Posts tagged ‘cassandraclare’

June 17th, 2011

White Cat by Holly Black; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: White Cat

Author: Holly Black

Published: January 1st, 2010

Number of Pages: 336

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories. [From Goodreads]

Quote:

And if I wanted to kill myself, I wouldn’t throw myself off a roof. And if I was going to throw myself off a roof, I would put on some pants before I did it.

Review:

*Note: I wrote this back at the beginning of April!

I am thrilled to report that I’ll be attending an event of both Cassandra Clare’s and Holly Black’s next Wednesday. I’ve known they’re close friends for a long time but have never gotten around to reading one of Holly’s books, despite how much I adore Cassie’s. I am so glad I checked White Cat out! I’m a million times more excited to meet the two of them! It’s remarkable how similar Holly Blacks’ style and voice are to Cassandra Clare’s (a feeling that was increased by the fact that the font and design of the book is nearly identical to Cassie’s). It’s no wonder they get along well!

White Cat is a very well-executed and fun book about cunning characters. I loved the “mobster” families and ever-present feeling of foreboding. You couldn’t trust anyone, including Cassel’s (the main character) family. His mother, for instance, is an emotional worker. No, she doesn’t start crying whenever she writes on post-its or giggling when she makes photo-copies – she has the ability to change a person’s emotions with a simple touch of her hand.

Because of the potential danger posed by workers around the world and people’s general disinterest in being manipulated (imagine that!), everyone is required to wear gloves – workers and non-workers alike. Though being a worker isn’t the best situation for a family (the government takes a bit too much of an interest in them), Cassel can’t help but feel cheated. He’s the only member of his family without any sort of power. Coming from a family of workers, Cassel doesn’t fit in with the public. It seems he doesn’t belong anywhere – he’s the odd one out at home and the mysterious, well, weirdo at school. His social status takes a bigger hit when he’s suspended from school after getting stranded on a roof and having no recollection of how he got there.

All he remembers is his dream about a white cat biting off his tongue and running away with it.

Yeah.

Cassel’s adventure with the white cat only accelerates from there, the risks building up like block Lego towers in a pediatrician’s waiting room (ignore the oddness of that metaphor). Not only were betrayals and the wacky plans of conniving people being unveiled right and left, but Cassel himself kept me, as a reader, alert. He’s certainly a gifted conman, and his own clever plots left me in the dust more than once. I’d have to pause and take a moment to catch up with his train of thought. I love it when a main character is intelligent, even if that intelligence is often used to pull of cons – particularly if that intelligence is used to pull of cons.

Not only is Cassel smart, but he’s a genuinely nice guy. I’m sorry if I’m losing you. You’re probably thinking: “Didn’t she just explain how fabulous he is at deceiving people? What sort of people does Madeleine hang out with?” I don’t usually select thieves as friends, and if I did, they would likely (and unfortunately) be lacking magical powers. However, Cassel really does surprise you. It was soon clear to me that the biggest difference between him and the workers in his family is that he sympathizes. Though many people around him would consider it a weakness, Cassel can’t resist feeling for the people around him – including the people he’s conning. His voice is the sort that I connect to immediately. He’s reluctantly honest with himself at all times, and that adds a quality to his character that makes him all the more real.

There are so many colorful people in this book! His family is so hectic and insane that I couldn’t possible stop talking about them if I started, so I’ll do you a favor and only discuss his friends, namely Sam, Daneca, and Lila. Cassel had known Lila his whole life up to a specific and tragic moment that I’ll leave for you to read. It’s evident from the memories he has of her that she loved him, not necessarily in a romantic sort of way, but I knew she thought he was just as adorable as I did. She’s rowdy and rough around the edges, but an irresistible person all the same. Daneca and Sam are Cassel’s, um, “friend interests”. They’re not technically in any sort of real relationship to begin with, but possible candidates. They’re quirky and entertaining, and Cassel soon finds there’s more to them than he thought before.

I think that’s true of the entire book, actually. There’s more to everything than originally appears – even Cassel. As Holly Black’s intricate story unravels, layer upon layer is revealed. This book and the characters within it are like an onion. Or an ogre. I encourage everyone who is a fan of a blissfully relatable voice and suspenseful, crafty plots to peel it (unless you choose the ogre simile over the onion, in which case I advise conversation over peeling).

May 27th, 2011

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: City of Fallen Angels

Author: Cassandra Clare

Published: April 5th, 2011

Number of Pages: 432

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

City of Fallen Angels takes place two months after the events of City of Glass. In it, a mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever.

Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels. [From Goodreads]

Quote:

“You know, some people think Shadowhunters are just myths. Like mummies and genies.” Kyle grinned at Jace. “Can you grant wishes?”

“That depends,” he said. “Do you wish to be punched in the face?”

Review:

Honestly, I don’t see much of a point in reviewing one of Cassandra Clare’s books. I’ll probably just bore you to death with my overuse of words such as “awesome”, “fabulous”, “hilarious”, and “Jace.” But, alas, there can never be too much Jace, can there?

I read this book as soon as I could, and it was rewarding enough in and of itself after the long wait. However, my excitement tripled when I went to Cassandra Clare’s signing here in Portland (Holly Black was there as well, and she was equally lovely). It was a phenomenal event, despite the fact that I had to wait in line for hours moving at what I’d guess is the exact opposite of the speed of light. I met some wonderful girls who have found just what I have in Cassandra Clare’s books.

Pure, unadulterated fun.

Sometimes, I read a book hoping for luxurious words or page-and-a-half-long paragraphs with an abundance of semicolons (think: anything written in the 19th century), and others I read for fun. Both are rewarding.

City of Fallen Angels does not fail in the fun department, nor is it a disappointment after the many months I waited. I am so glad that I stumbled upon a series I can really gush over. However, it did seem significantly slower than a few of the other books. That said, it also takes some massive risks that paid off or will undoubtedly pay off in the future. Cassie Clare takes her characters to new extremes. If there’s one author who knows how to push her characters to their limits and twist their lives around till they’re tense and ready to snap, it’s her.

The people we’ve learned to love and appreciate – whether it’s for their juicily evil personalities, their sarcasm, or their sweetness – are just as fantastic as before. The cast of characters Cassie has thrown together is absolutely mind-blowing, and I believe that’s where her strengths really lie. I mean, what teenage girl on this planet could resist the sarcastic comments of our dear Jace? No one. Then there’s Simon (always so lovable), Isabel (full of potential), Magnus (need I say a word?), and more. I know that I, at the very least, would happily read a book in which any of the secondary characters took on the role of protagonist. They’re all so charismatic.

I wish I had written this review sooner, so I could more accurately remember the details, but there are specific events that are so ground-breaking for the series that they’re impossible to forget. As any avid follower of the series knows, this book is meant to launch the characters into a whole other predicament and expand on the loose ends left after City of Glass. I don’t want to give anything away, but let me assure you: There is definitely enough here for the next two books. Cassandra Clare is a woman blessed with ideas.

Over all, City of Fallen Angels is not my favorite of the series so far, due to the slower pace and a few other factors, but it is certainly an installment worthy of The Mortal Instruments series and a book that will leave fans of Clary, Jace, Simon, and the rest of the gang holding their breath.

December 25th, 2010

Five Challenge: 5 Most Anticipated of 2011

by Madeleine Rex

First, a reminder: I’m participating in Persnickety Snark’s Five Challenge. For the remainder of the year, I’ll post 5 books daily that were the greatest in whatever category. Today’s is 5 Most Anticipated 2011 Titles. I wish I had five times as many “slots!” There are so many destined-to-be-amazing books coming out next year! I am not including books I currently have ARCs of, such as The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, etc (all three of which are great).

Note: Titles are linked to Goodreads. Synopses are from Goodreads as well.

1.Supernaturally by Kiersten White

No synopsis.

Aw, my dearest Paranormalcy has a sister! Or a brother. There’s no judging, as there isn’t a synopsis yet. Kiersten White is on of my favorite people, and her debut one of my favorite books. It makes you feel bubbly on the inside while handling some pretty serious situations. Supernaturally, I hope, will be Paranormalcy on steroids.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White; Review

2. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

No synopsis.

Naturally, I was excited to read the companion series to The Mortal Instruments, but I was even more pleased to find that The Infernal Devices is just as unique and extraordinary. The first book, Clockwork Angel was fantastic, and the series has so much potential. I can’t wait for the second installment!

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare; Review

3. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels is the fourth book in the bestselling series The Mortal Instruments.

“City of Fallen Angels takes place two months after the events of City of Glass. In it, a mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever. Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.”

OH MY GOSH. I have loved this series. I have stuffed myself with it. I cannot wait for this book! My friends and I will definitely be reading it the second it’s released, probably all bundled up in my bedroom. My parents will have to bring McDonald’s up there to keep us from starving. I’ve only reviewed the first book, but I will need to reread the series before this book is released, and I might write reviews for two and three then.

My little brother even loves this series. That’s saying a lot, as he’s not the most enthusiastic reader.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare; Review

4. Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore

“Book 3, tentatively titled Bitterblue and currently in progress, is a companion book to both Graceling and Fire and takes place in the seven kingdoms six years after Graceling. As you may have gathered, the protagonist is Bitterblue. Yes, Katsa, Po, and others from Graceling whom I’m not yet willing to name do appear in the book.” (source: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/2008/…)”

I’ve loved the other two books in this series (The Seven Kingdoms), Graceling and Fire. Bitterblue is a fascinating little girl, but my excitement really comes from the fact that I’ve loved the characters, world, action, romance, etc in the other two books. Kristen Cashore has a gift. And I’ve heard that the characters I fell in love with in the previous books will return!

Graceling by Kristen Cashore; Review

Fire by Kristen Cashore; Review

5. The Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

No synopsis besides Markus Zusak’s one comment:

For three years now, whenever people have asked the terrifying question – “So what’s your new book about?” – I’ve stuttered my way through a whole range of incoherent responses. I’ve talked about a murderer. I’ve talked about a mule and five brothers, and a girl on a roof.

Of course, everything I just mentioned plays its part in the new book, but not one of them is the heart of it. I guess sometimes it’s easier to tell people what surrounds a story, rather than the story itself.

When all is said and done, I think I finally see that the book I’m writing is actually simple:

It’s about a boy.
His name is Clay.
He’s building a bridge.
And he wants that bridge to be something truly great and miraculous.

Doesn’t it sound fantastic? Delicious? Glorious? I have only read one of Markus Zusak’s books (which is a fact I really can’t explain) – and it proved to be the the best book I’ve ever read, second only to the books in the Anne of Green Gables series. The Book Thief is perfect in every possible way, and The Bridge of Clay has a similar feel about it. How could you resist that simple “It’s about a boy. His name is Clay. He’s building a bridge. And he wants that bridge to be something truly great and miraculous”? It’s much like The Book Thief’s “It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .”

Can we give Printz Awards for summaries? No? To bad.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; Review

It seems that 2011 is going to be the best year ever. I can’t wait. Only six more days, and we’ll embark on another journey, more fantastical and wondrous than the last.