Recent Reads: Gutsy Women Edition

“Sacrifice”- SJ Bolton

I’m typically not a “murder mystery” reader, but the added elements of folklore (re: the title) and the setting on the Shetland Islands drew me to this book by SJ Bolton.

I was immediately hooked by the character of Tora Hamilton, an obstetrician and unlikely sleuth who discovers the body of a brutally murdered woman on her land. Stubborn, impulsive and haunted by the fact that the woman had just had a child before being killed, Tora is unable to hand the investigation over to the local authorities without knowing the outcome.

Despite some seriously creepy warnings to the contrary, she starts to follow her own trail of evidence, which uncovers a plot far more sinister and wide-spread than she could possibly have imagined. With the help of a police detective, she quickly learns that everyone is suspect. She’s gutsy, and her medical training allows her to be both the layman and the expert in the scenarios she faces. Bolton weaves in some of the island folklore, in a way that manages not to make it seem contrived. This was a very quick and engaging read, and I didn’t want the story to end. (I’m trying REALLY hard to keep this spoiler free!) Bolton’s second book is sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to step away from my latest literary obsession…

“City of Bones”- Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments, Book One)

Let me admit right away that I started this series unsure whether I’d like it or not. Despite positive recommendations from Bookish (and in fact receiving the boxed trilogy from her!), I’d read some truly atrocious supernatural urban fiction in the past and was afraid that I’d encounter the same here. That assumption couldn’t be futher from the truth. I tore through this book, and anxiously moved right into the second.

I was actually shocked to see the number of mediocre and poor reviews that this book got on Amazon. There are the inevitable comparisons to other series- Twilight and Harry Potter most notably among those. Currently, Young Adult paranormal lit is HOT, shows no signs of slowing, and anyone that can’t deal with it needs to avoid those books. DUH. Also- teens are reading. Why does it matter that what’s attracting them is vampires/werewolves/etc?

I admit to being guilty of comparing a number of fictional worlds to Harry Potter, only because of how well Rowling created her universe. In this case, comparisons are apt as Ms Clare actually got her start writing some spot on Harry Potter Fan Fiction. (Thanks to Bookish for that tidbit!) Like Ms Rowling, Cassandra Clare has created a detailed supernatural version of New York, where everything is far more than meets the eye.

Clary Fray is out at the Pandemonium Club with her best friend when she witnesses a murder. Not exactly your typical Saturday night fare. Even more strange is the fact that the murderers are a group of tattoed teenagers, that apparently only Clary (short for Clarissa) can see. Before she can become the NYPD’s newest detective, the victim’s body disappears, leaving her feeling like a crazy person.

Fortunately, one of the tatted teens seeks her out the next day at a poetry reading, and introduces himself as Jace. She learns that he and his partners in crime are Shadowhunters, also known as the Nephilim, and charged with ridding NYC of demons and other nasty beasties.

His timing is impeccable, as shortly thereafter Clary’s mum is kidnapped by one of said nasty beasties, and Clary is forced to take refuge among the Shadowhunters. There, she learns that— well, that would be spoiling a great deal of the plot, so I’ll leave the summarizing there.

(Other than this: right now? I am PEEVED at Ms Clare because of a certain plot point. She has 2 more books [actually 3, but I’m not in possession of the recently released fourth book. YET.] to resolve it, or we are not on speaking terms.)

Let it suffice to say the book is a great deal of fun, and despite similarities to our other favorite Wizard/Vampire/Werewolf fiction, original enough to keep me very entertained. No, really. They made fun of me at the hairdresser this weekend because I had to bring in both “City of Bones” and “City of Ashes”, heaven forbid I should finish one and be without a book.

Currently Reading: “City of Ashes”- Cassandra Clare

To Read: “City of Glass”- Cassandra Clare, “A Discovery of Witches”- Deborah Harkness


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