Weekly Recap 32 (June 22) – The New Bookcase Edition

Well hello Sunday my old friend. I can’t believe another week has passed again! I was much busier this week, what with my car issues and my coworker getting sick so I had to pick up an extra shift. But I had the day off yesterday so I was able to relax and catch up a bit on some rest and errands. Who knew that I would look forward to having time to go grocery shopping?

Stacking the Shelves

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 12.10.07 PMTwo weeks ago I won a giveaway through Lisa @ Read. Breathe. Relax. and Simon & Schuster, and the package arrived this Tuesday! It was much quicker than I thought, and did a little jig when I picked it up and brought it inside. I was so excited to get my hands on City of Heavenly Fire – now I may actually finish the series! My sister was more than happy to receive the other books, so now she has her own set sans CoHF. And of course the jacket is mine, and it fits perfectly! Plus, it’s SO SOFT. I wish it wasn’t summer here so I could wear it all the time.

I also bought a new bookcase! Target had it for $18 (thank you Veronica for letting me know!), and it’s in a perfect expresso color that matches the rest of my furniture. I’ve been overflowing my bookshelves lately, and it was time for some expansion. Thus, two hours later, with many screams of irritation and misplaced screws (but no smashed thumbs – yay!), I built this:

photo 1It actually turned into a “my favorite books/series” case. Shelf one is contemporary, shelf two is fantasy (ish), and shelf three is sci-fi (ish). I threw some paranormal in there as well. The top of the case is for the Pushing the Limits series, since it didn’t fit into the first shelf, and then the right spot will be for my current read (in this case, Dreams of Gods and Monsters).

photo 2The case was the perfect height to go under my bird picture. Hopefully you can see all the titles! (I left a little slot for Isla and the Happily Ever After when it’s released in two months 😉 )

photo 3Aren’t they beautiful? I was so proud 😀 It took me a while to figure out which books should go on the shelves, but finally I accomplished that daunting task. There’s a bit of room next to Days of Blood and Starlight where book three will go when I’m finished crying over it.

The sucky part of this is that shelf three will need rearranging in a few short months when series are continued or completed (Winter, This Shattered World, Blue Lily Lily Blue, Echoes of Us, The Treatment, Unraveled). BUT I refuse to worry about that now. And anyway, I have two full shelves on my other case that are now empty. Hooray for cheap and easy bookish projects!

In other news…

  • My car was finally repaired, after being in the shop for five days. I felt like I was sixteen again, trying to shuffle the one car around. Except sixteen year old me didn’t work, and eighteen year old me does. So that was so much fun… *sarcasm* They first told me the repairs would cost $1800 (I had a wee meltdown during my lunch break), due to a water pump, timing belt, radiator fan, and labor. But then we took it to another shop and they said that it was only the radiator fan and low on coolant, so that ended up costing about $700. The timing belt will need to be replaced eventually, but that’s not for another 10K miles at least. I’m just glad everything worked out and I didn’t have to spend the extra $1100 O_O
  • In happier news, I was able to make it to the Fierce Reads tour in San Diego! I’ve got a huge recap post scheduled, so I won’t say much here, but it was BEYOND fun, and it was so nice seeing Leigh again and tell her how much I loved Ruin and Rising.
  • In just seven days, I’ll be nineteen. Yeah, next Sunday. I alternate between being quite startled and completely forgetting about it. NINETEEN. How did that happen?? It seems like just yesterday I turned eighteen. Hopefully this next year will keep improving for me.

In case you missed it, last week I…

What’s coming up this week? (Hint: it’s a Laini Taylor week)

  • Monday – Review of Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
  • Tuesday – Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Trends I Like
  • Wednesday – Saturated Reads: Days of Blood and Starlight
  • Thursday – Fierce Reads Recap!
  • Friday – Review of Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor.

Hope you all have a good week!

Weekly Recap 30 (June 8)

Well hello Sunday my old friend. I can’t believe another week has passed again! I think I’ve finally settled into the swing of summertime and not having classes to teach or prepare for. It’s a bit weird, only working part time, but it’s actually pretty nice now.

Stacking the Shelves

So… you know that whole “book ban” thing? Yeah, I don’t know what you’re talking about either. BUT I HAD MORE COUPONS AND THEY WERE SUPER CHEAP AND I COULDN’T SAY NO.

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 5.29.46 PMOf course, I needed Where She Went, since the movie is coming out in a little less than two months now. And Say What You Will has been on my radar for a few weeks now, and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback. Plus, I’m running out of contemporaries to read, and I’m still binging on that genre, so really I saved myself from a reading slump.

And OH MAN have I got some amazing news for my NetGalley haul:

I mean, can life get any better?? I about fell off my bed when I woke up and checked my email to see the approval notice from Bloomsbury for Heir of Fire. And Crushed is one I’ve been waiting for for what seems like forever, after I finished the first book Cracked last year. Another awesome thing: my review for Cracked is blurbed on the NG page for Crushed, AND the book’s website!

In other news…

  • I think Tuesday was like the BEST day I’ve had in a long time. Right when I woke up, I got that email for Heir of Fire. Ten minutes later, I was DMed by Francine, and did a quick interview for her blog, Fluffy Reads! Then I did my morning routine, and then – hold your breath – I wore a tank top AND shorts together! *happy dance* Maybe this means I’ll start working up to actually wearing a bathing suit 😀 After I got home from running some errands, I was emailed by Lisa at Read. Breathe. Relax. about a giveaway I had won. AND OH MY GOD THE GIVEAWAY!!! It was for a whole set of the TMI books, PLUS a TMI sweatshirt! I almost fell off the couch, and I’m pretty sure the noises I made would have split ear drums. So yes, Tuesday was lovely ❤
  • I took my mom out to see Maleficent for an early birthday celebration, and we both really enjoyed it! The ending was a wee bit rushed for our taste, but the glorious graphics made up for it. Plus, MALEFICENT. Can I have a poster of her beauty so I can stare at it every night??

In case you missed it, last week I…

What’s coming up this week?

  • Monday – Review of My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  • Tuesday – Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books of the Year So Far
  • Wednesday – NEW FEATURE! Saturated Reading: What I Thought Was True
  • Thursday – Mental Health Awareness Month: Books I’ve read and Books I Want to Read that focus on MH
  • Friday – Review of… whatever book I’m in the mood for 😛

Hope you all have a good week!

Review: Books 1-3 of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

TMI 1-3

So before I review these books, I want to make one overall point about this series. I’ve rated this series on an entirely different scale than most books. There’s the books that blow me away because of jaw-dropping characters, or a fantastic plot, or mind-melting world building. And then there’s books that suck me in because they’re just good stories, whether they’re well written or not. TMI happens to be of the latter type. I could rip it apart and complain about plot cliches, overused character tropes, and whatnot, but I won’t. Because honestly I’ve read City of Bones three times over now and I haven’t gotten sick of it – in fact, I like it more each time. So despite the fact that I’ve read better crafted books, TMI is one of my favorites, simply because I can completely lose myself in the story.

Also: spoiler alert for all three books. It’s late, I’m tired, and I don’t feel like censoring myself. Sorry! (As a postscript, now that I’ve written the reviews – these are so informal it’s not even funny. Enjoy the completely unedited and uncensored version of my thoughts!)

Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 485
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Series? Yes, The Mortal Instruments #1
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderberry Books
Publication Date: March 27, 2007

Synopsis from Goodreads: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

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Dwarf Version

Like I said, this is actually my third time reading City of Bones. Mostly because I kept restarting the series and couldn’t get past CoB! But either way, I still love it just as much as the others. And that’s one thing that Clare really infuses in her books: re-readability.

So I guess what I really love the most about this first book is the introduction to the Shadowhunters and their culture. Basically, Jace is a badass. And Isabelle is a badass. And Alec is a badass. And I love reading about their cumulative badassery. Tbh, Clary is a bit snobby hipster for me, but I still like how realistic she is. She’s pretty helpless, but still does her best either way. And no sudden expert-level skills! Of course she finds her “special” powers, but at least she wasn’t a whiz first thing. Oh and I totally ship Alec + Magnus, and Clary + Jace. Though the creepy incest thing turned me off. Nice revelation there Clare – totally made me feel like some kinky weirdo.

Other thoughts:

  • Is it stele as in *steel* or stele as in *steh-lay*? The world may never know
  • Aww Simon so cute. But you are totally friendzoned because come on have you seen Clary with Jace? Soulmates.
  • Hodge what a douche
  • The movie made Valentine seem more deranged than the book. I like book-Valentine better – more clinically diabolical
  • “My nefarious loins” – pure gold
  • Have I mentioned that I hate cliffhangers?

So book one – I like it more for the characters than the plot. Though the plot is pretty solid too! I just think it meanders a bit in the middle. All in all, a great start to the series.

My Final Rating:

Four Stars

Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 453
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Series? Yes, The Mortal Instruments #2
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderberry Books
Publication Date: March 25, 2008

Synopsis from Goodreads: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

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Dwarf Version

Usually with a sequel I like it either more than the first, or less than the first. City of Ashes ended up being exactly equal with City of Bones – out of the two it’s a tie for my favorite! The inclusion of more Downworlders is really what sold this book for me – the werewolves and Faerie cultures were really interesting. The forbidden romance between Clary and Jace is still creepy – because I ship it so hard but know that *ew* but at the same time PLEASE THERE MUST BE A WAY FOR THEM TO NOT BE SIBLINGS. And honestly? Kudos to Clare for making the love triangle go away in a semi-awesome way.

I love that Simon is a vampire. There, I said it. Sure, it’s a bit convenient. But hey – now he’s not only a wickedly skilled Greater Demon slaying archer, but he’s a sun walker too! So he gets to live, he gets to participate, and now he can be at least on a similar level with the Shadowhunters as far as fighting goes. And can we have a party for the Alec + Magnus being canon?

Other thoughts:

  • I don’t think I’ve hated someone as much as the Inquisitor since Umbridge
  • Yay possibility of Jace not being a Morgenstern! Can we please find out so the kissing can commence?
  • Not that kissing – no Faerie queens involved please
  • I really liked the Silent Brothers. Valentine needs to go down
  • WOO ALEC FINALLY KILLED A DEMON
  • Wow Clary – OP much? I’m thinking a few leaks would have done the trick – no need to rip apart a boat
  • Ohhh Jace unleashes even more badass-ness – thought it makes me think that maybe he really is a Morgenstern after all??
  • How can she use so many different steles? I’d think they’d be more of a “wand chooses the wizard” sort of deal – not a “one size fits all” thing
  • Have I mentioned that I really don’t like the cliffhangers??

Okay so this one focuses more on the newly-discovered Jace and Clary parental issues, but I still liked the overarching plot of the soul sword and Valentine killing downworlders. Plus, Jace giving Simon his blood to heal? BROTP starting right there folks. Though is that the real reason that Simon is a sun walker now? I wish it was explained more. Right – on to City of Glass!

My Final Rating:

Four Stars

Title: City of Glass
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 541
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Series? Yes, The Mortal Instruments #3
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderberry Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2009

Synopsis from Goodreads: To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Timesbestselling series The Mortal Instruments.

Amazon |  Barnes and NobleBook DepositoryGoodreads

Dwarf Version

Let me start off by saying that this was the BEST OF THE THREE. BY FAR. I could not put it down – even at the risk of being late to work. It was that good. The plot was polished, the pacing was break-neck and action packed, and the characters were just perfect. And there was only a tiny cliffhanger – but it was good enough for me with the happy ending! Though everyone has since educated me that CoG was supposed to be the end, and that makes perfect sense. So I’m considering books 1-3 a separate series. That way if books 4-6 disappoint me, it won’t soil these three. I’ll just break it down in bullet points right off the bat:

  • My ships have sailed!!! Magnus/Alec, Jace/Clary, and Simon/Isabelle. Life is so good right now I can’t even
  • A bit confusing, but it makes sense now how Jace and Clary have the angel essence stuff in them
  • And that Sebastian got the demon stuff – God I hate that guy
  • I cried for Max, though I had been spoiled by the family tree in the Clockwork Princess jacket
  • How stupid do the Shadowhunters have to be? I knew the Lake was the Mirror the moment they mentioned it. DUHHHH
  • Awesome, awesome, awesome fight scenes. Clary taking over the rune to control Raziel was pretty amazing – and oh my heart melted when she used her wish to bring back Jace
  • On that subject – I about died when Valentine killed Jace. Like, jaw dropped, heart in my toes, cold sweat – the works.
  • So we still don’t get to find out how Simon is a sun walker? And the mark of Cain can’t be good – Supernatural has taught me that (Dean and Simon should have a chat)
  • I really want to see this one as a movie – please?
  • I really hate it when “responsible” adults are so hard-headed and ignorant *coughtheclavecough*

I think that’s about it! Best of the three by far, and I don’t really have any other complaint other than I wish Simon’s condition was explained a bit more. But, c’est la vie, and I’m just glad that there was a happy ending for this one! And now I’m going to go ruin that by reading City of Fallen Angels. Wish me luck, send me chocolate, and get the tissues ready.

My Final Rating:

Five Stars

Weekly Update 15 (February 23)

Once again, it is Sunday! The week flew by for me, and it’s already almost March. MARCH. How did that happen?! It’s just all too much.

I actually had a lot going on this week, now that I think about it. It’s been a weird, one, I’ll be honest! A week ago I started taking Melatonin at night to help me sleep, since I was getting 4-6 hours a night for weeks on end (NOT a fun way to operate, let me tell you). It works like magic, but after a few days I noticed that I was constantly lethargic, foggy, unfocused, and mildly depressed. Turns out, all of those are possible side effects of Melatonin. And since I’m so sensitive to medication in the first place, I shouldn’t even be surprised that this stuff knocked me off my feet. So now I’m off it, and even though it took a while to get the fogginess away, I’m feeling much better. Except now returns the problem of insomnia! Oh the woes of my life *swoons like a saloon girl*

Okay but in all honesty other than the weirdness of the side effects, I had a pretty awesome week. I found out that my car DOESN’T need a new timing belt (an $800 repair), and I was able to pay off the last bit of one of my student loans! I finally went to my favorite used book store, and got credit for the oodles of books I’ve been culling over the last few weeks. Plus, for a whopping $2 I bought three books (one, not pictured, was for my sister – her own copy of City of Bones)

photo 2-2I loved Sanderson’s Steelheart, so I figured I’d give another of his books a try. Plus, it’s a near-perfect condition hardback. I couldn’t turn it down! And Witch & Wizard is one I read when I was maybe 14 or 15, but it’s on my Kindle and I wanted a physical copy.

photo 1-2My grandparents also came to visit for a Valentine’s Day brunch (we’re a family that loves love, okay? It’s basically an excuse to surprise each other with presents), and they gifted me with some money, with which I bought the Shadowhunter’s Codex! After all my TMI reading, I’d had my eye on this and had planned to buy it sometime next month, but they beat me to it!

Speaking of TMI reading, since last Sunday when I announced I’d be binging everything Ms. Clare has to offer, I’ve finished the first three books. And I’m totally treating it as a single trilogy like it was originally intended, because I LOVED it. That way, if the next two books suck, in my head it’s a separate series so books 1-3 aren’t tainted 😉 And now I’m taking a tiny break to read the Shadowhunter’s Codex, one review copy that I’ve procrastinated on as long as I feasibly can, and then I shall resume with City of Fallen Angels.

And every single person who commented on my posts have mentioned how much they loved Clockwork Princess – but that it also broke their heart. And I am telling you all now: in commenting on my post and sharing your feels, you have signed the contract that states that you accept my weeping self on your doorstep when I finally trudge through the pain. Just a heads up.

Also: I’ve been watching the City of Bones movie on repeat pretty much. I think in the last five days I’ve seen it at least four or five times? I think it can be officially classified as an obsession.

Also: one last mention of my obsessions – I recently bought this CD by A Great Big World called Is There Anybody Out There? and you guys NEED to listen to it! It’s a bit more pop-ish than I’m used to, but it’s really upbeat and uplifting. Plus, look at this cover:

To top it all off, the track “Say Something” is freakishly close enough to the book I’m writing to be its theme song. I put it on repeat and the words start flowing!

If you missed it, this week I shared:

Tomorrow I’ll be debuting my new feature: something I’m calling The Writing Life. Since I’ve started writing my novel again, I wanted a place to discuss that part of my interests, plus, I’m going to be asking you all, as readers, for your honest opinions. I know what like, but I want to hear what you like and what you want to read! I’ll also be doing Top Ten Tuesday, reviewing Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, discussing strange reading habits, and reviewing Avalon by Mindee Arnett.

How was your week? Anyone ever heard of or taken Melatonin; what was your experience with it? Do you like the first three books in TMI better than the fourth and fifth? What movie can you watch over and over again and not get sick of it?