Thursday, May 12, 2016

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (book review)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #1)

Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
Format: Paperback // 485 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

The nice thing about being one of the last people on Earth to start The Mortal Instruments series is that I can express all my feelings + frustrations and you would most likely know exactly what I'm talking about. And I have a lot of those. A lot of the things that happened got physical reactions from me — the eye-popping-out-of-my-sockets thing (O_O), a head-desk, the jaw drop, a book drop, etc. and I think that's one of the reasons this book is so well-liked.

While I have been exposed to many different opinions about this series, I don't think it affected my reading experience. For as long as this book has been out, I (surprisingly) was not spoiled for anything. And since it has been out for quite some time, there's been less buzz.

If, for some reason, you've heard nothing about City of Bones, it follows a girl named Clary who discovers Shadowhunters and their world after accidentally watching them kill a demon at a nightclub. Turns out, Clary is more involved in this world than you know.

Because City of Bones is driven by plot, I had a hard time moving forward when the characters weren't fighting demons or discovering a new secret. I wanted them to be DOING something instead of sitting around and chatting. There were a lot of new things to learn, and world-building is necessary to fully understand all that's happening, but it was TOO MUCH in such a small amount of time. When Clare wants to share new information with us, Clary just listens to someone tell a story. And to be honest, I felt disconnected because Clary wasn't verbally involved.

I can tell the series will improve though, especially since all the "basics" have been explained. Now the action can continue onward! There were a multitude of good (and strange) surprises in City of Bones, and those are what will remind me to pick up City of Ashes, the sequel.

It gets spoilery from here on out, so this is your cue to avoid the rest of this post if you haven't read City of Bones yet! Don't say I didn't (say I didn't) warn ya ...

Clary: Is this when you start tearing strips off your T-shirt to bind up my wound?
Jace: If you wanted me to rip my clothes off, you should have just asked.

Jace: Oh dear, I hope that wasn't anything important.
Clary: It was a sleeping potion, and now it's gone.
Jace: If only Simon were here. He could probably bore you to sleep.

Jace: Do you remember back at the hotel when you promised that if we lived, you'd get dressed up in a nurse's outfit and give me a sponge bath?
Clary: Actually, I think you misheard. It was Simon who promised you the sponge bath.
Simon: As soon as I'm back on my feet, handsome.

Jace: Somehow, I thought it would be bigger.
Isabelle: It's the Mortal Cup, Jace, not the Mortal Toliet Bowl.

Clary: So when the moon's only partly full, you only feel a little wolfy?
Luke: You could say that.
Clary: Well, you can go ahead and hang your head out the car window if you feel like it.
Luke: I'm a werewolf, not a golden retriever.

  • THE CUP IN THE CARD — To have some sort of leverage, I feel like Clary should've taken the card with her to the Institute and demanded her mom back first. If she's the only one (aside from her mom) who knows how to draw the rune, no one else can retrieve the Mortal Cup ... right? At the very least, there would have been a bigger struggle! But instead, Hodge just snatches it out of her hand and has his pet bird attack her. Great.
  • SPEAKING OF HODGE (NOTE: THE FLASH TV SHOW SPOILERS) — I suspected a bit of evilness in Hodge, but I think it's because I've been influenced by season one of The Flash, haha. I even pictured him in a wheelchair ...
  • I LOVE YOU (I KNOW) — Clare hints at Simon's feelings for Clary early on, but it's revealed around the halfway mark. Did anyone feel uncomfortable during Simon's declaration? I personally felt offended when he told Clary his past girlfriends were just "practice." Maybe instead of messing around with other girls, you could have told Clary how you felt. Sorry I don't feel sorry for you, Simon!!! (Okay, maybe I do ... just a bit.)
  • LONELY LUKE — I know Luke meant the best for Clary, but what did he think would happen to her if he continued to hide from her? Surely he didn't think she'd be safe after her mom was taken away.
  • LIKE BROTHER, LIKE SISTER — Jace and Clary have the same parents. Jace and Clary are SIBLINGS. WHAT??? SO WEIRD. I wonder if this was inspiration from Star Wars, because I caught at least two references while reading.
If you've finished the entire series, which book would you say takes it from good to EXCELLENT? What do you think about all the crazy surprises Clare added to City of Bones?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

March 2016 Recap — A new job, the start of some excellent comic series, and Grant Gustin

I'm really happy to say that this year is starting to look up! I accepted a job as a receptionist at a dental office in the middle of March, and things are going very well so far. Patients are nice for the most part + everything is manageable, despite my lacking ability to multi-task :p

Other highlights in March: sharing multiple meals with friends I haven't seen in ages + watching Batman vs. Superman with a bunch of friends from church who are also DC fans!

Books and pages read in March: 3 // 1,116 pages
Books and pages read in 2016: 16 // 5,015 pages

I FINALLY FINISHED WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER. I started this one in July while I was in New York City, but I flew back home when I was in the middle of it ... and never looked at it again until this month. It was hard to get back into it because I was stopped during a slow scene, but it was good. Looking back, I am surprised that Rae Carson fit so much in a desolate setting.

SHIELD, Vol. 1: Perfect Bullets by Mark Waid
I 100% picked this up because I love the television series (Agents of SHIELD) but it just seemed all over the place — mini episodes, I guess you can say? It was hard to figure out what was going on, so if you want to pick this up ... just read issues two (MS. MARVEL!) and four.

Amulet, Book 7: Firelight by Kazu Kibuishi
I have been waiting a year for this to arrive and, to no surprise, I liked it! The art is beautiful (as always) + things that happen in this volume take the story in a different direction. It didn't reveal as much as I hoped it would, but the series as a whole is excellent!

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
WOW THIS SERIES IS SO GOOD. I really didn't know what to expect! It's a little too explicit for my taste, but I have to say it's one of the best (if not THE best) storylines I've ever read in a comic series. Loved: the little bits of commentary by Alana and Marko's child, the outlandish characters, and the pacing of the story.

  • Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin is the book we're reading and discussing in my women's mentoring group this year. Feminine Threads by Diana Lynn Severance was recommended to us, but it was optional (so of course I picked it up too!) 
  • Anything Rainbow Rowell writes - even if it's a short story - will be in my shopping cart the day it's available. Kindred Spirits is about a girl who waits in line four days before the new Star Wars movie comes out, hoping to celebrate with other fans.
  • The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski, the first book I have ever pre-ordered, is finally out and of course I have only read the first chapter. If I haven't finished it by the next recap post, please yell at me.

  • Noosa yoghurt — A cute little snack that comes in a variety of different flavors :)
  • Kelly Purkey stamps — If you're into scrapbooking, you *need* to check out Kelly's collection. I use the reading planner stamps in my calendar book from time to time, and it spices things up!
  • A Novel Chat — New podcast for readers, hello!
  • Grant Gustin — I have officially developed an unhealthy obsession with this beautiful person. After his introduction as Barry Allen on Arrow, I cannot stop watching videos of him. I am seriously considering re-watching Glee just to see him sing. Please send me all the GIFs.
Your turn! What was the best book you read in March? Did you buy any new books? Have you read any good comic/graphic novels series lately? What are you looking forward to in April?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Currently Reading (I don't normally read more than three books at once, but ...)

HELLO MY FRIENDS! I started a new job two weeks ago (some details coming soon!) so the books have been piling up. This is the result of my current inability to finish books before starting new ones. It will be a miracle if I can complete even four of these in April.

Books on the back burner:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (hardcover)
I stopped reading The Book Thief in September, but I REFUSE to give up. It was just bad timing when I started it. Just curious — is there anyone out there who *doesn't* like this book?

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (paperback)
This is the book I was supposed to read with my boyfriend (I almost typed book boyfriend, LOL) but he finished the whole thing on audiobook and left me in the dust. Now I just don't want to read it, but he asks me about it everyday *starts pulling hair out of my head*

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (audiobook)
My loan expired yesterday, so I have to wait a while before I can finish this hefty book. It's a re-read so I'm cool with leaving Hogwarts for a little, but it's my first time listening to it on audiobook. The narrator, Jim Dale, is excellent. I love the different voices he uses, especially Hermione's (it's weird) and Umbridge's.

Books for daily living:

The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith (hardcover)
I'm part of a community group at my church, and this is the book we're reading through together. To be completely honest, it's not that great. I like Smith's illustrations, but he brings in too many ideas. Each chapter is supposed to be focused on one aspect of God, but he never fully gets his point across.

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin (paperback)
Contrary to my feelings about the previous book, I love this one so far! It teaches ways to study the Bible with both the heart and the mind. I love reading the Bible, but I have a hard time dissecting it and verbalizing what I've learned. My hope is to gain more understanding (but I know I will never fully "get" everything!) and stay passionate.

Books I switch between:

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (paperback)
I bought a physical copy of City of Bones back in 2013 and tried to start it, but I couldn't get into fantasy back then. Luckily (for me) it blew up and now everyone is talking about it! I didn't want to miss out, so I picked it up again and am enjoying the majority of it! If you've finished the series, which book was your favorite? I know I have a long way to go!

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally (e-book)
I'm only 60 pages into this one, so a lot of things can change, but so far: the author writes a very interesting perspective on how Christians believe they are to act and think. I really had no idea this would be so focused on Kate's faith, which I'm fairly happy about. I'm a Christian, so I'm really looking forward to discussing this book in the future. Whether you're a Christian or not, how did Things I Can't Forget change the way you view faith?

And finally, the book I'm actually reading:

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (hardcover)
As some of you may know, The Winner's Kissvis the last book in The Winner's trilogy — and it was finally released today! HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO MARIE RUTKOSKI. I really wanted to have a clean slate (aka have zero books on my "currently reading" list) before starting this one, but I've been in a mood. A mood where I just can't seem to finish anything. But it's fine, because I know I'll enjoy this one! And according to my past reading experiences, I read more if I enjoy something. (Bad books slow me down.) If you're looking for a new trilogy to read, let me convince you to start this one :)
What are you currently reading? Do you let yourself bounce from book to book? Are there books you've left aside, half-read, but don't have the heart to mark it as "DNF" (did not finish?) Can you read more than one book at a time?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

First & Then by Emma Mills

First & Then by Emma Mills

Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Macmillan (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
Format: Hardcover // 267 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars


If you've never watched an episode of Friday Night Lights or read a book by Jane Austen, do not fret. Don't think about the fact that football plays a big part in First & Then, or that you may be dealing with a love triangle. Yes, these are all things that could possibly push you away from this story. But that is why I'm here to tell you to READ IT ANYWAY.

First & Then follows Devon Tennyson, a girl who believes herself to be average and has no idea what she wants in life. She's crushing hard on her best friend, Cas, but is pretty cool with not telling him and just taking each day as it comes. Her life is thrown into a loop when her cousin, Foster, comes to live with her family. Even worse — Dev is stuck in the same gym class as Foster, along with Ezra, the obnoxious quarterback.

I really wasn't prepared for how emotional I'd be, or how strongly I'd understand Devon. When I was in high school, I felt the same as she did — unspectacular. Devon doesn't have any goals, and she isn't passionate about anything in particular (except Jane Austen's novels? Haha.) As much as I enjoy books about characters who are above and beyond the norm, I love that First & Then highlights how anyone with an ordinary life can have extraordinary moments.

The moment I started reading about Foster and his quirky self, I immediately pictured Farkle from Girl Meets World, hahaha. I love how his relationship with Devon develops from babysitter to real friendship. He's forced into Devon's life, and she hesitates to accept him at first, but the way they're placed into different situations together is realistic and done very well.

And then we have Ezra. Everyone assumes he's cocky and on his high horse, but there is so much more about him that no one knows about. He doesn't say much, which looks terrible on him, so everyone has these assumptions. But as time goes on, we break through his walls, little by little. I like that he's true to his character throughout the entire story — nothing changes who he is. He doesn't suddenly become outspoken or overly confident.

My only complaint about First & Then is about the relationships left in "limbo." There are multiple characters who get into a bit of conflict with one another and things go unresolved. I think it's mostly my need to know, but why introduce something that you just leave hanging? (This didn't keep me away from enjoying the story at all, I just wanted more from every single character!)

If you're looking for a sweet contemporary romance, you need to read this one. It is the perfect amount of both cute and serious, and it's less than 300 pages so you can zip through it on the weekend.
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