I have a newly acquired quirk. As I browse through the detective shelf at my local bookstore and come across the neatly lined up spines of SHERLOCK HO...moreI have a newly acquired quirk. As I browse through the detective shelf at my local bookstore and come across the neatly lined up spines of SHERLOCK HOLMES' many many adventures, I must, I absolutely must pluck them out just to view the artwork on the cover. Blame it on Benedict. Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, do.
And so, when I came across a bright orange spine of His Last Bow, I pulled it out and lo!....there were my two favourite BBC men, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, giving me their combination sultry "put-your-eyes-back-in-your-head-, you-silly-girl" stares. What a fabulous marketing move.
So obviously, my first reaction is this:
followed by an immediate purchase. I bought Benny home. Yes, I am a member of the dubiously titled "Cumber Collective". Accept it. I have.
But I digress. (damn you, Cumberbatch and your cliff-hanger cheekbones)
A little bit about the book : HIS LAST BOW is a series of seven previously published Sherlock Holmes stories commencing with the adventure of Wistaria Lodge and concluding with the startlingly stylish "His Last Bow". Along the way, Sherlock and his trusty companion Dr. Watson will deal with a yellow-devil, ponder over the unsavoury gift of a pair of cut-off ears, track down a perpetrator of fifty murders, outwit an obnoxious toad at his own poisonous game, save a beautiful single lady from an assuredly sticky end, be temporarily befuddled by the Devil's deeds and ultimately return from a self-appointed exile to do the country a sizeable favour.
And now, back to my gushings.
It is singularly impossible for me to separate Arthur Conan Doyle's hero from Benedict Cumberbatch. I have loved the detective at 221B Baker Street as a child, much before BBC decide to do the world a favour and fling a beautifully gaunt man with impeccable cheekbones and high-functioning sociopath written all over his wiry frame into our midst. But today, I reread it with Benedict's Sherlock and Freeman's Watson strongly and indelibly imprinted in my mind. And it just makes the book so much better.
Doyle's mysteries are works of art. And he keeps up the slick penmanship in this set of stories. The language is crisp and loaded with wry British asides. The descriptions of the characters, their fallacies, Sherlock's deductions, Watson's frustrations, Lestrade's impotent dependency and wheeeeee, it's Mark Gatiss!!!, sorry Mycroft making an appearance are all satisfyingly covered. The pace never wavers and while the old-fashioned adventures may seem a tad staid for the modern readers, the charm is firmly in place.
My favourite story is most definitely "The Last Bow". A supposedly retired Sherlock who has taken up beekeeping in the Sussex Downs has been recalled by the powers that be. Rather than a murder mystery, it's a spy story. Set at the start of the First World War, it encapsulates Sherlock's attention to detail, his skill as a master of disguises and his reunion with his loyal mate, Watson.
And the crowning bit is that uncharacteristically poetic and patriotic passage voiced by our prosaic Sherlock
With flair and style, our beloved detective takes his legendary Last Bow.(less)
This is not a review. This is a trip down memory lane or to be more precise, a leisurely stroll through the Department of Mysteries. Walk with me, fello...moreThis is not a review. This is a trip down memory lane or to be more precise, a leisurely stroll through the Department of Mysteries. Walk with me, fellow Potterheads. ---------------
Moment #1 : 'Ministry of Magic?' bellowed Uncle Vernon. 'People like you in government! Oh, this explains everything, everything, no wonder the country's going to the dogs.'
Moment #2 : She seized Dudley by the shoulders and shook him, as though testing to see whether she could hear his soul rattling around inside him.
Moment #3 : She looked the youngest there; she had a pale heart-shaped face, dark twinkling eyes, and short spiky hair that was a violent shade of violet. 'Wotcher, Harry!'
Moment #4 :The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
Moment #5 :
Moment #6 :
Moment #7 :
Moment #8 :
Moment #9 : "...oh, for heaven's sake, Sirius, Dumbledore said no!"
Moment #10 : The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness.
Moment #11 :
Moment #12 : In the Hog's Head
Moment #13 : 'Yeah, the DA's good,' said Ginny. 'Only let's make it stand for Dumbledore's Army, because that's the Ministry's worst fear, isn't it ?'
Moment #14 : 'I'm supporting Gryffindor,' said Luna, pointing unnecessarily at her hat.
Moment #15 :Hagrid's Tale
Moment #16 : 'Well?' Ron said finally, looking up at Harry. 'How was it?' 'Wet,' he said truthfully. Ron made a noise that might have indicated jubilation or disgust, it was hard to tell. 'Because she was crying,' Harry continued heavily. 'Oh,' said Ron, his smile fading slightly. 'Are you that bad at kissing?'
Moment #17 :
Moment #18 : ---------------
Moment #19 : St.Mungo's Hospital
Moment #20 : Christmas on the Closed Ward His mother tottered away, back up the ward, humming to herself. Neville looked around at the others, his expression defiant, as though daring them to laugh, but Harry did not think he'd ever found anything less funny in his life.
Moment #21 : 'Occlumency, Potter. The magical defence of the mind against external penetration.'
Moment #22 : ...and he wondered, with a feeling of great trepidation, what had happened to make Lord Voldemort the happiest he had been in fourteen years.
Moment #23 : ---------------
Moment #24 : The Sneak ---------------
Moment #25 : ---------------
Moment #26 : Snape's Worst Memory ---------------
Moment #27 : ---------------
Moment #28 : ---------------
Moment #29 :
Moment #30 : 'Give her hell from us, Peeves.' And Peeves, who Harry had never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to a salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset. ---------------
Moment #31 : GRAWP ---------------
Moment #32 : ---------------
Moment #33 : ---------------
Moment #34 : 'We were all in the DA together,' said Neville quietly. 'It was all supposed to be about fighting You-Know-Who, wasn't it? And this is teh first chance we've got to do something real - or was that all just a game or something?"
Moment #35 : The Department of Mysteries
'It's - it's got your name on,' said Ron.
Moment #36 :
Moment #37 : But some part of him realized, even as he fought to break free from Lupin, that Sirius had never kept him waiting before.
Moment #38 : The Only One He Ever Feared ---------------
Moment #39 : And when the creature spoke, it used Harry's mouth, so that in his agony he felt his jaw move'If death is nothing, Dumbledore, kill the boy...' Let the pain stop, thought Harry...let him kill us...end it, Dumbledore...death is nothing compared to this... And I'll see Sirius again. And as Harry's heart filled with emotion, the creature's coils loosened. ---------------
~ Apophis, the Eqyptian deification of darkness, night and chaos. It hurts like hell that he takes the form of a sincerely scary and freak...more*TEAM Chaos*
~ Apophis, the Eqyptian deification of darkness, night and chaos. It hurts like hell that he takes the form of a sincerely scary and freakishly gigantic snake. ~ Menshikov, the third most powerful Egyptian magician in the world. He is the embodiment of cruelty and is bitterly termed *Vlad, The Inhaler*. He may dress like an ice-cream salesman but all he wants to do is watch the world burn. In like, four days time. ~ A host of minor Gods and rogue magicians who fervently believe that Chaos shall be the New Order of the World.
*TEAM Ma'at/ Order*
~ The bickering but slightly more mature brother-sister team of Carter and Sadie Kane. ~ A griffin with a personality disorder. His response to most calamities is to go "FRE-EEEK!!!" ~ A team of fledgling magicians still undergoing training and unsure of their capabilities. ~ Bes, the God of Dwarves who scares the villains by appearing in nothing more than a Speedo.
The Kane siblings had just won a gruesome round with Set in The Red Pyramid only to discover that the red-skinned God was only the tip of the sand-sculpture. Evil lurks deep in the Duat. Evil that makes Set look like nothing more than a wilful little boy who refuses to eat his greens. Evil in the form of Apophis. Apophis is soon going to break free from his centuries old prison. And when he does so, he will swallow the Sun and plunge the world into darkness and eternal Chaos.
Sadie and Carter have a fighting chance only if they can find Ra, the ancient and powerful Pharaoh of The Gods. Legend has it that only Ra, The Sun God who battled Apophis on a nightly basis has the ability to vanquish the latter. To recall Ra from his retirement, Sadie and Carter need to lay their hands on The Book of Ra( three separate scrolls, hidden in three different, unknown and obviously dangerous locations ).
And so begins the....yes....I’m going to say it.....Rollercoaster Ride! (Thank God for tried and traumatised clichés)
The tale is splendid and packed to the brim with mythology, action, adventure and devious and dastardly plots. All the above elements are welded together with Riordan’s trademark wit. As usual, he makes the ancient Gods approachable and infuses them with foibles and flaws. Obscure myths are woven into an urban fantasy that keeps you turning the pages with growing anxiety. Sadie and Carter are a delightful, snarky brother-sister duo. They are extremely likeable and foolhardy enough to carry the story forward.
As usual, I do what I always do after reading a Riordan book. I go into complete Wiki-Mode and read up on the ancient Gods. I cannot stress enough as to how the author deserves credit for dusting off forgotten stories and repackaging them in a way that retains the essence while giving them a contemporary edge.(less)
"You are not really dying," he said, the oddest tone in his voice, "are you?" Jem nodded. "So they tell me." "I am sorry," Will said. "No," Jem said softly. He drew his jacket aside and took a knife from the belt of his waist. "Don't be ordinary like that. Don't say you're sorry. Say you'll train with me."
His eyes followed her where she went, and his voice changed when he spoke to her. Cecily had once heard her mother say in amusement that one of their neighbours' boys looked at a girl as if she were "the only star in the sky" and that was the way Jem looked at Tessa.
Jem was sitting up straight, his eyes blazing. "There is more to living than not dying."
"There will be other lives." Jem held his hand out, and for a moment they clasped hands, as they had done during their parabatai ritual, reaching across twin rings of fire to interlace their fingers with each other. "The world is a wheel," he said. "When we rise or fall, we do it together."
"My brother is dead," Woolsey said. "I still struggle to fulfill his wishes, to continue the Praetor Lupus in his memory, and to live as he would have had me live. Do you think I'm the sort of person who would ever be found in a place like this, consuming pig swill and drinking vinegar, knee deep in mud, watching some tedious Shadowhunter brat destroy even more of my already diminished pack, if it weren't for a fact that I serve a greater purpose than my own desires and sorrows? And so do you, Shadowhunter. So do you.
"Oh God. What do I do now?," Will whispered. Woolsey looked at him coolly. "Do what your brother would have wanted."
"I am no hero." "No," Tessa said. "You are a person, just like me." You are like me. You say the things I think but never say out loud. You read the books I read. You love the poetry I love. You make me laugh with your ridiculous songs and the way you see the truth of everything. I feel like you can look inside me and see all the places I am odd or unusual and fit your heart around them, for you are odd and unusual in just the same way."
I'm done. I am done with The Infernal Devices series and I come away with a satisfying sense of closure.
The ensemble cast worked wonders for me. The dignity of Charlotte Branwell's authoritative stand, Henry's bemused but undeniable intelligence, Sophie and Gideon Lightwood's oh-so-sweet love story, Cecily Herondale's wild welsh impulsiveness, long-limbed Gabriel Lightwood's struggle to discover where his loyalties lie, Cyril's quiet but reassuring presence, Jessamine's unexpected role, Bridget's murderous ballads and fiery warrior skills AND the general awesomeness of Magnus Bane, collectively bolstered the structure of Clockwork Princess and made it an interesting read.
At the end of the day, the book wasn't a fantasy novel. It was barely a paranormal adventure with steampunk leanings, teeming with dastardly plots and supernatural villains. All the vile intentions and inhuman shenanigans were hastily sidetracked and quickly sunk to the bottom of the Thames.
Instead, Cassandra Clare chose to give us a love story - a love triangle to be precise.
Tessa Gray bounced between Jem Carstairs and Will Herondale. She claimed to be passionately in love with the slowly dying Jem. And just as much in love with the incandescent-with-life Will. The three yammered on endlessly about their star-crossed fates, their tangled passions, the pangs of unrequited love and so on and so forth.
And yet, the reams of purple prose didn't grate on my nerves. By now, I was emotionally invested. I had reverted to a sappy, idealistic teenage girl who loved her romances rich with humour, that pleasurable twinge of pain, loads of wisecracks, the occasional *fraught-with-palpable-tension* moment and the possibility of a worthy fandom. I found all that in the Will-Tessa-Jem tryst with destiny.
The only possible way to end this review would be with this very accurate, very beautifully drawn piece of artwork:
"I have set you the task of locating the Magister," said Consul Wayland. "The man who broke into the institute, killed your servants, took your Pyxis, and plans to build an army of clockwork monsters to destroy us all - in short, a man who must be stopped. As head of the Enclave, Charlotte, stopping him is your task. If you consider it impossible, then perhaps you should ask yourself why you want the job so badly in the first place."
This pretty much sums up what Clockwork Prince was all about. Or to be more precise, what it SHOULD have been all about. It was supposed to be about Charlotte Branwell's concentrated efforts to discover the whereabouts and manipulative plans of The Magister and prove that she truly is capable of heading the London Institute of the Shadowhunters. I love Charlotte Branwell to dust and shadows. And I will always root for her and her need to emerge as an alpha-shadowhunter female.
But luckily, for mush-prone saps like me, it was also about the further exploration of the *WILL-TESSA-JEM* triangle.
I still find it odd that when I think of the cringe-inducing *Edward-Bella-Jacob* fiasco, my agony is akin to Sherlock's rage:
But when I think of Tessa oscillating between Will and Jem, it leaves me with a rather tolerable:
I don't "ship" them. I'm not rooting for them. I'm not anything them. I am just reading a fairly well-paced plot and enjoying the intermittent drama.
The book is a perfect example of a well-written series filler. We learn about why Will acts like the insufferable dipstick that he is. We get loads of Magnus Bane goodness (for which I am ever grateful). We ramble through the *Jessamine-Nate* highway-to-hell ride.
But most of all, we get to explore the *Charlotte-Henry* relationship in all it's clumsy, misunderstood, awkward oh-gee-shucks glory. I love Charlotte and Henry and I am ever so thankful to Cassandra Clare that she pokes and prods delicately into the Branwell marriage.
In conclusion, a quick, engrossing read with some interesting new characters and a healthy dosage of love in all it's bittersweet glory.
The year is 1878 and the setting is Victorian London. A young Tessa Gray has crossed the ocean to be with her brother, Nathaniel. But the gaslit stree...more
The year is 1878 and the setting is Victorian London. A young Tessa Gray has crossed the ocean to be with her brother, Nathaniel. But the gaslit streets of London hold many ghastly surprises for Tessa. She finds herself thrown headlong into a supernatural world teeming with demons, vampires, warlocks, faerie-folk AND a powerful group of Nephilim warriors called The Shadowhunters. Tessa has a unique magical talent. And this talent seeks to be exploited by a dangerous, nebulous identity known only as The Magister.
When Tessa is not working herself up into a hormonal froth over young shadowhunter, Will Herondale, she is battling the inevitability of coming into a collision with The Magister and his mysterious new army.
The only force standing between Tessa's sanity and her destruction is the Nephilim. And ofcourse, Tessa's own courage and intelligence. ---------------------------------
For the longest time, I was in two minds about plunging into The Infernal Devices series. I have been a regular follower of The Mortal Instruments drama and while I didn't exactly love the Jace-Clary-Simon saga, it had kept me sufficiently hooked to ensure that whenever a new instalment came out, I bought it.
Finally, the triple whammy of a Mortal Instruments movie release+ the beauty of exquisite cover art + the promise of a steampunk London had me caving in and buying the trilogy.
And no, I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't jumping with impending fandom possibilities. But I wasn't quietly throwing up in my head either.
The incubating *Will-Tessa-Jem* love-triangle is believable. And shows promise. Fine, there are glaring similarities to the *Jace-Clary-Simon* heave-ho [cocky main lead - confused yet gutsy girl - understanding but utterly charming second lead]. But the relationship dynamics never grated on my nerves. Neither did the dialogues nor the seething emotions seemed contrived or farcical. Whichever way Tessa's affections turn: Will or Jem....I would be okay with it. ---------------------------------
Yes, handsome Will Herondale is a rude git. Yes, he is completely up himself and you are tempted to clonk him with a flowery parasol. But the lad has a mysterious and most definitely gruesome past that taints his personality and sours his interactions with the ones he loves and respects. But he isn't a downright cad and so, I believe a little leeway towards young Master Herondale is justified. ---------------------------------
Tessa Gray is a likeable heroine. She is an odd blend of fear, bravery, intelligence and emotion. She gives as good as she gets. No wilting willow is dear Miss Tessa. ---------------------------------
Jem Carstairs is lovely. That is the only word that comes to mind. He's lovely. He is. He's a nice guy to have around what with his gentle quips, his compassion and his ability to look beyond his own mental and physical anguish. There's not a hint of emo-angst clouding this young man's visage. And I can't figure out why, but Isaac Lahey from Teen Wolf springs to mind when I think of Jem Carstairs. ---------------------------------
The supporting cast is hugely....well.....supportive.
You have the head of the London Institute of Shadowhunters : Charlotte and her endearingly goofy scientist of a husband Henry. Charlotte's gentle strength and the need to prove herself in a world where woman power is still in it's fledgling state comes across with grace tinged with a believable air of despair. Hey exasperation and hidden affection for her absent-minded husband acts as a perfect foil to their characters. This is exactly how I imagine them:
Then there's the irritatingly haughty Jessamine and her killer parasol (yes, you read that right : a killer parasol), the scarred Sophie with hidden depths and the stoic Thomas. All have a role to play and all do so efficiently.
On the bad guys front we have quite a few *rip-tear-mutilate-mind-manouvre* kinds and also the handful of unexpected betrayals. There are some bloodthirsty scenes reminiscent of the Buffy slayer-vampiric wars. While regular readers of fantasy and mystery will tie up the loose ends quickly, it's still fun to watch things unravel.
And *drumroll* please, MAGNUS BANE makes his entry. His original entry.
MAGNUS BANE who lifted The Mortal Instruments drama from sinking into mediocrity.
MAGNUS BANE who is pretty much the Chuck Norris of Cassandra Clare's fantasy world.
In conclusion, Clockwork Angel lays the foundation from some tremulous romantic entanglements, quite a wallop of supernatural action and the simple promise of a good story. And yes, the magic of Magnus Bane. ---------------------------------
(p.s. All images have been taken from Pinterest.com)(less)
Beth Bradley is a young graffiti artist who comes from a troubled family background. Her mother is no more and her father has retreated into h...moreSUMMARY:
Beth Bradley is a young graffiti artist who comes from a troubled family background. Her mother is no more and her father has retreated into himself. Her best friend is the aching-to-rebel Pen (Parva) Khan. Together, the best friends roam the streets of London, imprinting Beth's art and Pen's poetry along every available and complying wall. A painful betrayal drives Beth to the streets where she encounters nothing less than a skinny, cement-skinned Son of the Streets. And no, Filius Vaie is not just a hobo, living rough. He is the actual, honest-to-goodness son of the Goddess Mater Vaie (The Lady of the Streets). Running wild with Fil, Beth discovers a hidden, magical London that is teeming with improbable creatures, soul-shuddering monsters, unexpected deal-makers and the odd Russian vagabond. But this parallel London is facing destruction. At the hands of REACH (The King of Cranes). Over the years, REACH had been vanquished repeatedly by Mater Vaie and defeated, he slumbers. But now, with the disappearance of The Lady of The Streets, REACH is rising again. Urban decay shall corrode the very essence of London and it's all up to the cocky Crown Prince Fil to save the day.
Will Beth bolster the flagging courage of Fil? Will the pair save London? And what role will Pen Khan play in the proceedings? All this and much more, explored in stunning detail in The City's Son.
Pure fantasy. Pure, unabashed fantasy. Pure, unabashed, fantastical fantasy.
This is not some whiny love story masquerading as YA Urban Fantasy. This IS urban fantasy. Through and through.
Tom Pollock is the new world-builder on the block. From the imagination of this supremely talented writer have sprung deliciously sounding creations like Sodiumites, Gutterglass, Railwraiths, Pylon Spiders, The Pavement Priests, The Mirrorstoracy, the Blankliets, the Scaffwolf and *The Chemical Synod*. Oh, The Chemical Synod with their symmetry and their lighters and their oily speaker, Johnny Naptha. So dark, so devious, so slickly menacing, so fabulously perfect. My personal favourite.
For non-fantasy fans, this may sound like a load of gibberish. For true-blue fantasy fans, this is pure gold. And the best part is that author hasn't spilled out random made-up names just because he can. He has done so with a perfect grasp over their character profiles. He weaves their individual features effectively into the main storyline.
Alternative World building is displayed at it's best in this book.
Coming to the characters, I was instantly rooting for Beth and Fil. Not Beth and Fil as a romantic pair, but Beth and Fil in their individual portrayals. Yes, Beth's immediate acceptance of the weird and magical and downright unbelievable is hard to digest. But somehow, she's such a mouthy, loyal, brave girl that you shed the logic with her and just hop onto what promises to be a mad, memorable ride. Fil, as the grey-skinned skinny lad (who sweats petrol, by the by) is a reluctant hero. He can fight, he can sass with the best of the loudmouths, he can hold his own and yet....he wears a mantle of fear and hopelessness that makes him all too real and believable. Together, they are a gutsy duo.The relationships between Beth and her father, Pen and Beth, Fil and his ragtag kingdom and explored with varying levels of depth and sensitivity.
Pulling all the aspects together, human and magical, The City's Son is a fantastic debut and a worthy start to a trilogy that I'll be following to it's grimy but assuredly enchanting conclusion.