Book Review – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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TITLE: 
Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
PAGES:  698 pages
PUBLISHED: March 8th 2016
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Urban Paranormal/Fantasy, Romance, Mystery

MY RATING: 5/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

The story begins with our heroine Emma Carstairs, who we met in the final book of the Mortal Instruments, City of Heavenly Fire. Clary Fairchild befriends her after seeing her lose both her parents and Emma becomes parabatai with Julian Blackthorn so they can stay together. Julian (or Jules) is Emma’s best friend and in the Mortal Instruments we get a sense that Emma isn’t 100% committed to becoming parabatai with Jules, but does it so that she isn’t sent away from him and the Blackthorns, who’ve become a family to her. This novel contuines with the lives of Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family and what became of them.

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MY REVIEW:

Oh yes. I read this monster of a book in one day. You know when you read a book and get so into it that hours later you think to yourself “have I eaten?”

That was me. I completely skipped lunch and nibbled on some biscuits because I could not put this down!

In my opinion, you need to have read both The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments before reading this. I know other review’s say you don’t but I really think you miss out on a lot. Not just little references but whole characters and story lines that you don’t know about.

I did not read the Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy series and was a bit spoiled so that was a little annoying (my own fault) but I don’t think those novellas or The Bane Chronicles are 100% necessary to read before this. Also my review below is going to contain spoilers but I will try to put the big stuff in a hidden spoiler tag.

“You’ll fix me because we’re parabatai. We’re forever”

I really did not know what to expect with this but the writing reminded me a lot more of The Infernal Devices than The Mortal Instruments. This follows the story of Emma Carstairs, who we met in the final book of the Mortal Instruments, City of Heavenly Fire. Clary befriends her after seeing her lose both her parents and Emma becomes parabatai with Julian Blackthorn so they can stay together. Julian (or Jules) is Emma’s best friend and in the Mortal Instruments we get a sense that Emma isn’t 100% committed to becoming parabatai with Jules, but does it so that she isn’t sent away from him and the Blackthorns, who’ve become a family to her.

I love Emma! She is the distant relative of Jem Carstairs who makes an appearance, along with Tessa Grey in this! I loved the throwbacks and Emma is nothing like Clary or Tessa. If anything she is a bit like Jase but without the cockiness. She trains extremely hard and is a top Shadowhunter. She is definitely not a brat like Clary could be, or weak like Tessa. You have to really admire how much Emma is will to sacrifice for those she loves.

I really love Julian as well. He shoulders so much responsibility, I have no idea how he doesn’t just explode from it all. Emma seems to be his only safe place, the only thing that helps him, but their love is illegal. We find out that parabatai’s are forbidden by Law to never romantically fall in love with each other. If they do fall in love and the Clave finds out the punishment is extremely fierce. For almost all of the book we are not told why that it is a law, until Jem tells Emma what the consequence is.

As for the other new characters, I absolutely love Mark who is a half-faerie half-shadowhunter and was taken by The Hunt in the final book of the Mortal Instruments. He almost felt like the main character to me, although I really don’t think he and Emma should ever actually get together. Emma is clearly made for Jules. We find out Mark’s fate in the faerie realm and how the Clave essentially broke their promise to help get him back to the Blackthorns family. I really felt his love with Kieran, even though he betrays him, but I really hope they get their happily-ever-after. I was very confused with his feelings towards Cristina and I really can’t see him being with her at all. I didn’t feel any real spark between them. Sure, they found each other attractive but I think Cristina hesitated to sleep with him because she is still in love with Perfect Diego, and Mark is still in love with Kieran.

Tiberius (or Ty) and Livvy were adorable, as were all the Blackthorn kids, but I kind of wish, especially at age fifteen they realised how much of a burden they were placing on Julian. At age fifteen I feel like they could take their own share of the load and do the cooking/cleaning and helping take care of the youngest one (Tavvy), instead of leaving everything for Julian.

Every scene with Clary and Jace was so lovely. Even Magnus and Alec showed their pretty little faces at one point and Izzy and Simon were referenced to. Even though I literally just finished the final book of the Mortal Instrument series (so late, I know) this was a nice little nostalgic touch.

I also love Cristina and Perfect Diego. They definitely seemed like side-characters and we didn’t get to know them as much as the other new people but I loved how tough Cristina is and her friendship with Emma was very sweet. I really hope we get to see her character grow in the next book. I am not sure if I completely trust Perfect Diego yet, even though Cristina seems to have forgiven him by the end. I think that although Cristina didn’t hear him say anything to his brother, it doesn’t mean that he is innocent. I am curious to see if his brother is going to make an appearance in the next book.

And that ending with Kit!! Did not see that one coming and I am really curious as to where his character is going! I can forsee more Jace in the next book! Yay!

I know Cassandra Clare gets a lot of hate (whether it’s justified or not is completely your opinion) but one thing I really love about her writing, beyond being a very good storyteller, is that she pushes the boundaries of what is “normal” in her novels. I felt like this when she had Magnus and Alec in the Mortal Instruments enter a relationship. Even if you don’t like her books, you have to admit that the Mortal Instruments is a very popular series that has been turned into both a movie and TV series. Having a prominent gay couple is really cool to see and I love that people embrace these characters. In this novel I thought it was amazing that Cassandra Clare included not only Hispanic characters (Cristina and Perfect Diego are from Mexico), mentioned that (view spoiler), Mark is bixseual, but also that Ty has autism. Clare handled Ty with perfection. He wasn’t stereotyped and he was loved by his entire family for being exactly who he is.

Overall this is such a great start to the series. I am curious if this is going to be a trilogy or turn into The Mortal Instruments and have many books. I think Cassandra Clare has grown so much as an author and I really feel like this is already better than the Mortal Instrument series. It’s the perfect blend of everything we know like demons, shadowhunters, warlocks, faeries, parabatai, but with family bonds, crazy action and an epic forbidden romance.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

Each week The Broke and Bookish hosts a Top Ten Tuesday based on a chosen literary topic. This week’s topic is “Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book”! As I began to think about this topic I realised that I have become very picky with what I choose to read, especially regarding books that instantly grab my attention. I just feel like there are too many books I want to read and I may never get a chance to get through them all in one lifetime!

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1. A Great Synopsis – This is kind of a no-brainer but if I pick up a book and the synopsis has already hooked me then I am sure to continue reading. The only time this becomes an issue is if something in the synopsis gets me excited but reviewers indicate that it doesn’t actually occur in the novel, that is always so disappointing!

2. The Author – I definitely have a few favourite authors and if they put something out I will read it. Doesn’t matter what it is, if they are trying out a new genre, or the synopsis is different I will read anything from my select few favourite writers.

3. Recommendations Online – If any of my wonderful goodread friends recommend something to me I can almost guarantee I will read it. I have some very thoughtful followers that have very similar tastes to me and if they give something 5 stars, it makes me want to read it too!

4. Recommendations from my Friends/Family – I have quite a few people in my life that read as much as me and I love getting recommendations from them. In particular, if my fiance’s mum and sister tell me to read something (or even better buy me books for my birthday/holidays) I will read it and most likely enjoy it!

5. Romance Novels where the hero is described as a “sweetheart” – Lately I have been drawn to romance novels (in any genre; YA, NA, Fantasy, Sci-fi etc.) where the hero is a complete and utter sweetheart. I have been getting a little sick of the whole “alpha male” thing in romance novels and if the hero is sweet I will read that in a heartbeat!

6. Canadian Authors – I have been trying to read more Canadian authors and novels set in Canada. Unless the synopsis is really bad I have been picking up more by Canadians.

7. Space Opera Genre – I have been OBSESSED with reading novels in the space opera genre and so far I have not turned away from one! Give me galactic space, fast romance and spicy drama, please!

8. Beautiful Prose – if my Goodreads friends or other reviewers online have indicated that the novel has amazing prose then I am pretty much guaranteed to read it. Even if the genre/synopsis doesnt intrigue me at first, I know the writing will suck me in.

9. Hype – This doesn’t always guarantee that I will read it but generally if I have heard a ton of buzz around a book I will try to read it (unless the synopsis is something I really dislike).

10. The Cover – I put this last on the list because although a great cover will draw me to the book if the synopsis isn’t interesting I may not read it. As silly as it sounds a great cover design is still important to me and can draw me into a book.

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I want to hear your thoughts! What things make you pick up a book? How do you decide what to read next?

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Book Review – P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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TITLE: P.S I Like You
AUTHOR: Kasie West
PAGES:  330 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: July 26th 2016
PUBLISHER: Point
GENRE: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

Our story starts off with Lily, an aspiring songwriter, trying to balance her friends, school, and her chaotic family. She wants to enter a songwriting competition but isn’t completely confident in herself. While in her most hated class, chemistry, she sees a note under her desk and starts writing letters to an unknown student who shares her unique taste in music and they both reveal personal issues in their life. When Lily finds out the writer is male she starts falling for the mysterious student and wonders who it could be.

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MY REVIEW:

This is the second book I have read by Kasie West and I completely understand why she has such a following. This book was super adorable and absolutely perfect for Romance Week on Goodreads.

The guy writing the notes to Lily is very predictable from the beginning which was a bit of a letdown but thankfully the author doesn’t make us “guess” for long and soon Lily must face the real person against the person she imagined writing the letter.

It was a really cute novel and I absolutely loved Lily’s crazy family. I feel like they really made the novel. Her parents were funny with their little competitions, her little brothers were adorable but also realistically written, and their pet rabbit just puts a massively adorable bow on the entire thing.

It had a lot of clichés and wasn’t a unique plot but I like the idea of not judging someone until you really know them. People are complex, and while I don’t condone bullies at all, sometimes people act out for a reason.

The only thing that really made it lose one star was that I did not like the ending. It seemed very abrupt. I wish we could have found out if Lily won the songwriting contest. Her relationship also doesn’t really have a HEA and it felt like a cliffhanger.

Overall it was perfect for Romance Week and definitely a fluffy feel-good read!

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ARC Book Review – A Long Walk Home by Piper Landen

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TITLE: A Long Walk Home
AUTHOR: Piper Landen
PAGES:  166 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: December 27th 2016
PUBLISHER: Patchwork Press
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Animals

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

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SUMMARY:

For Romance Week on Goodreads I decided to pick up this cute short novel from NetGalley. The story started off with Casey finding a stray dog in a park and deciding to take him home. Casey has no experience with dogs and is very unsure. She contacts a rescue agency and works with them to find a home for the stray dog that they end up calling Baloo. Casey decides, with her roommate’s consent, that she will foster Baloo until he finds a permanent home.

Casey goes back to the park to hand out flyers if anyways knows Baloo and meets a gorgeous runner named Charlie. She keeps running into him until he asks her out. It’s a cute (somewhat cliché) meet cute.

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MY REVIEW:

Overall the novel is exactly what you expect. It is only 160 pages long (ebook) and very adorable, with lots of little antics by Baloo and insta-love.

I didn’t really enjoy the writing as I found it a bit disjointed and too formal. There were massive walls of text just explaining Casey’s day and what the dog was going in too much detail that had no action or dialogue to break it up.

The dialogue between Casey and Charlie was also a bit awkward. I didn’t understand some of the “jokes” and conversations they had. For example when she first texted Charlie he asked if she had any dietary restrictions (which I assume to mean vegan or something) and she answers “Once upon a time, I did the paleo thing, back when I was exercising for fun, like a maniac (no offense). But I got past it. All food is good food as far as I’m concerned.”

Huh? Why does she say ‘no offense’? Is it because she always sees him running and assumes he is an exercising maniac? Because she used the word maniac? This was just an example of many dialogues that I did not understand in this novel.

I thought Charlie and Casey’s first date was actually really cute but unfortunately I didn’t actually like Charlie at all. He seemed to have quite the temper and I didn’t like how he got mad so fast and didn’t hear Casey out. I didn’t actually get a sense of a HEA here which is bit disappointing, especially in a romance novel.

Because this novel was so short it suffered because I don’t recall Casey every talking about what she did for work/school and she seemed to either be hanging out with Baloo at home, with Charlie, watching Netflix and it seemed really unrealistic. Charlie’s occupation wasn’t mentioned either. I felt like I really didn’t to know the characters well at all.

Overall, despites its flaws this was a very quick and cute read. Perfect for Romance Week on Goodreads!

*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Book Review – For Finlay

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**ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

TITLE: For Finlay
AUTHOR: J. Nathan
PAGES:  214 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: January 30, 2017
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Sports

MY RATING: 4/5 birds

Rating - 4 Bird

SUMMARY:

Finlay lived her entire life in the shadow of her older brother, football star Cole Thatcher. She hates always being referred to as Cole’s little sister and always craved an identity of her own. This causes her to push her older brother away, a mistake she regrets every day when her brother suddenly dies.

Two years later, moving to a new town to work for the Alabama college football team she is trying to live her brother’s dream. Even if it means working beside the new quarterback Caden Brooks. She has reasons to hate him for taking her brother’s place on the Alabama team but soon hatred turns into sexual tension as neither of them can deny the strong attraction they feel.

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MY REVIEW:

This was a very sweet NA book that reminded me a lot of the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy. I am glad I picked this up, even though I really have no interest in football because it was very enjoyable! Both Finlay and Caden are great characters. I like how the mistake and the whole reason that Finlay hated Caden as much as she did before even meeting him was very realistic and this book had no drama just for drama’s sake. The conflict was well written and interesting.

The only issues I had was that I could have done without Caden’s POV entirely! I felt like it didn’t really add much to the plot for me and it would have been interesting getting to know Finlay better and learning more about what she wanted to do in life, like picking a major, future plans, her relationship with her parents etc.

I also found some of the scene changes in the novel disorientating. For example, Caden and Grady get into a fist fight and instead of continuing that storyline and finding out what happened, it starts the next scene with Finlay swimming at 4 am. The author could have easily started the new paragraph in Caden’s POV. Where did the rest of the day go? We obviously learn what happened when Caden comes to where Finlay is swimming but I would have rather followed the story closer…or why have Caden’s POV at all?

The epilogue was very sweet and we definitely get a HEA, although I was a bit disappointed that Caden never resolved his issues with his dad because I felt like his dad’s new wife had a point when she spoke to Caden at the hospital when he was sleeping beside Finlay.

Overall this was a very fun and entertaining read but it goes beyond the typical NA novel by talking about dealing with death. If you enjoyed The Deal by Elle Kennedy or Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock I would definitely recommend this!

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review – Flawed

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**ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

TITLE: Flawed (Ethan Frost #4)
AUTHOR: Tracy Wolff
PAGES:  255 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: January 17, 2017
PUBLISHER: Loveswept
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Enemies to Lovers, My Best Friend’s Brother Romance

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

Rating - 3 Bird

SUMMARY:

The novel begins with our heroine and socialite, Tori Reed, on an exceedingly horrible blind date. The night keeps going from bad to worse until Tori is out on the streets and disowned from her family due to her past relationship ending up in the press. This means no more trust fund, car, clothes, and even shoes! Barefoot and wearing last night dress Tori lifts her head high and plans to hide out at her best friend’s house unless the media dies down only to find it is already occupied by her bff’s older brother Miles Girard, whom she hates with a passion. Soon the passion for destruction turns into another kind of passion but can Miles deal with Tori’s behaviour and help her when she has lost it all?

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MY REVIEW:

I wasn’t crazy about this book but it wasn’t terrible either. There were elements I liked and I did read it quite quickly but overall the book fell flat and there were elements of the story that really irritated me. Maybe people who have read the series from the beginning might feel differently and have more loyalty to the characters? I have to say the author did a great job with making me feel like I wasn’t missing anything even though I am reading the series out of order.

I really enjoyed the “enemies to lovers” aspect of the novel. I really like these types of books and the sexual tension between Tori and Miles was explosive! Unfortunately the characters were sorely lacking depth which was disappointing. Tori was incredibly hard to relate to. She is a whiny socialite who basically had everything handed to her through her trust-fund, and while I like reading strong and sometimes loud personalities, she just took her bitchy attitude to another level and was so mean to Miles for absolutely no reason. The book felt like a rollercoaster to crazy-town…the fights between her and Miles felt manufactured to create drama just to have drama.

It is also fun sometimes to read about rich people (I mean the billionaire genre trope exists for a reason in romance novels) but I found this just did not work for me. There was no redeeming or relatable quality to Tori as she is an adult but doesn’t work, has a nice apartment her trust fund paid for, car, multiple credit cards, and so when her father kicked her out I did feel a little bad for her because it was so dramatic (I mean, not even letting her get changed? Or get shoes?) but it was still hard to muster up total sympathy for the stereotypical “poor little rich girl”.

I also feel like the author could have taken the topic of revenge porn, sex tapes, and rape further. She spent many pages going over it in both Miles and Tori’s perspective but it felt incredibly shallow. The inner monologues were very repetitive. It was also very convenient that Miles was this mega-genius and he essentially [caught Alexander for a sexual assault he committed years ago (hide spoiler)]. I just felt like it was so over the top. It kind of throws it in the face of real rape victims (like the real case the author mentioned in the novel) who have to deal with the terrible reality that their perpetrators may never go to jail and there may never be justice. Unfortunately that is the reality of life today. But suddenly here comes the hero…it’s just another version of the damsel in distress and how the Hero saved the day. Tori did a lot of talking about how she wanted to be more independent in her life and maybe even speak out about her experience and help others, but then she didn’t actually do anything but rehashed the same arguments with Miles over and over again.

I was especially confused because in Chapter 20 Tori says she has an interview tomorrow afternoon at a local TV station but then we don’t hear anything about it? She gets mad at Miles and runs away to Chloe’s house, does she just blow off the interview?

I thought the author had the perfect opportunity in the epilogue to say something about Tori become a spokesperson or advocate but it just focused on their romance. It was cute and we got the HEA but still….very shallow.

Speaking of the romance…yikes. The insta-love was crazy in this novel. It really just killed the novel for me. ? I would have been completely fine with Miles and Tori just committing to a real relationship than saying “I love you” after four days together.

As for Miles I didn’t dislike him as much as Tori but she kind of rubbed off on him because I had to wonder what he saw in Tori? He goes and does nice things for her and she repays him by screaming in his face, calling him names and just acting like a huge immature brat. If I was Miles I would have seen all of this as huge red flags and realised I don’t have to be with someone who throws temper tantrums at every turn but when confronted immediately plays the victim role.

In terms of the steamy scenes which I know many of us read these novels basically for that, as I said above the sexual tension was very well done and the first sex scene was very steamy but then it really tapered off for me. In particular the kissing was over-described and I really did not enjoy how much he licks her gums…haha it was just weird but to each their own!

Also very minor but did anyone else notice what Ethan said about the blind dates he and Chloe set Tori up on?! I thought it was so horrible that her best friend and husband intentionally set her up on horrible dates because they “hoped that she would get together with Miles”! That some crazy manipulative shit! If my friends did that to me I would be so pissed off.

All in all I think if you don’t mind very loud, brash personalities then Tori won’t bother you and if you want to read something a little more on the shallow side and just for the romance then I would recommend this. Other than that I think it was a decent read but I am not tempted to read the rest of this series.

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Book Review – The Bone Witch

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TITLE: The Bone Witch
AUTHOR: Rin Chupeco
PAGES:  400 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: March 7th 2017
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy/Paranormal

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

Rating - 3 Bird

SUMMARY:

Tea (pronounced Tay-uh) accidentally resurrects her dead older Brother Fox which lands her into the hands of seasoned necromancer when she finds out that she is a different type of witch than the rest of her family. She is a “bone witch” meaning she is a necromancer and therefore feared by the entire community. The older necromancer takes Tea and her brother in and trains them, but as dark forces rise Tea must learn her skills quickly in this compelling new fantasy series.

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MY REVIEW:

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to enjoy this, the premise sounded very interesting but I found the book quite slow and boring. It took me a very long time to finish it. I initially downloaded this from NetGallery back in August and have only finished it now! I think it had something to do with how unnecessarily descriptive the book was. The world building was excellent but it almost felt overdone.

I did like the main character, Tea, but she definitely had the “special snowflake” syndrome from being the “chosen one. The romance also left something to be desired. I don’t hate love-triangles but it felt very undeveloped and it almost came out of nowhere at the end of the novel. I am hoping the author will really work on the romance for the next novel but I am not sure at this point if I would continue with the rest of this series.

The cover is absolutely beautiful though and I think that will definitely draw people in!

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