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City of Glass ~ Cassandra Clare

February 23, 2018


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Genre: Young Adult/ Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
592 pages
ISBN: 9781481455985
Source: Amazon

Well, here we are, sitting pretty, halfway through The Mortal Instruments!

I am not even remotely over the fact that I waited so long to read this series but I suppose I should stop saying that, at some point.

I was a little put out with the dramatic teen angst of the middle of the book (I’m looking at you, Jace), but then I realized that, one, these kids have been through literal hell and back, and two, as I always remind myself, there are not really a lot of therapists in fantasy worlds, so characters are pretty much doing the best they can with all of this emotional baggage.

There were a lot of delightful surprises but, per usual, I knew the biggest plot twist ahead of time because I am hopeless and so is the world of Bookstagram Spoilers. That said, there was enough that came new to me that I was more relieved by the big twist than irritated.

Like my girl Sarah J Maas, Clare has this absolutely goddess-given talent for writing friendships. Sure, there love and romance sweeps in occasionally but even in the mushy parts, there is still a bond that is thicker than all of that. Between siblings, best friends, and near strangers, the Shadowhunters, and eventually the downworlders, forge these bonds of strong intimacy that leaves me wondering why I have to deal with boring human relations in favor of the magical kind.

And, as far as my therapist side goes, there is almost so much to discuss that I feel like I probably shouldn’t start. But you all know, by now, that I can’t resist. The themes of social justice and community organizing run straight through this story like a shot and expand out into racisms, ethnic cleansing, and prejudice so blatant, it’s impossible to refrain from drawing parallels to our own broken systems.

This was definitely my favorite book of the series, so far and I’m honestly a little sad that I’m on the back half of the set. I’m pausing to read Clockwork Angel so that should slow me down a little bit.

 

 

 

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The Raven Boys ~ Magie Stiefvater

February 19, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
409 pages
ISBN: 9780545424936
Source: Amazon

So, I originally read this half-heartedly and a bit distractedly back when it first came out.

I promptly forget every bit of the book and didn’t pick it up again until a few friends decided to read it together.

Without going into the specifics of why I don’t remember much from the first read through, five years ago, I will say that I am wholeheartedly in love with it, this pass through.

I have always loved Maggie and her stories, The Raven Cycle being no exception.

The Raven Boys, specifically, focuses on high school student Blue, who comes from a family that, no-for-real has magic abilities. Most of the town recognizes the talent for simple fortune telling but once we delve into the inner circle of the women in the family, it’s clear that it’s much heavier than that.

Early in the story, Blue tags along to an annual event in which the soon-to-die appear in non-corporeal forms. She happens to see one of the boys from the prep school in town who leaves her with lasting chills, knowing his fate.

Of course, nothing is as simple (if you consider any of that simple) as that and it turns out, Blue is soon wrapped up in that very boy’s own magical searches with his band of friends.

Raven Boys starts off sweet and slow but quickly turns into a wild adventure. I know I needed to start keeping a little character map at some point to make sure I could keep all of the women and all of the boys and their various personalities straight.

Complexity is a lovely thing, though, and I’m so glad I stepped back into this world. I’m excited to keep moving forward and finally give this series the attention it deserves.

Sunday Wrap-Up!

February 18, 2018

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Good morning, darling friends!

Phew, what a week.

I read A Darker Shade of Magic with my awesome bookstagram buddies. We also started a new book club with a way larger net of super folks and I’m really pumped about that. We picked our book for March (Ember in the Ashes) and everyone is so chatty. It’s so fun!

I also did a long-awaited reread of The Raven Boys which I had all but forgotten but then remembered I loved oh so much. That was done with my other ladies who are just as lovely.

Oh, and I got my Secret Valentine Bookswap present and it was….Dear Martin! Y’all, this book. It may be tiny but holy cow does it pack a punch. So timely and so heavy.

Overall, a great week in both books and school.

In a moment in which we are feeling weighted down with the violence and destruction, I am glad I have such wonderful hearts around me to lift me up.

City of Ashes ~ Cassandra Clare

February 17, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
512 pages
ISBN: 9781481455978
Source: Amazon

By now, you should know that I am wary of The Second Book Curse.

It is often my least favorite of a series, A Court of Mist and Fury notwithstanding.

It’s usually all about the process of moving from the first book to the second without much depth.

Thank goodness for Cassandra Clare’s unreasonably good storytelling, because City of Ashes managed to escape that curse.

Though there is a bit of journeying from point A to point B” as there always is, Clare manages to infuse the story with enough of its own original plot twists that it reads more like a stand-alone novel than a second or even third book.

Clary comes into her own and the Lightwood kids are given a lot more depth than they are given in the first book, showing vulnerabilities and strengths I wasn’t sure they would be granted, at first. I also love that Magnus Bane is such a recurring piece of the plot. Without giving too much away, to have a queer character (multiple, in fact, when the series was first written, is lovely and refreshing to see.

Oh, and then there’s Jace. Sweet, teen angsty, toxic masculinity-fueled Jace. I love him, y’all, and one of the reasons has to do with just how much we ignore the emotional life of boys and men. Clare manages to explore his fears and soft spots in ways that allow him to show us the places where the world has molded him into something he wouldn’t have been otherwise.

I am tearing through this series far faster than I thought I would, already cracking open City of Glass with no respect for any of my other TBR residents.

Dear Martin ~ Nic Stone

February 16, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/ Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
224 pages
ISBN: 9781101939499
Source: Book Swap

Holy cow, y’all, this book.

I wasn’t entirely sure how it could be as powerful as everyone was claiming as it’s a teeny, tiny little thing at just over 200 pages.

This fear, of course, was completely ridiculous as even short stories can pack a powerful punch.

That said, I sat down and read it one solid go because it is seriously that good.

Yes, this spoke to me on a few levels, personally. As I say about twenty times an hour, social work is my life and that means social justice, interpersonal relationships, and internal conflict sit high on my swoon list. Add in the fact that both Nic Stone and the story itself are in Atlanta and I had no option but to fall in love.

But I think, even without my location and background, I would be smitten.

The story follows High School senior, Justyce McAllister through one of the roughest school years of his life, beginning with an absurd arrest and ending with a horrendous tragedy.

He’s a bright and promising, if slightly soft-spoken, Atlanta teen, wrestling with his identity as a young black guy in the city that lives in the shadow of Martin Luther Kings legacy. Through young love and friend drama, the book sails us straight through racial conflict, past and present.

Nic Stone pulls zero punches when it comes to naming the complexity of race in our lives. The internal; conflict in Jus’s brain speak so well to the absurdity white supremacy puts people of color through on a daily basis.

After reading an entire book written by a female through the voice of a male, I talked this over with my friends who had read the book. They agreed that Stone just nails that teen male voice, but we also marveled at the heaviness of Stone having two little boys of her own, growing up in the exact world where she set her story.

There is so much more I could write about this but I’m low-key going to see if I can find Nic Stone, today, somewhere around town and thank her profusely for this amazing book. So, writing time is over. Go read it if you haven’t.

A Darker Shade of Magic ~ V. E. Schwab

February 15, 2018

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Genre: Fantasy/Science fiction
Publisher: Tor Books
416 pages
ISBN: 9780765376466
Source: Barnes and Noble

I think I am coming to the realization that everyone considers magic to be their own conceptualization of the world. Their own concepts of good, evil, power, connection, life, and death.

Why am I leading with this?

Because A Darker Shade of Magic kind of pulled all of those themes together for me.

Let me start by saying that the story started off slowly for me. I wanted to say that it was complex and confusing but, really, I think it was just a little bit dull to start. It made up for a lackluster start by the middle of the book, though, and I’ve heard the rest of the series is great so, if you are finding that it’s a slow starter, try to stick with it for a little longer and I promise it will be worth it.

As I said, the book captures a lot of great musings and concepts around power and human dynamics, how much control we really have over ourselves and others, and all of that good philosophical stuff.

Here comes the big “but”.

Y’all, I didn’t find anything different from my other fantasy stories.

I wanted to!

I know so many people who said it was something sparklingly new and different. And this is coming from people who read a lot of fantasy.

I don’t know. For me, it was good but certainly echoed a lot of the themes that I’ve had tumbling around in my head over the last little while, running through Mortal Instruments and Sarah J. Maas.

As an adventure story, it ebbed and flowed which was kind of nice but also, as mentioned, sometimes sort of slow.

I feel like a total wet blanket and I don’t mean to be because it is, overall, a really great read. The writing is beautiful and I enjoyed the two main characters, Kell and Lila, perhaps the latter moreso because she seemed to have a bit more depth. I’m a guessing that the pure loyalty that surrounds these books may come in a little later with the other books.

Our Chemical Hearts ~ Krystal Sutherland

February 14, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
320 pages
ISBN: 9780399546563
Source: Barnes and Noble

Wow.

I know I am sort of the target audience for the tough-on-your-feelings stories but even I was blown away by Our Chemical Hearts.

The book blurb doesn’t do the story justice.

What is proposed as a “first love” story, pans out to be way more than that.

High school senior, Henry Page, starts off the year having never been in a relationship, much less in love. At the start of the year, he manages to snag the coveted school paper editor position which he ends up sharing with new girl, Grace Town.

Grace isn’t quirky in a, to quote the book verbatim, “manic pixie dream girl” sort of way but in a sad, dark, really heavy past sort of way. As her story unfolds, it’s pretty clear that Grace is anything but normal teen snark and very unexpected first relationship on many accounts.

Of course, my inner therapist was practically standing in applause for the way depression, grief, and healing were handled. You all know that I roll my eyes at the lack of effect usually shown in literature following traumatic events or the rapid regeneration after the fact. This pulled no punches on those fronts.

As it stands, this is definitely one of the books that will live on my shelf once I go into practice and probably be handed to many friends down the road.
Sutherland’s writing and teen voice, in my subjective opinion, trumps Green, Johnson, and other contemporary YA writers. She’s funny and honest and just seems to understand human emotions. Unfortunately, this was her debut so as much as I want to run out and buy everything she’s ever written, this is it, for the moment.