Thursday, 29 May 2014

Book Review: The Mortal Instruments City of Bones – Cassandra Clare | Lara Pass

**** - 4 Stars
The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones
Cassandra Clare
Publishers - Walker Books 
The City of Bones is the first book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I'll be honest, I'm a late bloomer when it comes to this series. I didn't actually find out about it until the film came out last year and when it did, I knew I had to read the book first. It was only when I joined the 'BookTuber' community that I realised the hype around these books. I tend to stay away from YA series that get a lot of hype as they all seem to be knock off versions of Twilight (Stephanie Meyer) which – while successful – was not the best book series I have ever read either. As always, because this is a book series, I'm going to relate it to Harry Potter. (Sorry…) The reason I tend to stay away from big book series is because they all seem to be more of the same and it gets tiresome reading and reviewing books that are so much like everything else that is 'big' at the time. Twilight, The Hunger Games… they all just tend to bore me a little. The reason series have become such a big thing is
because of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling wrote the most successful books in history and is one of the richest women in the world and because of the success of the book series, that's what all writers are doing now. Well, I say 'all writers', I mean writers of YA books specifically. I'm not saying that people can't write successful series anymore because of Harry Potter. What I am saying is, there is no point writing a book series if it is like so many other things that are being written and turned into films. I just don't see the point in it if I'm being honest.

This – while being another YA book series – is a little different. Since the release of Twilight all those many moons ago, everything that has followed after has come from Twilight. The next 'big thing' after Twilight was, of course, The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins). Both these book series were original at the time but now everything seems to be a knock off version of it. Teen romance novels became a massive craze after Twilight (Which is when I became uninterested), and dystopian novels became a massive craze after The Hunger Games (which – again – is when I became uninterested). The City of Bones is something I can't make my mind up about yet. I don't see it becoming as big of a deal as is predecessors but that's what I kind of like about it. Of course, it is kind of another 'teen romance' but the characters seem to have a bit of complexity and depth to them – which I have yet to see in other teen series.
There are reasons why I love Harry Potter and why it is my favourite book series ever. It's not because of the film series (that I found pretty average). There is something in Rowling's writing which makes you feel something. You can envision every nook and cranny of Hogwarts because her writing is so rich. There is a depth to her characters which makes you not only sympathise, but empathise with them. These are all the qualities I look for in a book. These are the things which – in my opinion – make a book good. There is something in Clare's writing which reminds me of Rowling a little. I can envision where Clary and Jace are standing quite clearly. Their relationship isn't simple and black and white but there are so many complexities to it which makes for an interesting read. Although I can never truly compare any writer to Rowling, Clare's writing skills are something to be admired and I can't wait to read the rest of the series and find out all the twists and turns. Well done Cassandra Clare on a smashing book. I give you 4/5 stars for your hard work.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen | Lara Pass

***** - 5 stars 
Jane Austen - Author
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is the story of Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourne house and her four sisters. When Mr. Bingley comes to Netherfield with his two sisters and his friend of many years, Mr. Darcy, prospects of an advantageous marriage are welcomed to the five Bennet women in the hope that Mr. Bingley will choose one of them. This beautiful story by Austen – and arguably her best work – tells the story of a woman far ahead of her time and shows perfectly how both pride and prejudice can be the cause of clouded judgement etc. As the Author of this book is no longer alive, I can have no idea what her views were on the subject matter of this book and her thoughts on the issues of both pride and prejudice and whether she regarded them as faults or not. However, the way Austen has portrayed the characters in the book, I can imagine she thought of both these matters as faults in the human character. I personally loved this book. Austen's writing is superb and I loved every moment of reading this book. I was an absolute pleasure to read and I honestly can't believe I have never read this book before. I have always been a huge fan of the 2005 film version as it is filmed where I grew up and I even remember it being filmed but until recently, I've never been old enough to understand and appreciate the book. I also believe in 10 years' time when I go back and read it again, I will understand it better and appreciate it more than I do now.
Pride and Prejudice…

Pride and Prejudice Cover
Publishers - Penguin Classics
Throughout this book, the main themes are Elizabeth's pride and Mr. Darcy's prejudice which is referred to in the title of the novel. The title prepares us for the flaws in character of both Elizabeth and Darcy. The flaws of these two characters prevent them from realising their love for each other. These flaws were reasonably controlled throughout the story to allow the characters to change, overcome their flaws and recognise their love for one another. These flaws in their characters were also common characteristic flaws during the 18th Century and considering the social class of both Elizabeth and Darcy, their pride and prejudice are to be expected in the characters. Elizabeth's pride results from being poor compared to people like Bingley and Darcy. Her pride is the only thing she feels gives her any credibility and respect from people of a higher rank. Darcy's prejudice comes from the fact that he is of a higher rank and although he was taught good morals, with being an only child for many years and being extremely wealthy, he thought people of lower rank, less important and respectable. Social statuses effected the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth as it was expected that a man of wealth and fortune, would marry a woman of wealth and fortune to unite two noble families. However, for women of Elizabeth's social standing, it was hoped they would marry a man of wealth, but more likely they would not. "[Mrs. Bennet] was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news." (226)


Pride and Prejudice is the story of two headstrong people of different social standing who fall in love. However, Miss Elizabeth Bennet's pride and Mr. Darcy's prejudice prevents them from recognising their love for each other for a long time. This book shows beautifully all the flaws of human character and how our flaws can hinder us "I have faults enough but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for….I cannot forget the follies and vices of others as soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion, once lost, is lost for ever."
Although Pride and Prejudice is an epic love story that makes you swoon, it is also so much more than that. It is such a beautifully told story that everyone can enjoy and is perfect for observing the character of a person and picking apart the personality. Austen's writing is so rich and the characters become so real and relatable. Observing the defects in the two main characters is such an enjoyable part of reading this book. "And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody…. And yours,…is willfully to misunderstand them."
There is nothing about this book that I don't love. It's beautifully written, the characters are complex and interesting and in comparison to more modern books, have more than one layer to them. They are more than just one thing. They think and feel more than one thing and they become deep and complex people. So much so, they feel real. The only "weakness" I can observe reading this book is that the language can be a little hard to understand but I can hardly acknowledge this as a weakness when it adds so much more to the book. I highly recommend this book. It is one of the best and most beautiful books I have ever read and I will treasure it forever.