REVIEW: City Of Bones By Cassandra Clare

 

I have made it quite clear before that I am often guilty of judging a book by its cover – If I like the cover art I am more likely to read the blurb and if the cover art annoys me I will likely not give the book a second glance – but I have not admitted that I also judge a book by the quoted people on its cover. If an author I like or admire has said something glowing about the book I am much more likely to read it, and likewise if an author I dislike is quoted I am more hesitant.

This was the case with City of Bones. On the front and back covers as well as in the page of praise inside, Stephanie Meyer of Twilight fame raved about the series, and the cover and blurb have been fashioned to appeal to the same demographic (teenage girls who like girl meets supernatural being styled romances). Now, I have been quite open with my disdain for the Twilight Saga in this blog so it will come as no surprise that I had a few worries about this book, and the series in general. However my brother (who has no interest in Twilight-esque novels and whose taste in YA is similar to my own) greatly recommended The Mortal Instruments series, and I have heard great things about them in general so I suspended my doubts and dove in.

What I found pleasantly surprised me. Yes, there was an element of Forbidden Love that has become such a cliché in YA literature lately, but it was not of the breed that really irks me, and was more true to the reality of puberty so it could easily be forgiven. Besides the Forbidden Love (which was less prevalent than the very brief blurb insinuated) I was quite impressed with what Clare has created. Her world is a clever combination of the real urban environment of New York paired with the hidden world of Downworlders (Werewolves, Vampires, Warlocks and a fascinating array of demons and half-demons) and the Shadowhunters that are trained to kill any Downworlders that break the Accords (a treaty between Downworlders and Shadowhunters). Her descriptions of the  physicality of different demons and locations hidden by glamour were evocative and fit perfectly into the urban setting. The settings are clever with a certain cheeky logic to them: from a diner that serves such delights as locusts with honey, whole raw fish and blood of various beasts, but then had a perfectly normal human menu on the back; to an abandoned building adopted by werewolves as a makeshift hideout with a glamour proclaiming it Jade Wolf Chinese Cuisine that is so complete that sometimes fledgling lycanthropes even deliver the occasional order of mu shu pork.

The plot moves very quickly from the set-up into the full-on action sequences. Clary Fray is the book’s leading lady, an ordinary teenager who knows nothing of the city’s secret underworld until she follows a couple of suspicious looking teens into a back room of the Pandemonium Club because she sees one of them draw a knife. Upon following them she sees a very strange altercation between the group and a blue-haired boy their companion (a gorgeous girl) lured into the room and subsequently witnesses the boy’s murder. When she tries to alert someone she discovers that no one besides her can see the mysterious trio, and at least one of the apparent murderers (a gorgeous boy with tawny hair and golden eyes called Jace) is very interested in her ability to see him. Meanwhile Clary’s mother has been acting cagey and after forbidding her to go out the next night (which she disobeys) calls her in distress, warning her away from their apartment before the line is cut short. When Clary, accompanied by Jace reaches the apartment it has been ransacked, her mother is missing and a monstrous beast attacks her.

From that point onward Clary is thrust into the world of the Shadowhunters (or Nephilim) a race of humans with angel blood that use runes inscribed into their skin and enchanted weapons to fight malevolent demons and other Downworlders. From Jace, his companions Alec and Isabelle and their tutor Hodge, Clary learns about the way of the Shadowhunters and her ingrained but forgotten connection to them while they try to uncover the whereabouts of her mother and the evil actions of a rebel Shadowhunter thought to be long dead.

There is plenty to like in this book (and hopefully the rest of the series), especially for teens and lovers of supernatural action, but unlike some tales in the same vein it isn’t simply love and action scenes with some filler masquerading as plot. The characters are well-developed, with true-to-life teen issues of identity, friendship and hormones making them seem more than just attractive teen warriors. The relationships and interactive dialogue between the characters are believable and there are some great witty one liners.

ultimately it’s not an intricate piece of literature, but it is a very well-constructed example of a genre that is growing from strength to strength, and it is highly enjoyable. I hope I enjoy the continuing installments just as much 🙂

I give City of Bones by Cassandra Clare:

4/5 Stars

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The first Free Pick – just movin’ on to the next City :)

The other night I finished City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (review to follow shortly) and was super excited to choose my first book for Free Pick February 🙂

There were way too many to choose from if I took all four piles into account, so to narrow it down I decided to just pick from the pile that City of Bones came from – the books-I-borrowed-from-my-little-bro-pile – and since City of Bones was such an enjoyable and addictive-ly fun read, (and I borrowed the box set of the first three books in the series) without a thought I picked the next installment – City of Ashes.

More supernatural excitement 🙂

I am at the halfway point in another book I’m reading and a fair way into another one so maybe (probably) I’ll finish them before the end of the month and will get to do more Free Picks 🙂

Happy Reading!

A rest from murder and gore in a City of Bones and a Night Circus?

I realised at the dawn of the new year that a frightening theme had emerged in the books I was reading – they were either about murder or death in some way or were violent horror! O.o

  1. I was still reading The Books of Blood vol 1-3 by Clive Barker which are so twisted, disturbing and disgusting that I can not read more than one in one sitting because I can almost feel them turning my brain into demented jelly;
  2. I also took The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson with me into the new year, which revolves around a series of murders and which has a violent and action-packed second half;
  3. On top of those I started Adultery by Richard B Wright which is about the backlash a married man has to deal with when his mistress is kidnapped and killed on their dirty weekend;
  4. And Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris which is about a young woman named Harper Connolly who can “sense” dead people and so helps the police by finding murder victims.

Cheery stuff huh?

Suffice to say, when I finally finished The Girl Who Played with Fire last night I was hoping for a new book with a slightly lighter subject matter. Luckily there were not too many gory or murder-filled offerings amongst the 16 books on my Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile, and after my usual process (which I had to do twice!) I ended up with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, one of the books I got for my birthday and I’ve been hangin’ out to read 🙂

Love the cover art of this one!

As well as The Night Circus I also chose a book from the pile of books I borrowed off my little bro, since the other day I borrowed the third Monster Blood Tattoo novel and the entire The Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare ,and after a much quicker eeny meeny miny moe (there was only 3 books to choose from) I chose The City of Bones, book 1 of The Mortal Instruments.

Supernatural creatures covered in tattoos - this ones gonna be fun 🙂

Neither of these are murder mystery/thriller/horror books so now at least if the death gets to be too much for me I can hide away in a city full of supernatural creatures or a magical circus 🙂

REVIEW : All Together Dead By Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead

For all of you who might’ve set up a nice little cottage under a rock somewhere, All Together Dead is one of the books (number 7 to be exact) in the Sookie Stackhouse or Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris which the hit tv show True Blood is based on. The premise behind this series is Sookie Stackhouse, a nice, innocent, southern girl who is a waitress in Bon Temps,  Louisiana, also happens to be a telepath. In the world of the series vampires have just “come out of the coffin” revealing their existence to the world after Japanese scientists created a synthetic blood substitute, which means vamps can live without feeding on the living. In the first book Dead Until Dark, a vampire called Bill Compton comes into the diner/bar where she works -Merlotte’s- and Sookie is instantly attracted to him because unlike all the human men she is around, she doesn’t hear his thoughts. From there Sookie is thrust into the world of vampires and other supernatural beings.

Before I go into my review for All Together Dead – SPOILER ALERT! For any of you who want to read these books in the future, or have started them but are not up to where I am, I will be talking about stuff that may spoil earlier books for you, so if you don’t wanna know stop reading. If you don’t care about knowing details before you read a book, or you’re not planning on reading them anyway, go ahead. We good to go? ok 🙂

Firstly Sookie is no longer with Bill, and personally I say thank god for that, because I never liked him that much, either in the books or True Blood – he reminded me too much of an older, grumpier Edward Cullen- but since the last book has been in a new tentative relationship with weretiger, Quinn (yay!). Also since the last book Sookie has been working for the Queen of Louisiana (The vampire community is led by sheriffs who rule/monitor areas of each state who are then commanded by a King or Queen who rule the state) Sophie-Anne Leclerq, reading the minds of human “companions” of the vampire to see if they’re lying or hiding anything. In All Together Dead the Queen requires Sookie to escort her to a vampire summit in the opulent vampire hotel, Pyramid of Gizeh in Rhodes. Her main purpose is to listen and look pretty (the King of Texas has his very own telepath, Barry the bellboy, who Sookie met in Living Dead in Dallas so having a telepath is like the new must have accessory for a vamp royal) but she is also the only witness to the “death” of the Queens former husband, the King of Arkansas, and can clear her of murder during her trial. During her work there Sookie discovers a few mysteries going on including the majority of the remaining Arkansas vamps being found slaughtered in their hotel suite, a bomb camouflaged as a Dr Pepper can right outside the Queen’s room, and a series of unclaimed suitcases being sent to different King or Queen’s rooms which no one seems to own. When Sookie and Barry investigate further they find that any witness they seem to find gets killed before they spill their guts…so to speak, and by the time they figure it all out it’s too late, making for a action-packed and somewhat distressing climax.

This isn’t my favourite of the series so far, but as always it’s a great fun read, and it has a host of characters both old and new. I especially liked the format of all the mysteries in the hotel – it reminded me of an old whodunnit where all the guests are stuck in a big grand mansion with the murderer while the detective unravels it all (The butler did it!) and except for the mysterious bags that I was sure were fishy from the start, there was some mysteries that had me stumped, which is always fun :). I also liked the introduction of some more otherworldly creatures – the Britlingens – which are efficient warriors summoned from another dimension to act as guards for one of the King vampires. I’d love to find out more about them in upcoming books.

I give All Together Dead By Charlaine Harris:

3½/5 Stars

From Bread to Zombies (and some stuff in between)

So, In my adventures  I have often noticed that the books I’m reading either have eerie similarities or are a bit of a mixed bag… mostly the latter. The current group is definitly a bit on the strange side. We have a mystery about a baker turned reluctant detective:

Heavenly Pleasures By Kerry Greenwood

A quirky YA (young adult) romance about a guy called John “Beatle” Lennon and a girl called Destiny McCartney:

Beatle Meets Destiny By Gabrielle Williams

A YA fantasy/action about a teenage criminal mastermind and faerie criminal mastermind: 

Artemis Fowl And The Opal Deception By Eoin Colfer

 A vampire romance/mystery starring one Sookie Stackhouse:

All Together Dead By Charlaine Harris

And a little Zombie anthology to top it off:

Zombie : An Anthology of the Undead

So a fun mix 🙂 And that’s the only connection I can really find between the five – they’re all fun and pretty easy reads. Plus there’s whole bunch of supernatural critters 😛

Reviews to follow (when i finish one).