Alastair Hunt is bad at following instructions! Cassie-wa is ALL ABOUT “The Iron Trial” by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron TrialThe Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Genre: Fiction, middle grade, fantasy, magic school, forget what you know about middle grade fantasy magic school fiction
Rating: Heck, 5 out of 5 stars. I loved it!

Summary: Fire wants to burn
Water wants to flow
Air wants to rise
Earth wants to bind
Chaos wants to devour
Call wants to live…

His whole life, 12-year-old Callum Hunt has been taught one thing by his father: magic is bad. The Magisterium isn’t a fun and whimsical magic school, it’s a dark, terrible place deep underground where young mages are experimented upon by cruel Masters who only care about advancing their own goals. Even knowing nothing about the magical battle that left his mother dead and himself permanently disabled, Call knows his only chance to survive is to fail the test that will earn him a (mandatory) spot at the Magisterium.

You can guess how well that goes for him.

As an Iron Year mage at the Magisterium, Call finds that the place isn’t all that bad, he’s not actually terrible at magic, and he has friends for the first time in his life. So maybe it would be okay to stick around, except for the growing evidence that who, or what, Call is might be more dangerous than he ever imagined.

The first thing you should know about The Iron Trial is that it is not, in fact, Harry Potter.

It is about a young boy with a somewhat tragic back story who goes to magic school, and while there he makes two friends who become his best friends, and over everything hangs the threat of a bad guy who has started wars in the past but has been quiet for a while.

To get this out of the way – Yes, okay? All of these things, and a few other nods not listed above, are very much like Harry Potter. This serves a purpose. The story line to The Iron Trial is just enough like Harry Potter to subvert it in the most intriguing way possible.

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Cassie-wa Reviews “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (Galley)
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Dramaz, Hilariousness
Rating: 4.88888 out of 5 stars

Summary: Jared has been Kami’s best friend since they were little. The thing is, she’s never met him. He’s always been a voice in her head, and may or may not be real. This has made Kami something of an oddball in Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she’s okay with that.

When the creepy Lynburn family returns to its famously big and creepy manor after a long absence, it seems like the perfect story to cover in Kami’s newly-founded school newspaper. But with the ensuing ominous whispers, weird animal mutilations, murder, and downright mysterious behavior from just about everybody in town, Kami realizes it’s up to her to uncover Sorry-in-the-Vale’s dark secrets before anyone else gets hurt.

Worst of all, she can’t seem to trust anyone. Not even Jared.

Unspoken, you started out so, so funny, and then you got so, so sad. Why do you do these things to me? Why?

You’ll find more of this intrepid reviewer’s opinion after the jump!

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Cassie-wa Reviews “I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Advanced Reader Copy)
Release Date:
 April 3, 2012
Genre: Drama, action, suspense, mystery
Rating: 4.8999 out of 5 stars

Summary: Jasper “Jazz” Dent has a lot to deal with. He has the misfortune of being the son of Billy Dent, one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. For the first thirteen years of his life, Billy trained Jazz in the art of murdering people horribly and getting away with it. As a result, Jazz knows just about everything there is to know about killing. And he knows he would be really, really good at it.

Another dangerous result of his father’s training: Jazz is an expert manipulator. He’s so good at fooling other people, he hardly knows himself when he’s being truthful. And considering that he occasionally has to talk himself out of killing people, it’s no wonder he’s worried he might be a sociopath like his father. 

Years after Billy is sent to prison, bodies start turning up in the small town of Lobo’s Nod, and Jazz is the first to recognize the strange pattern in the murders. He becomes obsessed with solving the crimes, and he has one advantage over the police: the mind of a serial killer.

I Hunter Killers was AWESOME. I was super lucky to get an advanced copy, and proceeded to read it in less than two days. If you’re looking for a book that will make you audibly gasp or exclaim things like “AHH!” and “OHMYGOD!” and “OH NOOO!” and cause your roommate to look at you strangely, I HIGHLY recommend it!

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Cassie-wa Reviews “Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Promise Part 1”

Avatar: The Last Airbender (The Promise – Part 1)
by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru
Genre: Comic book, fantasy, comedy, DRAMAZ
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary: The story of Avatar: The Last Airbender picks up right where it left off (i.e. Aang and Katara smooching on a balcony) in this first of three parts. We learn that Aang, Earth King Kuei, and Zuko have decided that the only to way restore peace in their war-torn world is to remove all Fire Nation colonies from the Earth Kingdom. Aang agrees to oversee the “Harmony Restoration Movement.”

There’s a huge celebration when the movement is announced, and everyone is happy. Until Firelord “Debbie Downer” Zuko asks Aang to promise to kill him if he ever starts turning into his father.

A year later, the Harmony Restoration Movement grinds to a halt when Zuko suddenly withdraws his support. Earth Kingdom citizens threaten to start another war. And Aang realizes he might have to kill one of his best friends. In the lighter days of the Nickelodeon cartoon, we could assume everything would turn out fine. Now… I’m not so sure.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS for Avatar: The Last Airbender and “The Promise” – Part 1 ahead.

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Cassie-wa Reviews “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure, Romance
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Summary: 17-year-old Karou has a pretty interesting life, considering she has her own apartment in Prague and goes to art school. She’s a great mystery to her friends, never talking much about herself except to say with a wry smile that she doesn’t remember getting the eye-shaped tattoos on her palms, her hair is naturally blue, and the strange creatures she fills dozens of sketchbooks with, such as Issa, the snake woman, and Brimstone, the wishmonger, are real. 

Of course the creatures, called chimaera, are real–they’re the only family she has in the world. Her hair is naturally blue (because she wished that it was), and she knows as little about her mysterious tattoos as she knows about her past. When she’s not in school, she’s running errands for Brimstone, using portals to travel around the world and collect teeth for him, although she doesn’t know their purpose.

Just when she’s on the brink of discovering who she is, all of the portals go up in flames. Karou is completely cut off from her family, and finds herself stalked relentlessly by a vengeful angel named Akiva, who might be able to reveal to her once and for all the secrets of her past.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is beautifully written, utterly fascinating, and doesn’t explain a single thing about what’s going on until the very end of the book.

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Cassie-wa is Not Reading “Game of Thrones” Correctly and Doesn’t Care

I would like to begin this post by talking about a really cool website/newsletter called ReadIt1st.com. ReadIt1st (brainchild of Hank Green, as many amazing things are) promotes reading a book before you go to see the movie.

The reasoning behind this: “While movies are great, and we love them, the stories from those movies were originally envisioned in a different way. A way that requires more interaction, more brain, more relaxation, more free time, and more commitment. We think those are all things that the world doesn’t have enough of these days.”

You can even sign a pledge swearing you will always read the book first… or you can sign a pledge saying you’re going to read the book whenever you feel like it, thank you. Either way, it signs you up for a newsletter on what books are being turned into movies. (Go to http://www.readit1st.com/ to sign a pledge and get the newsletter!)

The book vs. movie debate is something we could go on about for, I don’t know, EVER, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now. Right now I’m going to talk about A Song of Ice and Fire.

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Cassie-wa Reviews “Astonishing X-Men (Volume 1)” by Joss Whedon

Astonishing X-Men (Volume 1) by Joss Whedon
(Art by John Cassaday)
Genre: Comic book, snark, drama, FUN
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary: Amidst an increasingly mutant-hostile society (and an increasingly difficult-to-follow plot continuity) Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Beast, Kitty Pryde, and Colossus decide that they’re just going to ignore whatever the hell is supposed to be going on in the X-Men universe and form a new superhero team that actually does superhero things. They even have new outfits! Volume 1 of “Astonishing X-men” takes us through the formation of the new team, a conflict with a crazy mutant-hating alien called Ord of the Breakworld, the creation of a “mutant cure”, and a battle with a new (old?) enemy called Danger.

I have no idea what is going on in X-Men right now. Although I have long considered myself an X-Men fan (I bleached out the front part of my hair in high school so I would look like Rogue), when it comes down to it I really haven’t read that many actual comics.

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