Blogger Widgets

A Monster Calls

0 Comments
The last time I bawled my eyes out for a book was over Stephen King's The Green Mile and that happened like a bajillion years ago when I was in college. I cried on the part where Paul Edgecombe goes home after John Coffey's execution and he just collapsed from despair. The description was so raw and real that it just completely crushed my heart and it felt like Paul's pain seeped through my bones. It was truly a beautiful yet extraordinarily haunting experience. Damn Stephen! Your writing skills are dope. Anyway, I mentioned this because I was able to once again experience the sensation I felt in The Green Mile with Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls, but this time it wasn't just because the description was well-written but because I can actually relate to it.
This book wasn't exactly a priority read, but after watching the movie I bumped it up my reading list. It was short anyway so I said  "What the hey, might as well" and I finished it in just a couple of days. Again, not a fast and one-sitting reader so forgive the lengthy time frame. -_-

The story is about Conor O'Malley; a boy coping with his mother's terminal cancer and in the process unconsciously denying the inevitable. Then one night a yew tree transformed into a giant monster and went tromping into his home then... It told him stories. Anticlimactic I know, but it gets better. So every past midnight the monster came and told him odd tales of a prince, a queen, an apothecary, a parson, and an invisible man. The prince and queen is my favorite; the dark twist to it was quite entertaining. After all three stories were told, the monster demanded the last tale from Conor and there he revealed his darkest secret and worst nightmare, which in turn helped him to "let go". The last chapter really made me cry a river... I think I went to bed crying after finishing this book. It shattered my heart to pieces and it was so beautiful.     

WHAT I LOVE:

Everything
This is really one amazing book and I can't think of any other way that this should be written. The descriptions were spot on, characters were realistic, the plot was not generic, the climax really took my breath away, and the resolution was just brilliant. Heartbreaking and excruciatingly painful, but really brilliant.

WHAT I DON'T LIKE:

I Wish There Was More
I have no complaints about the ending, it was truly magnificent but I had hoped that the resolution extended to whether Conor was able to make amends with Harry, the guy he beat up to a pulp. It'll kinda be an epilogue where Harry comes back to school, sees Conor and apologizes for all the bullying. Then Conor, Harry, and Lily ends up the best of friends, signifying Conor' days will be better. Anyway, this is pretty minor and I guess it's good that Patrick Ness left this loose end for readers to weave their own conclusions, just like I did.

STAR RATING:

4.5 Stars
If a book was able to move me this much and made me cry for hours, I don't think I need to say more. This is one beautiful, touching, and soulful piece of literature. Well done Patrick Ness, you've made Siobhan Dowd proud. You didn't just put her idea in writing, but brought it to life, gave it majestic wings, and let it soar. Thank you so much.
Like I said earlier, I was able to relate to this book because, like Conor, my mother also has cancer. Oh damn! Here comes the water works... X( Anyway, when I watched this movie the cancer was still just a speculation, but when my mom had her surgery everything just went crashing down. By the time I finished this book my mom's breast cancer has already progressed to Stage 4. So you can imagine what it was like for me to read the ending... I've never felt so helpless in my life. My mom's already in her late 50's and ever since I could remember she's always had a sick body so undergoing Chemo is out of the question. She will not survive the treatment. Right now my family and I are putting our hopes to an alternative doctor who promises that 80% of her Stage 4 cancer patients have been healed. Like Conor, I believe with all my heart that my mom will be cured, but at the back of my mind is a terrible scenario that keeps replaying no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise. That fear, that nightmare, I can never seem to make it go away. At times I get the ridiculous idea that when worse comes to worst I hope a giant monster comes by my house to tell stories and help me "let go".
  

       
Disclaimer: Some of the images/gif are not mine and can be searched online

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

0 Comments
So with Lady Midnight done and a couple more months before Lord of Shadows' release, what's left for me was to finish another anthology from Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter chronicles: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy. This compilation of short stories focuses on Simon Lewis, who is also known as Clary's best friend, on-and-off-again boyfriend of Isabelle, Jace's bronemy, a former vampire nicknamed Daylighter, a victim of demon amnesia, and a certified nerd mcspaztron. Wow! Epic profile. XD

So like in The Bane Chronicles, I'll review and rate this per story and include  Cassandra Jean's comic strips since they're just totally awesome. Squee!

#1 WELCOME TO SHADOWHUNTER ACADEMY
(3.5 Stars)
So this story is basically what happened to Simon Lewis after he lost his memory in City of Heavenly Fire. If you remember in the epilogue, Magnus hinted he could reverse the demon amnesia cursed on Simon and reversed he did. Sadly, it wasn't a total undoing since Simon could barely remember anything, but at least it was enough for him to recognize his friends and how his mom... Well, how his mom disowned him for being a vampire. Ouch! So with his slightly repaired memory on Nephilim and Downworld, he decided to enter the Shadowhunter Academy to hopefully regain some of those lost bits and pieces and basically become awesome (His own words). It's a good story to start the anthology and I like the new characters introduced like George Lovelace. It's also nice that Catarina Loss was there as one of the Academy's fine teachers and Simon's discreet kind-of guardian. Moments I especially love are Simon forced to wear lady gear for being too slim and Isabelle threatening his classmates not touch her "boyfriend". That part was seriously fun. The story also has its noteworthy points on integrity like Simon standing up for the dregs (mundanes) and George sacrificing his Nephilim cred just to support Simon. Really nice.  

#2 THE LOST HERONDALE

(3 Stars)
This takes place a couple of months in since Simon entered the Academy and so far... Yeah. He's being killed in there. He's not exactly tortured or punished, but for Simon that's what Shadowhunter training feels like. Well, what can you expect from a teenage boy that have magic cards, Dungeons&Dragons, and band practice as sole physical activities? Still, you gotta admire his determination 'coz if it was me I would have dropped my sword and walked off into the sunset. I really love how Simon's struggles were a perfect combination of comedy and tragedy, but definitely mostly funny with his unwavering determination to introduce pop culture to hardcore Nephilim. From events in the Academy, this story jumps to Tobias Herondale's back story; a character briefly mentioned in Lady Midnight. According to Tavvy, Tobias's story is scary and after reading this he definitely has a very good point. In Shadowhunter history, Tobias Herondale is the legendary coward known for running away from a demon-fight that resulted in his comrades' gruesome demise. Under Nephilim law such actions are considered as unforgivable treachery and therefore punishable by death. Tobias' punishment was insane and it really gave me goosebumps just imagining it, especially when I found out what truly happened and not just the Clave's self righteous version. In this case, the law wasn't just hard it was psycho.

#3 THE WHITECHAPEL FIEND

(4 Stars)
It's always a treat for me to read stories about Will Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Jem Carstairs. Especially when it's told years after Clockwork Princess where they were already married and have kids. Well, except Jem 'coz he became a silent brother, but nonetheless still a big part of Will and Tessa's life. This is actually a story recounted by Tessa herself in one of Simon's lectures in the Academy where she pointed out that some mundane myths and legends are, in a way, true. Tessa told how she, Will, Jem, Cecily, and Gabriel were able to solve the mystery behind the infamous Jack the Ripper murders and defeated the demon responsible for it with the help of Jessamine... The friendly ghost. Badum-tsss! I'm not even ashamed. Hahaha! The descriptions are a bit on the violent side since it has to deal with brutally murdered women, but still a very nice read. It has the right amount of gore, if that makes sense. Oooh O.O

#4 NOTHING BUT SHADOWS

(4.5 Stars)
Like story #3, this is a sequel to Clockwork Princess and another teaser to The Last hours (TLH) series that will be released on 2018. Now this story takes place when characters of The Infernal Devices' (TID) kids went to the Academy, during the time when the building was still in its prime and not the disgusting hell hole Simon came to know. [Shiver] Giant slug. O_O This is one of Catarina's stories to Simon about how James Herondale, Will and Tessa's son, got bullied for his unusual golden eyes, discriminated for his inherited magical Shadow skills, and in the end expelled. And I thought my high school life was pretty bad. What's worst was a Carstairs was making his life miserable. Now that was a shocker for me since I'm a big fan of the Jem and Will bromance. It was so mind-boggling that it literally took me a few minutes to let that sink in. It's definitely not the happiest story, but there were moments I deeply appreciated and gushed over like Will showing his tender side as a loving father, Brother Zachariah (Jem) comforting James after he found out he has Shadow powers, and James gaining a best friend slash Parabatai for life. Aaw!

#5 THE EVIL WE LOVE

(2 Stars)
I'm gonna say this flat out: I hate this story. One because it's boring and two because it's focused on Robert Lightwood, my least favorite character in the entire Shadowhunter franchise. In the last books of The Mortal Instruments (TMI), I'm not sure which one, Alec and his father had a conversion about his sexuality and relationship. There Robert mentioned that he once had a best friend named Michael Wayland who he had a fallingout with during their last years in the Academy that caused his Parabatai mark to fade and weakened his "bro sense" to the point where he didn't feel Michael's death when Valentine murdered him. Our violent snowflake strikes again! Now this story, told in Robert's perspective, answers the question to why he and Michael broke up as bros and ruined the chance to be in the epic bromances hall of fame. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. -_- He narrates his years in the Academy and as member of the newly assembled Circle where he basically just followed Valentine around like a dog and most of the time was confused by a lot things. As in a loooooooooot of things. He was so ridiculous I couldn't even feel sorry for him. He was that much of a blockhead. How did he become Inquisitor? Seriously???        

#6 PALE KINGS AND PRINCES

(3 Stars)
This story left me with mixed emotions, but mostly made me sad. Sad that Shadowhunters vent their anger and hatred on the innocent Helen Blackthorn for being half Fey. Sad that Andrew and Arthur Blackthorn had to endure unimaginable and bizarre torture in the faerie realm just because of reasons. Sad that no Nephilim will ever know that a Fey has the capacity for true and pure love. Sad that the Shadowhunters have to declare the Cold Peace because it's much easier to discriminate and punish all fairies than to be lenient to the few innocent ones. In short, Faeries are messed up but the Nephilim are not any better. I've never heard of a race more proud and arrogant. As it stands, Shadowhunters seem to act more like bullies than half-angel warriors defending the weak and innocent. It's like they didn't get the memo to implement the law, but not go crazy overdoing it. Seriously Shadowhunters? Seriously??? And yes... I'm ranting about rights and injustices of imaginary characters written in a YA fiction book. Thank you Cassandra Clare, you've made me insane and I love it! Hahaha! XD

#7 BITTER OF TONGUE
(3.5 Stars)
I don't know what's worse: Receive xenophobic treatment or be abandoned by your own kind? Either way, those are pretty nasty circumstances and I can't imagine enduring any of them. It's probably as bad as eating a whole, raw onion. OMG! The horror. O_O Between Helen and Mark Blakcthorn, I think Mark had the worst end of the Nephilim prejudice. Imagine being cast away and forgotten to the clutches of beings that basically hate your guts? If you've read Lady Midnight then you know how cruel the faeries were to Mark. Just the description of his scars was enough to make my eyes water. Oh Mark. ToT Now this story is about Simon accidentally crossing paths with Mark after an Academy mission gone wrong, where he ended up falling into the realm of faeries and becoming one of its prisoners. It broke my heart when Mark asked whether Simon was sent by the Clave to rescue him and Simon had to tell him the truth. That moment was truly heartbreaking and I commend Simon for his self-restraint and cool head in explaining to Mark the whole, messy situation and encouraging him to fight and not lose hope. Now that's a true Shadowhunter. [Applause] If I haven't read Lady Midnight first this story would've had more depth and emotional impact for me, but since I unintentionally spoiled myself it fell a little umm.... Underwhelming. Still, technically it's a very good story and I enjoyed it very much regardless of the spoiler.

#8 THE FIERY TRIAL

(4 Stars)
This story confirms two things: Clary and Simon are meant to be Parabatai, while Emma and Julian are not, as in "NOT" times infinity. It begins with Clary and Simon undergoing the test of "water" to make sure that they're truly Parabatai material, and by test of "water" I meant letting them drink the poisonous water from Lake Lyn. Surprisingly, that was Jem's idea. Who knew? A former silent brother and all around good guy would actually encourage the use of hallucinogenic water just to prove a point. Well, well, well... Brother Zachariah likes to live dangerously. Damn! What's up with that lake anyway? It could just be a big pool of dissolved LSD for all we know. Oh Angel Raziel, you angel you. XD So I like that bit of the story, but when it came to the part where Simon and Clary witnessed Emma and Julian's Parabatai ceremony I kinda got a bit frustrated. The whole Emma-Julian Parabatai thing being a huge mistake was written all over the ceremony and only one of them barely got the hint: Simon. He knew there was something wrong, but couldn't quite put a finger on it. So yah... Really frustrating. I was basically yelling "Come on!!!", "Figure it out Simon!!!", and "What the hell??? Somebody stop this ceremony!!!". If my Ipad was alive it'd probably slap me upside the face and yell back "It's not real!!!". Being berated by your own gadget seems like a whole new level of low. Yikes! Hahaha! Infuriating as it is, I like the description of how the Parabatai ceremony was done. It had the right amount of magic without the gritty cheesy bits.   

#9 BORN TO ENDLESS NIGHT

(4.5 Stars)
This is my definite fave out of all the stories in the anthology. It starts with Simon and George finding an abandoned warlock baby on the Academy doorstep and having no idea what to do called Magnus who happen to be staying there as an invitation from Catarina. Alec was also in the Academy with Magnus and both of them took the responsibility of caring for the blue-colored infant. From there things just got better like the entire Lightwood family plus Jace and Clary making a hilarious fuss about the baby, Lily the vampire coming over to ask for Alec's help and advice, Maryse and Robert proposing the name "Max" to the baby and acting like normal, doting grandparents, Alec proposing to Magnus, and finally Simon having the "talk" with Alec. I love this story to death just for being terribly funny and absolutely adorable, but mostly because it foretells of a possible future where the Nephilim and Downworlders, or even mundanes, live equally. No more perception that Shadowhunters are the superior beings and those below it are just scum. No more prejudice, no more unjustified killings, and no more forbidden love. What a wonderful world, am I right? Magnus and Alec doing a somewhat "Brangelina" marriage protest was pretty cute, but the ending where Magnus voiced a sad reality to his newly adopted son was quite heartbreaking. A reality that no matter how pure and unbending Magnus and Alec's love is for each other, in the end Magnus will be the one left behind. All aboard the "Feels" train. Choo-choo! ToT

#10 ANGELS TWICE DESCENDING
(4 Stars)
This is the last story and the most difficult one to review. To be honest I've no idea how to feel about it. It completely caught me off-guard... I was all smiles, even a little teary-eyed of joy, all through-out until the end. It was like BAM! Right in the feels. It's really ridiculous that I did not see this coming after reading Cassandra Clare's entire collection, well almost since I haven't finished the Shadowhunter Codex yet. The point is I should known that she'd pull something like this, she's like the master manipulator of feels. Damn! If I had been a tad ready this shouldn't have left me numb for a couple of hours. I joke you not, I just put my Ipad down, laid on my bed, and stared at the ceiling while repeatedly asking "Why? Why? Why?" in my mind. What happened? Well, basically this story is about Simon's finishing touches before he Ascends and become the awesome Shadowhunter he always aspired to be. So before the ceremony, Simon was able to overcome his fears and doubts on whether he'll be worthy to drink from the Mortal Cup and made peace with his mom, who despite not having any memory of vampire Simon, still felt phantom guilt about betraying her own son. Simon also cleared things with George that even though they're not Parabatai they'll be blood brothers for life. Aaw! Now keep in mind that precious sentiment of Simon and George being the next Will and Jem in bromance 'coz what happened at the Ascension was truly... How do I say this? A cherry on top of an emotional roller coaster. So at the Ascenscion Simon drank from the Mortal Cup and successfully became Nephilim, even gaining his lost memories during the process. Woo-hoo! Right? NO! Not really. 'Coz while they were all busy being happy and stuff someone screamed and ended up dead. Wanna guess who? Of course it had to be George. He was deemed unworthy by the Cup and so bye-bye George. Damn it Cassandra!!! Why must you torture us with these emotions??? Sigh! YA... Why you ruin me life? If my experience with this story would have an analogy, it'd be something like this:

Cassandra: Hey Duchess Gala! Do you like balloons?
Duchess Gala: Omg! Of course I do.
Cassandra: Okay, here's a balloon and have an awesome time with it.
[Proceeds to have awesome time with balloon]
Cassandra: Hey there again, did you have an awesome time?
Duchess Gala: Oh yes! So much fun. This balloon is amazing!!!
Cassandra: Okay great.
[Pulls out pin then pops balloon]
Duchess Gala: O_O
Cassandra: Now remember how awesome that balloon was now it's gone.
Duchess Gala: O_O
Cassandra: Isn't that feeling great? You're welcome.
[Cassandra rides into the sunset with her unicorn]
Duchess Gala: O_O

At first I was a bit bitter and angry about George's death 'coz duh! But the ending where Simon takes Lovelace as his last name to honor his beloved brother was really beautiful. Heartbreaking and tragic, but very beautiful. TvT

OVERALL STAR RATING: 

4.5 Stars
I like this anthology much more than The Bane Chronicles. Not because it's better written or anything technical, but because it revolves around the first characters I fell in love with when I started reading the Shadowhunter chronicles and because I can truly relate to Simon, being a Nerd Mcspaztron myself. What I really love about this anthology is that Cassandra didn't portray Simon as the miraculous super human that the Academy has never seen before. Like bam! Instant amaze-balls Shadowhunter, the best of the best of the best. Thankfully she didn't. She gave readers the privilege to grow with Simon as he struggled to overcome the tribulations of a mundane hoping to become Nephilim. I also liked that this was not a case of insta-love where Isabelle automatically becomes Simon's girlfriend since they seem to get along well in the last chapter of The City of Heavenly Fire. They were given the realistic opportunity to have fights, to overcome frustrations, and to fall in love all over again without the shadow of vampire Simon dampening up demon amnesia Simon's sweet moves. The last story was quite the tearjerker, but I loved how it all came together and made the anthology more meaningful and precious. The entire experience felt like ripping off a Band-Aid; unworldly, excruciating pain at first, then followed by blessed relief. Oh Simon. ^^



Disclaimer: Some of the images/gif are not mine and can be searched online

Calamity Juan

0 Comments
Remember when I mentioned I was making a documentary last year and that was why I wasn't able to make that many amigurumis? Well, here's the fruit of my sleep-deprived, stress-inducing, and pitiful tear-jerking efforts... A documentary of the top 3 disasters that happened in the Philippines (My country) plus the potential uber, mega disaster that could wipe-out the whole populace of Manila and its surrounding provinces. Not exactly a cheery topic, is it?
Well, it might be a grim subject but it's very timely with all the unexpected and extreme flood, earthquakes, and typhoons going on around recently. We could blame climate change for all these disasters, which we should but then again who's fault is climate change? I'm not gonna be the stick-in-the-mud here and say it's all hopeless and we're all gonna die in a burning, water world 'coz we're tiny, brilliant destroyers of the earth. Wow! O_O Okay, that sounds a little too over the top. What I meant is climate change is basically our fault with all the pollution, non-biodegradable crap, and radioactive whatnots, but that doesn't mean it's too late or there's nothing we could do to reverse its dire effects. It may take time but it's not impossible to set things right again with mother earth and create a better world for our future generation. Okay, now that almost sounded like a UNICEF commercial.

Anyway, climate change isn't really the main subject of my documentary, I just thought to mention it since it's partly connected to natural disasters. I had the opportunity to talk about taking care of the earth so I took it.  But this is actually about preparation and acquiring the right knowledge to survive earthquakes, floods, or typhoons. It may seem like a broken record when we're constantly reminded to prepare for the worst, but if you really think about it, preparation can save hundreds of lives and prevent further disasters. Knowing what to do when the unexpected happens or what to do after it happens is vital in keeping damages to a minimum. This doesn't need expertise or a PHD, it just requires enough dedication and willingness to live and save the life of others.

So I hope this documentary doesn't just entertain you or help with your history class, but make you realize that calamities are not suppose to make you helpless. It's a destructive phenomenon that could take lives and destroy everything you love, but it's something that you could do something about. Preparation is key.
Thank you! Thank you! Hahaha! ^o^

It's not exactly NatGeo or Discovery channel material, but I hope you like it. ^^




Disclaimer: Some of the images/gif are not mine and can be searched online

China

0 Comments
This is a very, very old video I created when I was fresh out of college in 2010 and like my other video editorial projects, were done during the dreary days of my unemployment. [SHIVER!] Those were really dark times... Brushing with poverty and the possibility of ending up homeless is not a very good experience.
Anyway, it's an AVP I made for a children's church activity and the theme was to present the beautiful culture and traditions of an Asian country. So my ward got China and at first I wasn't that enthusiastic about it. I felt it was an overrated country and I'd rather go for something less featured in media like Bhutan, Laos, or Sri Lanka. But I was proven wrong during the whole process of writing the script, editing videos and pics, and adding the background music. I had so much fun. -^.^- With a fresh grad knowledge of video editing and low-tech editing program to boot, it didn't turn out as perfect as one would expect from a NatGeo documentary, but it's entertaining and educational enough to be worth watching.

Please keep in mind that this was done in 2010 and some of the figures and information might no longer be accurate.





By the way, I've been to Hong Kong last year and seeing the Pandas in person was the highlight of my whole trip. They're the cutest giant bundles of fur in the whole world. Panda is love. Panda is life!!! 

     

Disclaimer: Some of the images/gif are not mine and can be searched online

Hotel Valhalla, Guide to the Norse Worlds

0 Comments
After Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, and Kane Chornicles... Rick Riordan once again ventured into the world of mythology in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. XD

Since 2015, Uncle Rick has released two books of the trilogy: The Sword of Summer and The Hammer of Thor. The third one will be released on October called The Ship of the Dead. Squee! Excited much. So while waiting I opted to read a companion book of the franchise that provides a very entertaining insight on Norse Mythology; it's gods, goddesses, mythical beings, and creatures. Unlike Percy Jackson's Greek Gods and Goddesses and Heroes, this guide is not written exclusively in the voice of the main character Magnus Chase, instead it's interchangeably narrated by Helgi the Hotel Valhalla Manager, Snorri Sturluson, and other mentionables.

Uncle Rick didn't just write this book with the usual who, what, when, and where. He also put in interview transcripts, encounters, letters, invites, and a whole bunch of other stuff that provide a very stimulating description of Norse Mythology. There was not a dull moment for me reading through this and I was giggling at almost every turn of the page. True to his craft, Uncle Rick made this boring and lengthy mythology into something exciting, current, and whimsical without losing its educational value. I don't think I've ever learned this much about gods and goddesses even when I was in high school. Damn! I probably would've done better in school if Uncle Rick was my teacher. You know what? He should probably have his own school, like a Camp Half Blood but a mash-up of all the mythologies. It'll have magic lessons, one-on-one combat with respawn, capture-the-flag, occasional field trip slash quests, and best of all... Cafeteria with bottomless soda and endless pork roast [DROOL!]. Oh my gosh! Somebody please make this happen!!! O_O 

STAR RATING:

4 Stars
Not reading this will not have any dire consequences to your understanding of the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, but you'll definitely miss out on all the Norse fun. It's not that long, very light, and so well-written. You could totally read this in just one sitting. Unless of course you're me. -_- 

By the way, when you get to the part about Frey (Magnus' dad) you'll realize how crazy genius Uncle Rick truly is. It's probably my favorite part; the god of spring and summer doing a rap battle with his sword Sumarbrander. Yah, you heard me right. A god and sword duking it out with rap. Like I said, GENIUS!

So that ends my review and I leave this cool Magnus Chase fanart by Bruna Gonda for everyone to enjoy.



Disclaimer: Some of the images are not mine and can be searched online

The Bane Chronicles

0 Comments
Right after finishing Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices (TID) series, I went on to read an anthology that centers on the most awesome warlock of the whole Shadowhunter enterprise, Magnus Bane. It contains 10 short stories plus a bonus that tells events before TID, and during and before the last book of The Mortal Instruments (TMI).

So for each story I'll give a brief review and star rating. The comic strips are courtesy of Cassandra Jean, official Shadowhunter illustrator. I'm crazy in love with her work!!!

#1 WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN PERU
(4 Stars)
In the first book of TMI, Magnus Bane told Clary that he was banned in Peru and this story supposedly answers why. When I read reviews about this, readers were basically disappointed with the ending. It ended with Magnus Bane saying that he actually has no idea why he was banned in Peru since the council of warlocks there didn't mention anything. Frustrating right? Well, If I were to read in between the lines I'd say the question of "why" had already been answered. Everything he did in Peru was so ridiculous you need not wonder why he was banned. He was that crazy. I mostly enjoyed the parts with the cranky yet adorably funny Ragnor Fell.

#2 THE RUNAWAY QUEEN

(2 Stars)
I think this is my second least favorite out of all the stories, how Magnus Bane got tangled with Marie Antoinette and the French revolution. It also involved pissing off Marcel Saint Cloud and the entire vampire clan of Paris so I kinda expected something exciting and extraordinary that's on par with Magnus' all-round ridiculousness. Sadly it fell kinda short for me and the ending seemed anti-climactic. I did like the part where Magnus named his pet monkey after his grouch friend Ragnor (So adorable!), but other than that this seemed really bland compared to the first story.

#3 VAMPIRES, SCONES, AND EDMUND HERONDALE
(4 Stars)
This story focuses on 3 things: early Downworlder and Nephilim peace talks, Magnus' first meeting with Camille Belcourt, and Will Herondale's origins. I don't care much about the first two, but the third really caught my attention. It tells the story of how Will's mother and father met and how he gave up being a Shadowhunter just to be with her. It was quite the epic love story and a pretty good insight why Will fiercely loves Tessa. The apple didn't really fall that far from the tree. It also gives you perspective on how merciless the Nephilim can be when implementing their laws. Their punishment on Will's father (Edmund) was truly heartbreaking. The law is hard, but it is the law indeed.

#4 THE MIDNIGHT HEIR

(3.5 Stars)
I have a love-hate relationship with this story: I hate that it hints the continuation of the Herondale self-punishment streak, but love the thought of a new Cassandra Clare series. So basically, this is a teaser for another addition to the Shadowhunter Chronicles that will be released in 2018 called The Last Hours (TLH). It focuses on the next gen characters of TID and continues the story many years after Clockwork Princess, where Will, Tessa, and the other's children are already in their teens. Based on this story, it seems that the main antagonist will be Tatiana Blackthorn and her adopted daughter. In retrospect, I wouldn't wonder why Tatiana would turn into a crazy, revenge hungry villainess. What happened to her in TID could partly be her fault, but mostly it was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Poor thing. When the clouds poured down bad luck she had her umbrella upside down.

#5 THE RISE OF HOTEL DUMORT

(1.5 Stars)
Okay, now this is my least favorite of the stories. Set in the late 1920s, it tells about the end of the Jazz Age when hard liquor was banned, the Great Depression looming, and Magnus almost got sucked into the demon realm thanks to the former high warlock of Manhattan Aldous Nix. I didn't find anything significant with Magnus' encounter with Aldous, at least not anything related to the Shadowhunter chronicles. Just Magnus dealing with one old deranged warlock. If I were to put this in terms of the Anime universe, I'd say this was a filler episode. Doesn't really have anything to do with the actual arc, but it keeps the audience entertained enough to buy animators time to create the main episodes. Basically the story isn't bad, just really boring.

#6 SAVING RAPHAEL SANTIAGO

(4.5 Stars)
At the beginning of my TMI days, I used to dislike Raphael Santiago, the head vampire of the New York clan, for seeming like a jerk. But eventually I warmed up to him when he started helping Jace and Clary, and when I noticed he's got sass... Funny, funny sass. So when he got killed in City of Heavenly Fire you could say that it drove a big splinter in my heart; a significant addition to the field of splinters created by the merciless Cassandra Clare. Hahaha! XD So this story is really a treat for me, revealing Raphael's past before and after he became a vampire. It made me appreciate his character more and at the same time made that splinter in my heart dig deeper. Ow. O_O

#7 THE FALL OF THE HOTEL DUMORT

(3 Stars)
I've never seen a vampire get high in movies before, probably overly enthusiastic about good o'l untainted blood like Tom Hiddleston in Only Lovers Left Alive, but high as in doped up "I see unicorns pooping rainbows" high? No, I don't think so. You can imagine my reaction when vampires of the New York clan lead by Camille got themselves freakin' high by sucking blood from drug addicts. The 70's everybody!!! The story was interesting enough, but not exactly my cup of tea. It almost feels like watching the Downworlder version of When a Man Loves a Woman. That ending though... Something unexpected from the already unpredictable warlock.


#8 WHAT TO BUY THE SHADOWHUNTER WHO HAS EVERYTHING (AND WHO YOU'RE NOT OFFICIALLY DATING ANYWAY)
(4.5 Stars)
For me, this is the funniest story in the whole anthology. For someone who lived hundreds of years, it's ridiculous how helplessly clueless Magnus got over something simple as giving a birthday present to his boyfriend. I guess it goes to show how much he really liked the dude, otherwise a normal (no holes) sweater would've been a winner choice. The part where Magnus called Ragnor and Catarina for suggestions cracked me up real bad and the demon he summoned was as ludicrous as he was slime ugly. The gift he ended up  giving Alec wasn't exactly as FABULOUS!!! as I had expected, considering how Magnus liked everything loud and exaggerated, but still it was a thoughtful gift and I appreciated the sentiment behind it. Aaw!

#9 THE LAST STAND OF THE NEW YORK INSTITUTE

(4 Stars)
Now this story is interesting... It tells the start of Valentine Morgenstern and Luke Garroway's fallingout as Parabatai, the imminent end of the Circle, and the wipe out of the Whitelaw clan. After reading, my initial reaction was "What a mess!" Seriously! I can't even begin to describe how one night could end up so badly. And I thought the Dark War was terrible; Nephilim facing off fellow Nephilim corrupted with demon blood. But apparently, the theme in this story is much, much worse; Nephilim defending innocent Downworlders against Valentine's crazy. Although it was nice to see Luke, amidst being fiercely loyal to Valentine, choose reason over insanity and protected a werewolf child, it was pretty horrible that all the Whitelaws ended up being killed by their own kind. I could understand Valentine hacking a fellow Shadowhunter to pieces (the violent snowflake), but the Lightwoods? Stephen Herondale? A Herondale??? I mean, not even one of them stopped to say "Dude! I just stabbed a Nephilim. I think we should stop." Like I said, messed up. Magnus magically slamming Valentine across the room was very satisfying though.          


#10 THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE (AND FIRST DATES)
(4.5 Stars)
If I understood the flow right, I'd say this is the prequel to story #8 and likely happened between City of Bones and City of Ashes. Disaster first dates? Been there done that, right? First dates involving a pasta revolution and werewolf control? Yah, you gotta admit that's an original. I think this is a cute story of Magnus and Alec having their first date and testing the waters of a potential relationship. My favorites parts are Alec wearing Magnus' honest attempt of  a not-too-flashy shirt, Alec wiping his face with bread after Erik the obnoxious werewolf waiter initiated an anti-Nephilim movement with his Arrabiata, Alec pulling ninja moves on a pick pocket that took Magnus' feral wallet, Alec admitting he forced himself not to laught at the "Butt" song, and Alec showing unShadowhunter-like compassion to a Downworlder. Sigh! Alec is the total package. Magnus you lucky warlock you!!! Story #8 might be funnier, but I like this better for just being cute and sweet. -^.^-       


#11 [Bonus Story] THE VOICEMAIL OF MAGNUS BANE
(3.5 Stars)
And just when I finished talking about how Magnus and Alec make a cute couple. Sigh! If you've read City of Lost Souls then you'll know that Magnus broke up with Alec after he found out that Alec considered Camille's offer to un-immortalize (Wait, is that a word?) him. This is the sequel to what happened after that breakup, not told in storytelling fashion but a compilation of voicemails. So this is basically the fruit of Alec's innocent and benevolent request to his sister and friends to put in a good word for Magnus so they could get back together. Unfortunately it backfired, but fortunately it was hilarious as hell. Isabelle gave the craziest voicemails. I have no idea where she came up with all that stuff, but it was so ingenious I wonder why she wasn't given an award. Jace and Simon's attempts were adorable and Clary made a good pat-in-the-back effort. But out of all the voice mails, Raphael's was my favorite. Not because his message to help Alec's case was heart-felt, if anything it was judgmental and sneering, but because he gave the most awesome introduction in the history of voicemail-kind.
         
“Greetings, Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn, from Raphael Santiago of the New York vampire clan, loyal servant of our glorious Queen Maureen, forever may she reign in dark glory, and the future Prince Consort Simon, babelicious rock god."

Babelicious rock god; three words I never imagined in my lifetime would escape Raphael's lips. Epicness level: 9,000.

OVERALL STAR RATING: 

4 Stars
Some of the stories were a miss, but the rest were pretty good. All in all it was a decent read and a perfect educational reference to get to know Magnus better; his effervescence, his spontaneity, his over-the-top fashion sense, his inclination to get deadbeat drunk, his refusal to give up on love, and his hopeless compassion for Shadowhunters amidst their overwhelming ego and (at times) crooked sense of righteousness.
    


Disclaimer: Some of the images are not mine and can be searched online

Lady Midnight

0 Comments
One more thing I promised this year, other than making more amigurumis, is to blog about books I've read. Not exactly like one of those lengthy and elaborate reviews, but just bits and pieces on why I loved/hated it and why it deserved my star rating in Goodreads. I thought of doing this a few years ago but as the great procrastinator that I am I thought the best time to do so was now. Hehehe! XD

If you're thinking that I've read thousands of books... You're not exactly wrong. I've only read a little over a hundred in my current lifetime, but my to-read list includes almost 2,000. So by 95 I think I would've finished my list, that is if I don't add in any more books or get lazy... Sigh! Very unlikely. T_T Well, I may be the laziest reader ever, but make no mistake that I ever take my reading for granted. If I could just declutter my brain long enough from amigurumis, movies, anime, Korean drama, and Yu-Gi-Oh! I could actually finish a book in decent time. By decent time I meant a month... [TUMBLEWEED].


Last year I proudly proclaimed that it took me only a few months to read Cassandra Clare's entire The Mortal Instruments (TMI) and The Infernal Devices (TID) series in Goodreads, which consisted of 9 chunky books if I might add, when one of its members commented:


"I find it strange that you finished this series in a couple of months: I finish 500 page books in one day."

It's not my fault my attention span's too short to finish a book in one sitting!!!

Ahem! Anyway... Back to business. So the first book I finished this year is Cassandra Clare's Lady Midnight of The Dark Artifices (TDA) series. It's the first book in the trilogy that tells the story of Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn siblings five years from the events of City of Heavenly Fire, last book of TMI.

WHAT I LOVE:

Nostalgic Character Mentions

A few times in the story you'll come across names from the other series, like Tessa Grey, James Carstairs, Clary Fairchild, Jace Herondale, and Magnus Bane, which kinda punches you in the gut with nostalgia. Sigh! Such a bitter-sweet feeling. So before reading this, I suggest you finish up Cassandra Clare's earlier works, otherwise you won't understand the hidden references.

Forbidden Love

Who doesn't love "against all odds" love stories? I could never ship Emma and Julian enough. They're just so adorable. That whipping though... [SHIVER!]

Perfect Diego

The running joke of the entire book. I need not say more.

The Avengers

Apparently Captain America is the hottest Avenger and Cristina wants to heal the Hulk's broken heart. Priceless.

Julian Blackthorn

I can't recall another character that broke my heart more than Julian did. Imagine raising four children at Age 12, discreetly running an entire Shadowhunter institute 'coz your uncle went loony, and forcing yourself to not love your best friend. Damn! This kid deserves a trophy.   

The Fey that was Mark
Mark Blackthorn's abduction was one of my major feels in City of Heavenly Fire. So seeing him back was quite the treat, especially his efforts of being normal after years of Fey. I almost died laughing on his take on semi-formal wear. Nice!

WHAT I DON'T LIKE:

For this book, hate seems like a too strong a word so let's stick with just "don't like".

The Cheese

I love romantic stories, but not too crazy on unnecessary, cheesy lines like "Sleep my love". Really? And that came from a 17-year old girl. Yeah, not buying it. 

Parabatai Bad Juju
For those wondering why falling romantically in love with your Parabatai is forbidden, wonder no more for this book is your answer courtesy of Uncle Jem. Ever since I started this book I've been itching to know why going googly eyes over your Parabatai is illegal, as in excruciatingly painful punishment illegal. Well, I did get the answer but not exactly that happy about it. It didn't have as much gravity as I thought it would, it was just "meh!" like "that's it?". Oh well, I guess it'll be further explored in the second book. 

STAR RATING:

4.5 Stars
So basically I find this book very well written and the flow of events really smooth. I like how it jumps from present to past without giving me a headache and how it introduces new characters with interesting detail, even reintroducing old characters from former series without sounding redundant. It never had a boring moment and mercilessly made me bipolar by making me cry on one chapter then making me laugh like a lunatic on another. The characters are written realistically and complex, making it impossible to only feel one emotion about them. Oh Gwyn! You said you're one tough cookie, but actually sweet and gooey inside. XD 
If you haven't read Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters chronicles, you're missing half your life. It's a really great read and somewhat relevant to the events of today in terms of discrimination, right to living, and good trying to triumph over evil. It's really awesome.    

I can't wait for the next installment (Lord of Shadows), which will be released on May 23. Just less than 5 months left. Squee!
         


Disclaimer: Some of the images/gifs are not mine and can be searched online

The Duchess' Hands Copyright © 2012 Design by Ipietoon Blogger Template