Review: City of Bones (#1) by Cassandra Clare

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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. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? 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 was actually my second read of City of Bones. I met Cassandra Clare years ago and read it for the first time then! But unfortunately, I wasn’t a massive fantasy reader and I didn’t quite click with the book. This time was definitely an improvement!

However, I did find it strange going back to The Mortal Instruments after The Infernal Devices. I wanted to read the prequels first as I’ve been told I’d understand TMI more by doing so, but I did find it difficult seeing Clare’s change in writing style. She definitely improved as she wrote, but I’m sure her writing will also improve throughout this series.

“The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he’d learned:”

Of course this was still a brilliant book, and I really enjoyed it. Usually with fantasy, we discover the world after the protagonist. Discovering this world alongside Clary has a very special feel and made her and her friends very easy characters to relate to. Having Simon in the mix also made for a gentle transition into this new world.

“that to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.”

I’m really excited for the rest of this series to play out, it’s definitely a page-turner and I’m enjoying it so much so far. At the moment I feel like The Infernal Devices is likely to hold a very special place in my heart, but The Mortal Instruments is sure to be up there too.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: My True Love Gave to Me – Various Authors

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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

As this book is full of little stories, I’m going to review them all separately! This was such a fun read and it was perfect for the festive season.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell – 5 out of 5 stars
Let’s start this on a high! I’ve read this short story before and it’s honestly brilliant, 26 pages flies by with this year-by-year tale. It’s so simple but focuses on the characters which I adored, the ability to build characters in such a short amount of time is incredible. Perfect for New Year, as it’s set on New Year’s Eve hence the title!

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – 2 out of 5 stars
Honestly, this one really didn’t do it for me. The only real positive is that it did have a Christmassy feel, but otherwise it was downright confusing and a little weird. I’m all for a little weird, but I just didn’t know what was going on. At all.

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so cute! I’m all for Christmas fantasy, but adorable festive contemporary romance is where its at. This story is one of Shy and the girl upstairs over Christmas, and it manages to not only be cute but be raw and honest and kind of beautiful in such a short amount of pages.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so overwhelmingly Christmassy! You can’t get much better than a story set in the North Pole for Christmas, surrounded by elves. I liked the protagonist, Natalie, who was the only human to ever live in the North Pole. It made such a unique story which was so fun to read!

It’s a Yuletide Miracle… by Stephanie Perkins – 5 out of 5 stars
Perkins does it again! I remember this from Summer Days and Summer Nights – if anyone can write an amazing short, it’s Perkins. This story was unique, with likeable characters and a beautiful backdrop. I would read a whole book about these two happily.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – 4 out of 5 stars
I always find levithan a little hit and miss, but I really enjoyed this story! It’s about a guy called Connor who asks his boyfriend to dress up as santa to keep Christmas magic alive for his little sister. It was a really cute contemporary with a cast of different characters who I enjoyed reading about, however I do feel like too many conversations with different characters were fitted into a very short story!

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – 3 out of 5 stars
I’m really not sure how to feel about this one. Build up a quirky contemporary with a group of friends and a New Year’s party on a trailer park, throw some drama in and then sprinkle it with magic. I think the magic was my main issue, because it just felt forced and like a last minute edition. It threw the story off kilter and threw me off too. Very weird.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – 4 out of 5 stars
Contemporary romance definitely suits festive short stories better than contemporary and a weird mix of fantasy. I’m still holding out for a full on fantasy though? Anyway, Forman really brought out holiday cheer with carol singers and pie and a little twist with Hannukah which I loved! It’s the story of (surprise) Sophie Roth, a college student who isnt yet home for Christmas. Its about new discoveries and making mistakes, and although it wasn’t perfect, I damn well enjoyed it!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I can’t say I disliked this story, it was Christmassy enough and enjoyable. But I just found it strange and I felt so disconnected to the characters! It followed a guy who had to do community service for a church at Christmas, which was an interesting concept but it just wasn’t all there for me!

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten white – 5 out of 5 stars
Yes! I didn’t think I would find another story to match Stephanie Perkins, but this one sure did. It follows the story of a girl who lives in Christmas, CA and their Christmas traditions. It was heartwarming, heartbreaking and heartfelt. All in 40 pages.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – 4 out of 5 stars
Another story, another Christmassy town ! I really enjoyed this one too, although it lacked the depth that made me love Welcome to Christmas, CA so much. Still a unique and heartwarming tale of a girl trying to escape her life and ends up finding a family of her own.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – 2 out of 5 stars
This was so weird?? I don’t even know what was going on? I stand by the fact that fantasy doesn’t work as well as contemporary in these kinds of situations usually – world building just isn’t possible in 30 pages. I didn’t properly understand the world or the story, therefore I didn’t enjoy it. The pages were used to explain the town rather than the characters, and I related only to the protagonist. It didn’t feel Christmassy either! It did have a satisfying ending, however.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it was perfect to start the New Year with. Although the stories are very mixed, it’s great to give new authors a chance with books like this one. Sure, I didn’t enjoy a few but that’s bound to happen. And I loved a number of stories enough to rate this book highly! I’ll definitely be giving some of these a re-read next Christmas.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Clockwork Princess (#3) by Cassandra Clare

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If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?
The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.
Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.

I am so overwhelmed right now, I don’t even know where to begin. I adored Clockwork Angel, and I loved Clockwork Prince, but this book has everything. It is a combination of everything I loved about both, and I’m just sitting here hoping I can put that amount of love into words.

The action is definitely back in this one, and once it picks up the pace it doesn’t disappoint. I felt like there just wasn’t enough in the second book, but Clockwork Princess definitely makes up for it. Again, the world building and exploration is just incredible. Living in England definitely makes it even more special as I really connected to where Clare was talking about, but the most impressive thing is how she captured the feeling of British countryside without having living here herself.

“Sometimes one must choose whether to be kind or honorable,” he said.”

Again, the characters are just so well written, and I found it even more so as the series continued. Clare has an incredible talent to make the reader sympathetic to even the most unlikely people, and I admire her for that so much. The way Clockwork Princess is constructed was also genius, and I loved how it flicked between scenes of different characters, keeping the tension and fast pace up.

I cannot write this review without mentioning the epilogue. My lovely friend and buddy-reader Chloe told me to be careful reading this late at night, and what did I do? Finish it at 1am. Of course this meant I was lying in bed, tears streaming down my face onto the pillow. And that is why I had to mention the epilogue – because it made me cry so much! Often, books will bring tears to my eyes, and I’ll feel emotional. But it’s rare that a book makes me sob. And oh, how Clockwork Princess made me sob.

“Sometimes one cannot be both.”

Emotionally, this book had it all. It made me laugh, cry, smile. It filled my heart with joy, only to break it into a thousand pieces. This book is a complete gem, a diamond, a shooting star. It is beauty, poetry, wonder. It might even be my favourite book of the year.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Clockwork Prince (#2) by Cassandra Clare

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In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will – the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do? As their dangerous search for the for the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa’s heart is increasingly torn, especially when one of their own betrays them…

It’s time to talk about book 2, and I am still very much in love with this beautiful series. I feel like this one was very much about the characters and I adored that about it. Finding out more about Jem and Will meant so much and gave me such a big connection to the wold and these characters.

In turn, I feel like I’ve got to know Tessa in a different way and even though I had a few problems with her, I love her character so much as a female protagonist. The only small niggles I had is (without giving spoilers), her inability to make decisions about people. But I accepted her age and her weaknesses, and honestly it also makes her a more genuine and flawed character in the end.

“It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone.”

Even though the majority of the book of course follows Tessa, the few scenes we had of other characters really touched my heart. For example seeing Sophie and Charlotte/Henry’s scenes were very heartwarming and made the book really well-rounded.

Of course there were some brilliant action scenes (and one particular one that brought tears to my eyes), but unfortunately I did feel like this one was just a little slow compared to the fast pace of the first novel.

“They could be honest with me, and I with them.”

The last comment I have is that I love the travelling in Clockwork Prince! It’s great to see Steampunk Victorian London, but to see more of England too is just brilliant. I’m already 100 pages into Clockwork Princess and I’m just loving this world and this series.

★★★★★
4.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Clockwork Angel (#1) by Cassandra Clare

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 7

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In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Timesbestselling Mortal Instruments series.
The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get around to these books, but in some ways I’m glad I’m reading this book now, when fantasy is coming round to being one of my favourite genres. Also quick shoutout to one of my best friends Chloe who I’m buddy-reading this with! It’s so much fun to have conversations about our reactions to all the twists and turns in these books.

I really love Tessa as a protagonist and it’s so awesome that she’s a woman in these times and this kind of magical community! I love how Clare doesn’t shy away from conversations Tessa has with other female characters and the discussions this book brings up are so important. I can’t wait to read more of them in the next two!

“”One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa,”

I also have to talk about this brilliant plot! I felt as though I was eased into the story, which picked up around halfway and then BAM, the real action started. It was so wonderful to read such well written fight scenes and so many plot twists! Doing a buddy-read made me very aware of the moments that shook me, because I was quickly on the phone and messaging Chloe to tell her how I was reacting. It’s making this experience so special!

Clare portrayed a magical and vivid view of Victorian London, and the Steampunk vibe is perfect. It’s such a unique feel to fantasy, and really makes this world stand out from so many others.

“”and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.””

Overall I’m loving this book and it’s so nice to be back in a brand new fantasy world! I have a lot of these books to go but it’s awesome to have so many to look forward to.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 3

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Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. Viv’s mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Honestly, I understand why everyone loved this book so much. And I definitely enjoyed it. But it’s just not up there for me…and honestly, I felt like it had a lot of problems. Really? Feminism is great. It’s brilliant. But have you ever thought it’s going too far the other way? I believe more in equal-ism than feminism. Girls are not better. We suffer the same, we should have the same opportunities. 

I understand how important this book is, I really do. And I can’t disagree that sometimes being a woman can still feel different than being a man. But I have to say that the biggest problem I had with Moxie was that it very much overshadowed men, and I would constantly feel myself thinking ‘men suffer too. Not all men do this to woman. They shouldn’t be grouped, and they shouldn’t be discounted. It’s so unfair.’

It occurs to me that this is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or an equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word.”

Other than all of these issues, I did enjoy actually reading this book. The characters are pretty cool, and I loved the focus on family and friendship groups. It’s always good to be able to find out about parents and grandparents, which was great and gave the book an interesting dynamic. 

Even though the plot was pretty predictable, there was enough ups and downs to keep me interesting. I did feel the need to keep reading and find out what was going to happen to Moxie. 

But I also have to say that the issues were so many that it felt…forced? Like, I understand that girls go through some sh*t. But to have one issue after another with absolutely no support from any kind authority felt so unrealistic? 

“After today it might be my favorite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.”

Overall, very very mixed thoughts on this one. In one way, it’s a step in the right direction, and we do need more books like this. But it’s also in the danger of taking the subject a little too far, and could be incredibly damaging to young girls and their views of guys.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

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So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Meh. Unfortunately this book was very mediocre. I had fun reading it, sure, but it really didn’t impress me. Weirdly, I read the sequel, Twelve Days of Dash and Lily before the first book! It’s the only series I’ve ever read backwards, but I don’t think it particularly mattered too much.

I found Lily a bit whiny in this one too – but actually not so much! I just saw both characters as flawed, genuine 16 year olds, and that was okay. They had their qualms and struggles, but it displayed teenage angst accurately.

“You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here’s a hint – ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn’t just the women. It’s the great male fantasy – all it takes is one dance to know that she’s the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face.”

Unfortunately, I also didn’t feel particularly festive during this one? I was thinking back to when I’ve read other festive books, and I feel like this one could have had a little more…oomph. I wanted Christmas trees on sale on corners. I wanted Gingerbread houses. I wanted MORE SNOW. Snow flurries in Central Park and with ice skating and UGH just more.

I think part of the problem was the fact that this book took place both before and after Christmas, as I felt more festive at the start of the story. I just wish I’d seen Christmas day with their families, and I know that decision was obviously part of the plot, but I would have liked just one family Christmas scene to make me feel like it truly included that special day.

“And right away you know – this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don’t want a very long courtships. They want to know immediately.”

Overall, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this book. It was a fun read with moments of hilariousness and also moments that touched my heart. It did have the bits of Christmas that sparkled, and I enjoyed reading both characters stories. I thought it was brilliant that Dash made a great bookworm and relatable character for us readers. I had fun, but that was all unfortunately!

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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