Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

After finishing City of Bones, I couldn’t wait to pick up the second book to see how the series holds up. I feel like there was potential for the story to become overly cliche, but, thus far, it hasn’t happened.

Everything is a little more complicated the second time around. The character’s feelings and emotions are all over the place, loyalties change, fingers are pointed, and there are demons everywhere. It doesn’t take long for the action and drama to pick up in this book.

I really liked some of the character development in this story, especially for Jace. Jace was a bit of douche in the first book, which made him hard to like. Jace deals with some pretty heavy stuff, after finding out that Valentine is his father. He’s been torn in a lot of different directions and for that reason I found it a little easier to sympathize with him. I still find the whole situation between he and Clary pretty weird, but, hey, I’m not judging.

Simon’s character also went through some major changes. I don’t want to reveal too much and spoil it for anyone else, but I will just say that I guessed it was coming. I’m still not sure if I like this new development, but it could definitely make the story more interesting later on. I really wish Clary would stop being a turd and realizes how perfect Simon is for her. Teenagers. Le sigh.

Overall, this was a great sequel. There’s still so much that can happen in the rest of the series. (I’m still waiting for the Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires, and faeries to finally join forces.) The cliffhanger at the very end has me eager to start the next book ASAP.

Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! Last week I talked about a book I was reading for the new book club I joined. I hate to admit this, but I gave up on that book. I hate quitting a book, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Oh well. C’est la vie! This week’s book is more up  my alley.

(For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.)

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Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

After finishing the first book, City of Bones, I knew I had to keep reading the series to see where it goes. So far, this one is just as good as the first book!

There are demons and dark forces afoot! Clary is still conflicted in her feelings towards both Jace and Simon, Jace gets thrown in prison, and there are dead bodies everywhere. And it’s only the beginning! There’s never a dull moment with these books, which is why I got sucked in so easily.

I love how all the relationships in this book have become even more complicated, now that Valentine is back and trying to start a war against the Clave. Suddenly, everyone is pitted against each other. The characters can’t decide who’s really a friend and who’s a foe. Even family is pitted against each other. It’s been keeping me guessing since the very first chapter and, to be honest, I have no idea which side everyone will end up on.

Clary and Simon’s relationship is still struggling, which kinda makes me sad, because I think Simon is great. Obviously things will only get more complicated now that Simon is a vampire (which I totally saw coming, by the way). I hope he and Clary end up being more “official” anyway, because Jace is a turd. As much as I would like for Clary and Simon to end up together, I predict that she will keep hurting him and push him away. *sigh*

I predict that Valentine is going to keep killing Downworlders and recruiting demons to his cause. Eventually, they – the Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires, and faeries – will realize that they have to join forces if they’re going to stop him. I don’t expect war to break out yet,  but I think they will start teaming up by the end of the book.

I don’t know where this story is going, but shit’s going to get messy.

 

Books · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

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Well, still no hurricane yet. It’s expected to make landfall in Charlotte sometime later today. I’m more than ready for it to be over already because I feel like everybody’s been panicking for way too long now. If any of you are in the path of the hurricane, I hope you’re all staying safe!

Since it’s Friday, you know what that means. It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

If you’re a regular follower mine you’re probably thinking “Who are you and what have you done with Kiersten?” I hardly ever read contemporary fiction, of the adult or YA genre. The only reason I picked this book up was because it’s for the book club I joined. This is my first attempt at ever joining a book club. I’ve thought about it before but my anxiety has always held me back. It’s a YA book club. When I joined I was hoping it would be more fantasy based. I’m really not sure what it’s going to turn into going forward because the club is new and this is only the first pick.

I hate to say it, but nothing about this book is grabbing me. I’m trying to give it a chance, but so far I’m finding it very slow. The main character, Danny, is relatable with his insecurities and his family drama. I like Danny, but I don’t love him. All of the characters, thus far, are just okay. I don’t feel very connected to them or to the story, in general.

Honestly, I can’t decide if I even want to finish this book. There are some interesting topics discussed, which I appreciate, but I still can’t get past the fact that I’m bored with it. If I don’t read it, however, then I pretty much fail at my first book club attempt.

Alas, I don’t know what to do.

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air…

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

As I mentioned in last week’s First Impression Friday post, people seem to either love or hate this book. Despite how skeptical I was to read it, I was pleasantly surprised and would consider myself among the “love it” crowd. I admit, the plot sounded a little bit too Twilight-y for me, which is what made me hesitant to read it in the first place. Aside from the fact that there are both vampires and werewolves (and some light, almost love triangle drama), that’s where the comparison between City of Bones and Twilight ends.

The plot was rich with interesting characters, both human and supernatural. Authors don’t always do the best job at creating a world where supernatural beings are smoothly integrated into modern human society. I didn’t feel like that was the case here. Everything blended together seamlessly into one world that feels somewhat familiar and terrifying at the same time.

Clary Fray is a good protagonist. Despite the fact that she has “the sight,” she never feels like one of those main characters who everyone treats as “special.” She’s not the chosen one. She was thrown into a situation and a world that she was never meant to be part of, but it doesn’t change who she is. I admired her loyalty to both her family and her friends, and the fact that her newfound ability doesn’t over-inflate her ego.

I don’t understand why so many people love Jace. He and the other Shadowhunters got on my nerves at times. All of them were a bit conceited and acted like complete assholes to the “mundanes” (aka Clary and Simon). I didn’t hate Jace, but he’s definitely not a fictional character I’m going to be crushing over.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book and the unexpected, complex situations that arose. (The last few chapters really sucked me in!) There were even some moments that made me laugh, which is always appreciated. I don’t think I’ll be watching the tv version, but I do plan on reading the next book soon.

 

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Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air…

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

This series seems to be one that people have a very strong love or hate relationship with. I haven’t quite figured out why yet, as I am still solidly in the middle.

I won’t lie, I’m all for books involving various fantastical beings – Shadowhunters, demons, werewolves, warlocks, etc. I do see the potential for things to get a little too campy, but so far it hasn’t leaned that way. I like the concept of Shadowhunters – a race of humans with special demon-hunting abilities. It’s not a super unique concept, but it’s one I haven’t read much of previously.

The protagonist, Clary, is likable. The fact that she can see Shadowhunters means there is something unique about her. (I’m guessing she has some Shadowhunter blood in her and that it’s related to her mother’s disappearance.) I’m a little concerned that it’s going to turn into one of those “I have special powers and am the chosen one” kind of stories. I hope not. None of the other characters have really grabbed me yet. There’s nothing wrong with any of them, but I don’t feel any sort of connection with them either.

I’m really not sure how well I am going to like this book. I’m predicting a 3- 3.5 rating, based on what I’ve read so far.

(Fun fact: This is my first Cassandra Clare book.)

Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

A Court of Frost and Starlight: Delayed Opinion Post

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A few months ago I wrote a brief review of A Court of Frost and Starlight after it had been released. Considering how much I loved the first three books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I couldn’t want to read the follow-up novella. Sadly, after finishing the book in barely over a day, I was left feeling like I had been cheated. From all the other reviews I’ve read since the book’s release, it looks like I am not alone in feeling this way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read far worse books. That being said, I’ve read far better. If this had been a standalone book that I just read on a whim I would have read it and just said “Eh, it was okay.” I think the fact that so many people were disappointed with it, however, is because, after the other three books, there were some pretty big shoes to fill. I didn’t say much in my original review, since the book was still pretty new and was afraid to give too many spoilers away. Now that’s been a few months, I’d like to chime in.

(Warning: Potential spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.)

ACOFAS lacked the plot that the other books had. I know, I know. It’s only a novella. It’s shorter, therefore, there’s supposed to be less detailed than a regular novel. Still, all the detail and events that were there just felt like fluff. I’ve read shorter books with far more substance than this book had. The other thing that really bothered me with the story was how everyone was coping, or not coping, with the aftermath of the war. They’d all been through some pretty traumatic and f*cked up things. They killed people, watched other people die, etc. You would think they’d all be pretty shaken up, no? It was alluded to a few times, but it never actually felt like anyone was struggling too hard. It was like the war ended and everyone immediately stepped back into their regular places in the Night Court. Feyre was shopping all the time and Rhysand pretty much wanted to do nothing but have sex with her. Ummm, really? Even if they were all coping pretty well, this still felt like a highly unrealistic representation of what would be happening…and it irked me.

The only one who actually seemed to be behaving normally was Feyre’s sister, Nesta. Still wanting nothing to do with being a Fae, she’d distanced herself from the rest of the group and was passing her time drinking, gambling, and having sex. While this might not be the most productive way to spend one’s time, I felt like Nesta was the only one with a normal expression of emotions. Personally, I would have rather read more about what Nesta was up to than to read about shopping.

The way Feyre, Rhys, and the other members of their group treated Nesta was pretty shitty. If they didn’t agree with the choices she was making they could have just left her alone and stopped forcing her to come around (she didn’t want to be there anyway). They also made it pretty obvious that they were not a fan of her multiple sexual partners, which really pissed me off. There’s nothing wrong with the whole “bonding for life” thing that Feyre and Rhys had, but I felt like the author was trying way too hard to push this angle and put down any other sort of lifestyle. I know these are young adult books, but I don’t condone slut-shaming. Considering how much sex was already in the rest of the series, I don’t understand where this somewhat misogynistic stance came from. I was also pissed by the way that Tamlin was treated in his brief encounter with Rhysand. I understand that Feyre has some ill feelings towards him given how he treated her, but at the same time, I don’t feel like his behavior was that awful. Things had gone a little sour between them, but it wasn’t like he was physically harming her or anything. Rhysand showed up and saw that he was clearly not doing well (Can you blame him? He lost the woman he loved and just went through a war.) and pretty much kicked him while he was down. He seems to enjoy rubbing his relationship with Feyre in Tamlin’s face and it’s making him look like a giant douche.

The part that made me want to throw the book across the room was when Feyre decided she wanted to have a baby. Sorry, but the whole story turned to shit at that point. It was like Feyre did a complete 180 in this book, going from the tough, badass High Lady to an overly domestic type. It didn’t fit her character at all and it wasn’t something that I cared for. (I admit, my opinion on this may be slightly swayed by the fact that I am not someone who wants to have children and does not get all gooey-eyed over the thought of babies.) It felt so forced. She was only like twenty years old at this point and she’s a Fae. She has plenty of time to have kids. Shouldn’t she have lived as High Lady and did some “normal” Fae stuff first? Meh.

I’ve seen some people claiming that this book ruined the whole series for them. I don’t think I would quite go that far. I enjoyed the rest of the series, but I don;t think I would include this one in a re-read. What did you guys think? Did this ruin the rest of the story for you?

Out of curiosity, did any of you enjoy this one? (If you did that’s totally cool. There’s nothing wrong with that.) What did you like about it?

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

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My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I was chosen by the Deos. Even gods make mistakes.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

Despite some of the things I brought up in last week’s First Impression Friday  post, I enjoyed this book. There was a lot of diversity happening here,  between learning about the brujas and their culture and beliefs in magic, to the LGBT love triangle. (I’m not normally one for love triangles, but I’ll give this one a pass because it didn’t really feel like one until the end.)

The world that Cordova invented was rich and creative. Los Lagos was like falling into a Wonderland of souls. I loved the contrast between the beauty of their surroundings and all the horrors that resided there. Alex’s companions, including the ghosts of her ancestors, and the strange creatures lurking in Los Lagos made for a very strange story. Strange in a good way, mostly.

I liked Alex and her original antithesis of her powers. After all the sorrow her family had seen, it was easy to sympathize and understand why she didn’t want any part of being a bruja. I also appreciated her desire to make things right and the fact that she went to such extreme lengths to save her family. The powerful bond between all of them was touching.

Truthfully, I thought this story was going to be predictable. The early chapters made it seem like it was heading in a particular direction. I was pleasantly surprised at the unexpected twists that popped up. The only thing I found a little confusing was her interactions with her trapped and/or deceased family members. I don’t feel like this was explained well enough and at times it didn’t make sense to me.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I probably won’t read the sequel immediately, but it’s on my TBR list for sometime in the future.