Book #16: City of Heavenly Fire

Cassandra Clare, City of Heavenly Fire, (2014), 725p

It’s finally over! Six books, seemingly endless pages. The Mortal Instruments series is finally wrapped up.

I find it hard to review a book partway through a series, especially since it is a series I started reading way before I started blogging. I’m going to try not to give too much away. But if you’ve read part of this series, or hope to someday, maybe skip this post. I swear, I won’t be offended.

Clary and her Shadowhunter pals are up against their most difficult challenge yet – Clary ‘s dangerous, heartless brother, Sebastian. He’s building his army of turned Shadowhunters, ones who have become dark behind their familiar faces. When one of the Downworlder groups commits the ultimate betrayal by backing Sebastian, all hell breaks lose. Loyalties are tested, bonds are strengthened, and lives are lost in this lengthy finale.

What I absolutely adored about this book is that it wrapped up not just one, but both of Clare’s series. By bringing back some of the beloved characters from the Infernal Devices books, it tied the two series together. Everything is so intertwined. I love that I read ID before finishing of MI. It was sweet and cute to see how everything wrapped up. Needless to say, everyone got their happy ending 🙂

I’m happy this series is over. I enjoyed most of it, but I was happy it wrapped up. I know originally the series wasn’t supposed to go past three books. I’m happy that it did. I do feel like Clare copped out in this book. It came across as predictable. She didn’t challenge or shock the reader. Like I mentioned, everyone got their happy ending. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, I would have liked a twist of some sort. It also seemed unnecessarily long.

But anyway. Goodbye Clary and Jace. See ya Isabelle and Simon. Check ya later Alec and Magnus. It’s been a slice.

Book #14: Getting Waisted

Monica Parker, Getting Waisted: a Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin, (2014), 281p

This is another one of the advanced reader copies I was graciously allowed to read from Net Galley. I specifically picked this title with a very honest, blunt, open blog post in mind – so be warned. It’s about to get pretty serious up in here. I actually finished this book about 3 days ago. Typically I blog directly after finishing. For this one, I needed a bit more time to process it and compose my post.

Getting Waisted is a memoir from a lovely Canadian media lady who has struggled with her weight for almost her entire life. It chronicles Parker’s foray into diet after diet, pills and procedures – essentially anything that she believes will help her lose weight and find happiness in herself. It’s honest, frank, and beautifully sad. It follows her through a bumpy childhood, difficult relationships with her parents, working her way through the dating world, and busting her butt in the television and film industry. Parker takes on society’s obsession with weight and thinness head-on. It hits a little close to home for me, so it’s hard not to compare myself to Parker in some ways.

Here’s my story.

I was always a thin, small child. So thin that in grade 8, while on an overnight class trip some of the mean girls at school took it upon themselves to tell the teacher supervisor that I was starving myself. Needless to say, I was not. This lead to an uncomfortable weekend of being forced to eat beside the teacher at meals, whispers behind my back, and nights crying myself to sleep. Kids can be kids, right? Maybe not, but I think that’s where my obsession with my body began.

I (luckily) didn’t struggle with my weight at all through my childhood, my first go at post-secondary education, or through my early twenties. This, despite, the amount of junk I ate, vegetables and fruit I didn’t eat, and amount of alcohol I consumed late in that period. Then I hit 24, quit my career, moved cities, and moved in with my boyfriend. I was in a city I didn’t know too well and unemployed for two months straight. I felt sad, lost, and confused. I started to “eat my feelings” with junk. I vividly remember finishing off a package of rainbow sprinkle cookies in about 26 hours. I also started matching the meals of my boyfriend, eating the same portions as he was. And again with the drinking. I finally went back to work, back to the career I thought I was leaving behind. I was miserable. Food was my best friend and my savior. By stuffing it in my face, I was smushing down all of the feelings along with it.

I gained about 15-20 pounds in roughly 6 months. I felt sick and tired and gross. Then the obsession kicked in. I decided that I wasn’t going to look or live like this anymore. This lead to a super intense, restricted meal plan of 1,200 calories a day and Jillian Michaels exercise DVDs to kick my ass. Anytime I ate anything that wasn’t on my “meal plan” I was plagued with guilt and sadness. It brought on crazy amounts of anxiety and I didn’t want to eat anything I had not prepared. I busted my ass for 3 months and lost all the weight. But let’s be real, that kind of life wasn’t sustainable. Shortly after my “dramatic weight loss” I headed back to university and starting working part-time at a chocolate shop (Smart, Laurie, real smart!). Needless to say, with all of the stress and chocolate lying around, the weight came back.

It’s been 3 years since then. I have fluctuate up and down with my weight probably 3 times since then. I go through the “eat everything in sight” phases, then fluctuate back to the “strict, boring eating” phases. I have been struggling with, what I jokingly call, eating my feelings. I’m trying to stay on a realistic, healthy path. It’s hard. I’ve started running and doing yoga, eating more fruits and vegetables, and not feeling guilty about what I eat. I’m trying to listen to my body. See how it reacts to certain foods and portions.

I reiterate again that it’s hard. It’s a daily struggle with me. I can so easily fall into obsessive behaviours again, whether it is eating too much or not really enough. I feel like most women deal with this. I feel like a lot of men deal with this too. We have such an unhealthy relationship with our bodies, with food. I’m not going to be all like “society this, society that”, but I feel like the media helps us to set such ridiculous expectations for ourselves. Should five, ten, twenty pounds really affect me mentally and emotionally the way it does? Clearly not. What I weigh does not change the type of person that I am. But sometimes it’s hard to focus on anything but that.

Sorry for the honest hour, but I feel like this was an important post.

Anyone want to share their story? It’s hard, but I swear I feel like a weight (har-har) has been lifted off my shoulders by sharing mine.

Happy reading –
Laurie 🙂

Book #10: Sinner

Maggie Stiefvater, Sinner, (2014), 357p

I am a werewolf in L.A.

The line Stiefvater claims stuck in her head and began this book on its journey. Thank goodness for this line. Thank goodness for this book.

I’m rather biased because I absolutely adore this series. The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy is one that I often recommend to friends whether they are avid YA readers or skeptics of supernatural teen fiction. It’s a quick, easily digested read, with interesting twists and werewolf lore. Sam was perfect. Cole was perfectly damaged. I’ll be honest, I liked the first two books far more than the third, but it was a well rounded series. When I heard that Stiefvater was working on a fourth book, I was a little skeptical. But when I heard it would surround Cole and Isabel, I was intrigued.

Sinner follows Cole, a drug addict rock star turned werewolf, as he ventures to L.A. hot on the tail of Isabel, the damaged girl who got away. Cole agrees to be part of a reality television show, produced by someone who’s claim to fame is putting has-been stars on camera and watching them spiral towards madness. Cole is trying to be different, trying to be better to win back Isabel. New curveballs are thrown in, challenging Cole and Isabel’s lingering love.

I enjoyed this book but I truly adore these two characters. I also secretly hope that this series ends on a high note and that this is the end. Too many series drag it out, stretch it thin, and end with a flop. This would beat well-rounded ending, leaving the reader wondering and wanting.

Happy reading –
Laurie 🙂

Book #7: Before You

Amber Hart, Before You, (2014), 320p

This was my very first experience reading an advanced readers copy – yay for pseudo book blogger/library assistant perks! I signed up for NetGalley and this was the first (and so far only 😦 ) read I have been approved for so far.

Before You is your typical wrong side of the tracks love story. Faith Watters seems to have it all – dance team captain, good grades, and a football player boyfriend. Her father is the local pastor and beloved by all. But Faith, like us all, has secrets. She meets Diego, a tattoo and scar covered Cuban immigrant, when she is assigned to help him get settled into a new school. Diego has a dark past he is desperately trying to escape. As Faith and Diego grow closer, much to the dismay of their peers and families, Faith comes face to face with her secrets and has to chose between her perfect life and this not-so-perfect new guy.

I picked this book because it looked like a light, fluffy teen romance novel. I was mostly right. While predictable from the start, it was fast paced and heavily plot driven. I finished it in a little over a day as I was completely sucked in. Was it the best book I’ve ever read? No, not really. But it entertained me. I could have done without the interspersed Spanish (it seemed a little tacky for me), but I liked the way Hart flipped between the viewpoints of both characters. This was a good summer read, perfectly entertaining, and would make an excellent travel companion (Where was this a week or so ago?!?).

There’s a sneak peak at the end of the book for another title in this series, After You, which I will happily gobble up when it’s released. I would happily call this my guilty pleasure read – I sort of hate how much I enjoyed this predicable story.

Happy reading –
Laurie 🙂