Friday, February 27, 2015

From the Ashes: City of Glass

From the Ashes is a feature here at Somewhere Only We Know where I re-read books that I read before blogging and finally review them.

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, # 3)

By: Cassandra Clare

Published: March 24th 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

541 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Angels, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves

Source: Personal Library

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Goodreads description--To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments.

City of Glass is going to be hard for me to review without spoilers. First off, the prior two books have had the major conflict going on about whether Jace and Clary are actually brother and sister or not. This was my biggest concern going into City of Glass the first time through. I wanted so bad for them not to be siblings. I mean for one if they turned out to be siblings I was going to feel slightly grossed out—more than I already did just reading about them potentially being siblings. I can’t tell you which way the book went. I can only tell you that if this aspect bothered you then just keep reading.

My first reading of City of Glass was years ago. I’m talking 6+ years ago. I’m surprised that I’m just now re-reading this series as it has been a favorite of mine for quite some time. But I do remember that there were aspects of City of Glass that I predicted fairly early on. I think one of the biggest twists was pretty easy to spot, and especially so since this was a re-read for me.

There’s so much going on in this book, and so many storylines have to come together starting from hints that were dropped in City of Bones and City of Ashes all the way through this book. Each character has a part to play and each part is of great importance. Alec and Magnus—while I like each character individually—officially annoyed me with this book. I guess truly Alec isn’t really my favorite at all. I enjoyed seeing Isabelle and Simon draw closer in this book. Even though this doesn’t spring into anything romantic at this point, I liked seeing them have a special sort of bond. All of the side characters: Luke, Amatis, Jocelyn, Sebastian, Maia had much to contribute to the book and the series up to this point. Each one feels fully fleshed out.

And of course we get more backstory on Valentine & Jocelyn—how she could even fall in love with a man like him. We find out more about the Circle. And we see why Jace and Clary have abilities and talents that no ordinary shadowhunter has. I liked that while Clary was involved in the final battle and saving the day, it wasn’t because she all of a sudden knew how to fight. Clary worked her magic in a way that was completely legit to who she was and what she can do.

There was one aspect involving Jace and a lake and a wish that I remember feeling like was too easy the first time I read this, and I can’t say I really felt any differently during this read-through. Especially considering the ending of Clockwork Princess.

***Highlight for spoiler: I do find it interesting that the major conflict throughout the first three books of this series revolves around Clary/Jace being in love with each other who they think for a period of time is their sibling. But yet when we find out that Jace isn’t Clary’s brother—instead Sebastian is—it still turns out that Sebastian has a twisted fetish about his sister in a very physical way. Of course we don’t know the extent of that at this point, but it’s there. End spoiler***.

I wish I’d taken notes on my favorite quotes, but since I was listening to an audiobook version this time through I decided not to worry about that. Audiobooks can be really hard to quote from sometimes.

All in all, City of Glass was a really good book. It was thought to be the series ender for The Mortal Instruments series until Cassandra Clare decided that these characters’ stories weren’t finished. I love how each piece of the puzzle from book 1, City of Bones, all the way through this book is tied together and means something. Very little is included that does not have a specific purpose. And even though I would have been happy with this book ending the series, I do think Cassandra Clare picks the right threads to pick back up and carry on with through the remaining three books. City of Glass gets 4.5 Stars. Have you read City of Glass? What did you think? Let me know!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Breaking the Rules - Review

Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits, # 1.5)

By: Katie McGarry

Published: December 8th 2014 by Harlequin Teen

304 pages

Genre: YA/NA, Contemporary

Source: Personal Kindle Library (from Husband)

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Goodreads description--A summer road trip changes everything in this unforgettable new tale from acclaimed author Katie McGarry

For new high school graduate Echo Emerson, a summer road trip out west with her boyfriend means getting away and forgetting what makes her so... different. It means seeing cool sights while selling her art at galleries along the way. And most of all, it means almost three months alone with Noah Hutchins, the hot, smart, soul-battered guy who’s never judged her. Echo and Noah share everything — except the one thing Echo’s just not ready for.

But when the source of Echo’s constant nightmares comes back into her life, she has to make some tough decisions about what she really wants — even as foster kid Noah’s search for his last remaining relatives forces them both to confront some serious truths about life, love, and themselves.

Now, with one week left before college orientation, jobs and real life, Echo must decide if Noah's more than the bad-boy fling everyone warned her he'd be. And the last leg of an amazing road trip will turn... seriously epic.

I love Katie McGarry’s writing. She hooks me. She sucks me in. She gets me to care about the characters on the page. And I usually love every word of it. But Echo and Noah had their happy ending. I’m always nervous when characters I love get their happy ending in one book, I think that’s the end of the story, and then bam more conflict, more fights, and more drama. So I was scared about what Echo and Noah would face in round two. Yet, (this is only a spoiler if you haven’t read Crash Into You) we know that Echo and Noah are together and happy later on in the series. Breaking the Rules takes place after Pushing the Limits but before Dare You To and consequently before Crash Into You. So I at least went into Breaking the Rules knowing that no matter what conflict Echo and Noah come up against they make it out on the other side together and happy. I can’t tell you how comforting it was to know that.

Echo and Noah are still the same Echo and Noah I came to love in Pushing the Limits, but both characters come with a lot of baggage. Both have scarred pasts (literally), and both have endured even more since finding each other. And as anyone who’s been through any kind of pain in their lives (which is everyone, right?) knows…painful experiences are…well…painful. And Echo and Noah can’t just skip over that part. Noah has to face the demons of guilt he feels over his parents death and knowing that his mother has a family that she kept from him. And Echo has to face her grief over Aires death and try to find some way to move forward toward forgiving her mother. All of that is on top of Echo and Noah figuring out how to pursue their separate dreams (art and college) while somehow, someway staying together through it all yet not holding the other back at the same time. Essentially, it’s a complicated equation.

There were times when both Echo and Noah frustrated me in this book. Not to the point of wanting to put the book down or loving them less, but enough for me to want to rough them up. We all make dumb decisions, right? And sadly it’s those decisions that we usually end up learning the most from, and that was true for Echo and Noah. Those times when I wanted to smack them, they kind of wanted to smack themselves. So that helps.

Katie McGarry did a great job of pulling in catch phrases from Pushing the Limits that really made me feel like I was back in Noah and Echo’s heads…like how Noah calls Echo his siren. And how Echo thinks Ms. Collins reminds her of a Labrador retriever. It’s the little things. Speaking of…here are my favorite quotes:

-”I’ll never let you get so far in front of me that I can’t catch you.”

-“The sole reason a constellation exists is because it’s a sum of its parts. To lose one of those parts…it’s painful and irreversible.”

-”I don’t want to lose the way you look at me—like I’m something…someone.”

-I bite my tongue, wishing I could utter the words, I love you more now, and it scares me. Please, please, please never leave.

-“I get it.” “You don’t.” He slams his palm over his chest, over his heart. “They left me too!”

-“God sifts us all like wheat. He refines us like flour. He works through the good in our lives and through the bad.”…

-“Tell me where she went, and I’ll take you.” “Naw,” says Isaiah. “You give us the keys, I’ll drive, he’ll save the girl and I’ll let you live.”

I loved the section with Noah’s uncle that I started to quote (next to last) above. I wanted to quote that whole paragraph, but decided to save it for you to just read in the book itself. So often characters in these books don’t believe in God (Noah battles with that himself), and often times I feel like that is a direct result of the author themselves not believing in God…or maybe it’s just the popular thing these days…or maybe it’s just easier for the author not to have to include God in a story that isn’t really ABOUT God. Whatever the reason for most YA books leaving Him out altogether, I absolutely loved that Katie McGarry included this section. I didn’t feel like she was pushing God on the reader. Noah still isn’t convinced what he thinks or believes, but I just loved that it was included.

Also, since Breaking the Rules has more adult themes than Pushing the Limits and Echo and Noah take things farther physically, I felt like Echo’s response to that aspect of their relationship was one of the most genuine that I’ve ever read. I think these are the things that every girl thinks and feels. And I find it utterly unrealistic that anyone can go from insecure and scared to confident and fearless in one jump. So I loved how honest this part was.

All in all, I really enjoyed Breaking the Rules. While I was emotionally involved, Breaking the Rules didn’t quite pull the emotion out of me that Pushing the Limits did. The writing was solid. I still love the characters. I can’t wait to read more of Katie McGarry. Breaking the Rules gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read Breaking the Rules? What did you think? Let me know!

*Also, I loved the small snippet of Nowhere But Here included at the end. I’m stoked to read more about Oz and the new series.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge - February Wrap Up

It's time for our second Monthly Wrap Up for the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Where did this month go? Since posting the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge - January Wrap Up, I finished one series ender: Until the End (Sea Breeze, # 9) by Abbi Glines. Holly didn't get any series enders finished this month.

Which series enders did you finish? Link the up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the February giveaway runs from February 25th - March 25th. On March 25th we will use random.org and the linky entries to pull a winner.

Waiting on Asa

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Asa (Marked Men, # 6)

By: Jay Crownover

Expected Publication: April 21st 2015 by Harper Collins

416 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Jay Crownover’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Marked Men series continues with the much anticipated story of southern charmer and certified criminal Asa Cross.

Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

I've really enjoyed the Marked Men series by Jay Crownover. I'm sad to see it end, but I'm excited to finish it at the same time. What are you waiting on this week? Let me know!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Heroes

Top 10 Tuesday is a post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is Top Ten Favorite Heros.

I’ve done multiple Top Ten Tuesday posts about my favorite heroines, and I’ve done several posts about my favorite book boyfriends. But I’ve never done a favorite heroes post. Heroes and book boyfriends are similar but not quite the same thing. I had to cut the hot bad boys. And some of my other favorite leading males to really get the best of the best personality, actions, decisions, characteristics, etc. Every hero is flawed, but I tried to cull out those who made some really bad decisions.

  1. Duval – Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, # 1) by Robin LaFevers – Duval’s affection and devotion to his sister is admirable. He thinks nothing of his own interest. He instead only seeks after her safety and the safety of her duchy.
  2. Beast - Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, # 2) by Robin LaFevers – Beast also plunges headfirst into danger with no thought to his own outcome. Plus he really works with Sybella to help her overcome her past.
  3. Evan - The Breathing Series by Rebecca Donovan – Evan is a saint. He’s 100% there for Emma through every step of this series. Even when he has reason to write her off or move on or want absolutely nothing to do with Emma, he sacrifices for her over and over.
  4. Matthew Cuthbert – Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, # 1) by LM Montgomery – Even though Matthew doesn’t have the biggest role in this book, he is the silent hero behind the scenes. He’s the main reason why Anne ended up staying with them and not getting shipped back. And he supported Anne every step of the way, listening quietly, and yet he helped Marilla come around to Anne too. Matthew was the true hero of the story.
  5. Jasper Dent - Jasper Dent by Barry Lyga – Even though Jasper could have turned out completely screwed in the head due to his upbringing, he makes the choice to be different from his parents, and to hunt killers not to be a killer. He does the true self-sacrifice thing. He’s not trying to sabotage himself. He’s truly just trying to take down some violent, crazy people even if he doesn’t make it out on the other side.
  6. Noah – Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – Ok so I’m not finished with this series yet, and I guess there’s the potential for Noah to let me down, but so far he has been such a solid rock for Mara through everything she’s experienced. He hasn’t once let her go through anything alone since they met. He does what she asks while also keeping her best interest at heart always. I heart him.
  7. Peeta - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I mean here is another example of the right kind of self-sacrifice. Peeta is in love with Katniss. He’s at least starts out with a crush on her or something. And he knows that there can only be one winner of the games. He does whatever he has to do to keep her alive in the first and second games. And even though he got slightly mindjacked, he still ended up being the one person that Katniss could completely count on.
  8. Augustus Waters - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Funny. Full of life. He gave up his wish so that Hazel could have her real wish. He doesn’t shy away from being real or facing the hard choices. He mans up. And he gives Hazel Grace an infinite number of moments within a limited number of days. Seriously…Augustus is the best.
  9. Harry Potter - Harry Potter by JK Rowling – Because you can’t have a list about heroes and Harry not make this list. Harry was really thrust into his destiny. But yet he earns it each step of the way. Sure he makes mistakes. But he’s real. And he’s loveable. And my heart got tugged at his little orphaned self being faced against such a powerful enemy. He uses his friends for help and support. And he makes the hard choices—including yet again…true self-sacrifice—but he overcomes all obstacles.
  10. Michael Hosea - Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – Michael is a fictionalized version of Hosea from The Bible. And so I guess I’m talking about both of them kind of. Michael follows God’s direction despite what he thinks in his own head. He doesn’t always see how God’s direction makes sense, but he does it anyway. And even though Angel hurts him multiple times, he remains open to her, open to forgiveness, and open to God. Michael doesn’t press. He doesn’t force. And he is yet again, one of those truly heroic heroes.

What about you guys? Who are your favorite heroes in books? Let me know!