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, Paranormal, Reviews, romance

Book Review: The Silent – Elizabeth Hunter

You know a book is good when you wake up at 6am on a Saturday (your day off) to read it and then find yourself finishing in four hours.

This book is number 5 in The Irin Chronicles and tells the story of Leo, one of the Istanbul scribes and Kyra, one of the kareshta or silent ones. The kareshta are daughter of the Fallen, angels who have defied The Creator and made earth their own personal playground. Their lust for power among mortals led to their banishment from heaven. Most are evil creatures who do not teach their children how to control their magic. Their male offspring, called Grigori, become predators whose lust for any human contact frequently lead to deaths for any female they encounter. Grigori are turned into their sire’s soldiers and are helpless to resist their sire’s commands. The kareshta are not valued as much as the Grigori. Most are killed because they are considered worthless. Those that live have learned to be silent because their voices are part of the unknown and are therefore feared. 

At the end of the previous books, some of the Fallen have been reconciled to heaven leaving their sons and daughters free to live their lives for the first time. Most struggle to integrate into the Irin society because of the long, painful history they share. Some of the kareshta are mated with Irin scribes who have been deprived of any female contact for so long. Some try to live in the human world after they’ve been taught to control their ability to hear soul voices. Its againts this turbulent background that Leo and Kyra’s relationship is forged and tested. 

Leo and Kyra were part of the supporting characters in the previous books so its really hard to follow their story if you haven’t read the other books, I would never classify this as a standalone book because a reader who reads this first would be depriving themselves of a lot of history. That being said, I think this story is the start of a whole new series told about the sons and daughter of the Fallen. We learn so much about the Grigori here, and though they’ve done unspeakable and unforgivable things in their past we also get their backstory in this book. I think its so easy to hate something that you don’t understand, and that sentiment is very relevant in these troubled times we’re living in. So much violence stems from so little understanding that underneath all the differences, we are all the same.

A twist of fate and an unwanted inheritance is all that separates the Grigori from the Irin. This is the point that Kyra was trying to make when she was fighting for acceptance and integration into the community, rather than just tolerance. I think Elizabeth Hunter did a fantastic job of building this world and developing different narratives that she has easily set herself up for at least three more books in this world. I cannot wait for the Grigori to start falling in love. This is just me, I really like imperfect men who struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds to remain good.

The love story itself was also great but the romance alone would never have held this book up. It was an adventure from start to finish and the exotic locations make me think the Elizabeth must have gone on a trip to Southeast Asia in which case I hope she visited the Philippines. Dare I hope there will be a story set in my home country? One can dream.

Anyway, great story and a great addition to the series! Looking forward to whatever Elizabeth decides to write next.

Posted in Books, Paranormal, romance

Book Review: The Irin Chronicles – Elizabeth Hunter

In anticipation of the upcoming release of the fifth book in this series, I thought I’d post a review of three of my favourite novels of all time. I accidentally discovered Elizabeth Hunter because Amazon was giving away one of her books for free, and I ended up reading everything that she’s ever written. I like paranormal romance but I find that recently a lot of them are all parodies of Twilight, and all these teenage love triangles where the main female character is just so fantastic, where everyone is so in love with her but she somehow remains insecure about herself, where everyone wants to protect her at the cost of their lives but she insists on putting herself in danger – I just find it all so ridiculous.

Elizabeth Hunter writes about sensible, empowered women. They’re beautiful sure, but she makes it clear that what makes them beautiful is their character. They’re empowered not just for empowerment’s sake, nor is it just to prove a point to their male counterparts, but because they actually have a goal to get to. In short, she writes about the kind of female that’s relatable and liable. She’s been one of my go-to authors for the past year now. I think she’s really underrated.

Now. The Irin Chronicles.

First of all, this story is set in Istanbul, a place that I’ve always wanted to visit but have never gotten around to yet.  In the first book, called The Scribe, (buy now, its free on Amazon Kindle store!!!) we meet Ava Matheson – a professional photographer who hears voices in a language that she doesn’t recognise as well as read emotions when she’s around other people. She’s tried every therapy known to man, and her continuous search for a cure has led her to Istanbul. Here she meets Malachi, a warrior with a past: he belongs to an ancient group of scribes called the Irin who are descended from archangels.

An Irin warrior is strongest when mated to an Irina.

irin-irina
photo credits to thebreakfastblogdotnet.wordpress.com
The Irina are the female descendants; they’re called “singers” because their voices hold magic – such as the power to heal or see the future among others. Millions of years ago, the Grigori – the Irins’ ancient enemy – started a “purge” where they lured all the Irin warriors to a false war so that they can secretly kill all the Irina who have been left vulnerable. A few escaped, but since then there have been very little Irina presence in their world. And the younger warriors have never even seen one. This is a shame because the Irin’s touch is fatal to a mortal woman. We’re talking centuries of celibacy here. Needless to say, these Irin warriors are all a broody, moody bunch of pent-up sexual frustration.

Anyway, Malachi meets and becomes fascinated by Ava and as time went on, he begins to suspect that there’s more to her than meets the eye, but he’s afraid to dream that she might be the one girl he’s allowed to touch, that she could be a potential soulmate or reshon. Added to that, the Grigori have taken to following her around as well. The search for the truth about Ava’s past leads them to various parts of the country, and their romance blossoms in the process. However dangers lurk everywhere, and the Grigori are only waiting for the opportunity to strike and finish off the Irin race once and for all. I have to say, I really really love this series. I’m almost afraid of sharing it to the world because I would be crushed if others didn’t like it because I loved it so much. The first book ends in a cliffhanger that had me starting the 2nd book almost immediately. I was 1-clicking the Kindle store on Amazon like nobody’s business.

 

The second book, The Singer, was even better than the first. Ava and Malachi are separated by seemingly insurmountable forces, and there is a sense of urgency in the book where you’re not sure if they’ll ever be together or if they do, if things will be the same. And then when they are reunited, its not the kind of reunion that you would expect and its even more heartbreaking than the separation.

the-singer1
photo credits to thebreakfastblogdotnet.wordpress.com
On top of that, the story started in The Scribe gets equal airtime with the romance and we begin to sense that this story is bigger than Ava and Malachi, and that this has been planned (or fated) since before they met. We are introduced to other surviving Irina, and you can just feel the feels when they talk about their past before The Purge, and you can really sense the reverence with which this women are treated among The Irin.  We also learn a little bit more of Ava’s past, which is important because even among other Irina, she is…different.

 

 

The last book in the series is The Secret, where we finally learn the truth about Ava’s past and the Irina fight to reclaim their rightful place in the Irin world. We also learn more about The Grigori, who are actually sons of The Fallen – archangels who never went back to heaven because they became ensnared by the temptations of the human world, as well as the kind of power they hold over mortals. The Grigori become real to us readers and Elizabeth does a great job of showing their side of the story but not excusing everything they’ve done. We learn a secret that the Fallen and The Grigori have been hiding, and it all finally comes to a head in an epic battle in Vienna. I reread the climax of the story twice because I was’t so sure I fully grasped it the first time around because I read it so fast, I was THAT excited. It was a very satisfying end to the series, I loved every minute of it.

There is a beauty in Elizabeth Hunter’s writing that I can’t put into words. Her writing just flows, its so easy to read. Their is also a sense of the spiritual in her writing. I remember asking once if she’s Catholic because I can just feel a sense of appreciation for a being higher than ourselves in her writing. Whether that’s the Christian’s God or something else, you can really feel that respect she has for the spiritual. Also, Elizabeth is my friend on Goodreads and she’s replied to me when I emailed her about how much I love her writing AND she liked my review of her books. I love that she’s that connected to her readers.

There is a fourth book but it features a different couple. I don’t recommend reading it as a standalone, but I will probably review that book together with the upcoming 5th book.

Happy reading, bookworms!