Monthly Archives: July 2013

“Clockwork Princess” by Cassandra Clare

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Beware, there are spoilers in here!

Having read and loved Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, I had high hopes for the final instalment in the trilogy, Clockwork Princess.

Alas, I found the first 200 or so pages rather dull and I just couldn’t get into it. I found the Prologue to be quite good, I admit, as it was nice to get a little more insight into Jem and Will’s first meeting – and of course reading about Aloysius Stark was interesting too, as you can really understand why he turned out to be rather hateful.

But after the Prologue, I felt the book was taking far too long to get anywhere, and not all that much was happening. When Gabriel arrived to say “Father is a worm” I had hoped that that would not only lighten the book up – we all know what Will is like, especially around Gabriel! – but would also bring us an interesting fight. But I was wrong. Will didn’t seem to act as he usually would, and yes I understand he was still angry about his sister being there and over Jem and Tessa, but still… He’s Will Herondale. Disappointment in Will’s wit aside, I at least hoped that any fighting upon reaching the Lightwood Manor would be somewhat interesting and a good read, but although it was a prolonged fight, it didn’t interest me to read. I found myself skimming it and only picking up on anything mildly important – mainly, the message left by Benedict Lightwood on the wall inside.

I read through it rather absently, not really finding anything that made me laugh or even saddened me. It all just seemed similar. Chapters 6 and 7 started to pick up a little – but bearing in mind, this is over 100 pages in – and then dropped slightly, although I was certainly more interested. I kept reading a few more chapters, before I had to give up because I was just so bored of it.

Then, at about 10pm, I picked it up again and decided I wouldn’t put it down again until it was finished – no matter what. So I continued on from where I had left off, feeling hopeful. And I was not disappointed. Clockwork Princess had finally started to live up to my expectations left after reading its predecessors. There were multiple moments from page 216 onwards that had me laughing, crying, wanting to scream, and – more often than not – all three at once!

The scene that upset me the most was this one:

“With wet hands he seized at his lapels and jerked the shirt open. In the dim light that spilled from the inn, he could see that his parabatai rune, just over his heart, was bleeding.
                His hands were covered in blood, blood mixed with rain, the same rain that was washing the blood away from his chest, showing the run as it began to fade from black to silver, changing all that had been sense in Will’s life into nonsense.
                Jem was dead.”

 

I said that I didn’t plan to put this book down until I had finished it, but this one scene – that last line, really – changed that. I had to put the book down, and take my glasses off, before burying my head into my duvet cover just to muffle my cries of despair. Honestly, I don’t know who I was despairing for most – Will, Tessa, or myself. I feel that Will, Tessa, and myself would have been affected similarly by that line, as they both loved Jem and had actually spent time with him, and I loved him too – just not to the extent of Will and Tessa!

As much as Will/Tessa has always been my favourite pairing of the books, I was rather annoyed at how soon they got together after Tessa heard of Jem’s death. Yes, Will and Tessa both loved each other, even though Tessa loved Jem too, but that’s no excuse for crying over the loss of your fiancé, and then a few hours later getting off with someone else. Fair enough they thought it was likely they would die – well, Will at any rate – in the morning, but that is just not the way to deal with it, even if you do love each other!

Another thing that irked me in the book was the layout of the letters. The first one appeared at the end of Chapter 1, and I at first thought it was a continuation of what had been happening on the previous page, so I was extremely confused. It would have been much easier to understand if, after Cyril’s “‘The second carriage is now ready,’ he said. ‘Who’ll be coming, then?’”, a * had been used, just to show that what came next was NOT a continuation of that. I got used to it as I proceeded through the book, but it just looked slightly untidy with sudden bursts of letters.

Despite my disappointment in the beginning of the book, the layout of the letters, and the manner in which Tessa and Will got together, I did find this book to be most enjoyable. The last 100 pages or so were just brilliant, and made me so happy, yet at the same time so sad. I love books that can make me feel for the characters, and this book did just that. I described this book to my friend as being “heartbreakingly wonderful” and I feel that is an apt description – it broke my heart, so many times, but at the same time it was wonderful, and broke my heart so wonderfully too!

 

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“Bodyguard: Hostage” by Chris Bradford

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I bought it early this afternoon and started reading it on my way home. I’ve just finished it just now, and it is one of the most hooking and captivating books I’ve read in a while. I wouldn’t quite call it a Young Adult novel, but that’s not to say older teens – or even adults – won’t enjoy it, and I’ve read a few reviews on Amazon of parents who’ve admitted to loving the book!

Those of you who have read Robert Muchamore’s excellent CHERUB series may feel that this sounds awfully similar – and to an extent you would be right in thinking that. But rather than following in the typical footsteps of CHERUB, Alex Rider, and Young Bond (in which the characters of all three series are teenage spies), Chris Bradford’s Bodyguard series follows, oddly enough, a teenage Bodyguard, Connor Reeves.
 
The prologue of the book had me immediately hooked – in fact, I was pulled in just by the first page. I hadn’t been too sure how much I would enjoy this, as I had only heard about it through seeing him at the Book Festival last year when he was talking about his Young Samurai series. I’m seeing him again this year, but as it’s a “Bodyguard vs Young Samurai” event, I felt I had to at least try and read Bodyguard. And I’m glad I did.
 
There wasn’t a dull moment in this book. Lately, I’ve been finding myself not quite skim-reading books, but certainly not giving it all of my attention. For Bodyguard, I didn’t want to look away and just the thought of putting my bookmark in place to give my eyes a rest was proving to be unachievable. I literally could not put this down!
 
What makes this a really interesting read for me is the fact that Chris Bradford doesn’t just write his books. He experiences them. When writing his Young Samurai series, he trained in samurai swordmanship, karate, ninjutsu and earned his black belt in Zen Kyu Shin Taijutsu. For the Bodyguard books, he chose to embark on an intensive close protection course to become a qualified professional bodyguard, during which he acquired skills in unarmed combat, defensive driving, tactical firearms, threat assessments, surveillance, and even anti-ambush exercises.
 
That shows dedication to your writing, as I’ve never heard of other authors who’ve deliberatley set out to train as, effectively, their book character. Sure you have authors like Chris Ryan who may write their books based on past experiences they’ve had, but to actually go out and seek training in the art of Samurai swordshop or to become a qualified bodyguard… Well, that is dedication, plain and simple. It makes his books so much better because you know that some of the things that happen would actually happen, and the author has first hand experience of it, which makes it even more amazing – and makes you even more jealous!
 
I was recommended to read Chris Bradford’s Young Samurai books by a friend, so without him I would never have looked at those books, or at Bodyguard. I think I’m going to return the favour by recommending this book to him – and to everyone else!
 
At 420 pages, it’s by no means a short book, but it keeps your attention and you’ll practically fly through it. No matter how old or young you are, I would recommend this to you.

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