Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty-Seventh Book Review: “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare

“Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare was a really entertaining book. I almost don’t want to tell you what it is about just because it is so absurd that it might turn some people off from reading it. Had I read the synopsis, I may not have picked up the book – that’s how crazy it is. But it was really good. It is the first book in “The Infernal Devices” series, which is set in the same universe as “The Mortal Instruments” series was set in, and this is a prequel to “The Mortal Instruments” series. “Clockwork Angel” starts off in 1878 where we meet Tessa Gray.

Tessa we learn has just lost the aunt who raised her and her brother Nate after their parents died, and she has traveled across the sea to be with Nate in England. “Without him, she was completely alone in the world. There was no one at all for her. No one in the world who cared whether she lived or died. Sometimes the horror of that thought threatened to overwhelm her and plunge her down into a bottomless darkness from which there would be no return. If no one in the entire world cared about you, did you really exist at all?” (Clockwork Angel, pg 17). I really liked Tessa as a character. Despite the lack of self-esteem and self-worth that she feels, Tessa finds a great deal of strength from inside. She is suddenly confronted with a world where demons and vampires are not fantasies in a book, but part of reality and she pulls from her inner strength to cope. She learns things about herself that she never knew were possible. I also really liked that she is kind of a book nerd. ““But the books are all behind bars.” She said. “Like a literary sort of prison!” / Will grinned. “Some of these books are dangerous,” he said. “It’s wise to be careful.” / “One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”” (Clockwork Angel, pg 87). I couldn’t agree more with this quote – or relate to it any stronger.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It is so well written, Cassandra Clare has real talent. Her books would be considered young adult, but I think that they would appeal to a much wider audience. If you’re willing, Cassandra Clare’s novels will take you on an adventure unlike any other. I never thought that I was all that interested in fantasy novels, but Cassandra Clare has opened me up to whole new worlds – literally – in her fantasy novels. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

 

Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty-Sixth Book Review: “Where She Went” by Gayle Forman

“Where She Went” by Gayle Forman is the sequel to “If I Stay” which follows Mia after she has been in a terrible car accident that killed her family. She is in a coma and has to make a decision – either move on into the unknown, or stay and fight for her life. It was a very powerful book and I highly enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from the sequel, and since I avoid reading book synopsizes I did not know until I opened the book that this story is told from Adam’s perspective. He was Mia’s boyfriend in “If I Stay” and in “Where She Went” we get to see how such a powerful event affected him.

“I have the kind of life a lot of people would probably sell a kidney to just experience a bit of. But still, I find the need to remind myself of the temporariness of a day, to reassure myself that I got through yesterday, I’ll get through today.” (Where She Went, pg 3). I thought this was a pretty depressing way to start a book, but I didn’t expect the sequel to a book where a girl loses her entire family to start off full of rainbows. It took me a bit to realize that this wasn’t Mia’s reflection and that the book wasn’t focused around her. I liked the fact that she was still a character in the novel, but she wasn’t the main one. Through Adam’s perspective, we are able to experience the aftermath of what an event like that does to a person.

“Where She Went” focused a lot on grief and how it is different for everyone. I loved this quote: “After all, I lost them, too. Except even back then, it had been different, like there’d been a barrier. That’s the thing you never expect about grieving, what a competition it is. Because no matter how important they’d been to me, no matter how sorry people told me they were, Denny and Kat and Teddy weren’t my family, and suddenly that distinction had mattered.” (Where She Went, pg 185). I remember the first death that really changed me. It was an acquaintance from school and he died in a car accident and every year in late April, I think about this guy and his family. But he wasn’t a close friend and it was almost like it wasn’t a death I was allowed to grieve. I think that Gayle Forman illustrates well how grief doesn’t only affect the core family. Having to live in a world where someone you loved is no longer alive is tremendously difficult.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, it was a great read. I admire Gayle Forman’s writing and I look forward to reading more of her work. The language in her books isn’t overly complex, but the heaviness of what she writes about makes you really stop and think while reading. I think that Forman’s books would appeal to quite a large audience. “Where She Went” is so relatable, I think anyone that has had their life touched by death would appreciate this book.

 

 

 

Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty-Fifth Book Review: “Persuader” by Lee Child

This book was intense. I’m amazed at how not only is Lee Child able to grab your attention from the very beginning of this book (and all Jack Reacher books I have read thus far) but he keeps the story interesting. “Persuader” was entertaining throughout.

“Persuader” starts off with Reacher talking about when the cop was shot. Within moments we learn that he is the one that shot him. “Stood completely still. One thing I learned a long time ago is that it’s easy enough to shoot a man. But there’s absolutely no way to unshoot one.” (Persuader, pg 7). It was a powerful way to start a book. From there, Lee Child takes readers on a non-stop ride where not everything is as it seems.

Part of what I really like about Jack Reacher as a character is how funny he can be while being hardcore. “It was a solid punch, and a lucky one. But not for him. It crushed his larynx. He went down on the floor again and suffocated. It was reasonably quick. About a minute and a half. There was nothing I could do for him. I’m not a doctor.” (Persuader, pg 425). It’s a subtle humor that lightens the mood when shit keeps hitting the fan and Reacher is forced to use extreme and lethal measures. I also really enjoy learning bits and pieces about Reacher’s past. The further into the series we get, the more Reacher unfolds. It is really interesting to learn what events shaped him to be who he is and what makes him tick.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely, I am a huge fan of what Lee Child has built in the Jack Reacher series. “Persuader” continued to grow Reacher as a character and I am still completely hooked. It is a real challenge to not devour the entirety of the series in one sitting, but I’m trying to savor each book.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty-Fourth Book Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood was an amazingly powerful book. It is hard to explain how powerful this book is without spoilers, but I’ll try my best. This book takes place in the future after a staged terrorist attack kills the President of the United States and most of Congress. The U.S. Constitution gets suspended during the revolution by the “Sons of Jacob” (an extremist Christian group) and in a short matter of time all women’s freedoms and rights have been taken away and a new order comes into being that is almost medieval in its mindset.

“There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.” (The Handmaid’s Tale, pg 24). I really liked this quote. I think it illustrates well the power behind the word freedom and how easily it can be abused. How easily the Aunts are able to turn the word around and use it to attempt to make the handmaids feel grateful for their status. And how quickly the world was forced to change.

The different roles that women in this novel held based on their social situation were very interesting. The older married women were treated better externally, although they did not appear to hold the same amount of respect as the Aunts did. Then the handmaids – physically they were the most valuable because they could have children – but they were considered lowest on the totem pole because that was their only purpose. They weren’t allowed to have anything of their own. Should they get pregnant – as they were expected to do – they were never allowed to keep their children. They were treated like cattle, breeding for someone else’s benefit. “We are for breeding purposes: we aren’t concubines, geisha girls, courtesans. On the contrary: everything possible has been done to remove us from that category. There is supposed to be nothing entertaining about us, no room is to be permitted for the flowering of secret lusts; no special favors are to be wheedled, by them or us, there are to be no toeholds for love. We are two-legged wombs, that’s all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices.” (The Handmaid’s Tale, pg 136).

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It was so well done and I believe it would be a good book to introduce someone that hasn’t read Margaret Atwood before to her writing. It’s not a super long novel, but it illustrates the beauty of her writing well. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Atwood before I picked this book up; it had simply been too long! Her books are gems, but they are intricate. This is by no means a “beach read.” Her books are challenging, but so worth reading.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty-Third Book Review: “Hearts in Atlantis” by Stephen King

“Hearts in Atlantis” by Stephen King was a weird book. Not that you would really expect anything less from Stephen King. The book was divided up into three parts. Each section was its own separate book with its own setting and a different main character. There were a few crossover characters, which was the only link between the different sections.

The first section of “Hearts in Atlantis” was my favorite. The main character Bobby makes friends with an older guy, Ted that takes him under his wing and also recruits him to keep an eye out for the “low men”. I loved their interactions with regards to reading and books. “There are also books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story, Bobby. Don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words – the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers that won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.” (Hearts in Atlantis, pg 28). I loved this advice personally; there is nothing more fun than branching out to read different types of books.

Bobby soaked up everything that Ted was willing to teach him and embraced him as a good friend, and although he did treasure their friendship he became selfish in his desire to keep Ted in his life. The “low men” were an interesting blend in my mind of the bad guys in “Insomnia” and “Tommyknockers” and Bobby ignored the signs as long as possible in an effort to keep Ted – his grownup friend – in his life. “What if there were no grownups? Suppose the whole idea of grownups was an illusion? What if their money was really just playground marbles, their business deals no more than baseball-card trades, their wars only games of guns in the park? What if they were all still snotty-nosed kids inside their suits and dresses? Christ, that couldn’t be, could it? It was too horrible to think about.” (Hearts in Atlantis, pg 153). I really liked this quote. I think it illustrates well Bobby growing up a little, and the frightening reality that comes with adulthood.

Would I recommend this book? To those that enjoy Stephen King yes, but this isn’t something I would recommend to first-time Stephen King readers. It was an entertaining book, but there were some rather graphic parts that may turn off other readers. I do think that the book starts off very strong and might have peaked a little early, but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless.