Review: City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare

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The Mortal Instruments #5

SYNOPSIS: What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? – via Goodreads

Well, here we go, back to something that reads more like a Mortal Instruments novel. City of Fallen Angels really felt like filler nonsense, and I wasn’t a fan really, but City of Lost Souls starts taking us back to the things that we love in the series.

Gosh, I was so torn about all the Jace and Clary scenes here. There were times where you laughed and could picture this Jace as Jace as we know him (gosh, I know how that sentence looks and reads), but at the same time you know it isn’t really Jace. Gah, I can just imagine how Clary felt. Like we have been shipping Clary and Jace from the beginning, and then here you get sections of them together here but it’s not right. Nooooooo!

There is also that business with Alec being a complete and utter fool about the Magnus thing. I just want to reach out and slap him. His jealousy in City of Fallen Angels was super annoying and against character, but the stupid things he is getting into here with Camille really make me mad. I have shipped Alec and Magnus since Magnus told him to give him a call after the unfortunate party where Simon turned into a rat. I love them together, and what Alec has been doing is not okay!

So the story in here is back to much better. It is indeed a slow burn, but it is worth the read, and the payoff is so worth it. Sebastian really is a crooked, great villain. I mean I have been waiting for him to come back since City of Glass, as he is too good an opportunity to pass up, and I really liked seeing what Clare has done with him. I was interested to see what type of villain he would be, and so far, worse than Valentine it would seem, and I am enjoying it. I am so looking forward to more of the struggle against him.

City of Lost Souls is a return to form in the Mortal Instruments series, and has the series finally finding its feet again. We get great characters again and there is development going on again, though maybe not as much as before. I enjoyed this, and I have to say, I am so hooked on these books.

Our Italian Honeymoon Adventure

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Well, I know that you guys wanted to know all about the honeymoon and to see some pictures, so yeah, I am going to post some of them here. Be warned, there are going to be a lot of pics here – which is unusual for us. My husband (eeeeep) and I don’t do the pictures and camera thing at all, but made the concerted effort to do so when we were out there.

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Now, Italy was an experience, let me tell you that. We had such a blast!

Alright, so we got married on a Saturday, and on Monday we drove up to Johannesburg to catch our flight to Dubai, and from Dubai to Rome. We were on those planes forever! Luckily there was a really great entertainment system on the planes, so I managed to watch some movies and what not. Arriving in Rome, my phone hit up the Wi-Fi and I had a super freaked out Natasha demanding to know where I was making my connecting flight, to find out that Brussels had been attacked that morning. It was really not nice, but explained the tightened security at the airport.

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Navigating a new, foreign country is pretty daunting when you do not have a working phone or the ability to belt it in Italian, but we managed to come right and organise a shuttle to our apartment. We arrived and the first thing that we thought was that we were in the ghetto and were going to be killed. Seriously. Back home, areas that have that much graffiti in them are super sketchy, the kind of places you avoid. We learned fast enough though that in Italy, but especially Rome, tagging things is sort of like a right of passage or something. There is graffiti everywhere.

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We ventured out that night and got a sim card, which automatically made us breathe easy because we could at least communicate. Walking around the neighbourhood was amazing. We pretty much can’t walk anywhere here at home, not even kidding. It was the most liberating feeling in the world to get up and walk out of the apartment whenever we wanted and it was safe to do so. Also, another thing to note is how clean it is out there. I was shocked. There were thousands of people, but no trash and junk lying around. Amazing. And such a police presence!
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We downloaded an app and we marked all the points we wanted to explore for each day on there, and took a bus from where we were staying to where we needed to be, and spent each and every day walking to all the different sites, seeing all that was around us. It was truly an amazing experience. Rome really is a lot smaller than you would think – once you are at any given site, the others are a stone’s throw away. One thing that did suck, however, was our currency exchange rate when we went over. Urgh. Thanks to our delightful fuckwit President Zuma, the exchange rate went up from R12.50 for €1.00 to R20.00 for €1.00. It was sheer lunacy, but we made it work and had tons of fun, though it did limit a lot of the things that we could do.

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Also, the pizza out there. Like oh my goodness. I am not usually a pizza fan because (I am saying it) there is usually too much cheese going on and a sloppy base. In Italy? Crunchy, wood fire pizza, minimal cheese and delicious toppings. You can taste everything! I must say though, the few pastas we did eat out there were really bland, which surprised me. Soda is also super expensive out there, and it is not refrigerated (just the little cans are). I was shocked, too, by how you can buy liquor (and not just beers, the hard liquor, too) anywhere. I mean it. Cafés, grocery stores, sweet shops, anywhere, they all had liquor. Like, everywhere.

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Let’s not forget to mention the architecture out in Italy, because that would be a crime. You know, pictures are all impressive and stuff, but it just doesn’t compare to seeing the actual buildings, statues, monuments, doors, etc. I was overwhelmed by how tiny I felt – the architecture, the age, it all drives home how ancient and amazing things are. I travelled thousands of kilometres to see this, and so have millions of other people, over so many years. It really is something to take in.
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From Rome we went to Florence, and man, I fell in love. While Rome might have been the more entertaining of the two purely because there is an inordinate amount of things to do, Florence is hands down the more beautiful. It is clean, the people are insanely friendly, it was cheaper there than Rome or Venice, and it, too, was small. Totally more my speed. We drank wine, ate pizza, explored every day, and I loved every moment of it. We did the tours, the photos, the walking… seriously, I walked through two pairs of shoes while I was out in Italy. I was so stoked to be able to walk anywhere at any time, so I took advantage of it like crazy. I have also always wanted to see the Duomo, and I was not even remotely disappointed. It was so beautiful and vast and impressive and… I don’t actually have words for it. WOW.

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Lastly, we moved on from Florence to Venice, and that was something I was interested in seeing. I remember my wedding photographer asking how long we would be in each of the places (she had gone to Italy before), and when we told her we were in Venice for three days, technically four because our flight was leaving so late, she sucked in her breath and said that even two is overkill for Venice. Now that I have been there, I can see what she meant. Venice is beautiful and magical and an experience, it really is, but Venice is also really small. We spent four days traipsing all over Venice and hiding out in the apartment when we just couldn’t anymore, and when we left on the last day, we were actually really looking forward to coming home. That is  how I knew we had a proper holiday – when you get to the end and you have had a great time and you are all good for exploring more, but you are also perfectly fine with going home, sleeping in your own bed, on your own pillow, not living out of a suitcase anymore or burning through ridiculous amounts of money. We were there.

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Anyway, there is just way too much to say on the adventure, too much for one post. The experience was overwhelming and awesome and heck, so much fun! I do not regret it, and would go again in a heartbeat!

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Gelato… you can’t go to Italy and not live off the stuff. It is GLORIOUS.

BUT there was one thing I missed so much while we were out there it was like a physical pain, and it was the first thing I purchased when we got off the plane back home, even though the airport is crazy expensive about it.

creme soda

Rapid Review: Jurassic Park (1993)

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“Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
– Dr Ian Malcolm

SYNOPSIS: Huge advancements in scientific technology have enabled a mogul to create an island full of living dinosaurs. John Hammond has invited four individuals, along with his two grandchildren, to join him at Jurassic Park. But will everything go according to plan? A park employee attempts to steal dinosaur embryos, critical security systems are shut down and it now becomes a race for survival with dinosaurs roaming freely over the island. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5Ah, the joy, the love, this movie! I know you are all fans. Why? Because Jurassic Park. Do I need to elaborate? This was the things that dreams were made of as a kid. A dinosaur park? Count me in! Even if the T-Rex was on a munch mission, I still wanted to see it then, and I would still like to see it now, though I honestly don’t think I will be getting out of any vehicle, anywhere, and I won’t be travelling in something that is anything short of a tank. Why? That T-Rex. And anything that big. Any meatosaurus. I am not sticking around for that for longer than needs be. The raptors were also scary as hell, definitely dinosaurs to be afraid of to the nth degree. They are just too damn smart. Anyway, Jurassic Park is a right adventure, even with the kids all over the show. I thoroughly enjoyed Sam Neill here, his Alan Grant was just way cool. Then, of course, there was the rockstar Ian Malcolm, portrayed b y Jeff Goldblum. My biggest question? Why in the world did his chest need to be on full display for so long?! Other than that, he provided plenty laughs. There was Samuel L Jackson and his totally strange “hold on to your butts” line, and Richard Attenborough was a crazy old coot with huge, elaborate ideas that he certainly did not think through properly. Laura Dern was a very good Ellie – she was smart and worked hard, though goodness she could hanker after having kids! Besides that painfully obvious “she must be a woman” moments, she was sassy and she knew what she was doing, super capable and I liked that. Also, the way the entire concept was laid out in the beginning was great – concise, fast, let’s you know what’s happening without inundating you with an overkill of information, and then you are good to go. The deliberate setup worked wonders, too, because you really get involved with discovering this amazing new world with the crew. Jurassic Park is just magical. There is so much work that went into it, and it is extremely obvious, and it comes together well. The movie also holds up wonderfully 22 years later. Steven Spielberg just understands how to realise adventure movies, and this was no exception. It was fun and it was intense, because the movie is set up in such a way that you never really know if anyone is safe. There is so much tension and doubt about everything, which keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the dinosaurs themselves look fantastic so you very easily get sucked in and see how quickly they can go from fascinating to terrifying. John Williams scored this wonderfully, too, and his music just rounded this out, as his scores always do. They always contribute to the films they are in – always so super memorable. Obviously I really loved this, everything about it was fantastic – the concept, the implementation, the dinosaurs, the terrifying situations, all of it gives us an immensely fun and enjoyable adventure film.