Posted in Books, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Book Review: The Infernal Devices Trilogy – Cassandra Clare

In case it wasn’t clear enough already, I would like to point out two glaringly obvious points:

  1. I am currently going through a YA (young adult) fantasy phase when it comes to my literary choices and its not likely to stop anytime soon. I know that there is a distinct group of people (people who can’t understand that reading is supposed to be fun) who will say that 30 is a little too old to still be reading YA and to those people, I say (with all the kindness in the world): piss. off. I happen to think that there is a lot that we, as adults, can learn from the YA genre. I will not bore anyone by recounting those here but those who still read YA will know exactly what I mean.
  2. I am a very emotional person. I am the kind of person who will cry at the cinema when a beloved character dies in a film or when Rose doesn’t even think about the physics behind sharing a door panel with Jack when the Titanic sank. I cried when Stuart Little became part of his adopted family, I cry at heartfelt and inspirational speeches especially if they immediately precede an important but tragic battle. I am a crier, and I’m damn proud of it. Lol

 

So it will come as no surprise to those who know me if I start this review by saying that I absolutely blubbered over this trilogy. I read the Goodreads reviews and maybe when I’m less emotional over how this book ended I may understand what they’re saying about this being wish fulfilment and contrived but for now, I just don’t get where the negativity is coming from because I think this trilogy was brilliant. Okay, let’s get to the review.

 

The Infernal Devices trilogy is meant to be a prequel to The Mortal Instruments BUT I think for maximum enjoyment, the reading order should be as follows:

  1. City of Bones
  2. City of Ashes
  3. City of Glass
  4. The Infernal Devices Trilogy – Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess
  5. City of of Fallen Angels
  6. City of Lost Souls
  7. City of Heavenly Fire
  8. Tales from The ShadowHunter Academy
  9. The Bane Chronicles

 

I regret not reading them in that order because I think the books may have packed a more emotional punch if I didn’t already know what was going to happen, having read all 6 books of the Mortal Instruments already. But then again, this trilogy did not need any more ammunition to make me cry. It was heartbreaking enough already.

 

The trilogy tells the story of Tessa Gray, who moved from New York to London in order to be with her brother Nathaniel. Little did she know that Nate has been caught up in the shadow world of demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and shadow hunters. She is captured by two warlocks whose purpose is to unlock Tessa’s powers, because Tessa isn’t what she seems and has abilities far beyond anything she can ever imagine. She is rescued by Will Herondale, a young shadow hunter from The London Institute and introduced to people who will eventually become like the family she never had. She meets James  (Jem) Carstairs, Will’s parabatai (like a blood brother) who’s also got secrets of his own; Sophie, a mundane with a tragic past; Charlotte Fairchild, the head of the Institute who’s trying to prove that a woman’s worth goes beyond her ability to give birth and Henry Branwell, a brilliant if somewhat absent-minded inventor and Charlotte’s husband.

 

The big bad of this book may seem underwhelming, and I found it ridiculous at first that he could even be considered a threat. But there is no better motive for world domination and destruction than the thirst for revenge I guess, and in a way, its the fact that no one expected him to be a threat that made him so dangerous to the shadow hunters. The villain is, as they usually are, extremely firm in his beliefs and convictions and has the added advantage of foresight. He’s been planning his revenge on the shadow hunters long before Tessa was ever born, and has had the patience to wait to be able to carry out his plan.

 

This trilogy also involves a love story. In fact, it involves one of my most hated things in the world: a love triangle: Will – Tessa – Jem. I was ready to hate this book because I usually cannot stand love triangles. I find them silly, stupid, and saccharine and its beyond belief how three seemingly sensible people could be driven to do senseless things all in the name of love. But this triangle is different. I won’t go into too much detail about it because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But this triangle is not annoying, there’s no flip-flopping involved, neither is there cheating; there is selflessness, sacrifice and above all, there is so much love and friendship that it kept me up till midnight and resulted in the aforementioned blubbering.

 

(Are you listening to me Stephenie Meyer? This, THIS is how you write love triangle!)

 

Its not so much the love story that makes this book worth reading. The world building and the fantasy elements are also notable; there is the underlying lesson that we are all capable of something great and that just because someone is different doesn’t mean that they are to be feared or persecuted. The battle scenes were quite good as well. But the true lynchpin of this story is the friendship between Will and James. HONESTLY. I am now obsessed with the parabatai concept and where can I get one please? I loved how these two refused to have anything, even death, come between them. I love how they managed to be there for each other despite the odds, and I want to believe that there is a world out there where they are still fighting side by side, so in tune to each other because their hearts and souls are – and always will be – one.

 

(Also, can I just say, I love that Jem is half Asian. I love that he speaks mandarin and that a lot of the important dialogue in the third book was in mandarin.)

 

I am now more convinced than ever that Cassandra Clare haters should just shut up and let the past lie where it belongs: in the past. Yes, she’s done some dodgy things but let’s give credit where credit is due. She’s done a fantastic job building the Shadow Hunter world. Her words just flow into a seamless narrative that is easy to read, and that is capable of touching the hearts of her readers. I am a fan, and I will continue to be if only because of this gift of a trilogy that she’s given the world.

 

READ THIS TRILOGY, FELLOW YA LOVERS. You won’t regret it!

 

Happy Sunday everyone! x

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Book Review: The Mortal Instruments Series – Cassandra Clare

I’ve been on Goodreads long enough to know that one of its golden rules is that thou shall never judge a book by another member’s review. Although I sometimes make the decision to read or not read a book based on the community’s rating/s, I try not to be put off by negative reviews,  especially if a book’s blurb sounds particularly interesting.

There are a lot of negative things about Cassandra Clare on the internet. Apparently, she was involved in some scandal a few years ago because of a Draco Malfoy fanfiction plagiarism accusation which led her to be banned from a fanfiction website. I’m not too clear on the details, but allegedly, huge parts of ‘City of Bones’ is lifted off the material in question so people were outraged when it went on to sell millions (plus movie and television adaptations). 

I personally don’t understand why she’s being singled out for something that seems like common practice to me (I’m looking at you EL James). I am not trying to defend plagiarism, I think there’s nothing worse than an author trying to pass off plagiarised content as original material. But take 50 shades of Grey for example. That started out as Twilight fanfiction didn’t it? The similarities were painfully obvious; if you take away the BDSM and add the sparkly vampire element, the basic structure of both series is the same. It still made EL James a household name (and suddenly made it acceptable to be reading about S and M). 

I can see why people would think that The Mortal Instrument series is some kind of fanfiction for Harry Potter. 

1. Valentine Morgenstern – obsessed with the purity of Nephilim bloodlines is almost a reincarnation of Voldemort

2. The Circle – Valentine’s followers who repented and renounced him when he presumably died is the nephilim equivalent of the Death Eaters

3. Mundanes – the Nephilim’s term for the human race. Mundanes = Muggles?

4. Jace Wayland – I personally find it hard to believe that he’s based on Draco Malfoy. I think he’s much more developed as a character. Physically, okay, he’s also got blond hair but that’s it. Or is Jace meant to be Harry Potter? 

Actually, the further on that the book series progressed, the less I felt like I was reading fanfiction. Its unfair to think that one author is copying off another simply because there are similarities. I think its hard to come up with a truly original concept in fantasy fiction. You inevitably come across a variation of a theme that’s already been explored in some other book. That doesn’t mean that the author doesn’t deserve some credit for the book itself if the book happens to be GOOD.

I fully agree that Cassandra should just own up to her shady past, because the truth is, these books are absolutely brilliant. They don’t deserve all the negativity surrounding them because they actually contain original content, in my own humble opinion. In addition, if I think about all the things that make a fantasy series great, I find that a lot of those things can be found in these series and more besides.

1. World Building – I think Cassandra Clare did such a good job of building the Shadow World, especially with regards to the history of the shadowhunters, family legacies, notable Downworlders (vampires, werewolves and warlocks), immortals who have directly or indirectly affected current events. There’s even a tie-in to the prequel series (which I’m only just starting to read).

2. The idea that no matter how different we are, we are all the same and we need each other so that good triumphs over evil. I am a sucker for these kind of storylines. 

3. A hero’s journey – Clary Fray and Jace Wayland both literally go to hell and back to triumph over evil and they discovered a lot of things about themselves along the way.

4. No one is born good or evil. It all comes down to choice. You see this a lot in fantasy series and there’s a reason for that. I believe that the things that happen to you don’t shape who you are, its the choices and decisions you make that make you who you are.

5. Runes tattooed onto a shadowhunter’s body that serves as a source of power.

6. Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane. Enough said. These two should have their own series.

7. Simon Lewis, an ordinary mundane who got sucked into the shadow world just because he’s in love with his best friend Clary, and ended up playing a more vital role than anyone could have predicted.

8. Plot twists and secret histories. I love love love plot twists. I think some of tbe plot twists in the. book should have been explored more in the tv series but I supposed when you’re uncertain about whether its gonna be picked up for another season you should cram as much in one season as you can and leave off some of the other plot devices. But I hope there’s a flashback episode somewhere in the Shadow Hunter tv series future.

9. The Silent Brothers. They turn out to be so much more intriguing than I thought they were.

10. The parabatai concept. A parabatai is someone who grew up and trained with you and with whom you share such a special connection with. It is a bond as strong as marriage and if your parabatai dies, a part of you dies as well. Together, you are better fighters than if you are apart. The catch? You can’t ever fall in love with your parabatai (they’re usually same sex, and except for Jace and Alec for obvious reasons, this was never a problem before!). I really think a whole series should be devoted to exploring the parabatai bond. 

So, I have gone on and on about what I love about this series, enough for you bookworms to know that if your trust me, you should buy all six books right now. Seriously, Amazon sells all 6 for the bargain price of £12. Click here to buy!  I really think fans of YA and fantasy will get into this. Or I could be wrong.

Cheers bookworms! 

Posted in Books, Children's Literature, Fantasy, Reviews

Who Says We Have To Grow Up? Book Review: A Place Called Perfect – Helena Duggan

Three years ago, I went to visit my aunt and uncle in Florida and we drove to Orlando over the weekend to visit Walt Disney World. It was one of the best weekends of my life. I challenge any kid in the world to top my level of excitement when it comes to all things Disney. I rode and sang along to ‘Its A Small a World’; I cheered when Mickey Mouse came strolling down Main Street USA; I queued up to take my photo with the Disney Princesses and I shed a tear during the fireworks display. I loved it

Walt Disney once said that the trouble with the world is that too many people grow up. We lose our sense of wonder; we start to become cynical and lose our faith in people. We don’t believe in magic anymore (I mean, it probably doesn’t exist but isn’t it amazing to think about the possibility?), even Santa has lost his luster. We work 9-5 jobs that barely motivate us, we get bogged down with our day-to-day routine and life becomes a series of to-do lists. We lose our imaginations. 

This is what Helena Duggan is trying to tell us in her book called ‘A Place Called Perfect’. Violet Brown moved to Perfect (yes, that’s the name of the town) with her parents and she immediately knows something isn’t right. Everyone is the same: robotic, smiling faces all obssessed with being perfect. Little by little, her parents start to change and she seems to be the only one concerned. Then she meets Boy and learns about the town’s dark secrets and the cost of too much perfection. 

This is technically a children’s book but so what? Harry Potter started out as a children’s book and look how that turned out. Besides, I see nothing wrong with reading children’s books. I love the simplicity; I love inhabiting a child’s mind even if its just for a little while because there’s something so pure about how a child sees the world. I think as adults we tend to overcomplicate things so that we lose sight of what really matters – joy, love, family. 

The author is trying to warn us about the dangers of stamping out a child’s individuality. We should let children play, we should encourage them to imagine how things could be instead of telling them to be content with how things are. I think its a wonderful thing to grow up feeling like there’s infinite possibilities in the   world. Most of all, I think Ms Duggan is trying to tell us we should allow children the freedom to be who they are.

I gave this book 3 stars because I felt like it could have been longer but that’s just personal preference. The plot itself is perfect and filled with just the right amount of intrigue and twists such that it can be enjoyed by both adults and children. I can imagine this to be a good bedtime reading material and it will certainly create a nice bonding moment between a parent and his/her child. 

Enjoy this book fellow booklovers and don’t ever let anyone tell you we can’t read children’s books. Who says we have to grow up anyway? 

Love, Blabbaholic! Xx

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Reviews

Book Review: A Knight of The Seven Kingdoms

I cannot believe we’re down to two more episodes in the current season of Game of Thrones. What will I do with my Mondays now? I might actually need to think about work instead of whether or not my favourite character lives or dies! In fact, I might get so upset over the loss of GoT that I will do a dracarys on my way to the office and breathe fire over the good people of London.

Could it be any clearer that I am a huge Game of Thrones fan? 

I first watched this show on the recommendation of my good friend Katie. Well, I read the books first, and it really went into more detail than the series ever did which is probably part of the reason why I got so invested in the characters; I knew their backstory from the books. I wouldn’t compare the books to the series though because I think they’re equally good. There are things that the series has done, like making Robb Stark a more central character before his tragic demise, that I thought worked really well. 

Anyway, I ultimately finished the books and like many others I wait with bated breath for Winds of Winter to come, which from the sounds of it now seems like it will be thick enough to kill a full-grown rat. The tv series has overtaken the books though so I think that will be confusing, keeping all those storylines separate. But I can’t complain when we have episodes like ‘The Spoils of War‘ which is 40 minutes of television heaven. Plus having the R + L = J theory confirmed last season was one of the most gratifying moments in tv history. 

I bought A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms so that I would have something to do in between episodes and because I love everything that has to do with Westeros. I think George R R Martin has done a stupendous job of building this fantasy world with its own history, geography and legends. I mean, I would be just as satisfied reading about the events leading up to Robert’s Rebellion as I would be reading recent Westeros events.

By this time, all these names are as familiar to me as my own. Targaryen. Stark. Baratheon. Lannister. When I see them mentioned in this book, which takes place about 100 years before current GoT events, I get a little thrill. This book is actually a collection of 3 novellas telling the adventures of Dunk and Egg, also known as Ser Duncan the Tall and the future king himself Aegon V Targaryen. Aegon is Mad King Aerys’ father. He was so obssessed with having dragons in the world again that he burned down his palace in Summerhall around the same time that Rhaegar Targaryen was born. 

Ser Duncan is a hedge knight. I’m not sure what that is exactly but it seems like one step short of being a sellsword; a knight who sells his services to any lord. He meets a bald-headed purple-eyed boy in a tavern on his way to a tourney in Ashford. Unbeknownst to him this precocious boy is actually Aegon but he nicknames himself Egg. He unwittingly takes him on as his squire as he enters the tourney where, as fate would have it, Egg’s brothers and uncles are also competing. 

The stories that follow are rich in Westerosi history. Its funny with a touch of adventure and at time unexpectedly moving. Its even more moving when you consider the fact that Ser Duncan was with Aegon through his unexpected rise to the throne and served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard all throughout his rein and until the end of both their lives (he too died in Summerhall). 

*all photos are taken from the book and are original works of the illustrator specified in the cover*


I didn’t think I’d get through this book so quickly. It took me ages to finish one GoT book (oh God, Clash of Kings was tedious) but it only took me a day or two to finish this one. The illustrations were lovely and helped a great deal. I can imagine reading this book to my children someday in the future. I loved Ser Duncan and his almost foolish sense of nobility (hello, Ned Stark) and I especially loved Egg. These books are a great addition to the world of Game of Thrones and I hope GRRM will live long enough to finish these tales and maybe even write about Rhaegar and Lyanna. I would love a romance novel set in this world, just saying. 

All in all, this was a great book and one I would recommend to any fan.