Saturday, July 13, 2013

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

I'm gonna review both of these books on one blog. They are two and three in this little trilogy. Book one is City of Bones. The big story doesn't end in City of Glass, but this particular adventure does.

Actually, I don't have much to say about these last two books--they've been very widely read and reported on all over the internet. They're not very different from other books of their type and they are very engaging. I liked our main character, Clary, very much and was very interested in the outcome of this particular conflict.

Of course, this is just the first of many conflicts that Clary, Simon, Jace, Alec, Isabelle and their attendant parents and friends experience over the course of this very long "Mortal Instruments" series. I can see why so many are hooked on the books, although I won't be reading any further--they're kind of empty and obviously written to appeal to a young demographic.

The books are pure fluff. They are imaginative and exciting. They have a variety of relationships. They are fun to read. There are no important ideas and nothing is unpredictable. The teenagers are the main heroes in this book--the adults either don't listen, are impotent to act, or are traitors. The bad guy is great--he is really bad.

Bad language: none
Sex: referred to by teenagers, passionate kisses exchanged, incest discussed, one same sex relationship (between a teenager and an adult) initiated. Lots of sexual stuff for a YA series, isn't it? There are no sex scenes, no descriptive make-out scenes even, but this is the kind of "benign" sex that I can't stand to see in a book written for teenagers--it seems harmless but really isn't. The kids in this book are engaging in sexual relationships as if they were adults--and the book makes it seem like this is normal. Are the characters teenagers because this demographic buys these kind of books? Or are the books geared to teenagers because there's very little of substance in these stories? Hm. I'm tired of fluff. The next book I read is gonna have something a little more meaningful to say.

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson

     This was a romance. I guess you could probably tell that from the cover, eh? And at first I thought it was going to be predictable, but it actually turned out to be kind of good. It was cute.

     Taycee is shanghaied into being the bachelorette on an internet-based show designed to raise funds for the farms that are in trouble in the small town that Taycee has grown up in. She is not interested in a serious relationship right now and she's feeling conflicted about her girlhood crush, Luke Carney, who has moved back to town. Complications ensue.

     I liked Taycee and I liked this story, although some elements seemed very unlikely. Still, the romance was sweet and squeaky clean.

Bad language: none
Sex: none

The Trouble with Perfect (Christian romantic thriller) by Christy Barritt

     I borrowed this e-book through Amazon Prime's lending deal. I think someone recommended it to me...or something. I do usually really like romantic thrillers (Mary Stewart, Daphne DuMarier, Victoria Holt, Helen MacInnes....).

     "Perfect" is a town and it's a creepy one, by the way. The main character was kind of irritating. Why didn't she leave when she was first creeped out? I don't know. Probably because there would be no story if she were actually sensible. Urgh. The book was entertaining and engaging, very predictable and forgettable. It was also completely inoffensive.

Bad language: nope
Sex: nope

The Hero of the Ages by Brandon Sanderson

     This is book three in the “Mistborn” series. Mistborn was first, The Well of Ascension was second, and this one is the final installment in the trilogy.

     I really like Brandon Sanderson. His writing is what good fantasy is all about: complex worlds, changing characters, a strong good vs. evil conflict, profound ideas and questions, a transporting story line. His books are pretty amazing. 

     However, I do not really like dystopian books. I find them dark and even a little depressing. In this book, our story is finally resolved, but not before lots of blood is shed, people die….and other stuff like that—reminded me a bit of the last Lord of the Rings movie (I found the movie more oppressive than the book) where it seems like the war can never be won and all your favorite people will certainly die and problem mounts upon impossible problem. Sigh. I read this book about halfway through and felt so mired in doom that I had to put it down for a week or so while I read a bunch of lightweight stuff. Ha. I do really like Brandon Sanderson. I thought about his characters the whole time I was taking a fluff break. His worlds are very memorable (I loved Elantris too). But I really had to make myself get back into the hopelessness that was going on in Elend’s and Vin’s world.

    Anyway, that’s my own preference—I don’t like the dystopia thing that’s so popular right now. However, despite the doom and gloom that seemed so prevalent for most of the second and third books, I was deeply engaged, I loved the questions about God and fate, creation and destruction, opposition, lies and truth that the characters were mired in. The book was pretty amazing. And the ending was satisfying. 

Bad language: none
Sex: none

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Nobody’s Damsel by E.M. Tippets

This is actually a continuation of the story of Chloe and Jason, begun in “Someone Else’s Fairy Tale”. This story, however, is mostly a murder mystery. Chloe has begun her work as a “crim”, working in the crime lab of her hometown’s police station. She is a very junior forensic scientist for the police department, and her first case involves the disappearance of a young girl. Meanwhile, the paparazzi follows her around continuously and she must cope with rumors of Jason’s infidelity. Is it possible that he can stay faithful to her as he is living the lifestyle of a movie star? 

I liked this book too, but not quite as much as the first one (“Someone Else’s Fairy Tale), and I’ve liked both of the books in this series less than I liked the first one I read by E.M. Tippets, “Paint Me True”. That’s all relative, though, because all of them are enjoyable.  And Tippets assures her readers that there will be further stories of Jason and Chloe, so that’s good news. I’ll enjoy reading those.

Bad language: nope
Sex: references to the married love lives of Jason and Chloe, references to Jason’s past. No sex scenes.

Someone Else’s Fairy Tale by E. M. Tippets

Yes, I’m on a E.M. Tippets jag. 

This one was another romance, but it wasn’t LDS—in fact, it wasn’t Christian at all. I enjoyed reading a story that wasn’t religious in any way but in which our main character has some standards and ideals that she maintains and defends. Cool.

In this story we meet Chloe Winters, a complicated, intelligent college student. She meets Hollywood A-list actor Jason Vanderholt when he meets and greets a crowd of extras on his latest film (taking place at the university that Chloe attends). Jason recognizes her as related to someone he knows and his attention is captured. He pursues Chloe. She insists that his courtship of her is “someone else’s fairy tale”, not hers. 

Chloe is another survivor. She’s strong and likeable and I enjoyed reading her story. I’m liking these E.M. Tippets books!

Bad language: none
Sex: none. Well, Jason has had some racy exploits, but that’s all in his past.

Paint Me True by E.M. Tippets

This is a Christian romance, specifically it is an LDS (Mormon) romance. And it was very good; I liked it.

In this book we meet 30-year-old Eliza, single, a little bit shallow, a survivor, an artist, and a person who is really trying to do her best. This is the story of Eliza learning one of the most important lessons of her life.

I liked this book because Eliza felt genuine. She really grew over the course of the story. I liked all the LDS references. I liked Eliza’s tolerance of viewpoints other than her own and her commitment to her own ideals. I liked her love story. I loved the happy (well, mostly happy) ending. It was a sweet book.

Bad language: none
Sex: some kisses, all very chaste (yet there was good chemistry too)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This is one of those supernatural adventure/romance books that are so very popular these days. It is peopled by demons, demon-hunters, witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and “mundanes” (yeah, that’s what we regular people are called).  It’s the first in a series called “The Mortal Instruments” and it’s all about a girl named Clary Fray finding out who she is and what the heck is going on in her life.
The second book in the series is called City of Ashes, and I guess I’ll be reading it next since the ending in this book was all about loose ends—will Clary’s mom live? Who is Clary’s soul mate? Will Valentine prevail? Etc, etc. 

The book feels very trendy, very adolescent, but it is engaging, entertaining and absorbing. It’s certainly not the best book I’ve ever read, but it totally captures the supernatural thing and, so far, it’s inoffensive and I really want to find out how all these loose ends are tied up. I’m not going past #3 (City of Glass), though. No, really, I’m not!

Bad language: I don’t think so
Sex: a few kisses are exchanged, more romance is indicated in coming books…