Book Review – Lady Midnight

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”

Title: Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margarat K. McElderry Books

Publication date: March 8th, 2016

698 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Review

Being told that love is forbidden does not kill love. It strengthens it.

CASSANDRA CLARE, LADY MIDNIGHT

Here I am, over halfway done my Cassandra Clare binge and almost being done all her main works! I will eventually read her short story collections, but probably not for a little while. I already have my books for February planned so maybe after that, or whenever I can get them from the library!

The Dark Artifices starts with Lady Midnight and it picks up about 5 years after City of Heavenly Fire ended. It follows Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs, 2 young heroes during the Dark War. They are now parabatai, bonded by lifelong runes to fight along side and protect each other no matter what. They live at the Los Angeles Institute and everything has been quiet… until now. A string of murders are plaguing the city, humans and Downworlders alike. Emma believes it is connected to her parent’s murders 5 years ago, and she won’t stop until she finds out who killed them. The answer comes with unexpected consequences…

Okay, so Julian and Emma are adorable. So far, I have to rank them 4th in my Shadowhunter relationship guide (out of 4) but there’s still 2 books left to change that! (For those wondering, my top 4 are: Tessa and Will, Tessa and Jem, Jace and Clary, Julian and Emma) Their big problem is that they are in love with each other, which is forbidden for parabatais for a reason no one seems to know. I had a hard time with this, because I kept being weirded out by their love, confusing ‘parabatai’ with ‘sibling’. I had to keep reminding myself that there isn’t anything morally wrong with them being in love, it’s just against the law. That took their relationship down in my mind.

I do love that Cassie switched up the ‘model’ of her relationships. Whereas Tessa and Clary are strong, it’s in a soft-girlish way that allowed the big, masculine love interests shine. The roles are flipped with Julian and Emma. One critique I’ve had of her books is that TMI and TID are basically the same plot… just with different characters 200 years apart. This gives some “different” vibes to it. AND Cassie added a Shadowhunter character with autism which is nice, as well as one with mental illness. The representation is… okay… as in it is looked down upon in Shadowhunter society because they don’t fit the mold. I sincerely hope the rep evolves over this trilogy and ends well for those characters.

Our villian is super unexpected, and that’s all I will say about it. I loved the Poe references (all the chapter titles are taken from the Annabel Lee poem, which factors into the story). AND THAT EPILOGUE. Ugh omg I could die. I am really excited to jump into Lord of Shadows to see where this story goes, because without the epilogue the book is fairly wrapped up. Then WHAM plot twist. I’m here for it.

Unexpected side character love: Mark and Christina. Mark and Christina forever, deuces Perfect Diego. Mark Blackthorn comes back from The Wild Hunt and is so endearingly different, it’s amazing to watch his transformation. Christina is a great character, and again different than the female side characters from TMI and TID (ahem, Isabelle and Jessamine). I want more of her, and less of Perfect Diego (can you say uppity? gross). Love when side characters hold their own.

Okay, I’m going to go read Lord of Shadows now that I got all those feelings out!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – City of Heavenly Fire

“Temper us in fire, and we grow stronger. When we suffer, we survive.”

Title: City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: May 27th, 2014

726 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned…

Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

Review

We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us. As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.

CASSANDRA CLARE, CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE

It has finally come to and end! The Mortal Instruments was certainly a ride for me as a reader, and I’ve spent a year finishing the series (I read the first three in early 2019 but didn’t get the last three until Christmas). There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a long series, especially one that it seems everyone else has read!

No spoilers, so this will probably be a very short review. City of Heavenly Fire was a LONG-ASS book, Jiminy Crickets. I like thicc books don’t get me wrong, but this was an investment. I actually put it off a few days because it was so intimidating, and I am not dauntless (I would probably be Erudite TBH for those who get that reference). I’m truly not sure what I will do when I am faced with Queen of Air and Darkness.

The conclusion to this series needed to be epic to make it worth six books. And it came SO CLOSE to being epic. My one major problem? There’s no way the ending is physically possible. Like seriously, my girl Cassie seriously created a whole rulebook for this alt universe and then threw it out the damn window. Of course, a level of suspension of belief is necessary for fantasy books but COME ON.

Also, Shadowhunters kind of suck. Like unpopular opinion, but a lot of them in the Clave are terrible people. I get the racism towards the end was needed to set up The Dark Artifices but holy freaking cow jump off your high horses and realize that just because your part angel doesn’t make you GOD and better than errybody else. Also, this ridiculous “we only care about your thoughts/feelings/opinions if you’re 18+ is bullshirt and needs to be trashed. Rant over.

So. What did I like you ask? I love Clary and Jace. I will ship them forever. I uber love Simon and Isabelle. Magnus and Alec will have my heart for the rest of time. What I loved about the whole series was the relationships that built and strengthened. I was a Jace and Clary book for the rest of their lives – when they get married, have babies, and inevitably die. I want it ALL. I’m invested in these characters, and that is a mark of a great series.

I do wish I had read the first trilogy before these because I feel like I forgot some details that would have been lovely to know during these three books. Also, this turned into a long-winded review, which is the opposite of what I promised in the beginning. My bad! Sorry friends!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – No, We Can't Be Friends

Title: No, We Can’t Be Friends

Author: Sophie Ranald

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: January 10th, 2020

295 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone knows a girl like Sloane. She was always The Single One. She never brought a plus-one to weddings. She was the woman you’d set up with your single cousin. She joined ballroom dancing classes to meet men and was the queen of online dating. 

But then she met Myles. Perfect Myles, with denim-blue eyes and a dazzling smile that melted her insides. She’d finally found The One. 

Except she didn’t imagine that Myles’s idea of Happy Ever After would include Sloane battling an overflowing laundry basket, buying birthday cards for his family, and ironing his Calvin Klein underpants. 

Then Sloane finds out that Myles has a secret. 

The fairy tale is well and truly over. Her heart is blown to smithereens. Eating her weight in Ben & Jerry’s and large Meat Feast pizzas can only get Sloane so far before she has to make a decision… Can she learn to love herself more than she loved the love of her life? 

Review

**Thank you to Bookouture, Netgalley, and Sophie Ranald for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sophie and Myles are married and Sophie has everything she thought she wanted in life. She has a great job that she absolutely loves, and adoring husband, and is getting ready to try for a baby. One small problem? Myles is cheating and her whole world view flips upside down. It takes her some time to figure out how to handle the situation, while drawing strength and inspiration from her friends and clients at work. She becomes homeless, but over the course of the book everything works out for her, helped along by carefully placed moments that change her thought process and decisions. Myles is scum, but she learns she is more than her marriage – and it’s important to love yourself, not just your husband.

I really didn’t think I was going to finish this book, the first part has a lot of issues due to the crumbling relationship of Sophie and Myles. Myles is clearly cheating, and Sophie just needs to have her “aha” moment and leave him. However, when she finally confronts him, he gaslights her so bad she starts to second guess herself. I really wasn’t sure where the author was going with it, but gaslighting is my hands down least favorite part of any book that features it. It’s such a tired cliche and I was worried the book would just follow in that vein and annoy the crap out of me. BUT! Sophie really has a transformative journey and I’m glad I stuck with it. I really loved the characters (especially the side characters) and the side stories were fun and interesting.

I am so glad the author moved past the gaslighting plot line and Myles got called out the way he deserved (if you read this, you’ll know the part I’m talking about!). It was really great to see Sophie grow as a person into her life, even though she takes several hard knocks.

Y’all should read this if you have a terrible ex, because you could definitely relate. No, We Can’t Be Friends is a solid, quick chick lit read for those who gravitate to this genre. It’s also set in Britain, so the British slang was fun to read for an American like me.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – My Favorite Half-Night Stand

“I should have been more offended. But I only have one emotion, and it’s hunger.”

Title: My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: December 4th, 2018

384 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Review

You’re honestly too good for me, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want you anyway.

Christina lauren, my favorite half-night stand

I’m back with another CLo read! I picked this up from Barnes and Noble because it was one of their half off sale books and I’ve loved all the CLo books I’ve read so far. Whereas this one was not my favorite, I still enjoyed reading it and I will still read everything they have, and will, write!

Millie is a college professor with not a lot of luck with dating. Neither does her 4 best friends, all straight men who also can’t seem to navigate the dating scene. Millie’s never considered any of her friends as possible romances, until she drinks too much wine one night and jumps Reid’s bones. Reid lets it happen, and they both end up confused afterwards. The gang decides to make a pact to use a dating app to find a date to the university’s black tie gala, and they can’t take each other. Millie doesn’t have much luck, so she creates a fake persona on the site and matches with Reid. She tries to play it off so he realizes it is her, but he doesn’t. What started as a fun gag gets out of hand, and Reid is starting to like her alternate persona more than her. What’s a girl to do when her best guy friend wants to date the fake, online version of her?

My major, major critique of this book is the catfish plot. It really doesn’t seem believable that this would happen. Also, Millie was kind of an annoying character as she got bad at Reid for being into the alt version of her… which is still actually her? It got a bit confusing what she was mad about after awhile. While this is happening, the real her is also still sleeping with Reid?? So confused.

The hook up happened too soon, as in the first 2 chapters. We barely have any information on these characters and they are already boning. It’s hard to believe they “never considered it before” when it happened almost immediately.

Frankly, the side characters were scads more interesting than Millie and Reid. I wanted more information on the other 3 guys, and hell even Reid’s parents after the scene where they all visit for Reid’s birthday. The side characters were somehow more fleshed out than the main characters, and I was rooting more for them than Millie and Reid.

Outside of all that, I still love CLo books. I read it all in one day and their books are always easy, breezy books that I don’t have to think so hard about. I love reading them after a heavy Fantasy novel just to come back to earth and real life. But honestly, this book just made me want to read The Unhoneymooners again.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – City of Lost Souls

Missing, one stunningly attractive teenage boy. Answers to ‘Jace’ or ‘Hot Stuff’

Title: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: May 8th, 2012

536 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

What price is too high to pay, even for love? Plunge into fifth installment in the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and “prepare to be hooked” (Entertainment Weekly)—now with a gorgeous new cover, a map, a new foreword, and exclusive bonus content! City of Lost Souls is a Shadowhunters novel.

When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

Review

I hope you told him you were bitten by a gay spider.

Cassandra clare, city of lost souls

I’m back, and moving through my Cassandra Clare binge! Next up was City of Lost Souls, which continues to follow Jace and Clary while they try and save everyone from Sebastian. Unfortunately, I felt this book had classic middle book syndrome so I had to rate it a littler lower than City of Fallen Angels.

I feel like this book had a lot more potential. Jace’s plot in this had the possibility of being really interesting and deep – but it fell flat as he spent most of it just trying to get into Clary’s sensible pants (I mean, I know he’s a teenage boy but you spent 4 books giving him dimension, keep it going). Clary also fell deeper into the crazy girlfriend trope, and at one point makes a gigantic decision for Jace that she had no right making. This part was VERY annoying, because of how intensely wrong it was. But I digress.

This book was obviously just setting up the plot of the 6th book, City of Heavenly Fire. A big war is coming between the Shadowhunters and Sebastian and everyone will be affected. My fave characters in this book were Isabelle and Simon. I feel like Izzy’s character arc is really rounding out as we learn more of her background and what makes her who she is. Simon is going through a huge transition time and he still manages to keep up his dry humor, which is lovely and heartening. They took the award of primary ship from Jace and Clary in this book.

THAT ENDING THO. Okay, so I need to know what happens with the vampires. That ending was the only truly shocking plot point in the book, along with the break up from one couple. The ending redeemed the book a bit for me.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Map From Here to There

Title: The Map From Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2)

Author: Emery Lord

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

368 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions. 

Review

**Thank you to Bloomsbury YA, Netgalley, and Emery Lord for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

In the second installment of Paige’s story, you get to see how her senior year of high school goes after everything that happened with Max. Paige is going through the age old struggle of trying to balance school, her future career, and a boyfriend. No matter what she does, one starts to fall and she can’t bear to see it be her boyfriend. Mix in mental health issues causing severe anxiety to flare up – it’s a roller coaster ride of a year. Of course, she’s got her friends, but for how long? Who knows where everyone will end up at the end of the year and she is terrified of making the wrong choice.

I was super into the first book, The Start of Me and You. Watching Max and Paige’s friendship and relationship blossom was beautiful, and so reminiscent of high school. I was less invested in the second book, because I don’t feel like it really WENT anywhere. Things happened for sure – ups and downs, twists and turns. Paige puts herself out there in ways she didn’t in the first book and grew up a ton. But it also came with some sacrifice and sadness as well.

I was not a fan of the ending. I almost felt like I read that whole book for… nothing? The ending doesn’t really explain what happens or what Paige chooses – which is a pet peeve of mine for books. If you love a cliffhanger ending that leaves it up to you to decide what happens – I highly recommend. That just isn’t my favorite writing style and I wanted oh so much more from my fave guy and and gal.

This duo is so beautifully written though. I love how LGBTQIA and mental health themes were added into the second book, because it’s important to remember that these issues will affect teenagers. It also provided some good character definition for the characters who were affected.

Overall, a good ending to Paige’s story, but I wish it didn’t have to end. I’d read a play by play of Paige and Max’s relationship for the next ten years if I could.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – A Love Hate Thing

Title: A Love Hate Thing

Author: Whitney D. Grandison

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

448 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Whitney D. Grandison for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Tyson Trice recently underwent a terrible family tragedy, which has left him broken and confused living with the family of a childhood friend he hasn’t seen in 10 years. He is from Lindenwood, a notoriously dangerous area of town, and is now living in Pacific Hills – the rich area. He sticks out like a sore thumb, and he knows it. Nandy is not happy her parents decided to take Tyson in after 10 years, she has perfected her Pacific Hills Queen image and wants nothing that will tarnish that. Also, Tyson is not the 7 year old boy she remembers, this Tyson is hard and scary – and she wants none of that in her life.

Tyson and Nandy go through a whole lot in this novel, and it really is a tale of learning to look past prejudice and bias while recovering from personal loss. This story is not simple or easy, but it’s theirs. It is important to see how far Tyson is able to come back from the brink, and what Nandy can do to grow past her misconceptions. Both learn from each other throughout the novel, even if they aren’t on good terms.

A Love Hate Thing reminded me of the movie The Blind Side. Rich family takes in an underprivileged boy from a rough background. It’s not exactly a 1:1 comparison because there’s no sports involved and the family knew Tyson before he was taken in – but the gist of it was similar. Similar acceptance themes in the affluent community is seen, and I almost think the side character’s interactions with Tyson were more important that Nandy’s. It’s easy to assume Nandy will come around and break barriers (because she’s a MC) but to have the side character’s also noticeably learn from the experience was fun.

This book is LONG. Almost 500 pages focused on Tyson and Nandy’s summer before senior year of high school. There were times that I felt the book continued on past what it needed to, or parts of it could be cut out. It just felt like too much. The story is told in alternating chapters between Tyson and Nandy’s POV – so you get different side characters depending on who’s POV you’re reading at the time – but they do all overlap. I love contemporaries that have a romance component, and especially love when part of it is told from the male (or alternate) partner’s perspective. I feel like it rounds out the book to get both sides.

Go check out A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison, her debut novel!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂