Jace has devoted his life to hunting demons. He’s under a lot of scrutiny because his father is the villainous Valentine. His sister Clary’s life, up until a week ago, was completely normal. Now she lives in a world filled with the supernatural, and her eyes have been opened to the ongoing battle between demons and Shadowhunters.
Valentine is killing downworlders, creatures such as werewolves and vampires, as part of an attempt to steal the second of three Mortal Instruments. Clary, Jace, and their fellow Shadowhunters must once again combat Valentine. But first they have to find him.
Why I finished it: In the book’s prologue, Valentine has a warlock summon a greater demon. It appears as a mass of shadows, twisting and spiraling inside the pentagram. Two eyes appear in the smoke and then the demon then breaks free of its confinements and consumes the young warlock. Valentine tames the demon, though, and it kneels in front of Valentine, ready to do his bidding.
I'd give it to: Joseph, because he would enjoy how one of Clary’s friends becomes involved with vampires late in the book, and Selena, who would like the teenage romance woven into the story.
Ralph, assistant to the President of The United States, finds himself in the middle of first contact by the inhabitants of Rigel-Rigel. Meanwhile, on Rigel-Rigel, a professor calculates that the end of the universe is not long off. Zany hijinks ensue.
Why I picked it up: The back cover promised it was Vonnegut-esque.
Why I finished it: It is Vonnegut-esque in the best possible way, with fourth-wall-breaking asides to the readers from the author. But it's Ralph's very charming love story that really won me over.
I'd give it to: Gene, who loves Vonnegut, so he can tell me it's not Vonnegut-esque at all and we'll have something new to argue about.
Witches, vampires, werewolves, and shape shifters live secretly among us. They have strict rules, and it is dangerous to know their secrets. They are forbidden to tell humans about their world or to fall in love with a human.
This book contains three novels:
Secret Vampire. On one of the first days of summer break, Poppy is told she has terminal cancer. Her best friend James is a vampire. Although she doesn’t know yet, James loves her, and he is her only hope.
Daughters of Darkness. Three Vampire Sisters escape from their sheltered homes to a small town. When their brother Ash comes to take them back, he falls for their mortal friend.
Spellbinder. Two witches battle over a high school crush.
Why I picked it up: I love the idea of a secret, supernatural world.
Why I finished it: I was hooked when James lied to his parents to help Poppy.
I'd give it to: Jessie, who reads historical fiction but would still find this interesting, and Lucy who loved Smith’s book Dark Visions.
In 2278, humanity is deciding whether or not to join a confederation of 781 alien races. Isolationists attack a pro-confederation meeting in Prague, killing everyone inside. Caleb Swany witnessed that attack. Years later, he is the first human allowed to join the prestigious Interworld Diplomatic Office. He is paired with a Sandjarr, Mezoke Izzua. Humans nearly wiped out Mezoke’s people, but now the two have to work together on diplomatic missions to promote peace within the confederation.
Why I picked it up: The background detail on the cover is stunning and reminded me of the Valerian. This graphic novel was originally published in France in 2006.
Why I finished it: After Swany is paired with Mezoke, “she” won’t talk to him. Swany, is talking to a human barman who is checking “her” out. Swany explains that you can’t tell if Sandjarr are male or female from their appearance.
I'd give it to: Anyone looking for science fiction comics who believes peace can be promoted by armed diplomats. Make sure you have access to Volume 2 of the series, because this is only half of a story.
Single panel comics with drawings one step above stick figures. They're crude, inappropriate, profane, obscene, just plain tasteless, and hysterical. Translated from Icelandic.
Why I picked it up: In Reykjavik, the only comics I saw were by Dagsson. After staring at them for a bit, I realized I’d read one of his books before.
Why I finished it: Even on a second reading, there's no knowing what horror the next panel will bring.
I'd give it to: I assumed I was the only one who could find a comic where a mother’s response to her kids’ pleas for help as they’re being attacked by bees is, “You know what? I’d rather watch.” Then I took it to a cafe where I was meeting my friend Joel, a painter and a dad, and his cousin Sarah, who draws mermaids. They both laughed, too.
Losing her nephew to a gangland assassination was tough on Gina Rafferty and her family. But then her brother Noel died in a drunk-driving accident a day later, and it shattered her world. Unwilling to believe the two tragedies are a cruel twist of fate, Gina begins to ask questions. Noel had been working on a huge real estate project. She becomes suspicious of Billionaire Paddy Norton, who has the Irish Prime Minister in his pocket and who may have been willing to kill to keep his latest development moving forward. Gina must delve into the muck and corruption to find out who killed her brother and why.
Why I picked it up: A friend recommended it. I usually depend on friends’ opinions when I read books outside of my favorite genres, though this book also received several excellent reviews.
Why I finished it: Watching Paddy Norton pop anti-anxiety pills like Pez as he tries to hold things together was quite compelling. This is clearly not Paddy’s first Riverdance, yet he is believably outmaneuvered by Gina. She trusts her feeling that something is amiss until facts congeal into a clear picture of greed and power. She is bold and courageous, yet it is often horrifying by how vulnerable she is while swimming among the sharks.
I'd give it to: My friend Beth who, like Gina, is an obstreperous woman in the best sense of the word, and fans of the noir mysteries not set in the U.S.