“Life and death: Twilight reimagined” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** 2016. Little, Brown and Company. 387 p.

LifeAndDeath“Twilight”, the beloved story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2015. In this version, Meyer worked a little creativity into the original story by casting a female vampire, Edyth Cullen, into Edward’s role, while handsome Beau Swan replaces Bella as her irresistible human love interest.

Most of the original adventures of these love struck lovers in the little town of Forks unfolds before readers as we see Edyth through the eyes of Beau, who is struck dumb by Edyth’s beauty. Readers have the chance to see their love story live again through Beau’s eyes as she sweeps him into the heights of ecstasy as only an enticing vampire can do.

I will admit that readers should expect a few surprises in this version, but I won’t give them away. You’ll have to read to the very last exciting page to find out to what I refer. Like me, you might get inspired to read the series all over again.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“The Boy” Madhuri Blaylock

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. 2014. The Sanctum, book #2. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Publishing.)

TheBoyWith Wyatt dead from their portal travel to the land of the Ramyan, Dev becomes beholden to Qi to do all he can to return Wyatt to the land of the living. However, Dev doesn’t know that bringing Wyatt back from the dead will have unforeseen consequences which will cause both of them to question everything they hold dear.

In the meantime, while Dev and Wyatt fight their own battles, Ryker’s character is explored in more detail. After coming across as gentle, loving and kind it is a shock to learn he has been secretly killing Magicals. As readers struggle with Ryker’s behavior, Ava and Max Breslin continue scheming to bring down the Clayworths as Head of the New York Academy. Lastly Darby’s heart and various loves are explored in great detail.

I received “The Boy” as part of a promised book review for the Diverse Book Tours blog. I found it to be more blood thirsty and violent as well as more sexual in nature than book one. In addition I was left with a few unanswered questions such as “How did Darby figure out what Jedda was doing when all she had as a clue was her lover’s cryptic words?” and “How did Jools get close enough to Jedda to raise blood on his neck when, previously, Darby was furiously keeping everyone away from him with a very well aimed whip?” With the protective behavior she had been exhibiting, it felt inconsistent to have Jools be allowed to approach Jedda with knife in hand and not have Darby say or do anything about it.

I was able to look past some of the self published author’s usual spelling errors (such as writing “taught” for “taut,” and other errors) because the book had an interesting plot line. I would be interested in reading part three “The Prophecy,” so I could see what finally happens to the evil Breslins as well as to Dev, Wyatt, the Ramyan warriors and the rest of The Sanctum.

Recommended for ages 16 and older.

“The Girl” Madhuri Blaylock

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. (Also available in paperback). 2014. The Sanctum, book #1. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Services.)

TheGirlDev is half demon and half angel, and has been living in India while training to be a warrior. For years her parents have been in hiding from The Sanctum, a group of families called The Circle of Ten, who believe Dev will destroy their way of life. They have ordered Dev be killed on sight and, when they succeed in killing her family, Dev vows revenge on all Sanctum.

The Clayworth family is in charge of The Sanctum’s New York Academy where Wyatt, his sister Jools and his best friend Ryker learned their warrior skills. Wyatt and Ryker hold opposing views of the role The Sanctum plays in their lives. The gods created The Sanctum to protect humans and magicals (trolls, vampires, fairies, etc.), yet their original purpose is long gone because of one founding family’s lust for greed and power. Despite Wyatt’s and Ryker’s differences of opinion in what The Sanctum means to each other and to society, they are inseparable in their love and friendship for each other.

When Wyatt stumbles upon Dev after she escaped The Sanctum’s attack, their lives are forever changed. Little do they know the love they feel for each other, and the invisible bond that ties them together, will lead them onto paths neither had ever expected to travel. It is only a matter of time until they change the lives of all they hold dear.

I received this book to review from the Diverse Book Tours blog, and was a little leery since it was self-published. Readers of my blog know how squeamish I get around self-published books. However I am happy to report there were relatively few grammatical errors and, despite having many similarities to Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series, the storyline was very interesting. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next to Dev and Wyatt, as their star crossed lives seemed destined for heartache from the beginning.

In addition “The Girl” developed strong female characters through the persons of Dev, Jools and the vampire Darby showing them as well trained fighters who remained one hundred percent female and were not dependent on a man to complete their lives.

I was not happy with the title of the book, as Dev is not a girl. She is a strong, independent woman and I wanted a title which reflected that image. I also didn’t like the cover, as I would have preferred to see a photo of Dev, Jools and Darby in action ready to show readers all that a woman can be. I look forward to reading part 2 of the series “The Boy.” 

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Clockwork Angel” Cassandra Clare

Rated 4 stars **** 2010. The Infernal Devices, book #1. Margaret K. McElderry Books.

ClockworkAngelOrphaned Tessa, all alone in New York in 1878 when her aunt died, jumped at the chance to join her brother Nate in London. After arriving she was taken in by the Dark Sisters, and imprisoned in their home. With no place to go, and Nate’s whereabouts unknown, Tessa was at their mercy. Forced into exploring her “gift,” Tessa learned that when it was perfected she would be given in marriage to the Dark Sisters boss, the Magister.

Meanwhile, Shadowhunters Will Herondale and James Carstairs began an investigation into a series of mundane murders, which led Will to discover Tessa in her prison. Sent to live at the London Institute, Tessa, Will and Jem are soon involved in the mysterious Pandemonium Club in their quest to find the Magister. With an army of clockwork automatons out to kill all Shadowhunters and kidnap Tessa, the Shadowhunters have their work cut out for them.

I read this series several years ago, and decided to give it another whirl. It was as enjoyable as the first time, and will also be enjoyed by old and new fans of Clare.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“City of Heavenly Fire” Cassandra Clare

Rated 2 stars ** ebook. 2014. The Mortal Instruments #6. Simon & Schuster. (Margaret K. McElderry Books.)

CityofHeavenlyFireSebastian has reappeared, stronger and meaner than ever. With the help of his army of Endarkened, former Shadowhunters who had been turned through drinking from the Infernal Cup, he is determined to destroy the world and rule as its leader.

Jace is having difficulty learning to control the heavenly fire that burns within him, Alex and Magnus have broken up, leaving both miserable; Isabelle and Simon are madly in love with each other but neither will admit it, and Clary is desperate to get close to Jace without the heavenly fire being a barrier between them.

While each of our heroes struggle with issues, Sebastian’s powerful ally in Alicante is secretly planning a move that will turn Idris upside down and put every Shadowhunter in danger of becoming either extinct or Endarkened. When Magnus, Luke and other Downworlder leaders are captured, Jace, Clary, Alex, Simon and Isabelle will have to leave behind everything they hold dear and descend into the pits of hell to try and stop Sebastian forever.

I found “City of Heavenly Fire” to be a big disappointment. From the moment I read of Clary and Jace having trouble kissing because the heavenly fire kept electrocuting her with sparks, I was reminded of a similar problem between characters in the “Beautiful Creatures” series by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. This really turned me off, as I didn’t think Clare was very original with this part of her storyline. In my mind’s eye I kept seeing Lena and Ethan in Gatlin trying to get hot and heavy instead of Clary and Jace in Alicante.

In addition, I kept finding self-promotion with references to her book “The Shadowhunters Codex.” When it was given to Clary as a gift I figured this was done to drive up sales from readers, which was also a no-no for me.

Lastly, the biggest turnoff, was a disjointed feeling to the storyline because Clare kept leaving the action to return to a secondary character that kept having issues. When these weren’t rectified by the end of the book it became clear that Clare planned to introduce ANOTHER new series called “The Dark Artifices,” to be released in 2015 with this secondary character. To this I say “Enough with the series books already!”

Thus, after finding this last book in the “Mortal Instrument” series to be a huge disappointment I will have to leave it up to you to Decide if You Want to Read it or Not.

“City of Lost Souls” Cassandra Clare

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. 2012. The Mortal Instruments #5. Simon & Schuster. (Margaret K. McElderry Books.)

I read and reviewed this book in 2012 and, after reading that review I can see I’ve gotten a bit jaded with this second reading. It was a decent read, but I can’t wait to finally finish the series with book #6. Below is my 2014 opinion.

CityOfLostSoulsAt the end of “City of Fallen Angels,” Sebastian compelled Jace to mix their blood by using the ancient twinning rune created by his demonic mother. With Jace completely under his power Sebastian rose from the dead, took Jace, and vanished.

Since Jace and Sebastian are now inextricably linked, neither can be hurt without feeling each other’s pain. Knowing the Clave will kill Jace to get to Sebastian, Clary frantically tries to locate him. No one can find them, but Clary is desperate. Despite being possessed and a robot to Sebastian’s wishes, Jace’s feelings for Clary remain. He returns for her, and Clary goes with him. As usual, she is spontaneous and enveloped in an all-consuming love for Jace. She is sure she can convince him to turn back into the boy she loves, and will stop at nothing to do so. However she has no idea that the evil plans Sebastian has for the world are now part of Jace’s soul, and will soon find out what it means to love someone who is tied to evil leaving the three of them tangled in a triangle of lust, love and power.

Meanwhile Simon, Maia, Jordan, Isabelle, Alec and Magnus are trying to come to terms with each other. Jealousy, anger, love, fear and regret are all on display, as each battle with their feelings for the one they love and are trying to ignore. Sebastian’s plan to destroy the world, and Clary’s disappearance, draw them together to try and come up with a plan to save Clary and Jace. Little do they know that the best laid plans always carry a price.

This latest installment of The Mortal Instruments series is another open ended read, but the end is near as book #6 was just released in May. With this final book of the series, readers will finally get all their questions answered and good will win over evil. We hope.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

 

“City of Fallen Angels” Cassandra Clare

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. 2011. The Mortal Instruments #4. Simon & Schuster. (Margaret K. McElderry Books.)

CityOfFallenAngelsJace was raised from the dead by the Angel Raziel, Valentine and his army have been defeated, Luke and Jocelyn are finally getting married, so all should be right in the Shadowhunter world. Unfortunately trouble seems to follow Clary and Jace around like lint on a blanket.

Clary was sure she and Jace would be a loving couple once they found out he was not her brother. Instead of love, a distance begins to open between them as Jace draws away from her. He is distant and aloof, leaving Clary in agony wondering what her life will be like without him if he leaves her.

Meanwhile Simon is in his own kind of agony. His mother found out he is a vampire and he has nowhere to live. He has drawn the interest of Camille leader of the Manhattan vampires, while someone else is trying to kill him. So far, the Mark of Cain has protected him but Simon is not happy with what’s been happening because of it.

Sinister, dark forces are at work in the world of the Nephilim and Downworlders. It is only a matter of time before, once more, good and evil battle for control.

Clary’s insecurities, especially around Jace, along with constantly acting before she thinks are becoming tiresome. I think the series could have comfortably ended with book #3 “City of Glass,” because now it seems like Clare is milking each character to get more out of them than we readers need to see. Still, fans of Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle, Alec and Magnus will be happy to know the series will continue with book #5 “City of Lost Souls.”

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older who don’t mind teenage angst.