Review: City of Glass

City of Glass
City of Glass

(The Mortal Instruments #3)
By: Cassanda Clare
Genre: YA modern fantasy
First published in 2009

Amid the chaos of war, the Shadowhunters must decide to fight with the vampires, werewolves and other Downworlders – or against them. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary have their own decision to make: should they pursue the love they know is forbidden?

Guys, I did it! I finally finished reading the first Mortal Instruments trilogy! Now I can move on to the Infernal Devices! It was that trilogy which originally caught my eye, with its wonderful cover art and Victorian London / steampunk setting. Perhaps foolishly I thought that I should read the original Mortal Instruments first, to get all the references that would appear in the Infernal Devices. It ended up taking me two years, but here I am.

I found the first Mortal Instruments book to be a fun YA urban fantasy (I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads), but I didn’t like the second book, which was the reason it took me so long to read these. The main reason I disliked it was the focus on the love triangle – the characters acted really bratty towards each other all the time, and I just didn’t have the patience for that. The third book brought things more back on track.

While the second book suffered from being the middle volume with the setting already introduced and the world-building done, but the final showdown not yet at hand, the third book didn’t have these problems. We are transported to a whole new setting, the Shadowhunter city of Idris. This helps with the sense of wonder again, as this new place needs introducing to the reader. The stakes are also higher, since Valentine’s master plan is getting so much nearer to fruition. Also, the focus on the love triangle is thankfully put on the back burner.

One thing I realized with this book was that I liked everything better whenever Jace and Clary were in different places. So whenever Clary was out with some characters doing her thing, and Jace in a different place with other characters, I had fun reading. Combine Jace & Clary, and they just become so annoying with endless accusations, shouting and even throwing plates at one point.

In my review of the second book I brought up the disturbing paragraph in which our main character found the possibility of her love interest hitting her hot. Now, there were some pretty cringe-worthy paragraphs this time around, too. Let me show you them. The emphasis in bold is mine.

In this one part coming seemingly out of nowhere, Clary casually “fake-geek-girl”s another girl.

Clary couldn’t imagine Maia wearing anything as girly as a dress, and indeed she was clad in low-slung camo pants and a black T-shirt that said CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON and had a design of dice under the words. It was a gamer tee, Clary thought, wondering if Maia was really a gamer or was wearing the T-shirt to impress Simon. If so, it was a good choice.

Really, Clary? She herself says that Maia has been wearing nothing but casual wear, often with print tees, the whole book, but when she sees her in a gamer tee, she’s probably wearing it to impress a boy. I mean, where did that come from? Why was it even in the book? The idea wasn’t even challenged. I’m so over this whole “fake geek girl” thing, I don’t need women authors writing it into their books for teens, with female characters doing it to other female characters as a casual, non-challenged side remark.

There was also an exchange between characters that made me angry. It is even worse than the part in the second book where Clary got all hot-and-bothered of the idea of Jace striking her or knocking her down. I mean, Clary might be into that (even though it seems like a weird choice to include in a YA book). No, this next one is worse.

“Well,” said Clary, after a judicious pause, “I guess you wouldn’t have taken advantage of her when she’s so grief-stricken and all.”

Simon snorted. “If you ever meet the man who could take advantage of Isabelle, you’ll have to let me know. I’d like to shake his hand. Or run away from him very fast, I’m not sure which.”

It’s not like there’s a choice there, Simon! You should never, ever congratulate someone for “managing” to take advantage of someone else. The idea of it being an commendable accomplishment that someone succeeded in taking advantage of a girl known to be strong and good in a fight, is awful. I mean, what is going on in these characters’ heads sometimes, I swear I don’t know!

Now, let me wind down from all that… breathes deep…

So, despite the couple of atrocities mentioned above, City of Glass is still better than its predecessor. Even though I guessed most of the big reveals, I had fun following the story. The glittery warlock Magnus Bane is still my very favourite character, and I can’t wait to see what he got up to in Victorian London!

I give City of Glass 3 out of 5 stars.


Current Reads: Prince of Thorns

This post is linked at “WWW Wednesdays”, a weekly reading meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All the links take you to GoodReads.

I am currently reading

Prince of Thorns
Prince of Thorns

(The Broken Empire #1)
By: Mark Lawrence
Genre: Grimdark high fantasy
First published in 2011

I just started reading this book; I’ve actually only read the first chapter. I have to say this is the grimdarkest fantasy I’ve ever picked up, with very morally reprehensible, violent things happening right at the beginning. Yet I still want to read this. Why? Because Robin Hobb gave this 5 out of 5 stars. That’s a pretty big recommendation right there. There’s also a blurb from her on the cover of the book. This is what she said in her GoodReads review:

I had to grit my teeth several times to get through this, and more than once I wondered, “Why was this recommended to me?” Then the pieces began to fall into place. Not a tale for the faint of heart, but well worth it to prevail. Trust me.

So I will trust her, and believe that all this is going somewhere.

I recently finished

City of Glass Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3) by Cassandra Clare
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

What might be next

The Summer Prince
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

I have borrowed this from the library and should get to it soon. I loved the author’s short story in the Zombies Vs. Unicorns anthology, which is why I picked this one up.

Review: All These Things I’ve Done

All These Things I've Done
All These Things I’ve Done

(Birthright #1)
By: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Futuristic YA crime thriller
First published in 2011

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidentally poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight – at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
– Description from

I had a lot of fun reading All These Things I’ve Done, and I actually finished it in a day! It just completely caught me along for the ride. The book had its faults, but they didn’t dilute my enjoyment, and it’s definitely a quick read. Yes, the story is set in a future where chocolate is illegal, and that is a bit silly. But I found out I didn’t care! I just went with it.

One thing I have to say right off the bat, though: this book is not a dystopian novel. It is set in a future world where crime is rife, but the focus isn’t on the worldbuilding. Instead the book is very strictly focused on Anya’s family and school life, and on Anya trying to balance her responsibilities between the two. I think if someone picked this up expecting a dystopian novel, they would be disappointed. This is more of a crime thriller that happens to be set in the future.

Anya herself was the main reason I liked the book. She is someone who has had to grow up fast in order to take care of her siblings. Because of that, she has her issues – she is pretty cold and guarded, but I liked that about her. I know she will rub some people the wrong way, but I like the cold fish, tough cookie types. Anya hasn’t had a lot of time to focus on herself what with taking care of her siblings, and she has some trust issues, which is understandable when you take into account that both of her parents were murdered. I also found it interesting that she had embraced her mother’s Catholic faith, when the rest of her family wasn’t that religious. I’m not religious at all, but I found her being Catholic an interesting character trait.

Apart from the protagonist, I liked the main theme of the book. In a way they reminded me of Holly Black’s White Cat. There’s the teenager who has to deal with a history of crime in the family as well as family members who are still in the business, all the while juggling school life. Of these two, I prefer White Cat, because it is a bit more polished, but I did enjoy All These Things I’ve Done, as well.

Let’s move on to the weaknesses of the book. In the middle the story slowed down a bit when too much time was spent on Anya’s relationship with Win, the new boy in school. I wanted the focus to stay on her family (both the immediate one and the extended mafia one) instead of her love life. The beginning and the end of the book were a lot more interesting. But since I read the book so fast, the middle part went by quickly enough, and didn’t bother me as much as it could have.

There were also some weird glitches that could have been ironed out – for example, there is a lot of discussion of the school play, a production of Macbeth, but it never goes anywhere. We see Anya and her friend practice for it, but then the play is dismissed in a few sentences. It had no bearing on the plot and could have been left out entirely.

Despite some weaknesses, the story caught me enough to make me read through it in one day, and the protagonist was great. The middle of the book could be restructured a bit to maintain the mafia angle stronger all the way through. Everything said, I will definitely be reading the sequel.

I give All These Things I’ve Done 4 out of 5 stars.

Current Reads: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Current Reads: Mr Penumbra
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
By: Robin Sloane
First published in 2012

Unemployed web designer Clay Jannon lands a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. He soon realizes that something curious is going on in the quiet, dusty book emporium. The few fanatically committed customers never seem to actually buy anything; instead they simply borrow impossibly obscured volumes. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he has plugged in his laptop, roped in his friends, and embarked on a high-tech analysis of the customers’ behavior.

I was really interested when I started reading this book – I read the first few pages in the bookstore, then promptly bought it. The writing style seemed to promise a fun, easy read, something I could finish in a day or two. Also, I can relate to the unemployed graphic designer scenario, and wouldn’t say no to a job in a mysterious bookstore, myself! I started reading the book as soon as I got home, and in the beginning I was pretty into it – the setting of the bookstore with its dangerously high shelves and mysterious rules drew me in, and I liked the added aspect of technology with the main character being a web designer and the new girl he met working at Google. It seemed up my alley, and easy breezy.

Something happened in the middle of the book, though, and that’s where I am stuck now. At the moment, the story isn’t located at the bookstore, and it lost some of my interest. I don’t know, it might draw me in again later, but right now, where I am, I’m just slowly plowing through one page at a time. I’m not really interested in what is going on. In fact, I stopped reading this book for a few days and read another book in the meantime. I hoped to feel more invested when I returned to this, but meh, not happening yet. I’m still determined to finish, though, and I hope it picks up again.

I recently finished

All These Things I've Done The Wise Man's Fear Valkea kuin lumi

This post is linked at “WWW Wednesdays”, a weekly reading meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All the links take you to GoodReads.

January Wrap-Up (2014)

I never posted a wrap-up of my reading in January, so here you go! Better late than never, huh? My High Fantasy Challenge got off to a good start, and I enjoyed the other books I read as well. February Wrap-Up will follow soon (hopefully)!

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

My favorite post in january

2014 Resolutions – My High Fantasy Challenge list

High Fantasy of the Month

The Name of the Wind Best of the Month sticker
The Name of the Wind
(The Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
By: Patrick Rothfuss
First published in 2007

The legendary hero Kvothe tells his real story for the first time.

My review is here. I loved it! 5/5

Classic of the Month

A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast

By: Ernest Hemingway
First published in 1964
Genre: Modern classic memoir

Hemingway reminisces about his time in Paris in the 1920s, spent with a bunch of other writers.

I’ve never read a novel by Hemingway before, and this one was a memoir – so I still don’t know much about his fiction writing. I’ve always been interested in the history of France, and I loved the movie Midnight in Paris that was set in this same era, so I enjoyed reading about “starving artists” in Paris.

One thing I noticed was that those poor artists sure did drink a lot of coffee and wine, hahah! I guess those things were a lot cheaper then. Hemingway’s work ethic and attitude to writing were also very interesting to read about. I enjoyed the appearances of all the other writers and artists, though the reader has to remember that this is very much Hemingway’s impression of those people, and not the be-all-and-end-all of those persons – some of them did come across as caricatures. Overall, a very interesting look into Hemingway’s life at that point in time. 3/5

Fantasy Books

Whispers Underground
Whispers Under Ground

(Peter Grant #3)
By: Ben Aaronovitch
First published in 2012
Genre: Urban fantasy police procedural

Constable and wizard’s apprentice Peter Grant is called for help when a murdered American exhange student is found at a tube station.

I fell in love with the Peter Grant series last year, and this is the third book in the series. This time I didn’t enjoy the case so much, but the characters and the dialogue were as good as ever. Even all the side characters always feel like real people. So while this was my least favorite case in the series so far, I did have fun reading the book. 4/5

Over Sea Under Stone
Over Sea, Under Stone

(The Dark is Rising #1)
By: Susan Cooper
First published in 1965
Genre: Middle grade adventure fantasy

Three siblings try to find an Arthurian artifact before the bad guys get to it.

I enjoyed this book very much! What a nice start to a children’s fantasy adventure series. It was well written (I read the Finnish translation) and very engaging: I was nervous when the kids were chased and excited when they did a discovery.

I’m really surprised that I didn’t read this series when I was a kid, especially ’cause I remember I really liked Cooper’s Seaward back then. I would have loved this. 4/5

Graphic novels

Y the Last Man Vol 1
Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned

By: Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
First published in 2003
Genre: Dystopian

A mysterious plague kills all males on Earth, except, for some reason, escape artist Yorick and his capuchin monkey.

A lot of people have recommended this series to me, and I’ve liked other works by Vaughan, but I have to say that I didn’t love the book. It was interesting, but there were some things that annoyed me, and I wasn’t very invested in the characters. I will read on, though (and did in February), to see where the plot goes, and how the re-building of the world after the catastrophe is handled. 3/5