Friday, December 22, 2017

Review: Lord of Shadows (SPOILERS)

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2)
Cassandra Clare
shadowhunter book 


Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?
And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late. 
How can we talk about anything before addressing the ending. 

WHAT WHAT WHAT 

I don't want to read the next book.

In Harry Potter, we never had to live with the aftermath of the deaths in The Deathly Hallows. If we did, we would have hated it. I don't want to imagine reading about the Weasleys after Fred. There's no coming back from that. All the dynamics we know and love change. I DON'T WANT TO EXPERIENCE THE BLACKTHORNS AFTER LOSING LIVVY. Things like that wreck families. I don't want Cassie Clare to try to insert the usual banter or even just normal behavior into Queen of Air and Darkness. It's not possible or right- the Blackthorns will never be the same, and as fans we have to understand they may not be the same people we know and love. ARE YOU READY FOR THAT? 

And Robert... how much more can the Lightwoods take? And the Clave... he was the right person to lead them to a better future of positive change. He even embodied that change in his own life. And after Tales of a Shadowhunter Academy I just can't... basically sobbing. 

But enough of that (I write with tears in my eyes). There are 699 other pages to discuss. 

So. 

Mark-Kieran-Christina. I, unlike everyone else apparently, hate this. I believe in marriage, partners. I love the love between all of them, but this can't work IRL. I feel like CC is trying to recreate Will-Jem-Tessa and I do NOT want more convenient life extensions. Unfortunately I can't remember if Diego was still in the running for Christina or not. Hope not though. 
About Kieran- I LOVE HIM. I love how he balances himself, becomes more moderate in personality, temperament. I loved how Mark went to save him, how they love each other even as they struggle to understand their relationship in the real world. 

Dru and Jaime - anyone else completely flummoxed but also charmed by this? At first I was super worried - there is a power imbalance. Dru is young and easy to be taken advantage of by older, cool Jaime who is the first one to treat her like an adult and also asks her to keep a secret. However I was pleasantly surprised that things didn't go down that road and in general I love Dru and can't wait to hear more from her POV in future books. 


Jace and Clary- WTF is going on. *Prays* 

 Ty-Kit-Livvy. I love them, I want the best for them. The boys are absolutely the best thing that could happen for each other. My only complaint is that is was very obvious this was gonna happen last book- personally I dig subtlety. Which brings me to Diana- her story was amazing and full of heart and pain and it's kinda cool that the internet figured that out but I wish it wasn't spoiled for me

Magnus - ALL THE FEELS. I love him, I love what he brings to the stories. I can't get over what happened- if Magnus had been there LIVES COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED. 

Julian and Emma - I was so happy when they were in the cottage. Characters in the Shadowhunter world deserve more happy times. I don't know what to think about Julian... I feel like the writer is forcing this darkness upon him. He hates himself for the things he needs to do sometimes, and yes, he shouldn't think dichotomically- NO JULIAN, THE CHOICES AREN'T ALWAYS THE WORLD OR YOUR FAMILY. However, sometimes it is and I don't think it's fair to judge him in positions like that. 

As I'm sure you've realized, for me Shadowhunter books are all about the people, the dynamics, the relationships. But in Lord of Shadows CC really hit the ball out of the park with a metaphor for real-life war, politics, bad choices and mistakes. As always, a beautiful and very flawed installment. 

OH AND LONDON. THE LONDON INSTITUTE. BLACKFRIARS BRIDGE. JESSAMINE AND BRIDGET AND HERONDALE WRITING ON BOOKS AND WALLS. MY HEARRTTTTT



Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: All Fall Down

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)
Ally Carter
Tween Girl Action and Esponiage 

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.2. Her mother was murdered.3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.
As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.
Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

Hey all! 
Missed being on the blog. Today I'm back with a writer I grew up on with Gallagher Academy and FELL IN LOVE WITH with Heist Society. 

All Fall Down is right there with the previous two when it comes to cool international, overly important 16-year-old girls with unique family businesses. However I found that as an adult reader, things I used to find cool or charming are not anymore. First off, I know a thing or two now about politics and diplomats and they don't work anything like the book describes. And while being the heir to a huge family dynasty of spies, thieves, or diplomats still seems pretty awesome, I find it more inspiring to see MCs make something of themselves.

There is also the matter of Alexei, this controlling boy who feels the need to "protect" Grace for her "brother". K. People don't become obsessive because their friend asked them to keep an eye out for their sister. If you care about her, great- I just need to see you GETTING TO KNOW HER FIRST. And even then - sorry but the Twilight days are over. Controlling and obsessive is not hot anymore. 

So at first, I had a hard time getting in to Embassy Row. But then I read Ally Carter's twitter thread, and was reminded what made her books so special. 13 year old girls have very little out there for them. YA books are becoming increasingly sexual or dark. This little niche of "tween" girl books was super important for me back in the day and I believe still important for girls now. They've outgrown the elementary stuff, they notice boys, their bodies and minds growing into adults. They look and read about high-schoolers, and I find it important to give them role models who aren't engaged in parties and sex. All Fall Down had friendship, girls being girls, sometimes looked down upon for being small and insignificant but strong- willed. Action, international adventure. And don't worry, Grace seldom let Alexei tell her what to do (; 

Grace deals with serious trauma and yet the book has a light feel to it for the most part. It's clean, fun and a quick read. Kudos as usual to Ally Carter. 

Also, Noah is from my country. Yayyyy Israel appreciates the shoutout <3 


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Party Planning Do's and Don'ts !



Hi all! Esty here on a Sunday. 

Recently my friends and I have had multiple occasions to celebrate, thank god. With all the birthdays, milestones, and get-togethers, a partnership with Paperless Post couldn't have come at a better time! 

Paperless Post is a company that designs customizable online and printed stationery, to show that communication can be personal and well-designed regardless of the medium.

Paperless Post has partnered with several world-famous designers and lifestyle brands, including kate spade new york, Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Adler, and Rifle Paper Co., and has delivered over 85 million cards to date.


Above is a screenshot of the cover of an invitation I designed. As it turns out, my mom had used Paperless Post for my brother's Bar Mitzvah just a year ago! We had fun comparing notes and playing with all the beautiful options offered by the platform. 

So in honor of the opportunity, I decided to put together some Do's and Don'ts I learned from my recent spree of hosting and party-going. 

Do it together. I organized a surprise party for my boyfriend and 3 good friends volunteered and helped me so much that I wondered how I even thought about doing it on my own. (Mind you, I'm talking about a simple BBQ and cake get together) 

Don't be too upset if it's not exactly a surprise. That's hard to do these days. They'll have fun and love it all the same. 

Do invite a lot of people. (Ones you genuinely like, yes?) There's never a night that everyone can make it, and you usually err on the side of caution when making food, meaning you have enough. Also, the more the merrier! I was stingy on who I invited once and regretted it later. 

Don't worry about different friend groups and social circles. It's weird in the beginning but then great. Introduce people - most have fun and thank you for it later. And if they don't want to mingle? That's fine too. 

Do make sure everyone has a friend. You (the host) can't be the only one a guest knows, as you'll be running around a lot. Have them bring a +1 if needed.

Do have music. No-brainer. And yet, a mistake I once made. And let your friends DJ. It serves as a great activity. 

Don't buy everything! Put aside the time and enlist a friend or two and you'll find yourself saving a lot of money making things you would have bought prepared. For example, instead of buying ready-made skewers, my friends helped me buy chicken pullets and cut them up and make our own! We added vegetables and made them fancier, yummier, and cheaper. 

Do allow your guests to bring something! Don't expect them to, but if they offer, great! People like to contribute, especially to smaller, low-key and more intimate get togethers. It can be something simple, like candy or a dessert. It saves you money and work, widens your variety and allows your guests to feel more a part of the event. Besides, complementing each other's stuff is good conversation starting. 

Do (cuz there are definitely more do's than don'ts in parties) have a little something to do. I was at a friend's just last night and we played Kahoot - this quiz that everyone connects to on their phones. You need to prepare it in advance and a projector. Sooo fun, great for all ages. It's simple and easy and free. 


So that's it folks! I hope you check out Paperless Post here and have a wonderful event! 
Esty

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
George RR Martin
Fantasy 

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
I finally finished this! This massive and sometimes wonderful book has been with me for half a year and traveled three continents with me. Yes, I watch the show. But I'm only on the fourth season so don't tell me anything beyond what's been spoiled already.

So what did I think? My first observation was that the TV show is SUPER FAITHFUL to the book. Like every line, every detail. Season one ends exactly where book one ends. It was very gratifying but also surprisingly hard for me for this reason- I watched the series first. The crazy plot twists are GoT's strong suit, so if you know them in advance it can be a little disappointing. I actually stopped reading for a time at a point where I knew everything is downhill from here.

But that said, when I got back into it I loved it! I'm not sure why, probably because of superb writing and fantastic characters.

The characters are a definite pro of reading the novel. More depth, thoughts and feelings. Also, the simple thing of REMEMBERING who everyone is easier when it's written down, at least for me.

What more can I say? You already know how famous and popular this series is. If you don't watch but are a reader, I can confirm that the world of GoT is well-built, complex, and quite simply brilliant. Love!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Top Ten Book Convention Musts


Hello, Ladies and Gents!

On 
Oct. 27th-29th, Love N. Vegas will be making its annual appearance! This is one of the most prominent book signing conventions, bringing the most influential authors together in one location. In honor of this event, I thought I'd write up what I'd hope to see at a book convention, while I stare jealously at those of you who get to go! If you haven't already, you can get tix over here, and find some awesome travel discounts here!


Believe it or not, I have never been to a real-live book convention. I know, right? I live in a small country and while people read, it's just not a thing.

But hey, we all want to make a difference in this world, right?

So behold, all the things I would have at my future first-ever Israeli book convention:

1. Coffee stations. Numerous ones. And little cafes. Because what is any event without refreshment?

2. Round tables - this I think would be the main event. From what I've been told, the best thing about book conventions for most people is meeting fellow readers and fangirling discussing their favorite books and getting excited together. So how great would this be if you could do it sitting down at small, intimate round tables (about 4 people per table) with drinks and thought-provoking questions? Afterwards all the groups would join together and a representative of every group would present to the wider attendance their conclusions or questions and opinions. I think this setting would also be more comfortable for those of us who may get overwhelmed by big events or have social anxiety and have difficulty striking conversations sometimes.

I personally would love this. It would be a wonderful way to make new friends, express your thoughts and hear other's opinions as well.

3. Improv sessions and stand-up comedy - okay, this one is a little far-fetched. But hear me out.
The way I imagine this is like live fanfiction. Readers acting out their favorite scenes, embellishing them, and playing drama class games like picking a pair of characters out of a hat and then a situation out of another (i.e. characters - Percy Weasley. Situation: at a strip club against his will. Or: Jace and Clary. Couples Counseling). HOW HILARIOUS WOULD THIS BE? This event could develop into so many different directions. A way to showcase talent, run wild with our imaginations and get stomach aches from laughing. Guaranteed to make you walk away from the convention smiling and reenacting with your friends when you get home.

4. Lectures and personal stories - something for the nonfiction lovers out there. I'd invite prominent memoir writers to tell us their stories, and historical/historical fiction writers to present their research and share their learning with us. Likewise scientific or other documentary writers and researchers. This could also help them promote their books to wider audiences, with slides and pictures.

5. Cosplaying fashion show. With a runway.  And a competition with prizes.

6. Classes and workshops - themed cooking workshops, dance classes, fencing. Fight with a Sword like Percy Jackson. Alice's Eat Me Cakes. And of course, creative writing.
(in the picture - gladiator fight at the Icon Geek Festival in Israel)

7. Panels and interviews. It's not a convention without it :)

8. Social media picture stations - huge wall posters, stages to jump from, lifesize cardboard cutouts and wax statues, things to stick your head through, a red carpet backdrop, you name it. And a REALLY AWESOME SNAPCHAT GEOTAG PLEASE.

9. Book sales and giveaways, preferably outside the venue itself in a way that it can attract people who are not necessarily convention-goers and may have just been walking by.  The sales should be advertised so that the public will know and come.

10. A social project - I would love for there to be a way for people to donate tickets (fully or partially) for book lovers who would not otherwise be able to come. There would be an application process for the free tickets and those who donated would be eligible for perks. Likewise, there would be scholarships available for international readers to fly in for the event, therefore giving people who may not usually get to these events a chance to come, and the opportunity to diversify the convention!

And to finish up (bonus no' #11? ) mainstream media presence! What better way to promote reading in the greater population than reporting about it and photos reaching newspapers and new sites (as opposed to blogs and fan media)?

Here's to hoping that one day I make my dreams come true. In the meantime, what are IRL book conventions like? Which ones have you been in? How do you prepare. Let me know in the comments. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Hosting a book convention? Let everyone know using Paperless Post!  Just kidding, you can use them for a regular event too :P Check it out!

Esty

Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy pt. 2


Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman
collection of Shadowhunter stories!

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.

PALE KINGS AND PRINCES

Helen Blackthorn comes to SA and tells her story - as she knows it. We later are treated to the real version courtesy of Lady Narissa's POV. Gives you a lot of perspective on TDA, not overly emotional or anything to me. More interesting is the Sizzy going on- failed dates and Simon stupidity, but a really good conversation about the Cold Peace. I found that the Shadowhunter situation with the faeries has a lot of parallels in real-life politics, and both Simon and Izzy made good, thought-provoking points. Feelings of frustration about it that I was really able to relate to. I even wondered if Cassandra Clare was maybe alluding to my country. 

Also, Sizzy finally becomes a thing again. YESSSS

BITTER OF TONGUE

While this was a good story, it also made like no sense. George leads a mission of SA students to do... what? It was never clear. When they get there... what happens? Also didn't understand. All I know is that Simon gets imprisoned by himself by a faerie and has a lot of funny "WHY is it always ME" memories. And then Mark Blackthorn shows up and gives me all the feels. I admire that character so much. Also, Simon has nice, simple line. 

There's more to both sides than the worst. 
The conversation between the two was a good and important one, if a little all over the place when it comes to topics- something I find is regular occurrence in Cassandra Clare writing. 

This whole story and the mission failure is a HUGE foreshadow to the end of the book. DID ANYONE ELSE MISS THIS COMPLETELY? If you stop between story to story and contemplate, you probably won't though. 

And then- the wedding. Simon becomes very perceptive for purposes of us getting a glimpse of the Blackthorn children and their dynamics. He also continues the process started in the previous story of beginning to fit in with himself and his friends, which is nice to watch and also kind of a learning thing for all of us trying to find ourselves. 

THE FIERY TRIAL

Talk of Parabatai. Funnily enough, only in this story did I realize how unrealistic the whole thing is. It is LITERALLY like finding someone to IRREVERSIBLY MARRY BEFORE THE AGE OF 18. I'm not a commitment-phobe, but that seems like too much for kids. Yeah yeah, I know they live short lives, but still. 

Also, cameos. 

BORN TO ENDLESS NIGHT

THIS ONE. 

Magnus Bane is the other thing besides 19th century London that I read Shadowhunter books for. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS STORY WAS SO GOOD. Everything. Alec's confidence, Magnus's sexiness, everyone's reactions to Magnus's sexiness, BOTH MAGNUS AND ALEC TOTALLY GETTING WHAT HAD BEEN COMING TO THEM FOR YEARS NOW IN TERMS OF WALKING IN ON PEOPLE, A BABY, everyone's reactions to the baby, everyone getting all baby-lovesick. The feels. Magnus and his history. Millions of baby jokes. FAMILY BUILDING. LOVE AND HAPPINESS AND EVERYONE'S RIDICULOUS PERSONALITIES ON DISPLAY. Tears and laughs. By far my favorite story. 

And then, even more miraculously, it gets better. We find out about all the work Alec, Lily Chen,  Maia and Magnus have been doing for all the Downworlders (and Shadowhunters) of New York, a little, properly-balanced Council they have going on. Unofficial Accords based on mutual understanding and a will to help each other. All the hope. 

Oh, and Simon and Alec reconciliation. Jace and Clary future baby talk. Sizzy. Robert Lightwood displays massive change and process. Magnus begins to forgive the former Circle members, and bonds with his parents-in-law. Name significance. And other things I can't spoil for you. 

ANGELS TWICE DESCENDING

George's wistfulness reminds me of myself when graduation from boarding school. And Cassandra Clare. Once again. breaks your heart. just. because she can.