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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Book Review – City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

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TITLE: 
City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6)
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
PAGES:  725 pages
PUBLISHED: May 27th 2014
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal/Urban-Fantasy

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

This is the long-awaited and final epic instalment of the Mortal Instruments series, which first began with City of Bones, published in 2007.

Sebastian Morgenstern, Clary’s brother, is using the Infernal Cup to create evil Shadowhunters, known as his Endarkened army, that do his bidding and threatened the lives of everyone around him. No one can stop Sebastian and when the ultimate betrayal is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon and Alex must find a way to stop Sebastian before he tears the world apart.

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MY REVIEW

In the words of Frodo Baggins “It’s done. It’s over.”

I put off reading the final book of the Mortal Instrument series because I have a bad habit of starting and not finishing series and as time went on I forgot some of the characters and the plot of the previous books. Although I find the TV series is pretty bad, watching a few episodes actually helped me remember a lot. It is always difficult when a series spans five years to recall every detail and character but Cassandra Clare did a great job of drawing me back in even after all this time.

I still think the third book is the best. I think this book was way too long and I admit I was bored at a few points. I also didn’t like how everything with Sebastian turned out. I was expecting more, you know? And it was so disappointing that even after everything the Clave had been through they literally did not learn a single thing. Peace is obviously not going to last very long in this world…

And Simon’s fate was really heartbreaking but I am really looking forward to reading Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy and also Emma’s story in Lady Midnight.

Overall this has truly been a great series! I definitely will re-read it at some point (at least the first three) and although I don’t think this was the strongest ending, especially if you compare it to The Infernal Devices ending, it is a fantastic series and I would recommend to anyone!

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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 – Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally

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TITLE: Coming Up For Air
AUTHOR: Miranda Kenneally
PAGES:  320 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: July 1st 2017
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
GENRE: Young Adult, Romance, Sports, Contemporary

MY RATING: 5/5 birds
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MY REVIEW & SUMMARY:

Guys, this was so good.

Like really, adorably, amazingly good!

I wasn’t a huge fan of Catching Jordan, Miranda Kenneally’s first novel in the Hundred Oaks series. When I received this from Netgalley I wasn’t sure what to expect. As someone who absolutely loves swimming, I was hoping this would entice more than football does and I just could not put it down! I seriously read this in one sitting! Although the romance was perfect (who else loves the “best friends to something more” trope?), I was absolutely enthralled with Maggie’s competitive swimming world.

Maggie is trying to qualify for the Olympics. Her entire life is eating and swimming. Her only free time involves hanging out at the local burger place on Friday night with her three closest friends, Georgia, Hunter and Levi. Levi is her best friend and the most understanding of her schedule as he is a competitive swimmer as well. As Maggie lives vicariously through her friend’s lives she realises that she may be missing out of the quintessential high school “experience”. After a disastrous hook-up Maggie decides to ask Levi to help her gain some experience before heading off to college. After he hesitantly agrees the line between friendship and something more becomes blurry.

The healthy sex attitude in the novel blew me away. The way the characters, and especially one of the teachers, approached sex was really well done. It wasn’t something to be ashamed of. It wasn’t this crazy secretive thing. No one pretended that teenagers don’t want to experiment and have sex. It was realistic and healthy and just normal. A real breath of fresh air in the YA world and I have to applaud Kenneally for that.

Even if you didn’t love Kenneally’s other novels, I would still recommend this. Kenneally does an amazing job of showing us Maggie’s intense routine and it was hard not to admire Maggie’s passion and determination. It really does amaze me that there are people out there this dedicated to their sport.

Now I am going to have to go back and read the rest of the Hundred Oak series!

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

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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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Book Review -The Way I Used to Be

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TITLE: The Way I Used To Be
AUTHOR: Amber Smith
PAGES:  367 pages
PUBLISHED: March 22nd 2016
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sad Topic(s)

MY RATING: 5/5 birds

Rating - 5 Bird

SUMMARY:

This is the debut novel by Amber Smith that explores one young woman’s struggles as one act affected her entire life. Eden’s world is forever changed when her brother’s best friend rapes her. We get to see Eden’s life from freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year and see the profound effects of her trauma.

An immensely complex and thought-provoking novel that demonstrates unbelievable pain, heartbreak, friendship, and the importance of survival.

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MY REVIEW:

Well, this book really hit me hard. Eden reminded me a little too much of myself…the self-destructive behaviour and I don’t want to put too much of myself out there but some of it reminded me of stuff I did when I was younger. I have never been raped but I still related to Eden in so many ways.

The books that really hit you are always the hardest to review! But besides my own personal connection to Eden, one of the things I really liked about the novel was how the author showed how not only the main character Eden was affected, but how that one single action changed the lives of so many other people around her. It makes you step back and think. Everyone is always so quick to judge. Let’s be honest, if you were or are still in high school and heard about all the things about this girl Eden did you probably won’t have a good impression of her right? The author does a great job of exposing slut shaming, not only by her peers but also by her own self-labelling as she struggled to figure herself out. It was wonderful to get to hear Eden’s side of the story, all of her shame, fear, guilt and suddenly we are less judgemental. As a reader, I mostly just wanted to hug Eden and tell her everything was going to be okay. It’s a good reminder to step back and realise that everyone around us is fighting some sort of battle.

I wish the novel had focused a bit more on Eden’s relationship with her parents though. That felt really lacking. I was really curious when Eden started calling her parents by their first name and not Mom and Dad and why/how that all happened. I was also a bit disappointed with the ending, as it felt really abrupt. Eden finally spoke about her rape and we don’t even get to see her go through telling her parents. I think that was critical because her mom was the first person she could have told and didn’t. I was really curious to read her parents reaction and see Eden go through her emotions of coming to terms with the sexual abuse.

This was also by no means a romance in any form but I just wanted to add that I really liked Josh. I thought he was very well written and in the end I was glad that the author didn’t have Eden rely on him too much and she realised that she needed to come to terms with herself on her own. I still hope that in the future, someday they get back together because I love the way Josh treats Eden. He was a complete sweetheart and I could see them being very good together.

Even though there was something a bit lacking in the story it still gets 5 stars from me because it made me cry in the end and it’s fairly rare for me to cry while reading a book. To invoke that strong of an emotion just makes it that much better.

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Book Review – The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window

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TITLE: The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window
AUTHOR: Kirsty Moseley
PAGES:  242 pages
PUBLISHED: April 30th, 2012
PUBLISHER: Createspace
GENRE: Young Adult, Romance, Friends to Lovers

MY RATING: 1/5 birds

Rating - 1 Bird

SUMMARY:

This novel is the typical story of the heroine falling in love with her brother’s best friend. Amber Walker and her brother have had a hard childhood due to their abusive father and her brother’s best friend Liam has been comforting Amber for a long time by (as the title states) climbing through her window at night and staying with her as she cries. They have an uneasy friendship for many years as Liam grows up to be a playboy and treats Amber badly when in public, but still comes to her room at night to comfort her. Amber has always thought of Liam as her irritating but sometimes sweet older brother’s friend but what happens when she starts developing feelings for a boy who has never shown an interest in her outside of their bedroom?

 

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MY REVIEW:

There are many things wrong with this book and I am a bit disappointed I actually paid money for this. It has a rating of 3.97 though on goodreads, so I wasn’t expecting something THIS BAD! These are the top seven things I did not like about this novel:

1. I feel like this was a New Adult book masked as Young Adult. It sure was risque enough. It 100% could have been written as New Adult if Amber was in university/college because
a) their mom was basically never in the story because she was conveniently always away with work, leaving her sixteen year old daughter home with her also teenage brother #momoftheyearaward
and b) Amber’s school life was barely discussed and could have easily been placed within a university/college situation.

2. Amber was an incredibly terribly written character and the author did not convince me there was anything interesting about her beyond her abuse and relationship to Liam. Even her abuse is a stretch because Liam is the entire focus of the novel. At a point in the novel Liam said Amber had a good body because of “all the dancing” she does and I really felt like I didn’t actually know her character at all when reading that because the author barely talked about her being a dancer but it’s apparently important in her life and she dances all the time?

3. THE MOM.Sheesh that woman was terrible. Just listen to this completely CRINGY line Amber’s mom says when she finds out Liam is dating her daughter:

“I should have known! All that teasing and stuff, I didn’t realise it was sexual tension!”

Seriously WTF!? That is such an awkward and cringy thing for a mom to say to their SIXTEEN YEAR OLD daughter. Seriously.

And as I mentioned above she leaves all the time and at one point in the novel their mom breaks down because (view spoiler) and Amber and her brother Jake are upset because “she was always the strong one”. Well that was a complete shock to me because I don’t recall their mom standing up for her kids when her abusive husband was beating and sexually abusing them. Their horrible dad didn’t leave because she kicked him out or anything, the kids had to take matters into their own hands with Liam and Jake beating him up and telling him to never come back. Wow, way to go mom! And I don’t care about the circumstance, any mom that lets their sixteen year old daughter sleep with their boyfriend is messed up.

4. Liam is going to college. He is too old for Amber. The end.

5. The really bad slut shaming. At first I noticed it right away but it didn’t bother me too much because Amber also called Liam and her brother sluts and manwhore too, so even though I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it at least the author wasn’t just slut shaming women. But then it was seriously taken to a whole new level. It was honestly disgusting. The author I think tried to show Amber sticking up for herself against people like Grace but it made her stoop to their level and she came across as a mega bitch.

6. THE AUTHOR HAS NO IDEA WHAT SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN ABUSED IS LIKE! Amber acts so ridiculous, shoving money down Liam’s pants in front of the entire school, dressing provocatively (and not like the way The Sea of Tranquility does, as an abuse survivors way of coping, nope Amber does it to look sexy for her boyfriend) and I am not a therapist but I don’t think a girl who was molested as a child by her father for years would be particularly interested in morning wood in her back for years and getting her ass grabbed by Liam. I understand the author tried to play it off like Amber couldn’t let anyone else touch her but Liam, but I do not buy that at all. It just doesn’t any sense how skittish she is with other people but goes so far, so fast with Liam. For godsakes her close friend gave her a simple hug and she felt super uncomfortable. Seriously WTF.
I can’t even put my “dark-subject” tag that I usually use in abuse stories because this was not dark at all.

And lastly…

7. The ending. Amber and Jake mention, I think only once, how they feel guilty that they didn’t call the police on their father and then he continued to abuse his new family. But then at the end of the novel Amber has ACTUAL RECORDINGS of her father ADMITTING to the abuse and they STILL DO NOTHING!! Great, now he can continue the cycle of abuse a THIRD time, but at least you have Liam, eh Amber?

Definitely not my cup of tea although the premise was intrigiung. I think I would still give this author another chance if I was certain she wouldn’t use slut-shaming in her books and wrote from the New Adult perspective.

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