Cecilia Villin's Blog

I am this eccentric, dreaming, slightly nerdy girl (don't get me wrong; these are the qualities that I am proud to have!) that is usually to be found with a book in one hand and a steaming cup of hot tea in the other.

I am a lover of good stories, which I usually find in YA, fantasy, contemporary or classic reads.

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, is an intriguing novel written from two points of view. In a world inspired by Ancient Rome Laia is from an impoverished, oppressed people under the rule of the Martial Empire. Elias is one of the finest graduating students at the ruthless Martial soldier school.

 

As Laia's brother, the last of her family, is taken prisoner by the Martials, she is desperate to find a way to save him from execution. Soon she finds herself asking help from a hidden rebel group - state enemies of the Martials - and ends up a slave at the cruel and unforgiving Commandant of the infamous soldier school.

 

In the mean time Elias struggles with his plans of desertion, a crime - though too common at the school - is punishable by death. Surrounded by friends that have trained alongside him most of his life to hunt down criminals, and with a new arriving group that is rumored to be able to read minds, he is having an increasingly difficult time hiding his plans.

 

As the story progresses Laia and Elias' separate stories start to intertwine, giving them unlikely common ground.

 

Tahir's "An Ember in the Ashes" is certainly a breath of fresh air. There is something about her story that is just different from most other books that are out there, and it is a joy to read. She writes well, although her ... short, I think ... writing style takes a little time to get used to, and she has a way to keep things fast paced and interesting.

 

I really like that the story is told equally between Elias and Laia, giving us readers a chance to see two very different aspects of the world. However, I wished from both of them that they would tell a little bit more about the world; I felt that there was so much focus on the character and story building that the "stories behind" were a little negleted, if that makes sense. It makes the story seem a little simplified.

 

The main annoyance of this book, however, the part that pulled this from an otherwise 4,5 to a 4 for me, was that the main characters - especially Laia - has a tendency to just run away from, forget or simply overlook very important information. This made me guess at and understand a lot of things long before the main characters did. I mean, there were still many surprises; awesome or terrifying twists and outcomes I didn't foresee, but there were still too many things that I guessed at too early for me to be able to enjoy this book fully. In fact, it sort of made the main character seem a little weak. I understand that Tahir wrote things this way in an attempt to build tension and prolong excitement, but it was a little too obvious in the coming, and reflects poorly on the main characters. As a reader you want to be impressed with the hero/heroine, not feel cleverer than them.

 

Also I want to mention that Tahir's rhythm is a little off. Not much, mind you, just a little. I mean, there's a rhythm to good story telling; you know, there comes a point when you as a reader can feel that "now's the time for a turn of events," or "now's the time for the main character to have a life-altering realization and start behaving thereafter", and that timing is a little off.

 

But don't get me wrong. I really like this story. I really, really like it. Despite its horrible, gritty gruesomeness, and I really want to read the next book (because, come on, there has to be a next book! This story isn't finished!) I am impressed by Sabaa Tahir, and would read anything else she wrote, no matter if it was a continuation of this particular story or not.

 

- C

"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts."

Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Princess

Clockwork Princess - Cassandra Clare

I just read an absolute master piece.

My heart is torn to shreds, my sould is somehow shocked into unconsciousness and my mind is stunned to silence. This was horrible, painful, beautiful and magnificent (and again I mean that as the highest of compliments)! I know that this is YA fantasy, but still; it is hereby considered a Classic by me.

 

Cassandra Clare has gone and done it again; planting thoughts of forbidden loves so beautiful in my mind that I hardly know if I can bear it. Throughout this read I was so afraid of the ending, thinking that there could not possibly be any way that this could end well. Yet it ended, and I saw that this was the only way right. Clare has managed to capture the essence of life and people and love, no matter how messy and beautiful it can be, in a stunning and fast paced story of a different world so familiar.

 

I have to admit, throughout the read I would pick out flaws, things that annoyed me, things that turned cliché. But each and every one of those things I found she managed to fix. Half the "problems" were half-started clichés that she gave a funky twist that gave it a new breath of life, while the other half were things that annoyed me more and more until I realized that she was doing it on purpose, and that she actually had a plan behind it, and I endeed up (grudgingly at first) admiring them!

 

No, all I can say is this: GO READ THIS SERIES! Prepare to get your mind blown away in a world of pain, love, strength, honour and healing. It is a series well worth reading, and I imagine that all of Cassandra Clare's books are books that I am going to reread so many times.

 

Now I have to go prepare for a period of Shadowhunter-withdrawal... Wish me strength.

 

- C

Infernal Devices Update

Clockwork Princess - Cassandra Clare

I can't believe I'm going to read this... I'm so nervous! What if it doesn't end the way I need it to end? What if... Aaah! I'll lose my mind! Must read!

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Prince

Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare

I cannot believe what I just read! Whoa; I'm still shaking! Now, calm down, please.

 

In case you do not know; Clockwork Prince is the sequel to the Clockwork Angel in The Infernal Devices series, by Cassandra Clare. And I tell you; if you have not read Clare's books yet you are missing out!

 

In Clare's usual riveting way her writing had me sitting as if spellbound while reading this book. I am absolutely dazed by how believable and alive someone can make one's characters be. While reading the continued story of Tessa, Will, Jem and the others I felt my heart contract, skip beats, swell out of my chest and run a long at rapid speed at intervals. I must take my hat of for Cassandra Clare; her characters are simply gut-wrenchingly beautiful and lovable.

 

I could keep on going about the characters to no end, but I fear I will start spoiling all of you who have not yet read this. Plus my hands are shaking so much just thinking about those characters that I have to focus my thoughts on something else.

 

So, the writing; flowing, graceful and captivating. The story; well let me just say; no housework has been done, no homework either, and I was embarrassingly absent-minded at work because I simply could not wait till I got home to continue reading!

 

Yet now I find that I'm afraid of reading the last book. I'm terrified at where this will end up. Clare's uncanny ability to make me care for all her characters simply must mean that there is no way this can end up perfectly for everybody, right? How can this possibly end up where I want it - need it to end up?? Like I said; I'm shaking!

 

This is one of the very best and most painful books I've ever read (which is meant as the highest of compliments)!

 

- C

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare

So we're back visiting the romantically brooding world of Cassandra Clare, where the Shadowhunters and the others are kicking some historical butt! This first book of the TID series has such a dramatic entrance that I was entirely hooked by page 17 (which is rare as it usually takes me some time to get into a story).

 

It's been a few months since I read The Mortal Instruments series (which I now regret having finished before even starting TID due to spoilers in TMI's final book), and immediately after picking up Clockwork Angel I realized just how much I've missed Cassandra Clare's style of writing. In its strange simplicity and straightforwardness I find it very powerful and gripping. Not to mention easy to read and understand despite there being a few "large" words that I was unfamiliar with (but hey, English is my second language so I won't take it too hard).

 

The funny thing is that there are a lot of elements in this books that I normally really don't like in books; teenage-angst, love triangles (scratch that; pentagons!!?), a lot of very dark moods and themes... but Clare presents it all so well that I to my surprise found myself not minding these things at all - in fact I found myself pulled along and getting addicted on it.

 

And though it took me a while to get a feel for them I soon started to fall, bit by bit, in love with all the characters. Plus there's the return of the wonderful Magnus Bane! (Some day, you know, I want a Magnus Bane to myself...)

 

I vaguely remember that there were some things that annoyed me a tad bit, though I have completely forgotten what they were, so I guess I would have to put the stars to a 4,75. Or 4,80. Or 4,85... Shoot. Let's say 5!

 

So, hope I didn't spoil anyone! Now you must excuse me; I have to find the second book of the series and read some more ;)

 

- C

Finally picking up The Infernal Devices!

Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare Clockwork Princess - Cassandra Clare

Today I'm finally picking up The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, and I am so excited! I've heard a lot of great things about this series (not to mention that I am still in love with The Mortal Instruments series).

 

Of course there is the problem that I already have read TMI, which has quite a few spoilers of TID in its final book (City of Heavenly Fire), but I shall have to live through those consequences as I was the one not willing to wait until I got the TID books...

 

I know that picking up these books now is probably the worst idea of the month since my exam is coming up, but I cannot help myself! I need something great to delve into!

 

Wish me luck!

 

- C

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian - Rick Riordan

A worthy, fast-paced ending to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series! This book was filled with intense action like few other books you've ever read, yet kept its focus throughout the whole thing.

 

I want to keep this spoiler free so I can't say much about the plot of the book, but trust me on this; Riordan did a good job on it! I'm amazed at how many interactions and conversations between different characters and elements there are, and how diverse and non-forced they felt. No, truly well written is what this was.

 

I sat on the edge of my chair thoughout the whole read, hardly ever being able to relax. I switched between laughing out loud and yelling for my favourite characters to do this or do that! It is such a good feeling being so engrossed in a book, so utterly at the mercy of the sway of the story.

 

Again; The Last Olympian was a dignified, well-sorted ending of the series. It had emphasis on all the important pars, yet with the promise of more to come. Well done, Rick Riordan!

 

- C

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan

Before reading the Battle of the Labyrinth I felt that Percy Jackson and the Olympians series kept getting better the further along I read, and thus expected this one to be the best one of the series so far. I was not disappointed!

 

The story is getting more intriguing and diverse in this book, at the same time as it is getting more focused. Riordan is handling the more serious sides better, and though the humor is still very much in place, I feel that it is less silly now. 

 

I also love the growing intrigues, though that might just be me preferring the characters being older than they were when the story first began.

 

Over all I am very pleased with this book; I'm feeling more confident in Riordan being able to give me as a reader what I'm looking for which makes me able to relax and enjoy the ride. I highly anticipate the finale of the series, and will jump straight on that right away!

 

- C

"A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting."

Henry David Thoreau

Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse

The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan

I just finished reading the third book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

   So far I have really liked the books. I find them funny, well-written, fast-paced and imaginative. Riordan writes with grace and ease, yet I felt that there was some topics he avoided, as if he didn't know how to handle them (such as a distinct lack of emotion, and how the whole prophecy-thingy easily gives away more information than Riordan really was ready to spoil), leaving some awkward bits here and there.

   This is why the first two books only got four stars from me.

   The third book, however, was better. The story gets a little darker, and Riordan seem to face some of the problems more seriously. This resulted in me getting less annoyed and focusing more one the story plot, giving me the chance to feel the thrill and the ride of the story.

   This series is picking up its pace, and I am eager to read the rest to se how it ends!