Book of the Week: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Book 1)


So, after I said I was going to have a book of the week…I wrote a few, and then stopped, lol. I finished reading the first book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments (TMI) series, City of Bones,  a few weeks ago, and then I went on vacation…over which I finished City of Ashes. But I feel that each book deserves its own post. Sara over at WhatANerdGirlSays talks about these books constantly on her blog, so I just had to check them out. I didn’t know what to expect…I wasn’t sure if I would like them or not. But now I’m kind of obsessed. 😛 AND I’ve gotten my mother hooked on them, too! I guess I should have known that any book with an endorsement from Stephenie Meyer on the cover has to be good……. (For all of you Sheldons out there, that was sarcasm. Seriously, Ms. Meyer’s is an authority on good books now?)

I think I’ve managed to keep this review spoiler-free. Please leave your thoughts about what I’ve said and about CoB in the comments at the end – I’d LOVE to discuss with you!!! 🙂

You can find City of Bones (CoB) on Amazon here.

The Amazon book description;

“When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

“This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know.”

***

The first thing I need to address is Harry Potter’s influence on these books. I think maybe some people out there don’t give them a chance because they’ve heard Cassandra Clare wrote HP fanfic and perhaps think she’s ripping off J. K. Rowling or something. As much as I adore Harry Potter, I’m also enjoying this series. Its influence is pretty obvious in some aspects…but then again, not every single thing in the HP books was original, either. They really reminded me of The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings sometimes, although I doubt J. K. Rowling was doing that intentionally. Anyway, CoB has a completely different feel, at least in my opinion. HP for me drew me into this completely different world…one that was alongside ours, but mostly the focus was on the wizarding world and not on the Muggle world, except for Harry’s unhappy home life. CoB takes place in New York City, and Cassandra Clare opens our eyes, as Clary’s are opened, to the fantastical world not just alongside it, but all mixed up in our own. I know, I’m doing a really crappy job of describing it, but Cassandra Clare does this really well.

The world Ms. Clare creates has a sort of caste system. At the top of it are the Shadowhunters or the Nephilim -half-Angel, half-human demon slayers. They seem to be mostly a pretty arrogant bunch and look, er, down on the Downworlders: the werewolves, vampires, fae (fairies), and the warlocks. And regular ol’ humans are the mundanes. (Clever, but yes, reminds me of muggles.) The Downworlders are part human, part demon. Despite their differences, the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders keep the peace by signing The Accords every fifteen years…but not everyone feels the Downworlders are worthy of this offering of peace. Everyone being, most notably, Valentine Morgenstern. Valentine and his group of followers (The Circle) tried to stop the signing of The Accords fifteen years prior to the events in CoB and overthrow the Clave, the Nephilim’s governing body. No one has seen Valentine since the Uprising……

As has become the fad recently in young adult books, you see a love triangle starting to form in CoB: Clary caught between Simon, her mundane BFF, and Shadowhunter/arrogant pretty boy Jace. Although I’m usually a sucker for a good love triangle, even I’m starting to get a bit sick of them, but I still don’t mind this one that much. I like to think of it as a symbol reflecting the tension between Clary’s two worlds. (Hooray for reading into things too much!) I love both of these guys…Simon is adorable and funny, and Jace is…well, Jace is super arrogant, but super hot and is that bad boy you just wanna save. Which I’m okay with because it’s just a BOOK, people. But beyond the love triangle, the sexual tension, and the teenage angst is an enjoyable adventure story. Cassandra Clare really pulls you into the Shadowhunters’ world and lays the groundwork for a great series. She’s also just really funny – some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud! Simon especially is just so sarcastic – it’s pretty great.

And, even if I didn’t like any other aspects of the book (which I did -like other things in the book, I mean), I would still read the rest of the series for the High Warlock of Brooklyn, the awesometastic fabulous glittery Magnus Bane. What is it about this guy that is so awesome? Well, a lot of it probably has to do with the flamboyance and the glitter (he kind of reminds me of Bowie, if Bowie were, well, a warlock and Asian), but Cassandra just makes him sound really cool and epic. I want him to be my best friend. Seriously.

Related Reads:

Book of the Week: City of Bones – WhatANerdGirlSays

City of Bones Trailer – Mystery Boxes and Movie Magic

The Mortal Instruments – Boldest Before Breakfast

Books: Perks of Being a Wallflower and City of Bones – Tabor Sinn

Book of the Week: The Gathering


The Gathering, Darkness Rising Book 1 by Kelley Armstrong

Find it on Amazon

Amazon Book Description: “Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

“It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.”

***

Armstrong’s Darkness Rising trilogy takes place in the same world as her Darkest Powers trilogy -same mad scientific organization, different subjects. This time, Armstrong takes us to a small, isolated research community in Canada where the St. Clouds perform “pharmaceutical drug trials.” Maya lives there with her adoptive parents (this isn’t a spoiler, she’s well-aware that she’s adopted) that operate a wildlife reserve. Maya takes care of injured animals there and seems to have a special connection with the animals as well as uncanny healing abilities. She and her friend Daniel are still healing themselves after her best friend and his girlfriend Serena (a seasoned swimmer) drowns mysteriously in a lake. They really start asking questions about Serena’s death when a nosey outsider named Mina Lee appears in town and wants to talk to the teenagers about the research that goes on there. She seems especially interested in the life of a high schooler in their isolated community, their hobbies, and specifically in Maya.

Meanwhile, newcomer and local bad boy Rafael (Rafe) Martinez is also taking a special interest in Maya. As Maya gets to know Rafe, she realizes they have more in common than just their Native American ancestry. (Sorry for the ambiguity -I’m trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible!) Rafe might not be the bad boy he pretends to be, but his interest in Maya may not be entirely selfless, either. One thing I liked about this book is that Maya is an  independent and plucky kinda girl. She’s very bold with Rafe (even bolder than usual, she admits) and often takes charge in their relationship, including initiating their, uh, make out sessions. Even though much of the book focuses on her relationship with Rafe, you kind of get the feeling that Armstrong is heading into love triangle territory since there seems to be some unresolved tension between Maya and Daniel. And, of course, Daniel doesn’t trust Rafe, so there’s friction between those two as well. (Do I sense a potential bromance in the works?)

When I started The Gathering, I was still on a high from reading my first paranormal romance trilogy by author Kelley Armstrong, The Darkest Powers. (You can find my book review for that series here.)  I’m not sure what it was about The Gathering that I didn’t like. I mean, I liked it -I just didn’t love it, and I don’t know what about it didn’t take it to the next level for me. There were a lot of plot elements similar to The Darkest Powers trilogy -like Chloe has to put up with bitchy witch (teehee) Tori, Maya has to deal with mean girl Hayley. And there are the hints of a Daniel-Maya-Rafe love triangle. But these parallels didn’t really bother me. I mean, I’ve read and loved all of L. J. Smith’s books, and those all have very similar basic structures: Same basic premise, different twist. By the way, isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?…Well, I’m not really expecting different results, so I guess I’m okay! 😉

Anyway, so it wasn’t the repetition. Something was missing for me. It seemed to be action-packed, but I didn’t become totally invested in the characters. I could put the book down if I wanted to. I also think it took too long for Maya to figure out who/what she is. The reader will become aware of it early in the book, but then it takes Maya almost the whole book to figure it out. That was a little frustrating. I enjoyed Maya’s character, though. Not only was she independent, she had an adventurous spirit and her narration and dialogue was just plain funny -she has a dry, sarcastic wit (kind of like yours truly).

Although I wasn’t in lurve with this book, I will still totally read the other ones. I’m curious enough to see what will happen next, and hopefully they get better.

Upcoming Books of the Week: Darkness Rising: The Calling (Book 2) and The Rising (Book 3); Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones; Karen Marie Moning’s The Dark Highlander

Related Reads:

Book of the Week: The Darkest Powers Trilogy – The Urge to Write

The Gathering – Rachel Lizotte

Day 13 – Your Favorite Writer – Kelley Armstrong – The Avid Reader

Book Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong – Baubles & Books

Book of the Week: The Immortal Highlander


I actually read The Immortal Highlander (Book 6 of Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series) a few months ago, but I never got around to reviewing it (a.k.a. going on an obsessed, fangirl rant), so it is this week’s book. You may remember that Adam Black and Darroc made my list of the Top 10 Bromances awhile back. But this post is dedicated to the entire book -every delicious page.

Summary: “BEWARE: lethally seductive alpha male of immense strength and dark eroticism, do not look at him. Do not touch him. Do not be tempted. Do not be seduced.

“With his long, black hair and dark, mesmerizing eyes, Adam Black is Trouble with a capital T. Immortal, arrogant, and intensely sensual, he is the consummate seducer, free to roam across time and continents in pursuit of his insatiable desires. That is, until a curse strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible, a cruel fate for so irresistible a man. With his very life at stake, Adam’s only hope for survival is in the hands of the one woman who can actually see him.

“Enter law student Gabrielle O’Callaghan, who is cursed with the ability to see both worlds: Mortal and Faery. From the moment she lays eyes on this stunning male, Gabby is certain of one thing: He could be her undoing. Thus begins a long, dangerous seduction. Because despite his powerful strength and unquenchable hungers, Adam refuses to take a woman by force. Instead, he will tease his way into Gabby’s bed and make her want him just as he wants her.

“Now, no matter how hard Gabby tries to avoid him, Adam is everywhere, invisible to all but her—perched atop her office cubicle in too-tight jeans, whispering softly from behind the stacks of the law library, stealing her breath away with his knowing smile…all the while tempting her with the promise of unimaginable pleasure in his arms. But soon danger will intrude on this sensual dance. For as Adam’s quest to regain his immortality plunges them into a world of timeless magic and the deadly politics of the Faery queen’s court, the price of surrender could be their very lives. Unless they can thwart the conspiracy that threatens both mortal and Faery realms…and give them a shot at a destiny few mortals ever know: glorious, wondrous, endless love.”

***

Before reading Immortal, I did read The Spell of the Highlander. (Yes, it’s Book 7. Yes, I’m reading them in reverse order. More about that later.) But I didn’t post anything about Spell because, although I enjoyed it and it still showcased Moning’s talent for expertly combining elements of romance, fantasy and mythology, it wasn’t my favorite of her books.

Immortal is a different story. (Pun intended?) It has the traditional formula of a romance novel, of course, but it lays the framework for her Fever series, which means it’s a little bit dark and full of meddling Fae. I was really disappointed when I read Spell and the Fae only cropped up a few times. Immortal was exactly what I was craving. In this case, our Highlander is actually a Fae trapped in his Highlander glamour when Queen Aoibheal punishes him by taking away his immortality. Gabby is a sidhe-seer and is the only one who can see Adam. She tries to resist him, but Adam Black is persistent in getting Gabby to help him so that he can return to his immortal form -and in getting Gabby for himself. Their dynamic is so entertaining, full of that typical love-hate tension, but the way Moning develops it, it feels fresh and exciting.

And in the background, we have Darroc trying to get Adam Black and his little sidhe-seer out of the way so that he can blinde-side Aoibheal and free the Unseelie from their prison. It was so much fun reading about Darroc as a Fae and the threads of what later transformed into Moning’s much beloved Fever series. I guess one could call it a prequel. I just love how Moning’s Fae are these majestic, epic characters operating in the background, tinkering (and sometimes more than tinkering) with the order of things on Earth, unbeknownst to humans. I don’t know why, I’m just obsessed with the idea, and I love how Moning incorporates it.

There’s an unexpected twist towards the end of Immortal, and also a few pages that made me really scared and nervous for the ending, even though it’s formula fiction and we know how it has to end. But still, it scared me. Not only does Moning nicely wrap things up, at the end there’s a scene that will just make you “awwwww.” Ugh, again, so perfect. I want to be able to write like her…

 Beyond the fantasy and sexual tension, there’s a nice touch of “reality” in it, so to speak, because Gabby’s dealings with and feelings for Adam go against what she was taught as a young girl -go against everything she’s read about Adam in her family’s books. Namely, that her fantasies about a sexy Fae prince are wrong -that the Fae are to be avoided, and Adam Black is especially to be avoided. This element actually makes what is definitely a fantastical book feel a little more down-to-Earth. We have a young woman who is learning firsthand the truth about a person she was taught to fear. Sure, some of what her family said about the Fae is true, but there’s much more too it than that, and some of it stemmed from their own prejudice.

So, what did I not enjoy about this book? That would be nothing. Seriously, nothing. It was epic, and it made me want to read the Fever series again. Which needs to happen this summer. After I get done reading all of the other books on my summer reading list…

As a last note, although the Highlander books aren’t as connected as the Fever series -each book is distinct and focuses on a different couple -characters from past books do show up in the later books, mostly brothers Drustan and Dageus. I read Spell and Immortal first because they were available at the library, and she gives you enough background information that you don’t get confused when she brings in these old characters. So I personally don’t think it’s super necessary to read them in order; however, this would probably bother many of you, so of course go ahead and read them as they were meant to be read. 😉 My OCD did kick in and I realized I should read them in some order, so it looks like that will be reverse order. No, really, I have The Dark Highlander (Book 5) sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read…

Upcoming Books of the Week (in no particular order): The Dark Highlander, The Gathering (Kelley Armstrong), City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

 Related Reads:

The Urge to Write: Isn’t it Bromantic?

The Urge to Write: Sunday Showdown: Fever versus Iced

The Readist: On Saying Goodbye to Your Favorite Characters

LittleDallilasBookshelf: Darkfever

Pure Textuality: Burned release date

Book of the Week: The Darkest Powers Trilogy


I’m starting yet another new type of post -Book of the Week -an idea I’m borrowing from WhatANerdGirlSays. (You can find her most recent Book of the Week about Obsidian here.) Hopefully this will motivate me to do some more reading this summer outside of the usual science-y things I read for my research.

This week I have a fun new series I’ve been dying to tell you about (I just haven’t had the time). Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy (The Summoning, The Awakening, and The Reckoning) is  my most recent guilty pleasure and is now one of my all-time favorite series in this genre. These are the first of Armstrong’s books that I’ve read, but they won’t be the last. (I believe she usually writes adult fiction.) I also had some pangs of nostalgia reading them because they reminded me of old school L. J. Smith. In fact, the plot is reminiscent of Smith’s Dark Visions trilogy. (I’m not at all saying they’re a rip off, just that there are some similarities. I mean, it’s really difficult to come up with a completely fresh idea. What I really look for is how successful the author can put a new twist on what might be not an utterly original idea.) Especially if you are an L. J. Smith fan, you will love these books. They are young-adult-paranormal-romance-perfection.

Summary: Our heroine (and aspiring screenplay writer) Chloe is sent to a home for “disturbed” teenagers after having a public “meltdown” at her high school. At Lyle House, she is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Chloe soon realizes that her “schizophrenia” is actually a true supernatural ability: She is a necromancer; not only capable of seeing ghosts, but also raising the dead. Several of her housemates turn out to be supernaturals as well. This secret new world of the supernaturals is home to necromancers, witches, sorcerers, psychics, werewolves and demi-demons -as well as those of their own kind that want to tamper with the special abilities of supernaturals. This series is packed with action, plot twists and subtle sexual tension. (It is, after all, a young adult book…don’t want it getting too racy…)

Despite her diagnosis at Lyle House, it’s clear at the beginning that Chloe can “see dead people.” Honestly, in the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure I could really get into the whole “necromancer” thing, but I’m glad I stuck with it because I ended up loving it. It was a nice break from the normal paranormal fair (and by that I mean vampires). It’s told from Chloe’s POV, so we get a lot of insight into her inner struggle with her abilities. Although these books aren’t character-driven, most of the main characters change throughout the series as their experiences shape them. And Kelley Armstrong is simply talented at writing fast-paced, suspenseful fiction.

Some of you will love this, some of you will hate it (I LOVED it), but there is a love triangle in the books between Chloe and two foster brothers who are also at Lyle House: Derek and Simon. First of all -OK, I keep throwing around the word “loved,” so let’s change it up a bit -I was OBSESSED with Derek. Just like many fictional bad boys, Derek is mysterious, brood-y, and does NOT play well with others, except for maybe Simon. As Ms. Armstrong makes clear in the books, Derek and Simon may not be related by blood, but they are brothers and friends in the truest sense. Chloe gets along more easily with the amiable, good-looking Simon, while she and Derek clash at almost every turn.

My favorite thing about Derek, though, is that he’s not supposed to be stereotypically handsome. In fact, especially in The Summoning, puberty is not being kind to this boy. As the series progresses, Derek grows out of this, but he’s still no Damon Salvatore. 😉 I just found it refreshing. Then again, it’s not like he’s totally hideous or something, either…let’s just say, he works out…

Not gonna lie, probably the biggest reason I loved these books was the Derek/Chloe dynamic. I don’t know if this trilogy inspired any Simon/Chloe shippers, but I was all about Derek and Chloe. (What should we call them? Dloe? Chlerek?) I also really loved the plot twists Armstrong throws at her readers, leaving them questioning who the characters can really trust. The only thing that didn’t work for me is the whole Chloe-wants-to-be-a-screenwriter aspect. It just seemed really forced. It was more natural in the last installment, but in the other two it felt like Chloe was talking about movies or how she would turn something that just happened into a scene in a movie in every other paragraph. Perhaps it’s because I can’t relate to it, but in my opinion it was overdone. Chloe likes movies. I got it the first hundred times.

But other than this personal pet peeve, I highly recommend The Darkest Powers trilogy if you are looking for a quick, fun, and at times sexy escape. I liked them so much I wish I had bought them instead of borrowing them from the library. That is a big deal for me. I don’t buy books that often unless I am absolutely sure I will reread them, and even then I don’t usually end up reading them again. I read the last book twice before returning it to the library because I didn’t want them to end. Luckily, Armstrong has another young adult trilogy called Darkness Rising, which I think is in the same world as Powers, although with a different set of characters.