Top 5 Fictional Places I Want to Visit

Hi everyone! While in isolation, I’m doing a lot of daydreaming. Daydreaming about seeing my friends, family and boyfriend again. Daydreaming about driving again, singing along to the radio with the window rolled down. Daydreaming about the beach, the feeling of sand between my toes.

So why not add to that daydreaming, and talk about fictional places I’d love to visit too?

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Life isn’t much fun at number four Privet Drive, at least not for Harry Potter, living under the stairs in a cupboard full of spiders, but all of that is about to change. On the eve of Harry’s eleventh birthday the letters start arriving; letters written in emerald green ink on yellowing parchment with an unmistakable letter H on purple wax seals. Because Harry Potter is no ordinary boy, he is the boy who lived, the wizard whose name everyone in the magical world knows and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin and life for Harry Potter will never be the same again.

Obviously this one has to be top of the list. I’d love to be able to wander the hallways of Hogwarts, and I feel lucky enough to be able to do the Studio Tour occasionally.

The Mortal Instruments 3: City of Glass - The Mortal Instruments (Paperback)

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To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?

I remember reading this series and finding the City of Glass sounded so beautiful, I’d love to see it in real life.

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Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey `there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon…

One of my bucket list activities is definitely to visit Hobbiton in New Zealand. It looks so beautiful!

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Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.
Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

Honestly, all of these books sound beautiful, but especially A Court of Frost and Starlight. I remember reading this book and thinking how beautiful the city sounded!

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Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a strange book hidden in the library stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues – a bee, a key and a sword – that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to a subterranean library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians – it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose – in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

I just couldn’t write this post without including something written by Erin Morgenstern. Her worlds sound so rich and luscious. I’m sure it would be terrifying but beautiful to visit the world of The Starless Sea.

A worthy mention is also Caraval, which I’m sure would be terrifying too!

Which fictional places would you love to visit?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

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Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this paperback collection of New York Times bestselling tales, each with comic-style art.
This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.
Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print and includes a special eleventh tale, as well as eleven comic illustrations.

This book was a strange one to dive into straight after East of Eden, but like a comfort blanket of being back in the Shadow world. I wasn’t sure what to expect with The Bane Chronicles, but I ended up enjoying it so much!

It has all of the fabulous flamboyant-ness of Magnus, and made me laugh out loud so many times. The humour was definitely the most impressive part of this book. I never really laugh out loud at books. I’ll find things funny, but rarely do I actually chuckle or laugh. But this one did.

‘The universe could be a wondrous thing.’

If you love Magnus (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), you’ll definitely enjoy this. Although short stories can sometimes be difficult and hard to get right, this collection had a certain flow. It wasn’t in a complete linear order like Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, but it had enough of a recognisable order that it didn’t feel all over the place!

The pacing was pretty spot on, too. I got through this in just over a weekend, simply because it was so easy to pick up the next story!

‘The universe had outdone herself. The universe would be getting flowers.’

Honestly, this book was a bit of fun. It’s nothing outstanding or breath taking, but any fans of Shadowhunters will enjoy it for sure. I found it so nostalgic and comforting to read about Magnus’ adventures throughout the years of The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments, and the laughter was definitely a plus!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Queen of Air and Darkness (#3) by Cassandra Clare

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Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.

I can’t believe that this is the longest book I’ve ever read, and yet it didn’t feel like it! It felt quicker than Lord of Shadows for sure, even though it took me over a week to get through. Honestly, the pacing and intricacy of this book made it fly by, and I think that’s definitely due to the constant switching between characters and worlds.

It would be impossible for me to write this review without mentioning how inclusive The Dark Artifices is. I was surprised to find I enjoyed reading about a polyamorous relationship (personally, I can’t see myself ever being in something like that), and we also had autism, LGBT, mental health, racial diversity and gender representation. It honestly baffles me how Clare manages to write these issues into an already complex and intense world.

“Grief can be so bad you can’t breathe, but that’s what it means to be human.”

So many characters yet again, and of course the additions of some more! But I loved them all so much and I find it amazing how each person fills a part of the story. Also, having read The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments made me love this book even more, because seeing all of the characters just warms my heart.

I have to say Clare definitely has a plot that repeats itself in many of these books. I always find them (and the endings) quite similar, and I always know I’m going to end on a big happy event. But I’ve got to say, I still love reading them so much, and I still end up with soppy tears in my eyes (or sometimes streaming down my face).

“We lose, we suffer, but we have to keep breathing.”

And I have to say I loved the illustrations throughout this book! They really added something to the story, and gave me significant places to read towards. Again, family dynamics are awesome and I love how the friendships are so valued in these books.

Overall without spoiling anything I have to say this book was a beautiful ending to such an intricate series I just fell in love with.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Lord of Shadows (#2) by Cassandra Clare

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Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?
And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late. 

Of course I adored this book – how could I not? But I also feel as though I’ve been reading this forever. I don’t know why, but I think this is by far the longest it’s taken me to get through any Cassie Clare book. And I know it’s really long, but it surprised me how the pages didn’t seem to be flying by quite as quickly as I expected them to.

That being said, I still think this is a brilliant continuation of the Lady Midnight. It’s complex, with travels around the world (and other worlds) and contained so much depth as usual. The addition of yet more characters felt necessary and so brilliantly done. I just love how Clare can make us feel sympathy for even the most unlikely of people.

“Everyone is afraid of something. We fear things because we value them. We fear losing people because we love them.”

The variation of scenes, especially in the second half of the book, really did make some of the pages fly. I loved reading scenes set in Cornwall, then London, then Idris, then Faerie.

But…I need to talk about Faerie. I don’t know, I just feel like although my heart is absolutely bursting with love there is some small thing that didn’t click for me while I was reading it? I think that’s a lot to do with this being one of the only books I’ve ever read with Fae and the Fae lands in it, and for some reason my head just found it hard to get around (on top of being really sick at the moment).

“We fear dying because we value being alive. Don’t wish you didn’t fear anything. All that would mean is that you didn’t feel anything.”

I just feel like I’m loving this book a little bit more now looking back than I was during, and in retrospect I definitely feel like I can appreciate it just that little bit more! Overall, I thought this was a great sequel, and I’m so excited to pick up Queen of Air and Darkness. I just don’t know why it took me a while to read!

★★★★ 
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Lady Midnight (#1) by Cassandra Clare

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It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.
Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…
Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Clare never fails to astound me, and I honestly think she may have nabbed my top spot on my favourite authors list! To prove a point, I started this book on Friday and finished it on Tuesday. And I know there are many fans who would have been able to read much quicker than I did, but for me, 5 days is pretty damn quick.

There’s something so special about The Dark Artifices, and it makes me constantly realise how incredible Clare is to write numerous Shadowhunter series with different characters and yet have them stand so far apart from one another. The Infernal Devices, The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices all have very special places in my heart, and for different reasons.

“These pictures are my heart.”

I loved The Mortal Instruments so much, but I could very clearly see that Clare was developing her writing. Now on the third series, her writing is better than ever and it made Lady Midnight amazing for me. I could love no one as much as Tessa, Will and Jem, but I became so attached to Emma, Julian and his family throughout this book. The children are so diverse and vibrant and I love them all for it.

This book was full of twists and turns, especially after the initial couple hundred pages. I do think this book took a while to adjust to because it’s quite far removed from the other series, but as soon as it got going, I loved the differences. I literally couldn’t put this book down!

Also I would definitely like to point out that you really need to read Clare’s other books before this series! Not only would this spoil a lot for you, the cameos of other characters mean everything to me. I loved them.

“And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”

I cannot even explain how much I adore the cast of this series. Each character was so great in there own ways and I admire Clare endlessly for creating such a vast range of characters. I can’t finish this review without a quick mention of the diversity in this book. Not only do we have gay faeries (and my favourite warlock you know who I mean), and a new Latinx Mexican friend who I adored, but also A CHILD WITH AUTISM. Ahh I could scream with how much I just appreciate this? Ty is so well represented, so well described and I’m so overly happy he is part of this world.

And I didn’t mean to descend into full on fangirling, but I think I managed to explain how much I love this book.

★★★★★ 
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

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Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fireleft him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it. So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be. But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

This was one of those books I didn’t know I needed. I loved it, and I can’t imagine the Shadowhunter world without it now. First of all, I love that this was based on Simon, but included a wide arc of characters. I actually liked Simon throughout The Mortal Instruments, but actually being with him through a book really helped me relate to him.

The set of the Shadowhunter Academy was awesome to! It gave a link to each of these stories, and offered up something new to the Shadowhunter world.

“I think sometimes it’s too hard to believe in yourself. You just do the things you’re not sure you can do.”

I also have to tell you guys that it only took me like four days to read this 650 page book?! I think this is due to the clever layout of the book, being cut into short stories of 50-100 pages each. Every day I would aim to read at least 2 stories, and it just flew by. Honestly, the short story concept was so well done in every way. Interlinking the characters by having them come into the Academy was such a clever way to read about side characters, and not stray too far from Simon’s story!

“You just act, in spite of not being certain. I don’t believe I can change the world–it sounds stupid to even talk about it–but I’m going to try.”

Overall, this book is a must for Shadowhunter fans! It’s such a great bridge between The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices, and I feel ready to continue with the next daunting series!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽


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Review: City of Heavenly Fire (#6) by Cassandra Clare

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Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian—but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance…

What an ending to such a beautiful, absorbing series. I’m so sad to leave Clary and her story behind, but so satisfied to look back on all that has happened in this 6 book journey!

Firstly, I can’t believe I really didn’t feel the size of this book at all. At 650 pages, it’s quite a big one, but the pages flew by and I barely noticed it. The part that took me longest to read was actually the prologue, as we were suddenly introduced to new characters, Emma Carstairs and her story. However, I pushed on through and found I loved having Emma mentioned throughout the book. Due to her presence, I feel ready to go and read her story in The Dark Artifices. 

“We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us.”

Due to the changing scenery, the pacing was excellent. The books contained so much emotion between different scenes and different characters, and over and over again I was faced with a sense of loss. I adore how Clare works with so many characters and I honestly believe it’s one of her greatest gifts. However, her writing greatly improves throughout The Mortal Instruments and I felt the difference here compared to City of Bones.

I did find the plot a little predictable, as most of the books in this series follow a similar plot, but it was filled with enough small twists and surprises to keep me on my toes.

“As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.”

I have to also praise Clare for the incredible extended magical world she created. I don’t feel like she’s writing too many books set in this universe, which considering how much she is writing, is crazy. Most worlds have their limits, but this one does really feel limitless. I’m so excited to continue with her books, including The Dark Artifices, The Bane Chronicles, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy and many more as they are released! I cannot get enough of this world, and I adore how the characters are interlinked between the series in some small way, leaving me emotional reading mentions of characters from other series.

Overall, what an incredible end to The Mortal Instruments, leaving me feel satisfied but also wanting more from this world.

★★★★★ 
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: City of Lost Souls (#5) by Cassandra Clare

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When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

I can’t believe I’m about to start the last book of The Mortal Instruments, as it’s now gotten to the point that I cannot imagine leaving Clary, Jace and their friends and families behind.

It took me only four days to read this wonder, as the pages just flew by. Once I’d gotten into this story, there was no way to get me back out again. I’ve loved all of the books so far, but again, this one stood out for me. Like City of Glass (which still stands as my favourite so far), City of Lost Souls is set in places other than New York. And it fits the story so well to travel, to see these people in beautiful places all over the world.

““I never cared,” he said.”

Again, the characters did not let me down. I’m going to guess that I’m not spoiling things for anyone if I say I ship Magnus and Alec. Honestly, those two have become one of my favourite couples of all time, and I loved their scenes in this book.

I adored how deeply the plot was interwoven with the characters and their relationships. I think that’s the reason why I flipped through this one so quickly, because I couldn’t help but need to know what was going to happen to the characters. Clary, once again, grows and matures in this book and I found she came across as such a strong young woman. I loved the emotional scenes between numerous characters, especially a specific scene between Clary and ‘real’ Jace which brought tears to my eyes.

““I wanted you anyway. I always wanted you.””

Overall, this book had so much substance and complexity that made it so compulsive! I’m definitely hyped to start City of Heavenly Fire despite it’s size and the smaller size of the text in my copy!

★★★★★ 
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: City of Fallen Angels (#4) by Cassandra Clare

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To love is to destroy… 
The Mortal War is over, and Clary Fray is home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and – most importantly of all – she can finally call Jace her boyfriend. But her happiness has come at a price…

I found this book so different and refreshing! It really surprised me that these get shorter in length before getting longer again, but it’s actually just what I needed. Being able to speed through this one has given the series a new lease of life for me, and it’s introduced a new plot so well.

Given the size of the book, the pacing is also really good. It was such a page-turner for me and I couldn’t stop reading. The ending was so tense and enjoyable! Each little twist and turn had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen.

“”Hearts are breakable,” Isabelle said.”

I don’t want to include spoilers, so I’ll just say we meet a few new characters in this book that really elevated the story for me. I had so much fun finding out more about Simon, and he made a great focus for the book. However, I think without the introduction of these new characters, it could have fallen a little flat for me. Instead, I found it really interesting.

I also have to mention that I’m really glad I read The Infernal Devices before these! I did regret it a little at the start of The Mortal Instruments because of the drop in writing standard, but now it’s made me so much closer to some of the minor characters, and I get so emotional whenever they’re mentioned!

“”And I think even when you heal, you’re never what you were before.””

A few people have mentioned that this book is an ‘in-between’ story, and I do understand what they mean. It just focuses more on the characters themselves than the plot, but still with a good amount of action and plot twists for me. I actually really liked this and felt like it was needed, as I’ll go into the next 2 books feeling even closer to these beautiful characters.

Overall, definitely loved this book! It’s probably my second favourite so far, because City of Glass is hard to beat.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: City of Glass (#3) by Cassandra Clare

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Amid the chaos of war, the Shadowhunters must decide to fight with the vampires, werewolves and other Downworlders – or against them. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary have their own decision to make: should they pursue the love they know is a mortal sin?

City of Glass is definitely my favourite book of The Mortal Instruments so far, and I finally started getting the same emotional feelings I did with The Infernal Devices! One of the best things for me was the writing. I love some of the quotes from this book, and just looking at them makes me realise how much Clare had developed as a writer by the time this book was published. After having adored The Infernal Devices so much, I feel like Clare is really coming into her own here. I can’t wait to see what Fallen Angels has to give!

My favourite thing about this book honestly could be the setting. I loved reading about New York but setting City of Glass in Idris just took it to the next level. The world description was absolutely beautiful and is the perfect magical setting.

“There is no pretending,” Jace said with absolute clarity.”

All of the characters really develop in this one, and I loved reading about the ways they bounce off each other. I’ve always loved Clary as a protagonist, and seeing her become stronger and grow into such a headstrong young woman is brilliant.

I love the differences in each character and they really have their own personalities. Of course with this book forcing everyone together we had even more people to focus on but it still worked! I’ve read a lot of bad reviews criticising the characters but let me tell you something. Sure, they’re flawed. No ones perfect, and they are HUMAN. We all have our flaws, make our own mistakes and deal with things differently. Writing good characters isn’t making them perfect. It’s making the reader be empathetic and sympathise with them, and forgive them for their mistakes. And maybe other readers just didn’t feel that, but I did.

“I love you, and I will love you until I die, and if there is life after that, I’ll love you then.”

Anyway, let’s talk about the plot! Fast paced, and made the pages fly by once the plot really kicks in. The second part of the book was just glorious for me, and I sped through it. There are so many twists and turns and I was constantly shook. Even though I guessed some of the bigger plot twists, I still found it enjoyable to read and had other surprises along the way!

Overall, I want to finish off by saying that I’ve read enough YA to realise this book isn’t perfect, and neither is the series. Of course it could be said to be similar to other books, we’re all inspired by each other in this world and that’s okay. Clare’s writing isn’t always the best but is definitely improving.

But personally, I loved it. It’s emotional, cheesy and flawed. But also fun, intriguing and beautiful. I’m so glad I gave this series a go, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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