These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1) by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas, Narrated by Heather Wilds- a 1/5 Star Review

 

Please note: A AudioCD copy of this book was generously provided for free through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, in exchange for an honest review.

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Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo- A 5/5 Star Review!

Kaz Brekker has a band of misfits together to get this one job done. This job will be the hardest he has ever done, and the odds are stacked high against him, but the payoff will be worth it. Revenge and more money than any of them can imagine.

This book is very dark. In fact, it was so dark that I had to put it down at times to regroup. Yet hope still remains an underlying theme and driving force for this team. I was surprised by the romantic elements that were woven in but they added yet another level of attraction to the book for me.

I will warn that this book is set up for a series in that there is a big cliffhanger! Just when I thought the book was ending, it kicked back up again and then quickly ended. I will be reading the next book in the series because this book was just that good. It had supernatural elements yet dealt with elements of the human condition. It was a roller coaster of events and the violence is very graphic. One scene in particular had me literally covering my eyes. The characters are aggressively tested physically and mentally. As a result, their bonds are stronger and they set their eyes stronger on the prize. There were selfless acts, there were selfish acts. All of their pasts come back to haunt them and they are even stronger for it. The complex maze of this book was simply magical.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy Young Adult fiction, adventure, romance, and underdogs.

I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended by mild foul language, graphic violence, pick pocketing, drug use, prostitution, slavery, murder, and cliffhangers.

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare- a 5/5 Star Review!

Truly, I have never been so spellbound by a book series before.  Clockwork Princess is the final book in The Infernal Devices series ( see my other reviews: Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince)and the ending is simply a masterpiece.  Tiny details from the first book, Clockwork Angel, snowball into major factors in the conclusion.  The storylines have spread from focusing on one main character, Tessa Gray, in the beginning of Clockwork Angel to solidifying separate storylines developing minor characters into strong supporting characters that loom together for one beautifully intricate work of art.  It is my understanding a few of the supporting characters roll into the next series, The Mortal Instruments, as The Infernal Devices is its prequel series.  Cassandra Clare is a magician with words and creating this world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders yet sticking to basic human deficiencies such as greed, revenge, misjudgment, and unrequited love.  Additionally, she brilliantly creates an ending that (I believe) readers on both sides, Team Will and Team Jem, will be happy.  There were so many points where I gasped, I laughed, I swooned, and I cried.  Embarrassingly fat tears and gut-wrenching sobs.  My apologies to my fellow patrons at my local library.

 

I try to find one favorite character in a book and I was fortunate to be able to have two favorite characters: Sophie and Will.  Will is officially my favorite book boyfriend.  He is witty, loyal, a book lover, and brave.  In a strange way he is a fairy tale prince but dripping with sarcasm and guilt from his traumatic past.  I knew from the first book, Clockwork Angel, that I would be Team Will and I am pleased to have not been forced to change my mind throughout the series.  The prologue to Clockwork Prince remains my favorite passage in this series.  Sophie is different from Will in almost every sense except her fierce loyalty and her traumatic past haunting her.  It was very pleasing to be see her character develop from rigid and distrustful to courageous and warm.   I have not been able to look at scones without smiling and thinking of this book.

 

I would recommend this book for any fan of Young Adult books, romance, steampunk, and fantasy.  Also, for those who enjoy listening to the audiobook.  The actor Daniel Sharman (of the Teen Wolf and Fear The Walking Dead fame) does a fantastic job of narrating.  I also would recommend reading this series in order, starting with Clockwork Angel, because the books evolve on things introduced in there.
I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended by violence, sexual scenarios, mild foul language, kidnapping, drug abuse, and demons.

Angel, snowball into major factors in the conclusion.  The storylines have spread from focusing on one main character, Tessa Gray, in the beginning of Clockwork Angel to solidifying separate storylines developing minor characters into strong supporting characters that loom together for one beautifully intricate work of art.  It is my understanding a few of the supporting characters roll into the next series, The Mortal Instruments, as The Infernal Devices is its prequel series.  Cassandra Clare is a magician with words and creating this world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders yet sticking to basic human deficiencies such as greed, revenge, misjudgment, and unrequited love.  Additionally, she brilliantly creates an ending that (I believe) readers on both sides, Team Will and Team Jem, will be happy.  There were so many points where I gasped, I laughed, I swooned, and I cried.  Embarrassingly fat tears and gut-wrenching sobs.  My apologies to my fellow patrons at my local library.

 

I try to find one favorite character in a book and I was fortunate to be able to have two favorite characters: Sophie and Will.  Will is officially my favorite book boyfriend.  He is witty, loyal, a book lover, and brave.  In a strange way he is a fairy tale prince but dripping with sarcasm and guilt from his traumatic past.  I knew from the first book, Clockwork Angel, that I would be Team Will and I am pleased to have not been forced to change my mind throughout the series.  The prologue to Clockwork Prince remains my favorite passage in this series.  Sophie is different from Will in almost every sense except her fierce loyalty and her traumatic past haunting her.  It was very pleasing to be see her character develop from rigid and distrustful to courageous and warm.   I have not been able to look at scones without smiling and thinking of this book.

 

I would recommend this book for any fan of Young Adult books, romance, steampunk, and fantasy.  Also, for those who enjoy listening to the audiobook.  The actor Daniel Sharman (of the Teen Wolf and Fear The Walking Dead fame) does a fantastic job of narrating.  I also would recommend reading this series in order, starting with Clockwork Angel, because the books evolve on things introduced in there.
I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended by violence, sexual scenarios, mild foul language, kidnapping, drug abuse, and demons.

The Waking Land by Callie Bates- a 2/5 Star Review

It was a great start but quickly lost stamina for me. There were a lot of characters that I could not keep track of as well as inconsistencies with the personality of the main character, Lady Elanna Valtai. She was confused yet she was certain. She was loyal to the King that raised her like a daughter yet barely fought for her best friend. She was defiant and stubborn with everyone except the (conveniently handsome) sorcerer Jahan. I understand that she was supposed to be immature as she is a young teenager who is just now discovering that her whole life was a lie. However, her character was too erratic for me to be able to enjoy. I gave it two weeks to try to finish and I still cannot bring myself to, so I am moving on and marking it as a DNF at 31%.

Please note: an electronic copy was generously provided for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).

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.

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.

 

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card- a 4/5 Star Review!

Ivan’s childhood was full of changes. His family had to change religions which brought Ivan and his father Piotr to the painful decision of post-infancy circumcision. Then they had to move from Russia to America. Through all of these changes, what brought Ivan peace and stability was running. One run through the forest on his uncle’s farm brought him to a magical chasm where the leaves danced away as Ivan approached for a closer look at a woman sleeping on a bed of rock. Ivan did what he did best: he ran.

Years later, Ivan never could shake off the feeling that he should have looked closer at the woman and tried to help her. Through a series of seemingly coincidental events, Ivan finds himself back at his uncle’s farm. One curious run into the forest and Ivan finds the same woman buried under the leaves. This time, he doesn’t run.

This was a selection for a book club that I have recently joined, otherwise I might not have picked it up. This is the first book that I have read by Orson Scott Card as fantasy books are not really my preferred genre. However, fairy tales are one of my favorites, and this came across as a clever retelling of Sleeping Beauty mixed with the folk tales of Baba Yaga and other deities. Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment, although fantasy, surprised me in this combination of the three. I was further surprised that there were a few points where I lost interest yet it was quickly regained. This is not the sort of book that I could read in one sitting, as it was rather long and at some points long-winded. However, it is the sort of book that I could quickly pick up again the next day or even a few hours later. That is to say that I found it neither repulsive nor gripping.

I enjoyed the storyline for the most part and I also enjoyed the alternating perspectives between Ivan, Katerina, and Baba Yaga. I thought Baba Yaga was the character written the strongest as she was despicable yet entertaining. I also enjoyed the minor details earlier in the book that became major details later. For example: a vague note from a deceased neighbor in the beginning of the book played a major factor in one of the final action sequences. Although I love fairy tales, I do enjoy the struggle that Katerina and Ivan had in their relationship. They did not love each other immediately, rather they fell for each other at different paces.

I would recommend this book for any reader looking for an enchanting fantasy read with a leading female character and a bit of historical fiction.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who do not enjoy foul language, violence, revenge, murder, and sexually suggestive scenarios.