Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
Book Five of The Mortal Instruments
Published May 8, 2012

Review: 4.5 of 5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away—not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s dying magic has wrought—Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine’s evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace’s friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved — and that the fate of the Shadowhunters’ future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell — a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

City of Lost Souls! The fifth installment of The Mortal Instruments and truly one of the best yet. It combines treachery, crumbling relationships, and new and more deadly secrets unseen in previous TMI books. The blurb tells a lot about the book and what happens, so I'll skip over all this and get right to what I loved about City of Lost Souls. And also, what I didn't like (which wasn't much).

City of Lost Souls is a combination of stories, as most other TMI books are. Jace and Clary. Clary and Sebastian. Sebastian and Jace. Simon and Izzy. Alec and Magnus. And one of the newer stories created in City of Fallen Angels, Jordan and Maia. This book is proof that you can tell one story from many views, and as much as personally not caring for multiple points of view storytelling (in my writing), Clare has always made it work. I prefer, like many other writers, to tell the story from one protagonist. While Clary is most certainly the protagonist, Clare assures that she is not always the most important character to the story. There is a constant balance.

In this book, however, I didn't care for Jordan and Maia's story. It's more a love affair than anything. Unlike the other characters who we've known since City of Bones, Jordan and Maia have just entered into the game in City of Fallen Angels. There hasn't been enough time to develop them as being important, and yet Clare gives them equal face time through the book. I would have preferred that Jordan remains nothing more than Simon's roommate in the book, but it appears his involvement with a Downworlder group called the Praetor Lupus (a strange school-like system for Werewolves) may have more importance in City of Heavenly Fire.

That said, the conclusion of City of Lost Souls is phenomenal. Sebastian's end goal is revealed and without revealing much, devoted fans of this series will be both craving and hating Clare for making us wait until 2014 for the final installment of The Mortal Instruments. I expect City of Heavenly Fire to be emotionally compromising for all readers. I expect that, like in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we'll see important people die. In my honest opinion, very important people. I don't want to think about it truthfully. I want to forget about TMI until City of Heavenly Fire and fall in love all over again with the final piece of the story.

There are even easter eggs that appear from The Infernal Devices series, such as this line: "...; a pendant in the shape of an angel whose wings were clockwork cogs and gears." (From Clary's point of view as she investigates a secret room in the Institute.) There is also a mention of Will Herondale in a letter in Magnus's possession.

Overall, City of Lost Souls satisfies greatly. It's sad, funny, and incredibly in depth. 

Peace and Writing Love,


Next up for review:

The Enchantress by Michael Scott

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Book Two in the Divergent Trilogy
Published May 1, 2012

Review: 5/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads.


One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Insurgent has finally hit the shelves and I was so excited for the release. I was actually forcing myself to finish a previously started book so I can start Insurgent, even through it's release occurred during the time of the previous reading. Let me tell you, it was a struggle.

That aside, INSURGENT! Holy shit. Yeah, holy shit! Veronica Roth truly upped the stakes from Divergent and Insurgent completely takes a direction of its own. In my review of Divergent, I commented how it had the depth reminiscent of The Hunger Games. That is more true for Insurgent than Catching Fire, in my opinion. As the back flap preview reveals, war is upon the factions. Their conflicting ideologies culminated to the resolution of Divergent and now, Tris has so much to handle. For a sixteen year old girl, battling a love interest, the torturous events of Divergent's resolution, and now this war, Roth proved herself by developing Tris on a whole new level.

Tris is very well balanced in this book as compared to the first. And that is to be expected, I suppose. She now has all this conflict, enemies, new allies, and most importantly, secrets that will shape her future, speeding at her on a bullet train. However, she handled it wonderfully and not once did I think Tris was developing in way more than another. 

The most interesting part about Insurgent is all the new discoveries that are made. With this war brewing, which eventually comes to fruition (no surprise there, so I don't consider it a spoiler), Tris learns more about herself and family and what it really means to be an individual. But, not just an individual: one of the strongest and most capable Divergent minds in their population. The conclusion of Insurgent is so beyond my ability to tell without spoilers, that I simply have to leave you with this: 

The factions, for as long as they've existed, were simply a framework for something more massive that was, is and will be expected of all faction members who survive the war. Their ideologies, the structure of how they operate and ultimately what caused the war, is hinted in the resolution as the cure for the rest of the world's problems. And that is all I can say.

Insurgent is brilliant writing by Roth. The story and the characters take on a new level of depth, and the relationships in this book compared to Divergent is one of the most rewarding parts of reading it. Besides the amazing story and the fabulous world, it's the blooming and crumbling relationships of all the characters that made me devour this book. 

I eagerly await the third book in the trilogy, which now that I'm looking on the horizon and I can see where this is leading, I have a guess as to what the third title will be. I'm guessing Convergent, as some other readers have also guessed.

Peace and Writing Love,


Next up for review:
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Tricked by Kevin Hearne
Book Four of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Published April 24, 2012
ISBN: 0345533623

Review: 4/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads

Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.

In the fourth installment of the Iron Druid Chronicles, we're brought back into the world of Atticus O'Sullivan, the world's last Druid. Strike that: the world's last BAD-ASS Druid. And bad-ass he is. So, as in the first three books, Atticus seemingly walks into this big problem. In all truth, the first three books could have been labeled Tricked: parts 1 through 3, and probably would have been a fitting title.

All joking aside, Tricked is full of new magic that I was not expecting. When I first read that Coyote, a returning character of Navajo decent was going to be a major player in this book, I was skeptical. Because I really didn't like Coyote. In this book, Coyote is defined as the Trickster and truly does dupe Atticus into a life-or-death match against skinwalkers.

However, these badass mofos aren't like the skinwalkers defined in, say, a series like Supernatural. Oh no! These skinwalkers come from a place called Black World, which in the Navajo religion is a realm of evil. It's where the most power spirits dwell, all children of First Man and First Woman. They have multiple forms, which also makes them different than normal shapeshifters. When it becomes clear that Atticus has no choice but to fight these skinwalkers, that's when all the awesomeness happens.

Kevin Hearne shows his brilliant storytelling yet again by delving into the Navajo magic system and religion. This is what really made Tricked a great read. The magic here is all about wards, purity, and strengthening one's body where as other magic, as most books have conditioned us to believe, is an outward force for offense or defense. It was a very nice change of pace.

The only qualm I have with Tricked is how off track it became at times. And maybe that's not even the best way to describe it. There are three storylines happening here: Atticus versus the skinwalkers, Atticus versus the vampire population in Flagstaff, AZ, and Atticus versus Hel (Loki's daughter). While in the end it all wrapped up very nicely, I wanted less perhaps. I wasn't entirely convinced the vampire bit was needed. However, as the blurb from the flap reads, "betrayal comes from an unlikely source," there's your clue that maybe this little scuttle with the vampire population will become a big deal in the fifth installment of IDC.

Overall, I still loved Tricked. Mainly for how specific all the magic usage is in the book. Atticus starts using different levels of Druidry, the Navajo magic was just a spectacular experience, and then there's just Atticus wielding Moralltach.

Before I finish here, I must share my favorite line of the book: It references A Christmas Story, which is my favorite holiday classic: "His eyes were glowing egg yolks, burning Scut Farkus eyes."

Peace and Writing Love,


Next up for review:
Insurgent by Veronica Roth