“City of Ashes” by Cassandra Clare

So, I realized recently that I have a terrible track record when it comes to talking about book series. I always have the best intentions, I start off with the first one, promise to talk about the others and then I forget or get distracted by something shiny and then never come back to it. I’m gonna try to be better. So, in the spirit of that, here is my considered opinion of the second book in the Mortal Instruments series- it’s awesome. This should come as no surprise.
So, it picks up not long after the first book ends and everyone is still trying to come to grips with the fact that Valentine, not- Voldemort, has returned and Clary and Jace are trying to cope with the fact that they are brother and sister, which I cannot stress enough isn’t true, but they don’t know that yet. So, they’re still Luke-and-Leia-ing it up, which honestly is really sad. Like, I enjoy a good romance as much as the next girl, maybe more, but this is still just kinda sad. And weird. Definitely weird. Because, I mean, what are you supposed to say? “Oh I wish they could be together”? “Those siblings would be such a cute couple”? Because at this point the reader isn’t supposed to know it either. I just cheated and peeked at a later book. I’m really not sure the author thought this thing all the way through, to be honest.
Anyhow, so the whole Shadowhunter world is in chaos as everyone tries to figure out what Valentine will do next, and what he does next is kill a bunch of people, rather predictably, to be honest. But still, it all is very cool and fairly cinematic the way it is written, it’s very easy to imagine it and the way it will look on screen, whenever it is the second movie comes out. The part on the boat in particular is very, very cool and how Magnus spells Luke’s truck so that it can just drive across the water? Awesome. I want my car to be able to do that. And how Clary uses that rune to completely destroy the boat? Girlfriend packs a mean punch. Oh, yeah, uh, in case you haven’t read the books, or don’t intend to, there are these runes that the Shadowhunters can draw, mostly on themselves, for things like healing, balance, strength or endurance and they’re basically magic. Well, Clary, because she’s awesome and the main character, can pack a whole lot more juice into your average rune than anyone else. She can also create new runes, which no one thought was possible before she started doing it. So, to destroy the boat, she carved the one for “open” into the hull and poured as much as she had into it. The boat was torn apart. Even the rivets flew out, that’s how big of a wallop she has. So, very cool. Makes up for the fact that she still doesn’t really do much fighting and in battle she mostly gets kidnapped and hit upside the head. But, that’s not really her fault, she wasn’t raised as a Shadowhunter, she didn’t even know she was one until recently, so she’s never been trained. You can’t blame someone for not knowing something they never thought they’d need to know.
And then there’s Simon, Clary’s best friend. This is where things get a bit tricky for me. See, this is where the series has me on shaky ground, as there is definite shades of Twilight in that particular storyline. That whole “love triangle, one of whom is her best friend and loves her deeply and faithfully from afar” thing. That is always super annoying. Especially since they’re following the Twilight tradition of the best friend being the one who loses out. Though, I will grant you, watching her genuinely try to be with him was a nice change of pace. You can’t really blame the poor girl- her mom is in a coma, the guy she’s in love with is apparently her brother, her home and everything she owns is destroyed, she’s found out her life is based on a lie and then her best friend leans over and kisses her. What’s she supposed to do? Shove him away? So she tries and it’s sweet and sad that she just can’t be that for him, that all she can think about and all she wants is Jace. And poor Jace, he just fell so hard and so fast. She’s the whole world for him and he can’t have her, and now she’s with this other guy. It just kills him. Honestly, it’s crazy how much he cares about her and worries about her- at one point he runs into the demon of fear, which kills by showing a person what they fear most in all the world. Apparently that much mind- bending terror, magically amplified no doubt, will kill a person pretty quickly. Anyway, what he sees when he sees the demon is Clary dying. Seriously, that is the thing that he is more afraid of than anything else in the world. Well, that and his father, since that’s what he sees the second time he runs into the demon.
Anyway, there’s a nice change of pace from that stupid trope when Simon breaks up with Clary, instead of the other way around. And there really aren’t any bad feelings, he just tells her that he knows it’s not working, he knows she doesn’t feel that way about him and that he would rather have what they’ve always had, a true friendship, than pretend at anything else. He would rather have that truth than a lie that would twist everything about them. So that was nice. Oh, and Simon is turned into a vampire, which I’m not sure how I feel about. I mean, cool, he’s now fully a part of that world, yay awesome, but I’m not a huge fan of vampires. And I don’t really understand those who are. So… neutral. Neutral I suppose.
As I said, I think this book was awesome and it ends on a little bit of a cliffhanger, as someone announces to Clary that they know how to get her mother out of her magically induced coma, so that leads quite nicely into the third book.

“City Of Bones” by Cassandra Clare

So I’m gonna be honest- I tore through this series like I haven’t in a while. I very quickly developed a fangirl reaction to not only this series but the trailers for the movie that comes out in August, which btw looks epic. But, first things first, let’s talk about “City of Bones”.
So, it’s another of those “there’s a whole other world beneath our noses” books, which isn’t quite played out, but I feel like it might be getting close to it. I mean, I know it’s a classic way to enter a brand new world, you can’t beat it, it’s the perfect way to introduce the audience to this new world and all it’s weird rules and creatures. But still, do you know how many times I’ve read it? I can’t tell you, because I’ve lost track. But that little quibble aside, and one other that I’ll get to in a minute, I really loved this book. Clary was awesome and brave, and not in the usual way you’d expect in a book about demon- hunting. She wasn’t much for flying sidekicks or whatever, and wouldn’t be for several books, but she’s a fighter and she refused to give up. Her mom was missing, her world was in chaos and she was in danger and there was very little she could do about it, but she didn’t give up and she didn’t even consider giving up. She just kept fighting and trying to protect the people that were important to her.

The whole Shadowhunter thing is pretty cool too. Apparently they’re the Nephilim, the offspring of humans and angels, a thing that I first heard of in an X- Files episode years and years ago. (You can’t say my nerd pedigree isn’t spotless, heh- heh.) There’s also something about Seraphim blades and stuff that I’m honestly a bit fuzzy on because they have to, like, name the Seraphim blade before they can use and that’s never really explained. Does each name confer a certain power on each blade? Are they power levels? Why? How? It’s never explained, and I would really like an explanation. But other than that, I quite liked the world she made. It seems pretty realistic and well- crafted.

The weird thing about these books, among the other thing that I still haven’t mentioned, is that there’s this guy, the bad guy, Valentine, which is a stupid ass name for a bad guy, everything else aside (why name you’re villian after the holiday for love?), and he is basically Voldemort. Seriously, before anyone who’s read these books argues with me, think about it- he’s all about how his hidden kind of human is the best, mundanes/ muggles are terrible, and those with power are the very best. There’s even this thing he says about how the Downworlders, vampires, werewolves and warlocks, aren’t as good as the Shadowhunters because they’re tainted, have dirty blood, mudbloods if you will. It’s crazytown. Did she realize she was doing it when she did it? But that’s not even the weirdest part. The weirdest part is that all of the adults in the book are ex- members of his little gang of not- Deatheaters, called the Circle. And pretty much all of the main characters are the children of ex- Circle members. Not only that, but- spoilers- Clary is the biological daughter of Valentine, not- Voldemort himself. Can you imagine if that had popped up in Harry Potter? It certainly would have livened things up a bit, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, then there’s Jace, the love interest, and he is bad- freaking- ass. Like, seriously, he is a badass. He is an ass- kicker of the first order, great warrior, great demon hunter. Not only that, but the boy is really funny. These are character traits that I really look for in a fictional man. You can’t lose with a funny ass- kicker. Especially when you have one that is so clearly gone over the heroine. It’s really, really sweet. I loved their romance and just watching those two. They are very, very cute together and for once I wasn’t too irritated by the obvious setting up of a love triangle/ forbidden love thing, mostly because of how she did it, which was… weird. And not in a good way, weird. Yeah, this is the thing I was going to get to, spoilers by the way, see the thing is, is that at the end of the book, there’s this big confrontation with Valentine and he tells Clary and Jace, after they have spent the entire book falling in love with each other, that they are brother and sister. That Clary’s older brother did not in fact die all those years ago, like Clary’s mother thought, right before her mother left Valentine forever, barely two months pregnant with Clary. That her brother had survived the fire and that they, Clary and Jace, are in fact, full blooded brother and sister. So, yeah. She went to a weird place. Now, I want it fully understood, that it is not in fact true. Sorry, spoilers. I mean, I knew that ahead of time, because I picked up the first book after browsing through a display of all the ones that have come out already, including the new one that talks about Jace and Clary’s brother Sebastian, so I knew it wasn’t true, that it was all a horrible lie from her horrible father, but still. Yech. Why would she go there? Seriously. Wha- why? I mean, I get the point. Beyond eventually introducing her real brother later on and it also proves what a dick her father is, because he could see they loved each other, he even commented on it, there’s the whole “doomed romance” thing, which is like half the point of the book I think. And this way you don’t have to question either one’s character or strength, or the strength of their love, but still. Couldn’t she have found a less… icky way? The whole thing is weird. But again, it’s all a horrible lie from her dick of a father. So, there’s that.

Anyway, bizarre storytelling choice aside, and how they’ll spin that in the movie I have no freaking clue, it was a really, really good book. I seriously did tear my way through the entire series in no time flat. It was even one of those that, if I had to walk away I spent the entire time thinking about it. One of those where you’re like “You don’t understand! There’s this book!” anytime someone wants to talk to you. It’s one of those. So, really, I can’t recommend it enough and I will totally be in line to see it opening day when the movie finally comes out.

P.S. I figured out how to embed videos! Finally! Yay!

“Mr. Real” by Carolyn Crane

Okay, so I recently sort of discovered a new author, Carolyn Crane. I say “sort of” because of this book. It was… to say “bad” would be a misnomer. “Unreadable” comes closer. I literally could not read this book. It was too stupid. I originally thought, Hey, I like her other books, the Disillusionist Trilogy, I’ll probably like this one. Sure, the premise is retarded but it sounds retarded in a fun way. Wrong! It was just straight up retarded. Like, horrifyingly bad.

So, the premise is that the main character, Alix (my first hint that it was a bad book. Who spells that with an i?) inherits a house and a bunch of other stuff from her cooky, old aunt when she dies. I say “cooky” because it turns out the lady was a witch, like an actual magic using witch, and not one of the wiccan types who are mostly about being in balance with nature, but who used actual magic and, get this, managed to transfer that magic to a computer somehow. So that anything you click on, using a computer that has that code in it, will magically appear a day later on your front porch. Like I said, the premise sounded really, really stupid, but whatever I was willing to roll with it. Where she really lost me was the heroine, Alix. With an i. Instead of treating this ludicrous macguffin with kid gloves and a healthy dose of suspicion, since it’s a magical freaking computer and last I checked, magic comes with a price, she decides to use it to go shopping. She “orders” a supposedly great outfit, though based on the description you couldn’t pay me to wear it, and an insanely expensive necklace before it comes to her- she should use it to order a man! And not just any man, no no. She should use it to order a tv commercial character who is played by a guy that she met years ago, for a few weeks that she is somehow still half in love with. No, it didn’t make sense to me either. Any of it. Nothing in that previous sentence made any sense to me, but whatever because she goes for it.

The explanation why she should do such a thing is really, really stupid too. It’s not that she’s smart and just did a dumb thing, or just got caught up in the whole, “Hey, I can have whatever I want!” after years of poverty or whatever. No, no. She’s just that kind of person. She’s crazy, she’s wacky, isn’t that just so much fun! She randomly used magical objects that she doesn’t understand for completely selfish reasons! Isn’t she just so wacky and fun? Honestly, in any other book, she would be the first casualty. She’d be the smoking puddle of ooze on the floor that everyone looks at and goes “So now we know not to do that. Thank you, Alix with an i, for that object lesson.” Instead, no no. She’s just so crazy and fun, and so deeply misunderstood. What part of any of what she does make sense, or is in any way a good idea? None of it! Does the book care? No!

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really read the rest of it after that. I flipped around a lot, trying to see if it redeemed itself at some point and it most assuredly did not. The guy shows up and since he’s supposed to be some sort of secret agent in the commercials, he thinks he’s a secret agent there and he seriously wonders whether he should kill her, and then the guy she is inexplicably still half in love with after all this time, after minimal contact, I cannot stress enough how minimal the contact was, they never even met socially, shows up and stuff happens and… I don’t know. I think the fake guy goes crazy or something. There seemed to be some sort of standoff or something. Anyway, yeah, amazingly stupid. I’m actually really put off Carolyn Crane right now. Which is a shame because her Disillusionist Trilogy was actually really good. It had this superhero vibe that I seriously dug. But now I don’t even know if I can read her stuff again. It was that bad. I feel dumber for having read it. I spent actual money on this book. Like actual, factual money. And I ordered it online, so it had to be shipped to me. So that’s even more money and some poor package deliverer’s time. Oh god.

“Grimm”

Grimm-Season-2-350x262

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this show on NBC called “Grimm.” It’s pretty cool and, up until this season, I would have called it one of my favorite shows. It’s about.. how do I describe this. Okay, well imagine that all the old fairy tales are real. That the Big Bad Wolf and so on are actually real, it’s just the story got mixed up a little over the years. It’s like that, except the creatures can like shift, sort of. It’s hard to explain. I tracked down this video that sort of, kind of, halfway explains what’s been going on with this show. It’s not the one that I was looking for, but it’ll have to do.
http://www.nbc.com/grimm/video/nick-and-monroe-a-true-bromance/n31290/

Okay, so anyway, on to my rant and my main point now that you have some vague idea of the world I’m talking about. So, Nick, that’s the Grimm’s name btw, in case that wasn’t covered, has this girlfriend, Juliette. Juliette sucks. Like, I have been watching this show for it’s entire season and a half run, from the beginning, and I have yet to see one real redeeming value to this chick. She’s just… blah. Bland. Boring. A little grating for all her boring- ness. She’s useless! Everyone else in the show is running around, getting in fights, helping to save the day and she does nothing!
Now listen, I tried really, really hard to like her the first season. I figured, hey maybe the writers are just having an especially hard time getting into her head or something. Maybe, when she finds out about Nick being a Grimm then all of a sudden she’ll explode with usefullness. I mean, she is a vet, I figured if nothing else she can provide medical care for the wessen (the creatures) that get hurt or sick from time to time. But nope. Not only did she not believe Nick when he told her, which to be fair I don’t blame her for, it certainly sounds like schizophrenia when you just describe it, but she got herself put under a spell and now is being kind of a bitch. She can’t remember Nick, she’s being SUPER annoying about the whole thing and she’s basically cheating on him. Not so much anymore, since they sort of broke up, but still. She’s been making googly eyes at someone else for like all season and I cannot tell you how super annoying this plotline has been. It has moved at the pace of freaking continental drift, and it seems to be demanding a certain empathy and patience with the character that I simply lack and no one else I’ve talked to who watches the show seems to have either. I don’t care if she’s conflicted! I don’t care if she blah blah blah whatever! Fill in blank. The character has been annoying and useless the entire run of the show. I have only put up with her because she is Nick’s girlfriend, his lady love. She hasn’t been funny, or entertaining, or helpful in solving cases, or saving lives, or illuminating about the wessen world that Nick is trying to figure out or anything. She has simply been Nick’s girlfriend. I was really hoping for a Catwoman situation with her, instead I got Lois Lane. And I was resigned to put up with the freaking Lois Lane, except now she’s not even doing that! She has one job to do in the entire freaking show. Her character has one use, one purpose, and that is it. And she’s not even doing that! I sincerely hope that she gets killed off and we get a better heroine. I truly and sincerely do. Because this is some bullshit. Nick is a kickass Grimm, the other characters are awesome and funny, Monroe is one of my favorite characters on tv, Rosalee is awesome, Hank is very cool, the wessen they show are cool and well done, the plotlines (with the exception of this one) are good. It’s just this one blind spot in this freaking show, that Juliette is so freaking annoying and useless and I don’t see how they can possibly fix that one. I don’t even want them to fix that one. Just scrap the whole thing and start over. Kill off the character and introduce and new love interest. A kickass one. Have a female Grimm blow into town and blow Nick’s mind. Have a really cool wessen chick come into the picture, which would be even better because then there would be all sorts of conflict! Just please, NBC if you’re reading this, I’m begging you- get rid of Juliette.
That said, everyone should totally watch this show it’s awesome. And will be even better once this freaking plotline is over. Which, I’m honestly afraid is one of those season- long plotlines. You know what, catch up next season. That would probably be best.

“The Bourne Legacy”

I have deep and abiding love for this series. I saw the first one when it came out in theatres the first week it came out, cuz it looked awesome, and was just blown away. Just completely blown away. I left it and didn’t say anything to my friend for a full three minutes before saying “I had no idea you could do that with a pen.” So I was nervous about the new movie. I mean, I get that Matt Damon can only do so many of these movies, they’re very physical and he’s in his, what 40s? Also, for the most part, Jason’s part of this story is over. He might need a small part later on, but mostly, his part is done. So I got why they were moving on to another character, especially since there’s so much more story to tell, but I was nervous. I mean, a lot of perfectly good series, both book and movie, have been ruined by this sort of thing. But, when I saw it, I was actually very pleasantly surprised. Especially since pretty much everything I’d read online was complaining endlessly about it. I don’t see why. I mean, okay, so yes, the first hour is kind of slow and you do find yourself going “Geez, we’re still in Alaska? Really?” But they’re building a story here, you have to be patient. Especially since the first part of the story is taking place concurrently with “The Bourne Ultimatum”. But that’s the cool part! It’s like they’re taking you by the shoulders and going, “Okay, yes, all of that has been happening over there, but if you’ll look over here, you’ll see all of this.” Which I thought was really, really awesome and a great way to lead into this part of the story and introduce us to our new guy, Aaron Cross. Who, btw, is really cool, fully as capable as Jason, and appears to actually have a sense of humor. He’s also played by Jeremy Renner, who I now officially love. He’s an incredibly likeable actor and and a really good actor period. He does a great job. Playing, I can’t say opposite so let’s say beside, him is another of my favorite actor’s, Rachel Weisz, whom I’ve loved since “The Mummy”. She’s a really great, smart actress and pretty much always plays great, smart characters and this time was no different. Her character, Marta, is very cool and she actually saves Aaron at least twice. She isn’t just a damsel. I really, really hope that they don’t kill her off like they did Marie.
I won’t give anything else away, since I want everyone to go see so that it makes lots of money and they keep making these movies, just rest assured that I tend to be kind of picky and I’ve seen it twice.

The Bourne Legacy (Two-Disc Combo Pack: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet)

Movie: “The Golden Compass”

This was just a terrible movie. Just- just terrible. Like, I was watching the climax and I turned to my sister and asked how much longer we had left. That’s how bad this movie was. I hadn’t read the books before, I’ve just started the first one today, but I could tell you even then that it was clearly a good story that was incredibly clumsily translated to movie form. Like, the shift from book to screenplay severely hurt it and then the same guy who did that tried to direct it. And if I had to guess I’d say he had never, in his entire life, directed a movie before. It’s the only explanation. And they changed things that made absolutely no sense. Like Lyra’s uncle/ dad in the movie is a good guy, complicated, but by all appearances a good guy. I’ve read about fifty pages of the book and a quick peek at the ending and already I can tell you he is very much not. And they made how Lyra ends up in the cupboard to overhear the stuff about Dust and to save her uncle from poisoning way more complicated in the movie than in the book. Isn’t it usually the other way around? What was the point of that? And also, the chick who played Lyra was kinda obnoxious. I almost expected a golden glow to pop up around her head during this movie, proclaiming her role as the Chosen One. She never showed any fear or doubt or hesitancy, any of the things that one would expect from a, what ten year old girl, who’s on a big, life threatening adventure. There’s no character development or insight into who she is. They call her brave, but as she never shows any fear, I wouldn’t call her brave. Without fear, there is no courage, so if she had no fear, she had no courage, I don’t care what they said.

On the upside, it had Ian McKellan in there and I always enjoy him. And the giant, talking warrior bears was mildly interesting. Not as much as I expected mind you, and not nearly as interesting as that last sentence really called for, but they were what, in any other movie, I would call a high point. I’ll let you know about the book, but honestly it can’t be worse than the movie. I’m not sure that that’s possible.

“Blood Poison” by D.H. Dublin

I’m not sure what to make of this book. It started off strong, I liked it, it was going well and then it started to lose me. It faded in the last.. half? Quarter? Bit. It faded in the last bit. I’m not entirely sure when it started to fade, but fade it did by god.

Okay, so it’s a mystery, which is a bit unusual for me. Normally I don’t go for mysteries. I tend to get impatient and read the end and then lose interest once I know who did it. Self defeating, I realize, but it’s really just not my genre. That and I have a hard time finding an author I like or characters that I like within that genre. I don’t really know why. But anyway, this one was interesting and on sale for a dollar so I figured I didn’t have much to lose. I’m not sure if I did either.

It starts off with a murder of an anonymous woman as the prologue, which is then pushed quickly to the back burner for the much more interesting case of… the guy who died of apparent natural causes in his kitchen. I thought they were trying for a thing. I decided to go with it. While the crime scene people are waiting for the paramedics to show up to take the body away, the victim’s father shows up at the guys house- while the body is still there. Awkward. The main character, Madison Cross, then strikes up a sort of friendship with the guy. She’s trying to be nice, she hangs out with him while their waiting for the van to come for his dead son, they play cards, they talk etc. And then she gets, to my mind, like way too involved in this guy’s life. She calls his doctor to get a prescription for Valium, since he’s had quite a shock, she picks it up for him, she calls social services to get him a helper, she calls his doctor for his medical records when she’s told by social services that they would need them, she goes by his house at least once a day to see him. She bends over backwards for a complete stranger. I mean, maybe I’m just not that good of a person, god knows that’s a possibility, but this is a grown ass man. Let him try to sort things out for himself first before charging in and getting all up in his business. She even goes to the son’s funeral for him. All this after hanging out for a few hours with him on a bad day. It seems a bit much. I mean, apparently her mother was murdered when she was a girl and her father emotionally abandoned her after that, soon followed by actual abandonment, which, as I understand it, can lead to that kind of behavior, but it just seemed weird. Like, every time I turned around, she was talking about Horace, going to visit Horace, needing to ask Horace some questions, investigating the death of Horace’s son and the various and sundry other people who had died in his proximity throughout his life. And then the first murder, the one that is definitively murder, the one that the book opened with for god’s sake, seems like it’s forgotten or pushed to the side. Instead, she focuses virtually all her attention on Horace, his dead son, his dead wife, his dead doctor and his apparently criminal missing son. And never once, until the end, does she ever really consider Horace as a real suspect. Dude, just because the guy’s in a wheelchair doesn’t mean he can’t find a way to kill someone. Or several someones. Honestly, he was my only suspect all along. If a good mystery novel can be judged by how much it kept you guessing, then this one was not good. When it was revealed that Horace killed everyone, including the mystery woman at the beginning, a coincidence of epic proportions that has me rolling my eyes, I was not surprised. My reaction was more along the lines of “Well, duh.” I mean, the wheelchair explanation, Munchausen syndrome, was a bit of a surprise, but the rest of it, no. (Munchausen, for anyone who isn’t familiar with it, is a psychological disorder that causes someone to pretend that they’re sick or disabled to garner attention. There’s also Munchausen by Proxy, which is when someone, usually a parent, makes someone else actually sick to garner attention. Don’t tell me television doesn’t teach you anything.)

Anyway, like I said, I liked it at first, but by the end I was rolling my eyes at the constant references to Horace, her obsessive personality and how she seemed blind to the fact that the one common factor in three separate deaths is one person. Honestly, that person either has the worst luck in the world or they’re a killer, and as a person at least associated with the cops, if not a cop herself, she should always land on the killer side first, just to be safe. Makes you wonder how good she actually is at her job.