Sunday, July 8, 2012

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 534
Series or Stand Alone: Book 5 in the Mortal Instruments series
Summary: Can the lost be reclaimed? What price is too high to pay for love? Who can be trusted when sin and salvation collide?
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge.

Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

THIS! The reason I re-read the first four Mortal Instruments in a haze of Shadowhunters and demon ichor! I finally got to read City of Lost Souls! (Due to me being extremely busy and neglectful of my blog as of recent times, this was actually like a month and a half ago, but here’s the review!)
Jace is gone, and the Clave has pretty much decided to worry about everything else they have to worry about. Clary has gone off to save him from the dark side, though it turns out that maybe someone is liking the dark side? Only time will tell. Isabelle is dealing with some heavy family issues in addition to the problem of her adopted brother, while Alec is delving into deals with consequences that he is way not prepared for. Simon continues to be an underrated badass intent on helping everyone. This book was pretty much non-stop action and emotional breakdowns, so a lot happened in the 500+ pages.
I have to hand it to her: Clary kicked ass and took names in this book. I heard some complaints about her character before I was able to read it, namely that she obsesses far too much over Jace. Since he was trapped in a forced connection to the dark side, I could understand her concern and single-mindedness when it came to his rescue. And frankly, she did a great job at keeping her head throughout this mess.
Clare dealt with some difficult, incredibly emotional and touchy issues in a very realistic way. The situation with Clary and the information Isabelle deals with are presented with interactions and reactions that make complete sense. I’m being totally vague here, but I’m trying not to speak of spoilers just in case.
Magnus and Alec’s relationship continued to be the best handled in the series. Though I was also very pleased with the way things are going between Isabelle and Simon, especially since Isabelle is such a stubborn, proud female character. It was good to see the development of her trust issues and how she is dealing with past information about her family.
BONUS: Even MORE references to the Infernal Devices, which makes me so happy. I cannot WAIT for Clockwork Princess, regardless of the fact that it’s still like 250 days away.

Rating: 5 - this might actually be my favorite of the Mortal Instrument books so far!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster)
Pages: 424
Series or Stand Alone: Book 4 in the Mortal Instruments series
Summary: The Mortal War is over, and Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most important of all—Clary can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her. His mother just found out he’s a vampire and now he’s homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse wrecking his life. And they’re willing to do anything to get what they want. At the same time he’s dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other.
When Jace begins to pull away from Clary without explaining why, she is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: She herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

So close to City of Lost Souls! I’m actually really glad that I re-read these, it made me appreciate them more than I remember.
This book kicks off with the good! Jocelyn is awake and engaged to Luke! Jace and Clary can be together without it being super effing weird! Simon is adjusting to life as a Daylighter sporting the Mark of Cain with the help of not one but two superhot girlfriends! Alec and Magnus are traveling the world like the bosses they are! Of course, this lasts for like two and a half seconds. Jace is pulling away from Clary and she doesn’t know why. Simon’s mother finds out his secret and kicks him out in a flurry of fearful prayers. On top of everything else, someone is out there killing former Circle members--someone no one expected to see. The Shadowhunters aren’t able to rest easy for long.
As complex as the original three Mortal Instruments book are, the next ones take it to a new level. The relationships and feelings between the characters are becoming even more complicated since they’re maturing. One of the best things in Clare’s series is the relationship between Alec and Magnus. The portrayal of Alec’s jealousy and the issues that would occur between a mortal and immortal are well explored.
I enjoyed that Simon became more of a central character. When I first read these books, the sheer level of jealousy and possessiveness that Simon had in regards to Clary got to me. Since I re-read these and focused on the characters rather than the straight up plot, I had more sympathy for Simon, especially when I saw the way the Shadowhunters treated him. I love that by this point, he has gained the respect of the Shadowhunters and fits more into their world than he did when he was human. This book explores what it means for him to be a vampire who can walk in the sun, sporting Heaven’s Mark.
The focus given to Jace and Clary’s relationship was a little much for me when it came to this book. Jace started to annoy me because he didn’t just speak to Clary about what was going on, instead hiding out by protecting Simon. Clary started to annoy me because rather than ask Jace for the majority of the book what his deal was, she obsessed over it. She redeemed herself later by demanding an explanation, but for a good chunk of this book I was like, “Girl, there is more to life than Jace, ask what his deal is or get over it.” I understand that they’re this epic couple, but for real now.
However, BONUS: the appearance of Camille Belcourt and her references to William Herondale. INFERNAL DEVICES REFERENCES FOR THE WIN! I love seeing the connections between the two series!
While City of Fallen Angels is probably my least favorite installment of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, it is still a highly entertaining novel. It provides the set up for the new trilogy utilizing the characters that were already explored in the previous trilogy, with the addition of a few new ones (Kyle, Camille Belcourt) and a new villain that is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Rating: 3.5/4 - good.

Friday, July 6, 2012

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 541
Series or Stand Alone: Book 3 in the Mortal Instruments series
Summary: To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?
Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments.

And so the re-read continues...
The secret to healing Clary’s mom is in Alicante, so to Idris we go! Except Jace is trying to prevent Clary from getting there. A last minute demon attack makes him successful--but then Clary gets there the illegal and highly dangerous fashion, meaning it would have been better for her to just go with them how it was intended. Simon gets dragged along and thrown in Shadowhunter jail, because no one trusts a vampire that can walk in the sun. Mysterious new Shadowhunter Sebastian wants to help Clary--and perhaps be a little bit more, a prospect that makes Jace more than a bit touchy. When information is revealed about Clary’s family history and Valentine’s plan, the Shadowhunters realize that it’s necessary to work alongside Downworlders in order to save everything they have.
We’ve reached it! The highly dramatic culmination of the original trilogy! Almost the entire story takes place in Idris/Alicante, which is a break from the previous two novels that took place in New York City. I loved the different setting and how the plot unfolds in the Shadowhunters’ homeland.
BONUS: more parent backstory I love when Clare does backstory for the adults, it’s always all tragic and salacious and stuff. Hearing more about Valentine, Jocelyn, Luke, the Herondales, the Lightwoods, and how they got to the point they’re at is always welcome. (See other examples: any time JK Rowling showed a peek of teenage James Potter, Lily Evans, Snape, and the Marauders)
Epic good versus evil battle! I love me some end of days battle scenes. As the original closing book of the trilogy (that turned into six books instead of three), City of Glass provides for a very satisfying concluding story if you choose to stop there or want to use this one as a breaking point before tackling the other three (one of which isn’t even out yet). I’d suggest going further--the story only gets crazier from here.

Rating: 5 - fantastic!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare


Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster)
Pages: 464
Series or Stand Alone: Book 2 in the Mortal Instruments series
Summary: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation

I’m speeding through reading the rest of the Mortal Instruments again in preparation for City of Lost Souls!
So...Jace and Clary were revealed to be siblings. How awkward. Anyway, Ma and Pa Lightwood have returned to the Institute, and former Circle member Maryse is pissed at Jace for being Valentine’s son. The Clave Inquisitor is gunning for Jace in some sort of misplaced vengeance against Valentine. Clary is still dealing with her mother’s magical coma and her newly blooming relationship with best friend Simon, who ends up having quite the problem. Meanwhile, evil villain Valentine is after the Soul Sword, number two of the three Mortal Instruments, along with the blood of murdered Downworlder children in order to work some dark magic on the angelic instrument. So yeah. The heroes of our tale have some stuff to deal with.
I find that sometimes the sequels in a series can be just as good, if not better--in a world as complicated as the Shadowhunters’, it’s nice to have the background out of the way so the “FOOT-STOMPING, HEART-POUNDING ACTION ACTION ACTION” (credit to the early 90’s Nickelodeon show Roundhouse to that quote) can begin. This book introduced a host of new conflicts in addition to the old ones. Clary has to figure out where she fits in amongst Shadowhunters since she was raised as a Mundane. She and Jace must try to reconcile as siblings rather than love interests (ick, right? How sucktastic). Jace has to cope with his adoptive mother’s distrust. The Shadowhunters (along with Luke, Magnus Bane, and Simon) as a whole must stop Valentine from getting full use of another Mortal Instrument for his nefarious purposes. I love all the conflicts and the complicated relationships that exist in these books!
More demons = more demon-y action scenes! Clare can write action scenes that are very intense but aren’t so chaotic that I can’t figure out what’s going on. I can usually picture them quite well and I appreciate it.
Bonus: more Magnus Bane! He’s introduced in the first book, but he gains more backstory and involvement in this one. I especially love the slightly complicated relationship that he and Alec share. Fantastic character all around.
City of Ashes is the even more action-packed sequel to Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones. With the characters established, Clare was able to concentrate even more on the plot and the fight between the Nephilim and Valentine. Great installment to the series!

Rating: 4.5 - awesome!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 496
Series or Stand Alone: Book One in the Mortal Instruments series
Summary: 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....
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end

RE-READ ALERT! I read the original Mortal Instruments trilogy in the summer of 2009, so it’s been awhile. I wanted to revisit the books in order to truly enjoy City of Lost Souls after it came out. I remembered bits and pieces, but not any overarching story, which made reading City of Fallen Angels kind of lackluster. Now that I have more free time to read, I decided to avoid a repeat of that experience with a re-read!
When Clary Fray encounters tattooed teenage fighters attacking someone at the Pandemonium Club, she throws herself directly into the situation without too much concern for her safety. She was previously unaware of their world--the three teenagers, Jace, Alec, and Isabelle, are Shadowhunters, warriors charged with keeping the world safe from demons and rogue Downworlders. A demon attack and her mother’s magically comatose status make it impossible for Clary not to be drawn into the world she was apparently born for.
City of Bones is a great introduction into the young adult urban fantasy genre. Clare is a clever worldbuilder, exploring the traditions, knowledge, and places of the Shadowhunters within New York City. I really enjoy the paranormal lore that provides the structure for these stories. Since Clary is new to the world, the reader is able to see it revealed through her eyes, with her questions as a guide. Clare does a wonderful job setting up the wide variety of vibrant characters in this first installment, my favorites including Alec and Isabelle Lightwood and the High Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane.
Clary Fray, despite her abominably cutesy name, is a fine protagonist. She’s fierce and does not take the slightly condescending crap (which they unfortunately tend to dole out to “mundanes” or humans) from the young Shadowhunters she meets. One of my favorite moments is when she finds out that Jace did something that had a 90% chance of saving her and a 10% chance of turning her into a soulless Foresaken, she slaps him and explains that it’s for “the other ten percent.” You go, girl. Your life should not be used in a guessing game and I’m glad you knew that. Basically, I like that the girl’s got rage and a fighting concern for her comatose mother.
For anyone who hasn’t read these books (except my sister, who was unfortunately around the first time I read them, sorry for spoiling it for you by loudly complaining!), there’s a pretty big twist at the end of this one. I give props to Cassandra Clare for having the guts to pull that one, yikes. Talk about uncomfortable.
If you haven’t read them yet, Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series is a fun, drama-filled urban fantasy read. City of Bones serves as a brilliant introduction into the world of the Shadowhunters.

Rating: 4.5 - awesome!

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell

Having already survived six years at the Tildor’s top military academy, sixteen-year-old Renee De Winter is determined to graduate, training day and night to compete with her male classmates. When the boys overpower her parries, she works harder. When a bully sabotages her gear, she fights without it.
But when an underground crime group captures her mentor for its illegal gladiatorial games, she must choose between her career and her conscience. Determined to penetrate the group’s inner circles, Renee will leap from academia to the crime filled streets, pick up a sword, and weigh law against loyalty.

Release date: January 10, 2013

Gladiatorial games! Swords! Loyalty! Badass female protagonist! I'm so excited for this one!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (24)

Top Ten Books for People Who Love Sarah Dessen:
When people ask me for teen recommendations at work, Sarah Dessen is usually the author they name most often as a point of reference for things they like. I present a list of contemporary, sometimes issue driven YA books for Sarah Dessen fans that want to branch out a bit!

1. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
3. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
4. Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
5. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
6. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
7. The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
8. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
9. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
10. Going Underground by Susan Vaught

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish