Chain of Gold is the first novel in a new trilogy by Cassandra Clare that stars the Shadowhunters of Edwardian London. Chronologically, this book takes place after The Infernal Devices (way before The Mortal Instruments), with James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, as the main characters. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world, but everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London and awakens the demons waiting in the dark.
I put off reading this book for a while, fearing that I might be a little bit over this fandom. But clearly, I am not. This fandom still always draws me in. There’s something so addictive about Cassandra Clare’s writing and the characters she creates… As always there is drama, adventure, epic good vs. evil fights, crazy plot twists and characters you immediately root for. And of course, love conquering all.
“I am a Herondale. We love but once.”
“That is only a story.”
“Haven’t you heard?” James said bitterly. “All the stories are true.”
A lot in the story was predictive and reminded of similar plots and situations in the other books, but somehow it didn’t really matter, I was so intrigued nevertheless. What I especially love about this book is seeing Will and Tessa and their children James and Lucie and their group of friends, and Jem and Magnus Bane again and to get more of their background stories to connect the dots between the Infernal Devices and the Mortal Instruments series. I also really loved two of the new characters, Matthew and Cordelia, and hope things will get better for them as the series continues. (With the cliff hanger ending in this book, things will definitely be different for Cordelia at least… don’t want to say anything more to risk spoil anything though.)
And Anna. I have to say something about her. I think she’s my new favorite Shadowhunter character of all time. One thing that I especially appreciate about Cassandra Clare’s books is that there is a lot of queer representation and diverse characters. And Anna is one of the best and most fascinating and loveable characters I’ve come across lately (not only in the Shadowhunter world but in all books). She’s a lesbian in Edwardian London who seduces women and wears suits and questions just about any tradition and is so vivid and full of faults and intrigues that you know she will cause disaster wherever she goes. How can you not be completely floored by her? I can’t wait to read more about her adventures in the sequels.
“I thought you wanted to have tea!” objected Cordelia.
“No one ever just wants to have tea,” said Anna. “Tea is always an excuse for a clandestine agenda.”
I don’t know how Cassandra Clare does it, but once again she has left me desperately waiting for the next book.
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Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters
Knife Edge is the second book in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses series taking place in an alternative universe, where people of color called “Crosses” are the dominant rulers, with “Noughts”, people of European origin, as a despised underclass. The story in the first book follows teenagers Sephy (a Cross) and Callum (a Nought) as their childhood friendship turns into a forbidden love with all the attendant difficulties that a racially divided world presents. In this second book Sephy is left alone, with her and Callum’s daughter, and with Callum’s brother, Jude, blaming her for the terrible losses his family has suffered.
I really loved the first book, which was so dramatic, gripping, emotional, shocking and tragic and with the beautiful love story against everything between Callum and Sephy. With Callum gone, this second book focuses on the parallel stories of Sephy and Jude instead. I never liked Jude, and with so much focus on him and his bitterness and hatred, this book unfortunately is much weaker and less addictive than the first one. At first, the story showed a more human side of Jude and I really hoped that his character would develop, but sadly not. He continued to be such a two-dimensional character, and his never-ending hatred for the Noughts just got so tiring and uninteresting about halfway into the book.
I also wasn’t so keen on the format of this one and the song lyrics and the newspaper clippings, that just slowed the story down. And it really didn’t need that, as it was slower in itself compared to the first book, with Sephy suffering from depression, and just behing too much inside her head mulling over whether she loves her baby or not.
But even though I wasn’t too fond of this book, it’s well written and I’m still invested in the series and its unique and thought-provoking story. So, I’ll give this book 2.5 stars rounding up to a 3 stars rating based on the overall way this series turns history on its head, and pinpoints racism and injustice.
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I’d heard so many great things about this book - that it was funny, astonishing and bold and that it should be a queer retelling of Frankenstein’s Monster - but unfortunately its turned out to be such a huge disappointment to me. The lack of a concise narrative and characters to root for just didn’t make it interesting enough to get me fully engaged. And as for funny (I’ve seen quotes about this book saying that “I found myself vibrating with laughter”), it was just obviously not my kind of humor. But worst of all, the trans representation was so horribly done that it made me feel utterly uncomfortable and almost stopped me from finishing this book.
In short, Frankissstein has two parallel story lines. In one part, this book was a reanimation of Frankenstein and a fictionalized life story of Mary Shelley. In the other part there was a futuristic sci fi story of Ry Shelley, a transgender doctor self-described as a “hybrid” and her love story with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor working at the forefront of AI research. The story shifted between the parallel stories set in early 19th century and the present day focus with Ry Shelley and Victor Stein and his work at a cryonics facility, as well as with Ron Lord, who is set to make his fortune with a new generation of sex dolls.
As the stories moved forward, the two timelines became more and more tangled and the characters seemed to jump through time and space, but it still felt very fragmented. It’s clear that Jeanette Winterson wanted to show the possibilities of artificial intelligence and the implications of both transsexuality and transhumanism, but also to raise questions about the responsibilities of creation. What happens when homo sapiens are no longer the smartest being on the planet? It’s a very ambitious approach, but unfortunately it all fell flat and the story line was just too weird and unengaging, and the characters weren’t likable enough to excite me. I especially disliked the sex robot maker Ron and think the book would have been better without him, I honestly don’t think that the sex bots plot slid in well with the main story at all. And on top of that the way to describe transpersons as “hybrids” just didn’t sit well with me. It felt utterly homophobic to portray “trans” as a third gender option.
So even though I can appreciate the ambitious approach and the unique potential (hence the 2 stars instead of 1 that I first wanted to give), this is unfortunaly not a book I can recommend to anyone.
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman is a dramatic, gripping and heart-breaking story that turns history on its head, and pinpoints racism and injustice in such a telling way.
This thought-provoking story is set in an alternative universe, where people of color called “Crosses” are the dominant rulers, with “Noughts”, people of European origin, as a despised underclass excluded from the best schools and work, even seen as nothing or “Blankers”. The story follows teenagers Sephy (a Cross) and Callum (a Nought) as their childhood friendship turns into a forbidden love with all the attendant difficulties that a racially divided world presents. The narrative switches between the two perspectives as they both try to make sense of the world they live in.
The story is so dramatic, gripping, emotional, shocking and tragic. There are many moments of happiness between Callum and Sephy, but there are also so many dangerous events occurring against a rising tide of Nought militarism and so many things happening to them that are just heart-breaking. The characters are so realistic and complex, with flaws and likeable and less likeable traits. I immediately rooted for Callum and his wish to change the world, whereas still being realistic about the limitations and risk for violence when challenging the current order. Sephy irritated me at times for being so childish and naïve, even though she tries her best to see Callum’s perspective. What I really liked about them both was how fair and unprejudiced they were, despite the values they’d been raised with and the judgement and bias they’d been surrounded by all their lives.
(On a side note, the book has been adapted for the screen in an HBO series that I actually think is better than the book in certain aspects, especially when it comes to Sephy. In the series she is much more likable and the role of her parents are better portraited. The love story between Sephy and Callum also makes much more sense as they are older when they really fall for each other and more aware of the consequences. On the other hand, the book provides more background to Sephy’s and Callum’s friendship, which I really enjoyed.)
All in all, Noughts & Crosses is a well written, unique and powerful story that really makes you think. I can’t wait to continue the whole series, especially after the very unexpected ending!
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Julianne Donaldson Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez