Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand

Clara Gardner is a junior in high school and also happens to be one-quarter angel.  All Angel-Bloods have a Purpose for which they were born for.  When Clara begins getting visions about her Purpose, she learns that her family must move to Jackson, Wyoming where she is to save a young man from a forest fire.  Once she starts her new school, it doesn’t take Clara long to locate the boy from her vision.  The problem is that Christian is uber-popular and very much in a relationship with the most popular girl in school.  As the new girl in town, Clara definitely does not roll in that group! 

As she works to get closer to Christian, Clara learns more about what it means to be an angel.  There are dangers out there that her elusive mother never warned her about.  She and her half-angel friend, Angela, work together to find out more about other Angel Bloods and the limits of their powers. 

Distracting her from her Purpose is a cute, but annoying, cowboy named Tucker.  Tucker is suspicious of Clara because he notices how good at everything she is…she’s an expert skier the first time on the slopes, she is fluent in several languages, her first time on a horse was like she had been born on one.  Can she prevent him from finding out her angelic secret…or will she be forced to come clean? 

This book is the first in a trilogy, and I can honestly say, I can’t wait for the next book to come out!  I really got sucked into this book.  I loved the strength of Clara.  There is a scene where gorgeous Christian blows her off to run to his crying ex-girlfriend.  (Won’t tell you too many details, don’t want spoilers.)  Anyway, even though she had a serious crush on him, she refused to allow him to treat her that way.  I loved how she stood up for herself and didn’t give in to him like so many other YA heroines would have.  I also like that this book does not have one of those love stories where the two people are “destined” for each other.  Clara is involved with Christian and Tucker at different parts of the book, and at the end of the book, I still didn’t know who she will end up with. 

Overall, I give Unearthly

Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks
Love Story – 4 bookmarks (I think it will just get better as the books go on.)
World Building – 4 ½ bookmarks (Love the idea of angels with a Purpose)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Emma Stone (Clara), Garrett Hedlund (Tucker), Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Christian), Christian Serratos (Angela), Kirsten Prout (Wendy)

Special Oscar Post!!!!

Not that Oscar!  This one!

Okay, before the Oscars start, I thought I’d weigh in with my picks.  This year I saw all of the Oscar nominated movies, except True Grit…I am SO over the Cohen Brothers!  I thought I had to disclose that in fairness to the actors of that movie.  Okay, so here are my picks!!!! 

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale
Best Supporting Actress – In absence of a nom for Mila Kunis (who was robbed!) I’ll have to say Melissa Leo
Best Actor – Colin Firth *swoon*
Best Actress – Natalie Portman
Best Director – Christopher Nolan (I don’t care if he wasn’t nominated! Inception rocked!)
Best Picture of the Year - …BLACK SWAN!!!!!

Okay, now it’s your turn to weigh in!  Tell me who you think should win and what you think of my picks.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Review: THE RULES OF SURVIVAL by Nancy Werlin

The Rules of Survival is the story of three kids living with an unpredictable and abusive mother.  Matt, the oldest of the three is leader and protector of his younger sisters.  One day, he and his sister Callie meet Murdoch in a convenience store.  They watch as Murdoch stops a father from beating his son in the store.  In that moment, Matt and Callie don’t see a man, but a superhero who might save them from their mother. 

Of course, heroes aren’t real and Murdoch is only a man.  After a brief romance with their mother, Murdoch becomes a trusted friend of the kids.  Matt turns to Murdoch, his biological father, Ben, and his aunt, Bobbie, for help.  As the adults work through the legal system to save the children, Matt has to keep his sisters safe.  His mother get increasingly dangerous…attacking Matt, putting a knife to his throat, driving them all into oncoming traffic and dangling Emmy over the ocean with a threat of dropping her into the churning waves.  Can the legal system work fast enough, or will Matt have to resort to drastic measures?

The unique structure and point of view in this novel makes it refreshing to read.  The story is written in the form of a letter from Matt to his little sister, Emmy.  As the baby of the family, Emmy may not remember the story of their family well when she gets older.  Matt wants to preserve their story and make sure Emmy will have the answers she needs when the time comes for her to seek them out. 

There are many books out there about child abuse, but this one stands out with its easy prose, thoughtful insights and the fierce protectiveness that the siblings have for not only each other, but for their mother also.  All of the relationships in this book are complex. 

Overall, I give The Rules of Survival…

Plot – 3 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
Moral Lessons – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Hunter Parrish (Matt), Kelsey Batelaan (Callie), Destiny Whitlock (Emmy), Sienna Miller (Mother, Nikki), Heath Ledger (Murdock)  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: HUNGER by Jackie Morse Kessler

Hunger is the first book in Kessler’s Horsemen of the Apocalypse series. It revolves around Lisabeth, an anorexic and suicidal, seventeen year old girl. After a failed suicide attempt, Lisabeth is visited by Death and told that she is the new Famine. As Famine, Lisabeth gets an odd set of scales and a seriously cool horse which is capable of transporting her all over the world in a matter of minutes. Of course, the next day, Lisabeth assumes it had all been a dream and tries to go on as normal.

Unfortunately, normal for Lisabeth is a dark and scary world where her inner Thin voice is constantly berating her and monitoring ever calorie taken in or burned off. Her friends are beginning to notice her slow starvation, but when they confront her, Lisabeth gets angry and feels more isolated. The only person who understands her is Tammy, a bulimic who supports her in her disorder.

When Lisabeth discovers that the visit by Death hadn’t been a dream and that she really is Famine, she has to learn her new role before either A. more innocent people suffer from hunger or B. she gets killed by the Horse(wo)man War who hates her.

Since I actually read the second book in the series first, I can tell you that these books are amazing! The writing is fresh and solid. Kessler is able to put the reader right into the minds of these girls, so that we experience every emotion right along with them. I’ve never had an eating disorder or been into self-mutilation as in Rage, but I feel like I have a good understanding of the inner voices that drive these girls to do these self-destructive behaviors.

While both of the books in this series were bruttally honest and graphic, I think they are appropriate for most teen readers.  In fact, the lessons they teach about the sufferers of these issues are invaluable.  Unless a teen is immature for their age, I think these are great books for them to read.

I also love the world or the take on mythology that Kessler uses for this series. I’ve never given the Horsemen much thought before and the idea that they are beings that exist in the world all of the time and not just at the time of the Apocalypse is new to me.

Overall, I give Hunger

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 5 bookmarks
Supernatural Elements/World Building - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Dakota Fanning (Lisabeth), Kurt Cobain (Death), Sarah Allen (War), Christopher Heyerdahl (Pestilence)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani

Thirty-three year old, Valentine Roncalli, is a third generation Italian-American and cobbler in her family’s shoe making business located in Greenwich Village.  After a failed relationship, she moved in to the apartment above the shop with her grandmother.  Being the only signal sister in a close-knit family, Valentine is constantly reminded that she is drifting, destined to become a spinster.

When her grandmother opens the business books, she discovers the business which she thought of as her future is on the brink of bankruptcy.  Her older brother Alfred wants to sell the business and the building and send their grandmother to live in a retirement community in Jersey, something that her grandmother would hate.  Valentine takes it upon herself to drag the business into the future.

Roman is an Italian-American chef who owns his own restaurant in Little Italy.  From the moment he first laid eyes on Valentine, he was smitten.  When Roman & Valentine are together, the chemistry is magic, but can two busy business owners make a relationship enough of a priority to make it work?  When Valentine travels to Italy on business, she is faced with temptations and harsh realities. 

The thing I liked best about this book was the sense of humor.  The opening scene at Valentine’s sister’s wedding is hilarious!  I also enjoyed learning about the shoe making business.  In many ways, it’s a lost art form. 

My main criticism, and it’s a small one, is that I got really bored with the overly detailed descriptions of people’s clothes.  Okay, I get that Valentine is a designer and she would be looking at people’s feet a lot, but do we really need to know every article of clothing being worn by everyone in the room?  Less is more is all I’m saying. 

Overall, I give VERY VALENTINE…

Plot – 3 bookmarks
Character Development – 3 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 3 bookmark
Humor – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Lana Parrilla (Valentine), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Roman), Vincent Spano (Gianluca), Carla Gallo (Jaclyn), Edie Falco (Mike/Mom), Paul Sorvino (Dad), Henry Silva (Dominic)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: RAGE by Jackie Morse Kessler

Rage is the second book in Kessler's Horsemen of the Apocalypse series. I actually haven't read the first in the series, Hunger, but I plan to rush out and get it as soon as possible. The premise of this young adult series revolves around the four horsemen--Death, Famine, War and Pestilence. These beings work to purge the world--a type of supernatural catharsis.

Missy Miller is a troubled sixteen year old in the midst of personal crisis. Her ex-boyfriend told the whole school about her scars. Missy is a cutter. Her love affair with the razor blade is the only way she has of coping with the relentless teasing and bullying at school. When events at a party end in a humiliating trauma, Missy rushed home to the comfort of her blade. Unfortunately, this time she goes too far and nicks an artery. While uncontrollably bleeding out in her bedroom, she is paid a visit by the Horseman of Death, a man who bares an uncanny resemblance to a certain dead alternative rock star. Death gives her a choice. Die...or open a box and accept the gift which he presents. In accepting the gift, Missy becomes the embodiment of War.

The rawness of this book captivated me. The world of cutters is foreign to me, but Kessler's description of the emotional release brought about by the blade opened my eyes. I think teens who know cutters or are cutters themselves will be able to achieve a level of understanding and healing from reading this book. The emotional prose cuts you down to the quick before it builds to a triumphant release.

Overall, I give Rage...

Plot - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Character Development - 5 bookmarks
Supernatural Elements/World Building - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Gia Mantegna (Missy), Hunter Parrish (Adam), Kurt Cobain (Death), Christian Serratos (Famine), Christopher Heyerdahl (Pestilence)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: QUEEN VICTORIA by Giles Lytton Strachey

As a student of history, Queen Victoria has always fascinated me, because with her long reign, the leader of Britain at its largest point, her nine children and multitudes of grand and great-grand children, it is difficult to find a corner of the world which she didn’t influence. 

Victoria was conceived specifically for political purposes.  Her father, the Duke of Kent, married a young widow for the express purpose of producing an heir before his brothers could do so.  Growing up, she knew that she was of aristocratic birth, but her mother, in an attempt to keep her from being spoiled, hid from her how close she was to the throne.  By the time the truth was revealed to her in her early teens, Victoria was well on her way to becoming an intelligent, pious and poised young woman.  In 1837, at the age of eighteen, Victoria inherited the throne, which she held until her death in 1901.  During her reign, the British Empire was in its Golden Age.  British innovation and technology ushered the world into the modern era.   

One of the most interesting things that I learned in this book was Albert’s role, not just as Victoria’s husband, but also as a co-ruler.  The pair perfectly complimented each other.  Where Victoria was social, a natural diplomat, Albert was detail oriented and serious.  For twenty years, Albert, an intelligent and brilliant strategist, dedicated himself morning to night in the work of running a kingdom.  He literally worked himself to an early death (he died at age 42), but the British people of the time never truly accepted him.  As a German prince, he was a foreigner.  His anti-social ways did not ingratiate him to the aristocracy.  But for as much as the people didn’t care for him, Albert made his mark on the empire by putting its needs and its people before himself.

I view the “love story” of Victoria and Albert as a tragic one.  Although it basically had been an arranged marriage (they had a choice, but it was limited), Victoria loved him with her whole heart—so much so that after his death, she mourned him for the rest of her long life.  They had nine children together and had a perfect partnership.  Even so, while Albert cared for her as a dear friend and respected her for her mind, he never truly loved her.  In fact, Albert never really achieved any sort of personal happiness.  His death had as much to do with his melancholy attitude as it did with illness. 

As biographies go, I really enjoyed this one.  It made me think.  My biggest problem with the book is that I was reading it in electronic format and as it is with many public domain books, there were a lot of formatting errors.  While I was able to figure out what the author was trying to say, it was visually annoying. 

Overall, I give Queen Victoria

Plot – 3 ½ bookmarks (while interesting, it was a bit slow in spots)
Love Story – 4 bookmarks (although tragic)
Historical Relevance – 5 bookmarks (to understand Victoria & the Victorian Age is to understand the world we live in today)
Dream Cast (Otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – I saw the movie Young Victoria a while back, starring Emily Blunt as Victoria and Rupert Friend as Albert.  These are who I had in mind for the first half of the book.  After Albert’s death I pictured the actually Queen Victoria with her heavy black mourning clothes.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review: GOD IS IN THE PANCAKES by Robin Epstein

Grace Manning is a fifteen year old candy-stripper at a nursing home.  There, she befriends Mr. Sands, an elderly gentleman who is suffering from ALS.  Their friendship is one of teasing and fun, until one day when Mr. Sands asks Grace to help him die.  Suddenly, Grace is caught between helping a friend in need and obeying the law.  While grappling with this decision, grace also has to deal with the everyday teenage issues—the separation of her parents, her evolving relationship with her male best friend, the dilemma over whether to inform her sister her boyfriend is cheating on her and the existence of god. 

Grace is a wonderful character, because she is witty and kind—mature for her age, yet able to still be a kid.  I love how she is open to befriending an elderly man and latter his wife.  I can relate, because I used to “volunteer” at the nursing home near my house by playing chess with the old men.  I wish more kids would do this.  It can be very rewarding for everyone. 

I also liked how flawed Grace was.  She got tongue-tied when she was nervous and didn’t always speak up when she should…but these flaws worked themselves out as she grew as a character throughout the book. 

Epstein, a former stand-up comic, does a brilliant job of balancing humor with deep topics.  Watching a person succumb to ALS isn’t pretty, and the author doesn’t sugar-coat over the details, yet this still manages to be a fun, entertaining read.  I think teens would get a lot out of this book. 

Overall, I give God Is In The Pancakes

Plot – 4 bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 3 ½ bookmarks (definitely a sub-plot)
Moral Issues – 5 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Dakota Blue Richards (Grace), Meaghan Martin (Natalie), Jeremy Sumpter (Eric), Kaya Scodelario (Lolly), Helen Miren (Isabell Sands), Dustin Hoffmann (Frank Sands)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review: UNDOMESTIC GODDESS by Sophie Kinsella

Samantha Sweeting is a 29 year old London lawyer who is on the verge of partnership in a prestigious firm when a gigantic mistake derails her career.  Samantha fleas the office in a panic and ends up hopping a train to the country.  Half-drunk and suffering from a colossal headache, Samantha approaches a large home to ask for help.  The nouveau riche woman who answers assumes Samantha is there to interview for the housekeeping position.  Before Samantha knows it, she is hired.  The problem is, she doesn’t know how to do even basic house work and the extent of her cooking ability is being able to put the kettle on for tea.  Unable to face going back to London where she is the joke of the legal community, Samantha decides to make the best out of it and set her intelligence and ambition toward mastering the domestic arts. 

What this book loses in predictability, it makes up for in humor and heart.  My favorite books are those that can be entertaining while at the same time making a comment about a greater issue.  So many people are married to their careers and don’t even realize that life is passing them by.  This is not a book pitting career women against house wives; rather it is about finding a work/life balance in your life. 

Overall, I give Undomestic Goddess

Plot – 3 bookmarks
Character Development – 4 bookmarks (Kinsella takes stereotypical characters & infuses them with heart.)
Humor – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 3 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading)- Emily Blunt (Samantha), Tom Hardy (Nathaniel), Christine Barabski (Trish), Helen Mirren (Iris), Jude Law (Guy)

Review: CITY OF GLASS by Cassandra Clare

In an effort to save her mother, Clary journeys to the City of Glass to find a potion which will wake her up.  The Clave has also called the Lightwoods and Jace to the city to testify regarding the events that occurred on Valentine’s ship.  Jace is concerned that if the Clave knows what Clary is capable of, they will exploit her.  He tricks her into staying home, but of course, she follows anyway and gets herself into trouble.  Jace tries to be mean to her in order to force her away before the Clave finds out she is in the city.  Hurt by his rejection, Clary accepts assistance from Sebastian, a handsome, let slightly creepy guy whose motives are questionable. 

The Clave is also interested in how Simon, a vampire, is now able to go out in the sunlight.  They throw him in a dungeon-like jail where he makes friends with a strange prisoner held in the next cell. 

Now that Valentine has both the Mortal Cup and the Mortal Sword, everyone is anticipating him coming to Idris to capture the Mortal Mirror.  It is known to be in Idris, but unfortunately, no one knows where it is.  When Valentine threatens to attack the city, the Clave must decide whether to accept the help of the Downworlders against him. 

I loved this book!  I loved the danger and intrigue and romance…  The only thing that was a bit irritating is that I figured out the ending way early and then had to watch the characters slog along until they figured it out.  Even so, I still think this might be my favorite book in the series so far.  One of the characters gets killed in the book, and it is heartbreaking.  Several plot lines ended, giving me satisfaction, but I can see a few plotlines which will need to be resolved in the next book which I believe comes out in May. 

Overall, I give City of Glass

Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
World Building – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 5 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) -Rachel Hurd-Wood (Clary), Alex Pettyfer (Jace), Luke Pasqualino (Simon), Zac Efron (Alec), Christopher Backus (Magnus Bane), Christian Serratos (Isabelle)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: CITY OF ASHES by Cassandra Clare

A good sequel is one that is not only as good as the first, but better.  The second book in The Mortal Instruments series is definitely better than the first.  Considering how much I liked the first, that’s saying a lot. 

I’m going to try to write this without spoilers, so forgive me for being cryptic.  You know that huge plot twist at the end of the first book?  Well, let’s just say it really complicates the relationship between Clary & Jace all through this book.  The tension between them is almost tangible.  I love it!!!  Now, there are enough clues throughout this book that I have an idea on how this little problem will work out, but not sure if my ideas are right yet. 

Okay, on a less cryptic note…the action in this book is great!  The Clave is suspicious of Jace now that they know of his history with Valentine.  They send the Inquisitor to interrogate him, but Jace’s smart mouth lands him a night in jail in the City of Bones.  While there, Valentine breaks in to steal the Mortal Sword, and the Inquisitor assumes Jace is in on it.   It seems the only option he has is to go after the sword himself to prove his loyalty to the Clave.  Of course, getting the sword form Valentine when he is surrounded by an army of demons is going to be tricky.  Luckily, Clary has a new trick up her sleeve. 

One thing I really liked in this book was how Clary and Simon’s relationship changes.  They have been best friends since they were young children.  I think many people will relate to the issue of taking a friendship into a romance and what to do if it doesn’t work out.  In the end, I found Simon to be very mature.  I was lukewarm about him before, but I am really starting to like him better.  There is also a really interesting scene between Jace and Simon that occurs near the end of the story which was very touching. 

Another relationship that I think was well handled was the one between Jace & Valentine.  Jace’s entire world has been turned on its head and he is struggling to figure out where he fits anymore.  The Lightwood’s and the Clave are treating him differently.  The scene where Jace confronts Valentine in the middle of the night on the ship really showed the depth of each of their characters. 

It sounds like I am focusing a lot on Jace, but really, most of the book revolves around Clary.  She is upset that her mother is still in the hospital in a coma.  We see a little more of Luke in this one and how fatherly he is toward her.  Without him, I have no idea what she would do…live at the Institute maybe? 

My only problem with this series is the way the author handles time.  One scene it will be morning and before you know it, the sun is setting.  It can give a reader whiplash.  Also, the first book was about a month long in plot time and started in July.  This book picks up a few days after the first ended.  So if I’m following correctly, this should be August or September.  However, they keep talking about how cold it is outside.  They are wearing gloves and heavy jackets.  At one point Clary mentions she can see the fog of her breath.  This is New York City, not Alaska.  She shouldn’t even need a jacket.  Another thing, the idea of her going back to school is never mentioned.  It’s like now that she is a Shadowhunter, she no longer needs to complete her education.  Very weird. 

Overall, I give City of Ashes

Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
World Building – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 4 bookmarks (The author does something gutsy with Jace & Clary that might put off some readers, but I am completely caught up in it.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rachel Hurd-Wood (Clary), Alex Pettyfer (Jace), Luke Pasqualino (Simon), Zac Efron (Alec), Christopher Backus (Magnus Bane), Christian Serratos (Isabelle)

Just a note about the movie version that is in pre-production now.  According to an article that I read dated January 20, 2011 and also on the IMDB website, Alex Pettyfer has signed on to play Jace.  The role of Clary has gone to Lily Collins.  So far, I’m not feeling her yet, but that might change.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: HUNGER AROUSED by Dee Carney

Jasmine things she has the flu, but actually, somewhere along the way—probably at her nursing job in the hospital ER—she managed to become infected with vampirism.  Corin, is a vampire assassin.  He is charged by the Council to enforce the rules against unapproved turnings.  Typically this would mean monitoring the three day transition and then destroying the new vamp as well as the maker.  Unfortunately, Jasmine doesn’t have a maker to guide her through the painful transition.  Since Corin is not allowed to kill a human and must wait for her transition to be complete, he must assume the role of maker and help her.  (Of course one of the ways to ease the pain of transition just so happens to be sex, so you can tell how big of a hardship this is for him.)  Along the way, he finds his feelings for Jasmine grow.  Will he be able to kill her in the end?

I am a total vampire lover, but this book left me lukewarm.  I thought the concept was good, but the love story was unbelievable.  I get the whole “You complete me thing” since he’s a killer and she’s a healer, but that doesn’t seem like enough to build a relationship on.  I did enjoy Corin’s back story, about how he was tortured in the early years of his immortality.  In fact, I liked Corin as a character.  It was really Jasmine that I found lacking depth.  For an erotic novel, there was plenty of sex—I just like sex scenes to be backed up with a compelling love story. 

Overall I give HUNGER AROUSED…

Plot – 3 bookmarks
Character Development – 3 ½ bookmarks for Corin & 2 bookmarks for Jasmine
Love Story – 2 bookmarks
Sex Scenes – 3 ½ bookmarks
World Building – 3 bookmarks
Dream cast (Otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Rachael Weist (Jasmine), Manu Bennett (Corin)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare

While at an all-ages club with her best friend Simon, sixteen year old Clary stumbles upon three tattooed teenagers murdering another teen and finds herself mixed up in the world of Shadowhunters, Nephilim who are charged with ridding the earth of demons and other dark creatures.  The fact that Clary can see them at all is a signal that she is no ordinary human girl.  When Clary’s mother goes missing, it is the Shadowhunters who take her under their wing and teach her about her mother’s past.  She learns that her mother was taken by an evil rogue Shadowhunter, Valentine, because she knows where the precious Mortal Cup is.  But Clary’s mother isn’t the only one who knows where the cup is…with the help of a warlock’s magic, her mother buried clues into her memory.  Clary and her Shadowhunter friends fight to reach it before Valentine does.

My favorite part of this book was the snappy dialogue.  Jace and Clary both wield sarcasm like swords.  I really hope that if they ever make a movie of this series that they will use Cassie Clare’s actual lines and allow her to have a hand in writing the script. 

The world that Clare has created here is fun, scary and full of wonder.  Her descriptions of fairies, vampires, werewolves, warlocks and Nephilim existing in the modern world around us, made me long for it to be real.  I also love that her nasty Valentine character is so calm and psychotic.  The way he can justify and turn things around in ways to influence people into thinking he is right is almost scarier than a typical villain. 

There is also a love triangle which starts out typical, but ends up being really interesting.  Clary & Simon have been best friends since they were kids.  It is obvious that he is completely infatuated with her and she has no idea.  (There are actually several examples of unrequited love in this book.)  When the incredibly hot Shadowhunter, Jace, enters the picture, it’s clear pretty quickly that Clary’s heart lies in another direction, putting her in between the two guys who don’t care for each other.  Jace has an exterior that is tough as leather.  Even thought you know that Clary is getting to him, he is not quick to relinquish his hold on his emotions.  He flat out tells her that love makes people weak, something that a Shadowhunter cannot afford to be.  No spoilers here or anything ,but there is a plot twist at the end of this book that completely broke my heart.  Can’t wait to read the next book!

Overall, I give City of Bones

Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 4 bookmarks
World Building – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 3 ½ bookmarks, but I think it will get more interesting in the coming books)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Rachel Hurd-Wood (Clary), Alex Pettyfer (Jace), Luke Pasqualino (Simon), Zac Efron (Alec), Christopher Backus (Magnus Bane), Christian Serratos (Isabelle)