City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.

8755776The Mortal Instruments, Book Five

542 pages

Published May 8th 2012

Contains spoilers for previous novels.

Jace his now a servant of evil, bound for all eternity to Sebastian. Only a small band of Shadowhunters believe he can be saved. To do this they must defy the Clave. And they must act without Clary. For Clary is playing a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. Clary is willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

 

I used the book’s blurb because I struggled to write one of my own. This is one of those books that you look back on and think, ‘Five hundred pages? Really?’ It’s probably just a Young Adult thing, but it really makes me appreciate the pace of books like Silence of the Lambs, where so much happens in just three hundred and thirty-odd pages. Obviously they’re completely different, and I’m not comparing them. But I’m not sure I’ll ever understand how some YA books can be so long when not much seems to happen. The original trilogy was pretty long too, but a lot more seemed to be going on.

Having said that, I quite enjoyed City of Lost Souls. It took me a while to get through, but (and I know I’ve used this excuse before…) I got addicted to a TV show and there were three seasons to get through and I just couldn’t make myself stop watching! My copy was always by my side though, partly so I could jump back in at a moments notice and also because it smells amazing. Anyone out there who loves the smell of books will understand, there are different scents, and like Goldilocks tasting Baby Bear’s porridge, this one was just right. I’d pick it up randomly and just smell it as I was watching my show.

I think that the threat of the enemy is much better written this time around (new trilogy versus old trilogy, I mean). The idea of Valentine was good, and he eventually lived up to his menacing ways, but at first he was a bit weak, plus he wasn’t around a whole lot. Sebastian, however, is much more present, and when you get to the finale of Lost Souls, you’ll see that he follows through better than his father. In my opinion, anyway.

The final book is shaping up to be quite promising, and I look forward to getting stuck into it.

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.32/5

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City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare.

6752378The Mortal Instruments, Book Four.

424 pages

Published April 5th, 2011

Clary is finally in training to be a Shadowhunter, with her gorgeous boyfriend Jace (who is most definitely NOT her brother!) at her side. Poor Simon is still adjusting to life as a vampire, while juggling two girlfriends – which came about as an accident, really, but he still feels bad about it.

When Jace starts acting weird, and continually pulls away from Clary, she doesn’t know what’s going on. Has he stopped loving her? But the truth is much worse, and something none of them saw coming.

 

Originally, there were just three novels, so City of Glass had a good ending, wrapping things up. So I was wondering what would happen in the second trilogy. As I read this, I realised that there were actually lots of things that were left open at the end of Glass, like Simon’s Mark of Cain, and the whole thing with the Seelie Queen, and the fact that Simon and Isabelle still weren’t really together (but I think they should be!). So in that respect, this was an interesting read. But I feel that the way these three books go is going to be the same as the first three: Bones was alright, Ashes was better, but Glass was definitely the best. We kind of had to start over, but with less world building.

Some of the relationships were at the point where they have a big complication and that can be tedious to read about, especially when there’s more than one couple going through it.

There’s a new enemy, but who that enemy is remains a mystery until the end of the book, and when all is revealed, it makes sense.

I didn’t love City of Fallen Angels. But it was alright. After reading it, I realised that there really did need to be more after City of Glass. Once I was forced to think about the ending again, I could see that the things that happened would definitely have consequences. You can’t just play around with power like that and have everything work out hunky dory. In this book, the characters have to deal with the repercussions of their actions.

Like I said, I think that the next books will be better.

Goodreads Rating: 4.16/5

My Rating: 3.5/5

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare + A Ranting Movie Review.

256683The Mortal Instruments, Book One

442 pages

Published March 27 2007

Clary thinks she is just an ordinary teenage New Yorker. But after a crazy experience in an underage nightclub, where she saw one guy stab another guy, her whole world starts to change. Her mother disappears, her mum’s friend Luke (who has always been like a father to Clary) refuses to see her, and, to top it all off, she starts seeing things that she never could before.

Her new ‘friends’ (the people she saw in the nightclub fight) are Shadowhunters, who fight and kill demons. She learns that pretty much every story is true: vampires, werewolves, faeries, mermaids, pixies, warlocks – they all exist.

But where exactly does Clary fit into this strange, new world?

 

This was my second reading of City of Bones – I’ve read the first three, but needed to refresh before I read the rest of the series. I remembered that I found it hard to get through the first book, but the next two were more readable. Rereading it, I found it just as hard to get through. It’s strange, because in theory, this book has everything – cool urban setting, danger, hot boys, monsters, amazing creatures, a bit of mystery, a Shadowhunter homeland that mundanes like us know absolutely nothing about, an evil guy who everyone thinks is dead, a shock at the end, etc, etc, etc. Despite all of this, it seems like something is missing. It’s a little dry, maybe. I found myself procrastinating and putting off reading it. It took me the best part of a week to finish, which is a long time for me. But like I said, I’m pretty sure that the next two books are better. And, there was definitely a lot of really cool stuff going on here. There’s a fair bit of world building and back-story to get through.

The shock bit at the end is pretty effective, but (if you’ve read the book you’ll know what I’m talking about) kind of redundant, because you just know, in that way that justice and fairness to all will prevail in the end, that it will probably be turned around again in the next books anyway. Also, I didn’t find the ending to be very exciting. It was a bit drawn out and flat. I don’t think that Valentine, the bad guy, was set up the best way that he could have been. He wasn’t very ominous or scary. It also doesn’t help that I couldn’t help but compare him to Voldemort from Harry Potter (it’s the ‘V’ names, mainly, but there are other similarities), which isn’t very fair to poor old Valentine, but there you go.

That sounds like a lot of negative stuff. But there’s plenty that I liked, even loved, about this book. For example, I love those series that just throw all mythical creatures in. That makes sense to me. I mean, if vampires and werewolves exist, why not faeries and trolls and all the rest? There’s a lot of scope there, lots of things to be explored. It’s excting.

If you like supernatural series, then definitely read this (if you haven’t already – it was released a fair while ago!). And if like me, you struggled with the first book, read on because the next ones (Books two and three, I can definitely vouch for) are better.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.13/5

THE MOVIE ADAPTATION:

In one word, terrible. I actually turned it off before it got to the big finale. And I’ll watch anything – I immensely enjoyed such movies as Sand Sharks and  Jack and Jill (!). It got to the point when I just couldn’t take anymore. I’ll probably watch what I missed one day, but I just couldn’t hack it that night. I wanted to scream at the screen! But since it was late, I simply hissed my abuse at the screen, so as not to wake my sleeping family members.

You see, they chop and change everything. The events from the book are just all over the place, and some of the included ones have been majorly altered so they aren’t as meaningful anymore – like with the demon in Clary’s apartment. Then there’s new stuff that really doesn’t add anything to the plot, in my opinion. People who read the book are seeing the movie for a reason, you know? They’re probably not gonna appreciate it when important things are left out so that new things that must’ve seemed exciting to the moviemakers can be put in, at the expense of the movie’s entertainment.

It’s just a big, dumb adaptation that’s about as subtle as a brick through your front window with the words “I’m a brick being thrown through your front window” written on it. Everything is shown, and information is fed to you right away, rather than little breadcrumbs that keep you wondering, like in the book. There’s no mystery or suspense.

I would recommend this movie to approximately no one. Die hard fans will probably either love it or be offended on behalf of the book, like I was.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares.

9461872Companion to/Fifth Book in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants Series.

349 pages

Published June 14th 2011 by Random House

A decade has passed since the pants went missing. Tibby, Carmen, Bee and Lena are now twenty-nine years old; each living different lives in different cities, but still remaining close friends.

Carmen is living in NYC and has a proper acting gig on a crime drama. She’s engaged to Jones, a producer for ABC – a man that none of Carmen’s friends particularly like or approve of.

Lena teaches art at RISD and sometimes sells her own paintings. She has a boyfriend that she sees no future with, and a lot of her old introverted ways.

Bridget lives in San Francisco with Eric. She temps and spends her spare time doing eccentric, Bee-like things. She is still that strange, untamed, wild woman that she was so many years ago – a real contrast to her boyfriend’s stableness.

Tibby is the wild card – she moved to Australia with Brian two years ago and the other women often find it hard to get in contact with her. When she reaches out with a proposition to all get together for a reunion of sorts, Carmen, Bee and Lena are so relieved. This is just the thing they all need.

But then the unthinkable happens, and the Sisterhood is forever changed.

 

Sisterhood Everlasting is a melancholy, beautiful novel. Part drama, part mystery, part romance. It’s a tearjerker and a tragedy. It is a story of being broken and lost, and finding a way to put yourself back together again.

I saw my own self reflected in various situations and related with this book more than most others in the series – maybe even more than with the first book.

It’s both disappointing and relieving that all four women are still so similar to their teenage selves. For someone like me, who an outsider would probably think doesn’t have it all together in the way of success or prospects, it’s nice to see that these are real people – adults – who may not be completely sure of everything yet. They aren’t raging successes, the toast of their respective towns. Rather, they are people have accomplished some things, but are still striving and struggling to find themselves, and reach the rest of their goals. And maybe those goals are different now than what they used to be. Things change, including our own desires. I think it would be unrealistic if they all had perfect lives.

The ending is so ridiculously beautiful and hopeful and perfect. This is what my face looked like:

grinning

Of course, there were plenty of times when I felt like this throughout the novel:

ypc

It probably goes without saying that this is written for adults. There’s a frankness about things like sex that wasn’t in the young adult novels. There’s a teensy bit of swearing and more mature themes. Stuff like that, you know? What’s also interesting is that when the fourth book was published in 2007, the girls were turning twenty. In Sisterhood Everlasting – published in 2011 – they are turning thirty. So they are actually, technically, living six years in the future (if I did the math right!). There’s a useless little theory of mine for you.

For any Sisterhood fans, this is a must read.

My Rating: 5/5 (hardly a surprise at this point in the series – these books are all getting major nostalgia points!)

Goodreads Rating: 3.88/5

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares.

girlsinpants_coverfinal

Book Three in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants Series

338 pages

First Published January 25th 2005 by Delacorte Press

The sisterhood is back, along with their magical travelling pants. This summer is the eve of the rest of their lives. High school is over, and college awaits.

Carmen picks up a job working as a sort of companion for Valia – Lena’s recently widowed grandmother. Unbeknownst to her, Valia is miserable and crabby and a downright nightmare to be around. Lena’s father dragged Valia to the states after her husband died, but she wants nothing more than to go back to Greece. On one of their trips to the hospital, Carmen meets Win – a cute guy who volunteers there. Unfortunately, he keeps ‘catching’ Carmen in moments of random acts of kindness. But if she lets him see the real her – the quick-tempered, feisty version of herself – will he still be interested?

Lena is all set to go to art school in the fall, but when her conservative father walks into her drawing class and sees the live model – that is, the nude, live model – he freaks out and tells Lena that he will no longer be paying for her to go to an art school. Under the wing of her art teacher, Lena sets out to create an amazing portfolio that will score her a scholarship to the school of her dreams.

Tibby is uncomfortable with all the change that is going on. Brian further complicates things when he asks Tibby to be his date to the senior dance. Suddenly they are no longer just friends, but something much more. The problem is that Tibby isn’t really sure what she wants or if she even likes this new development.

Bridget is going to be coaching at a soccer camp much like the one she attended two summers ago. She knows her old pal Diana is going to be there and expects the summer to be a total blast. What she doesn’t know (but would if she read any of the information they sent her) is that Eric will also be there. Bee decides that this is okay, she is different now and vows not to lose herself again. She can handle this – the two of them will be friends – nothing more. Still, the heart wants what the heart wants…

 

Out of the first three books, I think that Girls in Pants is my favourite. I love that Bee gets a second chance to do the right thing with Eric, and that Carmen finally gets to have a cute little romance. On that note, it’s nice that Brian and Tibby finally get somewhere, as well! And on a kind of opposite note, I really liked that Lena wasn’t plagued so much by her feelings for Kostos. It’s touched on a little bit, but her main focus is on her future.

I feel that I should mention Ann Brashares writing again. The books are all written in third person, which really works. Somehow you seem to be closer to each girl than if it were written in first person. I think that if it were written that way, it would feel too disjointed and confusing because the story does jump around from each girl quite quickly. The chapters don’t have numbers and the characters seem to get a couple of pages each before it moves onto the next person. I like the way that this is done. In multiple POV books where characters get a whole chapter each, there’re often little cliffhangers and so I spend the first part of the next chapter begrudging the fact that I have to read about the second character when I just want to know what’s going on with that first person. Then, of course, I’ll get into that chapter and want to know about the second character while I’m next reading about the first. I kind of hate/love that feeling (but mainly hate). I guess it makes you want to read more, but I like the style in the Sisterhood books better.

There’s a lot of hope and happiness in this novel. Growth and second chances and future-induced trepidation. There doesn’t feel like a lot of drama, which is nice after the second book (which seemed to have a lot of it!). I can almost feel the sunshine emanating from the pages.

Girls in Pants is a lovely edition to the series. Highly recommended.

My Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.80/5

The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares.

9781740519021 (1)Book Two in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants Series.

373 pages

Published April 22nd 2003 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

For their second summer in possession of the pants, things are a little different. Lena, Carmen and Bridget all plan to stay in Bethesda and earn money. Meanwhile, Tibby is heading off to a filmmaking course in Virginia.

But just as the summer is beginning, Bee discovers letters from her grandmother. Letters she’s never seen before. She decides to leave for Alabama to visit her grandmother and maybe find a way to be closer to her mother. Once there, she hides behind her new appearance and pretends to be someone else so that she learn things without being too close.

Lena is trying to get over her lost love. She works at a clothing store and tortures herself for the decisions she made regarding Kostos. As the summer progresses, Lena learns that her own mother could have a lot of helpful insight, if she would only share it with her daughter. And is it possible that Lena could get another shot at love?

Carmen is having mother troubles. There’s a new boyfriend on the scene, and as far as she is concerned, her mother is acting completely inappropriately for a woman her age. Carmen can’t focus properly on her own love life – namely, several dates with the fetching Porter – because she’s putting all her energy into being disgusted with her mum’s relationship.

Tibby makes some new friends in Virginia. But they are the kind of people she would have been impressed with pre-Bailey. Are they really worthy of her time and attention? She’s aware of what Bailey would think, but she hides from that knowledge.

All the while, the pants circulate and work their magic, helping the girls to learn lessons in heartbreak, grace, second chances, grief and acceptance of change.

 

This summer, all the girls go through a kind of crisis or sea change. They each need to grow to move forward. There’s more conflict than in the first book. At times, the bad choices they make are hard to read through. But despite the lows, there is ultimately hope.

Once again, random moments and feelings from your own experiences seem to be reflected on the page. It’s probably why I feel so attached to these books.

The ending is tragic but the final pages are beautiful, I think, in that way that you want to cry but you’re not exactly sure why.

The writing is great, as are the characters. They stay true to their roots. Also, they probably act even more like real teenagers. With the hormones and emotions and reactions to things and all that stuff!

There’s a lot more to do with family relationships in The Second Summer of the Sisterhood – mostly mother/daughter. There’s the whole thing with Carmen’s mother falling in love, as well as a pretty important role that Lena’s mother plays, and of course, we learn some more tragic truths about Bridget’s mother.

This is a worthy follow up to the original.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads Rating: 3.74/5

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares.


0553494791.01._PA20,10,10,10_BO20,255,255,255_SCLZZZZZZZ_SL280_Book One in
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series.

294 pages

First Published September 11, 2001

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants is about four best friends who discover a magical pair of pants (which isn’t as stupid as it sounds, I promise) just as they are about to spend their first summer apart.

Carmen is half Puerto Rican, and will be spending the summer with her dad – the most time they will have spent together since her parents divorced. She thinks it will just be the two of them, but he has a surprise for her – a live-in fiancé complete with two teenage kids.

Bee is going to Mexico for a soccer camp. There, she meets Eric, a gorgeous coach – older and completely off limits.

Beautiful Lena is visiting her grandparents in Greece with her sister Effie. Lena’s scheming grandmother hopes that she will get together with Kostos, a future Oxford student who is home to help out his ailing grandfather. But of course, Lena has no such plans.

And Tibby. Sarcastic, clever Tibby is staying home. Her summer alone stretches out in front of her, with just a job at Wallman’s to keep her occupied. She’s into filming, and plans to work on a documentary as well. When she meets Bailey, a sassy twelve year old with leukaemia, she finds a sort of kindred spirit in her, and her summer turns into something completely different.

 

The first book in one of my all time favourite series. It’s hard to say whether I love this book because it’s simply a great book or because there’s a lot of nostalgia involved. Probably a bit of both. I was about fourteen when I first read it, and I suppose that’s long enough ago to form an evocative attachment to something. The thing is, there are moments that resonate so deeply within me. Like I have felt that exact same way and the words describe moments from my life so perfectly. Perhaps it’s just a really good story about what being and feeling like a girl is all about?

I love the way that the whole ‘magic’ thing is never contested or even discussed. Yes, these pants somehow fit us all perfectly. Are we going to deliberate over this and question our entire existence because of it? No. They just accept it.

The book is slightly different to the movie; mainly with Lena and the way her relationship with Kostos was shown. But there are other little differences too. My point being that if you have only seen the movie than you should read this. Likewise, if you’ve only read the book and maybe don’t like movies that are verbatim in plot and dialogue, than you should watch it.

Ann Brashares writing is lovely. It’s matter of fact, and honest, and sometimes flowery – but not in an unapproachable way. She just has a way of looking at things that are real and beautiful. A similar author would be Melina Marchetta – although I would say she is even more brutally honest than Ann Brashares (something about her writing cuts right to the bone, you know what I mean?).

I’ve read some people’s views on the stuff these young girls get up to. I mean, they’re not quite sixteen and they are off in different countries, doing amazing things. On the way back from Greece (possible spoiler, but I’ll keep it vague), Lena jets off to a different country altogether on her own. Carmen also does a bit of running around. On the one hand, I can see where these people are coming from. But on the other, I’m thinking that fifteen/sixteen year olds can pretty much do whatever they set their minds to – especially in this day and age. My own sister lived overseas with a host family for a year when she fifteen/sixteen, and that was before this book had even been released. So, I guess I would have to disagree with the notion that their experiences are unrealistic (albeit slightly irresponsible, in that sometimes they do these things without letting their parents know – but hey, they’re fifteen!).

I adore all of the characters. Sometimes they are selfish, occasionally they may even act like little brats, but that’s what humans do. Plus, they always redeem themselves afterwards. And of course, I already mentioned how relatable they are.

To me, this book (and it’s sequels) are like chicken soup, or hot chocolate, or whatever it is you have when you want to feel safe or calmed, or just better. They are my literary comfort food. I’ve just got to come back for more every couple of years!

This is a marvellous story about friendship and family and love and loss. Highly recommended.