Cassandra Clare

Will we be Blest with a sequel?

Blest by Blaise Lucey started off slow, but boy, it is take off in the end.  After the first half, I found I had trouble putting it down.  I love stories about angels and demons falling in love – and this one was no exception.  While I had some little issues with the beginning, specifically pace (insta-love) and world-building (background for it), by the time I was half-way through I was so very sucked-in I was sitting on the edge of my chair while reading because I was desperate to know what happened next.

Since the book begins with the first half, however, let me address a few of the short-comings.  First, there was a lot of love between two character who merely spent a few minutes, and one afternoon, together.  Even for the PNR stuff that I read, which is usually all about insta-love, that is giving the relationship development shot-shrift.  There is no reason why the characters couldn’t have developed the feelings over a little bit of time, a month or two for example.  Then, frankly, some of the vitriol towards Jim by the demon kids would have been more on display and a deeper connection to Claire and Jim would have been easier to feel.  There was no need for their birthdays to be quite so early in the school year – or the story – a little more of the suspense as to why the two characters were this books version of Romeo and Juliet would have only added to the plot. The acceptance of why they were different was also a little quick (and this is the second book I’ve finished in the last 3 days that treated this the same) – way too quick  – like, the Flash might as well be moving in slow motion compared to the speed at which they all accept the supernatural and paranormal and that angels and demons are real.  It was just too quick.  It didn’t give me time as a reader to adjust and again, I think a little more page time spent on that would have added to the overall plot and pace of the story.  Once things got going though, there were a bunch of reveals – and that was great as I felt much more involved in the story and it was easier to stay engaged.  I am just a little curious – as I don’t see this being billed as the start of a series, and lots of loose ends were tied up, but there is still certainly loose ends that aren’t tied up, including the events of the epilogue, so I hope there is at least one more coming.

Despite the need to pay attention to some of the terminology, lest you get lost, this reminded me much of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments – and some of the hints that were dropped had me holding my breath that the reveals weren’t going to be the same as with City of Bones, and thank goodness, they weren’t.  But to me, Blest had tones of City of Bones with the love between our main protagonists and the good vs evil nature of things.  Unlike Mortal Instruments, however, I have enough details to hold me to book 2 (assuming there is one **fingers crossed**) and enough to make at least another good book or two out of the things that aren’t solved and the stuff we don’t know.  And some of what we don’t know has such potential – like the back stories to the parents of all our teenage cast, the mythology of the Tribunal and how the demons were originally banished, exactly what the feathers that each of Claire and Jim have that are “opposite” the rest of their respective wings… there quite a bit of fodder to serve as the basis for some excellent follow-up books.

Even out the pace a little with the second, balance the relationship building and world building to give me more, and we may have a new favorite YA/Angel and demon series!  At least, I really hope there will be a second!

p.s. LOVE the cover!!

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My love for YA, the Fae, and really almost anything by Holly Black

I think back to when reading YA stuff became such an obsession for me, and I realized that while much of it has to do with my undying, unyeilding, still-growing-even-after-all-these-years, love of Harry Potter, much of the rest of the love/obsession came from two other authors: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.  I picked up City of Bones when it first came out (I think it was one of a few that I picked up at the release party for Deathly Hallows – I think – one of the others I know for sure was the Alchymest (Nicholas Flamel #1) by Michael Scott).  And I devoured it.  The Club scene where Clary sees the Shadowhunters reminded me much of my youth when we trekked into Manhattan to go to the Limelight. The story was enthralling and I loved it instantly.  I loved the world it was set in (right up until the dawn of City of Fallen Angels, when I was disappointed by the contrivances needed to stretch what I swear I remember seeing was originally slated to be a trilogy into more than that, but I digress…).  That was the start of the love affair with all things demon, vampire, werewolf, etc., in the YA world.  Holly Black’s Tithe Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales, #1)was the start of the love affair with YA Fae stories on the other hand.   I am not sure when I read this, but it was certainly after Sorcerer’s Stone (as I read that before Chamber of Secrets came out – I was one of the not so large group to read the first right after it was published) but before City of Bones.  The dark and creepy gothicness of Tithe and its sister books sucked me in.  I couldn’t get enough.  I even ended up diving into the Spiderwick Chronicles, clearly written for an even younger audience.  The courts, the settings, the quest in Ironside for a fairy that could lie…  it was all so much fun.  Then, some of the more mature PNR stuff started making its way into the to read pile and I flitted away from Holly.  I caught the Curse Workers when those came out (and really feel like there was unfinished business in the last of that series, and wouldn’t turn away from one more of them) but the universe of books to read was just becoming impossible to track.  I do have a life outside of reading after all.  So, to it was much to my delight that I noticed I had missed a book that was both Holly Black’s and Fae.  I hesitated because these days I tend to steer clear of stand-alones but for Ms. Black and the Fae, I didn’t hesitate long.  And I am so glad I read this one!

The gist of the story goes something like this:  in the town of Fairfold (some where in the US presumably based on the relative ease of a move to Philadelphia by Hazel’s family at one point), the Fae are a part of life.  There is a horned boy in a glass coffin near the town that has been sleeping for ages.  Hazel and Ben, her brother, hunted Fae when they were little, pretending to be knights.  Jack is both Ben’s best friend and a changeling. One day, the horned boy is set free and a terrible monster is set upon the town.  Hazel is trying to solve the mystery of the horned boy’s release because all signs seem to point to her being the one who broke his glass coffin.  She encounters the Alderking who requires that Hazel bring the horned boy to him, as well as a sword Hazel found when she was younger.  Turns out, Hazel also made a bargain with the Fairies when she was younger and she has been serving the Alderking as a knight for some time, during the night, without her remembering (her not remembering is thanks to the Alderking’s magic).  Hazel wants to rescue the town, the “boy” she loves, and the horned boy.

I found this to be one of my favorite stand-alone stories in a while.  The suspension of reality is just enough to bring magic to the story but not so much so as to be overdone.  Some of the elements were, I thought keen observations of society.  While others made me happy The Darkest Part of the Forestthat they were teaching a message of tolerance and courage.  The scene where Carter’s and Jack’s human parents are at their house defending Jack and Hazel’s mother also stands up for Jack were both demonstrative of the mass hysteria that humans get swept up in, so often without all the facts and based in fear alone, as well as how important it is for good people to stand up to injustice.  Especially when the injustice is being done to others.  While I can’t say whether Ms. Black intended that social commentary or lesson, or whether it was just what I read into it, I thought it was well written and provided clues to me that this was going to be a story with an ending I would be pleased with.  And I was so happy to get to the end and find that feeling was completely accurate.

There are some dark and scary moments.  It is indisputable that the portion of the narrative around a 10 year old girl finding a boy’s dead body, half eaten by something, only to then have her be attacked by a hag intent on killing her, only to have the 10 year old strike the hag dead with a magical sword, is grim.  The story of the monster, her genesis, and how that is resolved is both dark and clever, disturbing and understandable.  And many of the details in between are creepy and scary.  But, like always with Ms. Black’s storied, the imagery is wonderful and  it is tremendously easy to get swept up in the story.  I had a very difficult time putting this one down.  I just wish there was the potential to see more of Jack, Hazel, Ben and Severin for apparently, my love affair with all things YA and Fae continues!

A Little About a Lot

While my reading has suffered, my posting has suffered worse.  I just realized that I have read about a baker’s dozen books, across 4 series, and haven’t added a page or post or review on any!  So, this little “data dump” will be to give a few little tidbits on each (by no means am I catching up and reviewing 15 or so books all in one shot – that post would be epically long and take forever to finish, only exacerbating the lack of posts problem).

Here’s what I have read:

  • The Jolie Wilkins Series – all 5 – by HP Mallory
  • The Bryn and Sinjin Series – both (although I would argue these really are just an extension of the Jolie Wilkins Series) – HP Mallory
  • The Hot Damned Series – 5 of the 6 published so far – by Robyn Peterman
  • The second in the Lynburn Legacy – Untold – by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • The first two in the Magisterium Series – The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet – by Holly Black

And I think I am missing something….

Anyway, let’s have a little fun with all that.  Here’s the quick and dirty on each series.  Bryn and Sinjin are hot, Hot Damned is much hotter, Jolie Wilkins has its moments, the Lynburn Legacy is a YA and therefore pretty cold but not completely as there is a love story to it, and the Magisterium The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)books are also YA and colder than Lynburn.   Jolie Wilkins is Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble (Jolie Wilkins, #1)your typical girl didn’t know she was a witch, man comes to rescue her from that boring normal non-magical life.  She is destined to be queen or something like that and save the world.  Cue the sexual tension, love story, bad guys wanting to take over the world, blah blah blah.  Not terribly unique or original, but a fun little escape just the same.

Bryn and Sinjin is a shift from the perspective.  What I mean is that instead of Jolie’s destiny being the primary focus, Bryn (Jolie’s twin sister) and Sinjin (the loveable handsome ancient Vampire who was previously in love with Jolie but lost to Rand) and their developing relationship are the focus.  Another fun little outing, a little more steam.  But a cliff hanger big enough to leave me pretty annoyed if there isn’t another.  There are only 2 listed on goodreads but I swear I saw something on facebook or somewhere about at least one more coming.  And heaven forbid, it looks like they will be from Sinjin’s perspective.  Yikes.  I personally am not a fan of the romance novel from the guy’s perspective.  Even worse, the statement on HP Mallory’s facebook page says:  “…decided to make this book (and maybe the next one.  Not sure but going to switch back and forth, I think) in Sinjin’s perspective!”  There are very few novels I have read where the flip-flop in perspective works.  So, fingers crossed that is not what we get next.

The Hot Damned series is… well… in a word: weird.  Out of the first 4, 2 is more about Dixie, the cousin of Astrid our main protagonist from 1, 3 and 4.  I 1 Astrid gets turned into a Vampire.  And kills her wack-job of a mother and her demon father.  And she meets her Hell on Heels (Hot Damned #3)destined mate, a Vampire prince.  In 2 she finds herself in Hell with a cast of characters too weird to do justice to: Mother Nature (her Grandmother), Satan (her Uncle), God (another Uncle), Dixie (cousin), Seven Deadly Sins (all more cousins), Mister Rogers, Hemingway, and others.  And we discover **spoiler alert** she is “Compassion”, a True Immortal.  In 3 Dixie is sent to Earth to find herself of something like that.  And she meets and falls in love with the Angel of Death.  In 4, Astrid’s baby with crazy growing power and all sorts of magic turns out to be the most powerful Immortal ever.  And there are Fairies with names like The Kevin (with “The” being the mark of an old fairy), trolls, demons, and all sorts of other craziness going on.  Another fun little romp, with some steam, if you can get past that there are moments when it felt like the author was trying to do too much with the vampire, demons, family tree thing.  And don’t, like I did, be expecting the Rogues that were such an issue in book 1 to really mean anything in 2 through 4, they just don’t really ever turn into anything that matters.

The second in the Lynburn Legacy, which while I am dealing with before the Holly Black books, I read after and just finished.  About 20 minutes ago.  And I am furious.  Furious at some of the characters. Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2) It is a little hard to consider some of the “good guys” good.  Lillian, while on the same side as our young adult Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)protagonists is such a snotty bitch, who has delusions of grandeur, and wants to rule the town is just not quite as loathsome as Rob who wants a sacrifice of blood but otherwise feels exactly the same way. And, some of the plot holes were hard for me to deal with.  That said, I love the relationship between Kami and the other young folks the story is really about.  And the connection between Jared and Kami and the complication that Ash becomes was great.  There are really some sad moments on the pages of Untold.  And there are a TON of unanswered questions, that I hope get answered in the final book, Unmade (which I will be starting tonight). I will note that of all the 15 books I have neglected to write reviews on, this one, to me had the highest “can’t-put-it-down” rating.  I will note, however, that I liked the cover for the first book, Unspoken (seen on the left), better and like the cover of Unmade even less.  And, the short stories for this series – get them free or don’t bother.  They don’t really add to the story and they, in some cases, are super short.

And the last Image result for magicians syfyseries to get some reading time was the Magisterium by Holly Black. I admit to thinking of these books when I saw the first few episodes of the new show on SyFy – The Magicians – which I understand is based on a book of the same name by Lev Grossman.  Especially the part about the testing and kids not succeeding and getting dumped back to their old lives seemed, in so many ways,  so similar to the scenes in the Magisterium’s testing scene.  These are a little like Harry Potter (kids away at school, sorted into groups, learning magic) meets Seeker (who knows which is really the good side, which is the bad) meets a number of other things.  Biggest twist in the beginning is that the main protagonist wasn’t the big deal magician that the school’s staff was looking for.   But, there’s a big bad guy attacking children and there were some really creepy things in this book.  Not spooky ghost story creepy.  But adults praying on and using children and other stuff like that creepy.  But, interesting and Holly Black is magical herself in her ability to write something that I can conjure in my head in great detail and it is like watching a movie as I read.  It is so easy to get lost in her worlds, emersed in the characters and the story, and to become so invested that I am desperate to read what is next.  So… my message to her and her publisher:  let’s get on with it and release #3!!

I am going to try to add pages for all of these – in some form or another.  But I ask that you be patent and I will try to write more reviews and pages.  Goodness knows I need the pages as a lot of this is all swirling together into a big mixed up mess.

p.s. – to any worpress folks paying attention to my tiny little site:  I F’ing HATE, HATE, HATE, DESPISE, LOATHE, ABHOR, DETEST, [add your own synonym here] the “new posting experience”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Give me back the old way, without all the extra steps.  I beg of you.

 

Not exactly a bright shinning star

Crap on a cracker.  There are 3 (and a half) more of this stinking series.  I just finished Shattered Promises (the first in the Shattered Promises series) by Jessica Sorensen.  shattered promisesAnd there are more in this series – more than I think I can deal with.  At least based on the first three-quarters of the first book.

Let me start of by saying that the Fallen Angel series by Jessica Sorensen has been on my “to be read” book shelf for a long while.  I have never gotten around to it.  And now, I may never bother.  I didn’t realize at first that this is an “adulating” of the YA series.  But if this is any indication as to the quality of the YA series, I cringe.

I also am going to  note that while reading books is like eating or watching movies in that one person’s favorite can be another person’s most despised, it is still funny to see how diametrically opposed some people can be about the same book.  Goodreads has this book sitting at an average 4 stars and the reviews are polarizing.  People gush over it with enough sugar, hearts and flowers to make Willy Wonka stroke out and other people despise it like it came from the depths of the worst circle of Hell.  It’s kind of amusing.

Me, I am somewhere in the middle.  The idea is pretty good, the execution… for most of the book I was amused by how awful the writing style is.  I often felt like I was reading a telegraph.  You know, the way they get read out loud:  “Joe not coming STOP Mother ill STOP  Will send word soon STOP”.  i6-20bThen, all of a sudden, things got significantly less awful (note I didn’t say they got good – just merely not awful).   I am wondering how close to the YA this adult adaption is.  Did the author take the YA and merely adjust setting and some dialogue to make it more adult (which wouldn’t surprise me since some of the writing is so clunky it reminds me of the way a high school student will take something out of an encyclopedia and just use synonyms to recreate almost the exact same sentence in substance even though they are technically using different words)?  Or did some of the plot get reworked too?  I can’t say since I haven’t read the YA version, but I have my suspicions.  Here’s an example of some of the odd word choices that has caused me to think these things, the text reads “I’m conquered with the compulsion” but I wonder if it the YA version didn’t basically say “I was overwhelmed by the desire to”.  The “conquered compulsion” is clumsy and clunky and not fun to read.  Not to mention, I am not entirely convinced that grammatically it means what I think the author intended it to mean.  There were a number of other examples like this:  “conclusively reside on my eyes”; “my vision resurfaces”; “attention is magnetized toward me”.  Interestingly, I didn’t notice as many towards the end. Maybe I just became immune by then though.

Believe it or not, the writing style isn’t the biggest issue for me.  I think it is the hot-and-cold of both characters.  Alex seems that way (maybe he’s a long lost cousin of Edward Cullen?) but Gemma does too.  They seem to both be easily pissed off, they throw temper tantrums like a 5-year old, and they are generally annoying characters.  Then, two seconds later they are fawning for each other.  Never mind the fact that Gemma talks like a robot (although Mr. Data, a robot with no feelings, didn’t even talk this way) and is super inconsistent.  I thought she had never felt any emotion, at least we are hammered over the head with this again and again – but at the beginning of chapter 2 she talks about feeling happiness for the first time.  So which is it?  And giving me, as an explanation, that simply never having any human contact with her grandparent’s kept her from having emotion?  Like she never bumped into anyone at school (Mr. Data had more human contact apparently)?Crusher_Data_dancing The explanation of the spell makes much more sense, but then why would she need to never have contact with her grandparents?  It’s weird and feels like a stretch.  Things like this were just hard to take.

I am also perplexed by the super bold warning about the content on goodreads.  Is this because the author tends to write YA stuff?  Because I have read plenty that is way steamier than this and there are no such warnings on those book entires.  And, for the most part, this wasn’t the steamiest or sexiest.  It was borderline – twelve chapters in and the “adult” was  nothing more than a few trips to second base.  There is a single scene later on that is a little more racy, but it is tame compared to others of this genre.  So, if you are looking for that kind of excitement, this isn’t the place, despite the indication to the contrary from goodreads’ synopsis.

Then there is the fact that this book has so many pieces that seem like copies of other books – Mr. Gaiman might be flattered that someone read his stuff and likes it enough to be inspired (stardusthmmm… people after a fallen star for its power… can we say Stardust, anyone? Which I absolutely adore by the way, so there are really big shoes to fill and very high standards to live up to by drawing inspiration from Mr. Neil Gaiman), but as a reader, it made it feel stale.  The Death Walkers and the cold – can we say dementors? c05--the-dementorAlex’s behavior – again, Edward Cullen?  Jocelyn and Stephan – any reminders of Joeclyn and Valentine Morgenstern (2 Jocelyns, eerie coincidence I suppose)?  There are more, but I think you can see my point.

The redeeming qualities came at the end.  The twists were predictable, but at least some action started and it felt like the plot was moving forward.  The writing got less choppy and easier to read. The Leyland character seems to be interesting and the mystery of Jocelyn is still out there and there is promise that this could be intriguing.

The other redeeming quality – as of the moment – amazon had it offered as an ebook for FREE.  Yep.  So I didn’t waste a dime on it.  Although, I am curious as to what happens next so I will be spending money on the next one (but I guess that is part of the point of the free first installments…!).

All in all, this could have been a lot better, but I guess it could have been worse too.  I know, isn’t that a glowing review for a book about something as bright as a fallen star?

Bane Chronicles, take 2

bane8This is just a small update:  there are now pages for the first eight installments of the Bane Chronicles (the last 2 will be along shortly).  I don’t think I will review each of the eight.  To do so would mean I would have written more than the authors…  not to mention, while they are something to take up time, I don’t believe you are missing much if you miss these installments.  There are a few clever things, but just a few. And almost every one of them felt like they were unfinished.  Since installment 8 is really the only one that takes place in the middle of the stories we know as the Mortal Instruments, leaving so much unfinished feels lazy and like a let down.  It takes away from any enjoyment I might have otherwise found in these mini-installments.  You can see from the (lack of) depth each story is treated with on my pages how (not) important they are to the universe of the MI and ID. Read at your own risk…!

The Bane Chronicles, the Bane of my existence…

… and I am only one installment in.

So, the history of the phrase “bane of my existence”, which generally means something which causes misery or death, is middle and old english “bana” which means destroyer or murderer.  So, the “Bane Chronicles” seems aptly named after all…

This is yet another e-book only debacle.  At least that’s my thoughts after the first installment of the Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare.  There are 10 installments, each written by Clare and one of two co-authors: Sarah Rees Brennan or Maureen Johnson.

The fist, whole whopping 80 or so pages, is co-written by Brennan.  And the adventure promised was pretty adventure-less.  This amounted to just a few short stories about Magnus, Ragnor and  Catarina have in Peru.  We see  4 “adventures” – one in each of 1791, 1885, 1890 and 1962.  In 1791 Ragnor joins Magnus and they end up on a ship, intended to protect the cargo but the ships sinks.  In 1885 Catarina also joins them and they help a client find treasure.  In 1890 Magnus is trying to learn an instrument as he has fallen for a boy who teaches the instrument and when the boy breaks up with Magnus, he steals and enchants a carpet (turns it into a magic flying carpet) and gets really drunk (and there’s a bit about getting healed by some guinea pigs).  In 1962 Magnus meets a woman who is a their and a con and convinces her to run away with him.  bane1

We end with finding out that Magnus has been banned from Peru, but we are never told why.  I think it’s important to see what was promised (from Goodreads):  

“Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices know that Magnus Bane is banned from Peru—and now they can find out why. One of ten adventures in The Bane Chronicles.

There are good reasons Peru is off-limits to Magnus Bane. Follow Magnus’s Peruvian escapades as he drags his fellow warlocks Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss into trouble, learns several instruments (which he plays shockingly), dances (which he does shockingly), and disgraces his host nation by doing something unspeakable to the Nazca Lines.

This standalone e-only short story illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality populates the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. This story in The Bane Chronicles, What Really Happened in Peru, is written by Sarah Rees Brennan and Cassandra Clare.”

See where they said we can find out why Magnus is banned?  I highlighted it in red so that it can’t be missed.  It was clever at the end of the first “chapters” to tell me that what I just read wasn’t why he was banned, setting my expectations for learning the answer.  To not be told it at the end – wow, what an easy way to NOT be creative.    And the bit with the monkeys, and the other bit with the guinea pigs, I am not sure creative or interesting describe it so much as it felt that the author(s) were trying to be so over the top that it ended up just stupid.

lastsamurai2

The dialogue and reading in this was choppy and felt like it was written by a 10 year old, without an editor.  I don’t know if its a result of the collaboration (I have found that books written as a collaboration are not as well written, and they suffer from the Last Samurai “too-many-minds” syndrome (if you don’t know what I am talking about go watch the scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DAWlspPiuI) and fall flat on their butts just like Capt. Algren.  Sometimes, after multiple installments the collaborators figure things out and survive the sword fight, other times, they continue to fail miserably (and frankly, should surrender and put the readers out of their misery).  The worst part is, there are two authors here who were miserably lazy and uncreative.  Does it really take two minds to write something so awful?  Especially when the page count is only 80 pages!!!!  Have I mentioned that these e-only books are a waste of time and money, more often than not?  I think I have (devoted an entire post to it, at least once before).

It’s a shame, I always liked Magnus as a character.  He was funny and clever and I loved him in the MI and ID*.  This set of adventures did nothing to add to the character.  And the “shockingly”, well, lets just say that the music he plays gets some page time but not much else does.  And there really isn’t anything shocking about this story except how badly written it was.  I am hoping that the little series gets better as suffering through 10 installments that are this bad will be rough.

Thought I would share some examples of the awfulness (and my reactions when reading them)…

“Ragnor’s suspicious nature continued to make Magnus very sad and disappointed in him as a person, such as when they visited Lake Yarinacocha and Ragnor’s eyes narrowed as he demanded: “Are those dolphins pink?” “They were pink when I got here!” Magnus exclaimed indignantly. He paused and considered. “I am almost certain.” (my thought: how does sad and disappointed come from that?)

“Pardon me, but we did not have the time to exchange that kind of personal information,” Magnus said. “I could not have known! Moreover, I wish to assure both of you that I did not make any amorous advances on female monkeys.” He paused and winked. “I didn’t actually see any, so I never got the chance.” (my thought: trying to hard to make Magnus seem over the top.)

“Life could not be entirely devoted to debauchery and monkeys. Magnus had to finance all the drinking somehow. There was always a Downworlder network to be found, and he had made sure to make the right contacts as soon as he’d set foot in Peru.” (my thought: maybe something fun and like one of the adventures promised will come of here? Then, a few pages later, the disappointment again set in.)

“I also prefer not to remember the time we spent in the desert. It is a mammoth desert, Magnus. Ordinary deserts are quite large. Mammoth deserts are so called because they are larger than ordinary deserts” (my thought: no crap, mammoth is larger than ordinary.  There was nothing more clever the author could come up with here?)

“So ended our love,” Magnus said. “Ah, well. It would never have worked between me and the plate anyway. I’m sure the food did me good, Catarina, and you were very good to feed me and put me to bed—” (my thought: now trying to hard to be clever.)

And my (least) favorite:

“I progressed to full hallucinations? It’s official. That sounds like . . . almost the most drunk I have ever been. Please don’t ask questions about the most drunk I have ever been. It’s a very sad story involving a birdcage.” (my thought: please ask, maybe that story will be better!)

I think I need someone to remind me – was the dialogue of these characters always this awful in the MI and ID books?  Yikes!  9 more like this… I may have to take a cue from Magnus and have a lot to drink before reading the next installment.

*NOTE:

MI refers to the Mortal Instruments Series and ID refers to the Infernal Devices Series, both by Cassandra Clare and where we first meet Magnus.

The infernal conclusion of the Infernal Devices

Clockwork Princess (CP for short) by Cassandra Clare is yet another disappointment. Given how strong the Mortal Instruments series started (but quickly faded and the series should have ended at the end of book three, before it jumped the shark), I had high hopes for the Infernal Devices series. While there were some good moments in this series, this latest installment really wasn’t worth the effort of reading.

Like in the PNR genre, many of these YA series are becoming so very formulaic and predictable. It is disappointing. I have started to venture into the Steampunk sub-genre in the hopes that I will discover something new and exciting, but it seems that as the YA authors also venture into that area, they bring staleness and predictability and they let that guide the plots, instead of finding a fresh take or the excitement that this new area should provide. (To prove a point, my next post will be a comparison of CP and Kady Cross’s latest since I read them back-to-back.) And CP suffers terribly from this. I think the only good news is that it appears that this might be the last of this particular series.

The other malady that this book suffers from is the romance. It is so over done and under done at the same time. The romance between Tess and Will is so boring. And the author’s desire to couple every character takes away from the romance of Wll and Tess and makes the romances pretty boring as they are not given time or page space that they need to develop and to make the reader feel invested and to want to root for them.

Then there is the silliness. About what, you might ask. Well, it is hard to read the story with a straight face when one of the two biggest battle scenes in the book talks about battling a giant worm. Yes, i said giant worm. Since the worm is supposed to be something one of the characters turns into, couldn’t the author have found something more original, more demonic, more menacing and scary, than a giant worm? Every time I read the phrase “giant worm” I chuckled. And not because I think it was intended as comic relief but because it felt ridiculous to imagine the scene in my head of the Shadowhunters and a giant worm. And something more demonic could have made the story so much better.

Finally, after the climax of the takedown of Mortmain, there were too many chapters of cleaning up the coupling. When the epilogue came around, my first thought was “what else can there be to tie up?” The only redeeming part, really, was the revelation of a few of the details including what the clockwork angel really was and its intention. It was a relief to get the details as to Tess, her origin, and why she is different. But even getting all these facts filled in couldn’t save the overall story and the predictability.

When all was finished, I was left with a sense of relief that I had finished what seemed like a silly master of time. I will be glad if this was the last we see of the Infernal Devices series.

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So easy in the City of Lost Souls

So, another installment of the Mortal Instruments series is over.  And I added the spoiler/refresher page.  Without the review though.  Because this review will probably be more like a stream of consciousness and less thought out than most of my reviews.  Why?  Because there were just so many things good, great, bad and awful that I just don’t know where to start or how to organize it.  So, I am taking the easy way out and am just going to brain dump.

The series, during the first three books, was a nice balance of character development, relationship development and plot.  Not a lot of superfluous… stuff.  Not a lot of extraneous scenes, irrelevant dialogue or wasted scenes and words.  Here, my plot summary could be done in just a very few sentences.  And that’s a shame.  Although I liked this installment better than the last.

I had three big issues with this book – be warned, this review is a spoiler filled review.  Don’t continue to read if you don’t want to know what happened!  

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…  This biggest disturbing fact:  if Jace wants everything Sebastian wants, and doesn’t want anything Sebastian doesn’t, and Sebastian has so very much control of Clary, then it seems to me that Sebastian wants Clary too.  And, for the record: uck! Sexual assault scene aside (since yes, I know that sexual assaults are about power and violence and not about sex), if Jace really does want Clary that bas, what does that say for what Sebastian wants?  Seems to me that he might just harbor some incestual feelings that I really don’t want to think about, but couldn’t help every time Clary reminded the reader that Jace was being controlled by Sebastian.  So again, uck!

Second was how little time with the Iron Sisters.  What a set up for such a brief little visit and such a let down.  There’s so little to what could have been some great meaty pages that I can’t say much more on the topic.

Third, there were a number of things that were just too easy.  How awfully convenient that the ex-Iron Sister that Jace killed happened to have a blade covered in angel blood to let Sebastian’s plan slip.  Just too easy.  How awfully convenient that Magnus could help Simon summon an angel and the angel would just so willingly give up the sword.  Just too easy.  How easy was it for Clary to have something would let her communicate with Simon in the fairie rings (ok, maybe here it should be just way too obvious that the Queen was setting Clary up).  Just too easy.  And how simple it turned out to find a cure for Luke’s stabbing.  And how nice to have Camille all bundled up by Maureen.  A fake immortal cup, raising Lillith again, creating dark shadowhunters…?  So easy.  Even though I know there is another book to come, I half expected this book to end with the killing of Sebastian and Clary and Jace’s happily ever after (and the other couples too), since everything else was so easy.

Ok, I lied.  There is a fourth problem.  It seems as if Clary and Jace “got together”.  Under the influence of fairie drugs.  We don’t think it happened at first, but then Sebastian reveals that he has scratches on his back that had to have come from Clary scratching Jace.  Really?  Gloss over this, make it un-rememberable and under the influence?  I am hoping that Sebastian was exaggerating or I mis-read.  Please, please, please tell me I am.  I so do not want to think that the YA romance had our couple coupling that way.

I liked the start of so many things.  There was the potential to teach us about the Iron Sisters, more history of the angels and the shadow hunter, the tease as to who Magnus really is…  Alec and Magnus, Izzy and Simon…  Clary’s range of emotions and her second guessing whether or not to trust her brother or not felt so genuine.

The author continues her ability to give me just enough words though to be able to see the movie that is the Mortal Instruments series in my head.  I love that I read a sentence or two and could pause, close my eyes, and totally see the world she’s built and the characters I (for the most part) love.  The set up for the next book is good – Sebastian on the loose and our gang needs to find him; Jace unable to really touch Clary because of the bit of heaven inside him (ok, a little cheesy but I can live with it as long as this is solved in the right way in the next book); Alec and Magnus… **cries** … must get back together; Simon and Izzy (Yippeeee!  Finally we might see them as a couple!); and maybe more of the Iron Sisters, I hope, and some of the fairies (I don’t hope as much).  So, while so mush was too easy, waiting for the next installment (2014?  really?) won’t be!

Clockwork What?

Clockwork Prince by Casasndra Clare is the latest installment in the Infernal Devices series.  And like the first book, Clockwork Angel, I am really wondering what all the fuss is about.  I adored the City series – at least the first book – and have been slowly become less interested in that series as Ms. Clare stretches the stories well beyond their breaking point.  Here, my issues are different.  Since we are only 2 books in, it’s hard to ague that she’s stretched the story arc past it’s useful and interesting life.  Instead, we have predictable characters, predictable stories, and a very misleading title (again).  Not to mention where the title comes from… well, I am left guessing as to that.  Because while I have an idea it isn’t exactly crystal clear.  Of course the importance of the Angel from book #1 is still a great big mystery.

We pick up after the events of Clockwork Angel with Tessa living at the institute, Will still his angry full of teen angst self, Jem as caring and vulnerable as ever, Sophie learning to be at home with new employers, Charlotte and Henry up for replacement as head of the Institute, Jessamine self absorbed and hating anything to do with the Shadowhunters, and the Lightwood family causing problems.  We know that the Magister is Mortmain but we don’t know where he is or really what he is up to.  And Nate is on the run.  What ensues is a chase to find Mortmain and saw Charlotte and Henry’s position.

There is a “twist” with Jesse (although when you can see it coming that far away, it’s hard to categorize it as a twist); a “twist” with Benedict Lightwood (see previous parenthetical – and this one was even more obvious); some blackmail, a little itsy bitsy tinee tiny bit of clockwork (really, I would love to see more steampunk like the titles suggest, the books are let downs in that respect) and not nearly as much romance as with the City series.  The love triangle of Tessa, Will and Jem is the most predictable part of the book and it feels like a waste of words at this point.

We do get introduced to Will’s family, sort of.  And at the end, it’s clear that at least one member of that family will play a big role in the next book.  And Mortmain is still at large.  And while we know a little about his history and the Warlock’s who were his adoptive parents were, we really aren’t any closer to getting to him.

The writing is, as mentioned above, predictable.  Ms. Clare seems to be having some plot development issues.  The writing is “ah” like with the first installment.  I think the author  is attempting to write the dialogue in a style reminiscent of Victorian England.  But it only works about 30% of the time.  I would rather just have her skip that and write more natural dialogue even if it doesn’t quite live up to Victorian standards.

Don’t get me wrong, the book isn’t terrible.  It was an entertaining few hours reading it.  But I won’t exactly be lining up on the release date for the next installment.  On a brighter note – lovin’ the series cover art!

 

Corset vs Clockwork (Steampunk)

I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the Girl in the Corset and the Clockwork Angel.  Both are steampunk, Victorian London, mysteries involving machines and a villian, a boy-and-a-girl (maybe) story…  but, as much as I adored Cassandra Clare’s City series (although she should have stopped with the third, because the fourth… ah… not so good as the first three) her first in the Clockwork series was just ok.  So, the win goes to the Girl in the Corset.  I think we have a great cast of characters and something to look forward to with this series.  Much more so then what ever will come next in Clockwork Prince.  I don’t know what the title of the Corset #2 will be, but I am looking forward to seeing more of Finley and Griff, Sam and Emily, and of course, Jasper!

Corset was good, but it wasn’t exactly the cast of characters that I expected. I figured we wold see more of her current employer (see my page on the prequel and the “Things to Remember…” category), and I knew we would see something of the Duke, but it turns out I had my expectations (which were based on the prequel) a little backwards. And I am glad. I like the crew that that forms in this book. 

For those who have read the prequel, it’s worth getting it (and when I got it, it was free from Amazon). For those that haven’t – Finley is different from other girls, she’s stronger, and she has a dark side. Sometimes the dark side takes over. But usually, that’s only when she feels threatened. She is employed as a maid, but when the son in the house who has a reputation for hurting the girls who work in the house tries to take advantage of Finley, she defends herself. She runs away knowing that her self-defense against someone of a higher class won’t go over well. She is rescued by Griffin. Emily isn’t sure what to think about her, Sam doesn’t trust her, but Griff gives her the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile, Sam, Emily and Griffin are trying to solve a mystery – why the Machinist is stealing thinks like the Queen’s wax statute and her hairbrush.

The long and short of it is that the group needs to save the day from the Machinist and his evil automatons who have seemed to run amok (or at least afoul of their programming). And they do. And they become a group in the meantime. Finley becomes part of the close knit group, Sam starts to see the light and makes things right with Emily and Jasper is taken off to America, where I expect the next book will take place.

If you like steampunk, this is a good book to pick up. And if you are new to it, this is still a good book to pick up. We get action, adventure, references to other literature (I love it when books claim to explain where other works of fiction come from – here we are told that Finley’s dad is the inspiration for Jekyll and Hyde). There was just enough reality interlaced with the steampunk that it was fun to imagine the setting. References to a journey to the center of the earth gave us great things to imagine and room for so much more to come later.

The relationships between our main characters, and how those relationship grow and develop (especially between Finley and Emily and Emily and Sam) is satisfying and fun to read. Sam’s reaction to learning about his heart felt real and his turning to someone else, outside the group also felt natural. It was an interesting story and the plot, with the Organites and replacing Victoria was interesting and unique. What was a little missing from the character development and relationship front was a little more time spent b Finley and Griff together. We get the sense of a budding relationship (and potentially a love triangle with Jack Dandy), but we get very very little of where these feelings come from. I would have like to see more.

There were a few minor inconsistencies that troubled me a little – but I mean just a little – Finley made friends with Phoebe, in her mind genuinely as far as the prequel tells us, but she again here tells us that she’s never really had a friend. And there seems to have been a timing issue as far as how many jobs she’s had recently (at least as far as I could piece it together). But those inconsistencies were small and can be overlooked. Especially since the rest of the story was so much fun.

I loved where the title came from – the steel corset that Emily made for Finley. There were so many great gadgets, and the way current technology was retro-fitted into steampunk creations was creative and interesting. The descriptions were vivid but not overpowering. I love it when I read and see the movie of what I am reading in my head – and the author gave me enough for those pictures to form, without the scenery being overburdensome so as to distract from the characters or the story. The bad guy who’s maybe not really such a bad guy (criminal activity notwithstanding) was an interesting character too – hope we see him again. The machines and gadgets were fun to imagine too. I am looking forward to the groups trip to America – and Finley and Griff’s walk in the park there!