Monday, December 29, 2014

Review of Ghost by Carole Cummings

If there is one pet peeve I have when reading, it is when an author has created so many different terms and names that you NEED a glossary just to keep track of everything.  I much prefer when an author builds the world around you, rather than throwing you into the deep end without a flotation device.

That being said, I really enjoyed the story that Carole Cummings has written in Ghost, the first book in the Wolf's-own series.  It is a well planned and wonderfully executed fantasy novel.  The world building happens from page one and is hyper-speed-paced, which is why you need the glossary, but it is also a vivid world with characters, locations, religions, and more that drew me right in!

Now, fantasy is one of my all-time favorite genres to read, but Ghost has a refreshing complexity to it that I just can't get out of my mind.  Even when I'm wasn't actively reading about Malick and Fen, I found myself worrying about the events happening around them and how things would turn out in the end.

One of the Jin people, it was foretold that Fen would become an Untouchable (Ghost).  As an Untouchable, Fen is able to hear the voices of his people's Ancestors and can only wait for the day that those voices inevitably drive him insane.

Taken from his family as a child, Fen is trained as an assassin by Asai, the man who rules his life and who is also a powerful member of the Adan people (who keep the Jin).  But Asai's plans for Fen and his people are darker than anything he could ever have imagined.  When he discovers just how far Asai is willing to go, Fen rushes to rescue and hide his twin brother and younger siblings, but is unable to save his mother.  Soon afterwards, Fen is ambushed by Malick and the group of mercenaries/assassins that he leads.

Unable to escape, Fen is pulled into Malick's scheming and will soon have to decide if he wants to forever be a pawn in the games of others or if he will choose his own path and embrace the power that only he can wield.

An interesting part of the story is that Fen has learned that he can ignore the voices of the Ancestors by cutting himself.  As someone who lives with a diagnosis of self-injury, cutting in particular (though I've been SI free for three years now), this was something that made Fen all the more real to me.  I was able to connect with his character, because I know what it's like to want the voices to stop.

Ghost pulled me right in and made me want desperately to know what would happen next and how Fen and Malick's relationship would grow.  However, be warned that this book ends in a cliffhanger and you'll be dying to read book two.  Make sure you have it on hand!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review of City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Book three of the Mortal Instruments story is full of unexpected (but not undesirable) twists and turns and while I sort of had one of the big plots twists figured out, the way that events actually unfolded was SO worth the read.  You're gonna enjoy it, I promise.

In City of Glass Clary makes her way to Alicante, the ancestral home and capitol city of the Shadowhunters, where she learns more about her family's past and the (sometimes dark) secrets they've kept, the decisions her father made that we are only just now seeing the effects of, and discovers a way to save her mother, Joceline.

Clary is still far too impulsive, always running headlong into danger without taking even half of a second to consider who might be hurt by her decisions.  This is one of the traits I don't like about Clary but I would like to think that her heart is in the right place.  When she isn't thinking about herself, nearly all of her choices are driven by her desire to help those she cares about.

I feel that Cassandra Clare is far more brilliant an author than I was expecting or originally thought.  As the series continues, things we heard about in book one are finally being explained even as new questions and mysteries are unfolding.  She is really quite good at both world-building and continuing the Mortal Instruments story through many books.  If you stop reading, or try to skip forward a few pages, I can guarantee you will miss out on a great story-line and vital information.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

In City of Bones, Clary Fray sees what she believes to be a murder committed right before her eyes and discovers that there is a whole other world beyond what she knows.  A world that she has been hidden and protected from, and one that her mother has kept secret for her entire life.  With these unexpected and somewhat unwanted revelations coming to light, Clary has to decide if she's going to step up and be a part of this new world or continue hiding from it.

Initially, it was hard for me to get into this book. Clary is such a whiny teenager!  I've long since grown out of that stage of life and it was far too annoying for me to read.  I had to put this book down for an afternoon in order to accept that Clary is a kid dealing with things that are entirely beyond the realm of normal.  After that, it was quite easy to fall into the world of Shadowhunters, mages, werewolves, and more.

I'm excited to see what happens with Clary, Jace, and everyone else in book two of The Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review of The Course of True Love (and First Dates) by Cassandra Clare

The Course of True Love (and First Dates) is a short novella and a part of the larger Bane Chronicles that shows Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood's first date and the chaos that ensues, in addition to a glimpse at how Magnus views Alec.  It was an interesting read, but mainly left me wanting both better writing and a better story for these two characters.

While there were some really good bits in this novella, it mostly felt rushed and untidy, as if Cassandra Clare was struggling to meet a deadline.  I was left wanting the rough edges polished and smoothed out.

The following is one example of how good Clare can be with words.  It reads just like poetry, as if she were painting with words.
“If Jace was gold, catching the light and the attention, Alec was silver: so used to everyone else looking at Jace that that was where he looked to, so used to living in Jace’s shadow that he didn’t expect to be seen. Maybe it was enough to be the first person to tell Alec that he was worth being seen ahead of anyone in a room, and of being looked at the longest. And silver, thought few people knew it, was a rarer metal than gold.”
I'm working through the Mortal Instruments books and they seem to be better written and much less rushed, for which I am glad because I really wanted to enjoy the series.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Review of What Maisie Knew

Just finished watching What Maisie Knew and it's actually quite brilliant. While it's terribly sad and the way that Maisie's parents treat her like a possession that's only around as a way to one-up each other is disgusting, the acting is AMAZING and the story that's told just pulls you right in. I don't think I could have walked away from my computer screen, not even if I tried.