End of 2012 round-up part 2: December

What’s this?! Two posts in a week?! Try not to die of shock. I’ve got a lot of ground to catch up on and some pretty hardcore new year’s resolutions to at least pretend to attempt before I inevitably give them up before the end of January. So what was I up to in December? THIS:

New York, Mini Christmas Puddings and more Cassandra Clare

After a disastrous and faintly depressing November I had a much better, more fun-filled December. I absolutely love Christmas, and spent much of the first two weeks of the month making hundreds of mini christmas

Mini Christmas puddings!

Mini Christmas puddings!

puddings for various occasions. I also went to see Mumford and Sons with Anna and Simon which was boot-stompin’ good. The best part of December, however, was going to New York with my family for my sister’s 30th birthday.

We spent 6 days in New York and crammed in as much as we possibly could, from the Empire State Building (standard) to singing in piano bars in the Meatpacking District (amazing). We had a great time, although I must admit, I was so tired when I got home I could have done with another holiday, preferably on a beach somewhere! I don’t want to bore y’all with a long list of everything we did but I will mention a couple of odd things.

Firstly, apparently, spending $50 on just a steak (no chips or anything!) and $60 on a not-so-spesh bottle of red wine is normal for New York (Sparks in Midtown, if anyone’s interested). Ouch. Secondly, I can’t believe I thought I was going to be able to walk around Tiffany’s and resist the urge to spend all my remaining money on something shiny. Ouch. Thirdly, the Picasso exhibition at the Guggenheim was a tad disappointing but discovering what we called the boob dog series was a unexpected highlight of the trip for me. If you go, make sure you look out for it! Fourthly, don’t go anywhere near the East Village when it’s SantaCon, unless you want to see drunk Santa, dancing Santa or naked Santa.

And finally: thanks weather, you did great. It was sunny, crisp and not too cold. I loved New York and definitely didn’t want to return home despite my sore feet and the cold I had acquired whilst out there. I highly doubt it’ll be the last time I go! Here are a couple of the photos I took on my phone. I took a load more with my proper camera but haven’t had a chance to properly sort through them yet (let alone pick/resize them). I might do a separate photo blog about it, watch this space. Oh, just one last thing! The squirrels in Central Park are CRAZY FRIENDLY. Ok, I’m done now.

BB         ny burger

empireReturning home on 18th December not having done any Christmas shopping was a little stressful. I basically ran around the shops like a headless chicken for a week. I also had a bit of a literary crisis, as I was reading The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo and I was finding it slow and incredibly confusing. In the end, I gave up and failed in my mission to resist Cassandra Clare’s books and even though I knew I was going to get left hanging (because the two series she has written aren’t complete yet) I returned to The Mortal Instruments books to find out what happens to Clary after the satisfying conclusion of book 3.

I read the fourth and fifth books in the series, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls. I was really hesitant about starting City of Fallen Angels as things seemed to end in a good place in the end of the third book and I didn’t want it ruined. And I must admit I was slightly irritated with some of the characters moping around and not talking to each other properly. Although I enjoyed it as I like Clare’s writing style (multiple character points of view, excellent pacing), I found myself getting frustrated and wondering where the book was going. It did build to a great ending though. I’m trying desperately not to give anything away just in case there are any readers out there who haven’t read the first three. I hate it when people give too much away in reviews.

I loved City of Lost Souls, however. In fact, I think it is probably my favourite of the whole series. I loved the story, it was tense and exciting and built to a dramatic final showdown which had me pacing around my bedroom. I also liked Clary in this book, she finally gets into the fighting spirit and is a bit more badass than she has been, which is great. Simon is also excellent and steps up majorly. I also found the book slightly more grown-up than some of the others. Although City of Lost Souls didn’t finish on an awful cliff-hanger, I’m still desperate to know how the series ends. I can’t believe Clare’s going to keep us waiting for over a year! It’s like waiting for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix all over again!

Oh dear, I’ve spent far too long rambling about The Mortal Instruments series and no time to talk about The Infernal Devices series by Clare, which I also read. Two books of the trilogy have been released so far, with the final instalment coming in a couple of months. The first two books are Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince. I really liked liked these books, especially as they are set in Victorian London and I love all things nineteenth-century-related. They’re about Tessa, a girl who moves from New York to London and then finds out she can change her appearance and turn into anyone, dead or alive. She is rescued from imprisonment by Will and Jem, two dashing shadowhunters. The books are similar in feel to the Mortal Instruments series with lots of mystery, demon-fighting and love dilemmas. I want to say so much more but can’t go on all day (this post is already long enough). I think I like Clare’s writing so much because she is the master of creating lovely, brooding male characters (my favourite) and strong, inspiring female characters. She does all this as well as managing to pace her novels excellently, and I never manage to guess what will happen next. And for these reasons, I’ll keep reading her books even if they are, strictly speaking, aimed at a teenage audience.

The rest of December was spent eating, drinking and partying with my family and friends! Good times. Now it’s time to look to 2013 though, and think about what I’m hoping to achieve this year, and how I’m going to make it happen. Exciting!

Oh my god this post is 1130 words long and counting! If you made it this far you deserve a medal!

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Happy New Year!! End of 2012 round-up

Before I move on to this wonderful new year, I thought you might like to know what I’ve been up to since my last post (the one about NaNoWriMo not the one about being hacked!). Well here’s part one of what I’ve been doing:

NOVEMBER: Failed NaNoWriMo, Read the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare Instead

At the end of October, my wise sister told me that if I spent half the time I spend reading writing instead, I’d be able to bash out 10 novels before the end of the year (or words to that effect). She was right. I do spend a ridiculous amount of time reading and not doing anything else. Not just books either, I trawl the internet every day for hours reading articles and blogs. It’s getting out of hand. I am the master of procrastination, and reading allows me to tell myself I’m achieving something as I can pretend to myself that I’m doing some form of “research”. 2012 was the year I pushed the definition of research to its very limits.

Anyway, when Anna said this I did feel a little guilty and decided to attempt NaNoWriMo 2012. What better to get me to start writing? I even blogged about it to make sure I actually stuck to it (LOL). It was all going so well, in two days I’d written 2000 words and had a pretty fun love-at-the-end-of-the-world type plot planned.

After the first two days things began to unravel. I went to three different bonfire parties in four days which meant, naturally that I’d left my novel temporarily and promised to catch up in the week. I wrote a little more on my phone after a drunken night out (totally illegible drivel) but after that I had lost the drive to forge on. I told myself I was too busy, I’d catch up next week when I had more time.

The following week, I discovered the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I’d seen them before but The Mortal Instrumentsthought they looked a little too childish, even for me. However when I saw them recommended on another blog by a grown up man, I thought I’d give them a go. Plus they’ve made the first book into a film and I wanted to check out the books before the films release later this year. NaNoWriMo was a lost cause after that.

I’m not sure why I was worried about the Mortal Instruments series being too young, as they’re similar in feel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Divergent, The Hunger Games trilogy, and many other YA books I have read and enjoyed. I suppose I don’t want to be that person who only reads YA, so I try not to limit myself to it all the time. I enjoy reading all sorts and don’t want to be defined by one genre. Having said that, YA fantasy and Sci Fi is always what I feel like writing about when I sit down to blog. It is an exciting genre that’s getting better and better and I don’t feel as wary of writing critically about it as I do with classics and literary fiction.

Anyway, I read the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series in about a week and a half. The books are City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass, and all follow Clary, a girl who has her world turned upside down after finding out she is a shadowhunter, a demon killer. Clary meets other shadowhunters her own age: Isabelle, Alec and the rather lovely Jace. When her mother goes missing in mysterious circumstances, Clary needs the shadowhunters’ help. Her search for her mother and missing childhood memories takes her all over New York, with her geeky and sarcastic but loveable friend Simon dragged along for the ride. As the books progress, Clary learns more about her past, her parents and the world of shadowhunters, downworlders and demons.

I liked these books because they were plot-driven, super exciting stories with a cracking forbidden love story

Image from imdb.com

Image from imdb.com

(although I did start shouting in frustration by the middle of the third book). What’s more, Simon, who should just be the annoying friend, turns out to be an excellent character. In fact, I’d say that Clare found the perfect balance between keeping the plot moving and exploring and developing the characters. All in all, I bloody loved these books! Even if I am indulging my inner teenager.

The Mortal Instruments series will eventually be made up of 6 books but only 5 have so far been released. Because the third book ended in such a wonderful place I told myself I would leave it there and resist the temptation to pick up the other two until the series had been completed (in 2014!!). Clare has also written another trilogy of books set within the same world but set in Victorian times, these are called The Infernal Devices. Only two of the three have so far been released, so I told myself I would wait until the third book came out before picking up the third. We’ll see how far I got with all this temptation-resisting when I recap on December!

So, that was my disastrous November. Failed NaNoWriMo, went to a lot of parties and read a few books. Any time I wasn’t reading/partying I spent helping my sister photograph a school and generally panicking over my lack of a serious job. But hey! It’s a new year now, so moping is strictly forbidden. Bring on 2013!