Trashy Tuesday – The City of Bones

I know.  It’s hard to believe we’re done with the Stone Age.  Unfortunately, we have to move on to something else, and this is it.  Don’t sigh, it’ll be fun.  Promise.

Cassandra Clare used to spell her last name ‘Claire’ and was a huge name in the world of Harry Potter fanfic.  There were allegations of plagiarism and getting people to buy her new computers…all of the stuff that generally happens in fandoms, but multiplied times a billion.

Anyway, when Em asked me to read the second one so she knew whether to continue with the series, I jumped on it.  “THAT’S JUST WHAT I NEED FOR THE NEXT TRASHY TUESDAY,” I said.  I didn’t care that the covers were gross or that I knew they’d be horrible.  I looked forward to it.  This is what I love the most, talking trash about…trash.

So.  This book.  Take Harry Potter, Buffy, X-Men, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars (and a bunch of other things I’m probably forgetting right now) and put them in a blender with internetisms and leather pants.  You’ll have this book.

Excuse me.  You’ll have this series, because somehow she’s managed to put out FOUR BOOKS already, with more on the way.

Everything is perfectly normal for perfectly normal Clary before the night she witnesses a group of tattooed hooligans murder another teen at a dance club…until she realizes she’s the only one who can see both the hooligans and the kid that was killed.  The next day she gets into an argument with her mother about leaving town for the rest of the summer and storms off.

She heads out for coffee with her BFF Simon, and while there, runs into one of the tattooed kids from the night before…but he no longer has any tattoos.  Oh, and she thinks he’s super cute and agrees to leave the coffee shop to talk to him.  Smart girl, Clary.  Super smart.

While she’s talking to him outside, her mom calls and there’s a ruckus in the background.  Her mom tells her she needs to call Luuuuuuuuuuuuke because he’s the only one she can trust, then the line dies.  Instead of thinking and calling the cops or anything a normal person would do, Clary takes off running for home.  She gets there to find that their house is trashed and she can’t find her mom anywhere.  When she enters her room, she’s attacked by some kind of demon that she manages to kill all by herself, but not before it stings her.

Newly non-tattooed Jace shows up with his magic stele (think wand, tattoo gun and sonic screwdriver all combined into one) and rescues her from the demons disguised as cops – that show up to clean up the mess – and he takes her back to the Institute.  Mutant Academy The Institute is a kind of safe-house and school for travelling Shadowhunters and their children.  Shadowhunters are actually nephilim, a group of people that’ve pledged to rid the world of demons.  They got their powers by drinking the blood of an angel from the Mortal Cup.  After that, anyone who drank from the cup became a Shadowhunter, but the Cup has been missing for the last 15 years (conveniently, that’s how old Clary is).  13 Grimmauld Place The Institute is also hidden in plain sight.  Mere mortals (called Muggles Mundies) can not even sense its presence, you have to be a Shadowhunter, vampire, werewolf or warlock to know it’s there.  Oh, but vampires can’t enter because it was once a church and the ground is still sanctified.

While there, she meets the other two teens (Alec and Isabelle, brother and sister, their family has essentially adopted Jace since his parents died) that were with Draco Jace the night she witnessed the murder (but they were actually killing a demon, so everything’s cool there) and Professor Xavier Barty Crouch Jr Hodge.  Hodge was once part of a group of rogue Shadowhunters that called themselves Deatheaters The Circle.  Their leader was a man named Voldemort Valentine, and their purpose was to rid the world of all demons and Mudbloods Downworlders (this list includes all vampires, warlocks and werewolves).  When Valentine was destroyed/went into hiding (no one is really sure which), the Circle was disbanded and all of its members were caught and punished.  Hodge’s punishment was rather severe.  He’s forced to spend the rest of his days inside the Institute.  If he steps outside, he’ll die.  Choosing life over death, he’s become tutor to the kids that live there.

Everyone wonders how Clary is able to see all of these things she shouldn’t be able to.  Muggles Mundies can’t see magic Shadowhunters if they don’t want to be seen, nor are they able to see Grimmauld Place the Institute.  Hodge calls on Jeremiah, one of an order of magical monks known as the Silent Brothers, to delve into her mind to see what’s up with the what’s up.  He discovers a mental block that he can’t get past, so takes Clary and Jace to the home of the Silent Brothers – the City of Bones.  They do all of their mystical mumbojumbo to try to get past the block, but all that comes up is a name.  MAGNUS BANE

No, really.  That’s his name.  And guess what?  Isabelle just happens to have an invite to a rager he’s having at his place that very night!  Alec, Isabelle, Jace, Clary and Simon (for some reason) all head to the party.  Jace stops outside to check out the sweet flying motorcycles driven by Sirius Black vampires, and pulls a prank on the bloodsucking fiends by putting holy water in the gas tank.  Since the motorcycles are fueled by demons, this is supposed to completely dissolve the engine or something…I don’t know, the explanation was pretty sucky. (HA!  Punintentional.)

Anyway, at the party they discover that Magnus is the High Warlock of Brooklyn and he has been erasing Clary’s memories since she was two, but only her mom can put things right.  (Remember Clary’s mom?  The one that was kidnapped at the beginning?  Yeah, I’d forgotten too.)  Magnus flirts with Alec (Alec swears he’s not gay, but is constantly casting longing glances in Jace’s direction), Simon tries to impress Isabelle by drinking some faerie drink and gets turned into a rat.

The vampires get pissed about the holy water prank, try to start a brawl and Magnus kicks everyone out.  Clary realizes that Peter Pettigrew Simon is missing and they all come to the conclusion that he must be with the vampires, who thought the rat was one of their own.  Jace and Clary head to a vampire nest downtown to get Simon back and are helped by a kid they meet in the alley outside.  They get in and it turns out the kid is a vampire, the acting leader of the Vamps Take Manhattan or whatever they called themselves.

Rat Simon takes a bite out of the vamp that’s holding him and they try to make their escape as some werewolves come out of nowhere.  They steal a flying motorcycle, and crash it as the sun comes up (demon bikes only run at night).  Once back at the Institute, Simon goes off to sleep to recover from his injuries while Clary and Jace make out in the greenhouse.  Clary figures out where the Mortal Cup is and all the kids go to get it.  It’s being held (unknowingly) by the fake witch that lived downstairs from Clary her whole life.  Mommy hid the Cup in a tarot card she drew for the neighbour, and Clary’s developing powers will enable her to remove it.

While there, they’re betrayed by the fake witch and a greater demon comes to destroy them all.  Luckily, Simon thinks to shoot out the skylight with an arrow and the demon dies in the sunlight.

They hightail it out of there, and take the Cup to Hodge, cos he’s the only adult left in this story.  Hodge betrays them, he’s still working for Voldemort Valentine.  He touches his Dark Mark uses a magic mirror to call him and Valentine appears to remove Hodge’s curse and abscond with both Jace and the Cup.  Clary tries to follow Hodge, but gets snatched by a bunch of werewolves.  Those werewolves are led by Luke, her mom’s best friend.  Luke has some bad news for Clary, namely that Valentine is her father, not some soldier that was killed before she was born.

They make the super smart decision of going after Valentine, Jace and Jocelyn (Clary’s mom) and the werewolves launch a full scale assault on their hiding place.  Clary, Luke and a few of his pack members make it inside.  They find Jocelyn knocked out and hooked up to an IV, bound with silver chains.  While Luke is distracted by that, Clary sneaks off and finds Valentine and Jace.

There is much monologuing.  During the speech talking about how brilliantly evil he is, he reveals that not only is he Clary’s father BUT JACE’S AS WELL.  EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW, girlfriend, you made out with your brother.  Grooooooooooooss!

Luke shows up, he and Jace fight Valentine.  Valentine escapes through a portal to the Shadowhunter Home Country, where he’s hidden the cup.  He implores Jace to join him so together they can rule the galaxy as father and son, but Jace refuses.

Clary takes her mom to the hospital because she’s in a coma and heads back to the Institute.  There she finds Magnus flirting with Alec (the warlock is a great healer and ‘hey, I healed you!’ is a fantastic pickup line) and Jace.  They get all weepy about how they can’t be together because they’re related.

REALLY?!  Your mother is in a coma, you’ve just learned about werewolves, vampires and magic…and the thing you’re most worried about is that YOU CAN’T MAKE OUT WITH YOUR BROTHER?!

Ew.

On Exploding TARDISes, Van Gogh and Fandoms

“Meghan!  Remind me to rant about this tomorrow!”

So she did (<3).  This is actually a rant that’s been a long time in coming, it was just something that I saw last night that really set me off.

The Catalyst

The above poster was on super sale last night.  Like, unbelievably, ridiculously cheap.  Meg saw it and sent me the link and we both ooooohed and aaaaahed over it, while wondering if there was something wrong with it.  How can it be sold for less than a dollar?  Not only is it a reference to one of the finest hours of television ever (not just Doctor Who, but EVER), but it’s also a pretty awesome riff on Starry Night.  Did the warehouse they were stored in explode, and these were saved by the Doctor himself at the last minute?  We will probably never know, but that isn’t really the point.  I’m going to get to the point now.

In an effort to see if this deal really was too good to be true, I started reading some of the reviews.  Only a few mentioned that it was packed poorly, there was one where the person was sent the wrong poster, but the majority were incredibly positive.  I don’t really care about that, but as I read the reviews I started to get more and more angry.  Why was I getting angry?  Because SO MANY of these people who profess to be fans of the Doctor were going on and on about how this poster was so great because they could hang it in their home, and their “cool friends” (yes, really) would never know that it was a geeky reference.  One person even referred to himself as a “stealth nerd.”

Excuse me?

First of all (and I’m really trying hard not to swear a lot, here), Doctor Who isn’t really that geeky.  The show will be celebrating it’s fiftieth anniversary next year.  It’s practically the Official Show of Britain (I know that isn’t a thing, but it damn well should be), and at this point in time the official facebook page has almost 2 million likes.  I realize that isn’t anything compared to Twihards, but…still.  That’s a lot of fans.

Secondly, why should you have to hide a television show that you like from your friends?  I’m completely serious about this.  1.  If your friends won’t want to be friends with you anymore because you like a British TV show, you need better friends.  2.  I realize this is just my opinion, but if you feel you have to hide something you like (unless it’s weird fetish pr0n or Twilight), then maybe you’re not the huge fan you think you are.

I’m a member of many fandoms.  I’ve loved the Doctor for most of my life (and my kids do, too), I don’t remember a life without Star Wars, and I have harboured an borderline unhealthy obsession for Harry Potter since I was pregnant with my oldest.  Add to that the fact that I’ve read and re-read LotR every year since I was 8, the entire H²G² ‘trilogy’ every year since I was 14 and that I’ve seen every Star Trek episode and movie (most many times), and I think you’ll agree that my geek flag flies pretty high.  I’ve never felt the need to hide any of it, though.  Ever.   I like what I like.  If you don’t like it…well, then I guess we can either not talk about it, or you can just shut up.

I read what I read, I watch what I watch and I don’t feel the need to apologize for myself or to anyone for the things I love.  I’ve never even had the urge to hide anything I’ve read (the one exception would have been if I’d won this book from first reads), because what’s the point?  My husband laughs when I geek out over Whedonverse stuff (luckily we share that one), new Harry Potter gifts I get from my friends and my lengthy comic book rants, but he loves me either in spite of or because of all that.

Yes, I really was that thrilled. LOOK AT MY HAPPY FACE!

To all “stealth nerds” out there.  Knock it off.  Don’t make me put you on my “want to punch in the face” list.

On Being a Geek Parent

My husband and I are huge Star Wars fans.  HUGE.  Episode I came out when I was pregnant with our oldest, and I didn’t make a single trip to the bathroom when we went to see it on opening day.  That should tell you something right there.  Granted, I walked out of the theatre disappointed, but that didn’t stop us from seeing the rest of the prequels when they came out…the urgency was no longer there though, and that was the last time we went opening day.

I choose to believe this is why our oldest became a Star Wars fanatic.  He asked my husband about some pears he was eating the other day, and when he learned they were bosc pears, he made a bounty hunter joke.  That’s awesome, right?  Win right there (if you don’t get the joke I’m not sure I want you reading my blog anymore, but just in case).  His best Christmas ever was the year he unwrapped roughly a billion Star Wars toys, including Lego sets that my husband and I  had to build: 

Fett’s Vette

The Star Wars gifties continued for a few years, and one of the proudest parenting moments we’ve had was the day he was chosen to participate in the Jedi Training Academy at Disneyland…even if he nearly threw a fit because they wouldn’t let him use his own light saber (which, in truth, was far nicer than those they let the kids use during the show).

Right before he gave Darth Maul a beat down.

The light saber he wanted to use.

There was also the year he dressed up as Darth Vader for Hallowe’en:

Awwwwww, yeah.

And the time he got to have his picture taken with a life-sized Darth Vader made out of Lego bricks:

So, we like to think we did a pretty good job with the first kid.  We thought the rest were doing pretty well, too.  The two younger boys recognized and could name Boba Fett before their second birthdays.  They all got super excited the year daddy got this as a gift:

He’s no good to me dead.

We’ve even been preparing Baby Girl for a life of Star Wars geekdom.  This is a picture of her first viewing of Empire with my dad.  Don’t let the look on her face fool you, she was totally into it.

She’s just sad about the deaths of the independent contractors that were killed, working on Death Star II. Never forget.

All of the above should be evidence of parenting win, right?  I thought so.  Until this morning.  I was all excited when the younglings asked if they could watch Star Wars today.  I told them to go grab whichever one they wanted to watch, and I’d put it in.  The smile disappeared from my face when they walked in, triumphantly waving Episode III.

I’ve obviously failed them.

Book Review – Inheritance

Book Blurb: Not so very long ago, Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider—was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.

Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances.

The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaësia? And if so, at what cost?

This is the much-anticipated, astonishing conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle.

Non –spoilery thoughts: What a complete and utter disappointment. I really don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but it surely was not this. I am amazed I finally finished it, because it was really just that bad. I sighed every time I picked it up, and couldn’t bring myself to read more than 50 pages at a stretch.

I noticed that in the acknowledgements, the author thanked no less than FIVE editors. I feel like each and every one of those editors should be fired and never allowed to work in the publishing industry again. Harsh? Perhaps. Unfortunately, this is a book where the run-ons run on and on, the punctuation is atrocious and there are so many misspelled and misused words it will make any lover of the English language want to weep. There were so many extraneous parts of the story – I feel like the book could have been half the size and still managed to tell the same tale. If it had been half the size, it might actually have been enjoyable. Here’s an example of one of the worst sentences in the book: “Of warmth and growth they sang, of muscle and sinew and pulsing blood they sang, and of other, more arcane subjects.” First of all, you can see how it just goes on and on. Secondly, you can also see where he loses interest in what he’s writing about at the end and just…finishes. I feel like he had no idea what else they could possibly be singing about, so he gave up. If any of his (FIVE) editors were remotely competent, they could have fixed that for him. There were moments where he used the same word five times (hey, same as the number of editors he had!) in about 7 lines. Of course…those 7 lines were really only two sentences, so…

On to the plot. Blech. I suppose I should be grateful for the recap of the first three books at the beginning because reading it made me feel like I hadn’t read them at all. I realize it’s been a few years since the last one came out, but c’mon! I know I’m not that forgetful! Many, many pages of battles that could have been more succinctly described. I swear, there was one instance where they were trapped in a storm over the sea for at least 20 pages. TWENTY PAGES! OF FOG! What the…?! [sigh]

Closure for characters? I guess-ish. We revisit most of the important people we met throughout the series, but I have a feeling that Eragon/Arya shippers are going to be sorely disappointed (I say this, assuming that there are such shippers, even though I’ve never visited an Inheritance message board). Just…dissatisfying to the nth degree.

I’m warning you right now, if you have not read this book (or have any intentions of reading this book) you should probably skip the rest of this review. Things are about to get spoileriffic.

Okay, I made five pages of notes on this crap while I was reading it, but I’m gonna ignore those for now and just wing it – I’ll talk about the stuff that bothered me the most.

Nasuada – at the beginning of the book, we spend forever talking about her stupid scars. Yes, I get that she did the whole battle of the knives thingy to prove how badass and worthy of leading the Rebel Allia…er, Varden she was. Seriously, though? Do we really need to lovingly describe the blemishes on the “belly of her forearms” (for realsies, that’s where they are) for two pages? TWO PAGES!

THEN after a bunch of pages where nothing happens, she gets kidnapped by the big baddie of the series. His über-ridiculous name is Galbatorix and he’s kidnapped Princess Leia in order to force her to swear fealty to him in the old language. She refuses. He tortures her. There are many, many pages where nothing much happens. Hot irons are applied. Her jailer/guy who feeds her and takes her to the bathroom has nice fingernails (at least 500 words are spent describing this dude’s fingernails – he’s never given a name, but he has really well manicured hands). More hot irons are applied, still she refuses. You go, girlfriend. Galby brings out a box. Whatever is in the box is making some skree-skree, skree-ska! noise. At this point, I had a feeling I knew what was in the box and if it went in her ear and wrapped itself around her cerebral cortex, I was going to throw a freaking fit. Luckily, it didn’t. Look, Christopher Paolini – you can call it a stupid Burrow Grub all you want, but I freaking know it’s a Ceti Eel!

Ceti Eel

So, while she’s being tortured, Eragon takes off to find the soopersekrit Vault of Souls. This is where we encountered the endless fog I mentioned earlier. BlahblahFOGblahblahWINDblahblahblah. We finally get to the island where the aforementioned vault is, but Eragon can’t get in because he doesn’t know his true name. He spends, like, fifty pages meditating on the subject and WE NEVER GET TO FIND OUT WHAT IT IS! Oh, and the Vault is guarded by GIANT ATTACK SNAILS and some kind of creepy shadow bird…I think there were more Ceti Eels hiding in the forest, too. He gets into the vault to find a ton of hidden dragon eggs and some souls of dragons that are no longer with us. They’re going to lend him their strength so he can take on the evil tyrant king and (maybe) vanquish him. Okay, I will admit it. This part wasn’t so bad. Just the entire book leading up to it…and everything that came after.

Eragon takes off back to the Varden and carries a bunch of the former-dragons in this magic hyperdimensional pocket thingy that follows him around. No one else can see it, no one else knows it’s there. To make sure he doesn’t blab to everyone about the egg clutch, they wipe his memory. He will somehow remember they’re there if/when he defeats Galbatorix, but not before. Eragon returns, the peasants rejoice, and they lay siege to the city in the morning.

There’s a lot of fighting, most of it is just gratuitous violence that I really wanted to skip. I didn’t, though, just on the off chance that something might actually happen that I needed to know. There was this one character that I wanted to know more about – she saved Roran (Eragon’s brother/cousin/whatever) from being killed. She referred to herself as a helpful stranger, but we never found out any more about her. She was in the book for about a paragraph and I liked her more than the majority of the characters we spent hundreds of pages on.

Eragon and friends head deep into the fortress to face off against the big bad evil tyrant king who has held the land with an iron fist for over 100 years, but OH NOES he has learned THE NAME OF THE ANCIENT LANGUAGE, which somehow makes him able to stop other people from using magic with that language. So, he’s trying to get into Eragon’s mind and our hero finds that his only defense is to use all of his force (and the powers of all the dead dragons he’s got hanging out in his pocket) to send back a feeling of all of the death and destruction he’s caused during his rule.
He cries out NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO a few times, realizes he’s a complete tool…and spontaneously combusts. End of big evil baddy. Yes. Really. They hurt his feelings and he exploded.

I wish that was where the book ended, but it went on for another hundred pages. Really, though – nothing else happened.

1.5/5 stars. He finished the series, so he gets a star for that. The half star is for allowing me to take five pages of notes on this crap. I do enjoy note-taking.

Next up: Delirium by Lauren Oliver I really don’t even want to read this book, but I accidentally voted for it in the Goodreads Choice Awards semi-finals, so I feel kind of obligated.