Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Talk - Evil Librarian






 ***SPOILER ALERT*** You know me, I always give away some spoilers in my book reviews.  So, as always, if you do not want to know what happens, save this review for later.  If you don't mind knowing a few things that happen in the book, read on!


My most current read, Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen, is something so amazing I can barely put my feelings about it into words.  But I will try.  Written for young adults, I would say the novel is most appropriate for kids age 15 and older.  I will try to keep my giveaways about what happens in this book to a minimum, but as I said above, there will be a few spoilers.

The novel is set in an unidentified city, which I like to imagine is Chicago.  The primary location is the high school that main character Cynthia Rothchild and her friends attend – called Central High School.  The novel opens on Annie and Cyn sitting in Italian class, Cyn staring at the object of her affection, one Ryan Halsey.  After their Italian class ends, Annie, of course, gives Cyn hell for her lust towards Ryan, claiming emphatically that Cyn should basically bite the bullet and talk to him.  Later that day, Annie ends up in the library, where she meets Mr. Gabriel, the new librarian.  She is instantly smitten with him, which Cyn claims to understand but really doesn’t, especially after meeting him. 

Almost immediately, Cyn is aware that Mr. Gabriel has something wrong with him, but she can’t quite figure out what.  It is not until he touches her arm that she begins to suspect that he is a demon and has done something suspicious to Annie.  The next couple chapters bring about some major changes in the lives of Annie, Cyn and Ryan.  For one, Ryan and Cyn actually start talking to each other, regularly and much to the delight of Cyn's two other friends Diane and Leticia.  Also, after a crash collision in the hallway, Cyn assures herself that she is definitely in lust with Ryan.  This is what also solidifies their new friendship.  

Like a day after they start talking, Cyn tells Ryan her thoughts about Mr. Gabriel.  When they go to the library together later to find Annie, Cyn's assumptions are found to be true.  (I won't give away to many details on this aspect - let's just say there are wings involved.)  Once Ryan and Cyn realize they are right about Mr. Gabriel, this leads to a whole lot of planning on their part and murder on Mr. Gabriels' part.  

In order to get rid of Mr. Gabriel and save Annie, Cyn and Ryan visit a shop that specializes in demonic stuff and witch craft.  They get some special lights, a few other magic things and end up in the library on a Sunday.  The trip turns into a disaster because of shop owner Aaron, who is in the know about the demon world (because he has a demon mistress.) 

After the failed attempt at saving Annie, a whole shit storm of stuff is opened up.  There are more demons allowed in the school on a pretty regular basis, some more people die, and Ryan and Cyn and the rest of their theater friends pull of a stellar production of Sweeney Todd all while being threatened by Mr. Gabriel and new principal Mr. Kingston.  

Now, I know I said I didn't want to give too much away in this blog post, so now, instead of talking about what happens in the book, I am going to talk about how much I love this book.  A few things that you should know:

1. None of the characters are described in any way.  It is all very vague.  I know that seems weird, but it totally works.  I love that the author chose to do that because it allows us readers to picture the characters anyway we want.  We can imagine them looking any way, and I think that is really nice.  It totally works in this novel.

2.  There is no indication of where this novel takes place.  All I can assume is that it takes place in a largish city in the USA.  I am pretending that it takes place in Chicago, because that seems like a pretty artsy fun place.

So, some things that I loved about this book:

* Theater - As a theater nerd, I can totally relate to the love for theater that these kids have.  I think it is nice that the author included some theater stuff in her novel.  Especially some Sweeney Todd stuff.  Awesome!

*Libraries - Okay, it's no secret that I love books, libraries and librarians.  That is why the main premise of this book being about an evil librarian is so cool to me.  Michelle Knudsen could not have picked a better subject for the novel.  At all.

* The Cover - I absolutely loved the cover of this book.  I know that sounds cheesy, but I just feel like the cover really fit the story.

* The writing style and speed - I loved the humor in the book and the fact that each character was defined and well rounded.  I think the author did a really good job of fitting everything in well even though the novel only takes place over a matter of like two months.  There is a lot that happens in the novels' time frame and the author does a really great job of getting in what she needed to get in.

* The characters - Like I said, I really loved the characters in this book.  I really got the impression that each character was their own person with a unique personality.  That was fantastic!

* The occasional swearing - Yes, this is a young adult novel written for older teens.  But, unlike so many other young adult authors, Knudsen is aware that teenagers sometimes swear, so she's not afraid to have her characters drop the occasional F-Bomb.  I think that's another thing that makes this novel feel so real and well rounded.

* The romantic angle - I think the interest between Ryan and Cyn was obvious without being overwhelming.  I really like that it was apparent that they were attracted to each other, but that it didn't over power the story.  Sometimes, love can be the underlying theme and still be great, as was the case with this novel.

Overall, I absolutely loved this novel.  *I* would recommend it to teens age 15 and older, but if you are a parent who wants to read it first and determine if it's appropriate for your child, go ahead.   I would give the novel an A all the way.

Now, as I said, the author didn't really describe her characters much.  So, I imagined what they characters would look like if this book were made into a movie.  These are the characters I picked out actors for:


 China Anne McClain – Annie: China's personality and attitude seem like the perfect fit to be Annie.  Spunk, happiness and just the right amount of fuck off to get it right.



Chloe Moretz – Cyn: When I saw Dark Shadows, I fell in love with Chloe Moretz.  She has enough spunk and a ton of talent, and I think that she would make the perfect Cyn!



  Principal Kingston - I really couldn't decide who I thought would make a better Principal Kingston.  Both Jesse L. Martin and Sam Waterston have the ability to pull it off and make the character absolutely amazing.


Logan Lerman – Ryan Halsey
Beyonce – Demoness
Aaron

Mr. Gabriel - I think with Danny Pino's attitude and youthful face, he is the perfect Mr. Gabriel



Leticia - Selena Gomez: With her perkiness and bubbly attitude, Selena Gomez is the perfect Leticia

 Mr. De Luca - Stanley Tucc: I can literally not think of a better person to be Signor De Luca.  Stanley Tucci is amazing and so talented that he could easily pull it off.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book Talk - The Queen of Zombie Hearts



***Spoiler Alert***
You know me, I always like to talk about things that happen in the book.  So, if you haven't read the book yet and want to be surprised, wait to read this review.  However, if you don't mind a few spoilers, read on!


I *just* finished reading The Queen of Zombie Hearts, the third and final book in The White Rabbit Chronicles, by Gena Showalter.  It was published this year, so I feel like I am actually on top of things, since I haven't been reading a lot of books in the year they are published!

In case you haven't read the first two books in the series (Alice in Zombieland and Through the Zombie Glass) let's refresh your memory of who the characters are:

-Alice Bell: the main female character, the one around whom these stories are based
-Cole Holland: Ali's apparently super hot boyfriend
-Kat: Ali's best friend

And the minor-ish yet still important characters:
-Frosty
-Reeve
-Mr. Holland
-Nana
-Emma
-Mr. Ankh
-Bronx
-Veronica
-Mackenzie

Characters that appear only in this book:
-Juliana
-Camilla
-River
-Mrs. Smith
-Chase


The book opens on Ali, Mackenzie and Kat sitting at Choco Loco, a chocolate store where they hang out sometimes.  While there, three boys start giving them the eye.  The boys send over these things called mousse shooters, which the girls love.  While they are pretending to flirt with the boys and get Mackenzie some love, Frosty shows up to hang all over Kat.  Even though the two fight all the time, they've been together for a while.  Ali asks where Cole is, and when she's told that he is at a tattoo parlor they often go to, she leaves to see him.  He's not there as promised, but Ali decides to get two new tattoo's while she's there.

When Ali leaves, she goes home and finds Cole at the house.  They start making out - Ali trying to convince Cole to have sex with her already - and then gunshots start going off everywhere.  Ali and Cole try to get out of the room to find out what's happening, but Cole gets shot through the shoulder.  This leads to Ali and Cole searching for their friends because the are told that there has been an attack on every slayer (by Anima) in an attempt to end the slayers.

Throughout the rest of the night they find out that four of their friends are dead and one is missing.  The next day, they have a meeting to try and figure out how they are going to find Justin - the still missing friend.  They are told he is at an Anima warehouse, but when they go to find him, the warehouse is empty sans a bunch of old, collared zombies in the basement.  They fight the zombies - ashing them all.  In the process, they find out that Ali has a new special ability - she can use her arms and lift all the zombies up in the air to get them out of the way of slayers, thus making them easier to ash.

Now, here's the trippy part - Ali gains this power from a woman named Helen.  Helen is what the slayers call a witness.  A Witness is a zombie that has been turned into a spirit and can talk to the living and, in some cases, help them.  But, Helen is not your ordinary witness.  She was a former ally to Anima and, in a real twist, is also Ali's birth mother.  Phillip - Ali's dad - was dating Helen before he met her cousin, who he later ended up marrying.  When he broke up with Helen to date Ali's "mom," Helen was already pregnant with Ali - who we learn was originally named Samantha (nicknamed Sami.)

Ali was forced by Helen to undergo all sorts of tests held by Anima.  Helen was responsible for the death of Cole's mother, as well.  When Ali was 5, Helen brought her to Phillip, finally telling him that Ali was his daughter.  Phillip took Ali in, renaming her Alice Bell.  Phillip and his wife raised Alice as their own, all the while knowing that she was not her "mothers" daughter.  Before Ali went to live with her family, Helen performed a memory wipe, covering her memories prior to age 5.

Ali is the only slayer who can see Helen now, and Helen makes it obvious that she doesn't want anyone else to see her.  When Cole hears about Ali being able to see Helen and talk to her, he gets very upset and forbids Ali from talking to Helen again.  Ali doesn't listen, of course, and it leads to a lot of mistrust between Cole and Ali, who both hurt each other because of the lack of faith they have in each other.  They realize after fighting about it major that they do trust each other after all and are willing to put Helen to the side, but it takes Ali almost dying to realize it.

And speaking of Ali almost dying, let's talk about Camilla and Juliana.  Juliana is Veronica's younger sister.  Camilla is River's sister.  Now, a little story about Camilla and River - Cole's gang meets them when they are trying to fight Anima.  They go to River's house, Ali fights some zombies in a pit in the ground, and Camilla realizes she has total lady wood for Cole.  It doesn't matter to Camilla that Cole is with Ali and very obviously in love with her.  Camilla wants Cole to herself.  So, she devises this plan to get Ali drugged and kidnapped by Anima.  Anima had originally wanted to trade Ali for Justin, but all of Ali's friends said no, not going to happen.  So they came up with another plan.  They were going to try and trick Anima so that they could get Justin back and keep Ali.  But, then when Ali and Cole were fighting, he told her to make the switch.  He realized how stupid that was later, and they went back to their original plan.  So, they came up with a plan to get Justin and screw Anima, but while they were doing that, Camilla was planning  a way to trick and drug Ali so that Anima could take Ali and Camilla could have Cole all to herself.

While they were at the warehouse trying to fight zombies, Anima was waiting outside.  Camilla told Ali that they had Kat.  Ali, being a very protective best friend, rushed out, only to be hit by Anima and almost dragged away, all while being drugged.  Ali managed to reconnect her body and spirit, then ran back inside, telling Cole, River and everyone else what had happened.  Camilla fessed up to what she did, begrudgingly, and River held a gun to her chest and told her he was going to kill her.  Ali could have had every reason to let River kill Camilla, but instead she tells River that she can wipe Camilla's memory.  This is exactly what she does, which leads to Camilla not remembering anything about who she is or what she's done.

After Camilla's memory has been wiped and everything at the warehouse is sorted out, everyone splits for their own places.  Ali and Cole spend the night in Cole's room, him healing Ali through the night with his fire.  Just as things seem like they are looking up, Ali notices that Helen is outside and two Hazmats are trying to close in on her and take her.  Apparently they think Helen is a flesh and bones human, not spirit.  As Ali is watching this, there are exploding noises all over the house.  Ali and Cole run from their room to find that bombs are exploding and destroying the Ankh's house.

Ali and Cole make it outside in time, where they find some of their friends waiting.  They start searching for people who are missing, and find Mr. Ankh dead.  They keep searching for Kat, who they eventually find buried under a pile of rubble from the explosions.  She dies shortly after being found.  Ali is immensely crushed by this death and without even telling anyone, she walks away from the wreckage, surrenders herself to Anima and meets the infamous Mrs. Smith.  Ali gets taken to an Anima facility, where she finally finds Justin.  She gets locked in a cage next to his, but is somehow able to open the cage and free Justin.  He leaves to find his friends and Ali locks herself back in her cage.

While in this testing facility, Mrs. Smith - first name Rebecca - wipes Ali's memories so that she believes she is still Sami.  Ali is used as a test for zombies over and over again.  The zombies are put in a cage with her, where they bite her and are turned into witnesses.  This goes on and on until finally Cole and friends break into this facility and find Ali.  They are able to free her and wipe Mrs. Smith's memory.  Cole and his gang spend time trying to recover Ali and get her memories back.  The cover on her mind finally breaks when she and Cole are in her room, and he refuses to leave.  He is touching her, kissing her, trying to be with her and her cover breaks.  The next day, at Kat's funeral/celebration of life, Ali sees Kat and Emma's spirits and is finally able to gain some closure.

Now, overall, I think this is a great book.  I think that each character was really well-rounded and distinct.  They each had their own personalities and attitudes.  This book was definitely much, much better than the first book in the series (which was still good!)  I loved the tension between Ali, Camilla and Juliana.  I loved watching Ali develop her relationship with Cole and get to know who she really was.  I especially loved that when Juliana admitted that she and Camilla had put the bombs in the house to try and kill Ali so that Camilla could really get to Cole, Cole kicked Juliana and Veronica to the curb and told them never to come back.

BUT, there was one thing that bothered me - Cole kept acting like he was in control of Ali and kept threatening to spank her if she didn't listen to him.  This just about ruined the book for me.  My thoughts are - no man should ever be in control of the woman he is dating or even threaten to hit her in any way, shape or form.  There is no reason for a man to act like that towards a woman.  That aspect of this book could have easily been removed entirely (and in fact should have been.)  Other than that, I say give the book a read - Gena Showalter doesn't disappoint.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Talk - Septimus Heap: Magyk



 ***SPOILER ALERT***
If you think you might want to read this book, but don't want to know ANY spoilers, then save the reading of this review for later.  If you don't mind a few spoilers: read on!

So, I told you I was reading the Septimus Heap books.  Well, I finished the first book in the series - Magyk - so let's talk about it.  The series was written by Angie Sage, who, I must say, has a way with words.

The story opens with Silas Heap, the father of the Heap family, walking home to the Heap room in the Ramblings.  His wife, Sarah, has just given birth to their seventh son, Septimus.  On his way through the woods, Silas sees a bundle lying on the ground.  Picking it up, he realizes it is a baby, roughly the same age as their new baby.  Silas decides to take the baby home, but not before being confronted by ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, who tells him he must never tell anyone he has this baby.

When Silas returns home, he is met by the nanny sweeping out of the house with Septimus.  Silas is told that Septimus has died unexpectedly.  He and his family have no reason to believe otherwise because, as it appears to them, he is dead.  Over the years, the family learns to cope with the loss of Septimus and also raises the found baby as one of their own. 

When the book comes to the current year, Jenna - the found baby - is 11.  The Heaps and their noisy room are in full swing of learning and being boys.  Everyone adores Jenna and takes care of her splendidly.  On her 11th birthday, however, it is found out that she is the long lost Princess.  Marcia Overstrand has known this all along, and has arrived to tell the heaps that Jenna has been recognized and now the Assassin, obviously, wants her killed just as her mother was many years ago.

Marcia, in an effort to help save Jenna, takes Jenna to her room in the wizards tower.  When they arrive at the tower, they find a young boy about Jenna's age collapsed and freezing outside.  He is called, we later find out, Boy 412.  Jenna and Marcia bring the boy inside to warm him up.  While there, Silas and Nicko arrive, and everyone finds out that DomDaniel, former ExtraOrdinary Wizard and current Necromancer, is on his way.  They escape by riding down the rubbish chute, where they are almost discovered by several different people. 

Eventually, Marcia, Jenna, Silas, Nicko and Boy 412 end up at the Heap's Aunt Zelda's house.  This is not before outwitting the Hunter - who has been charged with finding them and killing Jenna.  They use many methods to outwit the Hunter, including an almost impenetrable fog and a mirror spell of their own boat.  Once they arrive at the Marsh, the group meets the Boggart, who leads them up to Aunt Zelda's home.  For a while, they are safe.

Throughout the rest of the novel, there are many things that happen that should be known for future reference in the other books:

* Three of the younger Heap Boys attend a witches party in the woods with their father and end up going wild and living in the woods. 
* Boy 412's true identity is revealed
* Simon Heap, the oldest child in the family, becomes jealous at the revelation of who boy 412 is and also at the fact that boy 412 is named the apprentice to Marcia Overstrand.  Simon had been under the impression that he was going to be named Marcia's apprentice.


There are just a few things about this book that were of a bother to me:

1. Jenna finds a rock and names him Petroc Trelawney.  Rang of Harry Potter to me.
2. This story also has a Boggart.  This one is different than the ones in Harry Potter, but still.  I feel the author could have used a different name.
3. I personally felt it was blaringly obvious who Boy 412 was.

Overall, however,  this is a great book filled with magic, mystery and lots of fun!  Kids and adults alike are sure to enjoy the entire series.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bookish - We are Water

For my book club, I recently finished We are Water by Wally Lamb.  I had read another one of his books a while ago called She's Come Undone, and I loved it.  That was not the case with We Are Water. 

The book opens with this long chapter about a painter named Josephus Jones, who ends up dying through something that is suspicious at best.  His paintings are rudimentary at best, and are painstakingly described by the owner of a gallery that Jones had been in contact with over the years.  The chapter has no point other than to let the reader know that the current owners of a certain house are living in the property once inhabited by the narrator of the first chapter, and that Jones lived in the guest house there.

Moving on to the real part of the story, we meet Annie Oh and her husband Frances.  Annie was the product of a rough childhood, with a mother and sister who died in a flood when Annie was young.  Annie was then left to the care of her alcoholic father and sexually abusive cousin, but got put into foster care as a teen.  Frances was raised by a single mother whose partner left her.  When his mother sought out Frances's paternal grandfather, the grandfather was left with no doubt that Frances was his son's child, and as a result, helped pay for Frances to attend university when he was older.

Each chapter switches between Annie and Frances.  There is a whole lot of ranting and frustration in Frances's chapters because his now ex-wife is marrying a woman.  For what it's worth, I find Viveca to be a real pain in the ass.  She has no idea how to truly care about anyone other than herself and I honestly can't figure out why Annie would ever have wanted to marry her in the first place.  There is a lot of talk from Annie about how she disagrees with Viveca on many thing (which sounds like a recipe for a big fat breakup to me.)  Then there are some ramblings into the past that tell us a bit more about where Annie and Frances came from.

The little we learn about Frances and Annie's children are: The two daughters love Viveca, and the son thinks his mother and Viv are going to hell because they are two women getting married and he's become a right wing nut who believes that is wrong.  They are not a focus in the story though. 

After part one, there is a completely pointless part two, where we hear from some characters who are not necessary to the story and do nothing to move along this completely plotless book.  Then, part three brings us back, sort of, to more of Annie and Frances, as well as some other characters who don't matter at all to the story, especially since they are only mentioned in the last 1/3 of the book.

Save your time and read something else. This book gets a D, and that's just because I know how much effort it takes to write a book, even if people hate it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Books on the Shelf

It's been a while since I've shared what I am reading.  I think it's about time I do that.  (That also means that I am going to have a slew of book reviews coming up!  I hope you're ready!!)




Septimus Heap - Magyk by Angie Sage - This book was recommended by a friend.  Her two sons are reading it and she thought it was something I would enjoy since I love Harry Potter.  I have read a couple chapters so far, and she was right - it's awesome!  I can already tell that I am going to have to read the entire series.



We are Water - Wally Lamb - This is a book club pick, and so far I am really having trouble getting into it.  It's not as interesting as I thought it would be.




A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - I admit, I have been stuck on this book for a while.  Normally, I read through Dickens pretty fast, but this one is killing me.




Wicked - Gregory Maguire - This is actually a re-read.  I read this book once in college, because a friend thought I would like it.  And I did!  I am reading it again, because it is just so amazing!





Game of Thrones - George RR Martin  - This is another one that's been taking me a while, because it is just so thick.  But I am absolutely loving it.  GRRM has a way with words that doesn't disappoint.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Books on the Shelf

I've decided to take a break from The Mortal Instruments Series.  I might get back to it eventually, but right now, I need to read something else.  So, here are the books I've got set aside to read over the next few weeks:



Little Women - Louisa May Alcott




The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith





The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson





The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson





The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern



Dr. Shivago - Boris Pasternak

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Talk: City of Ashes

I finally sat down to read City of Ashes.  I admit, I have been taking my time reading this series.  I mean, the final book is out, and I just finished number two.  Almost a year after reading City of Bones.  All that aside, it’s time for my trusty review of City of Ashes.  I admit I was hesitant to read this book, because I didn’t really like the first one all that well.  (You can read my review of City of Bones here.) 

Something I should clarify:

When I read City of Bones, I had stated that Cassandra Clare wasn’t technically a bad writer.  Or rather, I said the books were not poorly written.  Clare may be a phenomenal writer who just hasn’t found the right story yet.  These books are not that story for her.  This WAS a poorly written novel.  Some of the sentences were so poorly structured, I had to read them two or three times to figure out what was actually being said.  Some of them were so bad, I laughed when I read them.

Here are just a few examples:

‘”Thanks.’  Jace rubbed his wrists, each one braceleted with a line of chafed, bleeding skin.  He was starting to be able to feel his fingertips again.”

“Jace reached across Clary and jerked it shut.  The truck veered around the two Shadowhunters – Malik, Clary saw, had what looked like a flinging knife in his hand.”  (What, pray tell, is a flinging knife?)

“The Sword’s touch seemed to spill the cold through her veins, sending sizzling ice particles through her arms and legs, numbing her hands.”  (Sizzling ice particles?!)

There are plenty of other quotes I could put here, but I want to save a little for later.

Now, if you’re curious: here’s a synopsis of the novel.  I’ll try to keep it short.

City of Ashes starts shortly after City of Bones left off.  Jace, who has been living with Isabelle, Alec and Max at the Institute for years, is called into Maryse’s office after she returns from her journey.  She tells him that he can’t live with them anymore, and refers to him by the name Valentine gave him: Jonathan.  He repeats over and over that he had no idea that Valentine was his father until recently.  According to Jace, he found out Valentine was his father the same time everyone else did.  Maryse, however, thinks Jace knew about it longer than he’s letting on.  She believes that Jace is lying and that he is more like Valentine than he claims. 

So, after being kicked out of the institute, Jace goes to a bar that serves werewolves.  Apparently, because he’s a shadowhunter, that means everyone has to treat him like the sun shines out of his butt.  So, he gets served and is allowed to stay.  While there, Jace gets into a fight and is dragged into a back office until he calms down.  This is when we also meet Maia, a new character and a werewolf.  She hates Jace from the first moment she sees him.

While this is going on, Clary is at her place with Simon, chatting and watching a vampire movie.  Apparently, the vampire movie upsets Simon, because he gets up and leaves the room when Clary makes a joke about Dracula.  (This is actually really bad foreshadowing, if you get my drift.  Clare has a bad habit of basically giving everything away at the get-go.) 

After Simon gets upset, he goes into the kitchen.  Clary follows him and asks him if he’s upset about the vampire thing.  Keep in mind, there is really no vampire thing yet, just a bad joke from Clary.  Again, bad foreshadowing.  So, while they’re in the kitchen, Clary and Simon kiss, and it’s like, bam – they’re a couple.  So, Clary invites Simon to spend the night.  But then, she gets  a call from Isabelle, who tells Clary that Jace is missing.  So, Clary goes rushing to the Institute (Go, Buffy!) and when she arrives Isabelle asks Clary what she’s doing there.  Clary, confused, tells Isabelle that Isabelle said Jace was missing and that she wanted Clary to come over.  Isabelle says that she didn’t mean Clary should rush right over.  This is another example of stellar writing and story lines.  Why would Isabelle tell Clary to come over if she didn’t really want Clary to come over?  What was going through Isabelle’s head?  Also, what was going through Clare’s head when she wrote that exchange.

Let’s remember that while Clary goes chasing after Jace, Simon – her boyfriend – is with her.  So, while at the institute, they figure out Jace is at the werewolf bar.  They go looking for him and find him in the office with Luke.  Isabelle, Alec and Clary go into the office, because Luke thinks that perhaps Clary can talk some sense into Jace.  You know, because they’re siblings.  Well, a fat lot of good that does.  Jace basically pretends to have all sorts of animosity towards Clary, not only in this scene, but throughout the rest of the novel. 

So, Clary convinces Jace to go back to the institute anyway.  Luke comes with because he believes that he can convince Maryse to continue caring for Jace.  When they arrive at the institute, Maryse is less than thrilled.  However, she comes up with one solution to finding out if Jace actually knew whether or not Valentine is his dad – calling on the Inquisitor to bring the soul sword and test Jace.  Clary is all for this – she wants to prove Jace is innocent as much as he does.  Then she finds out he could die and does a famous Clary 350 and decides it’s a crappy idea. 

Well, they call the inquisitor, who, upon arrival decides that Jace is being disrespectful and insolent.  She decides that Jace needs to spend the night in the City of Ashes – where the Silent brothers live.  There is a jail in the City that Jace will stay in, because the inquisitor believes that this will change Jace’s attitude.  While Jace is there, Valentine not only breaks in, but also kills the Silent Brothers and threatens Jace.  Jace sends out a warning to his sister, who goes to the City of Ashes with Clary and Alec.  When they arrive, Clary, Izzy and Alex discover the corpses of the Silent Brothers and learn the story of how they died.
After they leave the jail, and arrive back above ground, they realize that the distress signal Jace sent out went out to all the adult Shadowhunters as well.  Maryse is there, along with the inquisitor and several other people.  They are all in a state of disbelief at what Jace and company tell them in regards to Valentine killing the Silent Brothers.  The Inquisitor, who has a deep and unfounded hatred of Jace, tries to come up with a creative solution to punish him until she can figure out what to do with him.  Magnus, who just happens to be where ever Jace, et al, are, enters into a contract with the inquisitor and takes custody of Jace.  They stay at Magnus’s apartment for a few days, Jace thinking that he can never leave the apartment. 

In an effort to keep at least a few things secret, I’ll simply sum up a few things that happen throughout the rest of the book.

* Jace actually does leave Magnus’s apartment.  The key to him being able to do so is – Magnus put a clause in the contract that basically says that he will take care of the shadowhunter and keep the shadowhunter in his apartment at all times.  Magnus never specifies which shadowhunter. 

*This brings us to the Seelie Court (or fairy court.)  Alec stays at Magnus’s apartment so that Jace can go.  The Seelie Queen wants information from them.


*While in the Seelie Court, Clary licks her fingers after eating something from the queen.  She gets told that she cannot leave the court until she kisses Jace, because that is what her heart desires.  After they kiss, they are able to leave.  

*Simon throws a Clary level hissy fit when they kiss, and he leaves without saying anything to Clary.  Shortly after this, he gets turned into a vampire.  (Anyone surprised?  Anyone?)

After the visit to the seelie court and Simon getting turned into a vampire, the gang spends the rest of the novel basically either fighting or trying to figure out how to thwart Valentine and end his murdering of the downworlder children.  They manage to save Maia - a werewold child, and Simon - two of the necessary children for Valentine to complete his mission.  However, Valentine, towards the end of the novel, maybe gets blown up in a ship.  (Who wants to guess that he's not really gone?!)  

There are a *few* things that bother me about this novel.

- Jace and Clary.  They are, as far as they know, brother and sister.  That means that being attracted to each other is frowned upon.  I personally frown on incestuous relationships in any novel.  I just think it's creepy and weird.  Sometimes, these relationships are implied or written very well (Dany and her brother in Game of Thrones, for example) but I still think it's weird.  However, in spite of how weird the relationship between Clary and Jace is, they still fully acknowledge their attraction to each other.  They do nothing to hide it.  Clary especially makes it very obvious that she wants to be with Jace no matter what.  She says things about how he's her brother, and claims she's in a relationship with Simon, but even through all that, she makes it more than obvious that she wants to be with Jace.  At the end of the novel, Jace puts his foot down and says that there is no way he and Clary can have a relationship together.  Clary, in typical fashion, throws a fit.  She says she doesn't care and wants to be with Jace no matter what.

- The way Clary treats Simon, even though he is supposed to be her boyfriend.  She is absolutely horrible to Simon.  She leaves him at her house the night they get together to go see Jace. (?!???!!) She never spends any time with Simon.  Clary never tells Simon anything important in her life, and always seems surprised when he's around.  If he's with her and Jace is present as well, she ignores Simon and gives all her attention to Jace.  If I were Simon, I would never have spent the time trying to get together with a selfish snot like Clary.

- Cassandra Clare does a very bad job of foreshadowing.  She basically drops such heavy handed hints about what's coming that the reader can figure it out chapters before it actually happens.  (EG: I already know that Clary and Jace are not brother and sister.  Anyone Surprised.)

Overall, I thought this book was poorly written, the characters were weak and the events were too predictable.  A ten year old could have written a better story than this.  I will probably finish the series just to see how it all comes together, but I am not counting on it getting any better.  Ms. Clary - I'd give this a D.  







Thursday, August 7, 2014

Books on the Shelf

Here are the books I've got going right now:




City of Glass





City of Fallen Angels




City of Lost Souls


*All by Cassandra Clare.  I figured if I was going to read the first couple books, I might as well finish the series just to see how it all turns out*





Dorothy and the Wizard

L. Frank Baum – Who doesn’t love a good Oz Book?!  





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Books on the Shelf


Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - This is a classic that I have never read, and it's not on my classics list.  So, this is my just for fun book!


Dr. Zhivago - Boris Pasternak - This is a book from my Classics Club list.  I can't believe I've never read it before!  Loving it so far.


 
City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare - I read the first book in the Mortal Instruments series, found it to be... familiar and was reluctant to read the rest of the series.  But as much as I didn't care for the first book, I felt compelled to find out what happens, so here I am, reading City of Ashes.






Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Talk - Through the Zombie Glass



***SPOILER ALERT*** As usual, this review contains spoilers.  If you haven't read the book yet and want to be surprised, wait to read this review.  If you don't mind spoilers, read on.


I just finished reading the second book in The White Rabbit Chronicles, by Gena Showalter.  Through the Zombie Glass, and the first book in the series, Alice in Zombieland, are books that take a unique look at zombies and how humans fight them.

In Through the Zombie Glass, Alice, a Zombie Slayer has a lot on her plate.  She has to deal with her boyfriend  Cole's weird behavior, fight zombies, deal with the loss of her parents, sister and now grandfather, deal with having to move into a new house and a whole host of other things.  

At the beginning of the novel, Alice and her Nana are still reeling from the loss of Alice's grandfather.  They are trying their best to deal with his death and still keep living their lives.  Since his death, Alice's Nana has figured out that Alice is a zombie slayer, and although she doesn't love the idea, she understands why it is necessary.

I want to take a moment now to tell you about Ali's relationship with Cole.  She met Cole when she first moved in with her grandparents.  She was the new girl at school, he was the rebellious bad boy with tattoos and an air of mystery.  He, much like Edward in Twilight, warned Ali to stay away from him.  But there was a magnetic pull, an attraction they couldn't hide or run away from.  Eventually, they got together, much to the dismay of many other girls, especially some of his exes.

Now, this brings us to the other ladies.  Cole has, at any given time, at least two, sometimes three other women vying for his affections.  But, he "apparently" only has eyes for Ali.  I say apparently in quotations, because when Cole meets Veronica, he flirts with her, and has a thing with her when he and Ali break up.

And speaking of the break-up, here's the down-low:  Cole, around a certain point in all his relationships, has had this moment where he just wants to bolt.  As soon as he thinks it is getting too serious, he dumps whoever he is with.  Alice was no exception to that.  However, he claimed it was for another reason.  In Alice in Zombieland, the first book in the White Rabbit Chronicles, we discover that Alice sometimes has visions with people when they lock eyes with each other.  She and Cole had visions of passionately making out with each other the first time they met.  Now, in Through the Zombie Glass, Alice has a vision with a new guy in town: Gavin.  Cole realizes that Alice and Cole have had visions of some things and uses that as his reason to break up with her.

Throughout a majority of the novel, Ali and Cole are not together, and Ali remains insistent that nothing is going to happen between she and Gavin. Nothing does happen - or at least nothing romantic.  But it takes Cole a while to realize that.  He and Ali go through the, "Hey, Ali, I want to be friends with you," "No, Cole, I don't want to be around you," phase.  Then Cole realizes that he actually wants to continue his relationship with Ali.  He says that he is completely in love with her and that she's the only girl for him.  They eventually get back together, but it takes Ali a bit of work to trust him again.

I don't want to give everything away, so I'll tell you some of the other things I think you should know to intrigue you:

* Kat finally comes clean to Frosty about her kidney disease.
* Reeve finally learns about the zombies from her dad.  (She had been hounding him and her friends for a while because she was suspicious.)
* Veronica tries everything she can to get Cole to go out with her (or at least to make out with her bit.)
* Alice gets bit during a zombie fight - the outcome you'll have to discover on your own.
* There's a spy for the Hazmat's in the group.
* Justin discovers, after Ali gets kidnapped, that his sister is not really dead.

Now, to wrap it up, here are my thoughts on the book.

1. I don't love that the zombies weren't actually zombies.  If I am reading a zombie, I want it to be an actual, flesh loving, brain eating zombie, not some spirit that only certain people can see.

2. I still think it's weird that this novel was published by Harlequin.  I always equate Harlequin with poorly written adult novels.

3. As a continuation of part two: the writing in Through the Zombie Glass was not excellent.  However, I was surprised that, for a harlequin book, it was better written than some of their titles.

4. I found Cole and Ali's relationship to be almost unbelievable in the sense that I just don't think even teenagers would have acted as stupidly or as immature as they did.

Overall, I would give this book a C.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the greatest either.  If you're looking for something light that you don't really have to think about, this book is good, otherwise - read something else.












Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

I feel like David Bowie should be singing in the background as I write this blog post.

As many of you blog readers know, I have some online stores on Etsy.  I have also branched out to Zibbet and Storenvy and have recently launched my own personal website.  Here are the links to all of my online shops:

M Knits - Etsy
La Carta Papier - Etsy
Tip Top Baby Shop - Etsy
M Knits - Storenvy
Life Out Loud - Zibbet
Life Out Loud - Personal Website

I have loved every single second of creating in these shops.  However, I have to make some changes - mostly to shipping costs.  I mentioned this on my Facebook Fan Page, and I am writing a blog post about it so that I can write more.

The price of shipping to areas outside the US, Canada and Mexico has risen dramatically. Heck, even shipping to other places IN North America has become increasingly expensive.  I love shipping to people worldwide and being able to create items for all people - that won't stop.  However, I have made a firm decision that my shipping rates for countries outside North America will be going up dependent upon the country.

I will be updating my shipping rates on Etsy, Zibbet and Storenvy to reflect this raise in international shipping. If you have never shopped with me before, or if you are a return customer, please make sure that you read the policy section in any of my shops and pay attention to the shipping costs when checking out, as all changes will be reflected in those areas.

Now, for a super fun look at what's coming up in my shops:

New That Was Awkward bookmarks and journals.
New baby blankets, adult blankets and summer colored crocheted necklaces and bracelets.
New Summer headbands - thinner so they keep your hair back without making you too warm!

Keep your eyes posted for some awesome photos coming over the coming days and weeks!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Book Talk - The Reading Group




I read The Reading Group, by Elizabeth Noble, for my book club in March.  I didn't fall head over heels in love with this book, but it was good.

The premise is that five women get together once a month to read talk about a book they've read.  Outside of the  book club they have, the story talks about each of their individual lives.

Outside of the reading group, some of the topics that are discussed include:

* Teen pregnancy
* Infertility
* Affairs
* Divorce
* Miscarriages

The primary characters are:

* Clare
* Nicole
* Harriet
* Polly
* Susan

In the beginning of the novel, we meet Clare, who is working as a nurse in a birthing unit in a hospital.  We learn that this is particularly hard for her because she has been trying to have a baby, but keeps having miscarriages.  She and her husband have been together since they were in high school. and since they've been together she has always wanted to have a baby.

Clare and Elliot's story segues into Polly and Cressida's story.  Polly and her husband are divorced and their kids split time with them.  Cressida, their daughter, is a freshman in college.  Polly notices that Cressida has been acting distant and strange, but can't figure out why.  Finally it comes out that Cressida is pregnant.  She didn't want to say anything because she was worried about how her parents would react.

At first, Cressida says that her boyfriend Joe is the father.  She, however, has been avoiding her mom and brother, because she doesn't want them to find out who the father really is.  Finally, the truth comes out that the real father is Elliot.

In the end, Cressida has Elliot's baby and splits up with Joe, Elliot and Clare get divorced, Clare moves back in with her mom and the book club loses a member.

The thing that really bothered me about this book was this: At the beginning of each "month" there would be a section where they were all sitting around talking about the book they had just read.  However, the author DOES NOT tell you who's talking.  She literally gives no indication of who is saying what about the book.  This was very irritating to me.  I am the type of person who wants to know who's speaking in a book.  Not only is it good writing to tell the reader who's speaking, but it also gives us a sense of the characters' personalities.

Overall, based on the writing and predictable storylines, I would give this book a C-.







Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Talk - The Fault in Our Stars


***SPOILERS:  This is my stock spoiler alert warning.  I will give things away, so wait to read this post if you don't want to know what happens!***


After hearing many good things about the book The Fault in Our Stars, I finally got it on my kindle and read it.  I made it through the entire book in like, six hours.  

The book is about a 16 year old named Hazel.  She got cancer when she was thirteen, knowing that it would be the type that would eventually kill her.  She then also gets mets in her lungs and has to use a portable oxygen tank to help her breath.  Eventually she has to start using a BiPap as well, along with taking a drug every day that keeps the mets from getting bigger.  

Because of her cancer, Hazel cannot attend school.  Therefore, Hazel got her GED and now takes classes at a local community college.  She says in the novel that she considers her parents to be her best friends.  Hazel's mom is worried that Hazel doesn't have enough friends her own age, so she makes Hazel attend a group for teens with cancer.  While there, Hazel meets Augustus Waters, a osteosarcoma survivor that Hazel will form a relationship with.

Throughout the novel, Hazel and Gus become very close.  They also spend a lot of time with Isaac, who has eye cancer and eventually goes completely blind.  In one particularly confusing part of the novel, Hazel and Gus go on a trip to Amsterdam with Hazel's mom. They meet an author named Peter Van Houton, who has written a book called An Imperial Affliction - a book which Hazel loves completely.

After returning from Amsterdam, Hazel finds out that Gus has cancer everywhere.  He has been told that he is terminal, and he does die before the end of the novel.  This leads to many things, not the least of which includes Peter Van Houton hiding in the back of Hazels parent's car.

I have read that many people found the book to be rather unbelievable because the characters don't talk like teenagers.  I find this to be a rather endearing thing actually, as well as believable.  Hazel got her GED when she was young, takes classes at a community college and reads a lot.  Gus is also a voracious reader.  So, I find it completely plausible that these teens would be smarter than we all think.  Also, I think in real life, adults discredit teens a lot - they are smarter than we think!

I loved so many things about this book.  I loved:
* The relationship between Hazel and her parents
* The relationship between Hazel and Gus
* Isaac
* The trip to Amsterdam (also on my things I don't like this.  You'll see.)
* Hazel chewing out Peter Van Houton

Now, for the things I didn't like so much:
* Gus's parents knew he was terminal - and they still let him go to Amsterdam with someone they barely knew.  What if something serious had happened to him while overseas?
* Isaac goes blind
* Well, Gus dying!
* Peter Van Houton - he's kind of a jackass.
* The ending - there really was no ending.  All through the book, Hazel and Gus talk about how AIA literally has no ending - it ended in the middle of a sentence.  This book doesn't really end either.  It does end with a complete sentence; however, you do not find out how or when Hazel dies.  You don't find out if she lives long enough to graduate from college, fall in love again or have kids.  So, us readers are left to our imaginations.

Overall, this was a great book.  I am mostly okay with the not an ending because I think it fits, especially in light of the not an ending for AIA.  I would give this book a B+ and recommend it for everyone to read.





Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Not my daughter, you bitch!"

For this round of blogging, I am going to share some of my favorite quotes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Enjoy!


"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” - Dumbledore

"And that's the second time we've saved your life tonight, you two-faced bastard!" - Ron Weasley

"Merlins Pants!" - Hermione

“I'll join you when Hell freezes over," said Neville. "Dumbledore's Army!" he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd, whom Voldemort's Silencing Charms seemed unable to hold.” 

"I won't blast people out of my way just because they're there' said Harry. 'That's Voldemort's job.” 

“Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf!” 

"Will you stay with me?"
"Until the very end.” 

"They clambered over him and onto the spiral stone staircase that moved slowly up like an escalator.  Harry pushed open the door at the top.  He had one, brief glimpse of the stone Pensieve on the desk where he had left it, and then an earsplitting noise made him cry out, thinking of curses and Death Eaters and the rebirth of Voldemort -  But it was applause.  All around the walls, the headmaster and headmistresses of Hogwarts were giving him a standing ovation.....But Harry had only eyes for the man who stood in the largest portrait directly behind the headmaster's chair.  Tears were sliding down from behind the half-moon spectacles into the long silver beard, and the pride and gratitude emanating from him filled Harry with the same balm as a phoenix song."