Review for All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

TITLE: All That Glows
AUTHOR: Ryan Graudin
PUBLICATION DATE: February 11, 2014
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen, an imprint of of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 480 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Emrys has always reveled in her life as a Fae, enjoying the forests and generally avoiding cities, where the technology causes a sickness that’s hard to fight…until she angers Queen Mab and is assigned to guard Prince Richard. Richard’s the heir to the English thrown and not a bad guy, just a boy drowning his insecurities in booze and general bad boy behavior. Dark things are starting though, and something old and dark is out to get the royal family. While Emrys is trying to protect the pampered prince, she is also having a hard time veiling herself from him…and once she drops the veil, things really get interesting. Together, they’ll fight the evil lurking in the dark and do their best to save the kingdom, if they can.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t read many Fae novels. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I the lure behind them is so complex and I’m not well versed in it, so I’m left confused too much. So while I was excited to get approved for this and have the opportunity to read and review it, I was also quite a bit weary. What if I hate it? What if it’s too confusing for my poor befuddled brain to grasp? So many worries about it swirling around my head, all for naught really. Though this isn’t straight forward, it’s pretty easy to come to terms with the rules these Fae live by. Protecting the crown and obeying Mab are the biggest rules to live by…and always veil yourself from the humans.

Emrys obviously breaks that rule. For whatever reason, she has a difficult time keeping her veiling spell up around Richard and finally just gives in. She’s a unique character, not really falling under any particular personality type to me. Her sweet romance with Richard had me begging for them to end up together, for her to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Richard was also an interesting character, so weighed down by the path in front of him and the crown that will be his sooner than anyone realizes. I cannot imagine living with that level of responsibility, so it’s understandable that this seventeen year old boy would feel like drinking away his problems…at least until Emrys appears out of nowhere (literally) and pushes him in the right direction. I think I would really have liked a chapter or two to see what’s going on in his mind, but it’s all from Emrys’ perspective. Watching Richard grow from a over-stressed teenager to a man fit to rule the kingdom was quite a treat.

My only real issue with this story is the idea that Fae don’t care for love. Maybe I read or comprehended incorrectly, but the way it came off to me is that Fae more or less don’t believe in love. They realize it exists, but have absolutely no use for it. Love between a Fae and a human is taboo (and dangerous) and romantic love between Fae doesn’t exist at all. Also, we never see a male fairy. Every single one of them is female. Which, I supposed, makes the idea of romantic love difficult for an author of the christian persuasion, but I find it difficult to believe that no form of romantic love seems important to them. Running while and free for a time is all good, but you live hundreds of years and never once long for something more intimate that companionship? I’m not sure I buy that.

Beyond that particular hole in the Fae lure, this is a very entertaining novel. There are slow moments, but it keeps you pretty enthralled for most of the story. Amrys and Richard’s romance is light and sweet, while still holding deep enough meaning for them to be willing to fight for each other. It’s a bit insta-lovey with the way they are attracted to each other, but the L word isn’t mentioned until closer to the end than the beginning, so I’m rather satisfied with it.

Even if you aren’t a big fan of this particular subset of mythical creatures, this is a read that’s pretty easy to enjoy. It has almost everything I need in a novel, with great writing, a good plot, and enough of a light romance to keep me cheering the main duo on and on. It’s hard not to root for that whole love against the odds scenario. I think this is a YA most will enjoy, as long as you can get over the notion that love is taboo.

****Thank you to HarperTeen, an imprint of of HarperCollins Publishers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3) by Cassandra Clare

City Of Glass by Cassandra Clare

TITLE: City Of Glass
SERIES: The Mortal Instruments #3
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
PUBLICATION DATE: March 24, 2009
PUBLISHER: Margaret K McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Divison
PAGES: 541 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 stars

You would think that after two full-length novels, Clary would have, at the very least, found a way to wake her mom, but that is just not the case. The third book in the Mortal Instruments series starts with Clary going on another quest to find a warlock by the name of Ragnor Fell who can wake her mother up. Then there is always the added plot of finding a way to defeat Valentine, which eventually seeps in.

I have to say that after reading this, though I intend to finish the entire series eventually, I cannot imagine it ended better than this did. Everything ties up in a neat little bow, giving everyone a happy ending…well, everyone who is still alive gets a happy ending. Therein lies the problem.

My first issue with this was the deaths. Yes, the war with Valentine has been bloody and there has been no skimping on the character deaths before this novel, but there was one that I found intolerable. ****SPOILER****And that was Max. Seriously, he was just a little kid who didn’t get much time in the series anyway, so why fucking kill him? Don’t say it gives Isabelle the motivation she needs later to go after Jace and Sebastian/Jonathan/whatever the fuck you want to call him, because that bullshit. Hodge’s death didn’t make me all warm and fuzzy, but I felt it was an acceptable loss considering the bad he had done in book one.****END SPOILER**** The deaths alone bring the star rating down. If a certain character had lived, I would have given it five, but I’m so fucking tired of pointless character deaths, in books, movies, and shows, that I just cannot give it five stars.

On the whole, the novel was just as enthralling and enchanting as the other two, with good writing, witty dialogue, and a big enough mystery to keep you guessing until the very end. I knew that the sibling issue between Clary and Jace would finally be revealed and I must say that I didn’t see the way it played out coming. Some plot twists were a bit more transparent, but not one really got me, so bravo Clare, bravo.

I think my two favorite things about this was finally getting Jocelyn’s history, from her perspective and all the couples finally getting together. The biggest is Clary and Jace finally being able to be together without feeling like it is an abomination. Jace really stole the show in this one, in my opinion. The way he confesses his love, despite everything else, and the speech he gives to Clary at the end was just….

…okay, so maybe I got just a little carried away there, but what can I say? I love Jace and though I know many people were against Jamie Campbell Bower being cast as him, I think he’s perfect for the role and exceedingly pretty, so bite me. Back to my original point, I loved that the main couples do end up together. We finally get to see ****SPOILER****Alec and Magnus be together, in front of the other Shadowhunters and the rest of the Lightwoods, which was amazing. I love Magnus, he’s probably my favorite character or at the very least, he ties with Jace for favorite. We also finally get to see Jocelyn with Luke, which we were all routing for. Simon doesn’t end up with anyone, but it’s obvious he has a choice between Isabelle and Maia, so it’s up to him.****END SPOILER****

This novel is an excellent conclusion to the storyline of the first three novels. I don’t know what the main conflict of the next three will be but I can say definitively that if you don’t like longer series, you can legitimately stop here and not be left wanting. As for me? I am planning on reading the next three, but I’ll be treading lightly because the longer a series continues, the more opportunity there is for it to go south. Wish me luck!

Review for City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

City Of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

TITLE: City Of Ashes
SERIES: The Mortal Instruments #2
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
PUBLICATION DATE: March 25, 2008
PUBLISHER: Margaret K McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Divison
PAGES: 453 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 stars

I’ll be honest, there is a lot going on in this sequel. I really don’t know how to summarize this plot, because, like with most middle books, there is just too much happening. The most basic thing I can say is that they are still battling Valentine and things get really complicated, really fast.

I had a hard time getting myself to both start this and continue reading it. Not, mind you, because of any problem with writing or character development, or any of the normal nonsense that gets in my way, but because I knew that still particular installment wasn’t going to end with Jace and Clary happily together. Reading my little sisters review told me quite clearly that, regardless of how well written and entertaining this book is, I just wasn’t going to love it. The love triangle aspect is played up even more in this one, where Clary obviously believes Jace is her brother and starts dating Simon. Can I just say that sibling thing is bullshit? I know it seems like they are and all the evidence points to that end, but just fuck no. I can feel it in my bones that it’s just not true and deep down, I think Clary and Jace know it too. But that doesn’t stop Clary from being horrified by the feelings she has for her “brother” and the whole dating Simon thing that just irritated the fuck out of me. I’m sorry, I love Simon, but we all know he is going to end up with Maia. That much is completely obvious after one fucking meeting between the two. Besides I want Simon to be happy and having Clary settle for him will never make him happy.

I really hate reviewing middle books, it’s so fucking difficult to put how I feel for them into words. This one manages to more or less escape that middle book syndrome, being entirely entertaining and action packed in its own right, but I just hate being dead center in the middle of the story, you know? Or better yet, still just at the being since now this tale is a now a six book series instead of the originally planned trilogy. There is so much that’s happened that I don’t approve of ****SPOILER****like Simon becoming a vampire****END SPOILER****, but there is still so much to come that I don’t exactly know how I feel. It’s hard to rate middle books properly because how I will feel about the series overall is entirely dependent upon how it ends. I can’t love it if Clary and Jace don’t end up together. Speaking of endings, I can just say that the ending of this one fucking sucked? The whole Jace/Clary/Simon triangle and the ending conversation in the epilogue between Clary and Jace and just….grh!

So, I’ll just say this, it was an enjoyable ride and I can’t wait to start the next one…in fact that what I’ll be doing this afternoon, before reporting to college for my first day of fall semester.

Review for City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare

TITLE: City Of Bones
SERIES: The Mortal Instruments #1
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
PUBLICATION DATE: March 27, 2007
PUBLISHER: Margaret K McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Divison
PAGES: 485 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 stars

Clary is just a normal girl with a quirky best friend and no clue that there are fairies, vampires, werewolves, and all manner of mythical creatures are roaming the world, until Jace Wayland walks into her life. Once she meets him, everything changes and the jury is still out if it’s for the better or not. Then her mom gets kidnapped and she is thrust into a world were everything depends on finding a mythical hidden item in order to bargain for her mom’s life.

I originally gave this five stars, but then downgraded it because it contains a love triangle and cliffhanger and I abhor those. I’ve seen a lot of hype on the blogosphere lately about the upcoming film and purposely waited until close to the movies release to read this because I knew as soon as I finished I’d be dying to see the film and I didn’t want to have an excruciatingly long wait ahead. I can honestly say that I understand the hype now. I really enjoyed this. It’s got that addictive quality that makes it difficult to put down once you start and that is quite a quality to possess.

As for the characters, I didn’t initially love Clary. She seemed decent enough, but too similar to so many other YA heroines. No Bella Swan syndrome (thank Satan), but nothing about her stood out. Short, slim, flat-chested, artsy, and relatively intelligent seems like a common theme these days. I’m happy to report that by the end, I did come to like her character quite a bit. That whole always fighting for your friends/family no matter what thing gets me every fucking time.

Then we have the main attraction, Jace. If you read my updates, I think it’s pretty obvious that I liked him from the start. There is just something about a hot, cocky, snarky, badass that just never fails to attraction my devotion. He kept me laughing through this somewhat serious book with his one liners and comebacks and complete confidence in his sexiness. And you can’t help but feel for the guy once you learn his back story. Team Jace, all the way.

The other is the other point in this particular triangle. Simon. I sympathized with him from the get go because he’s affection for Clary is rather obvious and I knew she’d never choose him. It’s almost an unwritten rule in the love triangles that they never pick the nicer guy who has always been there for them. Simon’s cute and totally geeky. He’s always ready with a Star Wars or D&D reference and even though I liked Jace more, I do hope Simon eventually finds his happily ever after.

All the other characters were equally interesting, from Luke to Hodge to Isabelle & Alec. I especially enjoyed Magnus Bane. Hodge’s character gets an irritated eyeroll ****SPOILER****because OF COURSE he’s the fucking bad guy, or at least, of course he is working for the bad guy. He’s casting choice for the film alone told me. He’s played by Jared Harris and he’s NEVER a good guy. I felt a little disappointed because that’s a running theme in everything lately, to have the “friend” be the bad guy or the helpful side character. I get it, it’s a good plot line and it keeps you guess, but could be leave it out for a bit?****END SPOILER****

The writing was great, the plotline wasn’t overly original, but it definitely wasn’t the same one we keep getting over and over. What really irked me was the love triangle? Square? Pentagram? For the first half of the book it felt like everyone liked Jace and/or Clary and it got old really quickly. Luckily they are all over it by the end, so we don’t get too much time angsting over it, but it was still annoying. ****SPOILER****The sibling accusation between Jace & Clary didn’t garner more than an eyeroll. I know it isn’t true and even if I didn’t have a little sister who let me in on that secret before I started this, I still would have known. There is too much passion between the two and this series has too many fans for that to be the case. Just no. No Flowers In The Attic for me, thank you.****END SPOILER****

On the whole, this is an immensely enjoyable read and I recommend it to anyone looking for an addictive thrill-ride, with some interesting, if a little predictable, twists.

Review for The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

TITLE: The Lost Prince
SERIES: The Iron Fey: Call Of The Forgotten #1
AUTHOR: Julie Kagawa
PUBLICATION DATE: October 23, 2012
PUBLISHER: Harlequinn Teen
PAGES: 377 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 5 stars

Ethan Chase has always been able to see the fey. What’s worse is that they know he can see them and take great pleasure in torturing him whenever possible. He does his best to ignore them and stay out of trouble, but then they start to disappear and he is forced back into the Iron Realm, seeking the help of his half sister, the Iron Queen. Ethan is determined to protect his family…and Kenzie St James, a nosy girl who refuses to let him alone. A girl that is getting too close for comfort that Ethan can only ignore for so long.

Let me just state for the record that I have not yet read any of the books in the Iron Fey series. I was under the impression that this was a new spinoff series and it wasn’t necessary. I stand by that assessment, though understanding some of the characters in the Iron Realm as well as that world itself may have been a little easier if I had. I have wanted to read them and that desire has only increased after reading this. Now that I have that out of the way, let me just say that I’m a little glad I read this one first because at least I know throughout all the expected angst of the Iron Fey series that Meghan will end up with Ash and I’ll be able to enjoy seeing Ethan as a little kid.

Ethan is a great leading man, with just a touch too much angsty and brooding, but with great reasons to be that way. Listening to him berate himself for being a dick to Kenzie while still giving her pissed off stares was priceless. You can’t help but feel sorry for the guy, with all the shit he gets blamed for that’s rarely his fault. Despite knowing better, he ends up getting involved in all manner of mayhem because he can’t seem to stop himself from saving the day. He does everything from save a kid from bullying to striving into a cavern filled with evil fairies just to save a guy he barely knows. That buried hero complex completely balances out most of the angst. Add that to the banter between him and Kenzie and you’ve got me hooked.

Kenzie, well I liked her instantly too. If I had to describe her in one word, it would be determined. Her overly cheery personality hides a fierce determination to accomplish her goals, whether Ethan likes it or not. I loved finally seeing a female character who didn’t back down from the broody male just because he said too. If you are hoping for a mousey shy heroine, look elsewhere because she’s definitely not here.

There was a plethora of other characters, including a talking cat that was like the love child between Cheshire Cat and the cat from Coraline who I really enjoyed. Then there was Kieran, who is a certain pairs child and that shocks the hell out of Ethan. My favorite side character though, was definitely Puck. Holy fuck, I LOVE HIM. I would read The Iron Fey series just for more of HIM! He’s got that attitude where he’s always smiling and flinging out one liners and saving the day. All of the side characters where enjoyable and memorable, but he was a special treat.

The writing was great, and the plot kept me interested. I read several reviews stating that they found the story rather boring, but I wholeheartedly disagree. I was enthralled once I got a decent way in and before that point I was still pretty interested to see where it was all going to lead. The Fey world Kagawa describes is fascinating and I am as captivated by it was Kenzie was. Speaking of Kenzie…****SPOILER****I KNEW SHE HAD CANCER. I saw coming pretty early on, when everyone was treating her slightly different. Of course she has cancer, because we couldn’t just let her be a normal teenage girl. X_X They better fucking find a damn cure and her and Ethan will live happily ever after or you will suffer my wrath!
****END SPOILER****Beyond that very spoilery blip, this has a pretty happy ending, with the majority of the story wrapping up nicely and only a few tolerable loose ends. I can’t wait to read the next one!

****Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****