City of Bones by Cassandra Clare Recommended: sure For people who read and enjoyed it when younger, for people who haven’t read much paranormal ya fantasy yet but enjoy it, for people who are under 23 years old and/or remember vividly what it’s like to be fifteen
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
When I first read this series years ago as a much younger me, it was easily my favorite new series and style and author, et cetera. Now… not so much. I still enjoyed it, but boy is it a bit shaded for me now. Here’s why.
Due to knowing how some key elements of the plot resolve, there are moments in this first book that were both better and worse to me for knowing how the play out. Some were reassuring, and some were unimpressive. I’ll get into spoiler talk below, but overall the re-read experience was kind of win-lose with how it impacted key scenes.
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa Recommended: sure For an actiony vampire story, for a deadly post apocalyptic plague world, for common tropes combined in a compelling way
WHAT IF HAVING A CHANCE TO SAVE HUMANITY MEANT BECOMING WHAT YOU HATE AND FEAR MOST?
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies…and becomes one of the monsters.
Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—Eden, a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. But hiding her identity is nearly impossible as she comes to know and admire her companions…and starts to fall for a human. Soon Allie will have to decide what—and who—is worth dying for…again.
This is a book I added to my to-read list something like ten years ago, when I was still in high school. So when I came back to this book as a challenge to read one of the oldest books on my tbr, I was kind of wary of what high school age me had decided sounded like a great vampire book. But I gave it a go.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT? IT WAS PRETTY GOOD! I wouldn’t say it blew me out of the water, but it combined common elements of the tropes in uncommon ways to make a fairly unique and genuinely compelling story. I think bold is a good word for this, because the character faces a lot of genuinely shit moments and hard decisions and they often do not end happily. There’s a lot of pain, and you just have to live with it and move on. I think that’s pretty rare.
Recommended: if you made it this far… Look, if you’ve already read book 1 and book 2, just finish it here. All characters get a perspective, so no matter who you’re most interested in, you’ll get something from them
Face your fears, fight the battle.
Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.
Fight the battle, save the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.
This is the last book in a series, and I think it did fine in that position. Unfortunately, “fine” is kind of a let down for a series that was on FIRE for so long. There were things I liked and disliked in each book, but it seems like book 2 was so epic to me and this one was just so… not.
Recommended: sure For people who liked the first one, for an adventurous escalation of the story now that the world and premise are set
After he escapes from the dungeon, Thor is horrified to learn of another assassination attempt on King MacGil. When MacGil dies, the kingdom is set into turmoil. As everyone vies for the throne, King’s Court is more rife than ever with its family dramas, power struggles, ambitions, jealousy, violence and betrayal. An heir must be chosen from among the children, and the ancient Dynasty Sword, the source of all their power, will have a chance to be wielded by someone new. But all this might be upended: the murder weapon is recovered, and the noose tightens on finding the assassin. Simultaneously, the MacGils face a new threat by the McClouds, who are set to attack again from within the Ring.
Thor fights to win back Gwendolyn’s love, but there may not be time: he is told to pack up, to prepare with his brothers in arms for The Hundred, a hundred grueling days of hell that all Legion members must survive. The Legion will have to cross the Canyon, beyond the protection of the Ring, into the Wilds, and set sail across the Tartuvian Sea for the Isle of Mist, said to be patrolled by a dragon, for their initiation into manhood.
Will they make it back? Will the Ring survive in their absence? And will Thor finally learn the secret of his destiny?
I liked the first book, but this one was maybe more exciting! Now that all the characters and various dangers of the world are in place, it was easier to move forward into the depths of the story and really get into the drama.
The classic style is still in effect, where things have a bit of a trope-y path they follow, but still in a surprisingly wonderful way. It’s like reading a modern classic, if that makes sense? Even though the vibe is very traditional knight’s adventure, I can’t predict what’s going to happen and I’m SO excited for it. The ending of this one by the way? Be sure to have book 3 ready to go when you finish. xD
Recommended: yes If you liked the first one, you’ll get plenty more of the world in this one!
No matter how far she rides, she can’t escape her past…
Yanna Gray has settled into Ragondian life as a Stonehaven student. Deep down she knows she is destined to become a rider trainee… And her dragon bond feels it as well. But Yanna is torn between focusing on her riding or magecraft, unsure of the right path. Choosing a discipline is the hardest decision she’s ever faced.
Until a secret from her past on Earth places all of Ragond in jeopardy…
Deadly accidents plague the realm. A shimmering new bridge inexplicably collapses. Then a dam tragically crumbles into dust. All without a trace of magic. A devastating dissonance between worlds threatens the very existence of those Yanna has grown to love and respect. Now, she must decide if family means more than just flesh and blood.
Before her new home, and everyone in it, crumbles to dust…
What an exciting follow-up to the series! There was still some of the same issue from the first book where exposition was not very creatively inserted and was spelled out blatantly. That wasn’t a big deal though, as the rest of the story and creativity made up for it.
Considering I had totally forgotten what this book was about, I really enjoyed it! I feel like it was a pretty simple formula of a story but I didn’t care because it was so well done that I just really enjoyed it. It felt immediately familiar and like one I couldn’t wait to keep reading more of. I’m definitely continuing the series, and I’m glad I’ve randomly bought several of the books already over the years 🤣
This story is all the classic fantasy elements. There’s a dangerous foe (or two), brave and dashing knights, and our unassuming lad who’s fated to legend. Plus magic! And a lady love! And visions of the future and enemies turned to loyal followers! And jousting! It’s all fabulous.
It just works. It fits like a comfortably worn in give, and it’s not hard to follow the story of sink into the world. I was immediately following along like one of his sheep, and yes, I’ll be reading more.
A Quest for Heroes revolves around the epic coming of age story of one special boy, a 14 year old from a small village on the outskirts of the Kingdom of the Ring. The youngest of four, the least favorite of his father, hated by his brothers, Thorgrin senses he is different from the others. He dreams of becoming a great warrior, of joining the King’s men and protecting the Ring from the hordes of creatures on the other side of the Canyon. When he comes of age and is forbidden by his father to try out for the King’s Legion, he refuses to take no for an answer: he journeys out on his own, determined to force his way into King’s Court and be taken seriously.
But King’s Court is rife with its own family dramas, power struggles, ambitions, jealousy, violence and betrayal. King MacGil must choose an heir from amongst his children, and the ancient Dynasty Sword, the source of all their power, still sits untouched, waiting for the chosen one to arrive. Thorgrin arrives as an outsider and battles to be accepted, and to join the King’s Legion.
Thorgrin comes to learn he has mysterious powers he does not understand, that he has a special gift, and a special destiny. Against all odds he falls in love with the king’s daughter, and as their forbidden relationship blossoms, he discovers he has powerful rivals. As he struggles to make sense of his powers, the king’s sorcerer takes him under his wing and tells him of a mother he never knew, in a land far away, beyond the Canyon, beyond even the land of the Dragons.
Before Thorgrin can venture out and become the warrior he yearns to be, he must complete his training. But this may be cut short, as he finds himself propelled into the center of royal plots and counterplots, ones that may threaten his love and bring him down—and the entire kingdom with him.
Recommended: sure For an incredibly sensory experience of the world, for a common plot executed in a unique way
For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.
When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.
Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.
She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…
A few decisions didn’t make sense to me and seemed like plot holes, but overall I enjoyed this unique implementation of a common plot of exploitation and world changing secrets about everything you know. I was more than willing to suspend disbelief to enjoy the adventure and revelation.
The ending pivoted in fairly quickly in the last twenty percent or so and I wish there had been a little bit more hinted earlier to lead to it. As it was, it felt a little abrupt and strange to get key details only in the last act, but I guess that’s the experience the character has too so I certainly do empathize!
Hey y’all! I started a re-read of a favorite young adult dystopian novel of mine called Angelfall by Susan Ee. I started that on June 3rd (5 days ago) and have now finished the other 2 books in the series as well without really planning to do so. I posted my June TBR on June 1 all proud to have it set, and by June 3 I was already doing something else. 🤣
It’s pretty hard to resist those stunning covers, right? Anyway, I was just having a crappy day and my reading had felt quite stunted (in large part due to the slogs of Pachinko and Dunewhich I had recently ended). I was going through my Kindle thinking, what can I read that will be comfortable and familiar and exciting?
Angellfall was my clear answer. 🥰
I’ve had a stressy few weeks and these really helped give me something to enjoy and escape into. So now that I’ve finished them, what’s up next? Hmmm…
Recommended: For folks who like character identity exploration, for almost-meetings and vague magic saturating the real world. Not for a strong, clear plot or robust exploration of magic
In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.
Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life―work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists―not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.
Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differential
Recommended: yes! For a dragon story! For a story with the “realizing you were wrong about everything you thought you knew” storyline, for respectful characters that I was constantly pleasantly surprised by, for only the occasional stupid teenager decision
A witch hunter is thrust into a magical, dragon-filled world…
At sixteen, Yanna Gray is part of her family’s Virginia based witch hunting enterprise, helping rid Earth of anything—and anyone—magic. But her militant life goes south when an enchanted amulet goes missing. Before Yanna can reclaim the artifact, the thief opens an interdimensional portal flinging Yanna into a frightening magical world.
Ragond is straight out of the forbidden fairy tales Yanna once read. Mythical creatures, witches, and mages live in harmony with humans. Here, all she’s grown up believing is turned on its head—especially when she discovers her own magical abilities.
Without access to a portal to Earth, Yanna is invited to shelter at Stonehaven—the training ground for witches, mages, and dragon riders—where she discovers true friendship, camaraderie, and a surprising bond with an ancient dragon. But all too quickly, Yanna’s magic-hunting past catches up to her.
Now, to save her friends and the dragon who partnered with her, Yanna must decide what she believes and who to trust.
Or her past might become Ragond’s downfall.
The simplest way I can review this book is to say that I will be continuing the series, for sure. Thankfully, they’re coming out one a month for the next few months!
This was a decent introduction to the world, and I can’t wait to meet more of the characters in it. There are a lot of books already set in this world, but I’m new to it and can’t wait not to be. Hooray that there are so many other books to read from here! 😀
I love books where the main character’s understanding of the world is challenged, and that is exactly what Yanna is going through. She’s a witch hunter, a killer of those who channel evil magic. But now that she’s in a world OF magic, and actually, she herself is now one of those evil magic users… maybe it’s worth a second thought. No surprise that there’s a lot of angst around this for Yanna as she wrestles with making her own decisions or adhering to what she has always been taught and trained.