Rereading The Mortal Instruments Books 5-6

City of Lost Souls

Rating: 5 out of 5.

City of Lost Souls is definitely tied with City of Heavenly Fire for my favorite book in the series. The plot is great and the character development is equally fantastic. Sometimes I forget why Jonathan Morgenstern is such a scary villain, but then I reread this book and I remember. He is just plain evil, and the dynamic between him and Clary is so intriguing.

As I said in my last review of the first four books, I got tired pretty quickly of New York as the setting, so part of the reason I enjoy CoLS so much is because it takes place in a magically traveling townhouse. This might sound far out, but Cassandra Clare writes it in a way that makes it totally believable and plausible. I love getting to travel all around Europe in this book.

Character-wise this novel also just really did it for me. I love Alec and Magnus’ struggles, as well as the progression of Simon and Izzy’s relationship. Clary has grown by leaps and bounds since the first three books, and her character is so much more enjoyable for me to read. In addition to Clary’s character, another vast improvement I saw was the writing of the fight scenes. I thought they were so much more engaging than in previous books, and really captivated and thrilled me.

City of Heavenly Fire

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is by far the longest book of the series, but it never drags. Edom is such an intriguing setting, and all the characters really grew while there. While in Edom, I felt like we finally got to see Alec and Jace act like parabatai. In previous books it was always established that the two were parabatai, but I felt like we never really got to see the intensity or depth of their relationship. It kind of came out of nowhere, but it makes sense because the longer Cassandra Clare writes in the Shadow World, the more details she will uncover.

Simon was definitely one of my favorites in this book, and I definitely look forward to rereading Tales form the Shadowhunter Academy. Alec also really gets the chance to shine in this book. The Blackthorn’s storyline is so heartbreaking, and it really shows the children’s strength.

I have no qualms with how this series is wrapped up. At the end, I love getting to see Jem and Tessa together, and I love how all the characters arc were wrapped up, but at the same time they were all set up for future stories.

Rereading The Mortal Instruments Books 1-4

I love reading new books, but I love rereading my favorite books just as much. It might be my terrible memory, but I always forget little details, and sometimes major ones, and when I reread a book it’s almost like I’m reading it again for the first time. One of the book series I reread the most is The Mortal Instruments, or anything by Cassandra Clare. In fact, I read it so much that I told myself I was not going to reread any Cassandra Clare book this year. This became a problem when Queen of Air and Darkness came out, because my terrible memory made me forget most of what happened in Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows. I tried reading Queen of Air and Darkness, but I just couldn’t get as into it because I knew I was forgetting so much of the story. Then by chance I browsed through my goodreads account and discovered that I actually haven’t read The Mortal Instruments series since 2016. I had no idea it’s been four years since I read one of my favorite series, so I decided to reread every book in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. I’ve read every book in the Shadowhunter Chronicles except Ghosts of the Shadow Market, Queen of Air and Darkness, Chain of Gold, and The Red Scrolls of Magic, so I’m excited to use this reread as a chance to finally get to these.

City of Bones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I definitely feel the most nostalgic when I read City of Bones. Cassie Clare does such a good job introducing us to the Shadow World and immediately making me care about the characters. The banter in this book is so good, especially between Simon and Jace- it always makes me smile. I noticed that during this reread I found Clary slightly annoying. I forgot that I felt this way towards her, but I think in 2016 the last time I read this book I felt the same way. It probably has to do with the fact that I’m getting older, and Clary is written as a really stubborn sixteen-year-old girl. I think the angle Cassie Clare was going for is that Clary is so blinded by her love for her family and friends and her desire to save them that she doesn’t consider the consequences. I totally think this is a valid angle, but I feel like sometimes the lines got blurred between just being rude and being rude/abrasive for the sake of the people she loves.

City of Ashes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One aspect that majorly weirded me out in City of Ashes is the incest. I know it’s a super old scandal and it’s been talked about a lot, but it definitely bothered me this reread. I don’t think it really mattered that much to me when I first read these books. I think it’s because I knew they would end up together and not related, and also because when I first read this series the first five books were already out, so I was able to read the books back to back.

This is really the first book where hints and connections start getting dropped about all the different bloodlines, which did get me excited for the rest of the books.

The major setting for The Mortal Instruments is New York. It’s basically another character. I’ve never felt this before, but by the time I finished City of Ashes I was kind of sick of New York. I think this is because now that I’ve read most of The Dark Artifices, and I knew what was coming in City of Glass and later books, I was just really looking forward to getting to read about Idris, the Faerie Court, Los Angeles, and all the other places we visit. Finally my last gripe, if Jace would just talk about his problems so much could be avoided! I still love him, but he definitely annoyed me at parts. I actually ended up lowering my rating to four stars because after reading City of Glass, I realized I did not enjoy this book as much as others in the series.

City of Glass

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I love City of Glass because finally we go to Idris and get to see more of the Clave and meet characters like Amatis and the Penhallows. Clary at the beginning still drove me pretty crazy, and I was glad when Luke, and even Amatis, finally gave her some parental-like guidance.

Valentine definitely bored me and I was glad to see him go. I think Sebastian is definitely more interesting, and I think his beliefs and methods are just a little more plausible to me as a villain. I just never really understood Valentines’ beliefs, which might have been the point because he’s basically got very Hitler-esque tactics.

I really love the ending because it wraps up so nicely. It’s really easy to see how this was originally intended to be a trilogy.

City of Fallen Angels

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This has a really slow beginning for me. I didn’t get excited until the last 75 pages. There’s a couple reasons this felt slow to me. First, we’re back in New York, which just makes me miss Idris. Second, because the last book wrapped up so nicely, this book is almost like a second first book. The plot had to be reestablished. This was also very heavily character based and not plot based, and part of what I love about Cassie Clare books are the major plot twists, so City of Fallen Angels just lacked a lot of that excitement for me.

I did enjoy this because I saw so much growth in Clary. She seems worlds more mature, which definitely makes sense given everything she’s gone through. I also really enjoyed getting to read more about Maia and getting introduced to Jordan.

Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

32768520Mirage by Somaiya Daud

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 320

Publication date: August 28th 2018

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Note: I received a free advanced copy of Mirage from Flatiron Books through NetGalley. 


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.


My Thoughts

Mirage is a wonderfully written story of rebellion, deceit, and slow-burn romance. If you liked The Diabolic or The Wrath and the Dawn, you will definitely love Mirage!

Amani’s world has been conquered by the cruel Vathek empire, and one day Amani is forced to become the secret body double to the Princess Maram. Mirage was such a delightful book to read. I could feel the tension and stress that Amani could as she tried to be a successful body double and impersonator. I was nearly holding my breath during every interaction she had.

One aspect of Mirage that impressed me most was the world building. Mirage, a sci-fi/fantasy novel, takes place in space, across different planets and their moons. Space is a very interesting setting, and it works well with the traditional aspects of Daud’s story.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Mirage is how complex the characters are. At first glance, Maram seems like the likely villain of the story, but overtime I came to sympathize for her. Stories with complex characters, where the lines between good and bad are blurred, are my favorite. The relationships are all complex and confusing at times. I especially enjoyed how realistic the romance was. There’s nothing like a love-at-first-sight story to make me immediately lose interest in a story. Daud wrote a lovely, slow-burn romance that was realistic.

In the end I gave Mirage four stars. I look forward to reading the second book in a couple years. The first book set the stage for what is sure to be an action packed trilogy!

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

ACOFASA Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 229

Publisher: Bloomsbury


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Hope warms the coldest night.

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.


My Thoughts

I have heard lots of bad and disappointed reviews for this book. Personally, I did not have a problem with it. ACOFAS is a short novella. Its purpose is to bridge the gap between the first trilogy and the books to come. It is meant to give readers a glimpse into the lives of our favorite characters while they are enjoying their peaceful lives after the war. For me, ACOFAS did what it set out to. It was a short, fun read. I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters relaxing and having fun instead of fighting for their lives. I’m grateful that SJM even gave this book to us. Finally, I am excited for the books to come.

One of the critiques I have heard of ACOFAS is, “there is no plot”. I would beg to differ, and claim that the plot is simply just one of simplicity and happiness. Readers have grown so used to SJM’s extravagant plots centered around dire, life-threatening circumstances. ACOFAS is something entirely different. So no, there is no dramatic cliffhanger or plot twist, but does that mean there’s no plot? Nope.

Another criticism that really bothers me about this book that I have heard is that “the writing is lazy”. That is such a terrible judgement to make. Even if a book is not your favorite, saying the writing is ‘lazy’ is just an ineffective judgement. What do you mean by lazy? Are there lots of spelling and grammatical errors? Doubtful. Is the plot not up to your standards? I’ve already addressed this. Is the book just not what you were expecting? Were you hoping for more? If so, the book is just not living up to your expectations or it is just not your cup of tea. Does that make the writing lazy? I don’t think so.

Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions on books. But I think that ACOFAS is being labeled as a bad book simply because it is not what people were expecting. It especially bothers me when readers make judgements about an author’s writing. This is the story that SJM wanted to tell. Authors put so much work into writing their books. Calling the writing ‘lazy’ is a cheap way of expressing your frustration that the book is not what you want it to be.

 

Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

33645809Legendary by Stephanie Garber

My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (5 stars)

Pages: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Note: I received an arc of Legendary from the publisher through NetGalley. 


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.


My Thoughts

I am going to do my best to review this without specific spoilers, but if you really, really don’t want any hints at all even to the general plot, then don’t read this review. This review is also going to be much longer than usual because I have so many thoughts on this book!

After finishing Legendary I had to keep repeating to myself: this isn’t real, it’s just a book, this isn’t real, it’s just a book, this isn’t real, it’s just a book. I felt like Scarlett and Tella trying to remind themselves that Caraval is only a game.

Before I started reading I was worried that Legendary would suffer from second-book-syndrome and be a let-down. I was also worried that I wouldn’t enjoy Legendary as much because it’s told from Tella’s POV, and it’s always scary to read from a new character’s POV. But literally five pages in I knew this book would be just as good as the first, and I loved Tella just as much as Scarlett. So I’m sure many of you are worried about the same things I was, but don’t be! Seriously, you will love this book.

Stephanie Garber’s writing in Legendary is just as beautiful as it is in Caraval. Her descriptions are so magical. She transports you into her novels and makes it so easy to imagine what’s happening. I read this on my Kindle and I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted so many favorite quotes as I did in Legendary.

The one thing I really want to talk about is the plot, but it’s hard without giving away major spoilers, but I will try! One part of Legendary that I really enjoyed was the history and background Garber gave on the world and its myths and folklore. It was such an interesting part of the story, and I loved seeing how it all played out. The point of this game of Caraval was for Tella to discover Legend’s true name. Let me just say that the journey to (possibly) getting there was insane and so stressful.

I have read so many wonderful books this year, but Legendary is by far my favorite. I give it a million stars, and I’m already planning on rereading the duology once Legendary is officially out. Also, I will end this review by saying what my final thought was when I finished the book: This can’t be last book can it? Let’s just say Stephanie Garber loves a cliffhanger…

Review: Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Getting Ready for the NoVa Teen Book FestivalReign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 375

Publisher: Razorbill


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.


My Thoughts

First off, can we talk about how gorgeous this book cover is! I think it’s the prettiest book cover I’ve seen this year. I can’t wait to see what the next cover will be. I was only a few pages into this book when I knew I would like it. The writing was fun, and I like the way the characters were developed. I cared about them and became invested in the story very quickly.

One of the things I think is most fascinating about this book is the world. In Reign of the Fallen, the same king has been ruling for years because he keeps coming back from the dead in order to do so. He believes that all change is bad, so everything stays the same. Even though someone developed a cure to a black fever that kills people each year, the king wouldn’t allow it to be used because it would be a change. Pretty much everyone supports this changeless world. This made for a very interesting dynamic because I wasn’t really sure who to dislike. The villain wasn’t black and white, and I honestly I kind of supported him because I don’t really support a world without change if that change could help people.

I thought one of the weakest parts of the book was the plot. I don’t know if weak is the right word, but while reading I was able to predict pretty much everything that would happen. Spoilers ahead… I thought that Evander would die and I also guessed that Hadrian would be the bad guy pretty early on. So I guess it was predictable, but overall I still really enjoyed this book. I can’t wait to meet Sarah Glenn March and get my book signed at the NoVa Teen Book Festival!

 

“Those finished with life crave it less over time.”

Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

dear martinDear Martin by Nic Stone

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 210

Favorite quote: “You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you.”


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.


My Thoughts

This is such a relevant novel. Anyone who likes YA, and even those who don’t, should read this. This book tackles serious issues in an incredibly moving way.

I rarely read contemporary novels, and if I do read contemporary they’re hardly ever from a guy’s perspective. So reading Dear Martin from the perspective of a young, modern, boy was different for me. I enjoyed the writing though, and I liked the story. This definitely isn’t a relaxing read. Reading about racists and gun violence could never be relaxing. But I am so glad this story was told, because I think people can learn a lot from Justyce, SJ, Manny, and even Jared. In my lifetime I have encountered Jareds. One in particular comes to the forefront of my mind. A college athlete in one of my classes did a presentation on how he was at a disadvantage in sports because he’s white, and that’s racist against him. So there are Jareds all over the world, and unfortunately most of them probably won’t change like Jared-in-the-novel did.

Overall, this was a wonderfully relevant novel. Even if you’re not a reader, pick this up! It’s only 200 pages, and I guarantee you’ll walk away with a new perspective.

“You ever consider that maybe you not supposed to ‘fit’? People who make history rarely do.”

Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Getting Ready for the NoVa Teen Book FestivalUnearthed by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (5 stars)

Pages: 336

Favorite quote: “PERGITE SI AUDETIS”


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.


My Thoughts

This was so incredible. Unearthed is absolutely my favorite book I’ve read this year so far, which actually surprised me! I did not think that sci-fi was my genre at all, but I guess I was wrong. I am going to be reading more sci-fi books in the future! I borrowed this book from the library, and now I can’t wait to get my own copy and get it signed at the NoVa Teen Book Fest.

I was so tense and stressed out while reading this. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time! I had no idea what was going to happen, and there were so many plot twists. By the end of the novel I was literally screaming silently to myself. There was such a cliff-hanger, I can’t wait until Undying comes out in December. The Undying are so intriguing, I need to know more about them! No spoilers, but they definitely aren’t what they seem.

I knew I was going to love the writing in this because I had just read Hunted by Meagan Spooner and loved it, and I also read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman. I was not disappointed! The writing was wonderful and the character development was great. Jules and Mia’s romance didn’t seem too forced.

 

“The worthy will rise into the stars…”

 

Review: Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

lovehateLove, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

My rating: ☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (2.5 stars)

Pages: 281

Favorite quote: “My love for you is deathless.”


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.


My Thoughts

I am giving this 2.5 stars. Everyone has been raving about it, and honestly I just didn’t like it that much. I’m not a huge fan of contemporary novels, so already I was taking a risk reading this. I thought about giving it three stars, but 2 stars for me means that is was okay, not good. It was an okay novel. Definitely not a bad one, but just okay.

I appreciate that this is an own voices novel. I’m trying not to critique the family dynamic too much because it is an own voices novel, but it did seem a little cliche to me. Actually, a lot of this book followed the standard contemporary romance template. There’s the main character, who’s shy and doesn’t really party and go out with boys, but all of the sudden has multiple love interests. There’s the rich, beautiful, flirtatious best friend. And of course there’s the ever-present swimming scene, where the main character and her love interest have to go swimming in some secluded location, the guy has to turn around while she gets in the water, and the sparks fly.

Love, Hate, & Other Filters ultimately wasn’t anything special for me. I think it had the potential to really dive deeper into some of the issues surrounding Islamaphobia, white supremacy, and hate crimes, but it didn’t. While I wish it would have done more with those themes and less with the romance, at the same time I do respect that this is the story of one high school girl, and that’s the way the author chose to portray it.

“It’s selfish and horrible, but in this terrible moment, all I want is to be a plain old American teenager… who isn’t a presumed terrorist first and an American second.”

 

Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

long way downLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 320

Favorite quote: “Are you coming?”


Book Summary (from Amazon)

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.


My Thoughts

I saw this book at work one day and decided I was finally going to read it. I was initially hesitant to pick this up because it’s written in verse, but I actually enjoyed reading it so much. Long Way Down is definitely a fast read. I think I read it in maybe an hour.

I was only a few pages in when I started to tear up a little. Long Way Down is incredibly moving and impactful. I think the fact that it’s written in verse contributes greatly. If you’re not a fan of poetry or verse, I would still recommend reading this.

Too often the victims of gun/gang violence are overlooked and forgotten. This is especially true of the victim’s families. Long Way Down gave a raw, insightful look into what happens to those affected by gun violence and the loss of a loved one.

I am actually going to have the opportunity to hear Jason Reynolds speak this March. I can’t wait to get a book signed by him and to hear what he has to say.

“but if the blood

inside you is on the inside

of someone else,

you never want to

see it on the outside of

them.”