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.
Thank you to Elise for sending me a recommendation and a copy, as only the best friends would 🥰
Recommended: yes! For a darkly atmospheric world, for the loveliest gray shaded characters, for an MC that is so purely good and selfless and my god is that just what I needed to read especially in the midst of 2020 elections…
Summary: In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement. But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood. Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.
Thoughts: October was my month of reading spooky witchy books, and this one was SO much better than I expected! I went in somewhat blind to it thanks to a recommendation from my friend, so maybe it’s more accurate to say I didn’t really have expectations. Regardless, the atmosphere and world of this book was incredible. The sinister yet compelling darkwoods came to life despite their immersion in death. The brutality of the world was cruel to face, but didn’t allow you to look away as brides are cut to bleed and hot pokers brand justice from loved ones.
Lucky little me got an offer from the author to read and review this gem, and wow is it absolutely blowing me away! It’s been so exciting right from the start, and I feel like there’s never a good place to put it down because there’s always a crisis happening! I absolutely love it so far. The world and the characters are meeting perfectly. I can feel the cold and the relentless wind of the Wastes, and I’m looking over my shoulder for the bone children in pursuit. LOVING THIS.
Words I’ve Learned:
Lines that linger
In Karth-Aemon’s armor even ugly men looked beautiful.
“Are you ready to die?”
“Always. Remember that, Knight, if you remember nothing else of me.”
Recommended:sure For a faery tale that is pretty much exactly what you would expect, for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses, for a story that’s more about the character and the plot than any romance
Summary: Faerie wasn’t supposed to be real. Tricked by a fae prince, Elora is stuck in the Faerie realm far from her young sisters who depend on her for survival. Under the terms of her bargain, she can’t go home to the mortal world until Prince Brannick becomes the next High King. Or until he’s taken out of the running… Sabotaging Brannick’s chance at the crown will be much faster than helping him win. The fae prince may be charming, powerful, and wickedly handsome, but that won’t stop Elora from selling his secrets to the highest bidder. By day, she uses her master sword skills to train the prince, while ignoring her growing attraction to him. By night, she conspires with a rival king in a nearby court whose plans could destroy half of Faerie. If she gets caught, Brannick will kill her. But what’s life without a little bit of danger?
Thoughts: I was delighted by how much I enjoyed Kay L Moody’s other series, The Elements of the Crown, so when I saw that she had published the first in a new series, I was ready to jump in. From the description, I expected it to be a fun read but probably not anything that would blow me away with originality, and that’s about what I got. The world of fae and strong human females who get pulled into the world is a very popular theme, so it’s hard to do anything new, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be done well — and Moody certainly did!
Recommended: yes! For a tale of morality and control in the face of darkness and hatred, for a superhero/antihero combo that’s exciting and thought provoking
Summary: Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers? Award-winning Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed for her Akata novels, introduces a new and engaging hero in her first novel for middle grade readers set against a richly textured background of contemporary Nigeria.
Thoughts: A perfect example of having greatness thrust upon him, Nnamdi fights between what is vengeance and what is justice with his newfound powers. I love having a main character who is flawed and conflicted, but whom you like nonetheless because you can see him doing his best to make sense of the world he lives in. Coming-of-age is a lot more complicated when you’re granted otherworldly powers and a conscience for justice.
Words have always carried more weight with me than images – give me a book over its movie any day – but I do love to see the beautiful images other people create when they’re in love with a book. That’s not my strength, but I can certainly appreciate it in others! So here’s a few of my faves based on what I’ve been reading recently.
To Sleep In A Sea Of Stars
I’ve been ranting about how excited I was to get this ARC for a while now, and I don’t expect to stop for a while on yet! Christopher Paolini’s book outside of the Inheritance world is just as epic, but in space this time. Science is the magic TSIASOS (that is a rough acronym. Will keep working on a way to abbreviate this title. Stay tuned.).
This one is mine, because the second I got this ARC in the mail I danced around the kitchen squealing and clutching it to my chest, and then went outside to read and take some gorgeous photos of this gorgeous book on a gorgeous day. Check out my insta for a few more — because this book is so pretty and startlingly gigantic.
Recommended: sure, if you enjoyed the full novel May Day and want a little more explanation
Summary: Jack doesn’t care about anything except music. All she wants to do is find a decent gig, stand by the speakers and let the bass roll through her. It’s the only reason she gets out of bed. Until she meets Winta. In the space of a second, everything is different. Winta knows what she wants and for one night, what she wants is Jack. It feels like the start of forever. Then Winta disappears and Jack faces a choice: should she go back to her life, or track down the only girl who can change it beyond recognition? One things’ certain: Jack has no idea what she’s getting herself into.
Thoughts: This is a short story, only about 50 pages. Enough gets worked into this small amount to fill in some of the details hinted at in the main story, May Day. This is more about fact-based elements than building much up since it doesn’t have much room to work with, but if you’re curious about all the vague references to Winta in the main book, then this will satisfy your curiosity. Jack’s personality was still there for sure, though there were a few things I found slightly inconsistent. For example, does Jack have notably bad hearing in the main story, as was called out here? Or was that just no longer a problem given her becoming a Silver? I’m not sure. Either way, it’s nothing terribly distracting, just a little thing that stuck in my head when reading it.
I’m flying through this book even though I only started it yesterday. I took a chance outside my usual, and I am being rewarded for it! Thank you Josie Jaffrey for the delight of May Day!
Why did I start reading it?
This book actually just published today! I received an ARC from the author, and although it’s not my typical genre, I was intrigued. And I am so glad I gave it a shot, because I’m loving it! It’s a sexy vampire detective on a murder mystery, and it is so much more than that little description makes it sound. 😍
I’d never have thought that laughing in bed was a good thing, but here she is in my arms, and I’m so happy that I can feel the joy bubbling up into my throat, so happy that the force of my kisses is shaped by my smile.
He’s rich and powerful, which is a bad place for any man to start, but he’s also arrogant and elitist, which makes him a particularly wanky breed of wanker.
He’s an imposing man, over six-feet tall with dark skin and darker eyes. We don’t ask about his past, but I’m pretty sure it’s dark too.
Recommended: YEEESSSS For a fantastic representation of how a little goes a long way, for a dark story that also makes me laugh out loud, for characters who are a lot broken but you still like them anyway
Summary: On earth there are bad people, and then there are REALLY BAD people. If you’re one of the latter, you don’t just get sent to Hell, you get sent to Hell and get assigned a job collecting the souls of some of the worst people on Earth. Such is the career path of a young woman named Scarlet, who dies and is delivered down to the fiery underworld only to find herself in an entry level position as…The Grim Reaper!
Thoughts: I stumbled upon this comic recently and I am so glad I did! ‘Scarlet’ is the worst kind of sinner, and delays her eternity of damnation by becoming a grim reaper. But she’s got a quota to fill — one sinner killed per day. Things get hairy quick, though, when a rogue detective happens to find her immediately after she slices up her first kill. Mutual suspicion is had.
I absolutely adore the art style. It’s almost entirely in black, gray, and red, and it’s stunning. It fits the story so well, and you might be surprised by how much drama the scheme adds to it. Plus when we get a surprise pop of brights or pastels, it’s a dramatic punch in the face that lets you know something is seriously different. Beyond that, it’s just raw and gritty and scary in that unsettling way. Multitudes of eyeballs usually are. And you know what? A story about the grim reaper and killing sinners really should be a bit unsettling.
Recommended: yes! For those who like the supernatural-hunter kind of manga, for very clearly defined character personalities, for some intriguing lore and monsters, and of course for anyone who’s seen the Rooster Teeth production it’s based on
Summary: In the world of Remnant, monsters known as Grimm wreak havoc. They’re kept in check by Huntsmen and Huntresses, highly skilled warriors experienced in monster extermination who utilize their special abilities on the field of battle. Ruby is a ferociously talented young girl who comes to Beacon Academy to hone her skills and serve as a Huntress herself. Alongside her sister Yang Xiao Long, rival Weiss Schnee and newfound friend Blake Belladonna, Ruby leads Team RWBY, the coolest new group at Beacon! Ruby takes her first step on the road to becoming a Huntress by enrolling at Beacon Academy, eager to take on the battery of tests, challenges and difficulties that follow. Ruby knows her talents will take her to her goal, but is she ready to clash with Weiss Schnee, haughty scion of the Schnee Dust Company?
Thoughts: I’m in an unusual position I think, as I have been aware of this series since it started with Rooster Teeth. However at that time I didn’t enjoy the animation style they used, and wasn’t able to watch more than a few episodes before being turned off despite what seemed like a promising plot. So when I heard there was a manga version of it… WELL. That sounded perfect – I could finally get the story without the animation!