Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare

Months after the Shadowhunter attacks of the summer, old fears return as a murderer walks loose in dawn hours. Patrols are set up, and Cordelia and her friends take personal interest in the deaths as James finds himself in a waking nightmare. Who is killing their own in the early hours? And why are the bodies located in such places? Why are they missing ruins?

For Cordelia Carstairs and the Merry Thieves, life in London continues on in Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare. Cordelia is married now, and only those closest to her know the truth behind her sham marriage vows. While she loves her husband desperately, she’s unnerved by the fact that he loves another. Together they brave increasingly romantic moments while trying to remind themselves of promises made.

Lucie Herondale discovers a strange new power. She’s always been able to see ghosts as it’s a Herondale family trait, but now she finds she’s able to command them to her will. Together with Grace Blackthorn, the unlikely pair begin to dive into necromancy and illegal magic in effort to raise Grace’s brother Jesse from the dead. Neither trusts the other, but their mutual love for Jesse brings them together in fantastical escapades.

Matthew Fairchild is determined to live his life in an obliterated state. Golden, charismatic, with a cheshire smile – he should have the world at his feet. But between harboring secrets and drowning himself in alcohol, and his friends and family become increasingly worried that he’ll be his own ruin.

While I’ve grown out of Cassandra Clare’s overwhelming descriptions of young love and beauty, I really enjoyed Chain of Iron and was sad to realize there’s no release date for the third installment of The Last Hours series. Clare churns books out like clockwork, but world events have put a damper even on publishing, I imagine. She’s got multiple books in this universe and they have a special place in my heart. I haven’t read all of her side stories, but I do think I’ll revisit the prequel series to The Last Hours, Infernal Devices. It’s been awhile.

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) by Cassandra Clare

I looked up Cassandra Clare recently and had one of those moments where you realize just how old you are. I’ve been reading Clare’s works since 2007 and recently recalled a memory where, upon reading her outline for all her Shadowhunter books, I realized I’d be 30 by the time she finished. It’s been fourteen years; she’s still writing and I’m still reading.

I had to google to see where I’d left off in the universe and was pleasantly surprised to see I was only two books behind. So I’m not terribly late to Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. I did have to research a little to familiarize myself with the timeline though.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this installment introduced Will & Tessa Herondale’s children, formally of Clare’s Infernal Devices series. I’d forgotten how much I liked the Victorian era Shadowhunters. I might have to reread that series again.

Cordelia Carstairs has come to London under the cover of becoming parabatai to Lucie Herondale. Together, they will be closer than sisters, warriors bound together in a ceremony many young Shadowhunters take part in with those closest to them. But really, she and her mother and brother have come so that she can seek someone to marry. With her father awaiting trial in Idris for a terrible crime, marriage is the only way her family can save their reputation.

She’s lonely, seeing strangers in every face except her girlhood friend Lucie, and Lucie’s older brother James. Soon, she becomes swept up in the lives of the next generation of Herondales, Fairchilds, Lightwoods, and Blackthorns. There’s fancy dress balls, picnics in the park, and explosions in secret laboratories. Sadly, only a whisper of Church, a cat with the lifespan of a warlock, who appears in most Shadowhunter novels.

Demon activity has been quiet for many years. Even though nephilim continue to train, the young know nothing except stories of what it is to be a true hero. But when demons begin to strike in daylight – unheard of behavior, and Shadowhunters become ill from wounds healing ruins can’t fix, Cordelia, Lucie, and the Merry Thieves (James’ group of social miscreants) become entangled in a story with deep and dark ties to their own. With London under quarantine against the attacks, Cordelia learns the true meaning of family and being a hero.

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

It doesn’t feel like summer until a Morgan Matson book is released. Matson has been quintessential summer reading for me since Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour (released 2010), when I first discovered the author. She’s had hit after hit with Second Chance Summer, Since You’ve Been Gone, and Save the Date. Take Me Home Tonight is supposed to be a mash up of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Nick and Norah’s Infintie Playlist, but I’ve seen neither movie (Gasp! Shock!), so I began the book with no knowledge of what I was diving into.

Our main characters, Kat and Stevie, were just going into the city for a few hours.

What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s Stevie’s birthday – and her dad ditched their plans, again, so what else was there to do but head into New York City for the most magical night of their lives?

After a series of unfortunate events the two friends end up separated, their cover story friend gets kidnapped, laundry delivery with a cute boy uncovers an underground poker game, and a dramatic performance is made to keep a dog from being evicted from a dorm room. And that’s when shit gets real.

Funny, engaging, quick – Take Me Home Tonight is a fast little read about theater kids – best friends, who are growing up and not quite ready to move into the unknown world of adulthood. With fantastical situations and an outlandish side story, the pace moves swiftly but there’s a bit of whiplash if you’re too invested. It’s not my favorite Matson, but it does have an interesting little surprise at the end if you’re a fan of her work. She does love to weave former characters into her latest books.

All in all, as someone who works in the city, I’m not very impressed with the descriptions of New York glamour; however, I was completely enamored with the idea of being alone in the MET at night. Points to calling back Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

I adore Rachel Hawkins. She’s one of my favorite people to follow on social media and the anecdotes she tells of her family and cats make her tweets come alive with joy. It’s easy to forget that written words can have a person behind them, but she makes you feel like you’re part of the family with every post.

The Wife Upstairs is a modern day retelling of Jane Eyre, with a Southern Gothic twist. As someone who never had Jane Eyre on my high school reading list, but Hamlet three separate times, this was my first foray into the story. I’m not entirely sure of the base material, and I wasn’t particularly rooting for any of the characters, but I did enjoy the shifting narratives and descriptive writing Hawkins utilized.

Jane comes to a small town in Alabama looking for a fresh start. She’s a little shifty, not your average heroine, with a hidden backstory and a thing for kleptomania. She gets engaged to the resident hottie in the first third of the book, which means it all goes screwy from there.

The Wife Upstairs was not my favorite book of the summer, but it is perfect gloomy day reading. Hawkins is engaging, smooth, and swift in her storytelling, and you can tell she put her heart into it. I’m looking forward to her next ventures into adult lit, with Reckless Girls and The Ex Hex (or as she aptly describes it, Hocus Pocus but they F).

Review: Tomb of Ancients (House of Furies #3) by Madeleine Roux

*This book was provided to me in exchange for a fair review.

The final showdown between gods and monsters was a bit hard to follow, if I’m being honest. I’m hesitant to post this, but I’m going to. The fact of the matter is not all books or book series are five star-worthy. I would rate this one three stars out of five.

The final part of Louisa’s story opens in London, where she and her friends are trying to begin their lives as normal people. How we got to London from the First City, where book 2 left off in a cliffhanger fashion, we’re not really sure, but the first few chapters of Tomb of Ancients hit hard and fast. There’s a ball and bloodshed, and the fancy ladies and gentlemen of the 1800’s get zombified, and we have an intriguing build up with Louisa’s sister but it ends up being for nothing because her memory of the aforementioned ball and bloodshed get wiped from her mind and she’s not mentioned again. And this all happens before we once again return to Coldthistle House and it’s fantastical characters who never have a chance to be fantastic, or the actual story of the third book begins.

I was so excited to receive Tomb of Ancients for review. But honestly, this entire series has such potential, but it falls so short it’s not even worth it to summarize the third book. There are such well thought out scenes that are strung together in a way that it’s obvious large cuts were done in editing without a proper final read through to make sure it all still makes sense.

It feels like the characters and world that were created were never given a fair chance.

The epilogue though. Someone who has suffered through these books please write a fanfic exploring the epilogue.