Book of the Week: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Book 1)


So, after I said I was going to have a book of the week…I wrote a few, and then stopped, lol. I finished reading the first book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments (TMI) series, City of Bones,  a few weeks ago, and then I went on vacation…over which I finished City of Ashes. But I feel that each book deserves its own post. Sara over at WhatANerdGirlSays talks about these books constantly on her blog, so I just had to check them out. I didn’t know what to expect…I wasn’t sure if I would like them or not. But now I’m kind of obsessed. 😛 AND I’ve gotten my mother hooked on them, too! I guess I should have known that any book with an endorsement from Stephenie Meyer on the cover has to be good……. (For all of you Sheldons out there, that was sarcasm. Seriously, Ms. Meyer’s is an authority on good books now?)

I think I’ve managed to keep this review spoiler-free. Please leave your thoughts about what I’ve said and about CoB in the comments at the end – I’d LOVE to discuss with you!!! 🙂

You can find City of Bones (CoB) on Amazon here.

The Amazon book description;

“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.”

***

The first thing I need to address is Harry Potter’s influence on these books. I think maybe some people out there don’t give them a chance because they’ve heard Cassandra Clare wrote HP fanfic and perhaps think she’s ripping off J. K. Rowling or something. As much as I adore Harry Potter, I’m also enjoying this series. Its influence is pretty obvious in some aspects…but then again, not every single thing in the HP books was original, either. They really reminded me of The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings sometimes, although I doubt J. K. Rowling was doing that intentionally. Anyway, CoB has a completely different feel, at least in my opinion. HP for me drew me into this completely different world…one that was alongside ours, but mostly the focus was on the wizarding world and not on the Muggle world, except for Harry’s unhappy home life. CoB takes place in New York City, and Cassandra Clare opens our eyes, as Clary’s are opened, to the fantastical world not just alongside it, but all mixed up in our own. I know, I’m doing a really crappy job of describing it, but Cassandra Clare does this really well.

The world Ms. Clare creates has a sort of caste system. At the top of it are the Shadowhunters or the Nephilim -half-Angel, half-human demon slayers. They seem to be mostly a pretty arrogant bunch and look, er, down on the Downworlders: the werewolves, vampires, fae (fairies), and the warlocks. And regular ol’ humans are the mundanes. (Clever, but yes, reminds me of muggles.) The Downworlders are part human, part demon. Despite their differences, the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders keep the peace by signing The Accords every fifteen years…but not everyone feels the Downworlders are worthy of this offering of peace. Everyone being, most notably, Valentine Morgenstern. Valentine and his group of followers (The Circle) tried to stop the signing of The Accords fifteen years prior to the events in CoB and overthrow the Clave, the Nephilim’s governing body. No one has seen Valentine since the Uprising……

As has become the fad recently in young adult books, you see a love triangle starting to form in CoB: Clary caught between Simon, her mundane BFF, and Shadowhunter/arrogant pretty boy Jace. Although I’m usually a sucker for a good love triangle, even I’m starting to get a bit sick of them, but I still don’t mind this one that much. I like to think of it as a symbol reflecting the tension between Clary’s two worlds. (Hooray for reading into things too much!) I love both of these guys…Simon is adorable and funny, and Jace is…well, Jace is super arrogant, but super hot and is that bad boy you just wanna save. Which I’m okay with because it’s just a BOOK, people. But beyond the love triangle, the sexual tension, and the teenage angst is an enjoyable adventure story. Cassandra Clare really pulls you into the Shadowhunters’ world and lays the groundwork for a great series. She’s also just really funny – some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud! Simon especially is just so sarcastic – it’s pretty great.

And, even if I didn’t like any other aspects of the book (which I did -like other things in the book, I mean), I would still read the rest of the series for the High Warlock of Brooklyn, the awesometastic fabulous glittery Magnus Bane. What is it about this guy that is so awesome? Well, a lot of it probably has to do with the flamboyance and the glitter (he kind of reminds me of Bowie, if Bowie were, well, a warlock and Asian), but Cassandra just makes him sound really cool and epic. I want him to be my best friend. Seriously.

Related Reads:

Book of the Week: City of Bones – WhatANerdGirlSays

City of Bones Trailer – Mystery Boxes and Movie Magic

The Mortal Instruments – Boldest Before Breakfast

Books: Perks of Being a Wallflower and City of Bones – Tabor Sinn

For VDay: A Romantic Excerpt


Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow (but mostly since I haven’t written anything new), here is a romantic post from my young adult novel, Star Eyes. I’ve posted an excerpt or two before (here’s one), and now that I’ve reread this chapter I’m tempted to post the whole thing. But I’ll try to stay focused on new writing (unless someone tells me that they’d really like to read the rest of it!).

In this excerpt, you will meet the two young men in love with our protagonist, Celeste Lowe: Hazri, a handsome alien from another world (although he looks human) and Dave, a normal human teenager. Yes, this story involves a lurve triangle, which I know at least one of my followers hates (lol!). But hey, I was writing about love triangles before Stephanie Meyer made it cool.

***

Celeste was still grounded Friday night, but she decided to make the best of it. It was supposed to be a clear night, so she set up her telescope on the small balcony outside her bedroom. She glanced at the star chart she had printed off the Internet and then bent over the eyepiece.

“I did not think I would find you here.”

Celeste nearly leaped out of her skin. She spun around to see Hazri standing behind her. In faded jeans and a red and white striped polo, it looked like someone had cut him out of a Tommy Hilfiger catalog. She wondered where he was getting his human wardrobe.

She felt the gentle nudge of his telepathic voice. I went to the mall. I also…how do I want to say this? I get a kick out of startling you.

The expression sounded awkward coming from him, especially telepathically. What do you want? she asked him, exasperated.

I thought that humans felt compelled to socialize on weekend nights, but I am glad you are here, he said. I have another memory to share with you.

Celeste had been afraid of this. She knew that at some point Hazri would be back to share more of their history with her, but she didn’t want anything to do with it anymore.

I’m not in the mood. She tried to make the tone of the thought as vicious as possible. Whatever it is you want to share with me, I don’t care. I don’t want to know.

You cannot avoid this. It is your heritage. It is your destiny.

“I don’t care!” she exploded, unable to contain her feelings in a mere thought. “Just leave me alone! I don’t ever want to see you again!”

“Celeste, what’s wrong?”

She was startled again, this time from the sound of Dave’s voice. She hadn’t even noticed him come out onto the balcony. He walked over to her.

“Is he bothering you?” Dave asked her, putting a protective arm around her shaking shoulders. “I think you should go,” he said to Hazri. He pulled Celeste closer to him.

“I am not bothering her,” Hazri said. His icy gaze locked with Celeste’s. “She was just overreacting.”

“Just go!” Celeste yelled.

Hazri’s lips were pursed, but he acquiesced, “I will see myself out.” He went into her bedroom as though he were going to go downstairs and leave the normal way, but Celeste knew he was alerting the mothership to transport him back.

“What happened? Did he try to hurt you?” Dave asked. He drew Celeste into his arms. Her heart was still beating wildly in her chest.

“No. How did you get up here? My parents let you in?” she asked in disbelief.

“I think they felt bad for me. I looked so dejected when they told me you were grounded that they let me in. I’m not even kidding,” he insisted when she looked at him doubtfully. “They let what’s-his-face in. Why wouldn’t they let me see you?”

Celeste didn’t know what to say. Well, that wasn’t exactly true –she knew what she wanted to say. She was about to stop herself and think it over first, but she was tired of thinking everything through. She let her mouth open to say what she knew she shouldn’t tell him.

Everything.

“Dave. There’s something…there’s a lot I have to tell you,” she said, pulling out of the embrace.

He reluctantly let her go. “What is it?”

“Let’s go inside,” she suggested. “You’ll want to be sitting down for this.”

He nodded. Celeste picked up the sky chart and led the way back inside.

 ***

“So you’re telekinetic.” It was a statement of fact, not an uncertain question. Dave was sitting on the edge of Celeste’s bed, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. Celeste was pacing back and forth as she talked.

“Don’t worry. I can prove it,” she told him earnestly.

“You don’t have to. I believe you,” he said.

Celeste shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Are you watching closely?” Her eye had caught something shiny on her bureau. Her crystal paperweight gleamed invitingly under the ceiling light. Extending her arm for effect, Celeste wrapped her mind around the paperweight like an invisible hand and lifted it off of the dresser. She guided it through the air and let it fall into Dave’s lap.

Dave’s intelligent green eyes had grown wider and wider as he watched the paperweight drift in his direction. Now, he took it in his hands and held it up to his face.

“Whoa. That was sweet,” he exclaimed.

Celeste laughed. “Sweet? I’ve never heard you say that before.” With a swift sweep of her gaze, the paperweight flew out of his hands. She returned it to its spot beside her jewelry box.

“I figured this was a special occasion,” he said, smiling wryly. “Have you always been able to do that?”

“Ever since I was little.” Celeste studied him warily. Was that a glint of fear in his eyes? Was his laugh a little nervous?

“That’s what you were talking about,” he suddenly realized. He straightened up. “At Jamie’s party, when you said that you were different.”

She nodded. “But there’s more. I’m also telepathic.”

“You’ll have to prove that one, too,” he said, but he was grinning. “I’m thinking of a number from one to infinity.”

“I can’t just automatically read your mind,” she explained. “I mean, I could read it if I tried, but I have to concentrate on making a connection between my mind and yours. You would be able to feel my presence in your head.”

He stood up. “Do it.”

“What? Dave, no,” she protested. “It might make you sick. It’s really disorienting if you’re not used to it.”

“Celeste, I don’t care.” He cupped her chin with his hand. “I want to feel what it’s like. I don’t have anything to hide from you. I wish you could hear what I was thinking about you all the time.”

She searched his gaze. It was steady and honest. He was serious. Keeping their eyes locked, she extended her mind out again like she had to Jamie. It was like psychic energy was flowing out of her to embrace his mind, body and soul.

Are you feeling O.K? Celeste wondered. She could tell he was a little queasy, but his mind felt calm. Even though he was holding her, she didn’t even notice anymore. They were both absorbed in each other’s thoughts. It was exciting. And it felt right.

You told me once that you saw me around before we actually started talking, she recalled as the memory of their failure of a first date crept back into her mind.  When was the first time you saw me?

 Dave allowed the memory to surface. Celeste saw herself sitting alone in the school library. She was listening to her iPod and was writing something down in a notebook. Celeste had no idea what she had been working on at the time, but she realized that it was a memory from winter of last year. Her white down jacket was draped over the back of the chair.

She slowly started to see herself as Dave saw her. A wistful-looking girl with pretty hair that fell in front of her face like a silver-white curtain when she leaned over to scribble in the notebook. She glanced in his direction and then returned to the paper, but her eyes had shone like blue gemstones. She was beautiful, but it wasn’t just that. Focus, determination and goodness radiated from her.

That’s how you see me? She wouldn’t notice it until the connection was broken, but her cheeks were wet with tears. How had she never seen him before a few weeks ago? Now it felt like she had known him forever, and that they should never be apart. Who knew that I’d have to be sent clear across the universe to find my soul mate?

She could sense that this thought had confused Dave. She didn’t fight the memories that swam into her mind.

She walked into her kitchen, seeing Hazri for the first time. He told her that she wasn’t human, that they were from the planet Mondra and that she was a princess. She took out her mental box of concealed memories and remembered connecting with Jamie’s mind and seeing her aboard the Mondrian mothership. She vividly recalled the genetic experiment the Mondrians had performed on Jamie. She let the fears that had been building up inside of her spill over.

They’re abducting humans and introducing genetic mutations into them. They’re not good people. But I’m one of them. I’m not a good person, Dave. I’m not the good person you think I am.

Celeste retracted her mind from his. Uncontrollable tears ran down her face. Dave was holding her face in his hands, and his forehead was pressed against hers.

“Stop it,” he pleaded with her. “You are a good person. You’re the best person I’ve ever known, Celeste. It doesn’t matter what they do. You aren’t really one of them. You were raised by loving parents, and that’s how you learned to be who you are.”

As he was talking, he kissed her furiously in between sentences and wiped away her tears with his thumbs. Celeste eventually calmed down, but Dave still held her.

“Now you know everything,” she said. “I’m really glad it all came out like that, actually. At least you know I’m not crazy.”

“I would have believed you anyway, and you know that,” he insisted. “But seriously. That was really beautiful. Thank you for sharing your abilities with me.”

“So you’re not going to run away?” Celeste said.

Dave shook his head. “I’m not going anywhere. I know you’re not like them, Celeste. You’re good.” He kissed her again, gently this time. The kiss sent a chill down Celeste’s spine while a pleasant wave of warmth surged up her abdomen.

When they pulled away, reality set in again. “I have to save her,” Celeste said, meaning Jamie. “I’m the only one who knows where she is. I’m just not sure how to do it.”

“Maybe you’ll think of something,” Dave said. “I know it’s already been a week, but just give it more time. Don’t do anything rash.”

“I won’t. I don’t even know if there’s anything I can do but keep an eye on her. Well not an eye, but…you know what I mean.”

Dave chuckled softly and nodded. “There really is nothing that would keep me away from you,” he assured her again. “I love you.”

Celeste was so relieved to hear those words that she hugged him tightly and buried her face in his shoulder. He didn’t really have to say it out loud, though. Love and acceptance had radiated from him when their minds were connected.

Copyright 2013 by S. L. Stacy