Book Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare was my second read of Bout of Books 12, and I quite enjoyed it.

The Iron TrialAuthor:  Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Genre: Middle grade/young adult, fantasy

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: September 9, 2014

299 pages, hardcover

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

Call’s father has always told him to stay away from magic, that magic is what killed his mother, and so unlike the other kids at the Iron Trial, he wants to fail. Unfortunately, one of the teachers at the Magisterium, Master Rufus, sees something in him, and suddenly Callum Hunt is somewhere he’s been warned will kill him.

If you want to see how I would describe The Iron Trial in pictures, check out my challenge post from Bout of Books.

I think my favorite part of this book was Call. He’s not your average protagonist. He’s kind of a jerk (seems like I like jerk main characters. Remember my review of Firecracker?). He’s abrasive, insubordinate, says the wrong things, and pushes people away when they try to befriend him. It takes a little while to understand him and why he does this, but once you do, you can’t help but care for him.

A lot of people have compared (or criticized) this book to Harry Potter – there’s a young boy who goes to magic school, befriends another boy and girl, and has to fight an evil wizard. Okay, yes, those are indeed very similar to HP, BUT The Iron Trial is also unique. The magic is probably the main way it’s different – mages use the elements to create and change and destroy. The focus is on nature and the elements, which is really cool. There are creatures called elementals who’ve been consumed by their element, and chaos-ridden animals and people who have a piece of the void inside them. I’m not going into the whole Clare debate blah blah blah. I liked the magic, characters, and ideas, and that’s what matters.

I felt that Call’s friends – Tamara and Aaron – as well as the other characters were well-developed and full. On the other hand, I think there were a few too many minor characters and I would constantly be confused which character was doing what.

One last thing: No one, and I mean NO ONE, will see that twist coming at the end. It was wholly unexpected, a crazy twist that was both awesome and strange. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book.

The bottom line: The Iron Trial is a fun, unique take on magic school and child wizards. I had a few issues (too many minor characters; middle that was a little drawn out), but I enjoyed it overall. I loved the main character and the world that Holly Black and Cassandra Clare have created.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Have you read The Iron Trial? What did you think?

Bout of Books “Describe Your Book in Pictures” Challenge

It’s Day 5 of Bout of Books 12! TGIF – because it means I can read ALL WEEKEND!! Wooooo. Alright, anyway, today The Book Monsters are hosting the “Describe Your Book in Pictures” Challenge. You can use the book you’re currently reading or take a book you’ve already read. Either way, choose a book and find some pictures that describe it. Fun AND easy, right? Check out the challenge if you want to participate too!

I’ve just finished reading The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, so I’ve used that for my challenge. I’ve only included four pictures, none of which are spoiler-y, so no worries!

The Iron Trial

Here’s The Iron Trial in pictures:

TheIronTrial - BoB Challenge

Have you read The Iron Trial? Think my pictures work? Link me to your challenge if you participated so I can see!

My True Love Gave to Me – GIVEAWAY

I am a big fan of giving. I like buying presents for people all year round, but obviously, this time of year brings out the giving in everyone. So I want to give something to you guys, who have given me such wonderful and really, really appreciated support on my blog. I love you all.

I’ve decided to do a giveaway for a copy of My True Love Gave to Me, which I reviewed on my blog through a series of mini reviews of all twelve stories. Here’s the links to all of my mini reviews from the book. Make sure you stick around for the giveaway at the bottom!

My True Love Gave to Me

Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights” – Such a wonderful way to start off the book. One of my favorites.

“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link – Somewhat annoying writing style but pretty cool story

Matt de la Peña’s “Angels in the Snow” – This one kind of felt like a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. Just kind of cheesy and lots of drama and all that jazz.

Jenny Han’s “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me” – A cute story with a sweet, hopeful ending but a whiny and spoiled main character

Stephanie Perkins’ “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” – SWOON. That is all.

David Levithan’s “Your Temporary Santa” – This story kind of made me feel melancholy even though it’s about Santa and Christmas.

Holly Black’s “Krampuslauf” – I liked the characters, the story, the magic, the uniqueness, the writing style, everything. One of my favorites.

Gayle Forman’s “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” and Myra McEntire’s “Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” (in one review) – Surprisingly, I liked Gayle Forman’s story. Myra McEntire’s wasn’t one of my favorites but was still enjoyable.

Ally Carter’s “Star of Bethlehem” and Laini Taylor’s “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” (in one review) – “Star of Bethlehem” was forgettable and kind of stupid. “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” was one of the stories I loved the most for the epic fantasy aspect, but it did have its problems.

Alright, here’s the giveaway! Click on the picture below to be taken to Rafflecopter to enter. The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as The Book Depository delivers to you. Yay! You can check whether TBD delivers to you HERE. The giveaway will END on January 7, 2015 at Midnight CST. Also, because I know some of you have already read/own My True Love Gave to Me, you can still enter. If you win, you can choose a book from TBD/Amazon for $15 or less! ❤ you guys.

Giveaway Enter

Review: Krampuslauf by Holly Black (My True Love Gave to Me)

It’s day seven of my “Twelve Days of Christmas” – reviewing one story per day from My True Love Gave to Me. So far, I’ve reviewed Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights”“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link, and Matt de la Peña’s “Angels in the Snow”Jenny Han’s “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me”, Stephanie Perkins’ “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown”, and David Levithan’s “Your Temporary Santa”.

Today’s story is Holly Black’s “Krampuslauf”.

My True Love Gave to MeIMG_20141220_193704

I liked this one. Quite a bit. It was weird and different and dream-like. I’ve never heard of Krampus, but apparently he basically looks like a satyr – goat legs, horns, human torso – and he punishes the children who are bad versus rewarding the children who are good. Hanna and her friends decide to go to a Krampus celebration (well, really, it’s just a hipster-ization of Krampus including hot chocolate and a charity run) to spy on the guy who screwed over Penny, one of the friends. They end up inviting the guy and his real girlfriend and their friends – as well as a cute boy who has a seriously realistic Krampus costume – to a New Year’s Eve party. Fighting, drinking, kissing, and laughing ensue.

I really, really like this one. I’ve only ever read/listened to Holly Black’s Doll Bones, but this story confirmed I seriously like Black’s clever and smart writing style. This story is really different from what you’d probably expect from a holiday story. There’s magic and mythical creatures. It doesn’t center on Christmas and it’s got Krampus – who’s kind of a more interesting version of Satan. I mean, what? I felt a little like I was dreaming while reading this and that’s actually a cool feeling to have while reading. I liked the characters, the story, the magic, the uniqueness, the writing style, everything. One of my favorites so far. Looking forward to reading more Holly Black and researching Krampus some more.

WWW Wednesday [10] – My true love gave to me embarrassing true stories

WWW Wednesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three questions: (As always, all titles are linked to their corresponding Goodreads pages)

  • What are you currently reading?

My True Love Gave to MeI’m currently reading one story a day from My True Love Gave to Me (so far I’ve reviewed Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights”“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link, and Matt de la Peña’s “Angels in the Snow” and Jenny Han’s “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me”. I’m also starting my reread of Maggie Stiefvater’s Linger today. I tried to do it as an audiobook like I did with Shiver, but the copy I checked out from the library skipped too much. 😦 It’s perfect weather to reread these books.

  • What did you recently finish reading?We Should Hang Out Sometime

Yesterday, I finished We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist. It was pretty funny and very, very honest – to the point where you almost feel as embarrassed as he does. I related to it a lot, in ways that I’ll discuss in my review on Friday.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

The Iron TrialAfter I finish Linger (which should be by Friday), I believe I am going to read The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. I have a few others checked out from the library that I’d like to read, and I also got The Winner’s Curse and several other books from my Belles’ Enchanted Book Exchange partner that I want to dig in to, so I’m not 100% sure what I’ll read. I’ll see what jumps off my shelf after I finish Linger.

What about you? What are you reading?

Audiobook Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

I am reading several books for the Magnolia Book Awards. When I saw that Doll Bones was on the list, I volunteered to read it for my library as it’s been on my TBR for a while. I checked out the audiobook to listen to, and I am glad I did.Doll Bones

Author: Holly Black

Narrators: Nick Podehl

Audiobook length: 5 hours and 15 minutes

Genre: Middle grade, fantasy, adventure

Publisher: Listening Library (audiobook), Margaret K. McElderry Books (physical book)

When I’ve reviewed audiobooks in the past, I’ve kind of just done a general review, mixing both the story and the review of the narration into one review. I think I want to start breaking them down into Story and Audiobook as a way to better clarify my reviews and make them easier to read. How’s that sound to you guys?

STORY

Zach, Poppy, and Alice are best friends who’ve been playing a continuous game of adventure – with mermaids, pirates, and thieves – for a long time. Ruling over their land of make-believe is the Great Queen, a special, bone-china doll locked up in a cabinet and trapped there. When Zach’s there-again father pushed Zach to give up make-believe, Zach quits the game. But Poppy begins having dreams of a ghost girl who won’t rest until the Great Queen is laid to rest, the threesome must go off on an adventure to bury her. Is there really a ghost? Will she curse them if their quest isn’t completed? Bum. Bum. Bum.

This is a perfect coming-of-age story full of fun, adventure, spookiness, and a sense of is-this-real-or-not? Holly Black wonderfully captures that age just before adolescence that us adults tend to forget. Growing up tends to mean putting away our toys and entering a new and scary world of adulthood, and Holly Black is able to weave a story that brings you back to that age of first crushes, awkwardness, and confusion.

There’s also a ghost story here. I think it was just creepy enough, but not too creepy to scare young children into nightmares. The best part is that Black leaves it up to the reader to decide whether or not the story is real.

NARRATION

I’d heard Nick Podehl’s narration once before in the audiobook for Wonder. I enjoyed him then, but I really liked him in Doll Bones. He was able to use his obvious talent for creating voices and narrated the entire book himself. He perfectly captures the voices of Poppy, a somewhat sassy, confident young girl, Zach, a sad, strong, intelligent young boy, and Alice, a shy, reserved girl, as well as the variety of other cast members – including a creepy old man on a bus and a firm but kind librarian. Nick Podehl is very, very good, and I will look up some of his other narrated books to try.

OVERALL, I quite liked the audiobook for Doll Bones, and I will definitely be checking out some of Holly Black’s other books to read. Recommended for those who have middle-school aged children or for those who just enjoy a good ghost story.