The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Title: The Bird and the Sword29008738
Author: Amy Harmon
Pages: 352
Year: 2016
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis: Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

I have so many feels about this book. This is my first Amy Harmon novel, but if this book is any indication of what the rest of them are like, sign me up fam. I understand that this was her first attempt at a fantasy novel too, in which case, BRAVO. I think fantasy is hard to get right sometimes, especially in the world-building category. Some authors are good at creating a world and explaining it to their readers without an information dump, others… not so much. There was a little dumping in this one, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed.

Once upon a time, the Gifted: Healers, Changers, Spinners, and Tellers, walked freely in Jeru. Some using their gifts for good and others using them for evil. Now, they are hunted. Lark’s mother, murdered for a crime she did not commit, was one of these such Gifted. When her soul left her body, so did Lark’s voice. From that day forward, Lark lived in silence until she is captured by King Tiras and brought back to his castle.

Lark was born with a power she does not understand, but over the course of the novel she is able to gain some understanding of what she can do and develop it over time. All the while, fostering a blossoming romance with the King. While King Tiras’ initial capture of Lark is truly for political gain, the two unexpectedly fall in love with each other.

My biggest complaint, and the reason I docked half a point, is King Tiras’ personality. I give his personality a 3/5. He looks at Lark as a possession and frequently refers to her as a “stubborn woman.”

“I think I will keep you.”

Wtf?? Lark is treated as less than human by her peers because she doesn’t speak, and the one person who can hear her refers to her as a “Stubborn. Woman.” Fucking romantic if you ask me.

I came into this novel fully expecting a fairy tale retelling, but it ended up being so original that I would fully expect to see it in a Brothers Grimm anthology. The way it read, the pacing, the characters…everything about this novel felt like folklore that had been passed down and told for generations. This book was beautifully written, imaginative, poetic, thrilling, romantic, and of course, magical. I would highly, highly recommend it to anyone craving a unique and captivating read.

 

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Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices #3)18335634
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 567
Year: 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis: Danger and betrayal, love and loss, secrets and enchantment are woven together in the breathtaking finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

THE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Let me start off by saying that this was one of the best book series I have ever read, and I can’t believe that it took me so long to read it. I am the type of person who is easily discouraged by hype, so I tend not to read the books everyone is excited about. Something I have clearly shown in this godforsaken blog. However, I’m sure there are people out there who would love to read it again for the first time. I feel you, I would love to read Harry Potter again for the first time.

Cassandra Clare wrapped up this trilogy so beautifully; I could not have been more satisfied with the outcome. The writing, the character development, EVERYTHING. This series is perfection. There were so many twists and turns that I never saw coming. I think it’s difficult for authors to surprise readers now-a-days, we all think we have everything figured out all the time. Clare really is a beautiful writer, and after reading City of Bones I can see how far she has come.

Clockwork Princess begins with Adele Starkweather at her marking ceremony. (This is why you take care of your tattoos, children.) The mark she receives causes her gruesome death, and this is confusing to the other characters because Adele is supposed to be a Shadowhunter by blood. (INCONCEIVABLE.) A few bad parenting episodes later, we find out that Adele is a fairy changeling, switched with the real Adele as a baby. SOMEHOW no one noticed that they began with one kid and then one day they suddenly had a completely different kid. This is not the equivalent of losing your child at the grocery store. This is losing your kid at the grocery store and coming home with bananas instead. Later on, we find out some things about Adele that make a lot of sense. I won’t spoil it for you for once, but lets just say that everything comes full circle in the end. 🙂

In the last novel, we met Cecily, Will’s little sister. Will turns from Douche McGee to Big Brother, treating Cecily like a china doll. While I understand being an older sibling and wanting to protect your younger siblings from harm, it felt like he didn’t believe in her. Cecily has spent the last few years taking care of herself, so shouldn’t he realize that she’s grown up a bit from the little girl he left behind? Anyhow, I find it much more amusing to let my siblings make their own mistakes rather than trying to talk them out of everything, but to each his own. I wanted him to give her a chance to prove herself, but she ended up having to take that chance herself rather than it being given.

Jessamine is released from the Shadowhunter Slammer to lead an army of automatons right to the institute gates. Everyone fights, even Sophie and Tessa who have FINALLY gotten lessons to defend themselves. Seriously, we’re on book three and we’re barely throwing punches. Jessamine is killed in the crossfire and dies in Will’s arms, somehow managing to ask him to take care of her dolls. (Which, TBH, should be all of our biggest concerns when we’re on our deathbeds.) Tessa gets kidnapped because she is a damn damsel in distress, and Jem and Will are unable to keep their pants on over who gets to save her.

One of my biggest concerns was that Tessa somehow ends up with both boys in the end. Is it just me, or did this seem wildly convenient? I mean, I’m glad we appeased both Will and Jem lovers alike, but I think she should have picked one or the other. YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO, TESSA. Tessa repeatedly insists that she loves each guy equally, I suppose in an attempt to seem “fair” and “non-biased,” but I wasn’t picking up what she was putting down. If you ask me, it should have been Will from the beginning. But Will operates under AVPM rules (You can’t tell a girl that you like her because it makes you look like an idiot!) and almost missed the boat.

However, I think that Jem (international hero to nice guys everywhere) wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance in hell if he hadn’t made a move on Tessa. Even when they were engaged, Tessa still thought about Will constantly. You can’t tell me it would be the same way the other way around.  I think Tessa loved Jem, just not in the way that she loved Will.

Finally, we find out what Tessa is and we finally defeat the Magister. TBH that limp noodle should have been defeated in book one, but it’s fine. What isn’t fine is the lack of the phrase, “Automatons Assemble!”

I think my favorite part of Cassandra Clare’s book series is that they all intertwine in some way or another. We meet descendants and ancestors of characters as well as recurring immortal characters like Magnus Bane, and we get answers to questions in one series in a completely different one. I, for one, have fallen in love with this world Clare has created and I cannot wait to read the other books she has written.

 

2017

Thank the LORD 2016 is finally over. Other than being one of the most annoying years I have been alive for, it really just didn’t seem to be a great year for anyone. However, I’m all for new beginnings and starting off fresh! Since my goal last year was to fall in love with reading again, I decided on a few new goals for myself.

  1. Read 30 books this year.
  2. Be positive.
  3. Keep up with this blog.
  4. Stop biting my nails.

That last one has been on my list for the past, I don’t know, 12 years… It’s fine. I have no self control. If anyone has any remedies they want to share, let me hear them! I’ve tried them all and nothing sticks. As for the others, self explanatory. I’ll let you know if these last more than two weeks.

The Graces by Laure Eve

Title: The Graces28818369
Author: Laure Eve
Pages: 415
Year: 2016
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis: Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

When I read the awful reviews of this book, I mentally prepared myself for the worst. One star reviews are never good, and I was afraid that this was going to be a grade A shit show. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. I’ve never read Twilight, so I can’t make comparisons there, but many reviewers did. Take from that what you will.

This book chronicles River’s obsession with the Graces, a popular, wealthy, good-looking, and enigmatic family in her small coastal town. Gossip abounds about the Graces being witches, which sparks River’s imagination and leads to her obsession with befriending them. Let me tell you, River is a creep monster from Planet Weird. She knows things about this family that this family doesn’t even know about this family, and it is TERRIFYING. She’s a little Perks of Being a Wallflower in her observations of the world around her, and I was intrigued and unsettled at the same time.

River is as untrustworthy a narrator as a wolverine with a ‘pet me’ sign. As a reader, you get the impression that she is purposely leaving things out, as unreliable narrators do. If anything, it only made me fly through the book even faster because I wanted to know what she was hiding, damn it! However, her acute case of Special Snowflake Syndrome put me off. I thought she had some sort of social anxiety at first, but it turns out she’s just an asshole. She walls up against everyone she deems unworthy, afraid to let anyone into her life. She is constantly judging the people around her, making jealous and petty observations of the people who only want what she wants, to be in the Grace’s good graces.

River alternates between being timid and never saying anything without meticulously planning it out and delusionally believing that she is super special and deserving of holding Fenrin (the love of her life)’s interest. Because no one else had ever thought they would be the one to change him, obviously. Motivated by a desire to feel special and included, she blatantly uses Summer to get closer to Fenrin and having magic of her own, a fact she denies. The most confusing part about all of this is that she has this insane desire to be accepted and included, but she is an asshole to just about everyone she comes into contact with. River is a walking contradiction and deserves her own Sour Patch Kids commercial. I think Eve intended to explain away River’s character faults with the twist at the end, but I didn’t buy what she was selling. Yes, it did explain a few things and made me sympathize with her character more, but I still don’t see why she had to wall herself up from the outside world.

I think this book could have been a lot better if we had spent considerably less time on obsessing over the Graces in the first half, and if the reveal had happened earlier on. The book built up to the climax and then suddenly tapered off at the end. Which, I suppose, I should have expected given that every big event that happened was followed up with “and a week later blah blah blah…” But seriously. Need a conclusion, need to explore what the big reveal means. Why does the second book have to be so far away?