Super Secret Project


As I was giving this web site a much needed makeover, I realized I hadn’t written a post since…December 2018?! *Gasps*

And to be honest, I don’t really have the compulsion to blog as much as I used to (although I could probably do a bit better than once every ten months…). I mostly want this web site to be a place where people can find out more about the Reborn series, and what I’m currently working on, all in one place.

I do have a few more books planned for the Reborn series. The first wraps up Siobhan’s (and Carly’s) stories from the previous three books. I also have a partial draft of a stand-alone, Halloween novel that takes place in the Reborn world. I thought I’d be able to get that out for this Halloween, but I’m pushing it back again. (Sorry about that, but I had a wonderful, whirlwind of a summer getting married and moving!)

Also, I have a super secret WIP that has kind of taken precedence. I’ve been working on it on and off for a long time, and it just needs to get done. But I’m excited about it! There’s really no reason for it to be super secret, except that it’s not part of the Reborn series, and I’m not ready to talk much about it yet. I will say it’s a YA science fiction novel with some romance and a lot of drama. (Think Riverdale…with aliens. LOL.)

In any case, you know I like to share playlists of the songs I’m listening to while I’m working on a project. So, here you go…my super angsty, YA book playlist (with YouTube links).

In retrospect, there is a lot of Billie Eilish on here. I’m an adult.

Bad Guy – Billie Eilish

Bubblegum B*tch – Marina (formerly & The Diamonds)

Girls Like You – The Naked and Famous

Starry Eyed – Ellie Goulding

Lock You Up – Charli XCX

Shampain – Marina (side note: this is the best music video ever)

Bury A Friend – Billie Eilish

One Of A Kind – Placebo

Indie Rokkers – MGMT

Teen Idle – Marina

Emotional – Charli XCX

Ocean Eyes – Billie Eilish

E.T. – Katy Perry

Book Review: Lady Midnight


I’ll have a real update post for you tomorrow, but I’m also trying to get caught up on book reviews. Here is one for Lady Midnight, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s newest trilogy, The Dark Artifices.

Back Cover Book Summary:

lady-midnight“In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?”

*****

So, I am typically a huge Cassandra Clare fan. I loved The Mortal Instruments series. I loved The Infernal Devices trilogy even more. But Lady Midnight was a 3-star read for me and a kind of shaky start to this newest trilogy.

Part of the problem is that LM takes about one hundred pages for the plot to really get moving and interesting. The beginning of the book is A LOT of set up, which is somewhat needed but seemed to take too long and wasn’t as organically incorporated into the developing plot as it could have been. The Mortal Instruments series has a memorable opening with Clary encountering the shadowhunters for the first time in a club called Pandemonium. The opening of this book does not live up to that. Plus, I found myself not really invested in the main plot point–Emma’s search for the person who killed her parents–at least initially. This did get better.

A few other aspects that bothered me: First, there were too many kids. Haha. I get that Clare has developed this character, Julian, who had to grow up quickly, taking care of the household and his brothers and sisters–and I liked that about him. I did. He was one of my favorite characters in the book. But I think she could have gotten this point across without quite so many younger siblings. Plus, when their names are Ty, Livvy, Tavvy, and Drusilla, I got them mixed up, lol. At least at first. Maybe part of it was I didn’t care to keep track of who was who. I liked that she includes Ty as an autistic character, but the other ones seemed pointless. (Or maybe I’m terrible.)

The other major drawback for me was the incorporation of characters from previous books. Look, I get that she has created this world now and it’s all connected and that’s fun, but I could have done without the cameos from Clary, Jace, Alec, Magnus, Jem, and Tessa (Jem’s is the only one that should have been there because it made sense). I would love to know what’s happened to these characters since the ends of their respective series, but maybe in a short story or something. In LM, I just wanted to get a feel for the new characters, and these throwbacks to past books kept taking me out of the story.

I love getting lost in long books, but only if there’s a point to it being that long. I think this book could have been tighter for the reasons mentioned above, and, consequently, about 100 pages shorter than it was.

That being said, I didn’t actually hate this book. Mark Blackthorn’s plot thread saved this book for me. As far as I’m concerned, the entire book could have been about that conflict. Maybe she could just write a series about Mark and Kieran in the Wild Hunt.

There are also some cool surprises in Lady Midnight. (This might be a tiny bit spoiler-y, so stop reading now if you don’t want any sort of spoiler, even a small, vague one.) At first, I thought the rule about parabatai not being allowed to have a romantic relationship was as dumb and senseless as Emma and Julian seemed to think it was, but that got better, too.

Despite the issues I had with this book, I still intend to read book 2, Lord of Shadows, to see where all of this is going.

Book Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh


Back cover summary: “Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.”

***

I’ve been bad about writing reviews lately (well, bad about reading outside of work, period), but I absolutely have to tell fellow YA paranormal, horror, and romance fans about this book by Kelly Creagh. It’s the first in a trilogy, and, although it seems like she’s been enjoying some success, I don’t think nearly enough people know about this book. So I want to spread the word.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I got this book from the library last weekend. (As an aside, I checked out a new library–I LOVE libraries–but didn’t know where anything was yet so had to ask someone where the YA section was. The librarian started prattling on about the summer YA reading list, and I got the feeling they thought I was looking for some books for a kid or something. Nope, I’m just in my late 20s and still read young adult books…and if you’re one of the people playing Pokemon Go right now, you have no room to judge…)

Anyway, I recognized this book from Goodreads and decided to give it a go. I mean, the book summary sounded intriguing if a little predictable, and I wasn’t sure how the Edgar Allan Poe spin would play out, even though it seems like a unique twist for a YA book. Plus, Varen Nethers has to be the bestest character name ever. So, excited but not sure what to expect, I checked it out of the library.

And Ms. Creagh completely sucked me in.

I guess I’m so pleasantly surprised because Nevermore did not have to be this good. The cheerleader/goth “forbidden” high school romance that forms the premise is probably overdone, but Kelly Creagh writes it in such a way that feels fresh and not corny, for lack of a better word. (At least in my opinion). Nevermore opens with the main character, unlikely heroine Isobel Lanley, getting partnered with king of the goths Varen for an English class project. (They decide to do theirs on Poe, of course, Varen’s favorite writer.) Varen and Isobel butt heads for much of the first third of the book or so. She’s still hanging with the popular crowd and dating one of the football players (Brad), but when her “crew” starts to turn on Varen and Brad becomes disturbingly jealous of the fact she has to do this project with Varen, Isobel starts to see that maybe her so-called “friends” really aren’t that great. Throughout the course of the project, she finds herself more intrigued by Varen and drawn into his world, which turns out to be stranger and more twisted than she ever expected.

I thought the tension between Isobel and Varen was great, although it took them a little long to start discovering their feelings for each other for my taste. And, although Varen is your typical dark-and-broody anti-hero (as find out, he kind of has a good reason to be), he’s not mean to Isobel or so forgone that leaves you wondering why she would be interested in him in the first place. He’s somewhat sarcastic in the beginning, and at one point he tells her she’s “not his type,” but it’s more of a mutual dislike (Isobel’s not great to him in the beginning, either). Brad is the real creep. In general I just really liked the characters in this book. Isobel starts off as being the stereotypical, bubbly cheerleader but changes a lot throughout Nevermore. No matter what’s thrown her way, she never stops fighting. One of my other favorite characters was her locker neighbor/new best friend Gwen, who really pops off the page and is just hilarious.

All in all, I would say this is the perfect book for high school readers who enjoy paranormal, horror, and romance. And also for old people like me who also enjoy YA books. 😉 Seriously, though, it’s a pretty balanced mix of horror, humor, and romance. Not so scary as to make you leave a light on at night, but it definitely as some creepy parts. And I just really liked Creagh’s writing style. It’s a dark but beautiful debut novel.

Nevermore isn’t totally without some problems. It’s 500+ pages and, even though it’s still an easy read, I felt like it could have been a little shorter. Like I said, the romantic tension between Isobel and Varen takes a little too long to build up, and is pretty understated (there’s a desperate kiss at one point, but that’s pretty much it). Then again, it is a YA book, so that’s age-appropriate. (I’ll admit, I used to write more YA-oriented stories, but then transitioned to New Adult so that I could write sexier scenes, teehee). Also toward the beginning there’s a chapter broken up with some long passages from The Red Masque of Death as Isobel is reading through The Complete Works of EAP that really pulled me out of the story. I mean, gotta love Poe, but it was a little much. Luckily, it didn’t become a “thing” throughout the book. Otherwise, I really liked the Poe-inspired world she created in this book.

But, at the end of it all, I loved Nevermore and can’t wait to read the next two (Creagh leaves you hanging at the end of book 1). A well-deserved 5 stars!

Cover Reveal: The Awakened by Sara Elizabeth Santana


Happy Saturday! Today I’m happy to be a part of the cover reveal for The Awakened, a YA science fiction novel by Sara Elizabeth Santana. I “met” Sara through her blog, What A Nerd Girl Says, and I’m super excited for Sara and her new book! The official release date is December 1, 2015, so make sure to mark your calendars. It will be available in Kindle and paperback formats, and preorder will be available for the Kindle edition! I think the cover looks pretty fab:

Official Awakened Cover

Synopsis:

Zoey Valentine is concerned with two things: surviving the multitude of self-defense classes her dad makes her take and avoiding Ash Matthews.

That is, until the Z virus hits, wiping out a third of the population in a matter of weeks. If that weren’t frightening enough, the bodies of the victims disappear and suddenly reappear, awakened from their dead state. They’re faster, smarter, and they work together to get the one thing they crave, human flesh.

The United States is in a panic and then the government decides the unthinkable: to bomb every major city overrun with the awakened.

Now Zoey is on the run, with her dad and Ash, desperate to find a place of safety amongst the ruined remains of the country.

Add The Awakened on Goodreads.

***

Author Bio:

Sara Elizabeth Santana is a young adult and new adult fiction writer. She has worked as a smoothie artist, Disneyland cast member, restaurant supervisor, nanny, photographer, pizza delivery driver and barista but writing is what she loves most. Her first story was written at age nine. She runs her own nerd girl/book review blog, What A Nerd Girl Says. Her favorite books are a tie between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling and Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. She lives in Southern California with her dad, five siblings and two dogs. Her debut novel is The Awakened.

You can also visit Sara at her website.

Official Awakened Paperback Cover

Book Review: The Hush, Hush Series


I haven’t done a book review on here for a while, and I have quite a few to get caught up on. I read the first two books in Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series back in May, and finally got around to reading the third and fourth book this August. I decided to just review all of them briefly in one post. Overall, I really enjoyed them, although unfortunately the last installment didn’t quite pull me in like the others did.

I actually became curious about the series because of a few bad reviews I saw about it. Well, “bad” is probably putting it lightly…”scathing” is more like it. And they had less to do with Ms. Fitzpatrick’s writing style/plot/characters and more to do with her main male character, Patch, her quintessential reformed (or is he?) bad boy character, because, you know, it’s impossible to enjoy a character in a book/TV show/movie while recognizing their less desirable qualities wouldn’t make for a good partner in real life. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.) And, although they’re in the minority, she’s also gotten some bad reviews on Goodreads…and this time, by “bad,” I mean actually just pretty horrible and inappropriate. Basically just bullying. I mean, it’s the Internet, so they could be trolls…but if they’re not, there’s really no good excuse for bullying anyone, ever, no matter how justified you think your cause is. (I know by now you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, so go on Goodreads and take a look for yourself.)

A little more about this at the end of the post. For now, let’s take a quick look at each of the books:

1. Hush, Hush

I thought this was a great debut novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Fitzpatrick’s writing style. She sets the story in the slightly dreary Coldwater, Maine, and creates this perfectly sinister, creepy, Halloween-ish atmosphere. It was reminiscent of L.J. Smith’s earlier work (although, in my mind, few people–if anyone–can trump L.J.). Yes, at this point the plot-line is somewhat overdone and predictable, but I gobbled it up just the same: Nora Grey, a smart, cute-if-something-of-a-misfit high school student, encounters Patch, dark, mysterious boy who seems like bad news, and yet Nora can’t resist his magnetic pull (obviously). I know I sound snarky, but I honestly devoured it. The book is mostly centered around unraveling the mystery that is Patch and his relationship with Nora.

Some have criticized the book as being a Twilight ripoff. There are some parallels, but nothing that jumped out at me as obvious plagiarism. I mean, to give credit where credit’s due, Twilight did open up the market for teen paranormal romance, so there are going to be some similarities. But it is also quite possible for two or more people to come up with fairly similar ideas without being influenced directly by each other’s work.

The books are told from Nora’s point-of-view, and I really liked her character. She’s a smart, motivated high school student. Her best friend, Vee, adds some comic relief to the series and is my favorite character. Nora is also the victim of some pretty vicious pranks by Coldwater’s resident mean rich girl, Marcie Millar. I enjoyed most of the characters, even though secondary ones like Vee and Marcie never seem to break out of their stereotypes. (Marcie starts to, a little, later in the series.)

In fact, I have to say the only character I found to be a little underwhelming was…Patch. For being the dark, mysterious, sexy bad boy, he didn’t really pop off the page for me as much as he should. Also, I never could quite get past his nickname. Patch is just not a sexy nickname, in my opinion. It makes me think of an old pirate with missing teeth or a little kid who gets into a lot of mischief and ends up hurting himself.

But, overall, an entertaining read. I gave it four/five stars on Goodreads because it built up a lot to a twist at the end that wasn’t that earth-shattering. (There is, however, a perfectly creepy seen at Delphic amusement park and a particular ride called the Archangel…I LOVE creepy amusement parks in horror/paranormal books!!!)

If you haven’t read Hush, Hush yet and plan to, I’d stop reading now…spoilers ahead…

2. Crescendo

In Crescendo, we delve a little further into Ms. Fitzpatrick’s dark world of sexy fallen angels and the cursed Nephilim–the children of fallen angels and humans, languishing in between these two worlds and destined to swear fealty to fallen angels. We know that Patch was a fallen angel in Hush, Hush, but, due to the events at the end, now has his wings back and is a guardian angel. But his relationship with Nora isn’t picture perfect, and she catches him doing some pretty suspicious things…like hanging around her arch-nemesis Marcie an awful lot. It doesn’t help that Vee is dating Rixon, Patch’s bff, so Nora can’t quite avoid Patch/people-that-know-Patch completely. Meanwhile, her mother forces her to reconnect with a childhood friend, Scott, who turns out to have some dark secrets of his own. Rixon, though, was my favorite character in this book until…..oh, Rixon…..

From what I recall, this book ended with a cliffhanger, so be prepared for that.

Four/Five Stars

3. Silence

I enjoyed Silence a lot more than I expected I would considering what happens in the first few pages. Which, thankfully, I can tell you about, since it’s in the book’s synopsis and not a spoiler! Nora can’t remember the past five months of her life…including, of course, Patch. So, yes, part of the book ends up being a series of revelations that the reader already knows. This could have ended up super annoying, but I think Fitzpatrick did an excellent job with it…at least for me, I could see where it might bug some readers. I also enjoyed Patch’s character a lot more in this book, and there were some pretty sexy scenes.

I also gave this book four/five stars, and I did have a few issues with it. First off, what happens to Vee in this book, and especially in the last book? Isn’t she Nora’s bff? Where did she go? It’s like she just disappears for large chunks of books three and four. Since I liked her so much, this was really upsetting. Also, Fitzpatrick seems like she’s setting up a whole Scott-Nora-Patch love triangle…not that I necessarily wanted that to happen, because that’s overdone, too, but it definitely seemed headed in that direction, and then it just…doesn’t. (And then you find out in book four that Scott thinks of Nora like a sister? Um, his affection for her in Silence definitely does not seem brotherly.) There’s also a lot of to-do about Nora and Scott going “as friends” to her homecoming dance–Marcie drags Nora out shopping for a dress, and they make a really big deal about finding a dress, and then–the dance doesn’t happen. The book ends before the dance happens. I found this to just be really strange and kind of sloppy. But I’m still giving it four stars for having a nice blend of sinister, romantic, steamy and funny moments. And Scott, who was kind of a jerk in Crescendo, really redeems himself in this book.

4. Finale

I gave this book three out of five stars because I finished it, but honestly, it was a really disappointing end to the series for me. It had its moments, including some surprising twists at the end with both new and old characters. But all in all, my least favorite in the series. I guess I prefer the off-and-on again of fictional relationships because, when Patch and Nora finally end up together, it’s just…annoying, haha. Their romantic dialogue was a little too contrived or something. It doesn’t all come easy for them in this book–they still have some barriers to overcome, including Nora’s attraction to her own dark side. That could have been a really good, gritty plotline (and something I’m exploring with one of my own characters right now), but it fell short for me. I think because Nora feels too guilty about it, haha. Fitzgerald should have pushed her just a teensy bit more.

I will say, though, that Nora turns into a pretty bad ass character. She has to accept a new leadership role in this book and embrace her Nephilim side, so I liked seeing her character develop in these ways.

***

In summary, it’s a series I would recommend to fans of YA horror/paranormal romance (except for maybe Finale).

And now, to wrap up this review, I’m going to put in my two-cents about the scathing reviews I alluded to above. There are some people who think that the popularity of YA paranormal romance is a reflection of our current culture…and not the nice parts. Now, I get that the books/TV shows/movies of a time period can say a lot about a culture, although I also think part of it is just paranormal romance happens to be one of the “hot” trends right now in book publishing. Its popularity will wax and wane just like everything else, until something new replaces it. That doesn’t mean authors will stop writing in the genre, or that readers will stop reading…just that it won’t be quite the sensation it is now.

That being said, there have always been books that have sought to appeal to our darker side…books that mix elements of the horror genre with elements of romance. I really think that the current YA horror/paranormal romance genre is inspired by (not saying they’re on the same level as) the gothic and dark romanticism movements of long ago–writers like Poe, Hawthorne, Shelley, Lord Byron, the Bronte sisters, Stoker. Writers that explored fringe/outcast characters, antiheroes, and darker themes like the origin of sin, temptation, lust, forbidden love etc. Work that sometimes had a romantic twist to it, albeit a dark one. The idea of darkness being attracted to light, of sin to innocence (like Patch to Nora), is nothing new, and the mere exploring of this theme in writing or some other media is not the same thing as endorsement. So you really don’t have to read the series that way. It’s a forbidden love story…it’s dark and twisted. It’s supposed to be.

 

Reborn teaser: The Encounter


Book cover blackAs promised, here’s a teaser from Chapter One of my romantic (erotic?) urban fantasy novel Reborn. (Kids, don’t try this at home. And by “this,” I mean going off into the woods at night because you see something kinda strange.)

***

“Hey, look at that!” He pointed into the woods.

Anna joined him and peered into the thick, dark trees. “I don’t see anything, Jim.”

“No, look! Something’s glowing!” He turned and gave me a lopsided grin. “Let’s go see what it is, kids!” He swung his arm in a sideways punch as if it were the 1950s and something was really swell.

“Ugh, come on, Jim,” Anna groaned. “Just stay here. Dad’s picking us up soon, anyway.”

I came up on Jimmy’s other side, the distant flicker of a white flame catching my eye. “I see it.” I didn’t know what it was, but there was something mesmerizing about it. I took an involuntarily step forward and looked over at Jimmy.

“Let’s go.” I smiled. Jimmy grinned back, his eyes alight with mischief. Anna sighed, and I sensed a frustrated inner eye roll.

“Fine.” She looked back at our drunken peers. “No one’s even going to notice we’re gone. If something happens to us –”

“If we realize it’s too far, we’ll turn around,” Jimmy assured her. Sometimes it was hard for me to believe that cautious Anna and impulsive Jimmy were even related, let alone twins.

We crept into the woods, our feet crunching over fallen twigs and leaves. Even though it was late and dark, I wasn’t afraid –maybe because I was with Anna and Jimmy, or maybe that one beer I had instilled me with false confidence. The white glow really wasn’t as far away as it seemed from the yard, and it grew steadily larger and more luminous. A cool autumn breeze caressed my face, bringing a blend of sweet scents to my nose, like someone was burning a honey vanilla candle.

“It’s a fire,” Jimmy whispered. We stopped a few yards away from it. But it wasn’t like any fire I’d ever seen –it was yellow-white and lapped at the ground without burning it. It stayed inside an almost perfect circle a few feet wide, only the curling tendrils of sweet-smelling smoke escaping it.

“You came.”

All of us went completely still at the sound of the weak, hoarse voice. I looked wildly around but didn’t see anything.

“You saw my signal, and you came to help me.”

Then, I saw him, sprawled against a maple tree beyond the strange fire.

I looked away quickly, my face flushing in embarrassment. I got enough of a glimpse to realize he was mostly naked, muscles rippling down his marble-white chest and abdomen before disappearing underneath a black loin-cloth.

“Siobhan.”

My head snapped up again when he whispered my name. This time I couldn’t look away, my eyes drinking him in. Even in as vulnerable a position as he was, his presence permeated the forest, seeping into every crevice of every tree trunk, saturating every pore in the dirt floor. And he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. Tousled dark hair brushed his shoulders framing high cheekbones and a sensuous mouth. A pair of magnificent, black feathered wings protruded from his back, crushed against the unforgiving ground. He reminded me of a fallen angel, but if angels existed, I didn’t think they had his kind of sinister, carnal magnetism. But what shocked me the most wasn’t his perfect body, his handsome face or even the wings.

He was the man from my dreams.

“Siobhan.” This time it was Anna saying my name as she fearfully watched me tiptoe around the fire to go to him.

His thick eyelashes fluttered open, and underneath his eyes were a deep blue whirlpool sucking me in even further. His lips moved, but I couldn’t hear him, so I leaned down closer.

“Psyche. You came back to me.”

What was Psyche? And what did he mean, “You came back to me?” With the exception of my dreams, I’d never met him before in my life.

I didn’t pull away or snap at him. In his final moments of life, he was feverish and confused. “I don’t know you,” I reminded him gently, “but I will help you if I can.”

His eyes pleaded with me as he raised his hand into the air, palm facing me. In a trance-like state I extended my own and brushed my palm and fingers against his, which were warm and slick with sweat. I almost jerked away, but I took a deep breath and maintained the contact, all the while staring into the dark pools of his eyes.

“Siobhan, you’re it.” At least I thought that was what he said –his voice was so small and weak.

“Let’s go back to the house.” Anna’s insistent voice was shrill with anxiety. She pulled on my arm while Jimmy pried this strange man’s hand away from mine. Jimmy didn’t let go of my hand immediately, instead clasping it firmly in his.

“Anna’s right,” he said, although I barely heard him as a flood of nausea suddenly seized me, waves of it coursing through my stomach and back.

Wait – my back?

I slipped my fingers out of Jimmy’s and brought both hands to my stomach.

“What’s wrong?” Anna asked and took a step toward me, but I staggered away from her. I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I knew was the urgency crashing down on me. I had to get away from them before it happened.

“Wait! Siobhan!”

Their panicked voices followed me as I took off deeper into the woods. Frenzied footsteps picked up behind me, but a burst of adrenaline pushed me forward so I outran them even in my delirious state. I made it to the muddy bank of a stream before tossing the orange sports drink I’d drained at the game all over the matted grass.

I felt better after throwing up, my stomach settling, but the unfamiliar rolling underneath my varsity jacket persisted. Bone and muscle liquefied as two jagged edges knifed through my skin. I tore my jacket off to the sound of splitting seams as they exploded out of my back, leaving the vest of my cheerleading uniform in strips of sweaty polyester.

Panting, hands still at my stomach, I sat still for a few beats to calm myself. Once the hammer of my heart in my chest dwindled to a patter and my breathing steadied, I crawled to the bank and looked through bleary eyes at my reflection in the roiling dark silver surface on the creek.  My violet eyes glanced at my face, white with shock, and the blonde hair sticking to my cheeks and neck before coming to rest on the butterfly-like wings looming behind me, shimmering midnight blue and indigo in the dark.

Book of the Week: City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments Book 4)


I’ve totally been putting off writing this review. Mostly because, after thoroughly enjoying City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels…well, it kind of sucked. So I’m not even sure I’ll have much to say about it, but here we go anyway:

This review is spoiler-free, but if you haven’t read the first three books in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series yet, do NOT read this review. Instead, check out my past reviews here.

You can find City of Fallen Angels on Amazon here.

The Amazon book description:

“The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.”

***

Now, it’s not that CoFA has absolutely nothing going for it. Clare introduces some fun new characters, including a pretty sinister villain. And I can understand her reasons for writing this book. What comes after happily-ever-after isn’t always very happy, especially considering the loose ends she left in Glass. In theory, I like this idea of being realistic when it comes to what happens after the big battle has been won, but I’d say the execution was poor. I’m not going to tell you not to read it. If you’re like me and you’ve read and enjoyed the first three, your OCD will compel you to finish out the series, no matter what. And I’ve heard that Book 5, City of Lost Souls, is pretty good. (I believe there’s also a Book 6 coming out at some point.)

To be honest, CoFA was really just depressing, and many of the characters I’ve come to love, to really be invested in, started to annoy me. Now, when you’re reading YA, you have to expect some teenage angst. That’s fine. But seriously, CoFA chronicles several characters “emo”-phases and had so much angst I could barely get through it. I expect it from Alec; he’s always been the most brooding character anyway. Even Jace can be pretty moody, but Clare just takes it to a whole new level in this book. In addition, Simon goes all emo on us as well.

The thing is: Jace and Simon both have understandable reasons for acting this way. Simon has to contend with his secret life as a vampire and how is mother will react to it as well as the after-effects of the Mark of Cain. The only father Jace feels like he ever knew has died, leaving him with some very confusing thoughts over where he comes from and who he really is most like: the Lightwoods, his real father Herondale, or Valentine Morgenstern. But it was really hard to get through the pages and pages of Simon and Jace whining, whining, whining. It was just too much. I was like, someone has to remind them that there are children starving in the world and to get over themselves.

Magnus and Alec also go through some stuff, but for some reason this plotline annoyed me a lot less. Although I think it’s a little age inappropriate -not for people my age reading the book, of course, but for the series’ intended YA audience. I think it’s great that Clare includes a bisexual and a gay character, but Mangus having pretty much slept with everyone ever is a little much in my opinion. It totally makes sense because he’s a gazillion years old or whatever, but I just don’t think that’s really age appropriate. Also, Alec and Magnus probably should have had this discussion a while ago, haha. Nevertheless, Alec’s reaction was very justified, and it’s what the reader expects from him, anyway: He gets defensive, angry, and shuts himself off.

And you know what? That’s pretty much all I can remember from this book. It really didn’t have much of an impact on me. Clary is in the book, but to be honest, I can’t even tell you what she did besides starting her training as a Shadowhunter and worrying about Jace. Her character takes a backseat in CoFA. Instead we’re treated to Simon and Jace feeling sorry for themselves. (By the way, I love Simon. I just don’t like the turn his character took in this book.)

As a final thought: I didn’t like the very end of the book, either, and not because it’s a cliffhanger; I am totally okay with those. But it didn’t really feel like a cliffhanger. It felt Clare got bored writing or something and just decided to end it there; it felt like the book just wasn’t done. It’s very much a transition book in that way; an awkward in-between book trying to take us into the next phase. Like I said: I’m not going to tell you not to read it. I’m just going to say you may be disappointed. I really hope City of Lost Souls redeems this series for me.

***

Related Reads:

Curious Cases of the Confused – The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels Review

Foundation and Exploration – The Mortal Instruments, City of Fallen Angels: Cassandra Clare

Book of the Week: City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments Book 3)


I am so excited to talk about City of Glass. It has definitely been my favorite of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series so far. (And I’ve already read City of Fallen Angels…which I didn’t like as much as the first three books. But more about that next week.) I’m also SUPER excited for the City of Bones movie to come out this Wednesday, August 21. (I even have this marked down in my planner, lol. Like I would forget.)

This review is spoiler-free, but if you haven’t read City of Bones or City of Ashes yet, do NOT read this review. Instead, check out my reviews of Books 1 and 2 here.

You can find City of Glass on Amazon here.

The Amazon book description:

“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 bestselling series the Mortal Instruments.”

***

As you would expect, Glass picks up where Ashes left us hanging: Clary is supposed to travel to Idris (The Glass City) with an old friend of her mother’s who can find the man who gave Jocelyn (Fairchild) Fray the spell that has left her in a coma-like state throughout most of these first three books. Unbeknownst to Clary, Jace and the others are planning to leave for Idris without her, Jace believing it’s too risky for her to go. But what kind of book would Glass be if all of the main characters didn’t get to go to Idris? So, at the end of the day, everyone ends up there whether they were supposed to go or not -even Simon, our loveable nerd-turned-vampire who can walk around in sunlight. Unlike the first two books, which give us glimpses of the Shadowhunter’s world interspersed in present day New York City, most of Glass takes place in Idris, a fictional place I would definitely love to live in. In Bones and Ashes, Valentine procured two of the mortal instruments -the cup and the sword -all he needs in Glass is the mirror to summon the angel Raziel (whose blood created the Shadowhunter race) to do his bidding.

Now, instead of giving you a detailed scene-by-scene plot summary, I’m just going to tell you what I loved about Glass -and a few things I didn’t. In all of the books I’ve enjoyed Ms. Clare’s plot twists and turns -I love it when hints are sprinkled throughout the book leading up to a big reveal, something I try to do in my own writing. For instance, there’s a bit of a creative spin on the mirror, which I really liked. And of course, we’ve been getting a lot of hints about Clary and Jace, and we find out more about this in Glass. So, if you’re worried or simply wondering, this is the book where you will find out.

I’ve also enjoyed watching Simon grow throughout the books. Although I’ve become invested in all of Ms. Clare’s characters, Simon is definitely one of my favorites and one of the most interesting to follow. He started out as merely Clary’s nerdy best friend -the only human in her new group of supernatural friends, and someone who has never been very sure of himself. I was really upset at first when he turned, actually, because I liked that he was the “token” human. But, as not only a vampire but a Daylighter, Simon is starting to come into his own, and I really like that. He’s physically stronger and has that “vampire mojo,” but he’s also growing as a person as he’s had to struggle and come to terms with being a vampire. And yet throughout the whole ordeal he’s still a good friend to Clary, still loves her, and is still funny. He definitely has a lot to deal with in Glass and in City of Fallen Angels afterwards, but he’s becoming a stronger person.

I also like how Clary is a different kind of strong character. In contrast to Isabelle Lightwood, who knows she’s beautiful and is a powerful and skilled Shadowhunter, like Simon Clary is also growing into herself in these books. She’s not a trained Shadowhunter so she’s not physically strong, but her special gift is drawing runes -ancient runes, runes not found in the Gray Book -and this skill becomes vitally important in Glass. Clary might not be able to literally kick ass (yet), but she is able to unite Shadowhunters and Downworlders in the fight against Valentine.

Which brings me to something I wasn’t a big fan of in this book: The ending. If you’ve read it: Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I would have wanted…ugh, it’s so hard to talk about this without spoiling the book. So all I will say is…the ending for me was pretty much deus ex machina. You have to admit, it was kind of cheating. Throughout the entire book, she’s building up to this big battle -the characters are arming themselves and preparing for the battle -and then what happened, happens. And Clary makes a request at the end that is pretty much completely selfish. Not that I would have wanted it the other way, either -that would just have made for a horribly depressing book -but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a selfish choice. There were a lot of other things she could have asked for, even that could have helped out her other friends, like Simon. So, even though I loved the characters, and the action, and the other revelations in this book, I did not care for the ending.

Sebastian Verlac - mortal-instruments Fan Art
Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/mortal-instruments/images/8432078/title/sebastian-verlac-fanart

One other new character Ms. Clare introduces that I should probably mention is Sebastian. When they get to Idris, the Lightwoods stay with another Shadowhunter family whose last name I can’t really think of right now, and their cousin Sebastian is also visiting. With his longish dark hair and beautiful face, Sebastian resembles a dark prince Clary used to draw. You start to see that Sebastian is definitely that dark, bad boy type…but he’s not someone, at least for me, that ends up becoming appealing (because you know how I usually like my fictional bad boys). I think it’s because he’s too sinister and really has no redeeming qualities, which is the point, and I like that. A true antihero has at least some glimmer of goodness, or puts up walls so he doesn’t have to connect with people emotionally (when on the inside he’s vulnerable and all that mooshy stuff). Sebastian might sound hot, but he is pretty sadistic. So Jace and Alec can retain their status as the brooding “bad” boys of the Shadowhunter world.

Finally -as I will end all of my TMI reviews -Magnus Bane was in this book. And he was still awesome.

What did you think of City of Glass? What did you think of the ending? Please share in the comments below!

***

Related Reads:

City of Glass – Book Shelf Dreaming

The Mortal Instruments: City of Glass: Cassandra Clare – Foundation and Exploration

The Mortal Instruments: City of Glass Review – Curious Case of the Confused

Character Profile: Siobhan Elliot


Siobhan (shi-VAWN) Elliot

Siobhan8

Age: Early 20s

Hometown: Laurel, Pennsylvania

“Occupation”: Student at fictional college Thurston University

Major: Biology

Physical Description: 5’2″, slim, blonde hair, violet eyes

Species: Demigod

Relationship Status: At the beginning of Reborn, she’s friends-with-benefits with Max.

Love interests:

  • College boyfriend: Max
  • Old flame: Childhood friend/Search and Destroy frontman Jimmy
  • Really old flame: Mysterious, charming World Myths and Legends teaching assistant Jasper

Goals: In Reborn, to find out who–and what–Jasper is and what her connection to him is

Obstacles: Jasper is intensely erotic and a little hard to resist.

Strengths: Smart, outgoing

Weaknesses: A little bit of a space case; doesn’t always say what she’s really feeling

Hobbies: Social chair for Gamma Lambda Phi sorority; running; sci-fi TV shows

“Spending this time with him has helped me realize there’s something else between us–something that could transcend each of our faults, our mistakes, our darkness. Something that would only become stronger and more real if I can show him what it means to truly love someone.”

***

Book of the Week: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments Book 2)


I actually read this second installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series over vacation a few weeks ago, and over this past weekend I read City of Glass…so hopefully I won’t mix them up in this review…

Also, as you know I’ve been posting sort of sporadically this summer, but I’ve also gotten pretty bad at checking in with my fellow bloggers. I love it when you visit The Urge to Write, and I love visiting your blogs as well, so I promise I will be by soon. 🙂

And now, on to the review! I am trying to keep these reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but if there’s just absolutely something I need to say that is a spoiler, I will warn you! (Although, if you haven’t read City of Bones yet, I would not continue reading this. Instead, check out my review of City of Bones here.) Please let me know what you thought of City of Ashes (CoA) in the comments – I would LOVE to discuss this series with you!

You can find CoA on Amazon here.

The Amazon book description:

“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.”

***

In these first three books of The Mortal Instruments, we’re basically following Cassandra Clare’s charming villain Valentine Morgenstern as he seeks to collect all three of these legendary objects. In City of Bones Clary et al. (I’ve been reading too many journal articles) try to stop Valentine from getting the Mortal Cup. In City of Ashes, it’s the Soul-Sword. (The last will be the mirror.) As Amazon’s summary explains, someone is murdering Downworlder children, and although Clary and her friends are pretty convinced it’s Valentine, some of the adult Shadowhunters are less certain. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled at first with the whole Downworlder murder mystery thing. I just feel this type of plotline is starting to get played out. I personally don’t read a lot of murder mysteries, and now it seems like this type of plotline is leaking into a lot of fantasy books. I’ve loved this combination in other series (Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series starts out that way), but then I noticed True Blood’s first season started out that way (I haven’t gotten around to reading the Sookie Stackhouse books yet)…and now this book. But when I actually saw where she was going with it, I got over it and liked it. It wasn’t so much of a traditional murder mystery as a question of who the murderer was: The person it obviously was versus who the Inquisitor is trying to pin it on. It reminded me of in Harry Potter when everyone accused Harry of lying about Voldemort being back.

At the end of the first book, Clary and Jace have found out that Valentine is their father -and that they’re brother and sister -so one of the major themes in CoA is how they are handling this revelation in different ways and how it impacts their decisions. Clary pretty much wants nothing to do with Valentine, but then again, she wasn’t raised by Valentine. Sinisterly charming, evil Valentine is the only Valentine she knows, so it makes it easier for her to hate him. Jace, on the other hand, was raised by Valentine -and even though he had a troubled childhood, Valentine was the only father figure he knew until the Lightwoods took him in. He feels more beholden to Valentine than Clary does.

This leads me to another criticism of the book -and I really don’t want to sound like I didn’t like it. I actually really enjoyed Ashes, just as much as Bones. I like Cassandra Clare’s writing style, and she really pulls you into this underbelly of New York City she’s created. I love the action, I love the tension, her sense of humor, the teenage angst, and the suspense. She definitely leaves the reader wanting more. But I have to say…I find Valentine to be lacking sometimes. He’s a pretty traditional evil villain, that’s fine, we don’t have to go psycho-analyzing him. But the narration talks a lot about how utterly manipulative Valentine is, but we’re not shown this very often, or at least not in a very sophisticated way. I just think it could have been done better. Just sayin. I don’t know how anyone else feels about this, so feel free to argue with me, lol. Also, he and Jace seem to have these long, drawn “philosophical” discussions that really aren’t as substantial as they could be. Then again, I found Jace’s inner struggle to be very palpable. You can tell at times he comes close to siding with Valentine.

Fan art by Dinoralp

And now, onto Clary and Jace. Okay, you may not want to read this part if you haven’t read the books. I was trying to keep this spoiler free, but this paragraph is definitely going to hint at things to come. I was really frustrated at the end of Bones when it came out that Jace and Clary were brother and sister. In Ashes you start to get the feeling that…well, this may not be the case, but it’s still kind of a gray area. Anyway, my point is that at least noticing these hints sprinkled in, and the fact that I may have looked up some spoilers online, made me a lot more comfortable about shipping Jace/Clary. I like to think I shipped them because I saw what comes up later in City of Glass. It was either that, or she was really going to go all Flowers in the Attic on us. But then again, when Jace says things like “Does this feel wrong to you?” to Clary, I’m like uh that’s kinda hot. (I don’t remember what the exact quote was, but I think it was something like that. Now I can’t even find it in the book. Maybe it’s all in my head?…) I liked what Ms. Clare did with the Seelie Queen/Court scene…no one does Seelie quite like Karen Marie Moning, but it was satisfactory. 😉

Spoilers over…now. You may read on.

Last but not least, we have more (but it’s never enough, really) of the funny, glittery Magnus Bane. Seriously, I think she depicts his character the best – he really pops off the page. He has a strange sense of humor; it’s a little bit dry, and even when he’s kinda being an ass, he still cracks me up: “I’d say it’s been nice meeting you all, but, in fact, it hasn’t. It’s been quite awkward, and frankly, the next time I see a single one of you will be far too soon.” And he and Alec, although they have their issues they need to sort through, are just too adorbs. I feel super bad for Magnus, though, when it’s clear Alec still has unresolved feelings for Jace.

Now, since I didn’t post a music video on Monday, I decided to find one to “go” with The Mortal Instruments. Okay, Robbie Williams singing about “Angels” really isn’t a demon-slaying theme song, but it was the first thing that popped into my head. And who doesn’t love a little 90s? (Or early 2000s? I can’t really remember when this song came out…)

Other Reviews and Related Reads:

Book of the Week: City of Bones – The Urge to Write

Foundation and Exploration

Chai Tea & Coffee

I Love You Geekology 101

Curious Case of the Confused

Bri Has Too Many Books