Apr 29, 2012

City of Ashes, by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: Paperback - 411
Chapters: 21
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
Series: The Mortal Instruments:
1-City of Ashes, 2-City of Bones, 3-City of Glass, 4-Cit of Fallen Angels
Person: Third
Tense: Past
Rating: 8/10

Blurb (quoted):
“With her mother in a coma and her father hellbent on destroying the world, Clary Fray is dragged deeper into New York City’s terrifying underworld of werewolves, demons and the mysterious Shadowhunters. Discovering the truth about her past was only the beginning. Now the fate of the word rests on Clary’s shoulders, but can she master her new-found powers and control her feelings for a boy who can never be hers?”

It’s hard to review this book.
I absolutely loved reading it, and it was amazingly detailed and descriptive, it drew me in, it made me laugh, it made me hold my breath.
But it also annoyed the hell out of me. First, near the beginning, I noticed that the way it was written or the writing style… was cheesy and it got on my nerves. Secondly, this is the second book in the series that has ended in a way that frustrates me, though this time it’s just because of the very last page that make me need the next book – which of course is probably what the author wants, but I hate it.
There is definitely a mystery aspect to the story, which makes it a page-turner, but my favourite parts are the ones that made me hold my breath or laugh. The story line pulls on all your stings, it has every emotion.
This book would have a 10/10 if a few things were different, but even as is, I’d recommend the series to anyone.

Apr 14, 2012

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 442
Chapters: 24
Genre: Fantasy / Mystery / Romance
Series: 1-City of Bones, 2-City of Ashes, 3-City of Glass, 4-City of Fallen Angels
Person: Third
Tense: Past
Rating: 8.5/10

Blurb (quoted):
“It’s after dark in New York City, and Clary Fray is seeing things. The best-looking guy in the nightclub just stabbed a boy to death – but the victim has vanished into thin air. Her mother has disappeared, and a hideous monster is lurking in her apartment. With her life spiralling into darkness, Clary realizes that she has stumbled into an invisible war between ancient demonic forces and the secretive Shadowhunters – a war in which she has a fateful role to play.”

First and foremost, I must say I absolutely loved this book, and the only reason it didn’t get a higher rating is because I was incredibly frustrated with the ending, which I can’t go into more detail about without spoilers.
The story line is exactly my cup of tea; it’s got an amazing fantasy aspect fused into the world as we know it, and the storyline is captivating (though I wasn’t sure what genre to class it as…). The plot is well constructed, consistent, and mysterious, though I have to say the drastic twist near the end was upsetting and I am now eager to read the second and pray something is not as it seems…
Descriptions aren’t lacking in this book and it became a movie screen in my mind – definitely a page-turner.
I loved this book, I’m keep for the next, and I definitely recommend it.

Apr 13, 2012

Juicy Writing, by Brigid Lowry

Title: Juicy Writing
Subtitle: Inspiration and techniques for young writers
Author: Brigid Lowry
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 195
Chapters: 5
Genre: Non-fiction - Writing
Rating: 9/10

Blurb (quoted):
“Brigid Lowry knows the highs and lows of being a writer, but she still thinks it’s a joy. In this book she takes you on a journey to discover yourself and what you really want to say, AND how to make it juicy and original. So, what do you need to begin? Where can you find ideas? How can you make your writing better? What can you do if you get stuck?
Let Brigid inspire you to doodle, daydream and discover your creativity – then write hard and fast into the wild land of your imagination. If you ever thought you’d like to write, start reading Juicy Writing!

I have to say, this book was very inspirational. I found myself wanting to put it down and start writing all the time.
The content is highly helpful to both beginners and novices. It has great writing exercises, games, and ideas, as well as information and thoughts on various aspects of writing such as plot, characters, point of view, and the affect it can have on a person’s life and how a person’s life affects it.
The writing style is fun, playful, informal – perfect for those who struggle to read non-fiction due to the rigidity and raw information that gets boring. It held my attention through almost all of it and was quite entertaining as well as informative.
I definitely recommend this book to creative writers, whether you write poems, novels, scripts, or cartoons, it doesn’t matter.

The Messenger, by Markus Zusak

Title: The Messenger
Author: Markus Zusak
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 386
Genre: Mystery
Person: First
Tense: present
Rating: 7.5/10

Blurb (quoted):
“Ed Kennedy – cab driving prodigy, pathetic card player, useless at sex – shares coffee with his dog and is in nervous love with Audrey. His life is one of suburban routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.
That’s when the first ace turns up and Ed becomes the messenger.
Chosen to care, he travels through town, helping and hurting, until only one question remains. Where are the messages coming from?”

This novel is a very symbolic one, meant to teach the reader a life lesson. I rather enjoyed it actually, but not for the content, rather the writing style. Had this book been written differently, without the humour, the sarcasm, and mocking attitude, I would’ve probably fallen asleep – it’s certainly not a book I’d generally pick off the shelf (we had to read it in English class though).
It’s structure is certainly interesting – set into five parts (each based on an ace of a different suit and a joker), and each part divided up by card numbers (ace to two to jack, etc.). Everything in this book is meant as a message to the reader to teach the moral.
I think most of the characters are identifiable with in that they are hopeless (or feel hopeless) and lost in life. They are developed individuals and very believable. I think what I love most about this novel is that none of the characters are actually ‘bad’, but there is still massive amount of conflict in it, both internal and external/physical.
What did it for me in this book was the way it was written. It is witty and amusing – it keeps you smiling or grinning and thinking.
The mystery aspect of it is present throughout as a side thought, but is never actually thrown in your face as the big question, but it instead focuses on the messages and journey Ed, the main character, must make.
If you like a mystery or even just witty, sarcastic humour, I’m sure you’re enjoy this book.

Apr 10, 2012

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Target Audience: Young Adult / Adult
Pages: 280
Chapters: 19 (XIX)
Rating: 8/10
Genre: Fantasy / Adventure
Person: Omnipresent (?)
Tense: Past

Blurb (quoted):
Smaug certainly looked fast asleep, when Bilbo peeped once from the entrance. He was just about to step out on to the floor when he caught a sudden thin and piercing ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug’s left eye. He was only pretending to sleep! He was watching the tunnel entrance…
Whisked away from his comfortable hobbit-hole by Gandalf the wizard and a band of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon…”

The Hobbit, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a very famous story. Known to be the prelude to The Lord of the Rings, and due to be fully available in film by late next year, it’s the buzz of talk.
I can honestly see why too. The adventure draws you in and drags you right along with it, whether you like it or not – in fact, I found myself wanting to march out my own front door and embark on such journeys!
To be honest, it’s rather like an overview, as it skips over very many days and weeks, though had those bits been included it would have been much too long and gotten rather boring. However, as a result, some parts felt like they dragged on and I couldn’t wait for the story to move on, because it was like a glimpse at something but was never explored and kept you on the surface, which was at times incredibly dull and irritating. As well, it doesn’t dwell too much on description, but still manages to cast a landscape in your mind.
I think it takes a lot of talent to write a book like this, as the main characters total to 14! Yet, I still didn’t find myself wondering who was who; each character had a distinguishable or memorable feature that was mentioned, and either that kept it straight in your mind or at the time it didn’t matter! Because of the sheer amount of characters, there wasn’t much room for character-building, but despite this every single one of them was recognizable and individual.
As for character development, there is a lot of change in opinions and actions among many of the character, but the main character, Bilbo, definitely develops and changes by the end of the book, but still maintains a strong sense of who he was at the beginning, which is done very well.
The plot was well crafted and followed from start to finish in a typical structure, and had an original story line that does more than satisfy.
The style the book is written in keeps in contact with the reader, as it’s literally a story being told and often pauses to speak to the reader very briefly. Normally the downside to this is that it throws the reader out of the world that has been cleverly build in their mind, but Tolkien has avoided this and keeps the reader engaged.
The only other thing I have to mention about this book, is that I found myself reluctant to pick it up – I’m not entirely sure why, but I have the feeling it’s related to my disinterest in putting it down again for many hours. I enjoyed reading this book and think it’s definitely one to read.