Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Settle in y’all, I have got a lot to say about this!

I originally read Clockwork Angel in December of 2018. It was my first Cassandra Clare book.

I knew about The Mortal Instruments series, but mistakenly believed that I wouldn’t like it and since this one is set in Victorian London, a setting I adore, I figured I could start here.

I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy this world. I knew after I completed this, I wanted to read every single word Clare had ever written in the Shadowhunter Chronicles.

In addition to that, I want to be caught up and able to pick up her upcoming trilogy, The Wicked Powers, as it is published. With the first book expected to drop in 2022, I definitely think I can accomplish my goal.

I have since done some research and decided to read these books in publication order.

Early in 2020, I started the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, City of Glass and really enjoyed it.

Since then I have completed the first three books in that series and before I knew it, it was time to reread Clockwork Angel.

Reading it this time, with the background of TMI, I definitely picked up more intricate details than I did the first time around.

The first time I read it, I never felt lost, or like there was information I was missing, but it definitely made more sense this time around.

I liked how Clare introduced us to Tessa, who like Clary, is new to the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

These characters learning the ins-and-outs of that system allows the Reader to learn along with them, without it feeling info-dumpy.

Going into this book, even the first time, I had heard so much about Will and Jem. I can definitely say, their characters do not disappoint.

I think this time around, I found myself focusing a bit more on their friendship. I really appreciate how connected they are to one another. It’s nice to see that unconditional support.

The intrigue in this was great and the action, especially towards the end, was so much fun!

Next up for me is City of Fallen Angels, which I am planning to get to this month.

I am beyond ready to continue on my journey through the Shadowhunters Chronicles. If these first four books are any indication, I have an exciting road ahead!

**If you have made it through this entire semi-review without nodding off, and happen to be a Shadowhunter fan, perhaps leave a comment down below telling me something you love about these books.

Whether it is your favorite book, favorite series within the world, favorite character, etc. No spoilers, please. Remember, I am a Shadowhunter baby. I don’t know a lot yet!

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Review: Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moody, dark and secretive, just like me.

Ninth House was a delightfully intriguing start to the all-new, Alex Stern series by Leigh Bardugo.

I have been fascinated by the idea of this book for a while. What’s not to love about the Yale campus, secret societies and magic.

On a recent road trip, I finally decided to give this one a shot.

I have to say, while I really enjoyed the audiobook, particularly the two narrators, I think I may have enjoyed it even more if I had read a hard copy.

I feel like I may have been able to concentrate more on the story if I had been holding the book in my hands and there’s a lot to take in here.

A lot of details regarding the setting of the Yale campus, the magic system, the lore of the secret societies, as well as back and forth timelines, I think just got lost somewhere around mile marker 50.

I was intrigued by Alex’s character. Here was a girl who had a rough start at life, raised by a hippie Mom in California, who ends up at one of the most elite institutions in the world.

After a close call that could have ended her life, Alex instead ends up being offered a seat in the Freshman class at Yale, but why? Her academic transcript certainly wasn’t recommending her for the slot.

Regardless of any trauma experienced in her life, Alex is a survivor and a fighter. I loved that about her.

When she starts at Yale, Alex gets tapped for Lethe House; the ninth of the secret societies at Yale and the one with the closest ties to the occult.

It’s also the responsibility of Lethe House to oversee the other houses to ensure there are no bad actors.

Alex, as it turns out, is well-suited for her new house, as she has an arcane ability she has been struggling with her entire life. This allows her a close connection to the spiritual underworld surrounding her.

Essentially a murder mystery, this novel offers up a lot of darker real world topics for consideration as well.

One of these topics that I found extremely interesting, was the great amount of privilege on the Yale campus, and the way uneven power dynamics can contribute to an extremely harmful environment.

There is also quite a bit on page of drug abuse, sexual assault and rape culture in general. If you are sensitive to these topics, I would tread cautiously.

With this being said, I was impressed overall with Bardugo’s transition to the Adult space. This is definitely an Adult novel. There are some real dark scenes in here and frankly, I am glad that she went as dark as she did.

It made this seedy underbelly of a privileged world seem so incredibly real.

I think as the series progresses the stories will continue to get stronger and stronger.

I may even read this one again, my hard copy, before the second novel is released.

I would love to experience this entire story in a more controlled environment than an SUV whizzing down the highway.

Also, does anyone else want to go snoop around New Haven in the middle of the night now, or just me?

The atmosphere, as always with Bardugo, was really something to behold; loved that aspect so much. I am really looking forward to getting back into this world when the next book releases!

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Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

The Dark Beneath the IceThe Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Marianne’s world is falling apart. She has quit dance, which once seemed her life’s purpose, her best friend has moved away and ghosted her, her parents are separated, again, and it seems like this time it’s for good, and her mother has checked herself into a mental health facility after a breakdown.

Now staying with her Aunt, Marianne notices other things going on with herself. She is losing time and objects are moving and breaking around her, seemingly on their own.

She feels afraid, like a dark spirit is constantly around her, messing with her head and her world.

Her fear is so strong, she’s not sleeping well and soon begins to feel like she is coming apart at the seams. She seeks help from a girl at school whose mother is purported to be a psychic of some sort.

Marianne believes the presence after her is some sort of ghost and her hope is that Rhiannon’s mom will be able to get rid of it.

As Marianne and Rhiannon, who goes by Ron, begin to get to know one another, a really precious friendship forms. Both ostracized by their peers, the girls find acceptance within one another.

This friendship was one of my favorite aspects of the story, made stronger once you begin to see that the girls have developed feelings for each other deeper than friendship.

Once it is clear that’s Ron mom won’t be as much help as they would have thought, the girls strike out on their own to try to banish the spirit. Unfortunately, their actions make it worse. A lot worse.

I really enjoyed the majority of this book. At first, the writing style threw me off, but I came to really enjoy it.

It is metaphorical in nature, more so than I tend to enjoy, but very dark and beautiful.

I thought the paranormal elements were well done. The intensity kept being amped up and it truly kept me glued to the pages.

The ending made me a little uncomfortable, but I may be reading too much into it. I just wasn’t sold on the conclusion.

Anyway, overall I did really enjoy this. I had a ton of fun reading it and even had moments where I was legitimately creeped out. I think this would make a great movie.

If you enjoy movies with paranormal activity or possession, you should definitely check this one out. Bonus points if you enjoy dark, metaphorical writing.

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Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady RogueThe Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darkly glorious!!!

A bit Stalking Jack the Ripper, mixed with A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, I loved this fast-paced, historical romp with every fiber of my being.

Theo and Huck make a great team and following them on their mystery-filled, rescue mission through the rustic Carpathian Mountains was hella entertaining!

Theodora’s father is a treasure hunter, hired by a mysterious aristocrat to track down the legendary war ring of Vlad the Impaler. Along with his assistant, Huck Gallagher, also Theo’s former beau, he begins his search discovering new clues and following-up on leads.

Poor Theo gets left behind in a hotel, as she usually does, and is more than frustrated with that turn of events. She wants adventure too and is very good at solving puzzles. She just cannot understand why her father wouldn’t want to utilize her talents.

When Huck arrives back at the hotel, without her father, he has no clue as to where he went but he does have his cryptic travel journal. Theo’s mind is put to the test as she tries to decode his writings and figure out where he could be. Did he go willingly or was foul play involved?

I loved so much about this. The mystery, the intrigue, the dark historical connections, the partnership between Theo and Huck, the setting, it was all very up my alley.

I have never read a Jenn Bennett book before but I know this is a new genre for her. I thought she did a fantastic job. Although some of the paranormal things were a little wonky, I was having so much fun with the story, I didn’t even care.

Further, I am not sure if this is slated to be a standalone or a series, but I really, really hope this is not the last we see of this courageous duo!!!

The characters mention at the end of this book a location they may be traveling to next…I’m looking at you, Scotland…and I really NEED that to happen.

Who do I contact about that? Let’s do this, Bennett! I know you have it in you!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon Pulse, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity but extra love when I discover a new favorite!

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Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Little DarlingsLittle Darlings by Melanie Golding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A delightfully creepy story!

Lauren Tranter has just become a first-time mother of twin boys, Riley and Morgan. While still in hospital she begins to struggle with new motherhood. A terrible hemorrhage post-birth provides an additional trauma. She now finds herself in pain, alone and questioning her ability to be able to handle all of this.

Making matters worse, one night an intruder in her room, a very scary, ragged woman, tries to take her babies; trys to take them and exchange them with her own evil little monsters. Luckily, Lauren is able to fight her off. Hiding in the bathroom of her hospital room, she calls for help.

Unfortunately, no one believes her. No hospital staff report seeing anyone. How could an intruder have gotten past the surveillance cameras without being seen? Lauren must be hallucinating, suffering from some sort of postpartum psychosis.

Detective Jo Harper isn’t convinced that Lauren was imagining the incident however and she begins to investigate further, contrary to her superiors wishes.

Once back home with the boys, Lauren’s struggles continue. Her asshole husband, Patrick…

…is about as supportive as a dead jellyfish, so without any relief, she really begins to sink toward rock bottom. She never leaves the house, doesn’t socialize and lives in constant fear that the would-be kidnapper from the hospital will return.

In fact, one evening, she sees the woman outside the house, staring in at her. As Patrick begrudgingly goes to investigate, Lauren decides to call the sympathetic officer who spoke to her while she was in the hospital, Detective Harper.

This book has an absolutely wicked, ominous feel throughout. I don’t think I have ever read a thriller that bordered on the supernaturally horrific as much as this one did.

The idea of changelings is closely examined in this work and I loved how many chapters began with little excerpts from various fairy tales focused on that topic. Lauren is truly terrified for the majority of this book and that really got under my skin. The writing was so strong, I was definitely swept up in her thoughts and equally as much into Detective Harper’s investigation.

I loved so much about this book. There is a lot of the plot I am not even going to mention here as it is best to be taken off guard by it.

Immediately after finishing I was thinking I would give it a 4.5-star rating. There were a couple of plot points that I wished had been expanded on or moved around in the context of the story, but upon further reflection, to hell with that. This is a great freaking book. I loved it and would definitely recommend it to any reader who likes dark, slightly scary, content!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with an ARC copy to read and review. I will most likely read it again someday as I enjoyed it that much. Until then I will be loaning out my copy to all friends and family who will take it. I genuinely cannot wait to see what is next for this author!

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Review: Last Things by Jacqueline West

Last ThingsLast Things by Jacqueline West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Anders Thorson is a rock god. Okay, not really a rock god. He’s actually a high school kid but he is front-man of a band, Last Things, and they do have a regular gig at a coffee shop in their Northern Minnesota town.

Thea Malcolm is the new girl in town but has quickly become Anders number one fan. She shows up every where he goes, never approaching, just quietly lurking in the background.

When bad things begin to happen to Anders and those closest to him, the first suspect on everyone’s list is Thea.

What’s her deal anyway? She’s so quiet and she lives alone with her mysterious Aunt who everyone suspects of being a witch.

But Thea is harmless, right?

Told in alternating perspectives between Anders and Thea, the reader is quickly tuned in to the fact that there is a lot more going on in this town than meets the eye.

Let’s talk about the woods.

Yes, ‘the woods’. The woods play a prominent role in this story. You definitely feel early on that something is out there. It takes on a presence all of its own. It’s dark and eerie and we all know, that’s my aesthetic.

The atmosphere of this book definitely amped the story for me. I loved getting tiny tidbits of insight into what was really going on without having everything revealed. That may not make much sense but if you read the story, you’ll get it.

This was a fast, fun read. It reminded me a bit of the movie Megan’s Body mixed with a bit of Stranger Things; not a bad combo. I would say it reads on the younger side of YA and may be a great introductory book for someone looking to get into more paranormal reads.

Overall, I was impressed with Jacqueline West’s writing and I would definitely pick up more books from her in the future. This being said, I did feel the ending was a bit rushed. I could have done with a bit more explanation of the powers involved in the resolution.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Greenwillow Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to get my hands on this early and provide my opinion. This is out now guys, so grab a copy today and let me know what you think!

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Review: The Lonely Dead by April Henry

The Lonely DeadThe Lonely Dead by April Henry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

On a short-cut home through a local park, 17-y.o. Adele, comes across her estranged friend, Tori, crying and distraught. After talking to her for a while, trying to figure out what is wrong, Adele notices a very important fact about Tori. She’s dead. She’s dead and sitting atop her recently buried remains.

That’s right. Adele sees dead people but not in the way you would think. She only sees them in the location where their remains are. The spirits, if you will, are attached to their earthly remains via a cord of mist that extends from the backs of the their heads. Therefore, they are tethered to that location and do not necessarily bandy about haunting different places.

Adele knows that Tori has been murdered and she needs to report the body to the police. Fearing she will be considered a suspect she makes an anonymous call from a payphone and returns home to her life.

Turns out there are things called security cameras and the cops figure out it was her that made the call. This and the fact that everyone witnessed a big fight between Adele and Tori on the night of her death makes Adele a prime suspect. She therefore realizes she needs to pair with Tori to figure out what happened to her so she can clear herself and bring the real killer to justice.

This book and I did not get along. As you can most likely guess from the tone of above-mentioned gifs.

The synopsis sounded promising. A paranormal mystery and I guess, in a way, that is what it was except it wasn’t super mysterious and the paranormal elements were a bit simplistic. I think maybe this book would work better for a younger age group who is perhaps just getting into paranormal mystery stories, as someone new to the genre wouldn’t have much to compare this too.

This being said, while I think the writing works best for a Tween category, the topics don’t really mesh well with that age group. There is a lot of drinking, binge drinking, talk of binge drinking, sex, party scenes, etc.

So, yeah, maybe not the best thing to buy your 12-year old. Additionally, the overall feel of the book made me uncomfortable. This could completely be me, a personal preference or what have you, decide for yourself but the mental health rep…

I wasn’t crazy about it. Adele has been diagnosed with schizophrenia for which she has been prescribed medication. She takes this medication up until the time our story starts when she admits to secretly stopping and hiding the pills. She goes on to say on numerous occasions how much better her life is now that she is off it even though now she is seeing things again whereas before she wasn’t. The medication had been dulling her gift to see these dead things.

This is a topic returned to over and over again in the book and I’m just not sure if glorifying going off prescribed medications for serious mental health issues in a teen book is a good thing?

Seriously, though, I don’t know. Maybe I was reading into it wrong or I am taking it too literally. I don’t know. I have never suffered from a hallucinatory disorder personally so may not be the best judge on this. Besides this overriding issue, however, I did have a few other problems with it. The ‘mystery’ was pretty apparent from the beginning. The build-up was too long and the conclusion too rushed. There was a lesson in a health class about binge drinking that just got brought up over and over again that was sort of lame. Things got really wacky at the end. Meh. Just not for me.

However, if this synopsis sounds interesting to you, I want you to pick it up. I want to hear what other people think of this and the mental health stuff in particular. I seriously hope my review doesn’t stop anyone from picking this up. For me, it didn’t work, but I am sure some people out there will really enjoy it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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