Sunday, January 1, 2012

The TBR Back Burner Challenge: Round 12 Reviews

And now for the reviews of the final two books I read in 2011!

EvilEva reviews...... The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

On a random Sunday night in New York City, Clary Fray and her friend Simon decide to hit the Pandemonium Club in an effort to beat boredom.
But Clary's night suddenly becomes anything but boring when she witnesses a murder. And finds out that the boy that was murdered was really a demon and the three teenagers who murdered him are Shadowhunters, a special group of warriors whose duty is to rid the world of his kind. Also shocking? It seems no one else is able to see them.
So obvs Clary's life is about to change big time. And it does. Her mother disappears and a demon attacks Clary in her own home. Then Clary is surprised to find one of the Shadowhunters, golden-haired pretty boy Jace, has come to her rescue. He whisks her off to the Institute to keep her safe and informs her that her mother might be in serious trouble. Like demon/warlock serious trouble. Oh and also that Clary herself may be a Shadowhunter.
So with this new, crazy information Clary begins her harrowing journey to find her mother and to find out the truth of who she really is.

I don't really know how to write this review. I wanted to like this book. I mean, I liked it but I wasn't exactly swept up into the Shadowhunter world like Stephenie Meyer evidently was based on her front cover blurb.  
And while I am curious to see what happens next, I'm not exactly clamoring to go out and buy City of Ashes right this very minute.
Truthfully I wasn't all that impressed with Clary as a heroine. There was something very Bella-esque about her in that she was constantly getting pushed to the side so that the menfolk could defend her honor and keep her safe. I mean, get some ovaries and go kick some ass, lady.
My problem wasn't solely with Clary though. Oh no. It was mainly with Jace. I felt NO swoon for him. He did absolutely NOTHING for my lady parts. I found him to be arrogant, condescending, cocky and rude. I understand that he's the Bad Boy and every girl loves a Bad Boy but I honestly don't. I don't care how many times you refer to his golden locks or his rock hard body. I will always wanna punch him in the throat.
I would much rather have Simon. Or maybe Luke. They were my favorites and I couldn't help but wish they were in the story more.
As for the story, I really should have liked the hell out of it. I mean, it's basically all about monster hunting. As is my favorite show, Supernatural. So this should have been a total slam dunk. But Clary and Jace are no Sam and Dean. And I never fully connected with either character.
That being said, there were a few good twists that I didn't see coming. However I feel like I didn't really get a chance to enjoy them because I first had to slog through 40 pages of filler that really had little to do with the book on the whole. Like Simon being turned into a rat and being stolen by the vampires. Other than introducing the werewolves who would play into the story later on, I really didn't see what that scene added to the story.
Running up against those filler scenes was frustrating. It's like my brain could tell when one was coming up and so it would kinda shut down so it took me longer to read through because I was busy trying to determine what this had to do with anything.
I don't know. I was really bummed that I didn't like this book more. I know a lot of people that do so I'm wondering if there are any other weirdos out there like me that couldn't really get into it.

The Scale of Judgment says...... 3.

EvilEva reviews...... The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

When Reynie Muldoon, an orphan from the Stonetown Orphanage, sees and advertisement in the local newspaper proclaiming:
he's very interested at the prospect of putting his smarts to the test.
But they are very odd tests with very odd questions, which makes Reynie very nervous.
In the end, however, Reynie and three other children (Sticky, Kate and Constance) pass and are escorted to the home of the strange Mr. Benedict.
Mr. Benedict has a special task for the four children to complete. They are to become spies. They'll be sent to an island that houses a mysterious school called the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened.
Once there, they are to assume the role of regular students while secretly spying on the founder of the Institute, the disturbingly familiar Mr. Curtain.
Their mission is to take what they've learned from Mr. Benedict, use their specific gifts and work together to take down Mr. Curtain and his diabolical plot to control the world.
But Reynie and his new friends are just children and Mr. Curtain is an evil genius.
Do they have what it takes to complete their mission?

This is really fun kid-lit. The characters are very likable. There are adventures a go-go. Plus there are puzzles and mind benders and even a quiz at the end of the book so that you can see if you've got what it takes to be a part of The Mysterious Benedict Society.
I read reviews where people drew parallels between this book and those of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket. I get those comparisons. The Mysterious Benedict Society is made up of four kids that are whip-smart and that need to use their unique brands of brilliance in order to outsmart the smarmy adults. They are also four kids that seem misplaced which is what brings them to the testing facility to begin with. They're looking for these "special opportunities" but they're also looking for a place where they belong.
The story is told primarily from Reynie's point of view. Reynie is an orphan with no real friends except for his tutor, Miss Perumal who encourages him to pursue the opportunities advertised in the paper. Reynie is smart but he truly excels at puzzles and brain teasers.
The day of the final test, Reynie meets Sticky (aka George) Washington. Sticky is a shy runaway that seems to have a photographic memory. He's very book smart and retains everything he reads. Unfortunately he's not very brave. But that's ok because on that day the boys also meet Kate Wetherall (aka The Great Kate Weather Machine) (also aka my personal favorite Society member) who is brave enough for all of them. She has a red bucket which she carries everywhere with her and which contains all of her special things. Kate is super resourceful and uses her special bucket things like a 12 year old girl version of Macgyver. She's always up for an adventure and she's very strong, qualities she no doubt cultivated when she RAN AWAY TO JOIN THE CIRCUS!!!
Lastly but not leastly, the children meet the final member of The Mysterious Benedict Society, Constance Contraire who is quite contrary. Constance is a short little thing with a short little fuse. She's fussy and stubborn and not at all agreeable. Reynie, Sticky and Kate often wonder throughout the book how Constance passed Mr. Benedict's tests as she doesn't seem particularly clever, resourceful or brave. But Constance proves to be as valuable a member of the society as any of the children. 
So Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance make up The Mysterious Benedict Society and it's up to them to stop the evil Mr. Curtain from succeeding in his dastardly plot to brainwash the world into submission.
Like I said before, this is fun kid-lit. If you're an adult, it brings you to that Goonies state of mind. Where kids can have fantastical adventures and outsmart the bad guys and inevitably save the day. If you're an actual kid, I imagine it's even better. :)

P.S. At the end of the book there's a letter from Mr. Benedict encouraging the reader to figure out his first name. If you wanna figure out the mystery yourself then by all means skip this part cos I'm about to amaze the fudge out of ya!

For the answer you'll have to check out the back of the book. Underneath the synopsis you'll notice a series of dots and dashes. This is Mr. Benedict's super-secret-unless-you-know-morse-code-which-I-of-course-do-because-i'm-a-girl-sleuth :) first name. It reads: 

-.  ..  -.-.  ....  ---  .-..  .-  ...   


The Scale of Judgment says...... 3 and a half.


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