City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare.

1582996The Mortal Instruments, Book Two.

410 pages

Published January 1st 2008

[Contains spoilers for City of Bones]

Clary’s mother is still in a coma, her evil father is out of sight and up to no good, her former love interest is actually her brother, her best friend wants to be her boyfriend, and she’s still coming to terms with the whole ‘being a Shadowhunter thing’. So, she’s got a fair bit going on.

While Clary and Jace deal with the confusing nature of their feelings for each other (now that it’s been discovered that they are siblings), outside forces are conspiring to change the entire Shadowhunter world. Valentine is up to his old tricks, but this time he’s working form a different angle. Plus, Jace is under suspicion by his fellow Shadowhunters. So much so that the Inquisitor, a terrifying woman with a lot of power and weight to throw around, has been called in to decide is he’s in cahoots with Valentine or not.

 

First of all, City of Ashes is much more enjoyably readable than City of Bones. I was able to breeze through it without getting sidetracked. I think it’s due to the fact that the world building stuff has been taken care of, and now we can just enjoy the story. I found the finale to be much more exciting than in book one, also.

The relationships between all the characters have started to get a bit messy – obviously! The dynamics are changing, which makes it interesting. All of your favourite characters are back, Alec and Isabelle, Magnus Bane and Simon, Raphael the vampire, plus some new ones – we meet some faeries, and Alec’s and Isabelle’s mum and little brother come back to town, and some new Downworlders.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable book, with plenty of new situations/information to keep it interesting, but not so much that it affects the pace of the plot.

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.24/5

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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.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry.

13560086Pushing the Limits, Book One

392 pages

Published June 1st 2012

Noah and Echo are two broken people, looking for answers and fighting for what they want.

Echo has repressed memories of a night two years ago when something horrible happened to her. She has the scars, and the incomplete story that people told her, but beyond that, nothing. She wants to find out the truth, but is scared it may break her even more.

Noah has been in the system since his parents died, and he’s had his run of bad foster parents. Because of some of his bad choices, he’s lost most of his access to his younger siblings. He wants it back, and is willing to do anything.

Just as Echo is starting to put herself out there again, she and bad boy Noah keep getting thrown together. There’s obvious attraction there – but does she want her old life back, with the footballer boyfriend and peppy friends, and her father controlling her? Or does she want a new, better life, where she can have all of the things she really wants?

 

There was so much hype about this book. While I thought it was pretty good, I found it a little tedious. I think my main issue was that I hated how Echo just let everyone tell her what to do, and I could not wait until she finally started doing what she wanted to do. It seemed to take ages. I understand that that’s who she is, but I was uncomfortable while reading it.

The characters were all right. While I sympathized with Noah and Echo and their issues, I didn’t really connect with either one of them.

I’m not sure if I’ll go on with the companion novels or not. But I would recommend it to people who like high school novels with a bit more substance. The style of it sort of reminded me of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

My Rating: 3/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.13/5

Cathy’s Ring by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman – Illustrated by Cathy Brigg.

5081991Cathy Vickers, Book Three

150 pages

Published May 5th 2009 by Running Press Kids

Note that this review contains spoilers for books one and two.

My rich boyfriend, Victor, is broke.

My potential other boyfriend, Denny, is broken.

There are creepy guys stalking my best friend.

And there are three dead bodies underneath my window.

All I have left is my sketchbook, a variety pack of lip-gloss in Assorted Candy Flavors, and a healthy dose of fear.

 

Cathy’s Ring is the final installment in the Cathy Vickers trilogy. It’s hard to describe the plot without giving anything away. I found it to be one of those books that you look back on and think, ‘so what was that about, again?’ It’s just a conclusion, you know?

Victor and Cathy each had another love interest that would be much better suited to them: an immortal woman for Victor, a mortal man for Cathy. You ask yourself, is it worth it to love someone who will die old while you haven’t aged a day since you met them? Or, can you live a whole life knowing that the person you love will go on and possibly fall in love and share a life with many more women after you? Is it better to settle for something normal?

There were a couple of things that I would have liked to happen that didn’t. But that’s okay. This was a pretty good ending to the series. The first book is definitely the best, in my opinion.

Obviously, read this if you have read the first two books.

My Rating: 3.5/4

Goodreads Rating: 3.85/5

Cathy’s Key by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman – Illustrated by Cathy Brigg.

7054851

Cathy Vickers, Book Two

144 pages

Published May 5th 2008 by Running Pr Book Pub

Note that this review contains spoilers for the first book.

Six months ago Cathy learned that her boyfriend Victor is immortal and that she is definitely only a mere mortal.

Now, she is out of school and can’t seem to hold down a job. She hardly ever sees Victor because he is off being forced to research how to make people immortal. Her best friend Emma has started her phone company, Double Talk Wireless, with the help of a creepy benefactor who has eyes for Cathy.

When new information comes to light about her father’s death, Cathy throws herself into investigating what really happened that day.

 

Cathy’s Key continues on in the same artistic fashion as Cathy’s Book. There’s another packet filled with documents from the novel and new websites to check out. Also, if I’m not mistaken, there are a couple of new access codes to get into some of the character’s phone messages online. I’ll have to check those out soon.

I enjoyed reading this, but I must confess that I am finding it hard to express my thoughts. I also don’t want to give too much away. I will say that this series continues to be very original. The plot goes to places that are strange and unexpected, but I like it.

There are plenty of new characters in Cathy’s Key. My favourite new guy would have to be Emma’s sort of love interest, Pete. There’s also more of a focus on some of the characters we were introduced to in book one, like Tsao. A few questions are answered, satisfying my curiosity on some fronts (there are still a few things that I’d like to see elaborated on Cathy’s Ring).

If you enjoyed the first book, you should definitely continue on with the series.

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.80/5

Cathy’s Book by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman – Illustrated by Cathy Brigg.

856969Cathy Vickers Trilogy, Book One

143 pages

Published October 3rd 2006 by Running Press Kids

Cathy is an artistic teenager living in San Francisco. When her boyfriend Victor dumps her, leaving her with a muggy memory and a needle mark in her arm (not as shady as it sounds, I promise), she starts to realise that there were a lot of things about him that don’t quite add up. She starts to investigate him, sometimes with the help of her best friend Emma.

 

Cathy’s Book is an interactive feast. It comes with a packet filled with all of Cathy’s evidence – like menus, business cards, photos, inked sketches, official documents, and more. There is also an online element to her evidence. You can listen to messages and look up the places that she has been. It. Is. Awesome.

I first read this book back in 2006. I was enticed by the treasure trove of clues and papers. I love papers so much. I even used to get excited for career expos and stuff like that at school, because I just love receiving all those pamphlets (never mind that I hardly got anything out of them!). I didn’t do any of the online stuff when I first read Cathy’s Book. I don’t think I realised there was so much of it. But I’ve been checking it out this time around. You still need to figure out the access codes for some things, so it’s like you’re a sleuth as well. I also love sleuthing. Woo!

Another visually amazing thing about Cathy’s Book is that all of the pages have little doodles and handwritten notes on them. Very cool.

The story itself is very interesting and different (especially for 2006!). There’s a lot of Asian themed elements, plus a mystery, plus the ______ stuff (don’t want to say that one because it may give some things away). It is written like a journal, but not in a ‘dear diary’ kind of way. It’s Cathy recounting everything that’s happened.

It sounds short, and at 143 pages, I guess it is. But so much happens, and at a pretty fast pace. The fact that we meet Cathy after her relationship with Victor has finished, rather than from before it even starts definitely cuts down on the number of pages. There are still flashbacks of their meeting and their first date and stuff, so you don’t miss out on anything. My only slightly negative thing to say about this book is that a lot of things were left unanswered. Still, this is a trilogy – so there’s time for that. Also, if I scoured over the documents then I could probably answer a few of those things myself.

If you enjoy mysteries and teenage sleuths, as well as art, then you should definitely read this!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.56/5

Crush by Lacey Weatherford.

16045855Crush, Book One

eBook, 332 pages

Published October 20th 2012 by Moonstruck Media

Cami is a good girl but Hunter is not a good boy. He’s new to town, but the rumour mill already has him pegged as a druggie and a player.

Still, Cami can’t deny that she has a crush on him. And it seems like the feeling is reciprocated.

As the two of them hang out and become closer, Hunter wages war with his inner demons. There’s a secret he’s keeping that could destroy their relationship, and he really shouldn’t be putting Cami in that position, but he just can’t help himself.

Meanwhile, there’s another stumbling block in their way – Cami’s best friend, who’s decided that now is the best time to profess his undying love for her. But when she doesn’t return the sentiment, he turns totally, weirdly, crazily jealous and possessive.

 

Crush starts out with both of the leads already crushing on each other, and their relationship moves forward pretty quickly from there. I liked the way this was done because the rest of the novel would have been too rushed if we’d had to watch an initial meeting and all of that before getting to the crushing.

Cami is very likeable. She’s the smart girl who also happens to be like catnip to all the guys – only she doesn’t realise it. Hunter is also likeable as the sweet and smokin’ bad boy who woos her.

Crush is set in high school, so it’s young adult, but it’s closer to the new adult end of the scale then the teenybopper end (the second book is set in college, so I imagine it’s even more new adult-y).

I could kind of see what was going to happen with some things, but it was still exciting to read, plus there was a twist that I didn’t see coming at all. Nothing was revealed too quickly, so it keeps you guessing. I found that as the book went on, the more enjoyable it became. At first, it reminded me of books from the eighties and nineties, like I Know What You Did Last Summer, because the dialogue was kind of dry and proper like it was in those books. But it seemed a lot more natural after a while.

Crush ended up being pretty different then what I expected, but it was also better than I expected. I’m looking forward to continuing on with this series. I just read the blurb for book two, and I am super keen!

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.02/5