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
rating-5-birdnew
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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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Book Review – The Girl on the Train

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TITLE: The Girl on the Train
AUTHOR: Paula Hawkins
PAGES: 336
PUBLISHED: January 13th, 2015
PUBLISHER: Riverhead Books
GENRE: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Female-Noir, Suspense

MY RATING: 5/5 birds

Rating - 5 Bird

SUMMARY:

Rachel takes the same train every single morning and night, past suburban homes that make her imagination run wild. She watches a couple every day and starts to pretend that she knows them. She gives them names and feels like their life is perfect. That is until she witnesses something that completely shocks her. She soon becomes entangled in their lives, unable to separate reality from her fantasy. In this psychological thriller, is Rachel’s memory of the event and the fantasy she has created doing more harm than good?

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MY REVIEW:

I have wanted to read this book literally since the moment it came out a year ago, but for some reason I just never purchased it, even after I read reviews and I knew I’d like it. I really loved Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep and that style of book that seems to be really popular now, but for whatever reason there was alway something else to read ahead of this.

And then, I was waiting for the train in London to take me back to Edinburgh and I really wanted to pick up the new Harry Potter book. WHS had a sale of “buy one get the second half-off” and after scouring the book section I was torn between this novel and Me Before You. I finally decided on The Girl of the Train (only because it was slightly cheaper) and I am so glad! It was literally the perfect read as I sat on the train, making my way back to Scotland, on a cold and bitter day. I read the entire book on the train in about 3 hours, it was very compelling and kept me at the edge of my seat!

All of the characters were despicable but I couldn’t help but love Rachel as the main character. I think the author’s intent was to make you hate her a little bit (or maybe for some people, a lot). The fat, pathetic, alcoholic unemployed sod with the very unreliable memory. She was utterly terrible but so well-written and such a great exploration of human personality.

I also really enjoyed the secretive aspect of the novel, where it seemed every single character had some deep, dark secret that, as the reader, we were privy to only some of the time.

One thing I did not like, which had nothing to do with the novel, was the review that was printed all over the book that said something along the lines about the main character being unreliable. I don’t know, maybe it would have been glaringly obvious once I started reading but I feel like that one review changed the way I read the book. Knowing off the bat that Rachel is unreliable was irritating to me, we all know she’s unreliable because of her alcoholism and black-outs (that was obvious) but I didn’t like having it pointed out to me before even starting to read and getting to know the characters. I know this probably isn’t a big deal to most people, but I really hate any kind of spoilers, and it makes me wonder if I would have been more surprised about certain situations if I thought differently about Rachel from the beginning? I really went into the book knowing nothing about it.

Anyone who loved Gone Girl or Before I Go to Sleep will enjoy this phycological thriller!

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