Mini Reviews: Shadowshaper + The Sea of Monsters

MiniThere’s something about summer that just screams mini reviews. I have a feeling that I’ll be doing a few of these over the next few months. It’s just a really convenient way to share a few thoughts on books that I’m unable to provide full reviews for and relieves me of that stress that sometimes accompanies me trying to write a full review (is this only me?). Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: Shadowshaper
Author: Daniel José Older
Series: Shadowshaper, #1
Pages: 304
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Release Date: June 30th 2015

      “Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.
      Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.”

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“But tonight there wasn’t time for solace or peaceful momenta in nature. Someone — something — was after her. It knew her name. It had found her once and probably could again.

There aren’t many urban fantasy books that pique my interest. I’m not sure what it is about the genre that doesn’t really appeal to me, but every once in a while, I like to give one a try. Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper sounded truly unique and I’m always looking for more diverse reads. Afro-Latinos are a group I rarely see written about or represented in the media, so this was such a refreshing book. I really loved how Older combined fantasy elements with the protagonist’s artistic talents. Family plays a huge role in Sierra’s life and these are the relationships I always see suffer in contemporary settings. I also loved that the romantic interest in this novel was not the clichéd arrogant, too-perfect-to-be-true hot guy. Robbie is sweet and shy; and it was great to see that the romance did not overshadow Sierra’s relationship with her friends.

Rating: 3/5

★★★


Title: The Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2
Pages: 279
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Release Date: April 1st 2006 (original publication date) 

      “The heroic son of Poseidon makes an action-packed comeback in the second must-read installment of Rick Riordan’s amazing young readers series. Starring Percy Jackson, a “half blood” whose mother is human and whose father is the God of the Sea, Riordan’s series combines cliffhanger adventure and Greek mythology lessons that results in true page-turners that get better with each installment. In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book’s drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come.

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“Bull Number Two turned to face me, fire sputtering from the gash I’d cut in its side. I couldn’t tell if it felt any pain, but its ruby eyes seemed to glare at me like I’d just made things personal.

This is only my second Rick Riordan book. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that I’ve never read through the Percy Jackson series before. But I am slowly making my way through them and that is all that should matter. This second book really endeared Percy to me. His relationship with Tyson was a major highlight for me, it showed just how openhearted Percy is while still staying true to how complicated it is being the son of a god. I love how important friendship has been in this series so far. I feel like I got to know Annabeth better in this one and am looking forward to her growth as a character. The book ended with a shocking event that had me wanting to reach for the third book right away. What does this mean?! Overall, it was a good follow-up to the first Percy Jackson novel.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

Kernels of Nonsense: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Kernels of Nonsense (2)Kernels of Nonsense is a bimonthly discussion feature where I rant and rave about various book and blogging related topics. This week I want to discuss whether authors writing various series within the same universe is a good or bad thing.

Just this past week Cassandra Clare’s newest novel Lady Midnight was released. I didn’t know too much about it, so I hopped on over to read the synopsis on Goodreads because everyone on Twitter was excited about it. I wasn’t surprised to learn that this new series is a sequel to her immensely popular Mortal Instruments series.

I read the first three books in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series a few years back and overall, I really enjoyed them. When Clockwork Angel, the first in her Infernal Devices series, was published, I was really excited to read it. I ended up feeling more and more underwhelmed as the series went on for various reasons. While this new series was being released, Clare was also working on three more books for her Mortal Instruments series. I never bothered to pick them up because I felt City of Glass was a satisfying conclusion and truth be told, my enthusiasm for the series had begun to dwindle.

Since finishing her Infernel Devices series, I haven’t picked up another Cassandra Clare book. This has less to do with whether I feel that the kind of books she writes no longer fit the type I’m looking for and more to do with the fact that every one of her books seem to take place within the Shadowhunter universe. I’ve grown rather tired of seeing more and more of these books, and am wondering if there will ever be a time where she stops writing Shadowhunter books. Aside from the Mortal Instruments and the Infernel Devices, Clare has also written/contributed to the Bane Chronicles, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and just recently released the first book in her Dark Artifices series. She also has a future series called The Last Hours, the first of which doesn’t have an official release date but will most likely be released later this year. What do all of these books and series have in common? They all take place within the Shadowhunter universe.

I know for superfans, having an author write several series within the same universe is like a dream come true. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’d be over the moon if J.K. Rowling decided to write a prequel and sequel series to Harry Potter. But I’m not a Cassandra Clare superfan, and I’m of the opinion that any author who sticks to one universe can unintentionally alienated potential readers who may be interested in their works but are not a part of that particular fandom.

I would love to pick up another Cassandra Clare book because I would love to see what other worlds she could create, and read about other characters she could conjure up, but this is an impossible feat when all she writes is Shadowhunter books. I know the saying goes “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” but I can’t help but feel like I’d enjoy her more if she would write something outside of this universe.

There aren’t many authors who can get away with writing various novels that take place in the same world. Cassandra Clare is the first name that comes to mind, but I do know that Rick Riordan has many series in the same universe as well. I’m not as familiar with his works, having only read the first Percy Jackson book. I can’t say how I’ll feel about these other series once I finish Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but I do wonder if anyone feels the same way about him as I do about Cassandra Clare. Sometimes I feel that these various novels within the same universe are superfluous.

Leigh Bardugo and Jonathan Maberry are two other authors I know of who have written more than one series within the same universe. I haven’t finished Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, but I’m a huge fan of Six of Crows. Despite my love for the latter, I do hope that Bardugo writes something different in the future because I’m positive she could come up with another epic series that doesn’t take place in the Grisha universe. Maberry’s Benny Imura and Joe Ledger series are two separate zombie series that eventually intersect. I prefer the Benny Imura series and despite enjoying Patient Zero, the first Joe Ledger novel, I’ve never felt the need to finish it because I feel quite satisfied with the former.

Do you ever feel that an author writes too many books within the same universe? Are there any fictional worlds that you would love an author to continually write about? Have you read all of Cassandra Clare or Rick Riordan’s works? What other authors do you know of who have written multiple series that take place in the same universe? Let’s discuss in the comments!

The Friday 56, #81: The Lightning Thief

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’re been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“The last thing I remember is collapsing on a wooden porch, looking up at a ceiling fan circling above me, moths flying around a yellow light, and the stern faces of a familiar-looking bearded man and a pretty girl, her blond hair curled like a princess’s. They both looked down at me, and the girl said, ‘He’s the one. He must be.'”

I recently (finally) picked up the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Why did I wait so long to read you?! I absolutely loved this book and it’s the first book I’ve been able to discuss with my nephew which is always a plus. I cannot wait to finish the series!

From my review:

“Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Once again he’s about to be kicked out of school and if that wasn’t bad enough, his math teacher just turned into a hideous monster and tried to kill him. Percy is about to learn that the Greek gods he’s always believed were a myth are real, and that he isn’t a normal boy, but a half-blood, the child of a mortal and a god. In order to stop a disastrous war between the gods, Percy will have to go on a dangerous quest to retrieve Zeus’s most prized possession, his master lightning bolt.” See my full review here.