Review of ‘Lord of Shadows’ by Cassandra Clare

review_post_graphic_txt

At last, the wait is over, and Cassandra Clare’s second book in The Dark Artifices trilogy is out in the world! I have only been a fan of Clare’s books since the beginning of this year when I started The Mortal Instruments series, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the Shadow World. And here I am, caught up with the crowd and reviewing the latest book from the ‘queen of fantasy’! Just a quick word of warning: it’s a long one (the book, and this review!)!

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

Please do not read any further if you have not read Lord of Shadows, or any of the other Shadowhunter Chronicle books! This review contains spoilers! Continue reading

Review of ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare

review_post_graphic_txt

As you may have seen in my post, My Shadowhunter Journey, I have been absorbed into this incredible new world that I have to share with you all! Lady Midnight is the first book in The Dark Artifices trilogy, which is Cassandra Clare’s 3rd Shadowhunter series.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.
A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.
Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

My Review

From one of the most highly regarded young adult fiction writers, Cassandra Clare, Lady Midnight is Book 1 in The Dark Artifices trilogy. As well as continuing on in the Shadowhunter world, the story also bleeds into the genre of mystery, with the characters faced with a series of murders they have to solve.

Years after the Dark War, Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn are bound as parabatai, and live in the Los Angeles Institute with the rest of the Blackthorn family. After losing her parents, Emma wants to know exactly how they died all those years ago. The Clave insists Sebastian Morgenstern was behind it, but Emma has other ideas. She is determined to figure out what really happened. With the help of her parabatai and his siblings, an investigation gets underway, after some testing cicumstances for the Blackthorns and the Institute. The romance weaving into a dramatic storyline builds the character development to higher heights than previous Shadowhunter books, and also allows the reader to engage more with how this fantastical world works.

Everything that happens in Lady Midnight has been carefully structured, showing the reader what is happening, and allowing them to try and work out what is happening before the characters reach their final conclusion, like any great crime novel would. With so many different relationships and events happening throughout the plot line, the story is by no means predictable! As the characters discover more about the investigation, and about themselves, the pace continues to speed up, resulting in the climactic ending that all readers desire.

As with the majority of stories, some slower moments were to be expected, particularly when Clare briefly recaps previous stories, or more ‘mundane’ activity at the Institute, but this definitely does not take away from the excitement in the res t of the book. Everything was clearly planned and logical, with the perfect amount of threads adding up at the end, and leaving enough questions, to have readers satisfied but wanting more. Thankfully, Book 2 is here!

I absolutely loved Emma and Julian, and how their characters had developed from the 12 yr-olds we saw in parts of City of Heavenly Fire (if you haven’t read The Mortal Instruments, then you should go and do that… right now!) The way everything carried over from the first to the third series, such as the parabatai bond, the friendship, and the romance, and seeing how it has grown in the depth and detail, has really made these character realistic in a fantasy world. I also loved how members of the New York Institute, featured in series 1, made an appearance, which allowed readers loyal to the Shadowhunter Chronicles to see how they have grown and changed as well.

Despite Clare writing in the fantasy genre, she does it in a way for the stories to also stay connected to the real world, such as setting the characters in real places. The reality does not change with the characters. Yes, they are Shadowhunters and Downworlders, but the environment that surrounds them makes them seem a lot more realistic. A particular scene comes to mind, when Julian is making pancakes, which is such a normal thing to be doing, and allows the reader to be reminded that while these characters are different, they can still be relatable.

I was definitely hooked by the storyline, and the way it was written revealed just enough to raise questions to keep the reader guessing as the story progressed. My favourite part of the book was Jem revealed to Emma the secrets behind the parabatai bond, and why it is forbidden to fall in love with each other. This scene was proof that Clare is ever expanding the Shadow World and allowing us to learn new things about the intricate world she has woven. Emma’s reaction was completely appropriate, in my opinion, and sets up more to come with her relationship with Julian, mark and Cristina. Also, questions were raised at the end with Kit, and how he will fit into Lord of Shadows, which is quite an exciting prospect. The scenes written particularly well were the ones that went into specific details about the Shadow World, just because it shows how much thought has gone into Clare’s creation, and also raises ‘what if’ questions that can be developed and discovered as more Shadowhunter books are written.

There were definitely comical moments in the book, particularly those that were more mundane and seeing the characters engage in matters that they are not necessarily used to dealing with (the scene with Mark and the children in the kitchen springs to mind). There were some emotional scenes as well, but these were more heart-breaking in terms of romantic feelings, as opposed to sad, ‘characters dying’ emotion.

Reading Lady Midnight opened my eyes to the Shadow World a lot further than I thought possible, and the fantasy fiction I am living in at the moment is coming very close to the detail we see in Harry Potter. I think it is so important that we learn about fictional worlds like these, because it allows an escape from reality, and the more believable it is, the more we, as readers, are allowed to escape.

 

I would definitely recommend reading Lady Midnight, but not until you have read the 9 books that come before. Despite it being a separate series, background knowledge is a must to fully understand and appreciate the writing. Fans of fantasy will be sucked in to this one! By far the most enjoyable Shadowhunter book I have read so far!

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘Nest’ by Terry Goodkind

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review in November last year, but I’ve only just got to reading it! Despite being on a short break from blogging, any books I am sent to review I will be posting reviews of as and when I get to reading them. I was excited to read Nest because the concept sounded great, and I wanted to start the year off with an exciting thriller! I had read good and bad reviews, so I just decided I would push them away and make what I wanted out of it.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

img_0105

‘Nest’ by Terry Goodkind

Kate Bishop thought she was an ordinary woman living and working in Chicago. But when she unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a police investigation into a brutal murder, Kate makes a shocking discovery: she has the ability to identify killers just by looking into their eyes.

Trying to grasp the implications of this revelation, Kate is drawn deep into a world of terror. She is tracked down by Jack Raines, a mysterious author with shadowy connections to those who share her ability. He tells Kate that her unique vision also makes her a target, and only he can help her.

Now, hot on Jack and Kate’s heels are a force of super-predators, vicious and bloodthirsty killers who will stop at nothing until Kate is dead. But even as she fights for her life, Kate still isn’t sure if Jack is really her salvation, or another killer coming to slaughter her.

An explosive mix of action and suspense, Nest is a landmark new novel from worldwide bestselling author Terry Goodkind, and a complete reinvention of the contemporary thriller. Travel with Goodkind on a dangerous journey to the back alleys of the darknet, to the darkest corners of our minds, and to the very origins of what it is to be human.

My Review

Nest is a thriller novel, bordering on horror, set in Chicago. The book follows Kate Bishop after the murder of her brother, when she finds out she has a special ability to identify a killer by looking into their eyes. The story takes the reader on a journey through how she comes to terms with this ability, and with this, discovers the evil lurking everywhere around her, impossible to escape. She meets Jack Raines, and author specialising in helping people with Kate’s particular ability in identifying evil and helping the world understand evil in a way they never thought about it before. This book will keep you up at night, even hours after you have closed the book.

There was so much more to this book than I was expecting, yet I still have mixed emotions about it. There was so many good parts that made the book inexplicably thrilling, but other times when the writing was not as good, and the detail went into unnecessary depth. The events in the book were in no way predictable; there was a lot I didn’t see coming, but also parts of the book that didn’t really need to be there, especially not to the extent that they were, to aid the understand of the overall book. The ending was certainly climactic, almost ending on a cliffhanger that makes me think there should be something more to come. Not necessarily in the form of a full book, but a novella could be appropriate to tie things up a bit. The pacing was unusual, I think, because of the very in depth descriptions. There were extremely tense and fast paced thrilling points, which could be followed by some dull explanations that in the end could have been condensed down into half the amount of pages they took. Don’t get me wrong, there were many thrilling points that really had me hooked, but other parts of the book that let the overall suspense of the novel down a little.

 

There was plenty of character development in Nest, with plenty of characters to follow. There were also several character surprises! My favourite character was probably AJ, despite following Kate through the entire book, and really feeling her character, AJ had a real likeable quality to her character. Jack’s character was extremely interesting and the way his character was built up was amazing, so credit to Goodkind for character development! The storyline was a little bit far fetched, even for a thriller, but the characters remained feeling very real to me as I read the book.

I was definitely kept guessing, especially after the major plot point about half way through the book that completely through me off and had me thinking what an earth could happen now! I don’t think I could pick out a favourite part of the book, because while the book was thrilling and somewhat suspenseful, there were points when the writing was a bit haphazard, and also some extremely graphic detailing that planted some horrifying images in my mind that I unfortunately won’t be forgetting soon enough. It’s all very well writing and/or reading a thriller, but sometimes descriptions can be taken a bit too far for the readers liking, especially when not pre-warned! I was closes to crying a certain points for varying reasons, mostly shock and horror.

Lastly, one quality that did strike me as unusual for a thriller is how much I learned about things from it. Usually a thriller is focused on a  particular case that is then hopefully solved in the end, but this book gave so much more in the way people look at the world and what people know about the lurking in their surroundings. It opened my eyes to some things that I never considered and gave me things to think about as I read.

I would recommend reading Nest, not highly, but if you are looking for a thriller and don’t mind some graphic scenes then this might be for you. I would urge you to battle through the parts that drag on because it is worth it in the end, but that’s one of the only thing that brought this book rating down for me.

My Rating: 3.5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

Barnes and Noble

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘Atomic Number Sixty’ by Dave Johnston

I was sent a copy of Atomic Number Sixty to review, and accepted because it was a fairly short novel, and had the possibility to be action packed. There were ups and downs in this book for me, but the end was definitely exciting!

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


‘Atomic Number Sixty’ by Dave Johnston 

Holly Holloway is locked in a dusty room, strapped to a ticking bomb. 

What would you do, if you only had one hour left to live?

My Review

Atomic Number Sixty is a thrilling novella that follows Holly in two different times; before and during her time with a bomb strapped to her. The events are unpredictable with a definite climactic ending. The way the chapters are written make you want to keep reading until the end, as they are short and keep switching between times. Everything was extremely fast paced an logical, with everything adding up at the end of this very short but rollercoaster of a novella.

Holly was an easily likeable person from the beginning, which was good seeing as the book followed her as the main character. The book being a novella, it was difficult for any real character developent to take place, but Johnston still managed to get plenty of personality in what little time he had. As much as the situation was not incredibly realistic, and the development of characters, there was a certain sense of realism in the story, which I feel was made by the points when Holly was living life before being strapped to the bomb. 

I was definitely kept guessing until the very end, and was not expecting the massive twist at the end, which really topped this novella off for me. I don’t often read novellas, becase they are short and don’t have a lot of room for development, but what I really like about this one was it was fast paced, down to the point, and still managed to get key points and characteristics in too. The entire part of the book that was explicitly focused on Holly and the bomb was well written, because it completely hid the fact that anything would happen apart from her blowing up. 

I would definitely recommend this for any lover of thrillers, and anyone who needs a quick read. It is possible to read this in one sitting, and addictive enough as well!

My Rating: 4.5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘The Darkest Secret’ by Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret is a fairly recent release, only being published earlier in 2016, but I just couldn’t wait to read it! However, because of the amount of work I had to do, I made my way through it quite slowly, but my reading definitely had nothing to do with the gripping plotline!

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


‘The Darkest Secret’ by Alex Marwood

When three-year-old identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.

But what really happened to Coco during her father’s 50th birthday weekend?
Set across two weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second, at the funeral of Coco’s father, where at last, the darkest of secrets will be revealed…

My Review

The Darkest Secret is a mystery thriller book set in England, and follows several characters in their telling of different parts of the story. Set at different times, the weekend Coco goes missing and the weekend of her father’s funeral, the reader slowly gets to unravel the mystery from each character’s perspective. Everything that happens is logical, and everything added up at the end, which is always a satisfying end to any nivel, especially thrillers! Of course, with every good thriller comes unpredictability and the all important climactic ending, which both made a strong appearance in this novel! In fact, one major plot point that tied everything together happened on the very last page, which definitely kept the suspense going until the very end, literally!

There were so many characters involved, which sometimes made it difficult to keep up with who was who, but also madenit more exciting, because there were more witnesses with stories of their own to tell. My favourite characters were Milly/Mila and Ruby, because of their sisterly relationship that developed over the course of the novel, and the genuine nature of their characters. All of the characters were very well developed and felt quite life like, but it also helped that the circumstances in which everything happened was quite realistic as well.

I was always kept guessing throughout the book! It started off quite slow, and the main plot points didn’t really start to kick in until about half way through the book, but once they did I was turning every possibility over in my head. My favourite part of the book was when Ruby and Milly are going through the jewellery, as I found that to be the point where everything kicked off and really started rolling along a lot faster. The cliffhangers at the end of chapters were written particularly well, because the following chapter would always be jumping to the other part of the story on the other weekend, so it kept me reading to find out what was going to happen. It could also get quite emotional at times, especially towards the end when everything came to light.

I would definitely recommend this to any mystery fan, especially if you want to be hanging on until the very last page. Make sure you give this book the time it deserves, unlike me, as it would be very possible to read in one sitting because it is so gripping!

My Rating: 4.5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘Sister’ by Rosamund Lupton

I think I picked up Sister second hand (like quite a few of my books!) and it’s another one I’ve been putting off reading for quite a while. After reading it, however, I don’t know why that was the case!

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

8196732

‘Sister’ by Rosamund Lupton

Nothing can break the bond between sisters …When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister’s life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face.The police, Beatrice’s fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

My Review

Sister is a crime thriller that follows Beatrice on her journey to find out what happened to her sister, Tess. Set in Britain (yay!), the novel explores how Beatrice goes about defying everything that is said to her to uncover the truth, because she knew her sister better than anyone, and understands that something is not quite right. Everything that happens is told through Beatrice’s narrative, which gives a proper emotional connection to her as the main character, which is very important in novels like this. The story was by no means predictable, the description definitely doesn’t give anything away whatsoever! The ending was so climactic that it continued until the very end, finishing on that high feeling of shock and wonder. The plot was fast paced and, as with all good thrillers, everything added up at the end to contribute to that shocking feeling when everything is finally revealed.

As well as having an emotional connection with Beatrice through her strong narrative, I also felt quite close with Tess, even though she doesn’t feature as a proper character in the book, more of an ‘illusion’ I guess. Even her character was richly developed enough for me to know about her life and personality. The characters definitely had a life like quality to them, bringing each character alive when they were mentioned with another new thing to add to their list of traits that make them seem like a real person.

The story definitely kept me guessing! While you could have a punt at ‘who dunnit?’ throughout the book, nothing is truly revealed until the last few chapters. My favourite part of the book was when I thought I had found out who had committed the crime, and having that realisation that it may not quite be how it is on the paper, and of course it never is! I love that feeling of knowing something isn’t quite right! The whole narrative was so carefully formed and it was written so well that nothing was every given away, but subtle hints were always dropped! The scenes towards the end when things started to become clear where particularly well written, as everything slowly comes to light, one by one, the foreshadows are revealed. I was hooked on this book into the late hours of the night, and binge read the last 100 or so pages in one sitting!

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of thrillers or mystery books, and also anyone interested in more scientific crime novels (trying not to spoil any plot points!) It is such an intriguing, well written package tied up in a neat bow that is waiting to be unravelled!

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘Her’ by Harriet Lane

I picked up Her when I was on holiday last year, as I had seen it in a bookstore when it was first published and it sounded like a really good read. I have since been very put off by the cover, and it’s overall Goodreads rating, but I thought I should probably just suck it up and see why everyone thought it wasn’t very good.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

her

‘Her’ by Harriet Lane

Two women; two different worlds.

Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold.

Nina is sophisticated and independent – entirely in control.

When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn’t the first time the women’s paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did. 

But what exactly does Nina want from her? 

And how far will she go in pursuit of it?

My Review

Her is described as a thriller novel that follows the story of Emma and Nina. Nina remembers Emma, for a reason not yet known to us, but Emma doesn’t remember Nina. The plot line explores their developing relationship, and how Nina tries to draw Emma into her life and find out more about her, whilst knowing this secret about her that isn’t revealed until the very end of the book. Don’t get too excited though! While the story was unpredictable, the main bulk of the story was set up for a massive climax at the end, which was disappointingly not there. The book in itself was fairly well paced for a thriller novel, but I feel like the author could have done a lot more with the ending than she actually did. I was in the position where I was thinking ‘there aren’t enough pages left for everything to happen’ and the reason being that those things just didn’t happen. I felt like there was no closure whatsoever for the entirety of the storyline. It all seemed logical but nothing was really tied up in the end, which left me feeling extremely disappointed and frustrated!

Despite saying that about the anti-climactic ending, the rest was the story was surprisingly OK. I always found Emma to be a scatty mother of 2, always trying to keep on top of everything in a very realistic way, and I found Nina to have some creepy stalker traits which I’m guessing was the point of her character. The characterisation made it feel much more realistic than the story allowed it to be. I was constantly trying to guess how Nina knew Emma, and how the story would end with the two characters, and while I haven’t been left confused, I just wish there was a bit more to get excited about in the end.

My favourite parts of the book where the chapters from Nina’s perspective because of the way the story was written. Emma would describe everything from her point of view, with Nina included in the narrative, and then Nina would describe exactly what happened on her end and why she did certain things, which I think added to her creepy personality. The character descriptors where written particularly well, which added to the realistic-ness of their personalities. I wasn’t really struck with any particular emotions when reading the book, but then I never really expected to be. The main feeling I expect from thrillers is the sense of shock and realisation when something is revealed, but, for obvious reasons, I didn’t get this! I was kept turning the pages because I wanted to find out the whats and whys of everything, so Lane did well in that respect to kept me hooked, but, if the ending is anything to go by, she didn’t do it for any particular reason.

I’d love to say I would recommend you go and read this book, but I really don’t think the excitement of the build up is worth it. It’s more of a ‘I don’t know what to read so I’ll just pick this up and hope it’s good’ type of book. Sorry for the disappointment!

My Rating: 3.5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)