Sunday, May 26, 2013

Forever Princess.

Forever Princess
By: Meg Cabot
Forever Princess (The Princess Diaries, #10)
It's ridiculous that still feel like I have to, but often when I read a lighter book I feel like I have to defend that particular type of book. So that's what this beginning part is going to be; It's going to explain why I read light-hearted and just plain fun books and why I don't feel the need to be a literary snob about such books as this.

This series is kind of like Mia's book, they might not be the most well-written or world-changing or the most literary books in the world, but that doesn't mean they don't have value; It doesn't mean they don't mean anything.

I'm not embarrassed to admit that I loved them. You can't help but grow to care about these characters and what happens to them. And I think a big part of this series' appeal is how real it seems despite its ridiculousness. Sure, it's more than highly unlikely that any normal American girl is going to randomly find out that she's the princess and heir to the throne of a small European principality. But that's the funny, ridiculous side of the books. The more genuine side is how real the characters felt. You can relate them to people you know and even to yourself at some points. You can learn with them and from them.

Quite honestly, I believe that if a book can make you love the story it has to tell and the characters it has to tell it with then it's worth something.

Now on to the more in-depth feelings I had in this book character-wise:

I liked J.P. until he didn't encourage Mia with her writing, even if it was "just a romance novel." And his play made me kind of angry. And, you know, of course what he did to Lilly. I probably wouldn't have minded if she'd had Michael punch his lights out, but I get why she didn't. I think Meg Cabot did a great job of showing why he wasn't a good choice for Mia while still keeping it relevant to his character.

It was REALLY funny when Tina got all stressed out about everyone else's romantic lives. Also, she was a really great friend to Mia by telling her what she needed to hear, not what she wanted to hear. Also, I will never not love her and Boris.

I think I died during Mia's interview with Michael. And his note about the book with the flash drive. And when he donated the CardioArm. And how Michael was so convinced that he was the one who ruined their relationship, not Mia. And the carriage ride. IT WAS JUST SO SWEET, OKAY?

I'm strangely a fan of Lana and Mia's friendship. I think it was kind of brave of Meg Cabot to change up the typical Mean-Girl stereotype. Sure, Lana is still completely shallow, but she's not portrayed as evil or even bad. I think that makes her a much more interesting character.

I forgot to mention it in other reviews, but it's REALLY funny seeing all the references to the real-life movie that are made in these books. Like that it was lying about Genovia having a Prime Minister and Mia knowing how to shoot an arrow and Michael's band going on tour. It never failed to crack me up (and make me want to watch the movies again).


"I know one [book] isn't going to change the world. But it would be lovely if it made a few people as happy reading it as it made me when I was writing it."

"It was like something went cold inside me. Something I didn't even realize was still living inside me. Which, it turned out, was this little tiny ember of hope."

"Some people can seem perfect...everything about them can, on paper, be just right. Until you get to know them. Really know them. Then you find out, in the end, while they might be perfect for everyone else, they just aren't right for you."

"It's taught me you get older, you lose things, things you don't necessarily want to lose. Something as simple as...well, your baby teeth when you're a little kid, as they make way for your adult teeth. But as you age, you lose other, even more important things, like friends--hopefully only bad friends, who maybe weren't as good for you as you once thought. With luck, you'll be able to hang on to your true friends, the ones who were always there fore you...even when you thought they weren't. Because friends like that are more precious than all the tiaras in the world."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Princess Mia.

Princess Mia (Vol. IX)
By: Meg Cabot
Princess Mia (The Princess Diaries, #9)
This is the first book in this series that I felt I could make a full-sized review on and that's because I think this one was my favorite so far.

Mia: I finally fully loved Mia's character in a book. I think she changed and grew a lot from the last book and she's finally realizing things that need to be realized. I almost think she's more relatable now that she's gone through her transformation. Her breakdown was believable and consistent with her character through the series.
Michael: As I've said in my review of the other books, I love Michael. I think he's great for Mia. That being said, I think I liked this book more because Michael WASN'T in it that much. This is because I do think that Mia needed some time apart from him to mature a bit and find out who she is when they're separate.
Lilly: And I think things finally went down with Lilly that I think have needed to go down for a while. Lilly has been frustrating me since the beginning (as she's meant to). Mia's always been loyal to her (I'd say that loyalty is one of Mia's best traits) and yet I'm not sure Lilly has never really deserved it. But, in truth, she's a very consistent and well-written character. You know why she's doing the things she's doing (even if Mia doesn't).

More Characters:
Boris: Such a sweetie. I love him and Tina together and I absolutely love how he's such a good friend to Mia (and everyone for that matter). He's the character in this series that I think I've slowly grown to love the most.
JP: I like him a surprising amount...Like, way more than I thought I would. I thought I would hate him just because he's, you know, not Michael. But, Meg Cabot did a great job of making him not some placeholder character. He was a great character in his own right. I can't say I'm rooting for him, but I will say I love him.
Tina: SO SWEET. Another one of my favorites (and she has been since the very first book). She's such a perfect friend to Mia (who has always needed a friend the exact opposite of what Lilly is).

This is one of the series that I honestly never thought I'd ever read. It was one of the ones that I thought I had stumbled onto too late to truly enjoy. But I'm finding myself really sad that the next book I have to read is the last one. Sure, these books are ridiculous and silly and not high-literature or whatever, but these characters became real to me in a way that few do. They felt like real people and real friends that I could laugh with and cry with. I'm glad that I gave them a chance and took the time to read this ridiculous and silly and just plain fun series.


"How does someone make that transition? The transition from missing the person who they love so desperately that being without them feels like an empty ace inside their chest, to feeling hopeful that new love might very well be waiting for them right around the next corner?"

"You can't tell cute guys the truth about stuff, either."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The House of the Scorpion.

The House of the Scorpion
By: Nancy Farmer
The House of the Scorpion
Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?

Sometimes you read a book and realize that it is good. Sometimes your read a book and realize that it is important. And sometimes you read a book and find that it is both. I'm lucky enough to say that I've stumbled upon a great many good and important books (The Help, The Great Gatsby, Little Women, Harry Potter, etc.) and The House of the Scorpion has now joined their ranks. This book addresses so many issues in such a heartbreaking and truthful way.

This is another book that I don't feel I can review adequately using my normal format, so we're going to do something different for this one.

This is the first dystopian book that I've read (or even heard of) that addresses what's going on in the U.S. through the lens of another country's problems. It's based in future Mexico and the bottom section of America (Texas, New Mexico, etc.). The world is built off of topics that are both problematic and relevant to life today. It discussed how immigration had affected the world and how drugs and the trafficking of them was addressed. Everything was so well executed in all of its world-building and was thorough in its explanations of everything.

There were a lot of details that I noticed that made the tone feel a lot darker. It's true that most of the people thought of Matt as nothing more than an animal, but I think that was heightened by the sheer amount of animal analogies that were used in this book. It drew an important contrast that the characters seemed to overlook, but that you as the reader could not. That being that Matt was so much more than an animal; he was a boy. A boy who loved and hated and played and messed up. A boy with a conscience and a soul. I think the point was that the characters that somewhere in themselves, but they allowed themselves to overlook the overwhelming evidence of Matt's humanity.

Another detail that made a big impact was the fact that El Patron calls Matt, "mi vida," because that literally means "my life." When Celia called him that it was because she loved him so much that he became her life. El Patron called him that because Matt was the prolonging of his own life. This nickname called attention to the other characters motives when it came to their relationships with Matt. It was masterful the way Nancy Holder let the reader in on things like this without ever having to directly point it out.

All of the supporting characters were wonderfully realistic as well. I loved Celia, Tam Lin, Chacho, and Fidelito. And I hated Jorge, El Patron, Felicia, and Tom. This book made you feel things for these characters. Their motives were always spot-on as matched up with their personalities. You could feel the malice radiating off of Tom, just like Matt could. You could sense Felicia's disgust of the world, just like Tom could. And the flawed and loveable characters were all just fantastic. Fidelito was probably my favorite just because he was so adorable! Chacho was great because he showed himself as a rough kind of guy, but then you realize he's more layered and loyal than he lets on. Celia and Tam Lin were amazing characters as well. One of my favorite moments was when Matt told Chacho and Fidelito that Celia and Tam Lin were his parents, because in nearly all regards, they were.

This book gives a really truthful and in depth look at socialism and aristocracy and humanity and friendship. It's a story of hope and love as well as hatred and fear. It's all the things that life is, and that is why it strikes the perfect realistic note for our future world.


"When he was young, he made a choice, like a tree does when it decides to grow one way or the other. He grew large and green until he shadowed over the whole forest, but most of his branches are twisted."

"I always say the truth is best even when we find it unpleasant. Any rat in a sewer can lie. It's how rats are. It's what makes them rats. But a human doesn't run and hide in dark places, because he's something more. Lying is the most personal act of cowardice there is."

"It's always a shock when a little lamb sprouts horns and turns into a bit, handsome ram. But it's a good thing, darling, really it is."

"That was the difference between her and everyone else, he thought. She was overflowing with life. Everything delighted or devastated or fascinated her. There was no middle ground."

"...a jailer has a hundred things on his mind, but a prisoner has only one: escape."

"...people's souls are like can't turn your back on someone because his garden's full of weeds. You have to give him water and lots of sunshine."

"Tam Lin says rabbits give up when they're caught by coyotes...He says they consent to die because they're animals and can't understand hope. But humans are different. They fight against death no matter how bad things seem, and sometimes, even when everything's against them, they win."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Princess Diaries (#4-8)


The Princess Diaries (#4-8)
By: Meg Cabot
Princess in Waiting (The Princess Diaries, #4)Princess in Pink (The Princess Diaries, #5)    Princess in Training (The Princess Diaries, #6)
Party Princess (The Princess Diaries, #7)   Princess on the Brink (The Princess Diaries, #8)
Okay, I'll admit that books four, five, and six lost a bit of the charm for me. It seemed like we weren't seeing ANY development in Mia. she was still the selfish and naïve girl we've being seeing since the beginning of this series. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed them (I just found myself wanting to shake Mia a bit more than normal). But the important thing is that the slight dip in enjoyment didn't make me want to stop reading the series (not even close). I still loved reading about Mia and the gang's adventures. Although the "problems" between Michael and Mia often felt a little forced, but I still love their relationship. Tina Hakim Baba is still hilarious. Grandmere is still crazy. So there was still a LOT going for the books to keep them interesting.
And then I got to books seven and eight and they regained all of the wonderful things from the first few. I felt like more happened in them and that Mia learned a lot through them. For the first time her and Michael didn't have a perfect relationship and we saw her have to deal with that (even as badly as she did handle it). I saw character development that had been absent for a few books. And I have a feeling that the last two books are going to take off from here and be wonderful. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Crown of Embers.

The Crown of Embers
by: Rae Carson

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)
Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey.

Oh goodness, this book BLEW ME AWAY. I thought I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns and then this book comes and blows the last one of the water. Everything improved (even in the places I thought the series needed no improvement). I didn't want it to end! And now I have to WAIT? Ugh.

Wonderful and Clever Heroine: CHECK
Elisa: Elisa just got better and more developed as a character. She was so clever and sure of herself. She was smart enough to get herself and everyone out of trouble multiple times. Sure, from the first book to this one she made a slight regression, but being the Queen of a vast country that is at war and falling apart is a far cry from being the leader of an impromptu, relatively tiny rebellion force that is expected to die out anyway. And yes, that prepared her to rule, but it didn't make her impervious to all problems all the time. I like that ruling didn't always come naturally for her, she had to work at ordering things and telling people what to do. And she made a lot of mistakes, but not frustratingly so. I think her character definitely reached new heights in this second book and I can't wait to see where the third one takes her.

Brave and Loyal Hero: CHECK
Let's just talk about Hector for a moment.


Okay, now that I got that out there I think I can go on with this portion of the review in a semi-collected manner (but don't get me wrong, it's going to be hard. Given how much I love Hector this part could just be me shouting words at you like LOVE. WONDERFUL. ADORABLE. But I'll try to refrain.). I said it before in my review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but I love this series for the fact that it doesn't pander to the reader's expectations for the romantic aspect. First in that Elisa has had three different possible romantic interests, but not at the same time and not in the typical love-triangle way. Second in that the real romance doesn't enter into the story until the second book (not even sort of). And third in that Hector and Elisa's relationship started out as a very strong friendship and developed over a sizable amount of time.

Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
Ximena: I find her character really interesting, but she annoyed me so badly in this book. I was glad when Elisa finally told her off for  always insisting she knew what was best for Elisa and for being SO willing to risk other people's lives to keep her safe.
Belen: I'm glad he got a second chance to do some good. It shows how good of a ruler (and friend) Elisa is for forgiving him so willingly. It's what they both needed in the end.
Conde Eduardo and General Luz-Manuel: I was so fascinated by the idea that Elisa had enemies on both sides, both in her own Quorum as well as from Invierno. Their motives made sense and they were pretty well thought out as far as villainy goes.
Storm: His exchanges with Elisa are priceless! I love there reluctant acquaintanceship (I might even say friendship by the end of this book). I'm glad that he's going with Elisa on her journey in the next book because it means there will be more of him.
Leaf (The Gatekeeper): I'll just say that I may or may not have pictured him as King Bumi from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Go ahead, judge me. ;)
Doctor Enzo: That man was HILARIOUS. It got to the point where I was almost glad when people got injured because it meant more of Doctor Enzo's ridiculousness (note: I did say almost... ;) )

Incredible Plot and World-Building: CHECK
Another thing I love about these books is how much happens in them. It feels more like a journey than just one adventure. I love the feeling that the series is going somewhere important at the same time that this one particular book is. It's really hard to describe, but what I mean is the hints at something deeper going on, something more important. I guess it's a sort of ominous feeling about what is going on in that world and about all the things that we don't know yet. That feeling is one of my favorite things about fantasy books and this series does it perfectly.

The religion is just as well done in this book. I loved how accurate how they studied their holy scriptures was. They took the words back to their meanings and looked at how many times and where those words were used. That's how scriptures are studied (at least in Christianity) in real life and so it felt more real and genuine. I also love how Rae Carson doesn't just allude to the religion (as a lot of fantasy series do), but takes the time to make passages and quotes that her characters come back to. I appreciate how religion is portrayed and how it affects everything the main character does. I think it gives light to some important aspects of faith and belief that aren't often addressed in YA literature.

 And the expansion of the world she built felt very natural and authentic. I'm so interested in learning the history of the Inviernos in the next book and seeing how the world expands even beyond what it did in this book.
Great Writing: CHECK
Once again, Rae Carson manages to turn ordinary sentences into tiny works of art. I love how so many details are added in just for the sake of telling the story, rather than because they all have a huge and important meaning. It makes the book so much more immersive. You feel like you are living it with Elisa, and that takes talent as a writer. I also would love to compliment the timing of these books. By that I mean that I think it's wonderful how time is dealt with in this series. One chapter could cover one day or one week and yet everything flows so naturally.

"...and I will not pretend weakness. Not ever, not for anyone."

"I am wretched in my unusual desire to live beyond the shame of my failure."

"It's nice to consider that God may not count imperfection as an obstacle to working out his will in the world."

"But maybe that's how it's supposed to be. Perhaps by forcing smallness onto this thing that is so huge in my heart, I'll be able to manage it."

“I love you the way a drowning man loves air. And it would destroy me to have you just a little.”  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by: Rae Carson
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior.

To be honest, I didn't expect this book to be anything particularly special. Maybe a typical YA fantasy with a lot of tropes and a middling entertainment level. Definitely something I could and would enjoy, just perhaps not that moving or groundbreaking. But I WAS SO WRONG. I loved this book. It was new and different and much darker than I expected.

Wise and Brave Heroine: CHECK
The definite focal point of this book is Elisa and her character development. I was completely fine with that because she was such a well-written character and there was a LOT of development to keep things interesting. I also loved that she was both very devoutly religious AND an expert strategist. Those are things I haven't seen in many YA girls before and was delighted to find in Elisa. Her weight also had a larger impact on the progression of the story than I thought going in (which again, is something not often read in YA, but that I think is a good topic to address). I could tell the author understood how Elisa would feel through the book and took pains to make sure her boost in confidence had more to do with her attitude and less with her size. Another thing that I loved about Elisa is that she created the story, rather than letting the story create her. Her improvements and developments came from conscious decisions that she made. She was deeply involved in the war and in the politics and in the Malficio.

Kind and Courageous Hero: CHECK
Yes, there were some romantic relationships in this book. Elisa was married to Alejandro (even though it was sort of a sham) and she loved Humberto. But, I love that even after the first book, we don't know if she is going to end up with someone and we don't care. I love that she doesn't need any romantic interest to be confident and brave. That being said, I did really love Humberto and I thought Alejandro was an interesting character.
Humberto: I really loved him as a character. He was respectful and brave and funny and sweet. So naturally, he had to go (I think that's the way most authors operate ;) ). I had a creeping suspicion through the last few chapters with him that something terrible was going to happen, and of course, it did. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to miss him in Crown of Embers, but I like that Rae Carson wasn't afraid to get rid of what felt like vitally important characters. She didn't kill them just to kill them, but she wasn't shy about the losses of war either.
Alejandro: He was a more complex character (and most of the time, not in a good way). When we first met him, I thought I was going to like him, but then I slowly realized that he was sort of a coward. But, he is a fascinating character. He's indecisive and wishy-washy, but he's also king (which typically isn't a good mix).

Extraordinary Side Characters: CHECK
There were lots of side characters that we met, but few that we really got to know. That being said, the ones we did see a lot of were really great.
Father Alentin and Nicario: I loved them both for how helpful and funny they were. I laughed out loud when Alentin talked about stealing the Homer's Afflatus from the monastery.
Mara: Another side character that I loved. She was sort of awkward sometimes and also bittersweet, but I could tell she'd been through a lot as a refugee. I'm definitely going to read The Shattered Mountain (the E-novella that Rae Carson wrote about her past).
Cosme: She was probably my favorite minor character (or maybe tied with Rosario). She was just so difficult to figure out, but in a good way. I wanted to know more about her and why she stayed so closed-off to the world and to Elisa. But then we learn she's this super awesome spy and a healer AND a desert guide. She's just full of all kinds of secret-greatness. I like how even after this one book I still feel like I don't understand her quite yet.
Rosario: He wasn't in much of the story, but I loved the little dude. I'm excited to read more of his interactions with Elisa because they were always funny and sweet at the same time.
Hector: I don't quite know what to think about Hector yet. I like him. I think he's a good guy. But, I've been kind of spoiled as to what happens between him and Elisa, so I'm curious to see how that comes about.

Great Plot and Writing: CHECK
There was a lot going on in this book, but it was never overwhelming. I loved all of the trips they went on and the dangerous missions and stuff. There was a lot of traveling and plan-changing and political maneuvering. Things kept changing and rearranging and it always kept you intrigued as to what was coming next. And there was always mystery surrounding what the godstone could do and what Elisa should do. The writing was equally amazing. It flowed very nicely and even sentences that could have been boring were pretty.

New and Intriguing Themes: CHECK
This book covered difficult topics well, and not just one, but a lot of difficult topics. It covered religious zeal and how people manipulate what they think is "the will of God." It also spoke deeply to how weight ties in to perceived beauty and self-esteem. It spoke sometimes avoided truths about each of these topics that felt true to life as well as the book.


"I realize with a start. I, too, could let myself be paralyzed into indecision, into weakness."

"Honor from death," I snap, "is a myth. Invented by the war torn to make sense of the horrific. If we die, it will be so that others may live. Truly honorable death, the only honorable death, is one that enables life."

"God's will. How many times have I heard someone declare their understanding of this thing I find so indefinable?”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Son of Sobek

Son of Sobek
by: Rick Riordan
The Son of Sobek

This is a short story cross-over between the world of Percy Jackson and the world of The Kane Chronicles. And let me just tell you IT IS EVERYTHING I DIDN'T KNOW I WANTED. I first heard about it before I'd read the Kane Chronicles and didn't think I'd be this excited, BUT then I read them and realized that this would be one of the best things ever. Now, I'll admit that I was hoping to see Annabeth and Sadie meet each other as well as Carter and Percy, but I loved this anyway.

I knew that Percy and Carter could have a beautiful bromance were they to meet, and I was absolutely correct. They fought together and were sassy with each other and I loved every second of it. It was really cool to know all of what they were talking about and seeing each of them realize who the other was.

And possibly most importantly, Riordan alluded to (or at least left things open for) more crossovers in the future. I am beyond excited that this is a possibility. Sadie might meet Annabeth yet and there may still be more Carter/Percy bromance to come. I really hope that there is because THIS STORY WAS SO GREAT. that is all.


"What Nome are you with?"
"Dude, I don't know what you're talking about. I don't hang out with gnomes. Satyrs, sometimes. Even Cyclopes. But not gnomes."

"I decided that if I survived this day, I would have to make sure this guy never met Sadie. They'd probably take turns insulting me for the rest of eternity."

"I'd shared the rest of my healing potion with Perccy, who for some reason insisted on calling it nectar."

Deception ARC Giveaway

Recently C.J. Redwine opened up a contest for the giveaway of an annotated ARC of Deception (the sequel to Defiance). Naturally I really want it, so I decided to enter. The contest involves creating something based on Defiance (whether it be a poem, drawing, painting, photo). My original idea was to do a photo-shoot with some dramatic looking poses, but regrettably I don't know any red-heads who live near me. Then I decided to paint a picture instead, and here it is:

This is a painting of Rachel honoring those who have been taken away from her by the end of Defiance. The stars represent those who have been lost and who remind them why ending the Commander's reign is so vital.

Here is a close-up shot of the hair. Rachel's hair was always a big part of her descriptions in the book so I wanted to do it justice. (Also, while reading Defiance I maybe, sort of, kind of, definitely pictured Rachel's hair like Merida's hair in Brave).

And here is a close up of the words on the picture. I wanted them to be both the same color as the fire of the torch AND Rachel's hair, because the fire she is holding out for them is her anger at the Commander. Her need for revenge still burns bright inside her keeping her going.

So, If you haven't read this book yet I definitely recommend it! It's action-packed and heart-wrenching and full of wonderful, well-developed characters that you grow to love. If you want to know more about why I adored Defiance, I've already reviewed it on this blog, so here's a link (*caution minor spoilers ahead*):

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Clockwork Princess.

Clockwork Princess
by: Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)
As she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

What? What. No, what. I just started this series around a week ago and I don't know what I'm going to do with my life now that it's over! ugh. Can it just, you know, not be over? please? I don't think I'm going to be able to do this book justice in this review. THERE IS NO LIMIT TO THE GOOD THINGS I CAN SAY ABOUT IT.

Wonderful and Clever Heroine: CHECK
I cannot get over how fantastic Tessa is as a character. She's so different than she was by the end of this series, but still so obviously herself. It's just wonderful. She's just as clever and funny and brave, but she's changed into someone who is even more compassionate and caring and SO freaking strong. This book didn't follow Tessa's point of view as closely until the end because she did spend a lot of time captured. But she was always present through Jem and Will. I love how Tessa found a way to understand Jem and Will both perfectly. Especially we saw this with Will in this book (when she explains to Cecily why Will was angry that she had come and when she understood what he needed to hear at the Christmas party).  One of the best things about her character in this book is how she simultaneously was true to Jem and never wavered, but was still kind to Will. She managed their odd situation with grace and humility and love. That's all you can really ask of a character. I loved that she found her strength in the wonderful and brave people she had known, she found and used the goodness she saw in Charlotte, Sophie, Will, Jem, Henry, Cecily. She was who she became because of them and for them. (Never is that more evident than in this thought she had while facing down Mortmain),

"She thought of Jem again, the way he never railed against his fate but faced it down bravely; she thought of Charlotte, who wept over Jessamine's death, though Jessie had betrayed her; and she thought of Will, who had laid down his heart for her and Jem to walk upon because he loved them more than he loved himself."

Funny and Brave and Amazing Heroes: CHECKX100.
Jem: I'm going to start with Jem because WHAT. I love him so much in this book. He's so brave and selfless and just, you know, Jem. One of the most heartbreaking moments was when Jem was talking to Charlotte about not getting to see the baby. And, of course, all of the times that we thought were going to be Jem and Will's last conversation. I loved that losing your parabatai was quite literally heart-wrenching. Will's heart was actually pained when the connection was cut even if he was miles and miles away. I was so sure that he had died when the Silent Brothers drove away and the realization of what had really happened kind of, sort of, COMPLETELY rocked my world. It was in a way both more heartbreaking and harder to deal with for both the characters and for the reader. They had to try to reconcile yourself to the fact that their Jem wasn't their Jem anymore. But they did it because that meant accepting his decision out of their love for him. Even while glimpses of their Jem showed through, like when he played the violin as Will died and how he was touched when they Will and Tessa named their first child James after him.
Will: and now, William Herondale. Oh, my heart. His love for both Tessa and Jem is inspiring and endearing and just wonderful. He's still funny in this book but he's also heartbreaking and distressing and all of the emotions that so often surround Will Herondale. I teared up when he reached in with his bare hands to pull Jem's Yin Fen out of the fire. I love that he didn't even need to think about he, he just reacted. And all his interactions with Tessa completely broke me or left me grinning like an idiot (and often, both). I don't think I can adequately describe how well his character is written in these books, but I'll try anyway. The character development is always spot on, you know who he is as he learns who he is. He's endearing and wonderful and perfectly imperfect. I would, without a doubt, read book after book about him doing even the smallest of things with Jem and/or Tessa. Because it's so clear how much he cares for them both. Also, Will reading to Tessa to comfort them both was just perfect and wonderful and touching.

Now, because I don't think I can pull my thoughts together any more than that most likely rambling paragraph, here I'll just give you some touching and heartrendingly perfect Jem, Will, and Tessa quotes.

"And now I need you to do for me what I cannot do for myself. For you to be my eyes when I do not have them. For you to be my hands when I cannot use my own. For you to be my heart when mine is done beating." 

"She did not know what anyone could say in the face of love like this--so much forbearance, so much endurance, so much hope."

"He had not told her then that he had read her letters, that he already loved the warrior soul in her, hidden behind those quiet gray eyes."

"And I am--I am catastrophically in love with you."

The Love Triangle in general:
Okay, so I am not the most avid hater of love triangles, but neither am I their biggest supporter. I believe that there IS a right way to do it that it can be both touching and effective, but that authors should be careful because they are far too easy to mess up. I hate when they're added in for drama or angst. BUT, this is by far the best and most thorough love triangle I've ever read. I think the key to that was that the problems never sprang from unrequited love. The problem was ALWAYS an overabundance of love. The three, Jem, Will, and Tessa, are bound by their love and admiration and respect for each other. The boys are best friends and I love that that never for a second wavers in the face of Tessa (not out of a lack of love for her, but out of such a strong love between the two of them). And Will would have preferred that Jem stay around even if he knew that it meant he couldn't have her because he knew that would have made them both happy. Once again, I don't have the words to correctly describe just how well done the romance aspect of this book is, but it is going down in my book as my favorite love stories of all time.

Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
I think Cassandra Clare was VERY clever in writing this book. She included a lot of side plot lines for the other characters that both provided entertainment, showed us the characters in a different light, and made sure the book wasn't overly angsty.
Charlotte: Equal parts kick-butt and kind. That's sounds to me like a fantastic character. I absolutely adore Charlotte in this book. I mean, the woman is PREGNANT and she goes off fighting all kinds of automatons and running the institute wonderfully despite the Consul's doubts AND being a mother figure to all of the characters and a wife to Henry. I think if more people were like Charlotte, the world would be a better place.
Sophie: Another fantastic female character. I am still a major fan of Sophie and Tessa's friendship and I loved seeing Charlotte and Sophie's relationship change gradually from servant/master to more of a friendship. And the adorable-ness that is Gideon and Sophie's engagement made me incredibly happy.
Henry: I was so scared for a few pages in this book because it was alluded to that Henry had died. I didn't know what to do with myself, because Henry is one of my favorites in this wonderful band of characters. Luckily he did not, in fact, die. And I loved the scene with Magnus looking at and complimenting Henry's inventions. It was so cute how he wasn't used to anyone being interested in what he was building mainly because they couldn't understand it. Then Magnus comes along and he CAN understand it and is marveling at Henry's genius and Henry just didn't know how to handle it! And can we just talk about how perfect Henry was to Charlotte? He treated her as she deserved to be treated and he defended her so vehemently. Example,

"He underestimated you, and that is not a tragedy. That you have been proven to be better, cleverer, and stronger than anyone could have expected, Charlotte--it is a triumph."


"...What it would be like to have someone look at her as Henry looked at Charlotte--as if she were a wonder on the earth."

Gabriel: So surprisingly, I grew to love him in this book! And I loved him for Cecily (how ironic is it that he fell in love with Will Herondale's sister? haha). I was proud of him when he confessed to Charlotte about the letter that he didn't send, because I wanted to wring his neck when he wrote it.
Cecily: I don't know what I expected from Will's sister, but she delivered. She was funny, sassy, brave, and caring. You could see the resemblance in how they acted. They had quick tempers and sharp wits, but good intentions. I laughed right out loud when she commanded everyone to get out of the dining room so that Gideon could talk to Sophie!
Magnus: If I thought I loved him in the last two books, it was nothing compared to how I loved him in this one. He was so lovely to Will and Henry and everyone. And I was so in love with the passing mention that Magnus comforted Tessa when she cried out for Will after he died. If I end up reading The Mortal Instruments series, it'll most likely because I heard Magnus is in them.
The Villains:
Mortmain: We don't see much of him again in this book (Not as much as you typically see the antagonist of a story). But he's still cringe-inducing. In the short time that we see him, we see that he's totally messed up. I mean, he burned and slaughtered an ENTIRE VILLAGE as a practice run! What kind of messed up psycho does that? And he literally created a living breathing human being, for solely evil purposes.
Consul Wayland: I loved that some of the evil was coming from the inside the Clave. That made it even more twisted. He wasn't aligned with Mortmain, and he wasn't particularly evil, he was just INCREDIBLY selfish. He prominently did evil by doing nothing and by fearing. He feared his legacy would be overshadowed by Charlotte, and in fearing it he ensured it would happen.

Incredible Writing: CHECK
It's true that Cassandra Clare goes into a LOT of detail in this book about clothes and hair and what rooms (even the unimportant ones) looked like, but it never felt like too much, at least to me. Because by the end of this series I could picture the Institute completely, It sometimes felt like the Institute was a very real place in my brain, like it could conceivably exist. I could picture everyone eating breakfast together or meeting in the library. By the end of this series I had a full view of what the character's lives were and what they consisted of and I LOVED that.
And I adored the tiniest details that Cassandra included such as when in a particular conversation someone used the person's Christian name as opposed to their full name (Mr. or Miss). Or the fact that violins were playing when Will proposed to Tessa (Jem's signature instrument). It felt like this story was woven together the way it was for a reason, to make you live it with the book, and I did. It felt like I had actually entered the world of nineteenth century London and lived with the Shadowhunters for a few days and it was magnificent. Truly great books make you feel like you lived them, and that's exactly how I feel with this series.

**side note: I loved the letters to and from people sprinkled throughout the book. To and from the Consul and the Inquisitor. To and from Charlotte. From the Lightwoods. From Cecily to her parents. It showed a sort of behind-the-scenes look and I absolutely loved it.

 and she did a fantastic job describing Cadair Idris. I googled it because I was curious and it was nearly identical to what the description led me to believe. (Also, I want to go there because BEAUTIFUL).

And, once again, the humor in this book was completely perfect. Most of it was concentrated into the beginning of the book as it got more serious as it went on. I'm not going to ramble about it, but just give some examples of moments when I just laughed aloud.

"Gabriel Lightwood is downstairs, and I have two words for you. Two of your favorite words, at least when you put them together."
"'Utter simpleton?'" inquired Will. "'Worthless upstart'?"
Jem grinned. "'Demon Pox,'" he said."

"I don't think you can fight because you're wearing a wedding dress," said Jem. "For what it's worth, I don't think Will could fight in that dress either."
"Perhaps not," said Will..."But I would make a radiant bride."

And yet another piece of writing from Will about Demon pox, granted the last one was a song and this is a poem, but still hilarious.

"Forsooth, I no longer toil in vain,
To prove that demon pox warps the brain.
So though 'tis pity, it's not in vain
That the pox-ridden worm was slain:
For to believe in me, you all must deign."

"Henry, I have something I wish to speak to you about. Something important."
"More important that our child being rocked gently to sleep each night?"

"I imagine that it will not be easy to persuade Mortmain into a bonnet," Magnus observed. "Though the color would be fetching on him."

"I don't know," Will said, eyeing her. "I'm afraid to answer that. I've heard that when I speak, it makes American women wish to strike me with umbrellas."

Wonderful Plot and Action and Continuity: CHECK
There was a good amount of action in this book mixed in among the politics and the treachery. It felt like a really good mix of those aspects from the first two books. The plot kept moving forward and I thought that the different perspectives that Cassandra chose to show certain events through first were quite interesting and clever (example: showing Jem's "death" first through Cecily's mind and THEN Will's). They didn't always make sense in the present, but in hindsight (knowing what she had been keeping a secret) I loved it. And so many things were referenced from earlier books. And while I had just read them in a row, repeating the exact passages in this book in italics was a really innovative idea for those who had to wait a year in between each book. I loved the whole situation with what the clockwork angel really was and how it was Mortmain's way of bringing Tessa's into the world and ironically, Tessa's way of sending Mortmain out of the world.

Heartbreaking and Heart Mending Epilogue: CHECK. CHECK. and CHECK.
But really. I teared up completely when reading all about Will and Tessa's life together and how Will never stopped being his own hilarious self. And about all of their kids and grandkids. And how their kids and grandkids were friends with Sophie and Cecily and Charlotte's children and grandchildren and ughh. just everything. EVERYTHING, I SAY. I have a feeling I'll reread this epilogue just to feel all the things time after time. It was just so perfect and sad and wonderful and bittersweet.

All in all this has become one of my very favorite series of all time. I am so sad that it's over, but I have a feeling that it's one of the series that I'll reread over and over and still find new things to love about.


"Sometimes one must choose whether to be kind or honorable," he said. "Sometimes one cannot be both."

"You know that feeling...when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can fell the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing close around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage, and you cannot let go or turn the course aside."

"Heroes endure because we need them. Not for their own sakes."

"Our hearts, they need a mirror...We see our better selves in the eyes of those who love us. And there is a beauty that brevity alone provides."

"Hope is not illusion."

"You endure what is unbearable, and you bear it. That is all."

"There are all sorts of ways of being rescued."

"But all invention comes with risk!"

"It is not easy to be first, and it is not always rewarding, but it is important."

"Is loyalty still a commendable quality when it is misdirected?"

"To have someone to turn to like that, and not to worry constantly that one was looking to the wrong stars."

"There was human goodness in the world, she thought--all caught up with desires and dreams, regrets and bitterness, resentments and powers, but it was there..."

"Life was an uncertain thing, and there were some moments one wished to remember, to imprint upon one's mind that the memory might be taken out later, like a flower pressed between the pages of a book, and admired and recollected anew."

"Glory. Such and odd word, something women are not supposed to want, but is not our queen triumphant?"

" have chosen this life is very different thing from having born into it."

"All men thought of themselves as good in the end, surely. No one believed themselves a villain."

"I feel like you can look inside me and see all the places I am odd or unusual and fit your heart around them, for you are odd and unusual in just the same way."

"And one does not question miracles, or complain that they are not constructed perfectly to one's liking."

"Change is not loss, Will. Not always."

"You are not the last dream of my soul. You are the first dream, the only dream I ever was unable to stop myself from dreaming. You are the first dream of my sould, and from that dream I hope will come all other dreams, a lifetime's worth."

"It is not easy to be different, and even less so to be unique. But I begin to think I was never meant for an easy road."