Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Quintana of Charyn

Title: Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles #3)
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication date: April 23, 2013 (U.S. edition)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5 stars

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Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi and his companions travel through Charyn searching for Quintana and building an army that will secure her unborn child’s right to rule. While in the valley between two kingdoms, Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other. The complex tangle of bloodlines, politics, and love introduced in Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles coalesce into an engrossing climax in this final volume.

Me before I read a Marchetta book:

Me after reading a Marchetta book:

Melina Marchetta (authoress divine) is one of those rare authors whose writing is constantly improving, constantly pushing the limits of how much I think I can love a book. When I read Finnikin, I felt like I had found The Best Book Ever (aside from Jellicoe Road, of course). But then she wrote Froi and now Quintana and I just have no words. At least, none that I haven't said before.

Quintana of Charyn is, undoubtedly, a conclusion. All the loose ends are tied up and the reader is left in a satisfied place. Actually, it's a rather heart-wrenching place because it's The End, but nevertheless it was a good stopping place. The characters' struggles have been resolved. You know that they're going to be okay, yet there's still an open-endedness that comes with knowing their lives will go on and they will continue to learn and grow.

With most fantasy books, the authors focus on explaining the world-building. What was great about this series was that yes, Marchetta explained the ways of the Lumaterans, Charynites, and co. But she never took the focus away from the characters and their relationships. At the end of this series, you know these characters: their hopes, their fears, their love of country, and their love for each other. You know their hearts- their very essence. And being so close, so darn attached to these characters made me feel ALL of the feelings.

While reading, I had the sudden and overwhelming urge to just take all these beloved characters and, I don't know, hide them in my pocket or something. Just snatch them from the pages and tuck them somewhere safe so that they could stop hurting. Maybe that's a little silly, but these characters have just gone through so much in just Quintana alone, let alone the entire series. There is pain, devastation, loss, grief, and heartbreak. Yet more powerful than all of that is the undercurrent of hope and love that has been there even in the darkest of times. That is Marchetta's true talentbesides the ability to make me want to curl up into a fetal position and sobshe has the uncanny ability to craft these masterful stories of broken people and their broken relationships and somehow make it a story of redemption and love. 

The Lumatere Chronicles has given me more heartache than I thought possible, yet I always crawl back for more. And, to be honest, I would sooner swear off of chocolate than say goodbye to this series and its magnificent characters. I hate goodbyes. I hate the knowledge that once I finish a book, I will never get to know more about a character's life. But knowing that everyone I cared about in this book ended up okay made saying goodbye just a little bit easier

All in all:

There's really only one thing to do now:

I'm just kidding. No. I'm really not.

Good books give you a beautiful happily ever after. Great books pierce your hearts with sadness and linger on your mind long after you've finished. And then there are the rare, phenomenal books that manage to utterly shatter your heart, then somehow heal you at the end and claim an eternal place in your heart. Quintana of Charyn is one of those books.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #40

WoW is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine

By M. Latimer-Ridley
Publication date: October 26, 2012
When an infamous criminal is unleashed from his prison, it has consequences for everyone in Carwick. Temperance Levinthal in particular…

Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…

My thoughts:
I know this book came out last year, but I just recently heard about it and I'm really intrigued. With paranormal creatures and murder mystery, how can I resist? Plus I've found that I really like stories where characters (potential love interests?) start out hating each other. 

What are you waiting on this week? Feel free to leave me a link or just tell me in the comments! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: Clockwork Princess

Title: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publication date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Rating: 5 stars

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Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

“You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.” 

What better way to start this review than with the above quote by Tessa? Her words exactly described my state of mind when I began reading Clockwork Princess because deep down, I knew that it was highly unlikely that each character would escape this last book unscathed, in the physical and especially the emotional sense. And that scared me.

This review has probably been one of the hardest ones I've ever had to write. God knows I have put it off long enough, hoping to try and find the write words. The story has left such a large emotional impact on me and I am at a loss as to how to convey that into words. This review is probably going to be a bit long so go ahead and get yourself some popcorn while you read. I'll wait.


Okay. I can basically sum up my reading experience with this gif:

You will cry.
You will. If you think that you can finish this entire book with dry eyes, then you are lying to yourself.

This book is, by far, the best book that Cassandra Clare has written. As much as I loved the first three books of TMI, the writing in CP2 is just... phenomenal. I can't even describe the writing, but the story, though absolutely heart-breaking at times, is still shot through with Clare's signature wit, resulting in me vacillating between two states while reading:

These characters. These freaking characters.

I think that TID will probably go down in history as having the greatest love triangle of our generation, and while that geometric shape of evil was central to the story, CP2 really placed more emphasis on the unbreakable parabatai bond between Will and Jem. Their relationship in this book broke my heart. Broke it into little miniscule pieces.  Their parabatai bond is indescribably powerful, the love between the two equally so. I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading about their friendship and brotherhood much more than I did the love triangle. And by the Angel, when Will and Jem said their parting words at the Institute, I bawled like a baby. Messy, ugly sobbing.

Tessa is a wonderful heroine, as always. She's grown so much throughout these three books and, though I try not to compare TMI and TID, I like her so much more as a protagonist than I do Clary. I love how resourceful and smart Tessa is; she thinks things through and doesn't make reckless, rash decisions. And after everything she's been through in this series, this book especially, it is impossible to not realize how strong she is as a character. 

One of the things I really enjoyed about CP2 was that all the side characters from the earlier books have a much larger role in this one. There are more chapter devoted to Charlotte and Henry, Gabriel and Cecily, and Gideon and Sophie- and speaking of Gideon and Sophie, THE SCONES. OH MY GOSH THOSE SCONES. That scene just had me cracking up. And who knew that hidden beneath Gideon's calm facade was a comical genius? His letters throughout this book cracked me up. 

Now as much as I enjoyed the entire ensemble of characters, can we all just take a moment to appreciate the literary perfection that is William Herondale? Because good god, with this character, Cassandra Clare has forever ruined me for real-life boys. I adore Jem's character, I do, but like Will said, Jem is nothing but goodness. It is literally impossible to hate Jem. Will, on the other hand is beautifully flawed- he has had moments of being a complete jerk, seemingly irredeemable. But then he shows this side of being so incredibly selfless even when it caused him agony and I just- I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELS, OKAY? I've enjoyed the evolution of Will's character throughout this series even more than I have Tessa's. I can honestly say that I don't think I'll ever be able to love a character as much as I love Will Herondale. 

*Rocks back and forth in fetal position, sobbing*

The Plot:
As far as plot goes, CP2 had me on the edge of my seat. The situation for the shadowhunters seemed so desolate, their chances of triumphing so minuscule that I got seriously worried. However, the way in which Mortmain was defeated was ingenious. Totally unexpected and just plain brilliant. But even so, I felt like the big climactic fight scene was lacking; it didn't quite satisfy me. Perhaps it's because it was over too quickly or I wanted the actual triumph to be more grand than it actually was. Either way, though I did enjoy the climax, once it was over, I was left a little dumbfounded, as if I was waiting for more to happen.

The Epilogue:

The epilogue has had a rather controversial response in the fandom, so here's my two cents:

As I neared completion, I had thought that I couldn't possibly withstand any more emotional trauma at the hands of this book. BUT I WAS WRONG. The epilogue pretty much shattered me, and then tried to put me back together again, though I'm not sure if it quite accomplished that. Reading about Will and Tessa's life together was.... everything I had hoped for since the very beginning. Reading about Will's death was everything that I never wanted. It was beautiful. And indescribably heart-breaking. Ultimately, he lived a great life, a long and happy one. But even so, my heart is still trying to cope with his death.

As for Wessa and Jessa both being "endgame," I have to admit... I wasn't crazy about it. It left me with lots of conflicting emotions that I don' know how to make sense of. On the one hand, the ending was the best thing that the fandom could have hoped for, regardless of which pairing you supported. Literally everyone got their happy ending and that was....unexpected. I should be happy because it was pretty much an ideal ending. However, I can't because it feels like everything wrapped up too perfectly. Like maybe it was a cop out. It's not that I hate the fact that Tessa is with Jem, it's not that at all. I'm happy for them- especially because Jem of all people deserved a happy ending. But at the same time, my heart is still despairing at the fact that Will is just gone and that makes me feel conflicted. I didn't expect Tessa to just be alone for the rest of her life, but I also didn't expect Jem to suddenly not be a Silent Brother anymore and ride of with Tessa into the sunset. 

Some people adored the ending. Others, not so much. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm still trying to make sense of it. 

All in all:
An epic end to an epic series. This book made me laugh, made me weep uncontrollably cry, made me despair, and made me hope. All I can say is that my poor, poor heart was wholly unprepared for the emotional journey this series took me on, but I will never regret picking this series up.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Luminaire

TitleLuminaire (Florence Waverly #2)
Author: Ciye Cho
Publication date: November 28, 2012
Source: author

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Being the only human in a world of merfolk... isn't easy. Florence Waverley chose to stay in Niemela, but things have gone awry. Secrets have risen and the prince she cares about has pulled away. All the while, dark dreams warn her of a tragedy that only she can stop. But in order to save the merman she loves, Florence will have to enter the Life Path tournament: a brutal test of fear and madness.

The tournament is a rite of passage--a maze where young mermaids and mermen battle to find their purpose. It is also a place where Florence will face grave danger: mermaids with evil magic, tunnels filled with sea fire, and guardians who wish to use her as a pawn in their secret plans. But will Florence be strong enough to survive the tournament... or will she perish inside it?

Everything hangs in the balance: her life, her world, and her love.

The great thing about a sequel novel- if done right- is that all the basic introduction stuff is out of the way and you can get into the really good stuff: the action. This was the case with Luminaire.

I really really enjoyed Florence, the first book in the series. In fact, it may even be my favorite mermaid book. Luminaire, on the other hand, kind of blew me away with its sheer awesomeness. The story continues with Florence deciding to stay in Niemela and, in an effort to find her place in the mer society while simultaneously helping out Princess Yolee, she enters the Life Path tournament (read as "giant maze filled with lots of dangerous stuff"). This tournament is a big deal. Huge. Whether or not a Niemelan comes out of the maze determines their role in the kingdom. Oh, and there's also the possibility that they just don't make it out at all...

Anyways. Loved the maze. So much action and fighting and craftiness happens in the maze (and I suspect I'm just a total sucker for anything that's set in maze).Through the ordeal, Florence really grew as a character. She's no longer the awkward outsider in Niemela- she literally battles for a place in this world she has come to consider home. Florence is a pretty quiet character, a bit of a wallflower, but always with a silent strength hidden away in her. I thought I had seen the extent of that strength in the first book, but only after reading Luminaire did I realize that what I saw was only a fraction of what Florence had in her.

Rolan's character had me a bit peeved because he acted so standoff-ish and cold towards Florence in the beginning. But no worries, by the end of the book, he more than redeemed himself. I would tell you guys how but I wouldn't want to spoil any of the good stuff for you. ;)

In addition to Florence and Rolan, a few new characters are introduced in this book as allies and foes.  I am usually picky about characters who make their grand debut later in a series, but I ended up loving them (not the bad guys, obviously). Marilenna and Wynn were my favorites; they made the character dynamics and plot much more interesting. Plus there's definitely some chemistry between the two of them and I'm dying to see more!

The plot was a tad slow at first, but once the tournament was set in motion, I was completely hooked. Yet even amidst a fast-moving plot, the author is able to interweave beautiful descriptions of another facet of the underwater world. The imagery is vivid and colorful and a bit magical.... while also managing to be somewhat creepy at times.

All in all:
If you loved Florence then I highly recommend reading Luminaire because everything that was wonderful about the first book has basically been elevated. The ending, which is a bit of a cliffhanger, promises much more intrigue to come in the next book and I cannot wait.


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