Book Review #9 City of Bones

Hey everyone, I hope all is well and welcome to my ninth book review! This time on The Mortal Instruments book 1 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. A 485 page book so a decent size of a book. This book was recommended by a friend, and when I say recommended I mean the covers are so shiny (at least the old covers) and I kept staring at them like a creeper and finally I asked about them, so she gave me the first book in the series to read! Before I took the book home to read I never knew it was turned into a tv series or a movie. To be quit honest I’ll never watch the movie, with a bad rating of 12% on Rotten Tomatoes I’m not interested. I did see the trailer it looked really bad I mean Jace who is suppose to be handsome and toned like a well fit athlete looks like a recovering meth head with a bad bleach job to his hair. If you have watched the movie, I’m sorry but don’t let that terrible movie alter wanting to read the book, Hollywood did that series no justice. What is also unfortunate is the covers of the book are changing the City of Bones cover has the movie actors on it and who wants that? However this is not a movie critique it’s a book review, but I had to get that out there, so lets get started!

Overview: Clary Fray, a regular teenager of 15 living in New York City is out for a night on the town at the Pandemonium Club. Clary hardly expects to witness a murder at the club committed by three teenagers with strange markings all over them. This murder is Clary’s first encounter with the Shadowhunters: the gorgeous golden haired Jace and the dark haired brother and sister duo of Alec and Isebelle. Clary learns that the Shadowhunters are warriors dedicated to destroying demons that humans can’t see and keeping the world safe from what Clary thought were mythical creatures in story books. After Clary’s first interaction with the Shadowhunters her world gets turned upside down when her mother disappears and is attacked by a demon in her apartment. But why would demons attack Clary? She was just a regular human who shouldn’t be seeing demons like the rest of the humans in New York City. Clary must now join Jace and the rest of the Shadowhunters to know why these strange things are happening to her and find her mother.

My Opinion: I very much enjoyed this book I give it a 3.5/5 stars! Even though I’m a bit too old for young adult books I really enjoyed it. Cassandra is a magnificent author it’s no surprise this series was on the New York Best Sellers list. Plus with the Mortal Instruments Series and other series she has written I will be happily occupied for a while! Cassandra’s writing style is amazing, it was so fluid and mesmerizing. Great transitions of the story from chapter to chapter and scene to scene it was all so wonderful.

I’ve always been a really big fan of fantasy with mythical creatures so I was super excited to know City of Bones had all of that but in a modern setting. The story was absolutely fantastic. With a great plot that kept the story moving along and was exciting with plenty of action. The talking parts were not a pain to read through, you learn the background of the world and the characters in way were it is really enjoyable! Plus they do move the story along.

The characters were all lovable, that includes the villains. Clary was so awesome! She was smart, resourceful, witty, and down to earth. Clary is another female hereon that is just amazing to read about and cheer on in the story. I’m glad Clary exist for teenagers to read and look up to, she is what a strong, real and relatable girl looks like, not Bella Swan that’s for sure. Jace was another one of my favorite characters. Jace was amazing because he added great dialogue and conflict to Clary which was funny to read. The rest of the characters added to the story as well but are not as prominent in the story like Clary and Jace.

The only problems I had with the City of Bones was the romance and the predictability aspects. The romance aspect is a very small part of the book so it’s not like the book is a romance genre. I won’t bash on the romance too much and go into too much detail about it as well because City of Bones is a young adult book. So it’s not too much of a surprise that there is young love. But I seriously prefer the romance in City of Bones over Twilight  any day. City of Bones was pretty predictable so I guessed what mostly was going to happen in the book before it happened, but again young adult book. I know the romance and the predictability of City of Bones isn’t really a problem when it comes to the story. I only bring up these concerns that I had for any reader who doesn’t fit in the age zone of young adult genre and is curious about reading it.

The ending of City of Bones had a good stopping point that could be continued on in the next book. Without giving the reader too much of a cliff hangar anxiety the ending wrapped up a lot of ties in City of Bones however, there are a lot of unanswered questions that will be either brought up again or answered in the next book or other books further down the series. So there are a lot of thing I’m still curious about for the rest of the series that I’m excited to find out about. I would recommenced City of Bones even if a reader is not in the young adult age. The story is just so wonderful and so fluid. Putting the book down to take a break felt like you were disturbing a nice quiet evening!

Image cover credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/0f/City_of_Bones.jpg

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Book Review #8 Analyzing Mad Men

Hello everyone and welcome to my eight book review. This time I wanted to do a scholarly book on pop culture so I choose the book Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series edited by Scott F. Stoddart. So this book review is going to be done a little bit differently because the book is complied of 12 essays by different authors all about the Mad Men TV series. So I will review the book as a whole and just several selected essays. If you are wondering why Mad Men? Well I love the series I loved the TV show when it started and when it ended. Also the 60s is one of my favorite periods in history. And before you become that person I do realize that Mad Men doesn’t truly portray what living was truly like in the 60s. It does give a glimpse and nostalgia but no one can ever remake the 60s or anytime period, you can only experience it during the actual period itself. Also if you have not seen the show this review will have spoilers to the show so just a warning. Let’s get started!

Overview: Like previously stated Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series contains 12 critical essays that have a broad interdisciplinary approach on the first three season of Mad Men. These essays: are broken into four parts: The Contexts of Mad Men, The Politics of Mad Men, The Women of Mad Men and The Nostalgia of Mad Men. The titles of the four parts are  explanatory as to what is going to be covered in each part. The Context of Mad Men: what Mad Men depicts on the show and the underlying tones in the show. The Politics of Mad Men: politics of advertisement, capitalism, products and utopia. The Women of Mad Men: addressing sexism, women in the work place, motherhood and progressive women. The Nostalgia of Mad Men: addressing that Mad Men is a period piece and is a nostalgia trap.

There is no real beginning or end to Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series, no story or narrative to follow since all the essays are all analytical essays. The reader can start anywhere in the book and not fell like they missed something. I did read all of them but any other reader can just read a few essays, all of them, or just one if they felt like it. None of the essays in Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series ever really reference each other so a reader doesn’t need to read one essay to understand another.

My Opinion: So I will give two ratings to this review, one for the essays in general and one for the book. Why need two ratings? Because these essays are a collection, each essay was written individually without the need to be in the Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series nor with the initial intention of being in this book. Basically Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series can only exist because of these collective essays but the essays don’t need to be in this book to be published.

The essays get a 4/5 stars! These essay are critically analyzing Mad Man in a scholarly style. Not a personal style. For me it was great to find such a  in-depth critical view of Mad Men. Each author breaks down, finds and address themes in cinema, theory’s, philosophy’s, politics, civilization growth and much more in the Mad Men series. The essays I select to expalin will only summarize a little of the essay, not all of it.

One of my favorite essays in Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series is titled: “”We’ll Start Over like Adam and Eve”:The Subversion of Classic American Mythology” by Melanie Hernandez and David Thomas Holmberg. This essay addresses several themes: civilizing oneself, the rebirth of an image for oneself, and “the American Adam” myth. In the Mad Men series we the viewer know that Don Drapper has it all: a great job, beautiful wife, kids, a good house what is described as the perfect life. Don is a civilized man, but it does not bring him happiness. Don wants to escape this civilized way of life by wanting to run away while on a business trip to California and staying there to reinvent himself. As the viewers already know but Hernandez and Holmberg explain that Don has already reinvented himself once during the Korean war when Done was in the army and his army mate died and took his identity. But again Don wants to escape his life and reinvent himself again as Hernandez and Holmberg describe it as “the American Adam” myth. “The American Adam” myth is basically a cultural mythology that Eden reemerges from the American wilderness (usually the West), where Adam can reemerge as nothing to start a brand new life and make himself into something. Hernandez and Holmberg address other characters in Mad Men who struggle with the same themes but I love Don’s struggle of wanting to leave everything behind even though his life could be seen as perfect.

My second favorite essay is titled: “Every Women is a Jackie or a Marilyn: The Problematics of Nostalgia” by Tonya Krouse. Krouse, addresses the women in Mad Men of how they mostly fit into two categories: Jackie Kennedy or Marilyn Monroe. Jackie’s type would be the innocent loving house wife who can do no wrong by her husband which would be Betty Drapper. Marilyn’s type would the the sexy seductress who knew how to use her body and sexuality to her benefit which is Joan Holloway. Krouse addressed the benefits and struggles of the two main types of women. Betty has to sacrifice her image, personalty and freedom to be the perfect housewife for Don. Joan was not always taken seriously around the office or seen a women to have a long relationship with. Krouse also addresses  Peggy Olson’s character as Peggy did not fit into the Jackie or Marilyn type, she was her own woman and had the struggles and benefits of being Peggy Olson.

Of course all the book in whole will get 4/5 stars as well because the essays do make up the book. But the biggest down fall of the Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series is the essays get very repetitive over the span of reading the book. I’m pretty sure it’s not what the authors had in mind for writing their essays because these essay were published before the book came out. My suggestion is to read the essays out of order that way the essay themes don’t get too repetitive and the reader can read the different parts of Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the TV Series at a time instead of reading it front to back. I recommend this book to anyone who loves Mad Men or wants a more critical in-depth perspective to Mad Men

 

Book Review #7 Kushiel’s Dart

Hello everyone, I hope you had a good Labor Day weekend I know I sure did! Welcome to my seventh book review on Kushiel’s Dart By Jacqueline Carey. Depending on which copy of the book you have or get will depend on the page numbers you have to read, the first print copy of the book is around 912 pages or the new cover remake is about 654 pages, so a pretty long read. Don’t get cocky with new remade covers that only have 654 pages it’s size is bigger than most books with slightly smaller text, they just remade the style of the book itself.

So a little bit of background about Kushiel’s Dart before I do the review. This book was recommended to me by a very good friend who absolutely loved the series and let me borrow the first book. Kushiel’s Dart is actually the first book of the Kushiel and Naam saga. There are nine book in total of the saga in three different parts. Each part of the saga has its own trilogy of books with its own story that ties all together in the same universe. The first part of the saga trilogies include Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen and Kushiel’s Avatar. So with that stated I must make a rule for any books that I review that are a saga, trilogy or series: I will only review the first book of any series. I feel if I review about later books in any series it’s going to have major spoilers. So now lets move onto Kushiel’s Dart!

Overview: Phédre, a young girl born with a scarlet mote in her eye, a blessing from a deity that is either a curse or a blessing to find pleasure in pain. As a very young child Phédre is sold to the Court of the Night-Blooming Flower to become a beautiful but anonymous courtesan. While Phédre is still a young child, she is sold to a Nobel men named Anafel Delauney, who recognized her rare scarlet mote and sees great potential in her. Delauney trains Phédre to not only be a great be a great courtesan in the bed chamber but also trains her in history, politics, language and so much more. As her training goes along we also as the reader see Phédre grow to be a beautiful, smart young woman, an ultimate weapon in the dangerous courts. During her time in the courts, Phédre learns of a conspiracy against the throne but she is too late to warn anyone as invaders from the north come and take her home land along with traitors within her own country. Phédre must now be the one to save the throne and her home land because she is one of a few who knew about the invasion and who the traitors are. Joined by her trusted body guard Joscelin they must cross the borders and rally armies before everything in her homeland is lost from the traitors and invaders!

My Opinion: Even though there might be no such thing as a perfect book, this book is perfect to me! It is one of my favorite books of all time! So I give this book a 5/5 stars. Kushiel’s Dart is just so amazing I was able to get the rest of the series and reread this book so I’m just really excited.

First off, the story is amazing: great characters who develop so well within the story, and most importantly a great story arc. I got lost int this story so many times that I really did hide away from the world for a few days just to continue reading this book. I will admit I’m not the biggest fan of books and novel whose setting is olden times, like the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. However Kushiel’s Dart was so amazing the time setting doesn’t really matter, the story does better as a Middle Age setting than any other time period. The conflict and the pacing was amazing too. There never really was a part that I thought needed to change it would ruin the story or the pacing. Though the main story plot is a common trope of saving the world, Jacqueline wrote Kushiel’s Dart in such a unique way the story feels original to a common trope.

The characters were just fabulous. Phédre is an amazing female hereon that I can stand beside this character and admit she is fantastic. Phédre is smart, brave, beautiful, fun and a well-grounded person. Phédre develops throughout the story for the better and when she is faced with conflict she isn’t freighted and uses her strengths to her benefit and it works out for her because she is so smart. Phédre’s strengths are relatable she isn’t some average person who can do amazing things because the author said so with no real reason as to why she is great, Phédre is great because she made herself great and the reader can see it. Phédre has passion for learning and her passion made her the amazing person she is in the book. Phédre is a character we can all love and cheer for. For the villains as much as I wanted their plans to be ruined by Phédre I still loved them too, they are a villain I love to hate.

Jacqueline Carey can write an amazing story, her writing style is amazing. Even during slow parts, parts mostly with dialogue or back ground it’s still entertaining to read. Kushiel’s Dart is a book readers don’t need the feel to skip or skim parts, it’s just that good. Nothing against Game of Thrones or City of Bones but Kushiel’s Dart would make a great TV series.

As stated before Kushiel’s Dart has a continuation of the story so as far as endings go it has a great stopping point leaving readers excited to go to the next book. Now what I’m mostly excited about for the next book is that most of the conflict in Kushiel’s Dart is wrapped up really nicely. So it leads me to wonder what’s going to be the main plot in the next book. It just blows my mind that Jacqueline Carey was able to write such a long book with a great plot that has a long saga with books just as big and long as Kushiel’s Dart and the saga continues to have a great plot throughout the saga and it doesn’t get boring or loses the excitement for how long of a series it is. I highly recommend this book to all readers, even people who don’t read should read this book.

 

Book Review #6 Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City

Good day everyone, hope all is well! Welcome to my sixth book review, this time I will be reviewing a historical book called Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin. A good size book of 372 pages. I will admit I cheated a little with this book because I read this book earlier in the year for grad school, but I still remember the content of the book as if I had to write an assignment.

Overview: It’s 1927, Henry Ford is one of the richest men in American dominating the auto industry.  Ford now wants to try his hand with the rubber industry, so Ford buys land in the Brazilian Amazon twice the size of Delaware to achieve this industry. Ford’s ultimate goal is to have a thriving rubber plantation run by the locals who will have conformed to the American way and around the rubber plantation there will be a thriving city filled with American luxuries. But, immediately after Ford bought the land for the rubber plantation and city that was going to be Fordlandia there are problems: the untamable jungle of the Amazon, bad management sent from America to oversee the plantation, and the indigenous population rejection of the American way and culture. Along with the broken promise of Ford himself coming to visit the people of Brazil. The reader gets to experience the fallen rubber empire that the mighty Henry Ford failed to produce.

My Opinion: For Fordlandia being a book I had to read for grad school I really enjoyed it. I give this book a 4/5 stars! Not for being a topic I enjoy for history purposes but how accessible to is to historians and casual readers. Like Erik Larson’s books Greg writes Fordlandia in a novel style, not like a dry history books like a lot of scholarly history books are. Also a bonus it’s a history book written by an actual historian not a politician (Sorry people who are Bill O’Riley fans but I don’t find his work creditable even if he does have a history degree, it’s not scholarly work).

Greg breaks up Fordlandia into three parts: a beginning, middle and end. Greg had a great part 1 to start Fordlandia of how Ford went about wanting to be in the rubber industry, buying the land, and working with American politicians to work with the Brazilian government for the land and workers. Part 2 of Fordlandia shifts to daily life and struggles of getting the plantation started and running and the people living there. Part 3 of Forlandia focus on the fall and abandonment of the plantation all together. From the beginning Greg addresses all the triumphs (even if there wasn’t a lot when it came to Fordlandia) and struggles to the end of the plantation.

Though Fordlandia focus on a more negative time in Ford’s life, Greg is not scrutinizing Ford for being a terrible person. Greg is addressing and bringing awareness to a time where Ford didn’t do his best or have the best judgment, and abandoned a project. Also the effects the rubber plantation on Ford, the workers both local and Americans down in Brazil and the ecosystem. To this day the buildings of the plantation are still up in Brazil, in very bad shape though and abandoned but still there if people ever want to visit.

Because it is a history book there is no cliff hanger or surprise ending like a novel, just a straight to the point ending that doesn’t really leave much questions for the reader. Greg does have a very good ending to Fordlandia even though it was not a happy ending. Though when it comes to history, historians can’t get the full story from just one book. Historians must have other sources to help claim and back up evidence but Greg does have great sources for Fordlandia of other scholarly books and articles to back up his claims and evidence. The other scholarly sources used in Fordlandia could be used if a reader wanted to continue to research about the failed plantation of Fordlandia. Fordlandia is a great start because it’s an enjoyable read then a reader or researcher can jump into the heavier reads of scholarly works. Anyway, I recommend this book to both historians and casual novel readers. I also plan to read more of Greg’s works because in general they’re great.

 

Cover Credit: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51ujR5Va8xL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Book Review #5: BoyzNite

Hello everyone and welcome to my fifth book review! This review is on the short story “BoyzNite” by Xane J. Fisher. A very short story that only consist of 12 pages and only offered digitally. Though it is a short read it’s a very good read and an easy way to add a book to your list of books you have read!

Overview: The reader follows Ian Peters, a young law student who has come to live with his family in Oregon for the summer until the next semester of school starts in California.However the story only focuses on the first day and night that Ian has arrived home, with his reconnections with his friends and family and an epic night of partying. Though “BoyzNite” does have a small plot the story mostly focuses on Ian’s thoughts and emotions. The reader mostly engages with Ian and his struggles of seeing how his old home town and those in it have changed for better or worse.

My Opinion: Though I will admit I’m not the biggest fan of short stories, I don’t seek them out because I like to read a long story. However this short story was fantastic I give this book and 4 out of 5 stars!! “BoyzNite” is a very relatable story  for a good amount of people. Even I can relate to this story, even though I am not a man. Which is probably why I’m giving this short story such a good rating, but I will focus on three ways this story is relatable to the masses.

One, Ian is 25 growing up in probably 2016 (there is no date mentioned in the story but it refers to themes in the 21st century) so this character would be in my generation so he reflects a small part of the struggles of our generation. Ian struggles to be himself in a society that he feels doesn’t need him or his opinions also Ian feels he needs to live up to an older generation where he will never fit in.

Second, the party that Ian attends was a way for him to reconnect with his old life and friends which we all do from time to time. A party that will release Ian from his responsibilities, reality and future. A night to escape until tomorrow comes. We all need that party to lose yourself in: forgetting your troubles, reconnecting with old friends. A nostalgic feeling  with old friends that reminds you why life is worth living.

Third, the conflicting differences of peoples different lives compared to your own life. When Ian comes back to his old hometown he is the only one out of family and friends with a excellent college education. Everyone Ian knows had big plans and dreams for their life which were never achieved and they had to fall back on second best and got stuck with a second best life. Especially when it comes to Ian’s brother Devin and old middle school sweetheart, Kristen. Devin has not followed in his brother’s footsteps of going to a prestigious college and lives life his own way, which Ian silently judges. Ian keeps wanting to lecture his brother about improving his lifestyle, but keeps his thoughts to himself. For Ian’s old sweetheart he learns Kristen’s struggle to handle the life that has been dealt to her. Ian is conflicted of how to help because college has paved a very bright future for him and doesn’t understand the struggles of people who have a hard life or those who can’t go to college to change their life. Ian can’t sympathize with people who have a hard life because he won’t have one. Whether the reader or someone the reader knows whether they did or didn’t go to college and have a bright future there are people in your past who presently have a hard life and a not so bright future, sometimes you can’t help them because you don’t know how or you just can’t in general. It’s how life is.

The ending was great! Xane left the ending very satisfying with a small cliff hanger. Xane could have continued the story but it’s a story that doesn’t need to be continued, it’s great where it left off. The continuation of the story can be left up to the readers imagination as well. I highly recommend this story I’m also hoping that Xane writes more stories in the future!

 

*A special thanks to Royal James Publishing company for letting me have the ARC to review this book!

Cover Image credit source: Amazon