Category Archives: Guest Reviews

Guest Review by Ember: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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This review may be a little biased, because I am freely saying that unlike a lot of people, I did not really enjoy this book at all. On Goodreads, a lot of my friends’ ratings were in the 4-5 range, with one 3. I was the one with the lowest rating — a 2. Of course, I could give it a 1, and perhaps I should have, but there were some parts that were interesting, and more what I was expecting, since (because of the high ratings) I had very high standards for this book.

In the first 70 pages out of the 485 pages that there were, I pretty much understood everything, and knew exactly what was going to happen. And I mean exactly. Okay, so maybe I didn’t get some of the tidbits, some of the details, but I knew what the major plot was going to be. Looking for memories, failing, facing Valentine, failing, yada yada yada. All of the information, all of the secrets, were basically given away. There was barely any hidden information, any hidden prophecies, anything that would have confused Clary at all. Basically, there’s this secret society of people called Shadowhunters who kill demons who come in through other dimensions. You’re born a Shadowhunter if your parents are Shadowhunters, but there isn’t anything like being a Shadowhunter if you were just a normal person (or, as the Shadowhunters call them, Mundanes). You can be made a Shadowhunter if you drink from this cup thing as a child, but only a few have the strength or whatever to actually become one and have the ability to see Demons and therefore kill them. Well, 17 years before the story takes place, the cup thingy was stolen by Valentine (the super villian in the story, a Shadowhunter gone wrong) so he could make a ton of Shadowhunters without testing to see if they were strong enough and therefore killing a bunch of children. A lot of his “inner circle” couldn’t stand it and then started an uprising. Valentine was thought to have been killed, but he wasn’t. Also, Valentine was on a quest to kill all the “Downworlders”, or half demons half humans, because they were impure and not deserving of living on the Earth and he was known as Lord Valentine by his followers. And then this girl named Clary is at a club with her BFFLE (best friend for like ever), Simon, when she sees these people nobody else can see and then she follows them and sees them kill a demon and the she confronts them about it. Later, one of the dudes who she ran into, named Jace, finds her at a poetry slam she is also attending with Simon, to see his friend Eric preform terrible poetry. Clary then gets a call from her mom telling her not to come home because it’s dangerous, but she does anyway, and is attacked by a Demon! She killed the Demon but Jace ends up saving her and taking her to the Institution where a bunch of Outcasted Shadowhunters live, keeping an eye on New York. Clary then is noticed as a great Shadowhunter, daughter of a Shadowhunter, etc. She finds there is a block on her memorty and then she tries to go figure out what it is, and then there’s Valentine, failing, and a not-so-surprising twist ending.

Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, let me spell it out for you. Jace has white-blond hair, is always drawling, is kind of mean, and is very sarcastic. He doesn’t really mind Downlanders, but he really loves killing Demons. He’s also attracted to Clary. He sneers at you if you are rude to him, and he can be very, very sharp and nasty. Actually, he’s the only character I really did like reading about, because he was actually rather funny and the only one with an actual sense of humor. Lord Valentine was thought to be dead by all the Shadowhunters, and used to be a menace on society. He is intent on wiping out half-breeds and making everybody pure and Shadowhunter-esque. He was handsome, but after his downfall and his thought-to-be-dead years, he changed. He was found not to be dead, and tried to take over and wasn’t defeated but he didn’t get what he wanted. Mundanes are the people who are human but aren’t Shadowhunters. Valentine’s inner circle broke apart, except for a few followers who decided that they didn’t want to “anger” him. They were later punished by the Clave, people who we don’t actually meet but are in charge of the Shadowhunters. The inner circle can summon Valentine with three twists of a ring, and he appears.

In the Harry Potter world, Jace would be the identical twin of Draco Malfoy. In the Harry Potter World, Lord Valentine would be nearly the same as Lord Voldemort, but not as scary. In the Harry Potter world, the Clave would be the Ministry of Magic. In the Harry Potter world, Mundanes would be Muggles. Now, don’t think that I”m just comparing it to Harry Potter. I tried to look past the elements that Cassandra Clare stole from Harry Potter, a few from Star Wars (I can’t tell you what because it would kind of give away the entire ending) and some others that I might have caught but forgot.

And what I said about all the information I knew about the entire world in the first 70 pages? That was another pet peeve of mine. All the information that we are given isn’t held back, isn’t granted extreme secrecy. There is nothing we, as readers, must try to figure out all by ourselves. Nothing.

In my opinion, City of Bones and probably the rest of the Mortal Instruments series is just a Harry Potter lesser (it came second and isn’t written as well) written with “better” covers that attract people who are too cool to read Harry Potter. If you’re popular, you won’t be judged because you’re reading the Mortal Instruments, in fact, you’ll be accepted (hey, it has a shirtless guy on the cover of the first book, what can go wrong?). If you read Harry Potter, you might be seen as geeky and not as good as those who read popular books.

Another thing that was wrong with the cover was that it has praise from Stephanie Meyer. Stefanie Meyer. No.

So, I give this book… 2.5/10 pens.

– Ember

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Guest review by Mochi- H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden

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Otto Malpense is a clever and cunning young genius, but he’s not sure the Higher Institute of Villainous Education- also known as the H.I.V.E. – is for him. The terrifying headmaster, Dr. Nero, wants him to reach full potential as a supervillain full of diabolical deeds, but all Otto wants to do is escape and go back to his own life. As he and his new friend Wing, a martial arts guru with incredible skill, make enemies and stumble on information, plans begin to form. It will take a lot of research, stealth, and friendship to pull off this plot, but Otto thinks he and his team will be able to break out of H.I.V.E.

I give this book 7.15 pens. The writing was well done, if not too advanced, and it kept me excited. I was always interested to see what happened next. However, the ending was one of the worst cliffhangers I’ve ever experienced, ever. For a debut novel, I found it a quick and engaging read, and I sincerely hope there will be a sequel- I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to find out.

~Mochi

Guest Review by Ember: Splintered by A.G. Howard

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Splintered, by A.G. Howard, was a real delight to read. The first words held me transfixed: (well, and the fact that it had a completely gorgeousful cover)

“I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.”

Alyssa Gardener is the great-great-great granddaughter of Alice Liddel, who inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Madness runs in her family, dating back to Alice. Her mother is in an institution, her grandmother jumped out of a window after giving birth to test her “wings,” and poor Alice died of shock treatments. Now Alyssa can here the whispers of plants and bugs, but she doesn’t want to tell anyone about it, for fear of being declared mad just like the rest of her family.

It isn’t until a moth suddenly reappears from her childhood (the very same moth that caused her mother to flip out and accidentally cut Alyssa with garden shears, causing her to go to an institution) that Alyssa realizes that Wonderland may not be a myth after all. Through a website she found that was being altered seemingly with magic, Alyssa finds all sorts of information to make her realize that Wonderland may actually be real. When she asks her mentally insane mother about this, she begins telling Alyssa about a curse — a curse that only she can break, a curse on her family causing them to go insane.

When Alyssa finds out that her mother is signed up for shock treatments (the same type of “cure” that killed Alice), she knows that she has to go back to Wonderland so she can fix Alice’s mistakes and save her mother’s life. She gathers up the family’s treasures, and heads out to find the rabbit hole — but ends up accidentally taking her childhood friend and long-time crush, Jeb, along.

Splintered was a very interesting story, and I loved it. Alice in Wonderland is my getaway from life, and this was the perfect extention (not retelling, it was way more than that). A.G. Howard did not mess anything up that would have driven me insane, and it was clear that she knew the story well. The word-building was fantastic, and I felt like I was in Wonderland along with Alyssa.

There was only one thing that annoyed me, the entire time:

Jeb. He’s the overprotective boyfriend that seems to exist in every story. Apparently he loves Alyssa, and trusts her, but it isn’t until the last fifty or so pages of the book that he actually starts to trust her to make her own decisions. I mean, she’s been the one who was saving his butt the entire time and still he thinks it’s terrible that she puts herself into dangerous situations to save her family. Wow. Just wow. Also, he was realllllllllllllly annoying.

I think Alysssa should choose Morpheus. Because he is so much better. ^-^

So, becuase Jeb annoyed me every time he started talking, I shall give this book…

8/10 Pens

 

– Ember

Guest Review by Mochi: Drizzle by Katherine Van Cleve

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Eleven year old Polly Peabody knows she lives in the most heavenly place in the world. Just look at her family’s farm- diamonds sprout from the ground, the rhubarb tastes like chocolate, and every Monday at exactly one o’clock, it rains. The rain is the driving force that helps their farm keep growing and being the magical place it is. But Polly starts to get strange symbols from the creatures on her family’s land, and soon, everything changes. The rain stops altogether, and the rhubarbs begin to wilt. Her brother, Freddy, becomes a living ghost from his mysterious illness, for which doctors have no diagnosis or cure. Something, or someone, is working very hard to destroy the life she knows and loves. Polly must be the brave girl that hides deep within her to save the farm and her friends, even if it means standing up to bullies, visiting a heavily haunted house, or leaving the ones she loved to discover a hidden destiny.

I would rate this book 8.35 pens. The writing was incredible and often clutched at my heart, but the action was often anti-climactic. However, much of the action went on inside emotions and heads, and it made for a very interesting and moving read.

~Mochi