Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – Review
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / March 9, 2016

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…

Most anticipated reads of 2016 and other news
Miscellaneous / January 3, 2016

My last entry talked about my favourite books of 2015, so now it’s time to talk about my most anticipated books of 2016. Passenger is the latest book by Alexandra Bracken.  it is the start of a new YA series and is billed as a YA treasure hunt through time.  I really loved Bracken’s Darkest Minds series, so this sounds like a real winner to me.  The publisher has released a sampler, which I encourage you to check out.  Passenger is officially released in just a few days on January 5th 2016. This is the first book in a new series by Mortal Instruments writer Cassandra Clare.  It is set in the same world of the Shadowhunters but the action takes place in Los Angeles.  At first, I’d been a little sceptical of the setting; the older cities of London and New York seemed a more natural fit for vampires and demons than sunny Los Angeles.  However, the last book in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Heavenly Fire, functioned as much as a setup for this new series, introducing characters, locations and possible plotlines in the new series, and I am 100% convinced now.  I will certainly be devouring Lady…

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – Review
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / September 9, 2015

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…

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare – Review
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / April 21, 2014

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…

Reading roundup – 18th April 2014
Reading Roundup / April 18, 2014

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…

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare – Review
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / November 11, 2013

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…

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / November 6, 2013

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…

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare – Review
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / September 11, 2013

Clockwork Princess is the third and final book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy, following on from Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince.  My view of the series was merely consolidated rather than changed by my reading of the finale – Cassandra Clare is excellent and writing characters and worldbuilding, not so great at pacing. What I liked The characters.  I adore Tess, Will and Jem and I felt the way their story was developed in this final volume was very well written and very touching.  I really felt for all the protagonists in the book.  We also get to see the development of Will’s relationship with Jem from their initial meeting through flashbacks.  I know some people disliked the epilogue, but personally I loved hearing about what happened to the characters after the ending of the story.  I also loved all the secondary characters – Charlotte, Henry, Cecily, the Lightwoods.  Writing characters and their interactions is clearly Clare’s real strong point.  I enjoyed the fact that certain characters were not necessarily evil, believed they were doing the right thing, but were still major hurdles for our protagonists.   The narration.  Yet again the trilogy switched narrator.  All four narrators did…

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare – Review
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / September 4, 2013

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is the second in the Infernal Devices trilogy.  I have already reviewed Clockwork Angel, the first one in the set. I would say I enjoyed Prince more than Angel.  In fact, I very much enjoyed it indeed. What I liked The characters.  Clare spends a lot of time on character development in this book, possibly at the expense of plot, but it was well worth it.  I already liked the characters from book one, and book two brings even more depth to them.  What I found interesting with the two main male protagonists, Will and Jem, was how their physical appearance contrasted with their emotional makeup.  Jem, with his silver hair and eyes and frail body seems almost ethereal yet emotionally Tessa describes him as solid, steady, reliable.  Will, on the other hand, has dark, vibrant good looks, at the peak of physical perfection, is a broken and haunted soul.  There are strong hints of this reversing however as Jem’s love for Tessa and his impending mortality leave him vulnerable and Will is making good progress battling his own internal demons. The love triangle.  Often, love triangles in young adult novels make me cringe – I’m…

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – Review
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / August 26, 2013

As I mentioned in my Clockwork Angel review, I had problems getting into City of Bones.  I have now read it all, or rather listened on Audible, and I have to say my initial reactions have not really altered much. What I liked The worldbuilding. This, for me, is the highlight of the book, and probably what will keep my coming back for more.  Clare has done an excellent job in defining her world and the history and beings in it.  I loved hearing about the Nephalim, the Moon’s Children and Night’s Children and look forward to hearing more about them.   The pacing.  This was something I thought worked better than in Clockwork Angel. The plot setup was done efficiently and well, and the narrative tension was well maintained.  It’s amazing how well the old trusted and true “good guys need to prevent the bad guys from getting their hands on the McGuffin” works!  However, it does depend on the execution though, and I felt Clare did this excellently.  The importance of this particular McGuffin, the Mortal Cup, was clearly defined as were the consequences of its falling into the wrong hands. What I didn’t like The main characters….