw in the lovingly researched alt-London setting and the demon-killing badassery that characterized TMI and we have a real winner here. I’m definitely looking forward to Clockwork Prince.

Pros

  • The clockwork angel pendant is such a lovely concept.
  • Henry. I adore mad scientists, and Henry’s ineptitude makes me snicker.
  • The fact that Tessa is a book lover. Rock on, bookworm girl. Unfortunately, the real world is not like the novels, which sucks.
  • JEM. ❤ I just cannot get over how much I love this guy. He’s just so sweet, and brave, and so DEAD at some point in the future. I always go for the doomed ones.
  • Sophie. I love her as a  character, and should Will/Tessa become a thing, I would love it if Clare threw in some Jem/Sophie—if it weren’t for the fact that Jem is so DEAD.
  • Jessamine’s killer parasol,  which is badass.
  • Henry/Charlotte. They are just so cute together, regardless of what people say about the reasons for their marriage. I do think they truly love one another, under all that—at least they’re happy.
  • The Institute’s family dynamic. I loved reading the bits where the “children” were spying on the Enclave meeting and Jessamine and Will’s brother-sister bickering.
  • Magnus Bane. Who needs no explanation. All I can say is, the Victorian era suits him. AND CHURCH! ❤
  • Jessamine clonking Nate. I was cheering for her. Out loud.
  • Tessa’s London is lovingly researched and beautifully portrayed. It’s a world I would love to take a holiday in, and I applaud Clare for her efforts to make it as historically accurate as possible while still adding enough twists to make it just a little bit steampunk.

Cons

  • Tessa’s kind of passive in the early parts of the book, almost in a bodice-ripper heroine sort of way, which always makes me cringe a bit. She gets better as the book goes on, though, so I’m hoping to see her gain even more awesomeness in book 2.
  • Occasionally, the exposition in this book is rather unwieldy, with long portions of dialogue that are nothing more than one character telling another how the world works.
  • Some descriptive words are used repetitively, i.e. Jem’s silvery eyes.
  • The prose could be made a little tighter and neater, by cutting unnecessary descriptors and sentences, especially when they do nothing but reiterate what a character has just said/done.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A. Would reread, will definitely read other books in series.

(My review of Clockwork Prince is now live! Click to read….)

Book Review: “Incarcercon” by Catherine Fisher

Title: Incarceron

Author: Catherine Fisher

Warnings: PG 13 for violence and swearing.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG, HONEST OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I have long held the opinion that when you are reading/reviewing a book, the question that you should be asking is not “Is this book good/bad/decent/awesome?”

Rather, the question should be “What makes this book good/bad/decent/awesome?”

In the case of Incarceron, there are many different factors that make it awesome. The best thing about this book? All of these factors come together to form a cohesive whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

The story is a dual narrative, alternating between  two worlds that Fisher balances  wonderfully. Finn is the amnesiac “seer” of a gang within the living prison of Incarceron. Claudia is the entitled daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, attempting to escape an arranged marriage within the equally restrictive society of Outside. At first, there is very little that connects them, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that they are, in fact, rather intimately linked. Joined by allies such as Jared, Keiro, and Attia, Finn attempts to find a method of escape from Incarceron, while Claudia investigates its mysteries and discovers that she is far more entangled in Incarceron’s web than she initially believed.

Overall, the plot was a little bit predictable, the dual narrative a bit fiddly, but it was, for the most part, a lovely read. The brilliance of this book is that its strengths far outweigh its flaws, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the sequel, Sapphique.

Pros

  • The worldbuilding alone is gorgeous. Obviously, Fisher is an adept in this department; she has a deft touch that permeates both the restrictive Era-focused society of the Outside and the chaotic and cutthroat environment of Incarceron. Her through knowledge of mythology and history also shines through, and her ability to weave these small references into her narrative is astounding.
  • The concept of Incarceron as a being in its own right is neatly executed. I love that it kind of has its own personality, rather than being a faceless rumbling beast ala The Devil in season 2 of Doctor Who.
  • Jared. The dude is a Badass Bookworm despite the fact that he’s got a death sentence hanging over his head. Sickly academics don’t have a whole lot of survival potential in vaguely dystopian/steampunk worlds such as this one, so I’m already steeling myself for the moment that I have to watch him die.
  • Keiro. Keiro’s one of those rough-and-tumble types who give tough love a whole new meaning, but he really does seem to care deeply about the people around him, particularly Finn/Giles. I would like to see him get some POV time in Sapphique, as I feel there is really some untapped potential in his character. (Also, I could totally see Keiro/Attia being a thing, oddly enough.)
  • Claudia. Claudia is the type of girl I like to read about– strong-willed and smart, if occasionally a bit rash. The twist to her storyline was wonderfully executed, and I’d love to see what Fisher does with it from here on out. I’d also like to see Claudia get more chances to be a badass in book 2, just because.
  • Fisher’s fast-paced prose and neatly executed — if slightly predictable– plot are, along with her worldbuilding, the best technical aspects of the book.  And the last line is pitch-perfect!

Cons

  • The dual narrative is jarring at first, and since I was far more into Claudia than Finn, there were places where I’d see that the next chapter was Finn’s and just roll my eyes. Starting around page 105, the POV’s started to become more cohesive, and from page 137 onward, it works.
  • The Queen. As a villain, she was frankly unimpressive, more SnowWhite!Evil Queen than the level of character that I’d come to expect by the time she appeared.
  • Finn can sometimes come off as a bit whiny and unlikeable, and the Finn-is-Giles plot was definitely one of the weakest and most predictable. I’m hoping that he grows more of a spine in book 2, and that he becomes involved in some slightly more complicated subplots.
  • The POV occasionally changes from what appears to be third person focused to third person omniscient without much warning, especially toward the end.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A.  Would reread. Will definitely read the sequel(s).