Lady Midnight Book Cover

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on March 8th 2016
Pages: 698
Goodreads
four-stars

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

I highly suggest you don’t read this review if you haven’t at least read the Mortal Instruments series. There’s spoilers in Lady Midnight from all previous book series – TMI, Infernal Devices, Shadowhunter Academy, etc..

After I finished City of Heavenly Fire back in June of 2014, I was super pumped for Lady Midnight. The introduction of Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn got me really excited for their story. Emma was fierce and precocious and I loved her immediately. In a way, Emma reminded me of Jace because she was fiercely loyal and reckless, but in other ways, she was so different. Jace was often brooding which irritated. Emma had the qualities I loved about Jace and none of the ones I didn’t.

Lady Midnight takes place five years after Sebastian Morgenstern was defeated in book six of the Mortal Instrument Series, City of Heavenly Fire. Five years ago during what’s known as the Dark War, Emma’s parents were murdered. Julian Blackthorn and his siblings also lost their father Arthur to a demon possession.

Julian Blackthorn is officially one of my all time favorite characters in the Mortal Instruments World. With the support of his parabatai Emma, Julian has fathered his four younger siblings ever since he was 12. Julian never got to be a pre-teen or teen. He became a father-like figure the moment he was forced to kill his own father during the Dark War. I really connected with Julian. Although I never had younger siblings that I had to look after, I was forced to grow up too quick. I related with Julian because we both hold resentment because of missed opportunities.

In Lady Midnight, Emma is harboring a deep secret. She is head-over-heels in love with Julian, something that is absolutely not allowed in the Shadowhunter society. Emma doesn’t know why you can’t be in love with your parabatai, just that “the law is hard, but it is the law”. Besides impending punishment, Emma is afraid that Julian will find out that her feelings go deeper than just parabatai and that it will ruin their friendship. With the exception of Jem, the Blackthorns are the only family Emma has left and she also doesn’t want to jeopardize that.

The story really picks up when Emma and the Blackthorns discover that a bunch of bodies are being dumped around LA. All the bodies have been found with demonic carvings on the skin, similar to how Emma’s parents’ bodies were discovered five years prior. Emma, who has never once believed her parents were killed by Sebastian, is thrilled when the bodies start showing up. In five years, it’s the first real clue that Emma has discovered that could prove her parent’s weren’t a victim of Sebastian.

I really enjoyed Lady Midnight. It took me a year plus to finally sit and read it, but once I got past the first 50 pages or so I really got into it. I can’t give the book 5 stars because I feel like it was a little bumpy at times. However, I feel like Lady Midnight is setting up to be something really great and I have high hopes that the books to follow will be amazing.

 

four-stars
trees crept in book cover

And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on September 6th 2016
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Stay away from the woods…

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the manor is cursed. The endless creaking of the house at night and the eerie stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too—questions that Silla can’t ignore: Why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer? Who is the beautiful boy who’s appeared from the woods? And who is the tall man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night… a man no one else can see?

Let me start by saying, with the exception of classic macabre like Lovecraft and Poe, I do not read horror. It’s just not my thing. I’m also a wuss, so there’s that. However, here and there I watch horror shows like American Horror Story and Stranger Things. Weird! I know! I’m not sure why I watch but don’t read. But anyways. I kept seeing And The Trees Crept In popping up everywhere. I was also on a Stranger Things high and wanted MORE. That’s why I picked up And The Trees Crept In. What the heck? Ya know.

So here are my thoughts on And The Trees Crept in, one of the most unique, nail-bitey and terrifying books I’ve read in a long time.

Initial thoughts right after I finished And The Trees Crept In: What the heck did I just read? Not really sure. But it was O.O and has my mind spinning like crazy. I’m still trying to make it work in my head. It’s not what I thought it would be but it’s just as good as I wanted it to be? I sound almost as mad as Silla! Poor poor Silla. She and her little sister Nori run from an abusive father right into a sinister mansion with a terrifying creature in the woods. Poor Silla has nothing but her sister Nori. Her aunt Cath who she thought would take care of her is “looming the wheel”. And the mansion, La Baume, is not a magical and safe fortress like Silla’s mom always said it was. It’s musty, rotted, decrepit, and sick. It’s rundown, uncomfortable, and dangerous.

This book had me tantalized. It sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. At one point my fiancé said something to me and I looked up with crazed eyes. Then he guiltily looked away. I was that absorbed! I just needed to know what was coming next. I guessed but was never right. This author rocks! I really don’t like horror and rarely psychological. However, this book has gotten me curious and curious-er about other horror-rific YAs. Maybe I’ve discovered a new interest? Regardless, I REALLY enjoyed And The Trees Crept In.

It was unique and captivating. My only quip was that sometimes I would get very confused. I understand that it was the author’s intention to confuse us because Silla was slowly going mad. However, at times I was beyond confused and had to reread passages to try and understand. I wished it was a little more reader-friendly.

four-half-stars
Always forever maybe book cover

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Pages: 330
Goodreads
four-stars

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I tend to start drafting reviews in my head while I’m reading a book. Obviously the final outcome changes because a story can get better, or in some cases worse. For instance, a few chapters in and I was already planning on giving P.S. I Like You a 2-3 star rating – the lowest ever for a West book! Why you ask? Well…

This story revolves around my new #spiritanimal Lily. Every word out of her mouth is hilariously sarcastic and so well timed. Most of the time her family, peers and even best friend Isobel, have no idea what Lily’s talking about. She truly lives in her own little indie-rock world. 
 
One day Lily scribbles music lyrics on her desk in Chemistry class, and then the next day some mysterious person (who we quickly find out is a boy) writes the next verse. Eventually these two start passing notes back and forth, first discussing how awesome indie-rock is, and then sharing personal items about their life. Isobel may be Lily’s best friend, but there’s parts of Lily that she doesn’t share with anyone, that is, until her mystery pen pal comes along. Both Lily and “he” are able to say in writing to a complete stranger, more than they’ve ever been able to share with anyone else. 
 
West tries to trick us by throwing in three different guys who could be Lily’s mystery pen pal, but the moment “he” was introduced I knew immediately it was him. I became angry because I was loving P.S. I Like You so much and I felt like West had let me down by making it incredibly too obvious.
 
So how did I end up giving this book 4 stars? Because the story became even juicer once “he” was revealed! When Lily finds out whom her letters have been going to, she freaks out. She’s afraid that once this individual realizes its her, he will be disappointed. For someone who wears whatever she wants and says whatever she wants, Lily has low self-confidence in herself and how the world perceives her.

This story was cute. Not the best West book in my opinion but maybe the best character building in terms of Lily? Not sure. I think West needs to write many more books so I can get a larger sample to compare. 😉

four-stars