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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Another Dead and almost gone

The other day I got another nice little package in the mail – the 9th Sookie Stackhouse book by Charlaine Harris, Dead and Gone.

oooo exciting!

I’m pretty excited about reading it since i’ve almost read the whole series (well the whole series so far). After Dead and Gone I only have Dead in the Family (which i just bought off eBay for an outrageously cheap price)

$2 plus $6.95 p&h!!! Gotta love eBay 🙂

and the recently released Dead Reckoning.

Book 11

I’ve got some addictive reading ahead of me these holidays 🙂

REVIEW: From Dead to Worse By Charlaine Harris

From Dead to Worse By Charlaine Harris

When I started From Dead to Worse i thought it was going to be intense… and I was right. In fact this may have been the most intense book of the series (so far) simply because so much happened.

The book follows on where All Together Dead left off – in the aftermath of Cyclone Katrina and the attack on the vampire hotel, Pyramid of Gizah, many powerful vamps are dead or incapacitated (including Sophie-Anne Leclerq, Queen of Louisiana and Arkansas) and Sookie’s weretiger boyfriend, Quinn is missing. Sookie has returned to Bon Temps, her waitressing job and her witch housemate, Amelia, who is staying with her while her New Orleans home is repaired (and because she accidentally transformed her boyfriend into a cat during some creative sexual escapades and she doesn’t want her coven finding out).

 
The book starts off pretty ordinarily but quickly descends into a series of major events including:
  1. A Werewolf war which nearly kills Sookie and her shapeshifting boss Sam.
  2. A vampire coup in which many of the Louisiana vamps are killed (including the Queen) and in which Quinn plays a crucial part.
  3. Sookie meeting her great-grandfather who is a Faerie prince.
  4. Eric remembering when Sookie and himself had a relationship (in Dead to the World when he was bespelled by witches and lost his memory).
  5. Amelia’s coven leader Octavia tracking her down (as well as Amelia’s father paying a visit).
  6. Sookie’s brother, Jason, suddenly marrying his pregnant werepanther girlfriend Crystal in a werepanther wedding ritual which includes Sookie becoming Jason’s “surrogate”. This leads to her being forced to break Crystal’s uncle’s hand (he is Crystal’s surrogate) when Crystal is unfaithful.
  7. Bob (finally) getting turned back into a man.
  8. Sookie discovers her cousin Hadley had a son before she was turned into a vampire (Hadley was killed at the end of Dead as a Doornail) and on meeting the little boy discovers he is also a Telepath.

So…. overall an adventure so action-packed it hurt my head a little, but was nevertheless wonderfully addictive 🙂

I give From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris:

4 / 5 Stars

 

 

The OTHER Twilight and another Dead

Twilight

I contemplated doing an April Fools post about reading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and raving about how good it was (which to anyone who knows me and my anti-twihard stance would be a good gag) but even thinking about it made me cringe a bit so I didn’t bother 😛

One of the new books I started last night is called Twilight but it is a world away from the tween vamp-romance. From what is written in the blurb and cover reviews, which includes quotes like:
‘It seems the local undertaker, Fenton Breece, has been playing sinister games with the town’s dead.’ – Blurb.
,
‘This is Southern Gothic of the very darkest hue…To be read in broadest daylight.’ – Kate Saunders, The Times. 
and

It is doubtful a more brilliant or more sinister adult fairy tale will be written this year.’ – Tom Cox, Daily Mail.

and with what i’ve read so far, I know I’m in for a wild (and creepy) ride 🙂

Coincidently, the other book I’ve started is also a Southern story, and promises to also be a wild ride:

From Dead to Worse

YAY! The next Sookie Stackhouse book 🙂 I only read the prologue last night, and I know this one is going to be a wild ride for two reasons:

  1. The prologue was a re-cap of what happened in the last book which if you read my review of All Together Dead  you will know ended quite dramatically. The previous books haven’t needed a prologue to re-cap, so I’m anticipating a rollercoaster ride with this one 😉
  2. The blurb ended like this:

‘And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood has stopped flowing, Sookie’s world will be forever altered…’

O.O oh boy.

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