Night of Cake & Puppets Novella

Ever wondered how Zuzana and Mik actually met? It is never explicitly said how they met in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone novels. To remedy that and give readers a different perspective, Laini Taylor wrote an e-novella entitled Night of Cake & Puppets. It is only available in text format that I am aware of; I have my copy through iBooks. At only 100 pages and roughly $3, it is a very quick and inexpensive read.

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While different from the DSB series (it makes no explicit mention of chimera beyond the reference to Karou’s monsters and Kishmish), the novella is lightheaded and fun. The story is written from both Zuzana and Mik’s eyes, alternating between the two. This way, you know what each of them are thinking as they progress through the story. Most of the story is written from Zuzana’s perspective and allows the reader to see a different view of the “rabid fairy.” The entire story only spans a few days, largely focusing on the night the pair actually meet.

One of the nice treats for readers is that the novella opens with one of the first few meetings of Karou and Zuzana. This allows us a glimpse of how Zuzana views Karou when they first meet, before the magic and the chimera.

I find NCP to be a really fun read, completely different from the novels. However, reading at least Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight is very helpful. Technically speaking the novella is marked as novel 2.5 and Zuzana does allude to events in the novels. It helps to have a bit of context but isn’t completely necessary.

My rating: 5/5

The Bane Chronicles

Ever want to read more about Magnus Bane’s many adventures – some of which he actually eludes to – beyond that of the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices stories? Then The Bane Chronicles will fulfill that desire. Filled with 11 stories of Magnus’ adventures and featuring other Downworlders (and a few Shadowhunters), this volume gives a bit more insight into our favorite, flamboyant warlock.

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Magnus’ history is so long that starting from the beginning would take far longer than 500 pages to retell. Plus, most of us can probably guess that Magnus’ early life is not a story he’s willing to share with most. Instead, we get insight into some of his more important stories.

What actually happened in Peru?
How did Magnus meet Raphael Santiago?
What happened when Magnus meets Will’s father, Edmund Herondale?
What was Magnus’ first date with Alec like?

And other stories. While the stories occur chronologically, I personally did not read them in order. I actually started with the last story first, a series of voice mails and texts between Magnus and other characters, since it was short and easy to read. Since some of the stories are featured as extras in other Shadowhunter volumes, that partially lead to me reading James Herondale’s story before his grandfather’s. Still, I found the overall book an enjoyable read. And with reach story being self contained, the reader doesn’t have to read the entire book at once. I kind of like to think of this book more as a Wikipedia of Magnus’s life than an actual memoir.

Of course my two favorite stories were those that centered around Magnus’ relationship with Alec. After all, they are my OTP – next to Jem and Tessa.

My one, tiny, itty bitty request is that there be an edition with either Harry Shrum Jr. on the cover as Magnus, or one of Cassandra Jean’s amazing artworks. I love seeing Godfrey Gao as Magnus, but since the other Shadowhunter novels have had cover make overs it just seems right that this one should as well.

My rating: 4/5

 

The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes

City of Ashes is the second book in the Mortal Instruments series. It continues the story of Clary Fray as she attempts to navigate her way through the world of the Shadowhunters, a world she was born into but never knew.

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It has been a mere two weeks since the end of City of Bones. Jocelyn Fray has been rescued but remains in a comatose state. Clary tries to find the way to revive her as well as attempt to reconcile the growing feelings she has for her brother, Jace Wayland, and the fact that her father is Valentine Morgenstern, the man to created the Circle and starting the Uprising.

Jace, meanwhile, is also trying to sort out his feelings for Clary while trying to come to terms that he is not actually a Wayland, but a Morgenstern and that his father is essentially a monster. At the same time, he must deal with the presence of the Inquisitor, the Shadowhunter’s highest ranking official next to the Consul, and the person who distributes justice to the Nephilim. He no longer knows who he is, or if he even belongs with the Lightwoods, the family who has taken him in and raised him – especially after Maryse Lightwood instructs him to leave the Institute.

Unlike it’s predecessor, City of Ashes doesn’t exclusive focus on Clary and Jace. We also get to see more of the other characters, Simon, Isabelle, Alec, and Magnus and what occurs in their lives. It’s really the secondary characters that I have the most interest in. I really had very little interest in Clary and Jace beyond their main storyline. I was far more interested in how Simon reconciled becoming a vampire, how Alec realizes his lessening feelings for Jace while his feelings for Magnus grew, and I just simply enjoy Isabelle’s character.

As before, I’ll continue to read this story to see how it progresses as I work my way through the series and towards reading Lady Midnight. I’m not sure if I will ever come to like Clary and Jace beyond a necessary part of the story, but the story itself is a fun read.

My rating: 4/5

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Oh, look at that, another pretty cover. (I am so predictable.)

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I wasn’t in love with Throne of Glass, so I was a bit skeptical when I started reading A Court of Thorns and Roses. I didn’t really know what to expect. I liked the premise of it enough, but I just wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not. Sarah J. Maas is an amazing author with such a rich imagination, but I just have trouble really getting into her characters.

A Court of Thorns and Roses follows Feyre, the youngest of three sisters from an impoverished family. They weren’t always poor so the it is rough for the family to live well below what they are used to. Feyre is a huntress who made a promise to her dying mother to take care of her family. Despite the trials her family puts her through, she follows through on that promise and – in her own way – loves her family.

One cold winter, Feyre is hunting a doe when a wolf enters her path. It’s no ordinary wolf, but a transformed fairy – fae – out hunting. In Feyre’s world, most humans live in either fear or hatred of the fairies and High Fae that live just beyond an invisible wall so close to Feyre’s village. She herself harbors a deep seated hatred for fae and promptly kills the wolf and later sells its skin. Shortly thereafter, the wolf’s companion – a High Fae and one of the seven High Lords of Prythian – comes for Feyre, citing a Treaty that states that any human who kills a fae must either pay with their own life or live in Prythian with the fae forever. Feyre ultimately ends up leaving with the High Lord to protect her family and keep her promise.

Over the course of months, Feyre turns from hating the fae to loving them. Upon realizing she does love them, she learns of a much greater evil in Prythian, one that threatens to take everything she has come to care for. Or maybe Feyre is the only person who can stop it.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is Maas’ retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story. I found it a lot more engaging than Throne of Glass, but it did have a bit of a slow start. As such, I felt the conflict at the end a little truncated. There are also some events that occur that I don’t agree with. There’s a point towards the end where, in order to keep her from harm, Feyre is constantly told (forced?) to drink fairy wine, which to a human is essentially like being ruffied. She doesn’t remember much of what happens to her, but it keeps happening. It’s supposedly done to help keep her from harm, but I disagree with the method. That being said, it’s still a good story and I am looking forward to reading the sequels, one of which is already released.

My rating: 4/5

25 Bookish Facts About Me

There’s a tag I have been seeing going around Booktube that I found interesting. It’s called “25 bookish facts.” Since I don’t have a Booktube, I thought I would make a blog post about it instead. (Some of these could also count as bookish pet peeves.)

So here we go!

  1. I wasn’t always an avid reader. Before this year I read sporadically, whenever my mood suited me. I was much busier in my other creative endeavors that I didn’t really carve out the time to read. Now that I’m doing less costuming and sewing, I can spend more time reading.
  2. While I didn’t read a lot of books, I read a lot of manga. A lot of manga. Which I don’t do as much these days. The current series on the market don’t appeal to me as much. And because of the art. See below #3.
  3. I choose books more on cover art than anything else. It’s bad, I know, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and all that jazz. But I like pretty covers.
  4. I mostly read Young Adult, and mostly fantasy or contemporary with fantasy elements. My professional life is all scholarly and factual based (I teach science) so when I come home, I just want to read something that uses the more imaginative side of my brain.
  5. I can only read one book at a time. The exception is if I am reading a book that’s a collection of short stories or a novella. Otherwise, I can easily get confused on what’s going on in each book.
  6. I don’t eat or drink around my books. Not usually anyway. If I’m out to lunch or at Starbucks of course I’ll indulge in food and drink. But normally I don’t because I can’t juggle a book in one hand and food/beverage in the other. My hands are too small for that.
  7. Along with #6, I possess a library card. I love the library; I love the services it provides. I just don’t use the library as much. I don’t like reading books that are used because people do eat and read at the same time, and they leave crumbs and stains behind.
  8. That being said, I prefer my books new and will usually buy them from the bookstore. Textbooks are the only exception because those suckers are expensive.
  9. I don’t like reading in public. When I read in public, I end up getting asked what I’m reading. And that’s okay, I like sharing with others a story I enjoy. But since I read mostly fantasy, I sometimes get that odd look that seems to say “Why don’t you read more contemporary?” My whole life is contemporary! I don’t want to read contemporary! Why is that so bad?! (Okay, sorry, rant over. Also, nothing wrong with contemporary settings, I just don’t enjoy them as much.)
  10. My personal favorite place to read is in bed. I have a full sized bed and only sleep on half of it. I converted the other half to a reading corner.
  11. I read almost every night. I spend at least an hour reading each night. It is very rare these days that I don’t read before going to sleep.
  12. I try not to listen to hype and read books that are overhyped. I have this habit of being completely turned off by things (books, comics, tv shows, movies) that are overhyped. There are many, many movies and anime I still refuse to watch because friends overhyped it.
  13. I prefer actual books to ebooks. I have a Kindle and I have iBooks on my phone. I’ve read using both. But I just prefer the actual book.
  14. I carry a book everywhere. Even though I don’t like reading in public, even though I know I’m likely not going to read until I get home, I carry a book everywhere. I have spent far too much of my life waiting at a doctor’s office or at the car repair place with nothing to do but play on my phone or watch some talk show.
  15. I can get irrationally upset when my books are damaged. This is part of the reason I never loan books out (or borrow books from others). I don’t expect them to stay pristine forever, but I also don’t expect them to be abused.
  16. Going along with #15, I tend to frown or make a face when I see people reading books (especially manga) in a bookstore. I don’t mean “let me open a random page and read a few lines to see if I like it” deal. I mean “let me read the whole thing and not buy the book” deal. I get that not everyone can afford to buy books, but that’s what a library is for.
  17. My cat eats my books. And I want to throttle him for it sometimes. He has this habit of eating only the books that are difficult to replace, like my mother’s collection of original French language Asterix comics that we dragged all the way from France. He chewed through the top of the spine of my copy of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and tore a piece of the cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Whenever I hear him trying to chew on my books, I chuck a stuffed animal at him as a distraction. Sometimes it works. Luckily I have a few stuffed animals handy.
  18. When I really like a book or a book series, I will go find other products related to it. If it has a movie adaptation, I’ll find the movie companion books. If someone has made jewelry inspired by a book or series, I’ll find it and buy a piece – 0r five. I don’t think a day goes by in which I’m not wearing something book related. *coughShadowhunterscough*
  19. I don’t have a preference for hard cover or paperback books. I’ll read either one; paperback is easier to handle but hard cover stays open on its own. I don’t like the mass paperback books though since it’s hard to read without cracking the spine.
  20. I do so hate it when my books don’t match. If I start a series in hard cover, I’m going to continue it in hard cover. Same with paperback.
  21. I usually won’t buy a book more than once. If a different version (hard cover vs paperback) or a different cover comes out, I’m not liable to buy it again unless I didn’t really like the cover to begin with. The only exception to this so far is the Infernal Devices where I have two copies of each book.
  22. If I really enjoyed a book or series and they’ve made a graphic novel adaptation, I will buy it and I will read it. Provided the art is pretty. I mentioned I like pretty art, right?
  23. I don’t really have a “the book was better!” mindset. I’ve always seen the book and the movie to be two separate ways to interpret a story. The exception, of course, is when the movie adaptation wildly deviates from the book and not in a way that advances the plot. I’m looking at you, the Desolation of Smaug.
  24. I don’t generally listen to recommendations from others. I watch a lot of channels of Youtube and the reviews people post, but that doesn’t necessarily sway me for or against a book. I choose books based on summaries and pretty covers.
  25. I currently don’t shelve my books. I only have two book cases and they are filled with manga I am trying to unhaul. (Since most of them are in the original Japanese language, that’s pretty difficult.) Any books I do buy get stacked one on top of another in random corners around my room until I can unhaul 85% of my manga, deconstruct my book cases, and buy new ones. This makes life a little difficult because of the cat who likes to eat books.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

I attempted a read of City of Bones back in 2013 when the movie starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower was released. While I liked the story premise, I had a difficult time getting into it because I couldn’t fully relate to the main protagonists, Clary and Jace. Maybe it was because I just hit my 30s and they were half my age. I’m not sure.

Fast forward to today, three years later. I fell in love with the Infernal Devices trilogy and really want to read Lady Midnight. To get from one to the other, however, requires reading all six books of the Mortal Instruments series. It was time to revisit City of Bones again.

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It still like the premise. Cassandra Clare’s reading is easy but not elementary. Her world is richly imagined while still being grounded in the modern world we all live in. We’re all familiar with the stories that alluded to; stories of vampires, werewolves, fae, and other mythical creatures. I think because Clare uses elements that we are all already familiar with while still putting her own spin on some aspects that it makes this story tangible and real.

However, I still can’t relate to Clary and Jace. Not fully anyway. I do understand Clary’s point of view, feeling like an outcast with only one real friend to speak of. But there is something about their characters that I – as a now mid-30s individual – just can’t grasp. I have a much easier time relating to Isabelle and Alec (and more so with Magnus) that I do Clary and Jace. I’m pretty sure it if I were closer to my teen years I would relate to them better, but that’s just a minor detail.

I still plan to continue with the story. I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses as I make my way through the story.

My rating: 4/5

 

Days of Blood & Starlight

The second book in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, Days of Blood & Starlight picks up about six months from where the previous volume left off. If you wonder what happened in those six months, the story does nice job of providing that information without going into explicit detail.

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This volume is a bit darker than its predecessor. The war between chimera and angels, which took a bit of a lull in DSB, is starting to pick up again. Each side is strategically attempting to weaken the other with raids and ambushes. Neither side really gets the upper hand throughout the story, but there are close moments. We get introduced to more characters of both species in this volume.

The book takes on three different perspectives throughout the narration. There’s Karou’s perspective, of course. We find that she is still in our world, but not before making a brief trip and back to reunite and collect some chimera comrades. (I hesitate to use allies since most of the chimera in the group are not exactly friendly with her.) We also find that Karou has become the new Resurrectionist, though only her comrades are aware of her identity.

The second perspective is Akiva’s. He has reunited with his siblings, Liraz and Hazael, as well as his Misbegotten brethren. The three of them are sent on missions against the chimera, but after the events of DSB, Akiva’s heart isn’t in it. Instead, he makes a vow to protect chimera, which his siblings – albeit reluctantly – assist him in (or at the very least prevent him from being caught).

The third perspective is Zuzana and Mik’s as they navigate Prague and the desert in an attempt to find Karou. They eventually find her and finally encounter chimera, which both fascinates and terrifies them. I find their perspective to be a nice break from the “doom and gloom” of the ongoing chimera vs angel conflict. Zuzana’s spirit even wins over some of the chimera – along with Mik’s violin.

I really enjoyed this volume of DSB, more so than the first. I feel this is partially due to the characters being familiar whereas in DSB the reader is often wondering who a character is. My favorite character in this volume is Ziri, the last natural flesh Kirin. I find that as I read his parts, I feel as if I am Karou, waiting to make sure he survives and returns. His fate at the end of the novel is heartbreaking and yet necessary for the final installment.

I will hopefully get to read the last volume this year, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, so I can know how the series ends. We’ll see how quickly I get through the rest of the books I have to read first.

My rating: 5/5