Tag Archives: werewolves

Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

15 Nov

Series: Hex Hall, book #2

Published: March 22nd 2011 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 359 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

This sequel is just as enjoyable as its predecessor Hex Hall. Here we follow Sophie as she goes overseas to stay on the English countryside with her father and a few of her friends. New characters are introduced, and it doesn’t take long before she is put into various peculiar situations. Great witty heroine and fun dialogue, but lacking depth to make it really good. A light entertaining albeit slightly forgettable read.

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Synopsis:

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

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My Thoughts:

I didn’t outright love this book. Yet it still exceeded my expectations. You see, I’ve learnt to expect the worst with sequels. And this, my friends, is a sequel which manages to be just as good as its prequel.

A miracle in itself.

What probably saved this one from the dreaded “middle-book-syndrome” was the change of setting. As soon as we enter the story, Sophie is whisked away from the familiar setting of Hex Hall to the castle Thorne Abbey in England, where her father, as well as the rest of the council, is staying.

Immediately we are introduced to a bunch of new characters (Daisy,Nick and Lara), as well as getting to keep some of the familiar faces (vampire BFF Jenna and betrothed Cal). There is the giant mansion Thorne Abbey with its corridors and secrets. And Archer is supposedly lurking somewhere on the English countryside.

My interest was piqued.

Just like in Hex Hall the tone is light and sarcastic and the pace is great. Not once was I bored. There were equal amounts of action sequences, as well as space for some bonding, father-daughter or Sophie-Jenna. Sophie Mercer once again proved what a fun character she is. It felt effortless following her around.

I also loved the snarkiness and wittiness, which reminded me of Cassandra Clare’s in the Mortal Instruments.

Let me give you a few examples:

On Sophie’s dad being British:

“Dad was at his desk when I opened the door, doing what all British people do when they’re freaked out: drinking tea.”

Or when Sophie finds out about the betrothal:

“As I stomped across the school grounds, all I could see was Cal sitting with my dad in some manly room with leather chairs and dead animals on the wall, chomping on cigars as my dad formally signed me away to him. They probably even high-fived.”

Or the snarky remarks between Sophie and Archer:

“Never hurts to be prepared….”
“It just seems like overkill when you already have a sword and I have superpowerful magic at my disposal.”
“‘Superpowerful’? …. Let me remind you of two words, Mercer: Bad. Dog.”

Entertaining indeed.

Yet, just like in Hex Hall, it also lacked depth. All though some terrifying things happened, it never affected me much. I didn’t feel the pain, the loss or the fear of any of the characters. Like I said in my review of Hex Hall, it never goes beyond a light version of Harry Potter. A shame, because the potential is definitely there. Hawkins sure knows how to write.

In this sequel we are also introduced to another one of those dreaded love triangles. Well, dreaded only if forced or superficial, which unfortunately this one is. I would have been perfectly happy with only Archer. God knows there are enough star-crossed problems hanging over them, without an additional problem being added of another guy viewing for Sophie’s attention. It doesn’t help that this other guy hardly talks or shows any emotions. Consequently, I have absolutely no idea of who he is, more than that he is good at healing. Good thing the love triangle was never at the forefront of the story.

The ending was a real cliffie. Practically everyone is in danger. Who has made it and who hasn’t? Well, get the next book to find out!

Urgh, I’ve never been a fan of those ones.

Yet, cliffie or not, since I did enjoy the book overall, I think I’ll have to get my hands on Spellbound when it hits the shelves in March next year. So yep, I have to say I remain intrigued..

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

10 Oct

Series: Hex Hall, book #1

Published: March 2nd 2010 by Hyperion Book CH

Details: Hardcover, 323 pages

My Rating:  3.5/5

My Summary:

Light and fun read about Sophie, who after casting a particulary bad spell gets sent to Hex Hall, where she learns one or two things about the magical world and about herself. This is a Harry Potter for girls, with a distinct teen-age feel to it. As a 30+ year old, I found it slightly too immature. Yet because of the witty voice of Sophie, and a good pace, it’s still an entertaining read. Sequel is called Demonglass.

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Synopsis:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

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My Thoughts:

I remember saying in my review of A Great and Terrible Beauty that it was described as a Harry Potter for girls.

Well, scratch that. This is the Harry Potter for girls!

Let’s see:

  1. The main character Sophie is sent off to a boarding school for magical folk.
  2. Said school is essentially a pale version of Hogwarts, with ghosts floating around, furniture that change shapes, spooky bathrooms and classes featuring subjects such as The History of Warlocks and Transformation.
  3. Like Harry, Sophie was brought up in the human world, hence is a complete novice when it comes to all things magical.
  4. Like Harry, Sophie is famous in the magical world, given her family status, and I won’t say anymore here due to spoilers.
  5. Like Harry, Sophie is special and has a dark streak to her witch craft, which makes her not only a prime target for evil forces, but also has her doubting her own goodness.
  6. Like Harry, Sophie has a tendancy to get herself into trouble, with pretty much everyone at school, earning her several punishments and detentions.
  7. Like Harry, Sophie find herself an archenemy pretty much straight away.
  8. Like in the Harry Potter books, the plot revolves around students getting attacked at school by a mysterious evil force.

Well, isn’t it obvious where Hawkins got her ideas from? I really felt as if I was reading a girl-version of Harry Potter.

A very light version though, which lacked the depth that made Harry Potter such an engrossing read. You see, the theme dealt with here (as in Harry Potter) is quite dark. A character actually dies in this book. Still, because of the light tone of the book, this event never affected me. I didn’t feel the tragedy that the loss of that character was.

Compare that to my reaction to the fourth Harry Potter book where at the end of the book, a character died. I remembering being shocked, as a heaviness settled on me. I just couldn’t believe it had happened. And I certainly felt the grief of Harry and everyone around him.

Hex Hall could have been all that, but instead settled on being just a light, fun and easy read. Something which I liked, but didn’t devour.

Being a girl-version of Harry Potter, the romantic lead is also obvious, pretty much from the start. The romance (or crush as I prefer to call it)  was cute, but that’s about it. Sophie was a well-rounded character and a fun voice to follow. Archer however, felt a bit too one-dimensional for me. He was hot. He was mysterious. He was every girl’s crush. But then what? I would have liked to know more about him. The ending however promises more, and I have to admit I am curious to see how it develops.

Finally, I should warn the adult readers, that the book has a teen-age feel to it, and at times I felt too old (and rightly so, since I am much older than the target audience). I appreciate that Sophie’s voice felt so close to her age, not one year more or less than her 16 years. So kudos to Hawkins for portraying a teen that realistically. However, for an adult reader, it came across as a bit too immature at times.

In fact, I believe the extent of enjoyment of Hex Hall depends on the reader’s age. Say if you’re a teen or early tween, it will most likely rate 4-5 stars. If you, like me, are 30+, the grade is more likely to end up around a 3.

The sequel is called Demonglass.

Review: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

11 Aug

Series: Mortal Instruments, book #4

Published: April 5th 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 424 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

I absolutely loved the first three books of MI series, and was thrilled to continue the series. Sadly, it left me disappointed. The plot was all over the place, more problems were thrown at Jace and Clary, and my favorite character Jace turned into an emo. Still ok read because of the great setting and the writing, but nowhere near as good as the first three.

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A few chapters in:

I have finally started reading the fourth installment of the Mortal Instruments. I’m feeling a bit giddy as I dive into this wonderful world of Cassanda Clare’s again. Actually, it’s a mixture of giddiness and nervousness. I’m eager to revisit this world, but also anxious about not messing up that perfect ending that was City of Glass. In particularly when it comes to Jace and Clary.

Nevertheless, I still want to read it. And, it’s on the top of my “what to read next” poll! Thanks to all who voted!!

Okay, so taking a deep breath here, and diving in:

I’m now a few chapters in. Clary’s friend, the vampire Simon is the narrator in this installment, and he is experiencing some problems. Firstly, there are problems of a romantic nature, as he is dating not one, but two girls at the same time: Werewolf Maia and shadowhunter Isabelle, who are bound to find out about each other soon. Then, there is his mom, who is growing increasingly suspicious of his weird habits (such as never eating), and is starting to demand answers.

The biggest problem however is his new status as the untouchable daylighter. That is, not only is he the only vampire who can walk in daylight (hence the nickname daylighter), but since The City of Glass, he is also protected by a rune mark on his forehead.  A rune that Clary gave him in order to save his life. All this makes him a very powerful vampire, and a threat to many others.

A vampire named Camille Belcourt (you may remember her from Clockwork Angel), has realized his potential power, and asks him to join her on her quest to become the leader of the NY vampire clan.

But does Simon really want to become involved in vampire power struggles?

As Simon ponders these issues, we also get a look into the Shadowhunter institute where Clary is now conducting her training to become a full-fledged shadowhunter. She and Jace are as much in love as before, all though Jace has been distancing himself slightly.

Oh no! Don’t give me that again!

But yes, I am definitely sensing troubles on the Clary and Jace horizon. Jace is once again doubting himself, or so I think.

I’ll admit I’m not too happy about that development. BUT, I am loving everything else. The characters, the dialogues, the humour, the vividly described settings are all spot on. And I am certainly feeling the pull..
 
 
 

 
 
 
After finishing the book:

I have a hard time writing this review, hence why it’s taken so long. But I guess I just have to get over it and write the words I’ve been dreading to spell out. I was disappointed.

There, I said it.

I hate to be criticizing my favorite author Cassandra Clare, but I have to be honest and write what I feel, sorry all you fans of the Mortal Instruments Series!

What I feel is that City of Glass was the true end to the series, but as Clare decided to extend the series, she had to quickly come up with a continuation. Consequently, the plot in this installment suffered. It felt forced.

The only part of the plot that was intriguing was the beginning, where Simon is being drawn into the politics of the vampires. I so wish she would have continued on that path.

Sadly, the first intriguing chapters quickly fell into the background, as a number of other irrelevant plot threads took the forefront. There is Simon who is tormented by two-timing his two girlfriends and his desire to drink blood. The new character Kyle is introduced, but does not really bring anything new. There are lots of preparations for a wedding that never actually takes place. Some shadowhunters are also being killed but that all happens off-page. Alec and Magnus are off on some honey-mooney kind of trip and keep sending pictures to the rest of the group. Clary is learning some self-defense. And what not else.

The overall feeling was a plot that felt jumbled, and a bit messy. The POV also changed like there was no tomorrow, and added to my confusion.

However, messy plot aside, what really disappointed me, more than anything else, was the problems Jace and Clary were having.

I had no problems with their issues in the previous books, but City of Glass brought a sense of closure for these two. And having them getting into more problems now felt like a huge step backward. Moreover, the issues they experienced this time around felt forced, as if Clare had to desperately create something to keep the lovers apart (and supposedly keep the readers interested). It was almost as if I could see her thinking: Okay, now the sibling problem is solved, so what do we do now?

She essentially tries to (re)create the romantic tension with the “I don’t deserve you because I’m too dangerous for you” -dilemma, something which is really getting very old. I’m not impressed with Clare trying to implement that here. Not impressed at all.

I also didn’t like that Clary and Jace, after all they had gone through, couldn’t talk about their problems sooner. You’d think they’d be closer to each other than that. It also annoyed me how their characters changed in this book, Jace going all emo on us  and Clary going all whiny about whether Jace loved her or not. I mean come on! In all seriousness, can she really doubt Jace’s love now??

The ending promises more problems regarding the Jace and Clary relationship, and I can only sigh. I so wish Clare had taken a different direction. I wish she had left Clary and Jace alone, and concentrated on Simon and his new adventures instead. Why didn’t she?

Ah well. For the first time ever with a Cassandra Clare book I am actually contemplating whether to read the next book or not. I probably will, just out of pure curiosity but if the end is any indication of where this is going, I am pretty much convinced I will be disappointed again. Damn it Clare, you should have left it where it was!

At least we have her other series to look forward to, which I am truly grateful for. I never thought I’d say this but I am now looking more forward towards The Infernal Devices than The Mortal Instruments Series.

The fifth installment City of Lost Souls to be published in May 2012.

Review: The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

3 Jun

Series: Darkest Powers, book #3

Published: April 6th 2010 by Orbit

Details: Paperback, 400 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

Final conclusion to Darkest Powers Series. Chloe and Co. has now got help from friends of Simon’s dad, but can they trust them? I loved the fast-paced read and watching the romance unfold, but was disappointed with the end. So many threads were left hanging that it felt more like a middle book than the end to a trilogy. All in all good, but not great.

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A few chapters in:

It’s been some time since I read the other two books in the trilogy Darkest Powers and while I can’t say I remember everything about the plot (the details are a bit fuzzy), I do remember that I liked the books. Well enough to want to get this final installment.

A quick check on GoodReads (currently4.3) tells me that it has received great praise, so I’m probably in for an exciting conclusion to the series! Looking forward to get some answers to my questions, and of course to see who Chloe ends up with, whether that be Simon or Derek?

So I’m now a few chapters in. As you may recall, in the end of The Awakening, Chloe and her friends (Simon, Derek and Tori) found themselves saved from the Edison Group ambush by Andrew, who is Simon’s dad’s friend.

In the opening of The Reckoning, we find them at a place where Andrew has taken them, so that they can rest and regroup. And rest is exactly what they need. Being on the run has (not surprisingly) put a strain on everyone.

There is not much time to relax though. They need to save Chloe’s aunt and Rachelle who they left behind at the lab of the Edison Group. The next morning, Andrew invites over a few members of a resistance group, which was apparently formed by ex-colleagues of The Edison Group when they opposed the way The Edison Group treated their subjects.

So who are the Edison Group?

Well, I haven’t got all the details together just yet, but they appear to be a group of people who offered to help supernatural kids (witches, necros, werewolves and the like) who had problems controlling their powers. Their solution to the problem (genetic modification) didn’t turn out so well though. And when supernatural kids weren’t behaving the way they were supposed to, they were locked in or even worse, killed.

Problem is, this resistance group seems to be doubting Chloe and her friend’s story about what happened, and consequently don’t want to act straight away. Which is worrying, because what will happened to Aunt Lauren and Rachelle if they wait too long?

And this is as far as I’ve got. At this stage, I’m feeling that it is about as good as the first two books, a great and fast paced read. And of course, there is Derek, who I have a soft spot for.

 

 

 

 

After finishing the book:

I’ve now finished this last installment of The Darkest Powers Trilogy, which turned out to be as enjoyable to read as the two previous books. That is, until I reached the end, which left me very disappointed.

But let’s first talk about what was good.

The pace, the writing, the characters. Just like in the two previous books The Summoning and The Awakening, I though the story flowed really well. Not much happens in this installment, apart from the final chapters. Chloe and her friends essentially spend all their time in Andrew’s house. Yet, somehow, I never got bored. I had grown attached to the characters, and it was interesting to see them further exploring their powers.

About half way through though, my feelings towards to book started to change.

Why?

Well, my first reason for disappointment was, believe it or not, the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love the romance that has been slowly (on emphasis on slowly!) growing throughout this series. In the final installment Chloe finally realizes who of the brothers (Simon or Derek) she wants to be with. But when something finally happens, it just felt a bit anticlimactic. Like, oh okay, that’s it?

I expected the guy to fight it more, given what he has thought about himself in the past. And I expected more conversations to take place between the two of them, of what this really meant for them. But no, it was more like, one kiss, and now we’re together.

After the romance having been “cleared up”, it was time to solve the whole situation with the Edison Group. And the final chapters end with a big bang in their headquarters, supposedly providing us with a resolution to the entire series.

Or so I thought. After finishing the book, I realized that nothing was actually solved. No questions were answered. In fact, it left me so perplexed, that I had to double-check if there weren’t more books planned in the series. Because it certainly felt that way. The Reckoning is definitely more of a middle book than the final conclusion to a series.

Let me give you a few examples of open threads that were left hanging (be aware of slight spoilers):

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1) Chloe’s necklace. What was up with that? I was expecting all throughout the series to get an explanation, but alas, none came.

2) Chloe’s mom. She surfaces as a ghost, and it’s clear that she has secrets to tell, yet we never get to hear them.

3) The group behind the Edison Group. They show up in the final pages, yet we never find out who they are.

4) Tori’s parentage. This was never explored either.

5) Rae. Are we to just believe Rae’s mom appeared out of the blue and kidnapped her from a highly secured cell in The Edison Group head quarters?

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Well, there’s more but you get my drift. I also had a problem in the ending with all the people getting killed. It suddenly seemed unlikely that they would spare the kids (Chloe and friends), if they could so ruthlessly kill off each other. I mean, these kids were obviously a huge problem to these people. Why not just kill them and be done with it? It just did not make sense to keep them in that house for weeks on end, if they had no scruples about killing people.

To cut a long story short, yeah I was disappointed. It felt like Armstrong was writing this great series, then got tired and decided to finish it off, as quickly as humanly possible. Hence, the ending felt rushed, it required a huge “suspense of disbelief” and left far too many important plot threads hanging in the air.

I’m still glad I read the series, as I thought it was enjoyable overall. If you are reading it though, consider yourself warned as this final conclusion does not deliver.

Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

24 Apr

Series: Nightshade, book #1

Published: October 19th 2010 by Philomel

Details: Hardcover, 452 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Summary:

First book in a series. A different take on the werewolf myth and one of the best written love triangles I’ve seen in a while. Plus a great world-building and multi-dimensional characters. All in all, a wonderful book!! The sequel Wolfsbane out in July, and cannot wait!

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A few chapters in:

I recently created a poll where you readers could vote and tell me what book to read next. Well, guess what book received the most votes?

That’s right, Nightshade! But before I go on, thanks to all of you who voted, I really appreciate getting your book recommendations!

Ok, so back to the topic at hand. Nightshade. All I know now is that this is the story about an alpha werewolf girl who falls in love with a human boy, thus it obviously draws some comparisons to Blood and Chocolate. It has also received great reviews. Needless to say, I’m excited to get started!

I’m now a few chapters in, and just like with Firelight, it starts bang on, where we’re literally thrown into an action scene when Calla (our werewolf heroine) saves a stranger human boy from getting killed by a bear in the mountains.

Little by little, we then learn the following about Calla. There are two rivaling wolf packs living in the mountains, The Nightshades and The Banes. As we enter the story, things are about to change. Calla, who is the daughter of the alpha of the Nightshades is to make a union (werewolf marriage I assume) with Ren, the son of the alpha of the Banes. This is a big thing, as everyone is now hoping to put an end to their fights. In particularly The Keepers (the rulers of all packs) are eager to make this work. Hence, Calla is feeling the pressure.

Enters the new enrollment in the mountain school, who happens to be the very guy Calla saved in the mountains. And complications arise, because this guy Shay has taken an interest in Calla, after their encounter in the mountains.

And that’s how far I’ve got. Or rather, of what I understood so far. Because truth to be told, I am a little bit confused. The new guy Shay seems to have connections within the werewolf community which was a bit of a surprise. Moreover, I’m not sure yet what Calla is thinking of her soon to be, Ren. True, he’s a casanova, but quite a charmer too, so not all that bad.  And what’s up with The Keepers, who are they? Not only do they seem to rule the two werewolf packs, they also rule the school.

In short, my head is swarming with questions, yet that’s what’s keeping me interested too. So it’s a good start and I’m certainly feeling the pull!

 

 

 

 

After finishing the book:

Wow! I don’t know where to start! This was such a great book! I read the first couple of chapters feeling slightly confused, because it’s a complex world-building that Cremer has created. And it does take a while to grasp the intricacies of that world – who is the master of who, learning the names of the members of the packs, the history, the rules and traditions and so on.

Once I did get into it though, I got into it deep! I read almost the entire book in one sitting! So yep, this is addictive stuff.

As explained above, Nightshade opens with Calla saving human Shay on the mountain top (revealing her true wolf form in the process), to later meet him as the new enrollment in her school. Which, on the surface sounds like the premise of any ordinary ya paranormal romance I read lately. In fact, after a chapter or so, I was already conjuring up in my mind what I thought was going to be the story line.

Well, little did I know that I was to be taken on a rollercoaster ride, along with the heroine, as layer after layer of the plot is revealed. And trust me, there are multiple layers. In fact so many things are going on at the same time, I’m seriously impressed with Cremer for pulling it off so effortlessly. This is what I call a great world-building!

But firstly, the characters, which as you know are the number one priority for me in any book. The characters in this novel was the real reason for why I loved it so much. Each character was so well-drawn, that I got the feeling that I was living right within the little wolf pack group myself.

There was Ansel, Calla’s brother who was discovering himself as the same time as being fiercely protective of his big sister. Bryn was the loyal, impulsive sweet friend. Sabine was supposedly the bitch but also someone who had sacrificed herself in order to protect the shy and quiet Cosette. Neville was the quite poet and musician and Max the outgoing and friendly guy who immediately takes in Shay into the group. Even Dax, the somewhat unfriendly second-in charge Wolfsbane member had his moments. In short, I loved reading about them all, as they felt so real!

Calla herself I also found to be a great heroine, strong and kick-ass yet vulnerable, trying to deal with a lot of pressure and problems in the best way possible. She wants to keep everyone happy, yet wants happiness on her own as well. I was with her on every step of the way. I simply loved her voice.

Thirdly and lastly, this novel contains one of the most real love triangles I have read in a while, (since I read Penitence), where both candidates are equally complex and strong. I usually at least have an inclination towards one of the guys in the end, but for the first time ever, I really have no clue!

I was resenting Ren at the start because he is a womanizer and even though hot and charming, I couldn’t forget the fact that he had been dating half the school, while knowing that Calla was his future partner. Like Calla says in the book: I don’t share. And I couldn’t agree more! Yet, after a while, I started to wonder if his womanizing was actually a reaction to Calla’s refusal of him. She never does give him a chance. Could it be that he has been in love with her all the time, but too insecure to show it?

Shay on the other hand I loved at the start. He is fearless and pushes the boundaries. He may have seemed a bit weak and confused at first, simply for being a human. But after a while, I found he started to behave more and more like an alpha. He challenges Ren, pushes Calla to see the truth, gets himself a place in the pack, and keeps showing his interest in Calla. While I loved that he wasn’t afraid to take actions, and to find the truth, he does get Calla into quite a lot of dangerous situations as he makes her break rule after rule. In the end though, he realizes this himself and apologizes which made me like him again.

In short, I understood Calla’s inner struggles to choose between them. Even though Ren proves to be a great guy, he represents what she ought to do, in a structured world she now wants to escape. Shay on the other hand is the new, exciting and forbidden aspect of her life. And he is in danger.

In the end I don’t think she’s consciously choosing any of the guys, it’s more coincidence and circumstances. It will be really interesting to follow this triangle in the next book, to see if a favorite will finally emerge.

Lastly, I only have one minor criticism which was the event which took place in the cave with Shay, which I thought felt a bit rushed. It’s supposed to take a while to learn, yet Shay managed the transition a little bit too easy. You know, one night in the woods, and now he’s a pro.

Yet, it’s a small criticism to an otherwise wonderful book. Thanks again to all of you who recommended me to read it. I’m now eagerly waiting for Wolfsbane, the second installment due to hit shelves in July this summer.

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

8 Jan

Series: The Infernal Devices, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover, 479 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series which I LOVED. Set in Victorian London, shape-shifter Tessa is captured by evil warlocks and saved by a group of shadowhunters, among them handsome and arrogant Will. While I loved revisiting this world, the relationship between the two main characters in this book bothered me a little, as did some of the repetitive factors. All in all, a great fast-paced read and a good start to a series, but not as amazing as The Mortal Instruments Series.

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A few chapters in:

As a fan of Cassandra Clare, I was superexcited when I heard that she had written a spin-off series, set in the very same shadowhunter world that I’ve come to love after reading her Mortal Instruments Series. The question was only: was she going to be able to replicate the success that was The Mortal Instruments series?  Well, judging by the many rave reviews it appears as if yes, she has succeeded. And so, I am really excited to finally delve into that world again!

I’m now a few chapters in. Set in the Victorian England, this is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series. Many of the characters are therefore ancestors to Jace, Alec, Isabelle and Co.

The main character however is of unknown family. Her name is Tessa – an american orphan girl – who upon following her brother to London, is captured on arrival and held captive by two weird-looking sisters named The Dark Sisters. It turns out Tessa has a rather unusual talent which the evil sisters intend to use: Tessa can shape-shift into any human form. After weeks in prison, she is saved by the gorgeous and arrogant shadowhunter Will, and taken to the shadowhunter institute in London, where she meets the rest of the members of the shadowhunter family.

And this is where I couldn’t help but start noticing the similarities with the City of Bones. Tessa, like Clary, doesn’t belong in the shadowhunter world, yet is saved and accommodated at the shadowhunter institute seeing as her remaining family (Tessa’s brother as well as Clary’s mother) has disappeared. At the institute Tessa is introduced to the members of the shadowhunter clan, where Will seems like a Jace with brown hair, Jem is the equivalent of Alec (all though straight), and Jassamine is a slightly more bitchy Isabelle.

And this is as far as I’ve got. While I do love diving into this world again, I hope these new characters will differentiate themselves from the ones that I know in The Mortal Instruments. I hate to be comparing them like this, but I just can’t help it! Hopefully, the more I get to know about them, the less comparable to Jace and Co. they’ll seem.

 

 

After finishing the book:

As you know, after reading a few chapters, the similarity to The City of Bones bugged me. However, as I read more, the characters started taking on a life of their own, which meant I could enjoy it for what it was – another entertaining trip into the shadowhunter world of Cassandra Clare.

After finishing it however, I have to admit it lacked that special something that made the Mortal Instruments amazing. What special something? Well, it lacked a romantic lead as appealing as Jace. And there were some repetitive factors. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let me tell you what I loved. As always with Cassandra Clare, she provides a detailed and intricate world-building that makes you feel as if you literally live and breathe within that world yourself, in the midst of all types of supernatural creatures in a London set in the Victorian era. Not an easy feat, but Clare sure pulls this off beautifully. I also love the sharp, interesting and quirky dialogues. But most of all, I think it’s her wonderfully fleshed out characters that stand out for me. After all, she was the author who created my one fictional crush last year – Jace.

In this book the characters are once again wonderfully drawn. There is Tessa with her identity issues, Sophie – the reasonable maid, Jessamine  who struggles against her shadowhunter heritage, the kind and fierce Charlotte and so on. Even if not that much is revealed about them in this first installment, you get a feeling that things are in store for all these characters, and that they will all play a role eventually. And that’s precisely what I like about Clare’s writing.

Yet, there was one character I had an issue with in this book, and that is Will, the potential love interest of Tessa. I first had an issue with him because he is just too similar to Jace in how he keeps the rest of the world at an arm’s length with sarcasm. As you can imagine, anyone too similar to Jace pales in comparison.

Then, as I read on, Will started taking on a slightly different personality than Jace. Which, in a way was good (because I’d hate to be comparing him to Jace), but was also bad, because what was revealed of his personality was not very appealing at all.

Will is like a darker version of Jace, who seems to use sarcasm in order to hide his ugly true self. While Jace (despite his sarcasms), was unable to lie, Will seems unable to tell the truth. All he seems to do is lie and being mean and rude, just for the sake of hurting others.

I don’t care whatever reasons may lie behind his behaviour, or that he occasionally seems to care for Jem. I still don’t think there is an excuse for acting the way he does. Most importantly, he treats Tessa horribly, and I’m actually bound to agree with the maid Sophie when she advised Tessa not go get involved with him.

Jem on the other hand grew on me. There is some actual bonding going on between him and Tessa, which seemed more grounded and real, as Jem (as opposed to Will) is someone you can actually talk to. He seems mature beyond his years, and despite his tragic circumstances he’s above self-pitying which is what seems to be consuming Will. Yet, Will is sure to be the romantic lead, or so I think. The next installment will most likely “explain” his earlier behaviour. The problem is, I’m not sure I’ll buy that explanation.

Lastly, the repetitive factors, some of which I mentioned earlier made for a slightly lower grade. All though the characters eventually took on lives of their own, it still could not take away the fact that some parts of the plot were quite similar to The Mortal Instruments. For instance, there is a questionable parentage of the main heroine, a villain who is raising an army to take down the shadowhunters, a main character discovering she has a powerful talent, a love triangle featuring two guys where one is kind and the other arrogant and so on.

The Bottom Line:

That said, I enjoyed reading it and I definitely plan to read the next installment, Clockwork Prince, out in September next year. It just couldn’t quite compare to The Mortal Instruments, that’s all.

Oh, and on a sidenote, what is it about Magnus Bane that makes him so appealing? I literally squealed when he made an appearance again. One of my favorite characters in this series, that’s for sure!

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

31 Dec

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book #2

Published:  July 13th 2010 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 362 pages

My rating: 3/5

My summary:

A continuation of Sam and Grace from Shiver. Sam is now cured, but as spring approaches Grace starts feeling unwell. While beautifully written, the pacing in this book is off and I’m still not connecting with Sam and Grace. I did however like the new addition Cole. Overall, okay read. Third installment Forever to hit the shelves next summer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few chapters in:

If you’ve read my review of the first installment Shiver you might know that I didn’t outright love that book. I thought I was going to devour it, as the story seemed to be right up my alley with an Edward-Bella type of a romantic couple set in a paranormal environment (with werewolves instead of vampires). Problem was, Sam and Grace did not resonate with me in the same way that Edward and Bella did. Why? I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t care for them as much as I should have.

That said, it was beautifully written, with an intriguing and original plot that included well-rounded secondary characters (Isabel especially), and so I always knew I wanted to return to the wolves of Mercy Falls. The question was only when.

Well, the time has now come to delve into the sequel, and I’m already a few chapters in. Some time has passed since we left them in Shiver. It’s still winter but there are early signs of spring. Like in Shiver, there are alternating POV’s. This time however, two more POV’s have been added apart from Sam and Grace, namely Isabel and a new character Cole. Cole is one of the new werewolves that Beck recruited just before changing to a werewolf himself, presumably for the last time. Consequently, we don’t know much about Cole, except for the fact that for some reason he must have willingly agreed to become a werewolf, or else Beck wouldn’t have recruited him.

As the spring approaches, so does the time when Cole and the other new werewolves will shift back to their human forms. Sam, who is now amazingly cured, is waiting for them, hoping that their transition will go well. Meanwhile, Grace is struggling with headaches and a hot temperature. Something is not quite right, which is most likely stemming from when she was bitten all those years ago. Why that should surface now, I don’t know, but I’m sure there is an explanation.

I’ve just got to the point now where Isabel and Cole meet. And let me just say, that this is starting to get really interesting. If their first meeting (where sparks literally fly) is any indication of the rest of the book, I’m guessing I might just devour this sequel, the way I never did with Shiver. Let’s hope so!

 


 

After finishing the book:

Well, I’ve finished it. And I’m sorry to say, just like with Shiver I felt it was lacking. I was momentarily gripped when Isabelle and Cole met, but as that relationship sort of fizzled out, my interest in the book did too.

Mostly my problem with Linger (as well as Shiver) is my inability to connect with the lead romantic couple Sam and Grace.  This is a very subjective thing I know. But given the fact that it doesn’t take much for me to swoon over romantic couples (Bella & Edward, Cabel & Janie, Jace & Clary, Valek & Yelena) to name a few, it is quite strange how when I read about Sam tossing and turning in bed because he misses Grace so much, my reaction is: yawn. Why is that?

It may be because I’m missing sparks and passion. I don’t for a minute doubt that they love each other very much, but it’s all so careful, quiet and lovey-dovey. Which, once again, some might like to read about, but I need something with a little more life in it. That’s why I loved the new addition of Cole, because he brought some life and sparks to the story, that previously only Isabelle had provided.

My other main reason for yawning my way through this book was the non-existent plot. Already in the first couple of pages, we get a hint of what is to happen to Grace. Yet it takes all of the 400 pages to get there. And in between? Not so much, really. Cole’s background story is told, and there is the friction between Grace’s parents and Sam. But other than that, it felt like I read about all the four of them basically going on about their life, doing mundane things like calling each other, turning a pillow in a bed, driving their car, looking at the wolves, pondering and questioning and worrying.

It helps of course that these mundane events are told in the words of Maggie Stiefvater, who can make a trip to the bathroom sound like poetry. She is extremely good with words, there is no denying that. Unfortunately though, no amount of beautifully phrased prose can save a non-existent plot (in my view).

I have to say though that the ending was quite spectacular. I loved how Cole stepped up to the plate when it really mattered (Cole’s my man!), and the whole explanation behind the werewolf curse was interesting as well.

Did those last 10 pages make up for the rest? Not really. But a good ending always leaves you intrigued, and so I may actually pick up the third installment Forever, to be released next summer.

Review: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

2 Nov

Series: Darkest Powers, book # 2

Published: May 1st 2009 by HarperCollins

Details: Hardcover, 368 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Great sequel to The Summoning, where we follow Chloe and her supernatural friends on the run from the evil people of the Edison Group. Includes some sweet moments of Chloe and Derek together. Not many questions answered though – guess that will finally be provided in the last installment The Reckoning.

A few chapters in:

If you’ve read the first book in this series, The Summoning – you’ll remember the cliff-hanger ending. And it starts just where it left off. Chloe is once again locked up by the very same people who ran the Lyle House, which she ran away from in The Summoning.  So she is back to where she started, and worse still because this time they are aware of her being a threat, and so she is under constant surveillance.

She may have someone there who can still help her though. Liz, her former room-mate at the Lyle House who was taken away, and now appears as a ghost whenever Chloe summons her. But does that mean Liz is dead?

Meanwhile, Derek and Simon are on the run, and Dr Davidoff and his team are eager to find them. While pretending to help Dr Davidoff, Chloe plots her own escape plan, finding an unexpected ally in Tori – her enemy from the Lyle House.

And this is as far as I’ve got, but it’s promising. What I like the most so far is the fact that I have no idea where this is heading. Apart from Chloe finding the brothers, which I assume will happen soon, everything else is a huge question mark. Let’s see how it plays out..

After finishing the book:

So I finished the book last night and I’m left with exactly the same feeling I had when I finished the prequel – I wouldn’t call it amazing but it’s definitely a solid 4, as in, a great fast-paced read.

The plot is quite simple. As hinted above, pretty early on, Chloe and Tori manage to escape the Edison group (which is what the rulers of the Lyle House are called). Soon after, they meet up with the guys. During the rest of the book, we basically follow them while on the run.

Just like in The Summoning the plot trots along in a great pace (neither too fast nor too slow) so that you’re always turning pages to find out what will happen next. Yet there is room for character development, mostly for Chloe and Derek who get some time alone here. As a fan of Derek, I really enjoyed reading those passages. There is no romance yet, but I sure hope that will happen eventually, because they are just so adorable together!

The Bottom Line:

All in all, I enjoyed it just about as much as The Summoning. The only negative aspect was that it felt like a middle book, essentially a filler to provide us with character development and a plot that merely served as an instrument to lead us up to the grand finale in book three. Not much happened, apart from the escape and the final pages, and I had expected more questions to be answered. Yet, I wasn’t too bothered by all of this seeing as I’ve come to like the characters so much.

So, what now? Well, I definitely have to get my hands on The Reckoning – and that quick – as I’m anticipating an even better read there than the first two, what with the grand finale and all – which hopefully (please please please), will include Derek and Chloe getting together!

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

29 Sep

Series: Paranormalcy, book #1

Published: August 31st 2010 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 352 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Anticipated debut about Evie, who works for the IPCA, an agency which controls paranormal creatures in the world. She meets shapeshifter Lend and things spiral out of control. Great light, quirky and funny read, a nice contrast to the other doom-and-gloom epic paranormal romances out there. Very enjoyable read!

My Full Review:

A lot of hype surrounded this debut, which has earned praise from authors such as Lisa McMann and Becca Fitzpatrick, and a whole lot of rave reviews at the book blogs. Needless to say, I was really happy to finally get hold of a copy!

The heroine Evie is working for IPCA, the International Paranormal Containment Agency which is an organization aiming to monitor and control the paranormal creatures of the world. You could think of it as similar to the organisation in Men in Black, although they of course monitored aliens. Evie is useful to the IPCA as she can see through all kinds of glamour that paranormal creatures use to blend into the human world.

She is an orphan and has been living with and working for the agency practically her whole life. Her best friend is a mermaid who works there as a secretary and her boss Raquel is kind of her substitute mom. Oh, and there is Reth, her ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a fairy.

Yep, Evie is not the most normal teen out there. Yet normal is what she craves. She wants other teenagers (humans!) to hang out with, a highschool to go to (with lockers!), a driving license and boys to flirt with. Instead, she regularly escapes into her beloved tv-series Easton Heights for a dose of (what she thinks is) ordinary teenage life.

Still, she doesn’t reflect too much upon these issues until things change. A mysterious unknown creature called Lend breaks into the agency and is caught and detained at the IPCA quarters. Lend is a shape-shifter who can take on almost any form. Evie, not surprisingly, is the only one who can see through his various glamours to his real form.

Lonely as she is, and curious by nature, she starts a habit of visiting Lend in his prison cell. Soon they develop a crush on each other. Triggered by Lend, she starts questioning things in her life she had never thought about before. It turns out everything is not what they seem. Meanwhile, something is killing paranormal creatures and the agency is getting worried. Somehow this is all linked to Evie and her past.

My thoughts:

First of all, I was surprised to find that the tone of the book is light. The heroine Evie is explaining everything in a jokingly kind of way, as if not really taking it that seriously. It starts already in the opening scene where she makes fun of a vampire who is about to kill her.

“Oh, stop pouting. But, really, the widow’s peak? The pale skin? The black cape? Where did you even get that thing, a costume store?”

It is definitely refreshing to find a light tone in the narrator’s voice, a nice contrast to all the doomed, epic, dark, haunting and angst-ridden paranormal love stories I’ve read in the last year. I was expecting a darker tone though so it took me a couple of chapters to get used to Evie’s jokes. At first they felt forced, but eventually I warmed up to her bubbly, quirky personality and found myself chuckle out loud a couple of times.

Likewise it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the world White has created. There is a lot of info thrown at you at first. The whole idea behind the IPCA has to be explained, as well as Evie’s role in there and of course every paranormal creature you may have ever heard about is present in this book, so that has to be included too. I felt a bit like I did when I started reading City of Bones, like there was so much world-building going on I found myself detaching from the plot. It didn’t last long though. Once you get used to the idea of all that paranormal activity going on at the same time, it becomes easier to focus on the plot again, and get sucked into the story.

Once I did get into the story, I got into it fast. I loved so many aspects of it. The characters felt multi-dimensional and real . It’s easy to warm up to the heroine, who is strong and insecure at the same time. She’s bubbly with life and says what she thinks, yet she is also insecure and is struggling with loneliness and a feeling of not belonging anywhere. The growing bond between her and Lend is believable. They are honest and straight-forward to each other right from the start. Of course she is the only one who has ever seen Lend for what he really is – which yes, may sound cliché, but actually warmed my heart!

I was equally intrigued by the mystery surrounding the plot. Reth, the fairy seems bent on taking Evie’s heart but what are his intentions? What is the role of the IPCA? What is the creature who is taking out paranormals? And how is Evie’s past linked to all of this?

While alternating between all these plotlines and the growing relationship between Evie and Lend, there was not one boring moment. I was literally glued to the pages until the very end. The ending left me pretty satisfied, all though some questions were left unanswered. I am still wondering about the role Reth played.

One minor dissapointment though was the climax at the end, which I thought was solved too easily, and without being properly explained. Sorry to be talking in riddles but I want to avoid spoilers. For now, all I’ll say is that I was wondering about the logic behind one particular action, attempted and not carried through, by the villain. It didn’t make sense to me.

The Bottom Line:

Despite those question marks, it was still a very entertaining read. Kudos to White for creating such a fun refreshing new take on the young adult paranormal genre! (Something which is quite an accomplishment in the crowded ya paranormal market). I can’t wait to dive into this paranormal world again, which should happen in about a year. The next book Supernaturally is out in the fall 2011.

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

21 Aug

Series: The Southern Vampire Mysteries, book #1

Published: May 1st 2001 by Ace

Details: Paperback, 292 pages

My rating: 3 / 5

My Summary:

About Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in Louisiana who meets and falls in love with vampire Bill. With a murder mystery. This is a fun light adult read. Not great but it may become better in the following books. I thought Bill was a bit dull. Eric or Sam on the other hand..let’s just say I am a bit curious to see what direction it will take.

A few chapters in:

Not sure if I’ll like this vampire series. From what I heard it’s not particularly romantic, and it may also have too much of that adult-romance stuff that I tend to avoid. But it’s mentioned just about everywhere and compared to Twilight, so I guess I have to just see for myself!

Ok, I’m 50 pages in and it’s not that bad. I saw the first season of True Blood and so reading this book is like reading the script of the series. I didn’t know it followed the books this closely! It doesn’t bother me though. The book is kind of fun, light guilty pleasures sort of reading. So far, I’m enjoying it…

After finishing the book:

Well, I finished the book last night. While it wasn’t bad it wasn’t great either. It certainly is no Twilight. Yes, it is about a human girl who falls in love with a vampire, but that’s where the similarities end. This book is sort of rawer, and as such contains more sex, violence and blood. I’m not a big fan of neither. I much more prefered the sweeter Twilight world. That being said, I still enjoyed the book, possibly because I didn’t have any high expectations. I saw it for exactly what it was, light fun read.

On a sidenote, I thought Bill the vampire was a bit dull. He never really talked that much so we never get to see any personality. I got a feeling he was interested in two things only: sex with Sookie and protecting Sookie. Not the most romantic literary character out there. But, there are two other male characters, Sam and Eric, that seem very promising. I have a feeling they might play more prominent roles in the books to come. So I will probably read the sequel Living Dead in Dallas, just out of curiosity.

The Bottom Line:

Do I recommend Dead Until Dark?

If you’re looking for fun and shallow literature that won’t require too much thought or investment – possibly something for the beach – then yes. If the other books in the series improve, then the more reason to read this first installment as well.

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

5 Aug

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book #1

Published: August 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 392 pages

My rating: 3.5/5

My summary:

A sweet story about a human teenage girl who falls in love with a werewolf. The story focuses on their relationship and their time together, describing their dialogues in details, a bit like in Twilight. Not nearly as addictive as Twilight though. This relationship was almost too sweet. Still enjoyable read, especially towards the end. The sequel is Linger, out in July this year.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human … until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

My thoughts:

I admit I had high expectations for this book. It was compared to Twilight with glowing reviews. I read several blogs claiming it to be even better than Twilight.

And I loved the idea with a book based on a relationship, and not any relationship, but that between a girl and a werewolf. It all seemed very romantic and promising.

So, did I love it?

No, I am truly sad to say I didn’t love it. It was not as good as Twilight. That being said, I did enjoy it. And I plan to continue the series. It was interesting, it just didn’t blow me away.

The story centers around Grace who has always been drawn to the wolves in the woods surrounding her town, in particular this one wolf with yellow eyes. One day she encounters a boy with yellow eyes on her porch. He’s wounded and she ends up taking care of him. The boy is Sam and we learn that he is in fact a werewolf, who has just now shifted into his human form.

Sam practically moves into Grace’s bedroom, without the knowledge of Grace’s parents who are for the most part of the story never really there. They end up falling in love.

Now, what I just described is the first part of the book. I should have been glued to these pages watching them falling in love.

But I wasn’t.

In fact, I found this first part to be the weaker part of the plot, and I find it hard to explain why. It was as if as soon as they met, they were in love. No growth, no obstacles, no doubts, all very lovey-dovey and sweet. Maybe that’s why I didn’t buy into it. Or maybe it was because Grace never really made an impression on me. I never really related to her as she just never stood out as a character. A bit too bland somehow. Sam has slightly more character.

But really, I find it hard to explain. I usually love reading about this type of relationship and I am not sure why this didn’t stick with me.

Their story is told with alternating POV’s, which is something I usually like too. The voices of Sam and Grace however sort of melted into one. They were too similar. A couple of times I had to double-check which POV I was reading – Sam or Grace’s. That could also be one reason why their love didn’t stick with me.

It gets better though. Stiefvater has created an interesting werewolf myth, where the cold is the factor that changes the human into wolf form. Hence, the cold is the enemy here, and the colder it gets as it nears towards winter, the harder it is for Sam to stay in his human form.

To complicate things further, Jack, a boy in school has died, or has he really? It appears as if he is seen around the woods with the other wolves, creating all sorts of problems. His sister Isabelle, is on to something and she starts questioning Grace about the nature of the wolves.

In the second part of the book, suspense is heightened, as we want to know what is going to happen. Will Sam remain in his human form? Will the secret of the wolves be revealed? What will happen to the missing, supposedly dead Jack?

In the second part of the book, I got hooked and I had a hard time leaving the book. I loved all the secondary characters, in particular Isabelle, and I’m eager to see what direction she will take in further books.

So all in all, despite the fact that it didn’t live up to my (very  high) expectations, I did enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to read the sequel Linger.

Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

5 Aug

Series: Women of the Otherworld, book #1

Published: September 7th 2004 by Plume

Details: Paperback, 436 pages

My rating: 1/5

My Summary:

Book written in Sidney Sheldon style but involving werewolves. Flat characters and a stupid plot that had me alternating between frowning and cringing while reading it. I could not get through the book. And I’m still baffled by all the good reviews it got.

My Review:

I have been navigating for a while in the paranormal jungle, generally avoiding the adult paranormal romance section – especially those with cheesy covers. But then, after having read a great deal of “best debut of the year!” type of reviews of Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, I decided to give it a try (cheesy book cover or not).

I should not have bothered. It was so bad, I couldn’t finish it. And this is coming from someone who always – I mean always – finish books I’ve started. Sometimes I wonder why I need to finish books, it’s almost like a compulsive order, like I have to. Or I suppose it’s because I stay optimistic until the very end, thinking that maybe the book will redeem itself. You never know, right? Well, I’m getting sidetracked I know. Point is, me not finishing a book is an extremely bad rating.

That being said, the first chapter wasn’t that terrible. We get to know Elena, a young woman and journalist in Toronto, Canada who lives together with her wonderful boyfriend Phillip. All good there, except for the fact that Elena is a werewolf. She keeps this a secret, and tries to live a normal life as much as she can. Sometimes though, she can’t hide her werewolf instincts and shapeshifts to go for a run in the outskirts of Toronto. It’s on one of these runs that we are introduced to the story, and in that first chapter I thought the descriptions of her transformation as a werewolf  were quite well drawn.

After that chapter though it goes downhill, in terms of everything – plot, characterization, descriptions. Her werewolf pack, where she used to live contact her as they are having problems with a rough mutt (a stranger werewolf killing humans). She flies to New York to meet up with them, shaking up memories at the same time seeing as this is the first time she meets her ex-lover, the werewolf Clay. Clay was the love of her life, yet he was also the one biting her, fully knowing that she may not survive the transition. Not surprisingly, Elena views this as a betrayal. Yet, not many chapters in, she goes and have sex with him, without having second thoughts about her loving boyfriend in Toronto.

I don’t know, the whole thing just oozed stupidity. Elena’s inner monologues, and there are many of them, don’t make much sense, or are just plain boring and whiny. The werewolf world-building with only 35 male werewolves and one female wolf didn’t make much sense either – I mean 35 wolves in  the whole world – really? The dialogues seemed contrived, as if taken from a soap-opera series, and I couldn’t relate to Elena. She was trying to be all tough and witty but it just came out false sounding.

To me, this book wasn’t much better than any of the lesser Harlequin novels out there, and I honestly for my life can’t understand all the great reviews it has received. But I’ve learnt one thing and that is to be more careful regarding rave reviews, and not to forget that we all have different tastes.

Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

5 Aug

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #3

Published: March 24th 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 541 pages

My grade: 5/5

My Summary:

WOW!! What a great ending to a mind-blowing series! Yes, not the most original but great writing and amazing characterization! The growth of the characters is palpable – have now come to love them all, Jace, Simon, Clare, Luke, Magnus Bane..and the world of shadowhunters & downworlders. Eagerly anticipating fourth book, City of Fallen Angels, out next year.

My Full Review:

This is the third installment of the Mortal Instruments trilogy. And I’ve just warily started reading it. Warily, because I know that once I’m a few chapters in it will result in a “bye bye social life”. I’ll retreat into the house and will not get out until I’ve finished it. That’s how addicting I predict it to be. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of The Mortal Instruments series.  A fourth book in the series to be released in April next year, City of Fallen Angels. Yay!

Update:

I forced myself to read this over a week, just to savour it as long as possible, all though it was hard, really hard, especially nearing the end. Let me just say, what a great ending to a fantastic trilogy! I know I know.. another book is coming – and will get to follow these characters yet again, all though from Simon’s point of view – but it was meant as a trilogy from the beginning. And you can tell that this was the original end. Everything is wrapped up beautifully in this one.

I thought the two first books were great too, but I felt like this was the best, possibly because I’d grown so attached to characters and the story. Basically, I just I loved it, from start to finish. Yes, it may not be the most original story, but the world-building and the characters, and the witty dialogues, and the heart-pounding romance..it all makes up more than well for the lack of originality. I felt completely transported into to the land of the shadowhunters, Idris, where they travel in this book, to participate in a looming war against Valentine, and frankly, I never wanted to leave. Thank god for that fourth book, I’m just saying.

Ok, so beware of:

SPOILERS———————-SPOILERS—————————–SPOILERS

As I said before, I loved the characters in this book, and the witty dialogues..

– Magnus Bane for one is a brilliant character. I was a bit worried at first that he wouldn’t participate as much in this book as the rest, but I needn’t have to worry, as he shows up pretty soon in Idris.

– Sebastian. I may be blind but I didn’t see this coming. At first I thought it was going to develop into a love triangle between him, Jace and Clary. Then I started to realize that something was up with him, and began pondering that if he is Valentines son, how does Jace fit into all this?

– Jace. My oh my. Of all the characters he is the best. Tortured, strong, vulnerable, sarcastic, romantic, casanova, hero..I mean seriously, I have not come across such a complex character in some time. And the relationship he has with Clary is the core of the book. I just wanted more of them, all the time. Each one of their encounters was so emotional, tense, romantic and fierce that it blew me away each time. Absolutely wonderful!!

Valentine. Wonderfully drawn evil character, who believes, actually believes that he is doing the shadowhunter world a favor. He is that crazy. And I think that somehow he loved Jace, and he definitely loved Jocelyn. He wasn’t always mean. That is what makes him fascinating and more real somehow.

Even though the ending was pretty neatly tied up, there were a few loose ends left hanging. For instance, we know how the angel blood is affecting Clary making her being able to create runes. But Jace, what are his abilities? Apart from being able to move and jump faster and higher than others, we don’t know much about that. Also, Sebastian’s body was never found so expect that to continue in the fourth book. And, the fairy queen tells Clary that she does not know all the secrets of her past, implying this may somehow affect her and Jace. How? Well, I suppose that’s to find out in City of Fallen Angels as well. Can’t wait!!!

Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

5 Aug

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #2

Published: March 25th 2008 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 453 pages

My grade: 5/5

My Summary:

Ok, so I am officially hooked on the Mortal Instruments series. The more time I spend in this world, the more addicted I get. Great second book, with lots of suspense and plot twists. And did I mention Jace is hot?

Full review:

If you have not read the prequel City of Bones, be aware of some serious spoilers!

City of Ashes is the sequel to City of Bones, which I loved and devoured. Except for possibly that twist at the end which left me utterly devastated. I even hesitated about reading the next book, because if I weren’t to follow the budding romance of Jace and Clary, then what else was there to intrigue me? Or so I thought.

Well, I needn’t have to worry. This second installment is about as good (or even better) than its predecessor! Action-packed with twists and turns, great characters and now a forbidden romance. What else can you ask for, really?

It starts just where City of Bones left off. Life has been pretty turbulent (mildly speaking) for Clary ever since she saw the shadowhunters at the Pandemonium club that night. It turns out her mom is a shadowhunter, her dad is evil and she has a brother she didn’t know about – her love interest Jace!

The one person who could have explained a few things to her – her mom – is in coma, so Clary just has to try to figure out things on her own. For one, she tries a romantic relationship with her best friend Simon, because..well he is available and a possible option (as opposed to Jace). However, after a devastating scene for Simon in a fairy court (and possibly the best scene in the whole book!), things are made pretty clear where Clary’s heart stands.

Meanwhile, Jace is having problems, stemming from the fact that the Clave (the shadowhunter government) are now suspicious of his intentions. As the son of Valentine, they figure he may very well be working as Valentine’s spy. A new inquisitor arrives to investigate the matter, which really make things spiral out of control.

Simon is also struggling with some pretty serious issues, which result in a very dramatic situation half way through the book. I was shocked to say the least! And while all this is happening, Valentine continues planning his revenge on the shadowhunters.

There so much more, but I’m afraid to give away too much info. Suffice to say, this is as action-packed as the first installment. I raced through the pages in a matter of hours, loving every second of it.

What a wonderful series this is turning out to be. If you have not read The Mortal Instruments Series yet, what are you waiting for?? Get your hands on it now! You will not regret it!

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

5 Aug

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #1

Published: March 27th 2007 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 485 pages

My grade: 4.5/5

My Summary:

First book in trilogy. About a girl who enters a magical world she had no idea existed, yet finds out she belongs to. I started off thinking it was a rip-off of quite a few books I’ve read before, especially Harry Potter. Then I got too invested into the characters to care. This is a world I will want to visit again. Loved Jace.

My Full Review:

This is a series which has been figuring on just about every list for twilight fans, and on top of that recommended by Stephenie Meyers, and so it felt like it was just a matter of time before it ended up in my hands. Finally, it did, and I was able to find out if it was as good as everyone said it was. Well…was it?

Absolutely!!! Every bit as good!!

However, to tell you the truth I wasn’t totally converted at the beginning. Two reasons for this:

1) Many bits and pieces have been borrowed from other fantasy work, and at the beginning all I could think of was where these bits and pieces came from (that Hodge resembled Dumbledore in Harry Potter etc).

2) There is also a lot of world building going on, with so much background info weaved into the story that at times I got detracted from the plot.

Hence, it took quite a few chapters before I started to get used to the world of shadowhunters and demons that Clare has created. Once I got into it though, I got into it deep, and before I knew it, I raced through the pages in no time at all. So regardless of my hesitations at first, this is extremely addictive stuff! It truly is.

As for the plot, Clary is an ordinary New York girl, or so she thinks. She lives with her artist mother and has one best friend – the geeky Simon. All is well until the day the two of them head out to the notorious goth club Pandemonium, where Clary witnesses something very strange.

She doesn’t know it then, but what she does see is three shadowhunters capturing and destroying a demon. You see, in this world, all types of nightly creatures exist, demons being the most dangerous. Normal people are of course oblivious to all of this, and the shadowhunters, whose work is to keep the world somewhat demon-free, like to keep it this way.

What is odd is that Clary sees them, despite the glamour the shadowhunters use in order to avoid being detected by normal people. But the odd things have only just begun. Not long after, Clary’s mom is kidnapped and Clary herself is attacked by a demon, and brought to the shadowhunter’s home (an old cathedral which has been made into their New York Institute).

The shadowhunters are Alec and Isabelle who are siblings, and Jace –  their adopted brother. The new arrival of Clary stir things up a bit within the small and tight shadowhunter group, in particular Alec and Isabelle who both have their reasons to stay wary of Clary. Jace however feels inexplicably drawn to Clary right from the start and they end up spending quite a bit of time together, at the institute or during various dangerous missions.

I loved watching their budding romance enfold, but mostly I loved Jace. He jumped out of the pages right from the start. It´s been some time (if ever) since I read about such a fascinating, complex and sexy character! The moment he got more page time with Clary in The City of Bones, I was a convert.

So yes, there is no denying it that the number one reason why I loved this first installment was Jace. Yet, there is so much more to this novel. The well-rounded characters (Simon, Luke, Magnus, Alec, Isabelle), the non-stop action and last but not least the quirky dialogue.

See a snippet below:

“Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?’
Jace said, “Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself.”
…”At least,” she said, “you don’t have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland.”
“Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.”

The book is filled with this kind of sarcastic dialogue – mostly from Jace, but Magnus Bane and Simon will occasionally pitch in as well to create some really funny moments.

There is really only one minor disappointment with this book and that is the unexpected twist at the end, which I can assure you will be quite frustrating. But I urge you to keep reading, because it only gets better. Having read all three books, it now stands as one of my all time favorite young adult series (along with Twilight of course.)