Thursday, 18 September 2014

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fire
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published by: Walker Books
Publication date: 28th May 2014
Pages: 733
Genres: YA Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. When one of the greatest betrayals of the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon and Alec must flee - even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned. Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the thrilling and long-awaited final instalment of the bestselling and acclaimed Mortal Instruments.

This review contains spoilers.

Just like all of the other books by Cassandra Clare, this book messed with me. I finished it, and now I don't know what to say or what to think. Speechless would be the correct word, so luckily my fingers are still adept for typing. Just about.

It's... a strange book. Good, but strange. I read the first five books last year, and read The Infernal Devices trilogy more recently. And now, I have read City of Heavenly Fire. It's widely known already, but I'll say it here too: it's a really good idea to read The Infernal Devices before City of Heavenly Fire. That trilogy plays a massive part in the final Mortal Instruments book, and without having read the trilogy first, a lot of the references, characters and other things would have been lost on me. Reading The Infernal Devices first makes the experience so much better.

So, I said it's strange, and here's why: Cassandra Clare gave us a happy ending. That hardly ever happens in YA books, and it's even rarer for the end of an entire series. It's exactly what I'd been hoping for, but now I'm conflicted and I almost wish she hadn't done it; that it had instead been tragic, with some kind of important death or something else. At least then we would have closure, but having all of our favourite people alive and well means they could come back in Clare's future books in years to come. I hate to say it but I don't know how willing I am to wait a few years, read her new Shadowhunter books, and continually have a voice in the back of my mind wondering whether Jace will pop up there or if this new person is a Lightwood. As excited as I am for Clare's new series about Shadowhunters I do think you can have too much of a good thing.

Despite that, the ending - and the rest of the book - was still a beautiful and long-awaited close to the series. This book wasn't perfect and it wasn't the most amazing thing I've read, even if it is by my absolute favourite author, but if you've read the rest of the series it is well worth reading. It carries the same humour and wit as the rest of the books, proven by the fact that...well, let's just say Jace brings a certain little something on a trip where bringing that little something would be the last thing on any normal person's mind. But at least they stayed safe. Ahem.

To the entire series I would like to say... ave atque vale.
Thanks to Seven Stories having a fantastic online shop full of signed stock, I managed to buy a signed copy of this book! I was so thankful as I hadn't been able to attend any of Clare's events. I highly recommend the Seven Stories online shop, as not only is the delivery quick and well protected, but they also have signed stock from some amazing big-name authors, and some of the proceeds from each book sold go to charity. I believe they have signed copies of Heir of Fire in right now!

EVENT REPORT: City of Heavenly Fire Launch Party, London UK
COVER REVEAL: City of Heavenly Fire

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Emoji Book Tag

Anyone who made the mistake of following me on Twitter or giving me their phone number will know I love emojis. I use them all the time. I even own emoji stickers and I'm tempted to get an emoji cushion. So when Ebony at Daring Damsels tagged me in the emoji book tag, how could I say no?

The aim of the game is to use some of your most used or favourite emojis and match them up with a book. Simple!

Stella by Helen Eve

This book was absolute poop. Sorry. None of it made sense, I hated the characters, it was messy... I really didn't like any of it, and now, nearly a whole year after reading it, I still have no idea what that ending was all about. If you like reading rants you can read my review of Stella here because I'm pretty sure it qualifies. Also, how on earth does this book have a sequel?

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

YES. If you need a sign of how much I loved this book, I just went on Goodreads to grab the cover image for this blog post and when I scanned over the synopsis I clapped excitedly. I clapped. And that was just because of the synopsis, never mind the rest of the book.

A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson

This book is middle-grade and so sweet. It was the first book I read and reviewed this year and I'm so glad it made my bloggy year start nicely. It really exceeded my expectations and you can see my review here!

Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

This was possibly the hugest disappointment of the year for me and you can see my rant review here. Whenever anyone mentions this book, my face perfectly resembles that emoji. Seriously. Did I read a different book from everyone else?

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

This book has featured on my blog quite a few times now, and with good reason, too. It might not look like it but IT'S SUCH A FUN BOOK. I highly recommend it and as soon as I saw this emoji I knew the perfect match was Monument 14.

I'm tagging Jack at The Book Stop because he uses emojis so often he practically is one, and Charli and Tori at To Another World because I wanted to add to their infinite tag pile. Sorry not sorry. ;) Thanks again Ebony for tagging me!

Friday, 12 September 2014

GUEST POST: A Writer's Life: Shed and Shoes...

Today I am honoured to be a part of the blog tour for The Castle, a new novel by the Queen of YA, Sophia Bennett. I read The Castle a couple of weeks ago and loved it, as I knew I would, and it's well worth a read if you're after some travel and adventure in this post-summer doom and gloom! 

If you want your own copy of The Castle or any of Sophia's other books (Threads, for example. They remain my favourites.) click here, and don't forget to check out the other blogs on this tour; there are some amazing blog posts around!

But now I'll pass you on to Sophia, who has decided to give you all a glimpse of her writing space, bookshelves, and beautiful bubblegum-scented shoes...

Hi Amber, thanks so much for hosting me today! I've talked a lot about writing my latest book recently, but as your readers may not have read my books yet, (I say 'yet' – we writers live in hope!), I thought I'd take the chance to tell them a little bit about me.

I'm just about to start my book tour (the physical one, as opposed to the blog one, which started last week) for The Castle. It's one of the great things about being a YA author – you get to meet students at schools all over the country, and find out about what they're reading and writing, as well as telling them a bit about your books.

I usually talk about a range of things – where I get my inspiration from, how I got started as a writer, how I spend my writing days and all sorts of other stuff – but if people ever meet me again afterwards, I can be sure they'll have remembered two things, and probably only those two.

My shoes, and my shed. So here's a little bit about those.

If I visit in the summer, these tend to be what I wear to schools: plastic Vivienne Westwood Melissas, which I got on sale on the internet, and are surprisingly comfortable, rainproof, and smell of bubblegum. Yes, bubblegum. A student at one of my talks pointed this out to me and it's true. I don't know why they do, but they do. 

Vivienne Westwood is a hero of mine and gets a mention in my first book, Threads, which is all about fashion, so it's always good to bring her into the conversation. Even if it does end up with me shoeless onstage, while my footwear is passed around the crowd for olfactory examination. Which often happens, though I do, of course, warn everyone that after I've been wearing those suckers for an hour or two, bubblegum is not the only thing they're going to smell of, necessarily. 

You don't need a pair of interestingly-scented plastic shoes to be a writer, but I'd say that it really, really helps to have a shed. 

I didn't have one to start with. I wrote the Threads series in a variety of local cafes and two local libraries. But by the time I came to write The Look, my fourth book, I was the proud owner of this shed in the bottom of the garden, and this is where I also wrote You Don't Know Me and The Castle. It's very similar to Candy Gourlay's writing shed in North London, and I do feel that one day they should meet. 

Here is a whistlestop tour of its loveliness. 

This is my nearest set of bookshelves, where I store a copy of each of my books in each language it comes out in (on the second shelf, and a third of the third), with the spares stored higgledy-piggledy on top. I've also got lots of my favourite detective stories here, my dictionaries and thesauruses, and a lot of the fiction and non-fiction that's inspired me. Skellig's there, and Noel Streatfeild, Harry Potter and Cressida Cowell, PG Wodehouse and Stargirl, by Gerry Spinelli. My tastes range far and wide... It's also covered in postcards. I copied that idea from my publisher, Barry Cunningham (the man who discovered Harry), who has the BEST bookshelves. They're like little art galleries, full of colour and life.

At the other end, here is the Mess That No-one Is Meant To See, which is where we store all the stuff that won't fit in the house. Must make a curtain for that end. Seriously. 

Back in the nice bit, this is the poster of my book cover for The Castle. This is an early version, but of all my covers so far, this is my favourite. The look in the girl's eyes captures Peta Jones completely, and it gives a hint of the adventure inside. 

Here's my mood board. Usually it's covered in postcards and magazine articles that have inspired me, but for the book I'm writing at the moment, it's got a sort-of storyboard made up of Post-Its, describing the key scenes as I imagined them. All the illustrations I've gathered are in a scrapbook under the desk. There is method in my madness, sort of. 

And now I must go and write it. Thanks again for hosting me, Amber! I've known The Mile Long Bookshelf for a long time now, and it's always lovely to be a part of it. 

Sophia xxx