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: A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

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Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.
Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.
Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated throughout by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure—full color.

I really enjoyed the Miss Peregrine’s original trilogy and it was awesome to have something so refreshing and different without taking too much away from the story! Before I start, I feel like I should tell you guys that I read the first 3 books like 2 years ago? And I was so worried that I wouldn’t understand the story, having forgotten most of the plot of the first 3 books. But even though this book starts right after Library of Souls, I had absolutely no trouble picking up the story. It’s different enough to be able to grasp it right away and I loved that!

“All my life, normal people had mostly baffled me-the ridiculous ways they strove to impress one another, the mediocre goals that seemed to drive them, the banality of their dreams.”

So much felt unique about this book. I felt the same way with the first 3, but it feels even more enhanced with this one. Taking the Peculiars to America seemed like the perfect way to go, and it was so fun to read about them in the modern world. There are endless scenes that could be great to tackle in this world, and I think Riggs handled them brilliantly.

It was so authentic to read about the children becoming more independent in the modern world, and wanting to explore more on their own. They seemed to really grow in this book and I loved how sweet the story is.

“The way people rejected anything that didn’t fit their narrow paradigm of acceptability, as if those who thought or acted or dressed or dreamed differently from them were a threat to their very existence.”

The only small niggle I had with this book is it felt a little…slow at times? I don’t know, there just seemed to be large gaps in the plot where it could have just been summed up in a couple of sentences. But I have to say, it didn’t detract from my experience too much, because I felt like I could flick through quickly and still enjoy the slower parts.

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Unravel Me (#2) by Tahereh Mafi

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It should have taken Juliette a single touch to kill Warner. But his mysterious immunity to her deadly power has left her shaken, wondering why her ultimate defense mechanism failed against the person she most needs protection from.
She and Adam were able to escape Warner’s clutches and join up with a group of rebels, many of whom have powers of their own. Juliette will finally be able to actively fight against The Reestablishment and try to fix her broken world. And perhaps these new allies can help her shed light on the secret behind Adam’s—and Warner’s—immunity to her killer skin.

Before I start – this review will include spoilers! I just don’t think I can include all of my thoughts about this book without talking a bit about what happened, so be warned.

I want to say that I don’t actually dislike love triangles. I wouldn’t say I have an opinion on them either way, because it is possible that they can be done well. But in this book, no. Just no. I feel like I let my own feelings really seep into my opinion of this book, but it just felt so wrong. Juliette and Adam are perfect for each other. Warner is a murderer. I am determined to not let that get out of my head. There is just so much wrong with his character. He keeps making advances on Juliette without her permission. He touches her without her permission. He invades her personal diary without her permission. And as much as I understand he is persuasive and it makes Juliette confused, it’s just wrong.

I just can’t help but think that if anyone acted as Warner did in these books in real life, it would be morally wrong and she could easily press charges. He would be seen as a stalker and a creep. But because he’s so hot and so good with words, she’s suddenly confused. What the hell is wrong with her?

“The books…”

But as much as I absolutely despised the love triangle, I can’t help but say I still really enjoyed reading this. I can’t even begin to describe how talented Tahereh Mafi is. Her writing is beautiful, and thank God, she has discovered how to use a freaking comma. I really felt like the writing flowed more in this book, and I loveee the short chapters! I’ve had a busy week but I’m sure that if I’d had more time I’d have finished this in just a few short days!

“they helped keep me from losing my mind altogether.”

So I’m definitely going to carry on with this series, but I feel like it was a major disappointment compared to the first book. I really enjoyed the first one, but even thinking about what I’ve just read makes me feel angry. Mafi is talented enough with her writing to make me want to continue, but I won’t be holding my breath.

★★★
2.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: My Neighbor Totoro by Tsugiko Kubo

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The beloved animation classic by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro is now retold in novel form. This prestige, hardcover edition features original illustrations by Miyazaki himself, accompanying a story written by veteran children’s book author Tsugiko Kubo. Sure to delight both existing fans and new readers! Eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. While their father is working, the girls explore their sprawling old house and the forest and fields that surround it. Soon, Satsuki and Mei discover Totoro, a magical forest spirit who takes them on fantastic adventures through the trees and the clouds–and teaches them a lesson about trusting one another.

I can’t even begin to tell you how lovely this book was. I found it so comforting! I started watching Studio Ghibli movies a few years ago, and they really hold a special place in my heart. I’ve come to love the franchise, and when I saw this book I knew I’d want to pick it up. I wasn’t wrong in adding it to my TBR, I got through it in just a day and I adored it!

“The rain kept falling, falling, falling….”

If you’re a fan of the movie like I am, this book is definitely worth the read. Told mostly from the view of 11 year old Satsuki, it explores the challenges of moving to a new house and having an ill family member. It’s lighthearted and extremely gentle, but still nostalgic of the more emotional undertones of the beautiful movie.

This book is extremely cute as a physical item, and is scattered with beautiful watercolour illustrations that are reminiscent of the animation. The story reminded me of Enid Blyton, who I adored as a kid! It really made me think how much I would have loved this book if I’d had it read to me as a child.

“The sound of rain was everywhere.”

I read this in bed, with fairy lights on, while I wasn’t feeling well one rainy day. The countryside setting is described beautifully, and overall the narrative is sweet and calming. If you like the movie/Studio Ghibli in general, this book is definitely worth the read.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Before I begin, thank you to the lovely Anna for pushing me to read this book! An old friend gave it to me for my birthday almost 2 years ago and it’s taken me until now to finally pick it up. But I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed it so much that it took me under 2 days to complete.

“Raindrops are my only reminder that clouds have a heartbeat.”

I think the thing I found most enjoyable about this book is it’s so easy to read. The pages literally fly by, because after the first couple of chapters the pacing is steadfast. The short chapters left me wanting to just read another one, making Shatter Me a book I just couldn’t put down. I also loved the cast of characters, from our clever villain to Adam’s sweet little brother. Although Juliette was whiny and cliche, I couldn’t help but understand her situation.

This book kind of reminded me of The Selection series in the ways it made me feel. The insta-love annoyed me a little as it was cringy, but I still couldn’t help but enjoy reading about their story. I just wish I’d read this one a couple of years ago instead, because I would have loved it even more!

“That I have one, too.”

Alongside some of the cringe, I had a few small issues I want to address. For one, why does Mafi not know about commas? I understand that this pushed forward the whole diary/notebook written aspect, but some sentences just really needed breaking up. It didn’t bother me too much after a while, but if I didn’t think it was intentional, it would have just looked unprofessional.

But niggles aside, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. I’ve already ordered the second book and I can’t wait to carry on with the series soon!

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (#3) by Maggie Stiefvater

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Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

I just saw on Amazon that I bought this book in May 2016, over 2 years ago. So why the hell did it take me so long to get round to actually reading this series? I’ve got to a point where I can’t imagine my world without these beautiful Raven Boys, and I’m dreading finishing The Raven King and being without this series.

I feel like each of these books teaches us more about the individuals that make up this quirky little group. We had an introduction, we had Ronan and in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I developed a deep understanding of Adam. There is a passage in this book where Blue explains that the Raven Boys all fall a little bit in love with each other, and I think I can include myself in this. Because the characters are by far the best thing about this book.

“”Don’t tell the others,” Gansey said.”

Although we really needed more Noah in this book, because his cold little self warms my heart with some scenes, my favourite of which is in The Dream Thieves with Blue, and always will be. We also find ourselves with a number of awesome characters added in this book, one of which is Jesse Dittley, who I have to say I just found awesome.

Leaving the characters aside for a moment, I have to force myself to focus on other things. Like the plot, which actually wasn’t half-boring in this book! I feel like this is where it clicked for Maggie, and became more action-packed and paced better. Thank god. Let’s hope she keeps it up for The Raven King.

“”I’m dead,” Noah replied, “not stupid.””

I only have two minor complaints, once again. For one, I want more Gansey please? He is meant to be the main focus of this entire book, but I need more description of him and his life outside Glendower. Or maybe the point is that he doesn’t have one.

For two, Adam’s court scene? Is entirely missed out? I’m presuming it all turned out okay, but I also feel like someone ripped some very important pages out of my book or something.

But these two very minor feelings can’t impact on my love for this series, which burns brighter than it ever has, if you can believe it.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Dream Thieves (#2) by Maggie Stiefvater

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Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

I am adoring this series. It’s taking up so much space in my head at the moment because I literally can’t stop thinking about these books and these characters and this story. I can’t even function because these books are so compelling and I couldn’t put this one down. I mean this very literally, because I was looking so hard at the page while reaching for a cup of tea that the tea ended up spilled on the bed. Oops.

“In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them.”

But despite all the love and fangirling, I have got to admit I had a few very minor problems.

  1. I genuinely think Maggie has a little bit of a problem with pacing. Like, I started this book a little slow but the second half arrived and BAM. I couldn’t put it down.
  2. I still don’t love Ronan. Sure, I understand more about his inner demons but he’s still a bit of a pr*ck to me, and not much of a likeable character.

But oh well, because the other boys (especially Noah HELLO), I loved. There is a scene in this book which features him and Blue (I’m sure you know which one I mean if you’ve read this book), that made me adore his spooky little self. Also, I loved the villain and the focus on every single character in this beautiful story and how they work together. They all seemed to be drawn together in this book and I really enjoyed the focus on each of them.

“Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness.
Her raven boys.”

I’m still very much in love with Maggie’s writing. She comes out with so many beautiful sentences, it makes me want to stop and just breathe it all in for a moment. In conclusion, I wanted to knock half a star off this for the bad pacing, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I love this series.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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