ARC Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

DefyHow did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Scholastic Press)

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Summary: A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

My Thoughts

I must say, I enjoyed this book. Alexa is a fantastic protagonist, and I love that she refuses to be a damsel in distress. She kicks everybody’s asses and saves everybody and she refuses to just lie back and do what the men tell her. I. Love. Her. She is my spirit animal and if I could call on a fictional character to have my back in a fight with the mafia, I would choose Alexa. Every time.

I will say it was a bit heavy on the romance, especially the love triangle situation, but that’s partly due to the fact that I would much rather see her fighting than making out with a guy, just because she’s so awesome at it. I would have found it more interesting if the animosity between her and Damian was real, or if Rylan was less of a Jacob Black clone. As it was, the love triangle annoyed me, especially because it seemed to transform Alexa into some starstruck idiot “discovering her newfound femininity.” And (slight spoiler), I was a bit bummed that there was no “OH MY GOD YOU’RE A GIRL WTF IS THIS” moment. Apparently Alexa is really shitty at pretending to be a boy. And apparently it’s not like anybody caught a glimpse of her lady bits; they just went “oh that’s a effeminate looking guy, must be a girl” and then went quietly about their business while allowing Alexa to keep believing she was the best fake boy to ever fake boy.

And when Damian is an ass (which, let’s be honest, is like once a page), Alexa takes none of it. She demands answers and is rightly furious at what he does, and although she does lose steam rather quickly, I still loved how feisty she is. By the end of that book, everybody and their mom knows not to mess with Alexa Hollen.

Also, SHE SAVES PEOPLE. There was no girl-plays-miniscule-role-in-actually-killing-bad-guy. Nope. This girl kicks the bad guy’s ass herself and becomes a national hero. It’s like Mulan except with a really not-cool king instead of an old emperor who is basically a Chinese Dumbledore.

Serious note: I was impressed with the inclusion of “breeding houses”. Rape is a really difficult and sensitive topic but I think the author approached it very well and it made me root for Alexa to succeed even more. Just the thought of what those girls were going through in that place is horrific, and it instantly made the plot so much more real and urgent for me. BUT, with that being said, I’ve heard other opinions and I know that not every reader will see it in that light. I can certainly see where it would come across as offensive, so just be aware of that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. Alexa was an great protagonist and I’m very excited for the next book in the series!

Rating:

Four Stars

Recommend it?

Absolutely!

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

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ARC Review: Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Witch FinderHow did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Hodder Children’s Books)

Genre: YA, Fantasy/Paranormal

Synopsis: London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.

Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with Witch Finder from the cover alone. I mean, it’s freaking GORGEOUS. And also I love reading witch stories, so I was really excited to get approved for this one.

It actually turned out even better than I thought it would. Ruth Warburton has a lovely way with words and Luke and Rosa just gave me a lot of feelings. I loved Luke’s conflict over what he’s sworn to do; it was written perfectly and he did some things that I was rather surprised by. He’s not immediately torn with grief over his task of killing this upper-class witch, nor is Rosa a glowing beacon of virtue winning him over with the sheer purity and goodness of her heart. They both have faults and weaknesses and they had splendid chemistry together. The romance between them felt so sweet and genuine and I had to allow myself a few fangirling moments while reading.

There are some heavier issues in this book that I did not expect, such as abuse and financial problems, which really enhanced the story to me. The “villain” role, while a bit shallow in this book, has clear potential as a deeper character who has a legitimate reason for what he’s doing, and I was especially pleased by this because I hate typecasted antagonists who are bad just for the sake of being bad. It’s such a cop-out and it drives me nuts when authors do that.

I also really love the fact that Rosa does not just lie down and take everything that’s thrown at her—she’s a brilliant, strong character who, although having moments where she is powerless and defeated, really comes into her own by the end of the book. Luke, of course, made me want to throw myself off a cliff and paint rainbows everywhere simultaneously. He’s not fearless but he’s not a pushover either; I loved his protective side and the way he interacts with Rosa and the conflict he feels.

Overall, I loved this book. It was sweet, brilliantly written, and the ending came far too soon.

Rating:

Five Stars

Recommend it?

Absolutely.

Pre-order it:

Amazon | Book Depository

Other books by the author:

A Witch in Winter            A Witch in Love             A Witch Alone

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Ondine by Emma Raveling

OndineBlitzBanner2

Good morning! Today I’m happy to be participating in a book blitz for Emma Raveling’s new release, Ondine. Ondine is the prequel novella to her Ondine Quartet series, and was published just yesterday on December 19, 2013. Take a look!


Ondine

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: “I shouldn’t get involved.”

Rebellious and headstrong, sixteen-year-old Kendra Irisavie doesn’t have much respect for authority. An ondine with the powerful gift of Virtue, she uses her tough attitude and Empath magic to navigate through high school and keep others away.

Because being an ondine also means keeping secrets.

Kendra and her mother are Rogue water elementals in the middle of an ancient war. They hide among humans, their survival constantly threatened by monstrous Aquidae demons.

Along with a rigorous training regimen to mold Kendra into a lethal fighter, her mother has instituted four rules to keep her safe.

Trust no one. Relationships are weaknesses. Emotional attachments are dangerous. Be responsible only for yourself.

But when Kendra witnesses a classmate in trouble, she intervenes and her decision to break the rules comes at a price.

Sometimes, humans could be more dangerous than demons.

Ondine is a short prequel novella for the young adult urban / paranormal fantasy series, the Ondine Quartet.

Purchase at Amazon

Excerpt

He tensed. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying I want in.” I settled on the corner of the desk and levelly met his look of disbelief. “I want you to take me to his place so —“

“No.”

“I can do this.”

Rui stood and walked back to the car.

“You don’t know what I can—“

“I don’t care what you think you can do.” He whipped around to face me, his expression hard. “You don’t know jack shit about my  —“

“I know what he does,” I said quietly. “I know what he did to you. To your broth—“

In one fluid movement, he swept me off the desk and shoved me against the wall. Two hundred pounds of muscle locked me into place and confirmed Troy’s story.

Rui’s actions revealed a high degree of training, a controlled, physical strength I’d initially suspected in the school courtyard.

An icy shiver shot down my spine. If we were thrown into a ring together, he really might give me a run for my money.

Muscled forearm pressed against my neck, effectively pinning me in place.

“Rui,” I said through my teeth. “I can stop him.”

The smart thing to do was walk away and let him, his father, and Troy sort out this mess. Sure, Troy would get the short end of the stick, but that wasn’t my problem.

Except my conscience wouldn’t stop prickling. I couldn’t let it go.

Maybe because Troy reminded me of past regrets and this was an opportunity to change the outcome. Maybe because the white-hot anger in Rui was a festering wound that felt all too familiar.

Hell, maybe I just really wanted to prove to my mother I could do this.

I could stop one human male.

Rui’s voice dropped to a whisper. “You don’t know shit.”

Cold eyes bored into me, hard and demanding. Magic bubbled through my veins. Beneath the anger, Empath sensed determination and worry. It was almost as if he was willing me to understand…

My gaze flickered up. Harsh light illuminated the ugly industrial walls of the garage, bouncing off metal and steel. Something winked in the corner.

Lens reflection meant surveillance. The entire place was probably bugged.

I blinked once. Slowly.

Rui studied me for a moment longer before the grinding pressure against my windpipe eased. I coughed, lungs desperately sucking in air.

Without another word, he exited the garage and I followed. Flickering yellow streetlights cast sickly triangular patches across the asphalt. Night air closed in, thick and humid.

The relentless drone of the Route 60 overpass grew louder and more insistent as we neared the main street.

“I’ve seen you,” he finally said. “At Rave.”

The club was only a few blocks away. “Yeah.”

“You like working the floor.” I felt the weight of his glance through the shadowy gloom. “But you don’t buy.”

“Not my thing.”

“You sound offended.”

I shrugged. “Needing something makes you weak.”

“Sometimes what we need is good for us. Sometimes it’s not. But we all got something we’re addicted to, girl.” He laughed, a harsh rumble of bitter amusement. “You’re just addicted to physical release.”

The scrutiny made me uncomfortable. “So what’s your addiction?”

“Belief.” He pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “You working with the cops?”

“Not exactly.”

Empath swept through him, attempting to make sense of the puzzle that was Rui Vergara. He wasn’t lying or concealing who he was. The pain was there, hot and unstable. A thread of something wistful, too. Sadness? Maybe regret.

But there was also ruthlessness and a barely controlled fury that came from being kicked down one too many times.

Who was it directed toward? His father? Troy? And how quickly could it shift to me?

The lighter’s flare briefly highlighted the solemnity etched into his skin. He seemed far older than his age.

“No, you’re not a rat.” He took a long drag and tilted his head. Wariness heightened at the shrewd look in his eyes. “Just another person who has something to hide.”

About the Author

I’m a fantasy writer who lives a slightly eccentric life with my accommodating husband and our charming, neurotic dog. I’m currently working on the Ondine Quartet, a young adult urban fantasy/paranormal series featuring a kick-ass heroine, powerful magic, and the complex world of water elementals.

I have a weird love of spreadsheets and organizational tools because they give me the illusion that I am somehow in control of the chaos that is my life. I adore beautiful art such as painting and sculpture, classical music, lyrical writing, and great graphic design. My all-time favorite books (as of this writing) are Immortality by Milan Kundera, 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

Find Her:

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

Giveaway

Prizes:

Ebook copy of Ondine (#0.5), as well as the first two books in the Ondine Quartet, Whirl and Billow

Signed Ondine Quartet swag pack (includes bookmarks and stickers)

Click HERE to enter!

Whirl Billow Ondine


This promotional post was organized by Xpresso Book Tours.

Xpresso Book Tours

ARC Review: A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish

A Dance of CloaksHow did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Orbit)

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Thren Felhorn is the greatest assassin of his time. Marshalling the thieves’ guilds under his control, he declares war against the Trifect, an allegiance of wealthy and powerful nobles.

Aaron Felhorn has been groomed since birth to be Thren’s heir. Sent to kill the daughter of a priest, Aaron instead risks his own life to protect her from the wrath of his guild. In doing so, he glimpses a world beyond poison, daggers, and the iron control of his father.

Guilds twist and turn, trading allegiances for survival. The Trifect weakens, its reputation broken, its money dwindling. The players take sides as the war nears its end, and Thren puts in motion a plan to execute hundreds.

Only Aaron can stop the massacre and protect those he loves…

Assassin or protector; every choice has its consequences.

My Thoughts

I must say, I was surprised by A Dance of Cloaks. It didn’t take me where I expected to go, but it was a very intriguing book to read. The main protagonist (though I don’t really think there is a concrete main protagonist) is a young boy named Aaron, and the way he was introduced was enough of a shock to make me just about fall out of my seat. He, Thren, Kayla, Alyssa, and numerous other characters all have extremely conflicting ambitions and motivations, and all the tension kept me on the edge of my seat for the majority of the time.

I’ll confess that I wasn’t really invested until at least halfway into the story, which may have been partly due to my mood while reading, but by the time Delysia is introduced, I was fully on board. I didn’t even know who to root for, as every character had bad/not nice intentions that were entirely justified. No matter whose side I chose, there was a problem or some factor that made choosing that side conflicting. Even Aaron, sweet, not-entirely-heartless Aaron, had some seriously not-cool ideas/plans/desires.

That was probably what I loved most about A Dance of Cloaks. It felt very real and raw, nothing hidden or glossed over. There is torture, rape, violence, greed, cruelty, revenge, and all the worst aspects of the human character, and I appreciated that unflinching portrayal where no one is perfect or even truly understandable. And the negatives were, in my opinion, nicely balanced with the positives: Delysia’s influence on Aaron, Kayla’s kindness, Robert Haern’s wisdom, Alyssa’s determination to overcome those who would use her, Maynard’s love for his daughter.

This novel, while certainly not without flaws or weaknesses, tells a good story and builds a unique and intriguing world of thieves, kings, and the power struggle between them.

Rating:

Five Stars

Recommend it?

If you like A Game of Thrones, there’s a good possibility you’ll like this one.

Purchase it:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Other books by the author:

A Dance of Blades Night of Wolves The Weight of Blood

Review: Weather Witch by Shannon Delany

Weather Witch

How did I get it? Local used bookstore

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Steampunk

Summary: In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!

Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!

But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch.

My Thoughts

Okay, let me just get this out first: I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH OMFG ASDFJKLDS.

Ahem. I’m done. (Not really.)

I don’t really read much steampunk, mostly just because the stars align that way when I’m book-shopping. But I saw this one in my local bookstore and had a love-at-first-sight moment because a) the cover is really freaking cool, b) witches are awesome, and c) weather witches? Hell yes. So I took this baby home and then read it on a flight to Philadelphia, which is funny since the book is set in Philadelphia, and fell in love. The flight back was spent crying and spending every last minute of my layover researching the sequel, Stormbringer, which comes out on January 14. (Eep!)

But on to the actual story. Weather Witch was intriguing from the first sentence, and although I could tell certain people were bad news from the start and I had a general notion of where things were headed, the author’s writing and her ability to make me feel the emotions of her characters really drew me in and held my interest throughout the book. Shannon Delany is a strong storyteller, and the way she crafted this strange version of 1840s Philadelphia was fascinating. Jordan, with her strong will and determination to survive, was easy to love and sympathize with, and by the second chapter I was rooting for her all the way. Rowen, who’s perhaps my favorite character, was wonderfully refreshing as a male lead. He’s not the strongest, or the bravest, or the most attractive, but he knows who he is and who he wants to be. He obviously cares for Jordan, and despite his own fears will do whatever he must to protect those he loves, which I adored.

Even when there wasn’t a huge amount of action going on, it still felt exciting and suspenseful, and I was on the edge of my seat until the very end (the same end which tore me apart, no joke, that was not okay, Shannon). Every character tugged at my heart at some point, and I cried a bit at some point, which I don’t do often despite what you may think from previous reviews. I felt so close to the story and the characters, to the point that when I finally finished it, it took me a minute to sort out my surroundings, which is a true sign of a good book.

Rating:

Five Stars

Recommend it?

Duh.

Purchase it:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

Other books by the author:

7230309 8662410 9339970

ARC Review: The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank

How did I get it? Netgalley

Genre: NA, fantasy/paranormal

Synopsis: The wall between our world and that of vengeful spirits has protected humanity for more than 400 years. It’s about to come crashing down.
Ellie Lancaster has lived her whole life by the site of the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Virginia settlement that vanished without a trace around 1590. Only the descendants of the two men who banished the spirits of an enemy tribe from the material realm know what really happened to the colony. Ellie is one of those descendants—a Curse Keeper. Her father took pains to teach her what he knew of the curse and the responsibilities of its guardians. He taught her that if the two Curse Keepers ever meet, the curse will be lifted, the gate will open, and the raging Native American spirits will be unleashed to seek their revenge.

Despite her father’s seriousness, Ellie has always taken the legend for a harmless fairy tale. Until she meets the darkly handsome, but downright infuriating, Collin Dailey and realizes everything she was told is true. For when they meet, it’s like the air is sucked from the room. Collin’s presence is electrifying… and it’s not just attraction Ellie feels, but the inexorable pull toward her destiny. The prophecy is real, and now Ellie and Collin must battle supernatural forces and their loathing—and passion—for each other to set things right.

The Curse Keepers are all that stand between the world and its destruction.

Review: I’ll admit, this isn’t my typical read, and I was a teensy bit wary of The Curse Keepers because of it. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but once I did, this novel had me hooked. I love the Native American lore that drives this story, along with the protagonist, Ellie, who is just badass. Once she gets rolling, she is a force to be reckoned with, which was a huge relief for me because I was worried this novel would slip into the typical “omg this guy is so hot screw self-respect I can’t resist his sexual allure”. But instead, while the romantic chemistry starts out as a bit of an eye-roller, I was fully on board with the way Ellie took charge and held her own. I was rooting for her the entire way, and I adored the way she approached life and difficult situations.

As for the plot, there was a very nice build-up to the end, which is mainly due to the seven-day countdown they were working under. The author had great pacing, other than the ridiculous amount of sex going on at one point. I mean, yeah, sex is great, go orgasms, but THERE’S AN AWESOME PLOT THAT I’D KIND OF LIKE TO GET BACK TO NOW BECAUSE I NEED TO KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING OUTSIDE OF COLLIN’S PANTS PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

But really, I enjoyed the way it was crafted, and Ellie was simply fantastic and hilarious to read; she’s snarky and bitchy and she puts Collin in his place in like 2.5 seconds, which was awesome. The chemistry was, for the most part, amazing, and I loved Collin’s and Ellie’s interactions with each other.

My only real issue with The Curse Keepers is the ending. It pisses me off. I’ve yet to find out if there will be a sequel, but if there isn’t, I will throw things. VIOLENTLY.

While I swear and rage at the heavens, go check out The Curse Keepers. It comes out tomorrow!

Rating: Four Stars

Recommend it? Abso-frickin-lutely.

Other books by the author:

17270349 11968173 12872294

 

Netgalley November Update

Netgalley November

So for the past two weeks I’ve been working on my e-galleys and I’ve actually reached my goal of 4 books, so I’m going to see if I can get to 7 by the end of the month, though I won’t have them all reviewed by that time.

For now though, here are the books that I’ve read so far.

Damselfly

Damselfly by Jennie Bates Bozic

I really enjoyed this one. It was fun and sweet but not shallow, and I smiled a lot. You can read my official review here.

The Curse Keepers

The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank (thanks @47North)

I had a great time with this one. Great chemistry between the main characters, and I loved the Native American mythology incorporated in the plot. It was right up my alley.

My official review will be up on Monday, and the novel’s release is on Tuesday, November 19, so take a look!

Endless

Endless by Amanda Gray (thanks @ Month9Books)

I really liked Endless for the time travel element and the Russian history, even if I’m kind of disappointed that Nikolai is still very much an enigma.

My official review is coming soon!

Counting Shadows

Counting Shadows by Olivia Rivers

I’m still deciding how I feel about this one, but I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

A Dance of Cloaks

A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish (thanks @ Orbit)

I’m currently reading this and it’s pretty good so far, even if I’m not flailing about with excitement or anything.

What's Next

Witch Finder

Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton (thanks @ Hodder Children’s Books)

I’m soooo excited to read this one. It looks so good, and the cover is gorgeous, and asdkfjasd.

Defy

Defy by Sara B. Larson (thanks @ Scholastic Press)

Girl dresses as boy, kicks ass, evil guy kidnaps her along with two fine fellows. Uh, hell yes. Don’t mind if I do.

That should be plenty for this month, especially since I’ve got other books on my shelf needing my attention. How’s your reading going?

ARC Review: Damselfly by Jennie Bates Bozic

How did I get it? Netgalley

Genre: Science fiction, dystopian, YA

Synopsis: In 2065, the Lilliput Project created Lina – the first six-inch-tall winged girl – as the solution to a worldwide energy and food crisis. Isolated in a compound amidst the forests of Denmark, Lina has grown up aware of only one purpose: learn how to survive in a world filled with hawks, bumblebees, and loneliness. However, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she discovers that she’s not the only teenager her size. Six ‘Toms’ were created shortly after Lina, and now her creators need to prove to the world that tiny people are the next logical step in human evolution. In other words, they need to prove that reproduction is possible.
Um. No thanks. Lina’s already fallen in love with a boy she met online named Jack. Only he has no idea that thumbelina1847 could literally fit inside his heart.
When her creators threaten to hurt Jack unless she chooses a husband from among the ‘Toms’, Lina agrees to star in a reality TV series. Once the episodes begin to air, the secret of her size is out. Cut off from any contact with the outside world, Lina assumes Jack is no longer interested. After all, what guy would want to date a girl he can’t even kiss?
Slowly, very slowly, she befriends the six young men who see her as their only ticket to happiness. Perhaps she can make just one guy’s dream of love and companionship come true. But her creators have a few more twists in store for her that she never thought possible.
She’s not the only one playing to the cameras.

Review: This was one of those books I just had to have. I have a love of fairy tales and I couldn’t wait to see what the author did with her world and her characters. The combination of fairies, Bachelorette-style reality TV, and a dystopian setting where starvation is looming, had me intrigued and I was curious to know how it all fit together.

I read Damselfly in one sitting, and although it wasn’t addictive at first, by the time I’d gotten halfway through, I was hooked. The author has a way of writing in a way that’s very simple and straightforward while still managing to confront difficult topics with maturity. Her main character, Lina, is likeable but still with some serious flaws and personal obstacles that she has to learn to overcome as the story progresses. Her love interest, Jack, is absolutely wonderful and I love how unique he is as a person; he’s certainly not perfect, but he’s a lovely, rounded character with a good deal of depth to him. I liked him almost instantly, and he actually made me tear up at one point, which I was really not expecting.

I will admit that the reality TV plotline didn’t grab me. Bozic introduced these six “Toms”—little male fairies engineered to reproduce with Lina—and I was really looking forward to getting to know them, but in the end only three or four were actually near memorable. Most of them were given potential room to grow and develop as characters, but that potential was sort of left hanging. I felt a bit cheated because I would have loved to have more attention given to the five other Toms, especially Blue and Shrike, but they were just left waiting in the wings instead.

That being said, there were a lot of great things going on in this book. I adored the characters and my friends can tell you how much I was fangirling because I had to stop after every chapter to share my emotions and do a little dance-jig thing that made my dog run away in terror. The glimpses of the dystopian world Bozic built were fascinating and I loved the way she threaded hints of the state of society into conversations and plotlines. It felt very authentic and unique.

I’m just really hoping that the author isn’t planning on leaving us with that ending. I’m not sure what her companion novelette is going to contribute, but I will track her down and demand a sequel if I have to, because I’m not ready to let this story or these characters go just yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Other Books By the Author: Ms. Bozic has also written a companion novelette for Damselfly called Sugar Plum which has not yet been released, but I am definitely going to be waiting in line to get it. And bonus: it’s free! To keep up with the release, you can check out her website here.

Review of “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare

Genre: YA fantasyCity of Bones cover

Synopsis: 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. Clary knows she should call the police, but it’s hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary’s mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque 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….

Review: I read this book, and its sequel, in the hazy wee hours of the night during freshman year. When I decided to start the series over, partly because the movie is coming out in August ERMAGAHD, I remembered loving it, and I remembered an adorable gay guy, but that was about it. So I started reading with a fair bit of optimism, and I wasn’t let down.

Cassandra Clare has a writing style that could satisfy the vast majority of age groups, though it is geared toward a teenage audience. She has characters and plotlines that most YA writers wouldn’t dare to attempt: a (very adorable) gay relationship between a closeted Shadowhunter boy and an 800-year-old flamboyant warlock, a *SPOILERS* not-really-but-it-seems-like-it incestuous couple, disturbingly creative methods of murdering people, etc… As a writer and as someone who maintains the motto “as long as you’re happy and your actions aren’t hurting anyone (including yourself), it’s your life”, I really appreciate Ms. Clare’s fearlessness and sensitivity toward more controversial issues (although I have to eyeroll at the thought that who someone loves and/or sleeps with is something people feel the need to argue about, because frankly, it’s none of your damn business, but that’s another issue).

I did have a few problems with this book however. For one, the main character Clary gets on my nerves constantly. Her character doesn’t flow very well, she’s childish, she can’t open her damn mouth without saying something thoughtless, and she is completely unaware of her own looks. The last bit irks me because it’s so ridiculously overused, and her lack of confidence sometimes makes me want to drown her in pickle juice. But she does have great moments, and she’s a fairly dynamic character, although I would’ve liked to see a bit more character development (ie, I want her to freaking GROW UP and act like an intelligent life form once in a while).

Also, I would’ve liked Valentine (the oh-so-dreadful villain) to be a little more original and less like a blond, better-dressed version of Voldemort. While I understand how he became who he is in the book, his backstory didn’t really grab me, and he still felt pretty one-dimensional to me by the end.

But, flaws aside, I enjoyed this book a lot and I recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of this genre. While Clary doesn’t grab me, most of the other characters do (especially Jace *swoon*) and I’m willing to look past her shortcomings in hopes that the following books in the series will spice her up and make her more likable.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Chapter 2!!!!

I am so beyond thrilled that in the course of a few days I have gotten to Chapter 2, and I’m actually liking where it’s going. I feel like not only has my story grown, but it actually makes a smidgen of sense.

So that’s that. Just, er, ordinary life o’ Ms. Bond. (NOT REALLY I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT ABOUT THIS)

But what I really wanted to write about today is one of my big fears. I think letting it out might help with getting rid of said fear, so here it goes.

I have many fears about my writing. What writer doesn’t? If you don’t have fears, well frankly, you’re doing something wrong. I have a very specific fear, which results in a problem that has developed over time.

I have doubts. I’m very goal-oriented, and I know that my ultimate goal is to be published. Not self-publishing, because to me, I wouldn’t feel quite the same level of “I did it!” But when I write, I write with that goal in mind. And it gets in my way. I start wondering if there’s even a market for what I’m writing, if people will think it’s just a rip-off of other novels (it’s not, I promise, though obviously I have been inspired by some great stories like LOTR and the Inheritance series), if my writing is good enough, if people will get what I’m trying to say, if people will like what I’m saying, if it’s exciting enough, if the characters are good enough, if the plot is interesting enough.

What if everything is bad, and I spend hours and days and weeks and months and years writing and finishing and editing and creating this huge, complex story and no one wants it, no one cares, no one thinks it’s good?

That is one of my biggest fears, because what I’m working on is just massive. I have dozens of characters, plotlines,  backstories, cultures, spanning across 5 books of at least 500 pages each, and I’m creating languages, languages, for three different cultures, and I’m making calendars and weather patterns and maps and spreadsheets and diagrams.

And what if I get to the end, and I can’t sell it? What if I get to the end, and I’m the only one who cares?

It’s a fear that I’m constantly trying to overcome, because I don’t want it to be about what will or won’t sell, what I can or can’t publish. I want it to be about writing, and this beautiful story with adventures and passion and journeys and duty and love and friendship and fate and choosing to do what’s right instead of what’s easy.

That’s what writing should be. Nothing more, nothing less. It should be you, with a pen, with a keyboard, with a piece of chalk, telling a story.