Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ramblings of the Bookish Sort

I don't usually write down my feelings for a book on my blog before the actual review, but I am making a huge exception in this instance. Currently it is 5 till 2 a.m. over here as I start this post where I have just spent the last, oh, 7 minutes or so screaming into a pillow out of frustration. You might be wondering as to why I am spending my time screaming and punching a pillow in the middle of the night. Two words: Clockwork Prince. Yes, the newest book by Cassandra Clare of The Infernal Devices series has finally driven me mad. Before you go thinking that I am completely weird, let me assure you that, this has happened before with a couple of other books . . . but maybe that makes me seem weirder, but I don't care. This book put me to a point that I had to vent my feelings out on my own blog because apparently everyone is asleep at 2 in the morning (which I think is kind of annoying, being a night person myself). I'm not going to go into detail as to way this book specifically drove me crazy, I'm putting all that down in my review! But until then I am just going to let my mind wander, and muse over the concept of how a book can make me feel breathless and a little crazy, even if I will end up talking about something completely different . . . that is why they call it rambling.

You see, it's all about the characters. I've said it before, and I will say it again: the characters make the book. They are everything. If the book doesn't have at least a few good characters that you can latch onto and use as a method of steering through the plot then it is going to be way more difficult to get through a book. They are the soul, the very essence of a story. As cliché as it might be, they really are like actual friends. First, you get to known them. You get to know your favorite parts about them, their weaknesses, what gives them drive. Then they surprise you with their humor, their tenderness, whatever makes them interesting. You learn to LOVE them. Maybe that sounds bad, but, yes, I do love my characters, they are my friends who I share adventures with.

Now here is where the pillow comes in . . . as soon as things start to finally look up for the characters in the type of conflict they are facing, something HUGE pops up and done. This isn't the case with most individual books, what I am mainly talking about is with book series, such as The Infernal Devices. About 5 HUGE things happened in the last 3 chapters of the book, and then BAM!! it's over. Yes, people, it ended and left me in a state of complete shock and a most unsatisfactory feeling in the pit of my stomach. So naturally, after the pillow screaming and misuse of furniture, I went straight to my laptop and found not even a bit of information on the release date of book 3!!!!!! 

This is the kind of book that made me quite literally laugh out loud, gasp, and despair at the end as if all that was happening happened to people I know. It also had much to do with the love triangle featuring Jem, Will, and Tessa. I know love triangles have been over done lately in most YA fiction, but I have never seen one like this. Usually, you know who you're rooting for, even if you change your mind a little while later and go for the other person. In this story, Cassandra Clare made it infuriatingly hard to choose. I honestly can't make up my mind. At one point I had to stop and breathe because the happiness of one and the despair of the other with both their special circumstances, and vice versa, completely broke my heart. And then it's over, to be continued who knows when! It's safe to say that it will be quite some time before I get a chance to see how this will all come out for the good of the story. I know it's not the author's fault, but why can't the books all be out at the same time?? It's absolutely brutal knowing the story will not continue until who knows how many weeks or months!

Anyway, this ramble certainly helped me clear my head and calm my jitters. It's a good thing I have my blog to vent to, even if I don't know who reads this. I can't imagine how much harder it would have been for me to fall asleep with all these thoughts bouncing about in my mind.

My ramblings have now ceased.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Iron Fey Series Review by Julie Kagawa

 This review will consist of a big series overview with mini reviews of each individual book with as little spoilers as possible.

The Iron Fey Series blew me away! See, for me, the characters are everything in a good book. They are the fabric of the story, the foundation of it all. This series had the characters down pat. They were realistic but magical, funny and determined, brave and vulnerable . . . there were just so many combinations that went into creating these complex characters that I really can’t name them all. My favorite had to be Puck who is one of the funniest/sarcastic characters I have ever encountered. The point is that they were all fantastic leaders through the NeverNever.

When I say that I haven’t been this excited over a book series in a long time, that is saying something. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed a good book in a while. There have been many interesting books stacked under my night table, but I haven’t been THIS excited about a book in months. You know the kind of excitement I’m talking about. The kind of excitement where I laughed hysterically a Puck’s pranks, teared up considerably at Ash’s coldness, and the kind where there was absolutely-positively-no-chance-in-hell that I was going to put those books down. They were the kinds of books that I chose over sleep. Thank goodness it’s Winter Break, or I would be considerably sleep deprived! The point is that, these books brought that reading excitement back to me. There were times over the beginning of this school year where reading would be put off for homework and such, and I started to lose the feel of staying up until 5 a.m. with a book under my nose. These books brought them back.

Well, enough sentimentality on my part. I’ll get down to the who’s, what’s, when’s, and why’s of these books. The first three books in this series are completely from the point of view of Meghan Chase. She is a regular girl with the annoying reputation of a hillbilly or pig girl if you will. She is an outcast in her school and a little bit at home. She lives with her mother, her stepfather, and her little four-year-old brother. The day she turns 16 is the day everything in her boring yet normal life shatters. From that moment on she is pulled and pushed into the world of Faery, a magical yet cynical place to be filled with rulers and gremlins and who knows what else. And only she has the powers to save the NeverNevers. From 1-10 for the overall series? I believe the Iron Fey deserves a 9!!

PS: here's a little tidbit I just discovered . . . Julie Kagawa wrote 2 mini ebooks that take place between parts of the series! The parts that were never mentioned like Ash and Meghan's travels to the Winter court in "Winter's Passage" and a mini adventure of Ash and Puck completely told in Puck's funny and eccentric perspective. I just read them, and although way to short to satisfy my thirst for all things Fey, they are certainly not to be missed!

  •      Book 1: The Iron King

Number of pages:363

Book 1 is where all the discoveries of the NeverNever and Faeries come in. Here is where everything unravels for Meghan Chase. Her little brother is replaced by a demon Faery thing and she goes off with her best friend Robbie, who turns out to be a notorious faery, into the heart of the NeverNever in search for her little brother. Here she discovers everything about her past, along with the perils that come with that knowledge. In this book, I have to say I was Team Puck all the way. He was just so funny and lovable! So loyal, I couldn’t imagine the story without him. 

  •           Book 2: The Iron Daughter

Number of pages: 359

Book 2 was a strong follow up of book 1. One thing that I sometimes expect is that the sequel to the original book will somehow come out to be disappointing in some way, or just not good enough in general. Mainly that is because sequels continue the story of the first one. The thing about The Iron Daughter is that although technically, yes, it is a continuation of Meghan’s adventures, it somehow comes out to be a different story. I don’t know if that makes sense, but what I am trying to say is that this book has its ties into the first, but cannot be compared to it because it is unique in and of itself. What happened in this book is that Meghan has kept her promise to Ash and is waiting to be rescued by the Summer Court. When she finally breaks free from the promise, and Ash’s cold ways toward her, she embarks on a journey to find the Scepter of the Seasons, stolen by the Iron Fey. She discovers powers she didn’t imagine she could possess, and love she didn’t know she had. 

  • Book 3: The Iron Queen

Number of pages: 358

This is the end for Meghan Chase. Actually just the end of her adventures, not her end end. Book 3 is the tying of all the strings, so to speak. It is the grand finale, the curtain call of Meghan Chase. This was a bittersweet book. What you need to understand about the ending is that it does cover all the loose ends, but it will leave you heartbroken and enlightened at the same time. All I can say is thank God Julie Kagawa thought to make a 4th book! Meghan Chase has been banished, bullied, and attacked way to many times! Once she finally feels like she has a break from Feary, she is once again pulled back into the world of magic along with her best friend Puck and Ash . . . this time with the Courts permission. Here you get a whole new side to the characters. Puck is now more raw, much more cynical, and still just as funny. You also get a more thawed side to Ash, a more caring side. By this point I don’t know what team I was on: Team Ash or Team Puck? Too hard to choose! Something that I found was really cool was that this is also where Meghan starts to fend for herself a bit. It’s understandable that in the beginning books she needed to be protected. Now she starts to kick butt on her own terms, and gets my respect.

  •     Book 4: The Iron Knight

Number of pages: 361

The Iron Knight takes a whole new twist to the stories that by now you have become accustomed to. Here we see Ash take control as we follow him on his own journey to find a soul and finally be reunited with the one he loves . . . Meghan. His goals are simple. Find the Cait Sith, get to the end of the world, win a soul, and return to the Iron Realm all without completely murdering his travel companion, Puck. But as the journey progresses, some discoveries come to light that could completely change his resolve to become human. Some things happen that just leave you in a WOW state. And then there were some parts that I found a wee bit tedious during this particular adventure. I just wanted to see how everything turned out to be, but some things were drawn out a bit. Not that I wanted it to end, not by any means. I just couldn’t wait to see what happened to our lovely hero and his funny companion. I admit it, I did cry at one point. But even after all the curve balls thrown in this book and surprises in every chapter, rest assured that there is a happy ending for this book. And this book does come with a little extra something in the end. There is a NeverNever survival guide, and an author’s questionnaire with some special guest that I completely enjoyed hearing from!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Borrowing Abby Grace Episode 1: The Shadow by Kelly Green

Series Summary:

Smart and sassy Abby Grace is a seventeen-year-old with a talent for getting out of trouble. Sent to repair the lives and loves of teenagers on the edge of disaster, Abby is the perfect girl for the job. She has everything going for her… except one thing: a body

First Installment Summary: Episode 1

When Abby Grace wakes up in the back of a van, she has no idea who she is, how she got there, or why anyone would want to kidnap her. After escaping her masked captors, she hurries home, only to discover that she unknowingly left her younger brother behind in the van. Unable to answer the police’s questions with her memories gone, she retreats to the safety of her bedroom where she tries to reconstruct her life. Just as she is settling into the belief that things will one day return to normal, she looks in the mirror—and sees a stranger’s face.
As Abby learns next, she has become a Shadow, sent to inhabit the lives of strangers in trouble. With nothing to go on except the vague hints of her cute but maddening Guardian, a 19th century ghostly teenager named Will, Abby sets out to rescue the missing brother. But she will need all of her intelligence, fearlessness, and wit, because if she fails to find him in time, she will remain trapped in this unfamiliar body forever.

  • Number of pages: kindle version, not sure how long the story is


As it so happens, I got this put straight up on my “must read” list because the author sent a review request about this series. And I am very happy she did. So what can I say about Borrowing Abby Grace? Ultimately it’s one of those easy reads that takes you for an enjoyable ride without making you do any work. Some books are just hard to keep up, and in the end you are doing the work to trying to piece everything together without getting lost. This book was written in a way where the mystery was easy to follow without being obvious. Clearly if the ending were obvious then the book wouldn’t be any fun. It was a cute story, too, that was nice to read and enjoy.

Abby Grace is a girl who didn’t know that she was Abby Grace let alone where she is, why she’s there, and whom she can trust. This is a girl with no identity, and nothing to go on. This is a girl that doesn’t even have a body. Now the details on that are a little fuzzy for me because I didn’t quite understand what she is since she is always summoned into the body and life of another person. She is what is referred to as a “shadow” sent to help fix the lives of the person whose body she is occupying. This episode is kind of like the explainer of things, I guess you could say. She is sent into the body of “Brooke” who has just been kidnapped along with her brother, and escaped while her brother is still captive. Abby Grace’s job is to fix “the problem” before time runs out . . . or she will be stuck in Brooke’s body forever.

Like I said, it was an easy read that I enjoyed from the beginning. But it wasn’t just easy because it was easy to follow; it was also easy because it was such a small book. Now, I didn’t really know how long the story was going to be because it is kindle versions only (for now, I believe) so I cant say how long it was. What I can say is that it felt like I read only about 100 pages or so, and I finished in about 2 hours and a half. That’s pretty fast, even for me. Usually I don’t go for so short a book, but this book was interesting till the end, not making me want to put it down. Still, I feel like the mystery ended to fast and everything was a bit rushed. I guess that if I want to prolong Abby Grace’s story a little bit longer, I am going to have to just read the next episode! From 1-10? I give Borrowing Abby Grace Episode 1: The Shadow a good, strong 7!