Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “demons”

Amanda6′s #CBR4 Review 43-45: The Mortal Instruments 1-3 by Cassandra Clare

This review covers the “original” trilogy of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass. More books have been written and the series is up to five now; I have no idea how long the author intends for the series to run at this point.

Look at those covers — aren’t they kind of hilarious? Anyway, being the dedicated Tumblr user that I am, I couldn’t help but notice the fervor over these, particularly with the movie adaptation currently filming and slated for release in spring 2013. Turns out, I’m way behind on this phenomenon, since City of Bones was first released in 2008. Anyway. Onto the actual review-y stuff.

Set in modern New York, the series concerns the re-education of “mundane” Clary Fray, who grew up much like you and I, blind to the supernatural worlds that exist intertwined with ours. That changes one evening at a nightclub when she witnesses a group of Shadowhunters engaged in a bit of demon-slaying. Shadowhunters are humans that are angel-blessed and have the ability (and responsibility) to fight demons and other forces of evil. Shadowhunters are born only from the established bloodline of known Shadowhunters, so when the supposedly-normal Clary is able to see what ordinary humans, called “mundanes,” cannot, the Shadowhunter group takes her back to their lair. Meanwhile, her mother is kidnapped, as it turns out, by demons, and Clary and her new companions, along with her other mundane friend Simon, learn Clary’s true heritage and begin a quest to rescue her mother.

This is basically the setup for the first three books in the series, which has everything you would expect from a supernatural YA series: the epic and passionate romance that appears delayed by insurmountable circumstances and kind of leads to a love triangle, except that you’re never quite convinced that there is really any competition; the showdown between good and evil, which in this case is led by a former Shadowhunter-turned-bad; appearances from vampires, warlocks, werewolves, and faeries — etc, etc. There is also a lot of meta humor and current pop culture references, which make the books fun now but will probably lead to them seeming really dated in another few years.

Overall, yes, these were really fun. I read all three over the course of a single weekend, and I can understand why teenagers (aka, the actual target market for YA) have gone rabid over them. I really enjoyed the world-building and fast paced plot, both of which kept me engaged and caused me to want to zip through these quickly. The romance was fun too, due to a legitimately surprising twist, which keeps them “apart” for a good 2/3 of the trilogy and makes for some deliciously conflicted sexual tension. The writing itself was kind of hokey and immature, and didn’t really achieve the same kind of character depth or development that, say, Collins does in The Hunger Games, or even that THG would-be competitors like Divergent (Roth) do. What the characters lack in depth, though, they make up for in sassy quips. Again, these lend themselves to fun, quick reads rather than truly thought-provoking YA, but I’m not really complaining. One of the things that the Cannonball has done for me is taken away a bit of my prejudice regarding “serious” books. If I’m trying to read at least 52 books in a year, I owe myself a few silly fun ones along the way! So that’s what I recommend to this audience. The Mortal Instruments make a great palate-cleanser as part of the Cannonball: you’ll probably enjoy them, even if they don’t “stay with you,” as they say. And if this kind of stuff is actually right up your alley, you’ve probably already read them, since like I said, I’m late to this game.

Valyruh’s #CBR4 Review #77 & 78: Bloodring and Host by Faith Hunter

There is such a flood of post-apocalyptic fantasy out there that I thought I’d take a look and see what all the fuss is about. I found Bloodring among the library freebies and thought the premise interesting and began to read. Unfortunately, I discovered too late that this is a trilogy and was only able to get access to the first and third books of the series. Nonetheless, I think between the two novels, Bloodring and Host, I gave the genre a fair shake and can honestly say that this is not my cup of tea.

Hunter can write fairly well and has a vivid imagination, to be sure. She also has the most mixed-up and confused plot I think I’ve ever come across. In a nutshell, the future earth has been subjected to a war of annihilation by a race of Seraphs (aka the High Host), who are either avenging angels conducting a purge of mankind on the authority of God or are aliens from another time and/or place, trying to take over the planet. It’s never quite clear. In the aftermath of the war, which has left the Earth in a new ice age, children were born with special gifts surfacing at puberty. These “mages,” seen initially as witches by human survivors, are confined to enclaves where they are licensed to practice their varied crafts in isolation from humans. Evil—in various and sundry forms—has been subdued temporarily, but is gaining strength and allies and threatening to burst anew upon the scene. The Seraphs continue to hover over everything, watching and keeping their distance….sort of.

The main protagonist of the trilogy is Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage with the unique ability to hear the thoughts of all other mages simultaneously. To protect her from going insane, her mentor smuggles her out of her childhood enclave and into a distant human town, where she works—unlicensed and therefore under threat of death if discovered—as a jeweler with a strange collection of partners who turn out to be only semi-human themselves. Thorn seems to be fated as the savior of everyone—and that includes humans, mages, and the High Host—and both novels boil down to a non-stop series of intense and terrifying battles of Thorn and her allies vs. evil spawn of every description, with a few connecting chapters that tend to center around Thorn going into heat (yes, heat, like an animal!) every time she’s around a Seraph or its ilk. Enough said.

The series is heavily overlaid with religious references, and at first I thought there was some profound philosophizing going on about heaven, hell and the existence of God, but by the time I had finished the second book, I had decided that author Hunter either thinks she is creating some new kind of post-apocalyptic fantasy genre for Christians, or she’s exploiting the Christian overtones for more commercial purposes. In either case, I think she needs to go back to the drawing board, strip out about 50% of the extraneous characters she peoples her novels with, and get a clearer handle on the message she is trying to send out to her readers. Because, let me tell you, this was one mighty confused reader by the end.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review#77: Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

This is the final book (at least so far) in Kelley Armstrong’sWomen of the Otherworld series. This review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series, and anyone who hasn’t read Kelley Armstrong before, would be better off starting with Bitten, Dime Store Magic, Haunted, Personal Demon or Spell Bound.

Thirteen starts pretty much immediately after the cliffhanger ending of Waking the Witch. Savannah Levine has rescued her half-brother from a renegade group of supernaturals determined to reveal their existence to the world. They’ve injected Savannah’s half-brother with some something containing the DNA of several supernatural races, and it’s making him really sick. Savannah and her friends need to make sure that the Supernatural Liberation Movement don’t succeed in their plan, but with powerful forces involved, both on the demonic and angelic sides, the struggle could turn into an all-out war, and that would be very bad for humans and supernaturals alike.

As a fan of Kelley Armstrong since 2004, it was both nice and a bit strange to readThirteen, the culmination of all her Women of the Otherworld books. Like the previous book in the series, this book features pretty much every major character in the series, both protagonists of previous books and a large cast of supporting characters. As such, I doubt it’ll be very satisfying to anyone for whom this is their first foray into Armstrong’s supernatural universe. Armstrong writes good heroines, and no one can say that she has cookie cutter characters. While the quality of the series has been a bit varied (I went off it for a bit, only to go back and rediscover why I loved it a few years back), this is a solid ending, and it was great to see all the former heroines and heroes working together towards a common goal.

Savannah, who started out as a supporting character in Stolen and Dime Store Magic wasn’t always a very likable character, and even annoyed me quite a bit in the previous two books in Armstrong’s final trilogy. Yet it was obviously carefully calculated by the author, to show just how much growing and development the character had left to do. I’d rather a character had too many flaws, rather than none and it’s always nice when they develop and mature into someone better after a series of trial and tribulations.

If you’ve read some or all of Armstrong’s other books in this series, then you’ll probably enjoy this one a lot. If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and check out one of the earlier ones I mentioned, they’re some of the finest paranormal fantasy out there.

Also published on my blog.

Teresaelectro’s CBR4 Review #2 – Saint City Sinners by Lilith Saintcrow

I’ve been steadily researching the paranormal romance/mystery genre for some time as I plot my post-MA writing endeavor. I breezed through Charlaine Harris’ True Blood oeuvre (yes, Deadlocked is in fact winging its way to my door this second) last year. In attempt to cleanse my literary supernatural palette, I delved into Working for the Devil, the first book in the Danny Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow.Fast forward 6 months and I’m neck deep into the fourth book!

Ms. Valentine is a necromancer, bounty hunter and assassin if the money is right. She speaks to the dead to catch killers by hearing the story from the ghost horse’s mouth. She is also handy with a sword ala’ Black Mamba in Kill Bill.

Read rest of my review at:  Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #19: A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

This is book 10 in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series. You don’t want to start the series with this book, trust me. If you’re interested, go pick up Dead Witch Walking. Don’t read this review, it will contain spoilers for earlier books in the series, it’s unavoidable.

You’d think Rachel Morgan’s life would be easier once she got her shunning rescinded and the Coven for Moral and Ethical standards off her back? Unfortunately, no. Rachel is currently registered as legally dead, and has no social security number, no bank account, no driver’s licence and is generally finding local bureaucracy less than helpful. On public record as a “good” demon, she wears a bracelet of charmed silver to cut herself off from her leyline powers, and thus also any ability to do demon magic. Yet someone out there is abducting witches, torturing and killing them, and making it look like a demon’s work. Rachel will be blamed if she can’t help the I.S and the FIB track down the real culprits.

The culprits in question seem to be part of a human hate group determined to rid the world of all supernatural races. They want to use demon magic to do this, and are trying to synthesise demon blood. If they were to get their hands on the newly power neutered Rachel, they’d be much closer to their goals. Despite the advice of her bodyguard (Rachel’s parents don’t really trust her to keep herself out of danger any longer), and her long time associates, Rachel puts herself right into the path of danger once again, and has to trust in her friends to get her out of trouble.

To say that Rachel has changed a lot since the first book of the series would be an understatement. She’s not even the same species as she was. Rachel’s naturally scared about the changes her life has taken, and her two closest friends, Ivy and Jenks, both seem to be moving on with their lives, leaving her feeling all the more lonely. She’s terrified of Al and the other demons discovering that she is still alive if she takes the bracelet off, yet clearly can’t function properly by cutting herself off from a major source of her own powers. After going on a road trip with, and sharing a very intimate moment with her former nemesis Trent, at the end of Pale Demon, she’s also forced to reevaluate her relationship with him. When pretty much all the world were willing to condemn her, he stood by her side, and he keeps offering to help her, even at the risk of his own life. As Rachel’s come to realise over the course of the books that there is very little black and white, and oh so many shades of grey, and that she herself is has to decide what is “good” and “evil” – Trent has had to make a lot of difficult decisions, and may not be a bad guy even though he’s done some fairly ruthless things in the past.

While I think Harrison is a horrible tease, it’s as of yet unclear if Trent is moving from becoming Rachel’s enemy and some time reluctant ally, to being her new love interest. Rachel certainly spends a LOT of time thinking about how silky his hair is for someone she doesn’t have any romantic feelings for. As a huge fan of Trent, I have no problem with more time being spent developing his character and friendship with Rachel, which is a large part of what happens in this book. The structure of the book is a bit meandering and the plot could probably be a lot tighter and more streamlined. But I read these books mainly to spend time with Rachel and all the other extremely colourful supernatural creatures of The Hollows, so I don’t really mind if the narrative takes a few detours, especially when I get Trent and Rachel spending more time together, bantering and facing off against common enemies. Al and the other demons barely get an appearance in this book, though. I hope that changes in the next one.

 Originally published on my blog:

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