Monday, November 29, 2010

The Exiled Queen

You can't always run from danger...

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

The Exiled Queen is an epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

Beth says 5 Stars...

I love Cinda Williams Chima. Her first trilogy was excellent, and the first Seven Realms novel was really good. However, The Exiled Queen was significantly better than The Demon King and surpassed my expectations. It's a prime example of epic high fantasy, which I've been craving of late. I know I've said this before, but with the market so saturated with paranormal romance a good epic adventure in a far-flung realm is hard to come by these days. Chima satisfied my craving and then some. I literally could not put this book down; I read it in two sittings, and the only reason it took me two was because I had to sleep. The plot is split between following Han and Raisa in their journeys to and in Oden's Ford. It's beautifully paced and flows completely naturally. There wasn't a forced moment in the entire book that I could tell. If one did exist, I didn't notice because I was utterly engrossed in what was happening on the page. The world completely came to life on the page for me.

Han just keeps getting better and better. I wasn't his biggest fan until the end of the last novel, but I now officially adore him. He's become much more than just a rough and tumble street lord with exceptional power and a fondness for his family. He finally reveals more about who he is, and I liked it. Raisa is basically awesome. She manages to walk the line between royal and relatable without seeming contrived. I both sympathized with her and looked up to her strength. She gained more independence and a firmer grip on the realities of the responsibilities being a future queen. The change of locale forced the characters to change and explore different sides to their personalities, which pushes them forward from a developmental standpoint. The supporting cast adds greatly to the story, but the brunt of the focus rests on the two main characters who bear it well.

I'm sorry if this review is a little gushy, but I just can't help it. This was an amazing continuation of a series I'm head over heels for. The ending was a cliffhanger (of course) and I can't wait to get my hands on the next novel. I thoroughly recommend this series for any fantasy lovers, or, honestly, pretty much anyone. This was one of my favorite reads of the year and has me anxiously awaiting another book.
Book from Library

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Lucinda is sure that she and Daniel are meant to be together forever. Now they are forced apart in a desperate bid to save Luce from the Outcasts–immortals who want her dead. As she discovers more about her past lives, Luce starts to suspect that Daniel is hiding something. What if he has lied to her about their shared past? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

Beth says 4 Stars...

This book was just fun. Serious literature; heavens no. I was actually expecting a little less, so the book came as a pleasant surprise. The change of scenery was really helpful in creating a new atmosphere to differentiate this novel from Fallen. I loved the new school, and it was a great device to allow more information about the angels to be given to the reader without seeming forced. Unlike in other novels, having Lucinda go to class really made sense. One of my biggest complaints with many recent novels is that they don't really explain any of the mythology. Lauren Kate finally did, and it made me even more interested, particularly the highly blurry relationship between good and evil. I also really liked how she developed the role of the creepy shadows. In general, the school environment was just more layered and delightful. The pacing of the plot, unfortunately, was off. It felt like a middle book because there were long stretches where nothing would really happen.

The characters were better, particularly Lucinda. Daniel remains the swoon-worthy and emotionally conflicted fallen angel. He didn't actually become more interesting, although he and Lucinda continued to smolder whenever they were together. I was impressed by Lucinda, though. Initially I thought that she was just another stereotypical paranormal romance heroine who couldn't do a thing by herself. Imagine my shock when she proved me wrong on multiple occasions! Specifics would be too spoilery, but suffice it to say that she officially isn't wrapped up in meeting the love of her life as a teen. The supporting cast was relatively good as well, but nothing absolutely stellar.

If you liked Fallen, or even just thought it was okay go ahead and grab Torment. It improves where Kate left off, but be prepared for a slower read that's definitely setting up for the next installment. It won't blow your mind, but you'll have a good time reading it.
Book from Library

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one.

Just a few months ago, it was Sam who was the mythical creature. His was the disease we couldn't cure. His was the good-bye that meant the most. He had the body that was a mystery, too strange and wonderful and terrifying to comprehend.

But now it is spring. With the heat, the remaining wolves will soon be falling out of their wolf pelts and back into their human bodies. Sam stays Sam, and Cole stays Cole, and it's only me who's not firmly in my own skin.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This wasn't quite as good as Shiver, however, it was still quite enjoyable. Again, I LOVE the design of the book. Come on, the text is color coordinated with the book (this time it's green!!). The book lacked a true air of mystery, despite attempting to project one. I could see almost all of the end coming from the very beginning. If it hadn't attempted to feel mysterious it would have worked better. The plot was well done, although there were a few moments that left me scratching my head. There was, however, a lack of urgency which made it really lovely. Things just flowed from one to the next without any feeling of being forced. It was also relatively well paced, without any dramatic changes in action speed. Stiefvater also pulls off writing from multiple perspectives effortlessly. It is helpful that the chapters are labeled (not going to lie here), but the characters have such unique voices that it's impossible to mistake one for another.

Speaking of the characters, Cole was a delightful addition. His issues and backstory make for fascinating reading, plus he's a perfect foil for Sam. Grace and Isabel compliment each other, and I appreciate the direction in which their friendship is moving. However, the most important relationship is Grace and Sam's, which shows no sign of becoming boring or weakening. It changed in this book, though, to be one almost like an older married couple. It had that feel of sweetness and understanding to it instead of just puppy eyes and hormones.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. There's no point in reading it without having read Shiver because it won't make any sense at all. If you liked the first one then you'll enjoy this. It elaborates on the werewolves and raises some unexpected questions about their existence. It's a relatively quick read, and thoroughly enjoyable. It's a paranormal romance that won't have you throwing a feminist ideals induced fit (well, not a bad one anyway). If you're looking for a bit of fantasy and romance without the insipid heroine this series might be for you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Clockwork Angel

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Beth says 5 Stars...

I can't even pretend not to love Cassandra Claire. Her books are delightful, with a fabulous grit and sheen at the same time. If you, like me, fell in love with her Mortal Instruments series, then the wait for Clockwork Angel was a grueling one. I had extremely high expectations when I laid hands on this novel. Needless to say, Claire did not disappoint. Instead of modern-day New York City, the action takes place in Victorian London, but not quite what Jane Austen would have seen. The steampunk elements of the book were simply delightful. They weren't overdone, but seemed to be a natural part of the book. The mystery element of the plot was well done, and I didn't see the ending until right before it happened. I was absolutely sucked into the story and couldn't put the book down.

The characters were delightful, just as I had hoped. Tessa is just vulnerable enough; she pulls at your heart without being weak. Her confusion elicits sympathy, but she has an undercurrent of strength that makes you want to identify with her. Of course, the Shadowhunters are beyond fantastic and deadly. The new crop has some familiar names, but they are all different and their own characters, although there are a few traits that are apparently genetic (have fun figuring them out!). Will and Jem work so well together, but are both intriguing. It appears as if all of them have their own secrets that will hopefully come out in the next book or two. It's also so much fun to get to see a bit of Magnus Bane's past, and, honestly, he's just plain awesome.

This is a must-read for those who loved Claire's other books and those who've never picked them up. The blend of the Victorian era, Shadowhunters, and Claire's writing create a magical novel that runs like clockwork (groan if you want to... totally warranted). For a great blend of fantasy and adventure, with a dose of sarcasm for good measure, grab this one now, and by now I mean yesterday.