Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: Parties and Potions

Title: Parties and Potions
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Page count: 340

Back cover:
Perfect hair, cute clothes, healthy tans—life’s a breeze when you’re a witch! Even special witchcraft classes Rachel agrees to attend with Miri turn out to be fun. The sisters meet other teen witches just like them—who knew? Everyone’s preparing for a magical party called a Samsorta—a debutante ball for witches. And it wouldn’t be a ball without warlocks. Cute ones. Like Adam, who wants to slow dance with Rachel, and ski with her in the Rockies—on a school night! Of course, Rachel is madly in love with her boyfriend, Raf. So why can’t she bring herself to tell Adam—funny, charming Adam—that Raf exists?

Rachel knows Raf likes her. Maybe even, gulp, loves her. But Raf doesn’t know her secret. Unlike Adam, Raf doesn’t know who she really is. And she can never tell him. Or can she? 

   I read this book about a year ago. Then about nine months... and six months... and 5.5 months... and so on. It's a readover kind of book, the kind that seems to get better with age. You know the many books where the main character is all 'I don't want expensive stuff, I don't want fame, I just want normalcy'? How many teenagers do you know that would actually say that? Or even think it? Not Rachel. She is deep, but interested in the social ladder and poofing up new clothes and fresh tans. She's a real teenager, with many sides to her personality, and a way of following a train of thought until it derails and that makes her very real.
   Rachel and her little sister Miri are both witches, both rocking, and life is good... ish. See, there are a few glitches in Rachel's perfect sophmore year. Such as: Miri wants to be in a samsorta, a type of witch batmitzvah, and Rachel wants to spend her Saterdays with her FINALLY attained boyfriend Raf (it took her three previous books to get him!). Oh, and a new freshman on the block happens to be an incredible and practiced witch without a clue on how to survive highschool. Then there's Rachel's magic and how every time she starts straying from the truth to keep her lives seperate something goes wrong. How will it all work out? Sometimes being a teenage witch with everything you want can be SO EXHAUSTING :).
   I think my favorite part of the story is how similar my sister Kieryn Nicolas and I are to the story characters. I mean, we can relate to them almost exactly, which rarely happens so completely in book. That, and the fact that Miri is in Taekwondo. YES! GO MIRI! I love me my martial arts!
  I give this book oh... a 4.5. I am a witch-groupie, I admit. The magic and mayhem of it has always appealed to me. Not green skin witches with warts and straw hair, but mythical, ancient powers and unique appearances. Though some pieces of the witches are cliche here, they have many, many unique aspects such as: Heliotrope being a witchy color and having witch coming of age parties. Those are definitely interesting bits of the book. Also, the sisterly banter is really interesting and fun to read.

The picture is of the sisters being catapulted/flown up to a party on top of the Eiffel Tower. France! Fun!
Buy it, Borrow it, Use it as scrap paper?
Buy it of course. How else can you read it over and over?

-Winnie :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel-- The Infernal Devices

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Page count: 479
 Back cover:
Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.
           When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
           Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
           Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa.
           As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. 

   The story is very intricate and appealing. I enjoyed the twists and dialog almost as much as the fun characters. The story is about a girl who now has to face a supernatural, unique power that baffles even those who've "seen it all", like the supernatural entities we all know and sometimes love. Some of these are cast as downworlder vampires, werewolves, faries and warlocks. Now there are many mysterious people and creatures after her, and Tessa is trying to seperate her friends from her enemies and deal with her sudden, complex allies. A few of these allies being Will, the confusing, handsome and heroic shadowhunter with a real attitude, Jem, the silver eyed, unassuming friend with a slick bladed cane, and Jessamine, the girl who doesn't want the life she has.
   So I'm a HUGE fan of the original Mortal Instruments series, the present-day books that came before Clockwork angel. I LOVE Jace's character in it, but going into Clockwork Angel, delving back into the world of the Shadowhunters hundreds of years before, I wasn't so sure if I would like it. However, I think that Clockwork angel far surpassed my expectations, flying above and beyond the mortal instruments-- while I still love Jace and Simon, I believe that Will is better. I didn't even know it was possible to make a character with even more cynicism and sarcasm than Jace. Plus his hair is black-- dark hair makes Will so much more awesome. The world of London in and around the 1800s has more life to it in this book than I had ever thought of it as having before. Cassandra Clare brings in a whole new cast of characters while still hanging on to the ones we love, such as timeless warlock Magnus Bane, then a fantastic character with an over-the-top sense of style, and still so in the mortal instruments, present day.
   I rate this as a five out of five because that's what I would have rated the mortal instrument series and this was better. The main characters are all active, with strong opinions and unique ways of looking at things. Also, the power they gave to Charlotte, the leader of the institute was very good, because it showed she had to work for it, and that others questioned her but she never gave up.
The image-- the actual clockwork angel, a seraph blade with shadowhunter's special power runes. In the background mysterious silhouettes with meaning you'll get when you read it because you really should :).
Buy it, borrow it, use it as scrap paper?
Buy it!

-Winnie :)