Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare-a 5/5 Star Review!

The adventure continues for Tessa Gray, Will Herondale, and James Carstairs.  As they chase after more clues to find out who Tessa really is and why The Magister so desperately wants her.  New twists and turns for these three, and the other characters introduced in Clockwork Angel, make for a spell-binding adventure.

NEW OBSESSION ALERT! I am officially obsessed with Will Herondale.  Also, I am officially obsessed with this The Infernal Devices series.  I loved Clockwork Angel (see review here) cannot wait to get my hands on Clockwork Princess.  Every time that I think there is finally a time to breathe and regain composure throughout the book, I am catapulted into another spinning plot twist.  The depth of not only the plot but each character (and there are quite a few) is immense.  I have not read a book in a long time that has forced me to react outwardly.  The world that Cassandra Clare creates is entirely consuming and it became difficult to separate myself from the book and reality.  I want to be part of Tessa, Jem, and (most especially) Will’s world.  It is gripping, encompassing, and unpredictable.  I root for these characters, I hope for these characters, and I grieve with these characters.  I have found this series to be riveting and invigorating!

Although I have only read 2 of the 3 books in this series, I highly recommend the series to those who love action, betrayal, romance, and fantasy.  I think it is appropriate for readers over the age of 16 and I recommend it for those seeking adventure.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for those who do not appreciate betrayal, violence, manipulation, demons, magic, love triangles, unrequited love, or drug addiction.  Furthermore, I would not recommend this book for readers who have not read Clockwork Angel yet, as it would be very confusing.

Lastly, I listened to this book on AudioCD.  It was read by Heather Lind and Ed Westwick. More than half was definitely read by Heather Lind, who was fantastic and gave a unique voice to each of the many characters.  Additionally, I also really enjoyed listening to Ed Westwick read the parts when it was in Will’s perspective.  His deep, sultry voice, made Will’s character even more alluring.

His Semi-Charmed Life (Camp Firefly Falls #11) by Lisa Hughey-a 5/5 Star Review!

Diego Ramos has started from the bottom and rose to the top by one thing alone: hard work.  Inspired by an argument he had when he was a camp counselor with a summer camper has set his life on a path of success.  Now he is set to merge his company with a huge and successful company that will make him a billionaire; his dream.  The only hurdle left before the merge is a company retreat at a familiar place: Camp Firefly Falls.

Penny is finally back, many years later, at Camp Firefly Falls.  A place that holds many great summer memories-and a bad one.  However, even the bad memory of an interaction with a camp counselor years ago was good in that it gave her advantaged childhood some perspective.  Not everyone has food to eat.  Now she is determined to get her thesis, urban gardens for corporate offices that donate the food that grows to charity, into reality.  She is set to pitch the idea at a corporate retreat at Camp Firefly Falls.  This could be the opportunity to get her idea off of the ground.  Little does she know that history is going to be waiting for her when she gets there, in more ways than one.

I have been fortunate to have had access to other books by Lisa Hughey in the past (see reviews Here and Also here ).  Those books were differently themed in that those previous books had plots about special agents and intense action.  That being said, I enjoyed the difference! It really speaks to Lisa Hughey’s talent and skill to be able to write so strongly in multiple genres.  This book flowed just as well as the previous books and the characters developed just as strongly.  I found this book very difficult to put down and the pace is very quick.

Although this was the 11th book in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone.  I am very interested in the characters that were mentioned in the book, particularly those in the Billionaire Breakfast Club, and I hope to be able to go back and read the other books in the series to find out their stories.  I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy steamy romance, car repair, underdogs,  farming, the attraction of opposites, and who enjoy reading about summer camp life.  Although I myself have never been to summer camp, I was still able to enjoy the setting.

For those who may be triggered or offended: there are several graphic sexual scenes, explicit foul language, and infidelity.

Please note:  an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher (Red Adept Publishing) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris-a 4/5 Star Review!

Cass and her husband, Matthew, live in a house far away from many things. Only a couple of neighbors down the road but it is quiet and peaceful. That is, until one stormy night on her way home a woman is stranded on the side of the road. Cass made the decision that she would later regret: she does not help her. The next morning, the woman is found dead.

Riddled with the guilt of not having done anything, and horrified that this could happen in her small and remote neighborhood, Cass gets spooked and lives in fear. When she discovers that the woman was her new friend, Jane, she nearly falls apart. Does the murderer know that it was Cass who passed by?

Let me begin with the end. The end of the book really ties everything together and makes up for the redundant middle of the book. Although many thriller books are compared to Girl On The Train, I will add this one to the list for this very reason. I gave up on Girl On The Train because the middle was so redundant on how she is drunk every day. I later had the book spoiled for me and wished I had carried on. I almost did the same for this book. The middle of The Breakdown becomes cumbersome to read as it does not feel like much of anything is progressing. The daily actions of Cass waking up devastatingly convinced to have early onset dementia like her mother had, taking pills, falling asleep, waking up again to pretend to be normal when her husband comes home, and going to bed again happens so often. However, there are snippets of clues subtly dropped within this chunk of monotony that it is easy to miss them. I would not say that this book is something that I could not put down. For a lot of the book I had a hard time actually picking it back up, but I am glad that I did as the ending makes up for everything.

I would recommend this book for anyone who could endure Girl On The Train. I also recommend this book for readers who enjoy getting in the mindset of the narrator. This reads in first-person narrative and does not jump back and forth between past and present.

For those who may be offended, there are themes of manipulation, stalking, murder, early onset dementia, and overdose.

Please note: An electronic advanced reader copy was generously provided by St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare- a 5/5 Star Review!

Tessa is in London desperately searching for her brother Nate but the only thing she keeps finding is growing strength in her superpower as a shape-changer.  She did not even know she had this power until she was kidnapped right off of the boat in London from New York.  She is rescued by Will and finds herself immersed in the world of Shadowhunters who are often battling Downworlders.  She struggles to trust anyone in this new world but this journey not only teaches her what her powers are, but who she is entirely.

I will fully admit, fantasy was not a genre that I thought I would like.  That is until I read Enchantment recently (see review here: Enchantment by Orson Scott Card- a 4/5 Star Review! ).  Thanks to the book club that I recently joined, I got to check that out.  When the genre this month was Urban Fantasy and Clockwork Angel was selected, I was hesitant to say the least.  However, just like with the last few books that have been selected in the Book Club, my low expectations were exceeded.  Despite the length of the book, it was very fast-paced and I had a hard time having to put the book down each time.  I knew I was going to love Will from the beginning with his wit and charm.  I did not expect the depth his character brought nor that I would be so pleased that he wasn’t “rescued” by his emotional trauma just by one kiss.  I love when that happens in Disney movies but it would not have been appropriate for it to have happened in this gothic action plot.  I appreciate that Cassandra Clare treated their potential romance by requiring understanding and patience.  Furthermore, I also appreciated that the author made each of these characters distinct yet worked diligently at binding them together.  Furthermore, I listened to about half of this on AudioCD read by Jennifer Ehle who I highly recommend as an audiobook reader.  She was able to give unique voices and accents to each character yet have a different voice for when she is not reading dialogue.

There were victories, tragedies, heroes, betrayers, villains, unexpected twists, clever inventions, shape-shifting, disease, several sources of unrequited love, and there was a cat! The dialogue was deep at times and witty at others.  I found myself taking notes of lines from the book that struck a chord with me.  Some examples are:

“It’s all right to love someone who doesn’t love you back, as long as they’re worth you loving them.  As long as they deserve it”.

“It is as great a thing to love as it is to be loved.  Love is not something that can be wasted”.

 “Whatever you are physically…male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy—all those things matter less than what your heart contains.  If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior.  All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside”.

I love it when an author references other works of literature.  Additionally, I also simply adore when a romance starts from a mutual appreciation of reading.  This just adds to the many reasons why I love this book, she starts each chapter with a few lines of a poem.  Later on in her acknowledgements she states that she used poems that would have mostly been around in the time that this book was set.  I also enjoyed the references to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  After I finished this book, I quickly added it to the top of my TBR pile.  It is invigorating to read a book that inspires you to read books they slyly suggest.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy steampunk, historical fiction, fantasy, fast-paced action, unrequited love, complicated families, feminism, hints of romance, and those who love references to other books within a book (as I just mentioned).

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book to those who do not enjoy violence, murder, foul language (although I only noticed two curse words in the book), or demons.

 

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple-a 4/5 Star Review!

Eleanor Flood is a distracted mother who moved from the bustling New York City to Seattle with her husband, Joe, ten years ago and is itching for a change. Her son, Timby, named after an autocorrect mistake, has a recurring stomachache that interrupts the poetry lesson that she has weekly. One day she takes him to the doctor for it and this is the day that a majority of the book is centered around. This is the day of misunderstandings, random adventures with former employees, and a day of reckoning her pain from the fall out with her sister, Ivy.

This is my second book that I have read by Maria Semple and I will be looking for her other books to read as well. I was very happy to read that she was (is? Season 5 announced!) a writer for Arrested Development, one of my all-time favorite tv shows. Much like the characters in that show, the main character in this book, Eleanor Flood, was self-centered, aloof, sometimes deep, and yet hilarious. This is also like the main character in Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Where she is not the stereotypically warm and overly coddling mother, quite the opposite. An example of this is when she leaves her son, Timby, with a stranger just so she can run off to solve a misunderstanding. Another example is when she leaves her dog, Yo-Yo, in a Costco parking lot for hours. I can see where some readers may not enjoy this consistency of personality, however, I appreciate it. I also liked the unique career that she has of an animator of The Flood Girls, as well as how that comes into play with her relationship with her sister, Ivy. Lastly, I enjoyed the unexpected turn that the book went in towards the resolution. I actually listened to this on AudioCD, read by Kathleen Wilhoite, who was simply fantastic. She gave distinctive voices to each character and at one point even sang beautifully. I do hope to be able to listen to more audiobooks narrated by her as she made them more interesting and unique.

I did not give the full 5 stars because the storyline was choppy. Some scenes ended abruptly and unapologetically that it was just assumed that the reader could figure out the rest on their own. I would not recommend this book for readers who do not enjoy foul language, atheism, family drama, or marital distress.

However, I would recommend this book for fans of Arrested Development and her other book Where’d You Go, Bernadette? I would also recommend this book for those who love Seattle as there is a lot of mention of it as well as it is where the book is set.

The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor-a 5/5 Star Review!

Kristoff has found a home, finally. Having been abandoned as a young child, finding his way as an adult has proved difficult. He finds refuge as an apprentice in the home of well-known stamp engraver, Frederick Faber. Frederick and his family, a wife and two daughters, are Jewish and living in Austria. However, as winter begins to invade, so do the Nazis, tearing Kristoff’s new family apart.

In another time and place, (California, 1989 to be precise) another family is tearing at the seams. Kate is struggling at work because her co-worker is her soon to be ex-husband. He filed the papers, she just needs to sign them. She is also juggling that with her father, Ted, a formerly avid stamp collector who has Alzheimer’s. She meets Benjamin, a philatelist, to get her father’s stamp collection appraised and one stamp in particular sends them on an adventure.

Although the plot jumped between the two stories, I thought it was done seamlessly. There were some chapters, however, where I wish it had not jumped because I was too eager to find out what happens next in one setting. It had several twists and turns, as well as several times where my heart ached for the characters. Although romance stories from World War II have been done quite often, this one stands out as unique. It brings elements of stamp engraving as well as collecting that I have yet to read elsewhere. Furthermore, the romance is a subtle build that is often cast aside in the urgency of the war period timeframe. The characters are not begging for attention nor are they overdramatic in responses. This is true for the stories in both time periods.

I do recommend this book for those who enjoy historical fiction, a bit of adventure, and romance. I read through it quickly as I found it to be gripping at times and heart-wrenching at other times.

For those who may be offended: there was kidnapping, guns, and sexually suggestive scenarios.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided for free from Penguin’s First To Read program in exchange for an honest review.

Discerning the Voice of God Workbook: How to Recognize When God Speaks by Priscilla Shirer- a 5/5 Star Review!

I picked up this workbook because a friend invited me to join a Women’s Bible Study group at our church. I am very glad she did! It was a 6 week course that we did and it was brief yet deep. It is not a study to just scratch the surface of Christian fluff, this is very interactive. This workbook was also easy to keep up with daily as the “homework” was only a couple of pages per day.

Priscilla Shirer gives stories that relate to the study as well as stories that are easy to relate to. I did not expect to learn so much from this study and I look forward to reading her other books. She has a way of teaching biblical principles by showing where they come from as well as making them applicable to modern day life. I would recommend this book for any Christian looking to dig a little deeper into their faith. I would also recommend this for any non-Christian who may be curious about Christianity.