To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Pages: 355

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (US)/Scholastic (UK)

Published: 2014

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.


This isn’t my first time reading this book. No, it’s not my second time either. It is in fact my third time reading this book. When I first read this book, it was 2014 and it had only been released for a few months. Even when I read it 4 years ago, I fell in love with it immediately. I loved the writing, the story line, the characters. I just love it all. I think that’s what brings me back to this book every time. It’s so easy and quick to read.

With the release of the adaptation on Netflix in August which I have watched twice so far (review here), I found the temptation to return back to the pages of this book very difficult to resist. I started it on a Saturday night and by Monday evening, I had finished it.

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s such a quick read and the writing makes it so easy to follow. The chapters are also relatively short and snappy and so I found myself cruising through this book at a really comfortable space. Jenny’s writing throughout all three books is like this. The story is incredibly easy to follow too.

The story follows Lara Jean Covey as she navigates through high school. It really kicks off when Lara Jean’s 5 letters, which she writes when she has a crush on someone but doesn’t know what to do, get sent out to the recipients. This results in a fake relationship which sort of helps get Lara Jean in the clear with the other letter recipients but also helps one of the boys out.

I think Lara Jean is such a cute character. In this book, she has an almost need to fill in for her big sister Margot who has left to go to University in Scotland. Lara Jean has to step in a little for her younger sister Kitty and become a little more responsible, which is difficult for a teenager to do when they have all these other things going in on their life. I thought that she was a good character and that she is perhaps how a lot of teenagers are.

I loved both of Lara’s sisters and really enjoyed reading about her relationship with them and her dad. I thought Josh was also a good character although I found myself both frustrated but also sympathising with him at times. Peter Kavinsky is, of course, a great character and is my favourite of all the boys. I thought he brought a lot of fun to this story and there were plenty of cute moments between him and Lara. I did find myself getting frustrated with him at times, but you have to remember when reading these books that the characters are teenagers and part of being a teenager is doing things that are frustrating but learning from them.

It’s a little difficult to write a review on a re-read because I can’t give you my reaction from reading it for the first time but I think it’s fair to say that I enjoyed this book just as much as I did the first time I read it. Perhaps more, now that I’ve got the imagery in my head from the movie as that’s really helped me imagine things more. To All the Boys is a cute story and it’s always lovely to reread. I feel like I can rely on it to help me out of a reading slump and that I could pick it up and figure out where I am in the book really easily. I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for a quick and enjoyable contemporary and I would definitely advise that you read this if you plan to watch the movie or if you’ve watched it already!

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

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Title: The Witch of Willow Hall

Author: Hester Fox

Pages: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Nabbed at YALC, thanks HQYA!)

Rating: ★★★


Years after the Salem witch trials one witch remains. She just doesn’t know it… yet.

Growing up Lydia Montrose knew she was descended from the legendary witches of Salem but was warned to never show the world what she could do and so slowly forgot her legacy. But Willow Hall has awoken something inside her…

1821: Having fled family scandal in Boston Willow Hall seems an idyllic refuge from the world, especially when Lydia meets the previous owner of the house, John Barrett.

But a subtle menace haunts the grounds of Willow Hall, with strange voices and ghostly apparitions in the night, calling to Lydia’s secret inheritance and leading to a greater tragedy than she could ever imagine.

Can Lydia confront her inner witch and harness her powers or is it too late to save herself and her family from the deadly fate of Willow Hall?


I was one of the very lucky few to nab a copy of this at YALC in July. There were 20-25 copies available and I managed to just get into the queue before it got cut off. I had heard little about this book prior to YALC and I’ve seen barely any talk about it in the community but I think I like that. Sometimes it’s really nice to read a book with little to no hype surrounding it with only the synopsis to go on.

Trigger Warning for this book: Incest

The book follows Lydia as she adjusts to the move to Willow Hall following a scandal that forced her family to move away from Boston. This book was a little creepy at times. It had ghosts and witchcraft, making it a great read for Halloween. I found it especially creepy when the ghosts came up as I’m not the biggest fan of ghosts despite not really believing in them.

I thought Lydia was a good character to follow. She was mostly unaware of her abilities, knowing she had a strange gift but not knowing exactly what it was. I felt that I could sympathise with her at times and I understood her frustrations. I liked her younger sister but Lydia’s older sibling, Catherine frustrated me. Her sister acted as though she was all righteous and there was definitely some sibling rivalry between her and Lydia. It did make sense later on in the book once things were revealed by the rivalry still remained.

There was the addition of two males characters, including the mysterious Mr John Barrett who Lydia almost immediately takes a fancy too. He is a good character but he’s also wary.

There was a hint of mystery in this book which went along with the Witchcraft and Ghostly sightings. The mystery being the truth of Willow Hall and what happened on the site that it stands on. I was really intrigued to find out why Willow Hall was haunted but all my questions were answered in this book.

Marriage was a prominent theme on this book with Catherine trying to find a suitor and Lydia’s hand is trying to be won again by an annoying side character. It should be noted that there is the mention of incest in this book.

I had this book on my Halloween Reads list having only read a little bit of it at that point, but I’m glad that I added it on to my list now as I think it’s a great debut that’s perfect for Halloween. I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a creepy read this Autumn.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Title: What If It’s Us

Author: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Pages: 433

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Thanks to S&S!)

Rating: ★★★★


Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?


When I received this book, I felt both very happy but also guilty. I’ll be honest with you all, I have read two of Becky’s books and one of Adam’s. Those being Simon and Leah and They Both Die at the End which I read via an audio book. So you may be wondering, why do you feel guilty? Because I feel like I haven’t read enough of Adam’s books and because I haven’t read Becky’s other book. However, after hearing about this book and seeing the reception it’s had on social media, I knew that I just had to request it.

I already knew I was a fan of Becky’s two books I’d read and although I’ve only read one of Adam’s books, I knew from that one that I would probably enjoy this duo writing together. Well friends, I am pleased to tell you that I was not wrong.

Although this book did take me almost a month to read, that is not a reflection of this book at all. It’s simply because I have two exams coming up and so my efforts have been focused on revision instead.

I really liked the characters in this book and thought that they were both written so well. I’m really not sure who I liked more and I’d really love to be friends with both of them. Arthur is a nerdy/geeky sort of guy and is so enthusiastic and interested about things. He’s figuring life out over his summer break whilst in New York. Meanwhile, Ben is going through a rough break up whilst slogging through summer school. Oh, and he happens to be going through summer school with his ex.

This book really gave us two different characters but they both worked really well together. I loved the relationship that developed between them throughout the book and really felt that it was a huge part in the development of the characters themselves. Arthur’s relationship with Ben was a real introduction to love and romantic relationships. With Ben, I felt that though he had been in a relationship before, this was one that really gave him confidence and encouraged him to be a better version of himself, not that he wasn’t great before.

This book didn’t just involve love. It had a good dose of friendship and family. Both families were important to our characters and their friends played a huge part in this book too. There was a contrast between Arthur and Ben’s families but I think that while they both offered different family experiences, they had things in common such as a good support system. Friendship played a big part in this book too, with Ben’s best friend Dylan being a prominent secondary character. Arthur’s friends are also featured but as they are in another state, it was a little more difficult for them to play such a big part in this book.

What If It’s Us? tackled homophobia in this book in one scene which I thought was sad but this is something that lgbtq+ have to deal with on a daily basis. It was interesting to see how two different people handled being in that situation but it was also frustrating to sit through the scene and not see anybody else around them really take a stand against the homophobic treatment they bore the brunt of. I thought that it was fairly important to include this scene as this is something that lgbtq+ people do face and it really made me think about how these characters, and how real life people, must feel on a daily basis.

As well as homophobia, racism was also touched on in this book. It demonstrated how comments can be made with no thought or malice behind them but how it affects people even if offence wasn’t meant. What If It’s Us? also showed how personal identity can be affected by racism. This book tackled two important and serious subjects in a way that really gets you thinking.

The ending isn’t quite the one I was looking for. I love a good happy ending and the one book of Adam’s that I have read did not end in that. And the two books of Becky’s that I have read? Both of those ended in a happy ending. I feel like the ending on this was a compromise between the two and I was really sat there thinking ‘really guys? Come on, why you gotta do this to us?’ But it was a decent ending and I felt like it really left the futures of Arthur and Ben open to the readers interpretation.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m very grateful that I was in receipt of a copy to review. I definitely want to read more of Adam’s books and I would like to finish reading Becky’s so that I have finished her collection of books (so far). I would fully recommend reading this book if you’re looking for a Meet-Cute contemporary that also deals with real world issues.

City of Ghosts by V. E. Schwab

 

Title: City of Ghosts

Author: V. E. Schwab

Pages: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 2018

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★


When Cass’s family heads off to Edinburgh, Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift” of entering the world of the spirits. Cass still has a lot to learn about the Veil – and herself. And fast… 


I don’t tend to read Children’s books very much, mostly because my personal library of YA books is overflowing and there isn’t much room for anything else. However, when I heard that V. E. Schwab was writing a middle grade book, I was immediately interested. The premise of it sounded wonderfully spooky and the reactions to the story once ARCs were available were really positive.

I read the majority of this book in one sitting. I was instantly hooked upon reading the first chapter and despite my fear of ghosts (even though I don’t really believe they exist), I was eager to read more. Except I wasn’t going to read it at night, of course, so I had to put it down.

I pretty much finished this book in one sitting. It’s incredibly fast paced and with the larger font of children’s books, I just flew through it completely.

The story follows a girl called Cass who can see ghosts and can pass through the veil. Her story really starts though, when she is taken to Scotland with her parents for a work trip. Scotland is rich with history and so Cass finds herself surrounded by plenty of ghosts. On her trip, she finds out what her true calling is but it could lead to some consequences.

I really liked the characters in this one. I thought that Cass was a really likeable character. It did make me sad to think that some of the other kids at her school may have laughed at her for her strange abilities and that she didn’t have many friends because of this but I think that her pass off attitude was really great and I hope that other kids feel more inspired to be like that when people are mean to them. I also really like the character Jacob, who is Cass’ friend. I thought Cass’ parents were both likeable although I didn’t feel like we really got to know them in the story that well, other than the fact that they are both interested in the supernatural and

I loved the setting. I have never been to Edinburgh. In fact, I’ve never been to Scotland before so the map at the front was really helpful for me and I felt that I was really able to imagine the setting so much more.

I thought the style of writing was great. I mean, I may be a little biased because I do enjoy V. E. Schwab’s writing in adult books but I thought that her writing for Children translated really well. In Children’s books, some authors noticeably write for a much younger audience but I felt as though V. E. did a really great job of writing for Children in a way that I would’ve appreciated it when I was younger as it felt as though the writing wasn’t done in a childish way.

I really enjoyed this one and I hope that’s not the last we see of Cass and Jacob! I would definitely recommend this one for October as it fits in well for the Halloween theme of the month and it reads really quickly!

 

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

 

Title: Escaping from Houdini

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Pages: 416

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Thank you, JP Books!)

Rating: ★★★★★


Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


If you know me, you’ll know that I have been a huge fan of Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series since I read the first book back in 2016. This book was absolutely no different. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the third instalment, Escaping from Houdini and it’s safe to say that I fell in love all over again with Kerri’s addictive murder mysteries. There’s just something about Kerri’s books that I can’t help but fall in love with.

I am obviously a big fan of history (being a History graduate and all) but I have also discovered in recent times that I also have a thing for murder mysteries. This book has both in the form of a fantastic Victorian-era murder mystery novel.

I would just like to note before going into this review that the ending of the ARC is different to that of the finished copy, so I will try to be relatively vague in my review as I haven’t read the new ending myself and don’t wait to spoil the book for anyone else!

The storyline is enthralling. I cannot help but be sucked in by the story line with these books and this was no different. Continuing almost exactly where Hunting Prince Dracula left off, I was really looking forward to seeing how Audrey’s story developed in the third book. The story follows Audrey as she travels from England to America aboard the RMS Eturia with her uncle and partner, Thomas Cresswell. The trip isn’t as smooth sailing as hoped though and soon enough, dead bodies are showing up with little to no trace of who the killer may be.

The characters are just as wonderful as previous books. I did find myself getting a little frustrated with Audrey Rose at some moments in this book as we saw her being torn by her emotions but other than that, I really enjoyed following her again in this book and seeing things from her perspective. Thomas Cresswell was, of course, charming as always. After the events of Hunting Prince Dracula, the relationship between Audrey and Thomas was different and the difference in their relationship continued throughout this book. I am interested to see where their relationship develops to in the next book. I feel as if I can’t comment too much on their characters due to the change in endings.

There was the addition of new characters in this book, some enchanting and others not so much. There were a few new characters that were added to the mix that I didn’t really like that much. I thought that they were necessary to the book, I just didn’t really like their characters that much. One of the characters that was introduced that I am allowed to mention because Kerri has mentioned his name before is Mephistopheles. He is quite the charmer but not in a Thomas Cresswell kind of way. I’m still undecided on how I feel about his character but you’ll have to read the book to find out why!

What I found most interesting is how difficult it was to determine who the killer was. I won’t say much as the killer may have changed between the ARC and finished copy, but I thought it would be really easy to figure out who the murderer was in this book due to the significantly smaller setting but it was almost just as difficult. I did surprise myself though as one of my predictions was, in fact, right! No, I hadn’t guessed everybody as the killer. I had narrowed down my suspects to a couple and for once, one of them was right! But that doesn’t mean this book was predictable. If I’d have had to have picked one suspect, I definitely would have got it wrong.

The setting really gave itself to this book. The whole book was set at sea and the suspense of a killer on the loose in a location where nobody can escape (unless they jump into the Ocean, of course) worked really well in this book. I did wonder before reading this book how this setting would work as I knew there would be several murders and mysteries to be solved and although ships are rather large, it’s not exactly the size of London or Bran, where Hunting Prince Dracula was based in Romania. I knew that Kerri would be able to pull off this setting because she is wonderful at what she does, but she really pulled it out the bag and it was better than I could have hoped for. It actually surprised me at how perfect a setting it was.

The writing of these books is just fantastic. I can never get enough of Kerri’s writing. I feel like her writing really puts you into the story as if you are there and solving murder mysteries with the characters.

I would love to comment on how the book finished however, as mentioned, the ARC does actually have a different ending to the finished copy. Therefore, I will refrain from commenting on it because I know that it is different and it would be unfair to talk about the ending when it’s changed. All I will say is that I am looking forward to reading the finished ending and seeing the differences.

I absolutely loved this book and I’m super excited for it to go out in the world. I’m so happy that we still have another book with these characters as I’m really not ready to leave them yet.

If you want to see my 5 reasons for why you should stop what you’re doing and drop everything for this series, see below the picture!

Five reasons you should pick up Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series:

  1. The Characters – The characters are charming and relatable
  2. The Story Lines – The plot in every book carries you away and is so easy to follow.
  3. Historical – I don’t think there are that many books in the YA historical genre in comparison to Fantasy and Contemporary
  4. Addictive – These books are seriously addictive and you’ll find yourself yearning for the next book before you’ve even finished the one you’re reading!
  5. An Interactive Experience – As our characters try to piece things together, it encourages the reader to form their own theories.

Bonus reason: the series is coming to an end (booooo) which means that you’ll be able to rattle through all three books that are currently out and you won’t have to endure the long wait after each book…I mean, you will have to wait after you’ve read Escaping from Houdini but that’s not so bad. The wait is always worth it for these books!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

 

Title: Furyborn

Author: Claire Legrand

Pages: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Fairyloot editon)

Rating: ★★★.5


When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.


Furyborn surprised me. I don’t really know what I was expecting, if I’m totally honest. When I went into it, all I knew was that there was hype surrounding it and that was it had fairly decent ratings on Goodreads, which I only noticed when I went to add to my ‘Currently Reading’ shelf. I knew it was a Fantasy but I didn’t actually know what it was about. I felt a little like I was going back to my pre-blogger days when I used to pick out and read books purely based on their blurb rather than reading what others had to say about a book before picking it up.

This book started off with a bit of intrigue to lure you in but honestly? I was a little confused about what was going on. However, once I was reading the main part of the book, it absolutely made sense. The prologues intention to capture attention worked on me as it made me want to understand what was happening.

The story of Furyborn is told with two different PoVs that are set at different times. Both PoVs are set either side of the prologue – that threw me off at first but because both views have a complete different story, it was easy to distinguish between the two…plus the chapter said who’s PoV it was! Bonus points for this as I really don’t like it when books have multiple PoVs but they don’t tell you who’s PoV it is!

The characters were ok. I liked our two main characters, particularly Eliana. I thought that Eliana was much more enjoyable to read about and that it felt like there was a little more going on in her chapters. I thought Rielle’s character was good too but I personally just didn’t enjoy her chapters as much as I enjoyed reading Eliana’s. I liked the accompanying characters in Eliana’s chapters, such as her younger brother, but I didn’t really feel like I got to know the characters in Rielle’s chapters much. I felt that Rielle’s chapters were all about her and that she was quite lonely. There are connections between some characters that I had sort of predicated before we were actually told of the connection. I liked working out the connections but also felt that this was the books first step into the predictable zone.

I thought that the writing was good and felt that it ran at a smooth pace that kept my interest throughout, despite it being just over 500 pages. Sometimes books with longer page counts can feel like they go on forever, but the pacing of this one made me forget that it was even the length that it was. The chapters weren’t too long which made for easy reading too.

I did think that some of the plot twists were sort of predictable and I wasn’t totally taken by surprise by them. I’m usually pretty bad at predicting things, always ending up being miles off but this time, I managed to figure out what was going to happen perhaps before even the characters themselves knew. It wasn’t totally a bad thing. It was nice to have actually figured things out for once, but still. I don’t want predictability in regards to plot twists.

I think that this book wrapped up fairly nicely and left loose ends that are ready to be tied up in the next book. I thought that it was an interesting idea and I’m looking forward to seeing how the plot develops in the next book, although I wouldn’t exactly say this book lived up to the hype. I have given it three and half stars because I enjoyed this book and felt that I was able to move through it relatively quickly (based on my reading speed these days). However, I didn’t feel that it was a completely new fantasy idea and that it hasn’t offered something totally different to what we currently have in the genre. Mostly, I just found this book to be predictable.

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!