City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

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Title: City of Ashes

Author: Cassandra Clare

Pages: 411

Publisher: Walker

Published: 2008

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★


Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?


This was one of the lucky books that got to come away with me on my travels last year and I’m glad I took it with me. I did also take my Kindle but I didn’t want to have to buy this book again. It’s a good job as I managed to get a lovely picture of it with the beautiful, blue Aare River in Bern, Switzerland. I read this way back in June last year and this post has been sat in my drafts for months now. This will more than likely be a short review, but because I want to pick up the next book, City of Glass, and because I want to review all of the books in the Mortal Instruments series I felt that this review should finally go out into the world.

City of Ashes is the second book in the Mortal Instruments series which you probably already know because basically everyone has read this series except for me. I felt like this book was a step up from the first and really helped formulate the story more. It felt like the story was really beginning to expand and I can begin to see why the series needs more than just a few books. I can see why a lot of people say that the books improve as the series goes on as I think that I preferred this one to City of Bones. 

There is the addition of some new characters and the books delve into the world of Shadowhunters and demons a little bit more. I liked the characters but felt that Clary was still a little immature. I still think Jace is a bit of an idiot but I hope that he improves. I find the relationship between Clary and Jace to still be a little odd after what we found out at the end of City of Bones but I am fairly sure something happens in the following books which will sort this out!

The writing and pace is good and despite the fact that I was only reading the book on train rides, I found myself wanting to read more. I was lucky since I could actually just keep on reading with little distractions. When you’re stuck on a train for 8 hours, being a reader is a fantastic thing!

I don’t really have much more to say on this book. I don’t want to ruin it for anybody as I know there are still some of you out there that haven’t read this series yet!

As I read these books and look to start the next book in this series, I do wish that I had known about them when they were first released. I find looking at the collection of books that Cassandra Clare has published up until now to be very daunting. I am, however, determined to get through them!

What Vicky Did: Birthday Book Shops

I did a post when I came back from my 6 week trip round Europe last year about the international book shops we visited and although I haven’t been on another trip like that since, I did visit quite a few bookshops for my birthday this year!

It was my birthday in the middle of July and so I had the day off. My mum also booked the day off and my boyfriend had too which was one of my first birthday surprises! I had been wanting to visit the book village Hay on Wye for a while now. I’ve been to the Hay Festival a few times in the past but that was about 8-10 years ago now! I was definitely due another visit.

As well as visiting Hay-on-Wye, my boyfriend also surprised me with a trip to London the day after my birthday and so we visited Daunt Books and Piccadilly Waterstones so I will be including those in this post!

Addyman Books

Addyman Books is one of the most famous bookshops in Hay-on-Wye and so I just had to visit. It’s pretty much full of used books but there are some spaces that have new books. There’s also a book passage that filled with old books but I couldn’t find any that took my fancy. This seating area looked quite comfy though!

Richard Booth was one of my favourite bookshops on my mini trip to Hay-on-Wye. It sells first and second hand books, as well as having a cafe on its lowest floor. We had lunch in the cafe which was a little expensive but nice.

I loved the seating area (right) and felt that it should have belonged in a library in an old house.

My boyfriend and mum aren’t really readers but seeing as they were with me on this trip, they came up with a game to pass the time which involved finding the highest priced book out of all the shops! It was quite surprising how much some books actually were!

Hay Castle

When we visited Hay Castle, it was unfortunately shut due to works being done on it. This meant that the outdoors bookshelf had also been moved to accommodate the space needed for the building works. However, we were still able to access the outdoor bookshelf.

The outdoor bookshelf really relies on trusting people as there is nobody to monitor it or to ensure that if someone picks a book up, they actually pay for it! It is full of used books so they are relatively cheap.

Rose’s Books

This one was probably my biggest disappointment of the day. After visiting a couple of great bookshops, I walked into this one and just felt a little disappointed.

It’s full of childrens books, but some of them were so old. To me, it just didn’t have the same magical feel to it that the other bookshops did.

Perhaps I was feeling a little off about it because we’d just eaten ice cream made from Sheep’s milk, something I never thought I’d say, and that made me feel a little meh after eating it.

 

I visited Daunt Books in London the next day as my boyfriend took me on a surprise trip to London. I’ve been wanting to visit Daunt Books for quite a while now but don’t go to London that often so I thought I’d drag my boyfriend to it on our little trip. After I’d taken him and my mum to Hay-on-Wye the previous day, I felt a little bad taking him to yet another bookshop but I also really wanted to go here.

After we visited Daunt Books, we also came across Waterstones Piccadilly on our walk to Buckingham Palace so I quickly nipped in there so that I could show my boyfriend one of my favourite bookshops in the world!

I exercised restraint at all of these shops and actually came away with nothing. I was pretty proud of myself but the reason for that was because I knew I was going to YALC a week later and that would definitely mean a lot of book buying.

What Vicky Read: July Wrap Up

July wasn’t as busy a month in terms of exams, however, I did have one at the beginning of the month and one on the 25th of July. July was, however, my birthday month and at the end of it, YALC happened! I didn’t have a lot of time to read still but I knew that I wanted to read some of the books on my YALC list.

My birthday is around the middle of the month but the weekend prior to YALC. For my birthday, I dragged my mum and boyfriend to Hay-on-Wye, the famous little book town just over the border in Wales. It’s not too far from where I live and we were very lucky that the weather was so nice. As I had YALC the week after, I wouldn’t let myself buy any books. I was then taken on a surprise trip to London on Friday by my boyfriend where I took him to yet another bookshop, Daunt Books, before exploring the rest of London. We then stayed over before heading to the Harry Potter Studio Tour for my fourth trip!

I then spent the last weekend of July at YALC where I had the best time seeing so many of my friends that I hadn’t seen in a year and meeting new faces too! Team Celeb Spotters re-emerged again as we spotted celebrities like Iwan Rheon, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi (who came and spoke to my little group) and the star of the weekend, Jason Momoa.

Monthly reading total: Books this year: 25

So really, July ended up being fairly busy over the last two weeks of the month. Unfortunately, I still wasn’t able to read nearly as much as I had hoped and I only managed to read a total of two books this month. I would hope that August would be better but I have a resit at the end of the month and so most of my energy will be going on that.

My goals for the month were:

1. Finish All These Beautiful Strangers

2. Read a book from my YALC list.

So these are the books I read this month (and somehow managed to write reviews for both before this wrap up):

All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth – There definitely aren’t enough YA thrillers/mysteries about, or at least I haven’t found very many, so I was very excited when Penguin popped this in the post to me. Although it took me a little while to first get into it, I ended up quite enjoying it and it’s given me a thirst for more mysteries. You can check out more of my thoughts on it here.

The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill – I was a little indifferent to this one if I’m totally honest. I only gave it three stars as I didn’t really feel like it was a ground breaking book. I just thought it was ok, which is slightly disappointing as I was looking forward to it and it has such a pretty cover too! Again, you check out more of my thoughts here.

So there’s my July wrap up. It’s improved a little since June, but only by one book. How many books did you read this month? Did you have a good or bad reading month?

June Wrap Up

Before we get into this wrap up, you may have noticed something different! I’ve changed my blog name! As you may be aware, I was Hung Up On Books but I fancied a change and also wanted something a little catchier and easier to remember. So therefore, I am now What Vicky Read! I’m super excited about this change and you can find me at all social media links (Twitter, Instagram) at @whatvickyread now! I’ll be updating my contact page shortly.

Now that’s done, onto the wrap up!

I knew that June was going to be a busy month, particularly at the end of the month as I had an exam resit, an exam the day after that and then I had another the first week of July! I have honestly just spent the majority of the month working and revising with little time for doing much else. My boyfriend’s birthday was the middle of the month so that offered a little relief from exams but other than that, I haven’t had much time for reading or socialising. I am hoping to have a little more time to read in July, especially since there are some books that I still need to read before YALC at the end of the month! I do have another exam the day before I leave for YALC so we’ll see how that goes…

Reading total: 1 Books this year: 23

Knowing what my June was going to be like with exams, I knew that I wouldn’t be getting much reading done, if any, so my reading list was basically non-existent for the month. I really just wanted to try and read some ARCs. It’s gutting being sent wonderful books and then not being able to fully dedicate time to them because of work/study commitments but I’m finally coming out of that stage now. Here are the books I had on my June TBR:

1.Furyborn by Clare Legrand

2. A book by an author going to YALC. My pick is All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth. I’m about 90 pages into this one currently but am aiming to finish or be about to finish it by the time YALC comes around!

I read Furyborn and that was it. I did start to pick up a book by an author going to YALC which is All These Beautiful Strangers but that was it! I’m doing pretty well in regards to not buying books and unintentionally have put myself on a book buying ban I think. I did buy The Suffragettes which was £1 though so because it was so cheap, I feel like it doesn’t really count!

So here is the one book I read this month:

Furyborn by Claire Legrand – A review will be going up of this one soon but I really enjoyed this book. It was action packed and I thought that it created a lot of potential for the next book and that it was an attention capturing read. A review is to come shortly!

So there’s my (very awful) June wrap up. How many books did you read this month? Did you have a good or bad reading month?

May Wrap Up

I read one book more in May than I did in April, but it was still a disappointing reading month. I know that June won’t be much better though as I have three exam between the 27th June-4th July.

I had one exam mid-May and so I barely read, except for finishing The Beast’s Heart. Other than that, I haven’t done much except work and college. Finding the time to read during the year so far has been so difficult for me. I work full-time, some weeks I study on a Saturday and then when I’m not working or at college, I’m either studying for my exams or spending time with my boyfriend. I know I say it every month but as my studies finish in just under two months, I really just can’t wait to be finished so that I can concentrate on reading…until I start my next qualification!

Reading total: 3          Books this year: 21

Keeping in line with April’s 6-book TBR list, I had the book I was reading when the end of April came and then I picked 5 books to add to that.

1. Finish The Beast’s Heart

2. Legendary

3. Leah on the Off Beat

4. A Court of Frost and Starlight

5. Furyborn

6. Onyx and Ivory

I managed to read 3 of them! I’m currently reading Leah on the Offbeat and Furyborn, but with exams coming up, I really have to knuckle down and revise!

The books I read this month are:

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross – I was so disappointed by this one. You can find out why here!

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas – After loving the other books in the ACOTAR series, I was a little disappointed by this one. It was basically a filler story that I’m not entirely sure was necessary.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber – This was one of my top 4 most anticipated releases and I was SO lucky to receive an ARC of it! This made up for the other disappointing books this month.

So there’s my May wrap up. How many books did you read this month? Did you have a good or bad reading month?

April Wrap Up

April has been a pretty bad month for me reading wise. I almost made it to reading 3 books this month, but then I stumbled at the last one. I’m hugely disappointed with how little I’ve read between February to now but I blame working full time, studying and then trying to have a life in the little free time I do have available. I have 5 exams in the next 3 months which I know doesn’t sound like a lot but when there’s so much to learn and revise, it takes up so much time. I just can’t wait for YALC at the end of July because that means it’s finally over for 6 months or so!

Reading total: 2          Books this year: 18

I had a bit of an ambitious TBR for April based on what my reading has been like the past two months. Here are the books I had on my April TBR:

1. Finish Orphan Monster Spy

2. The Smoke Thieves

3. The Beast’s Heart

4. Legendary

5. City of Brass

6. Truly Devious

I managed to read 2 of them! I’m currently just over half way through The Beast’s Heart which is ok, but the narrative style is a little bit too over the top and unnecessary. I’m hoping to finish it relatively soon as I have a couple of other books I’d like to read in May, including Legendary! Whether I will actually read them though, well, that’s another story..

Onto the books I read this month:

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen – I wrote a review on this that you can find here!

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green – My review of this book is up now! You can catch the review here. I was pleasantly surprised by this one!

So there’s my April wrap up. How many books did you read this month? Did you have a good or bad reading month?

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

Title: The Smoke Thieves

Author: Sally Green

Pages: 512

Publisher: Penguin

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Thank you so much to Team Penguin!

Rating: ★★★★


A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?


The Smoke Thieves is a book that I went into knowing little about. It sounded interesting from the premise, but that is all I had really heard about it. I was also unsure of how much I’d like it as I had never read anything by Sally Green before. I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

Not book content related but there is a actually a slightly funny story about this book. This book has different covers for the UK and US, like many books. For some reason, every time I saw the US edition of it, I’d think to myself ‘oh, that looks like a cool cover’ and then I’d look it up and I’d realise that I actually already had it and at one point, was actually reading it! I blame it on a tiring week but honestly, I’m just a bit stupid!

The Smoke Thieves started off with us meeting the actual smoke thieves of this book, or rather smoke catchers. At first, I thought the story would follow our first main character, Tash, throughout the book but I was wrong. This book had multiple points of view, 5 to be exact. There are some PoVs that don’t feature as much, which works for this story as there were some PoVs that were more important than others. Alongside meeting the smoke thieves at first, we are also introduced to the brutal Brigantine Kingdom where we meet a Princess who is most definitely not like her cruel Father and Brothers. We were introduced to other characters from other locations in this book. I liked that we had a variation of locations and that the characters were diverse.

The writing in this book was a good pace once it got going. I did find it a little slow getting into the book at first but it started to pick up once I got 100 pages in. The chapter that had me intrigued was Chapter 2 (I believe), which was not nice but also had me asking questions which I then needed to know the answers too and that kept me reading on.

As mentioned before, there are a few locations in this book that we get to see which I really liked. Although there is jumping between places because of characters being in different places, I loved that we got to see so many different parts of the world that Sally created. I found that this really helped to create a solid place in my mind where all of these different Kingdoms existed and that it helped me to imagine things a little better.

The reason why this book wasn’t a 5 star read for me was because it took me a little while to get into the book, and it wasn’t until the last 100/150 pages where some of the twists really came out which really captured my interest and pushed me through to the end of this book.

This book ends on a little bit of a cliffhanger but it does set up for the next book nicely. I’m looking forward to seeing where Sally takes this story and the characters in the following book!

You can see more of my pictures (like above!) here!