Author: Cassandra Clare

Most Anticipated Books of 2017

Now that 2016 is almost done, it’s time to talk about my most anticipated books of 2017.  Here in date order are the books I’m most looking forward to in 2017

Series continuations

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #2
Also in this series: Passenger
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 16 hours and 16 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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The first book I’m really anticipating next year is Wayfarer, the second and final book in Alexandra Bracken’s time travelling duology Passenger.  Bracken has created some wonderful characters and a solid and fascinating time travel story in this series.  As you’d expect with Bracken, the author of The Darkest Minds, the worldbuilding is incredible and the time travel system is beautifully developed and intriguing.  I love when magic/timetravel systems have clear limitations, which impact the story and characters.  I’m very much looking forward to the conclusion.

Wayfarer is released on January 3rd 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
Series: The Bone Season #3
Also in this series: The Bone Season, The Mime Order
Format: eBook
Pages: 380 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon is the third book in the Bone Season series.  Now this is a series that has really grown on me.  It is a mixture of genres.  There’s a bit of fantasy, a bit of dystopian, a bit of politicking.  I will say though that this series may not be the easiest to pick up.  The worldbuilding (and associated jargon) is incredibly detailed and Shannon doesn’t ease the reader in gently.  Our protagonist, Paige Mahoney, is familiar with the world of the clairvoyants right from he beginning so the reader is expected to hit the ground running.  Once you get over that hurdle though the series is amazing.  It is very easy to get immersed in the world once you get to know it and our protagonist is very engaging.  I found the novella On the Merits of Unnaturalness extremely useful for getting into the world, and I would suggest you may want to pick this up first.  I’m very excited to read what’s next for Paige, Warden and their allies.

The Song Rising is released on March 7th 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb
Series: Fitz and the Fool #3
Also in this series: Fool's Assassin, Fool's Quest, Assassin's Fate
Format: eBook
Pages: 976 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb is probably the book from 2017 I’m most anxious to get my hands on, but at the same time I’m dreading the most.  This is the final book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy and, likely, the conclusion to Fitz and the Fool’s story.  Their relationship is one of my top fictional relationships, so I’m expecting to need a box of tissues while reading this book.  Their bond is so beautiful and exquisitely written by Hobb.  I’m certain Hobb will give us a perfect ending to the story, but it may well be bittersweet.  I see from Amazon that the book is over 900 pages; that’s up with GRRM or Brandon Sanderson territory.  Excellent!

Assassin’s Fate will be released on May 9th 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices #2
Also in this series: Lady Midnight
Format: eBook
Pages: 704 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Lord of Shadows is the second in Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices series, set in her Shadowhunters world.  I loved Lady Midnight and am really excited for book two.  The world is awesome and the new characters are wonderfully engaging. This was a pretty easy autobuy for me.  Bring it on.

Lord of Shadows is released on May 23rd 2017.

The Core by Peter V. Brett
Series: The Demon Cycle
Format: eBook
Pages: 448 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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The Core is the fifth and final book in Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle.  Things are now in place for the final confrontation and Arlen and Jardir are ready to take the fight to the Corelings.  Rojer and Leesha will also have a role to play.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one ends.

The Core is released on August 15th 2017.

New Series

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Series: Carve the Mark #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 480 pages
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Young Adult
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Divergent author Veronica Roth has a new series coming out next year starting with Carve the Mark.  This is young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel set in a world in which a Force-like current pervades the universe and grants special powers or currentgifts to inhabitants.  We follow two teens, Cyra and Akos, whose worlds collide and who must decide whether to aid or thwart the other.  Although it’s one of my most anticipated reads, I do have some qualms about it.  It has a dual PoV, which Roth didn’t handle so well in Allegiant.  The world could either be amazing or it could be a mess.  I’m still intrigued enough to add this to my most anticipated reads of 2017, so time will tell on which side it falls.

Carve the Mark is released on January 17th 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Format: ARC
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: n/a
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

I admit I cheated here somewhat; I’ve actually already read Caraval by Stephanie Garber and LOVED it (I was lucky enough to pick up a copy at BEA).  It was one of my top reads of 2017 – the characters, the world and the twisty turny plot was breathtaking.  Don’t miss this one.  I’ve added it to my most anticipated reads of 2017 as I’m looking forward to experiencing it again.  I will pick it up in audiobook format as it’s being narrated by Lunar Chronicles narrator Rebecca Soler.  

Caraval is released on January 31st 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Format: eBook
Pages: 480 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is a new series by Broken Empire writer Mark Lawrence.  It’s set in a different world to his previous series and centres on young nun assassin Nona Grey.  It immediately made me think of the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin Lafevers.  Lawrence is especially skilled at writing interesting, morally gray characters, so I’m very much looking forward to this.

Red Sister is released on April 4th 2017

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Format: eBook
Pages: 512 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
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Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray is a new YA sci-fi series. I don’t know much about it other than the premise that young teen must work together with cantankerous AI to save her planet.  Gray is now an autobuy author for me and I trust that in her hands this will be a fantastic read.

Defy the Stars is released on April 4th 2017

Honorary mentions.  

There are a couple of books which don’t yet have release dates but which may, possibly, if the Fates are kind, be published in 2017.  

The first of these is, of course, George R. R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, book six in the Song of Ice and Fire.  The HBO TV series has bypassed the currently published books at this point, so certain things will be spoiled.  However, I still need to read Martin’s take on things.  Should WoW be be published in 2017 it will go straight to the top of my most anticipated reads.

Finally we have The Thorn of Emberlain, the next in Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards series.  This was originally scheduled for October (I think) of 2016 but was postponed indefinitely.  I’m hoping it will be published in 2017, so let’s hope.

That’s all for this year – which of these upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – Review

ladymidnight
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – ReviewLady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 720 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare is the first in The Dark Artifices, a new Shadowhunters series set around the Shadowhunters Institute in LA.  It focusses on Emma Carstairs and her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, characters introduced in City of Heavenly Fire, the final book in the Mortal Instruments series.  This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and I LOVED it.  The setup for Lady Midnight was one of the things I enjoyed most about City of Heavenly Fire and it more than lived up to its promise. I devoured this 700+ page book in less than a day.

What I liked

The characters.  Although Emma is a smart, engaging kickass heroine, I found my sympathies being drawn more to Julian – his struggles and challenges spoke to me even more than Emma’s.  I was also very interested that this time we meet some Shadowhunters who do not necessarily fit the mould of young teens, perfect in mind and body who embody the ideals of the Clave.  Particularly interesting to me was Tiberius, who is clearly on the autism spectrum.  I thought it was wonderful how he was shown to make a significant contribution to our protagonists’ quest even if it wasn’t always by going out and fighting demons.  I am interested to see how the Clave tries to handle him in the future.  We also have Mark Blackthorn, who, although technically a Shadowhunter has been strongly influenced by his time with the Fae.  In both these cases we clearly see how Shadowhunter society in general is not very accepting of those who do not fit a specific mould.

The Law.  The Law is a major theme in this book, specifically how to handle a law that seems harsh or unfair.  This is symbolised by two Latin phrases “Sed lex, dura lex” – the Law is hard, but it is the Law – and “lex malla, lex nulla” – a bad law is no law at all.  This refers mainly to the law against helping the Fair Folk, and this is used to hinder our protagonists in their quest.  We see attempts to get around this law both by diplomatic means and then by less open methods.  Of course this theme also applies to the law against parabatai falling in love, which is also a major issue for our protagonists.  All in all, it didn’t leave me feeling very positive towards the Clave and Council.  I look forward to seeing how Julian and Emma and their friends change their world for the better.

The world.  I really don’t need to say much here.  Clare’s world is absolutely phenomenal and fascinating.  What was particularly interesting this time was seeing a post Dark War world.  The struggle with Sebastian has left its mark and even five years later, the results can still be seen.  We learn of new, elite Shadowhunters and processes that have been put in place as a result of the War – processes that aren’t necessarily for the best.  I’m not sure if Clare was aiming to reflect our modern post 9/11 world in this, but that is certainly what it made me think of.

What I didn’t like

Bland, boring antagonist.  I wasn’t especially engaged by the antagonist – however, I suspect that the real villain of the piece was intended to be the rigid, inflexible attitude of those in charge of the Shadowhunters and the climate of fear that seems pervasive.  I would imagine we’ll see our heroes come into direct conflict with that later on in the series.

I gave Lady Midnight five stars out of five – when is the next book due out?

five-stars

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – Review

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – ReviewThe Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black, Cassandra Clare
Series: Magisterium #2
Also in this series: The Iron Trial
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Paul Boehmer
Length: 8 hours and 21 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Harry Potter with a twist continues in The Copper Gauntlet, the second book in The Magisterium series from Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

As I mentioned in my review of book one, The Iron Trial, it is impossible to read The Magisterium and not think of Harry Potter.  In this case, imagine that Harry has learned about his Horcrux situation right at the beginning of his academic studies and that Neville has been acclaimed as the Chosen One, able to defeat Voldemort.  This gives Call a far more nuanced outlook than Harry, especially at an equivalent age (Chamber of Secrets era.)  which makes him, to me, a more interesting character.  Don’t get me wrong; I love Harry.  However, in the early books at least, he sees things very much as black or white, good or evil. Not so Call.  

The connections are too numerous to be accidental.  This time around they are more subtle, but still present.  We have an antagonist whose main objective is to conquer Death itself.  His nickname is “The Enemy of Death.”  Voldemort, anyone?  Fair enough, it is a fairly common trope, but combine it with magic school and you have Harry Potter. Another theme common to both is the idea that we are defined by our choices. Although Clare and Black are using many of the same tropes as Rowling, the way they handle them is very different and this makes The Copper Gauntlet a great read.  

With regard to being defined by our choices, it is interesting to note that this is something Call decides for himself through the maintenance of what he calls his “Evil Overlord list”; he mentally tallies each choice he makes and action he takes to decide if it makes him more or less evil.  Sometimes, this is played for laughs when he thinks things like “well, an evil overlord wouldn’t fetch sandwiches for his friends,” but it still expresses that same theme.  This is something he chooses to do for himself; Harry has to have this explained to him by Dumbledore.  

Another trope in common is that of the leaders of the society being in denial about the reality of the situation.  The Ministry of Magic denies the reality of the threat posed by Voldemort as the Assembly declares that Madden is dead and gone and that the war is over.  Given that there are three more books to come, that seems rather naive, especially as it appears a traitor is working against them.

One theme which hasn’t yet come up explicitly in the Magisterium is that of Love.  As any Harry Potter fan knows, it’s the core of the whole series; Lily’s sacrifice of love for Harry and Voldemort’s inability to love are what make them them.  This appears to be turned on its head in the Magisterium.  Call’s mother’s final act is, apparently, to leave instructions to kill her son, and Constantine Madden was motivated to wage war on Death because of the loss of his beloved younger brother.  I believe this is too important not to be a part of the Magisterium, too, and I look forward to seeing where Black and Clare take this.

Despite the comparisons with Rowling, I did enjoy this book; possibly more so because of the Harry Potter parallels.  True, we lose a lot of the wonder of Rowling’s worldbuilding and humour, but it is balanced by rich, nuanced characters.

I gave The Copper Gauntlet four stars out of five.

four-stars

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Back – Review

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Back – ReviewThe Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare, Holly Black
Series: Magisterium #1
Also in this series: The Copper Gauntlet
Format: eBook
Pages: 304 pages
Genres: Children's, Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

In my recent reading roundup I mentioned that I felt The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black is a poor man’s Harry Potter.  I stand by that opinion.  It is almost impossible to read The Iron Trial without comparing it to Rowling’s masterpiece.

Let us review;  a young infant born towards the end of a magical war is the sole survivor of a massacre which leaves him motherless and with a physical mark of the attack.  There may or may not be some shenanigans involving souls.  This massacre is the prelude to a decade of truce.  Eleven or twelve years later, the young boy starts to attend magic school where he becomes best friends with a boy and girl, and makes an enemy of another rich and arrogant student.  He is taught by a kindly if eccentric Master and they have lots of adventures.  The one with the power to defeat the enemy has been revealed to the wizarding world.  There is a confrontation at the end, and it seems the enemy may not be as dormant as he seemed.  Heck, the story even closes with the protagonist in the infirmary having a heart to heart with said eccentric professor and being showered with goodies by his grateful classmates.

Does that sound familiar?  It could apply to both Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Iron Trial.  The parallels are too obvious not be deliberate.  What is interesting though are the differences.  First of all, the protagonist in the Iron Trial, Callum Hunt, is aware of magic before his entry into the school and, unlike Harry, has to be dragged there kicking and screaming.  This means that we lose the sense of wonder and excitement that Harry feels on his discovery of the wizarding world which is a significant part of the charm of Philosopher’s Stone.  

Secondly, the two protagonists are very, very different.  Harry Potter is decency and courage personified (a true Gryffindor).  One of his first acts on entering school is to defend a fellow student from bullying.  He is direct and open hearted.  He typifies the theme of the series which is about doing what is right as opposed to doing what is easy.  Callum, on the other hand, is a little more complex.  He is less open and trusting and far less inclined to act.  He seems to consider the consequences before acting and frequently has to be prodded into doing so. On the other hand, he is less impetuous than Harry and is more likely to look at the bigger picture.  He is also much more capable of focusing on the task at hand without being distracted.

These changes obviously impact on the way the protagonists relate to their friends and mentors.  Callum is less of a leader in his trio than Harry is in his.  There is a significant power shift in his relationship with Master Rufus compared to Harry’s with Dumbledore.  Dumbledore is the archetype of the wise old mentor and Harry is often left frustrated that he has not been given the answers he was seeking.  In comparison, Callum is the one in possession of information which he must choose to share with his mentor, or not as the case may be.

What I liked

Complex protagonist.  I found Callum as a protagonist interesting.  I appreciated that, unlike Harry, he doesn’t just see things as black or white, there are shades of grey involved.  The same is true of other characters, too.  I enjoyed the way this impacted their relationships.  It was interesting to see what Ron Weasley might have become in different circumstances though the Aaron character.

Pacing.  I thought Clare and Black kept the story moving along briskly and kept me reading.

Chapter art.  Each chapter is headed by an image encapsulating what is going on in the chapter.  These were gorgeous.

What I didn’t like

Harry Potter comparison.  This book is no Harry Potter.  It’s missing Rowling’s warmth, humour and imagination.  

Despite suffering in comparison to Harry Potter, I did actually enjoy this book.  I was interested in Callum’s story and will probably continue to follow it in future books.

I gave The Iron Trial four stars out of five. 

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four-stars

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – review

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – reviewCity of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Jason Dohring, Sophie Turner
Length: 20 hours and 38 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

City of Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. It is the final chapter in the fight between Sebastian and Team Good for control of the world itself.  There has been major hype and excitement about this book, closing off as it does, the adventures of much loved characters.

For me personally, I found the book somewhat of a disappointment.  This is the final book in the series and far too often Clare took the easy road.

What I liked

Setup for the next trilogy.  It is perhaps a measure of my disappointment that the aspect of this book I found most intriguing was the setup for the next series, The Dark Artifices.  TDA is set in LA and is centred around Emma Carstairs and her friend Julian Blackthorn, whom we meet in this book.  At first I’d been unconvinced about the LA setting – for me vampires/werewolves/demons etc have an old world feel, and seemed better suited to the older cities of New York and London.  However Clare completely convinced me LA was a valid setting and I really loved the character of Emma.  She is still little more than a child in The Mortal Instruments, but I sense that she is going to be a kick-ass heroine with considerable depth.  City of Heavenly Fire does give hints as to where The Dark Artifices may go in terms of storyline.  Bring them on!

The Faerie storyline.  I found this very interesting.  It was one of the few plot points in the book that took me by surprise.  I liked that the Shadowhunters’ arrogance is likely to have serious fallout in The Dark Artifices.

Some nice character development.  Where it existed, the character development was nicely done – I enjoyed how Magnus Bane and Isabelle Lightwood were written.  Not so much the others.

The Infernal Devices references.  Clare has made no secret of the fact that characters from The Infernal Devices have a role to play in City of Heavenly Fire.  The epilogue of Clockwork Princess confirmed it.  Even though their involvement was pretty much as predicted, I still enjoyed reading about Brother Zachariah and Tessa Gray.  I also loved the Jessamine shoutout!

The narration.  I did enjoy Sophie Turner’s and Jason Dohring’s narration, although I would describe it as competent rather than excellent.  I still don’t understand why some characters have British accents and others American.

What I didn’t like

Easy way out.  This is the final book in the series.  Our protagonists are in the middle of a war to the death, and yet only minor characters appeared to suffer long term consequences from the events of the series as a whole.  Even a major character’s significant sacrifice – which could have added a real emotional impact to the series is all but reversed in the epilogue.  For me this robbed the book of any emotional punches. The only characters who seems to have come through the war with any character development at all are Magnus and Izzy.  It could have been so much more.  Compared to Clockwork Princess, the ending is weak and safe.  Clare could have done so much better.

Rather predictable.  Much of what happened was rather predictable.  I won’t say too much more to avoid spoilers, but there was little that surprised me in the plotting of the book

All in all, I found City of Heavenly Fire a rather disappointing finish to The Mortal Instruments.   I gave it three stars out of five.

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IndieBound

three-stars

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare – Review

city of lost souls
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare – ReviewCity of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
Format: eBook
Pages: 546 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare is the fifth in the Mortal Instruments series and the middle book of the second trilogy.  It continues the plot points set up in City of Fallen Angels.  We follow several plotlines; Clary’s attempt to infiltrate Sebastian’s and Jace’s fortress, Simon and the Lightwoods’ McGuffin hunt in an attempt to find a way to separate Jace’s soul from Sebastian’s and the furtherance of Sebastian’s dastardly plan.
 
Clare also explores some of the relationships in depth, notably Alec and Magnus Bane and also Simon’s relationship with Izzy.  Given the work put into them, I am rather nervous for these couples for City of Heavenly Fire.
 
What I liked

Pacing.  One of my complaints about the previous book was that the pacing was not great.  This was considerably improved in City of Lost Souls.  Having set up the plot threads earlier, Clare was able to run with them and keep the narrative flowing.
 
Relationship development.  I really loved how the relationships developed in this book.  I became invested in Simon/Izzy, Maia/Jordan, Magnus/Alec.  Their actions and how it impacted their relationships came across as very believable.  I was particularly touched by Izzy’s backstory and how it affects her relationships.  I am very concerned for their welfare in book six though – being the final book all bets are off…  
 
Narrative tension.  Naturally, with this being the penultimate book in a six book series, with characters the reader has grown to love, Clare doesn’t have to work too hard to create narrative tension.  Even so, the situation set up for the final book does not look good for our protagonists.  I really look forward to seeing what will happen in City of Heavenly Fire.
 
What I didn’t like

Clary.  I have to admit Clary really annoys me.  I know she is a fan favourite, but she has a bad habit of being overruled by her emotions – not a good thing when the fate of the world is at stake.  Did she seriously think she could remain objective enough around Jace to help Team Good?
 
I really enjoyed City of Lost Souls and believe it sets up some great hooks for book six, City of Heavenly Fire.  I gave it four and a half stars out of five.
 
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four-half-stars

Reading roundup – 18th April 2014

Reading roundup – 18th April 2014City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Series: Mortal Instruments #4
Also in this series: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Lost Souls, City of Heavenly Fire
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Ed Westwick, Molly C. Quinn
Length: 12 hrs and 39 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare is the fourth in The Mortal Instruments series of books.  The Mortal Instruments is a series of six books, of which five have been already published and divides into two trilogies.  City of Fallen Angels kicks off the second half with new threats and new challenges for our protagonists.   We start off in a good place – things have been quiet and settled since the events of City of Glass.  Clary’s main preoccupation is preparing for her mother’s wedding to long time love Luke and enjoying her relationship with Jace.  Naturally, that peace doesn’t last for too long…

It has been some time since I finished the first half of The Mortal Instruments, but Clare’s writing style and wonderful characters immediately drew me back into the world of Shadowhunters, demons, vampires and warlocks.   I adore this world and loved reading more of it – I don’t know why it took me so long to get back to it!

What I liked

The worldbuilding – Clare clearly has an excellent grasp of her world.  Everything fits together and holds well to its own internal logic.  

The characters.  While I still retain a slight preference for the characters in Clare’s other series, The Infernal Devices, I still love reading about Clary, Jace, Simon and the Lightwoods.  I particularly enjoyed Simon’s journey in this book and his relationships with Maia and Isabelle.  Isabelle’s journey, too became more interesting to me in this book.

What I didn’t like

The pacing.  I’ve noted slow pacing as an issue for me in several of Clare’s books, and unfortunately City of Fallen Angels is no exception.  As I mentioned, it starts off a whole new arc for our characters, and takes a long time to really get moving.  

The narration.  I really didn’t enjoy the narration for this book at all – I personally found it rather flat.  You may of course feel differently.

Here is a sample:

Added to my library this week

There have been a few great deals I’ve picked up this week, all under $5 each.

I picked up London Belles on both Kindle and Audible.  This sounded like a good read:  London Belles is a tale of four very different young women thrown together by war. Finding freedom and independence – as well as love, passion and heartbreak – for the very first time, a unique bond is formed as the hostilities take their toll on Britain.

Shannon Delaney’s Weather Witch sounded intriguing:  Some fled the Old World to avoid war, and some fled to leave behind magick. Yet even the fiercely regulated New World–with its ranks and emphasis on decorum–cannot staunch the power that wells up in certain people, influencing the weather and calling down storms. Hunted, the Weather Witches are forced to power the rest of the population’s ships, as well as their every necessity, and luxury, in a time when steam power is repressed.  I  picked this up in Kindle format.

I’m really enjoying Audible dramatised productions and when Star Wars (not the Shakespeare version!) was on special offer, I picked it up.  It’s narrated by Anthony Daniels and Mark Hamill, so I’m really looking forward to that.

For those of you having a long weekend this weekend, enjoy – I’ll see you next week.

four-stars

Reading Roundup – 20th December 2014

Reading Roundup – 20th December 2014Various by Cassandra Clare, Kerstin Gier, Marie Lu, Neil Gaiman, Robert Jordan
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: Various
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Dystopian, Epic Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy from Audible
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

As I may have mentioned before, my job requires me to work regular nightshifts.  Now, it’s a very reactive job, so some of the time you are waiting around for something to go wrong.  That is the point at which I rely on my audiobooks to get me through the nights.  I need to keep my eye on the computer screen at all times to watch for alerts, so I can’t really focus on a Kindle or other reading matter.  However, in those circumstances, audiobooks are a real lifesaver.  I can keep my eye on the screen while still enjoying my story.  Having my mind on the book also helps me stay awake.  As well as nightshifts, I also enjoy listening to a few chapters of a book before going to bed.  

With Whispersync for Voice it’s even awesomer.  During my breaks I can pick up the Kindle book for a bit of variety and it keeps my place.  I’m certain I wouldn’t get through as many books as I do if it weren’t for these nightshifts.  From January I’m moving to regular dayshifts so I fear my book consumption may drop, unfortunately. 

One production I listened to during this week’s nightshifts was the BBC Radio 4 production of Gaiman’s Neverwhere starring James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer and Benedict Cumberbatch which I picked up from Audible.  This is a wonderful production of a great story and I loved it.  McAvoy in particular really made me laugh with his interpretation of Richard Mayhew.  I understand it’s going to be repeated on the radio over the festive season, so I would definitely recommend catching this one.

When do you like to listen to audiobooks?  Let me know in the comments.

Added to my library this week

From Netgalley I picked up Hobbit Lessons – A Map for Life’s Unexpected Journeys by Devin Brown.  The blurb says: For generations, The Hobbit has been loved and shared by readers who thrilled to the challenges faced by the band of fourteen. Most didn’t realize, however, that some of life’s greatest lessons could be learned by going along on that journey. Discover these and other exiting truths from Bilbo Baggins journey—without the danger of being eaten by a dragon.  It sounded a fun read, so I picked it up.

Since I loved Cinder and Scarlet so much I used an Audible credit to preorder Cress, a book I also have on Kindle preorder.

I’ve been hearing a good deal of buzz about Veronica Rossi and when her Under the Never Sky was on special I picked it up on both Kindle and Audible.  I’m not 100% certain that the story will appeal to me, but for the price I paid I am certainly willing to give it a try.

So I’ll take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2014.  I will be posting a review on Monday 23rd December and will do a year roundup and anticipation of 2014 the on Friday 27th.  Have fun!

four-half-stars

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare – Review

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare – ReviewCity of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Natalie Moore
Length: 15 hours 21 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare is the third in the Mortal Instruments series and ties up the first three books in the series.  In it Valentine’s end game is revealed as is the truth about Jace’s lineage.

What I liked

Visiting Alicante, the so-called City of Glass.  I was fascinated to see Alicante, the capital of the Shadowhunters.  I personally would have liked to have seen more of how its inhabitants manage without electricity.

Logical plot progression.  All of the plot development within the book was entirely logical within the framework of the story.  There were some surprises, certainly, but nothing to disrupt the internal logic of the story.  The foreshadowing was well done and very subtle.

The relationships.  I was invested in all the key relationships: Jace/Clary, Luke/Jocelyn, Magnus/Alex.  They were all beautifully written and I was happy that they worked out the way they did.

What I didn’t like

Pacing.  For once I felt the pacing was slightly off.  For a book that was supposed to tie up a lot of loose ends, there were a lot of slow moments, especially towards the beginning.  

Scenery chewing villains.  Personally, I prefer my villains to be a little more ambiguous.  Both Valentine and especially Jonathan Morgenstern were squarely in the sociopathic camp.  I had the strong impression both of them liked killing for the sake of killing. I suspect Clare was trying to give Valentine more depth with his belief that his way was the right way, even if it was flawed, but it didn’t quite come off for me.  It would have been a stronger book for me if Valentine had been truly conflicted by the Clave’s inability to see his point of view and the ensuing need to purge the Shadowhunters.

All in all though, I still love the Shadowhunter world, and thought City of Glass was a good tie up for the first three books in the series.  I gave City of Glass four stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

four-stars

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes by Cassandra ClareCity of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Format: eBook
Pages: 435 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

OK I admit it, after reading The Shadowhunter’s Codex, I gave in and dipped back into The Mortal Instruments, even though I have lots of books I should be reading, and, quite frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.  Reading for me is a real pleasure, and so I choose to read what I want to read, not always what I should.  I have burned through City of Ash and intend to marathon my way through City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls.

My review of City of Bones wasn’t all that glowing, but City of Ashes builds on the aspects I loved – the pacing, the worldbuilding, the clear goals – and strongly improved on the things I didn’t enjoy so much – the characters.  My conclusion was that although CoB wasn’t great, it did sow some seeds for a great series, and City of Ashes fulfils that promise.  If you didn’t enjoy City of Bones, please give City of Ashes a try – it’s well worth it.

What I liked

The worldbuilding.  One of Cassandra Clare’s real strengths as a writer is her worldbuilding.  The world of the Shadowhunters is so beautifully written and detailed that it just sucks you in.  I adore reading about the Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires and warlocks.  Clare made a nice move in having one of our main characters join the ranks of the vampires so that we now have characters in whom the reader is invested, and who can bring us into their world, from each of the main groups of good guys.  I suspect that the close personal bonds between these characters, and therefore groups, will turn out to be a key point for Team Good in future books.

Clear goals and threats.  For me, personally, it’s easier to be gripped by a story when the goals and threats are clearly set out.  In this case the goal is to prevent Valentine’s realignment of the Mortal Sword.  The threat is hordes of Valentine-controlled demons overrunning the Shadowhunters.  From final chapters it appears city of Glass has a similarly clear goal – hunt down the warlock who can cure Clary’s mother.  This clear goal and threat keeps the pacing tight and keeps the reader reading on.

Characters.  In the City of Bones, I found it difficult to warm to our main characters, Clary and Jace.  I found Clary immature and whiny and Jace arrogant, far more so than he had a right to be.  While I still don’t love them the way I do Will Herondale, Tessa Gray and Jem Carstairs of The Infernal Devices, I have to admit that Clary has grown up a lot since the first book.  I was interested in her unusual gifts and look forward to seeing how they are developed in future books.  Jace remains arrogant, but having seen him more with Valentine, I can see where he got that.  In City of Ashes, more vulnerability shows through which was endearing.  I still wouldn’t want to have him as a friend, but at least he didn’t annoy me so much this time.

What I didn’t like

The narration.  Natalie Moore took over narration from Ari Taylor and I know many listeners enjoyed her narration.  Personally I didn’t.  The only character I felt was uniquely narrated was the Faery Queen, who is only in the book for a few minutes.  In all fairness, I did only listen to an hour or two, preferring to read on my Kindle.

All in all, I adored City of Ashes and gave it five stars out of five

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

five-stars
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