Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mortally Wounded: A Mortal Instruments Review

I wouldn't be this furious if I hadn't love the series as a whole. I just finished the sixth and final book in Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments. I started them last year on the recommendation of the always-clever Ainsley Brooks and anticipated the ending with such excitement that I undertook the rereading of the entire series two weeks ago, prior to reading the finale. I was that determined to have the characters and events fresh in my mind so I could truly appreciate (read: eviscerate) book six.

Populated by what Diva terms 'critters'…warlocks, demons, vampires, fairies, and werewolves, this isn't my usual cup of tea but I was hooked. By turns clever and violent, heart rending and convoluted, the series is heavily rooted in demonology and well researched. I looked in to this after book one when I thought she was just super creative with all these demons etc, only to find that Clare had done her homework thoroughly instead.
If you're a newbie or just rented the godawful movie, let me catch you up with a capsule review of the whole series.

Book 1 (City of Bones):  Meet Clary. Clary has red hair and likes to draw. Dude, Clary had no idea she was a Shadowhunter born to fight demons. She finds out from a hot guy, Jace. Clary likes Jace. THey fight demons. Clary's bff Simon gets turned into a rat. Clary finds out her dad is a psycho who is summoning the demons. Oh no! We must stop him! Intro of Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn and Simon, my two favorite characters. Either of these fellas could stand up against the best of the best in modern fiction. They keep me reading.

Book 2 (City of Ashes):  Clary is sad because her hot boyfriend turned out to be her brother. She tries to date bff Simon (now de-ratified) but pines for her bro. Simon gets turned into a vampire. Clary and Jace's dad kidnaps everybody, they fight demons, Clary finds out she has a special gift with runes which are basically shadow hunter magic tattoos. She destroys a ship but her dad escapes.

Book 3 (City of Glass):  Clary goes to Alicante, the ancestral home of Shadowhunters, by having a tantrum that Jace left her behind to keep her safe. She endangers basically everyone in the world by being a total brat. She meets a hot guy named Sebastian. He is evil and also is her brother who crazy dad injected with demon blood to make him powerful and really nasty. Bad news is, crazy dad tortured all kinds of creatures including an angel in heinous, difficult to read about experiments. Good news is, Jace isn't really her brother. Jace kills Sebastian. Dad kills Jace. Angel kills Dad. Clary saves Jace.

Book 4 (City of….I don't remember. Let's just call it City of Horny Teens):  Jace is happy Clary isn't his sister but he has moody angst about something. Some stuff about demon babies and a cult of Lilith. A lot of crazy shit happens on a roof and Sebastian is resurrected.

Book 5 (City of Let's Party In the Demon Apartment):  Sebastian controls Jace's mind thru an evil binding rune. Clary travels around with them in an inter dimensional penthouse that lets them float undetected among European capitals for rich people style sightseeing and some demon slaying funsies as they aid Sebastian in his wicked plot. Despite the seeing absurdity of the plot line, this is probably my favorite book besides book 1 because Simon, the D&D playing band geek turned Daylighter vampire has a breathtakingly noble, loyal selfless scene in which he summons an angel to help him stop Sebastian without harming Jace. Now Clary obviously effs everything up at the eleventh hour but that's standard for that character.

Now on to book six: CIty of Heavenly Fire.

**Post interrupted for many hours because overtired Sweet Pea had a bad case of the mommy-i-need-oo's.

In book six, Clary has angsty angst because she can't make out with Jace because there is now Heavenly Fire inside him which sounds suspiciously like a euphemism for an STD, imho. He can't control the HF so he has to be sad and lonely or something and the HF is the only way to stop Evil Reanimated Sebastian from killing all the Shadowhunters with his demon horde. They know Sebastian will come for Clary because she is his sister and he has a creepo incestuous obsession that may or may not be a manifestation of pitiful existential loneliness despite his demon blood or may just be sleazy and rotten. I think you know my vote.

Then it got all Scooby Doo on me and the teens chase the villain into his lair which is actually a dimension within Hell itself. This seems wise and like it will work out well, no?

Now let's spend fully 30% of the final book introducing new characters and subplots to tie in to the new series, 'kay? She intro'd about eleven characters in the useless prologue most of whom stick around and grow pointless story lines designed to entice us to read her new books. Also there are some annoying asides meant to refer mysteriously back to her prequel steampunk series The Infernal Devices which I couldn't even make it through the first book, so there.

They abandon the Mystery Machine and Shaggy and Scoob wander off in search of snacks…wait. No. The Shadowhunter and Simon spend loads of time wandering through the bitter wasteland of Edom. Simon provides the insight, pathos and humor as we gear up for the showdown. Clary and Jace provide the humidity and Alec provides the pouting.

Spoilery things happen which I won't refer to specifically. The vanquishing of the villain himself (no surprise there…good will win out) is bittersweet in a way that impressed me and was also saddening. Then, she lost me.

Because if you have made it through hundreds of pages loving a character and the author hasn't managed to ruin him with needless angst or silliness, let's just throw his ass under the bus, shall we?

My final review is thus:

F-you, Jace and Clary.
F-you, Alec Lightwood.
F-you, new characters.
F-you a little bit, Magnus Bane.
I was so passionate about these books that I yearned to locate and kidney punch every person responsible for bringing us the finale.
I brought the drama to the party today.

PS Thank you and smooshies to everyone who helped out the fish sticks (next year's class)! We will have a more enriching and special year because of your kindness. The Amazon wish list will be taken down tomorrow, and I'll start ordering the stuff we still need and setting up my classroom. Pictures will be posted as we go! XOXO Diva

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


On Northern Exposure, there was this misanthropic backwoods genius character called Adam. One time he cut loose with this tirade about food and he said something like: I'm hungry. I want something to eat. Do I want to go to a restaurant? NO I WANT SOMETHING GOOD which means I want something I MADE.

The vanity of that, the hubris is memorable but then I made this kickass pesto pizza and I kinda get it. Food, you see, has the power to make me positively euphoric.

Here are some of my greatest food experiences:

A cherry sno cone at a hockey game probably ten years ago. I was thirsty and it was refreshing with a burst of real cherry flavor not just sugary syrup ugh.

Sonic onion rings. I know, but they're just so yummy.

Marcona almonds dipped in dark chocolate at La Maison du Chocolat in Paris in the summer of 01.

A chocolate cheesecake I made for my mom's birthday with fresh raspberry coulis and a glass of champagne that made the flavors deepen and spark like fireworks.

The baguette and butter at 311 in Puerto Rico on our honeymoon…perfect warm crusty bread and mellow sweet butter.

The cacophony of yummy tastes in a twice baked potato with cheese and bacon and light fluffy creamy potato at a steakhouse a few years ago.

My mom's banana pudding which has sour cream and cool whip in it and can make adults beg shamelessly with its light sweetness.

The pizza at Wolfgang Puck express in the Chicago airport last summer, crisp tender crust and rich cheeses with melting pesto brushed across it. Which is why I tried this recipe that resulted in the omg I love walnuts I love goat cheese I love EVERYONE moment yesterday.

So what's your food fantasy? Best thing you ever ate?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Llama, Stay.

Here are some assorted things that are true just now:

I haven't slept more than an hour a night in four consecutive nights. P.S. DH really needs to find out if he has apnea or if this is just some form of sadistic passive aggression manifesting itself as the snore heard round the clock.

We are heavily in to the Olivia books by Ian Falconer presently. SP's favorite is the cheesy dollar store adaptation of some tv episode in which the titular pig goes camping. Diva prefers Olivia and the Fairy Princesses which is a refreshing take on the princess mania that seems to consume our highly consumerist society.

Our it-song is Baby, Can I Hold You Tonight by Tracy Chapman, with Itsy Bitsy Spider coming in at a near second.

I've finished my reread of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments books 1-5 in preparation to read the sixth book. Thus far I've read only the prologue and in the (admittedly questionable) judgment of a sleep deprived reader/wannabe writer, i would not have begun the sixth and final book with the introduction of about eight new named characters. That sort of mass-introduction of only tenuously relevant minor persons is exceedingly aggravating to the Diva. I have cast aside novels by Nora Roberts and Brandon Sanderson for similar character soupitude. Don't think I won't quit on this one. I may adore Simon's character but at this point in the series that's about all I'm invested in apart from closure. (And maybe the slender hope that Clary will fall in a pit, a deep, deep pit perhaps full of demons).

I ran out of probiotics (which I've praised to the heavens) because I added them to my cart online and then never checked out.

I have added some stuff from the Fish Class wish list to my cart and I had no clue what a pain the ass it was for shoppers when I added things from off-site. I'm sorry about that. Chalk it up to cluelessness and clicking zeal.

My child can play with playdoh and a couple of plastic dinosaurs for like forty-five minutes straight.

After we do our little yoga practice daily, we assume mountain pose and I say "namaste" and she replies…wait for it…"Llama, stay" with a distinct pause in between as if issuing a firm but patient command to a recalcitrant pet. I enjoy that immensely.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Road Tripping

A couple of weeks ago, DH and I went to a concert. It was our first overnight away from the Pea, with all the mixed feelings and guilt haze that comes with it. I'd given him tickets as a fifth anniversary gift and we've looked forward to it for weeks. At one point, our child care fell through and we expected to cancel our trip but at the last minute, I cobbled things together and made it happen.

We got lost in St. Louis three times despite the map quest directions I'd faithfully printed out. We had a phenomenal time and here are some bits I'll share with you:

  • Married parents out of the house without the toddler will behave approximately like sixteen year olds.
    • Example: We consumed a great deal of soda and candy on the road.
    • Example: I car-danced to the radio at top volume.
  • People with smartphones probably don't wind up in the parking lot of Tito's Carniceria (Now with Video Poker!) which has bars on the windows, trying to figure out which direction to drive.
When loosed and even lost in a city, Diva will photograph practically anything that amuses her.

  • When my blood sugar drops from starvation during the time we're driving around lost, I will in fact think that anything is funny…especially if it is truly shameful and rude.
    • Example: we were driving along while I bounced my leg hyper in the passenger seat, glimpsing a lady clad in a red mini dress with a wide white belt and red leg warmers. "Is that SANTA?" I blurted. "No," DH replied, "That is a fat lady in a red dress."  I giggled. "I thought that fat lady was Santa." He snorted. "I could stop and let you tell her that and she could kick your ass." He offered. I refused, stating that there was no way she could run after me in those white platforms so I could get away. I may have refrained from pointing out that the fat lady of dubious wardrobe taste was more than likely in my own weight class, fighting wise. For the remainder of the evening one or the other of us would blurt out: I thought that lady was Santa! and we dissolved into laughter
    • Driving by Grant's Farm twice while looking for the motel, I threatened that if he didn't find the Hampton Inn soon I would punish him by forcing him to go tour Grant's Farm
  • At the concert, I gave DH a hard time for not dancing (I flailed around like a madwoman who's been released from prison on furlough or similar, regardless of the negative remarks of the reedlike hipster youths behind us). He started to bust a move and when he flung his hand outward, being in an aisle seat, he inadvertently smacked a passerby with two large alcoholic beverages in tow. "YOU HIT A DRUNK LADY!" I bellowed. THis became our second catchphrase of the trip. Embarrassed, he apologized to the oblivious victim and stood, arms crossed, the rest of the concert.
  • After two or three Bud LIght Limeoritas, Caucasian ladies begin to dance in a predictable way…waving the left arm in the air drunkenly whilst bobbing the head in the opposite direction..whether music is playing or not. We found this endlessly entertaining between sets.
  • Before GGD took the stage, a crew came out to clean the stage. A gentleman with a Dyson vacuumed the same patch of floor for twenty minutes. I became agitated and started to shout, "Someone unplug him!" and mutter obscenities about what exactly Daughtry's band may have done on stage to require such comprehensive cleaning before the headliners could take the stage. My speculations drew comment from our Hipster Youths before I hollered, "Does Vacuum Guy even WORK HERE? GET HIM OFF THE STAGE."
  • My agitation was exacerbated by the fact that we were returning to the motel by shuttle which we were warned would only pick us up if we called before ten pm and were waiting at that time by the pick up flag in the parking lot. Consequently we had to leave like Cinderella three songs into GGD's set. I stomped, cussed and eventually cried because we then waited in the parking lot 45 minutes to be picked up by the argumentative woman driving the van. We could have stayed for eight more songs had we known she'd be late.
  • The most horrible and hilarious thing that happened was our belligerent driver doing the following:
    • Left the other guests who were supposed to be picked up with us but weren't out there waiting. She commented: "My boss tell me no overtime they can just get a cab."
    • Told us that she was late because she lost her keys while "cleaning up after them damn kids who track in pool water in the lobby"
    • Announced that she needed to go home and rest because she was in the hospital yesterday, "Dehydrate, dehydrate, my blood sugar too high, I no can feel my legs and feet." THIS is the person driving us because we thought it would be safer than braving concert traffic ourselves.
  • Highlight: GGD played "Slide" which is my all time favorite. Acting like dorky teenagers on a  date with DH. Also I had frosted flakes for breakfast the next day which I love.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Give Me Your Reasons

How often can you say this, really? This is a great time to be me.

I'm strong and focused and getting stronger daily. My daughter is FINALLY using her verbal ability to communicate constructively instead of issuing demands and protesting with shrieks. She's a person I really like from my soul, not merely because she's my kid and I have that natural love for her. My husband makes me laugh which goes a long way toward not wanting to throw his shit out in the driveway (which is where we were last year this time).

Example Time:

  • Yesterday, SP climbed onto her bus (a little plastic bus with a slide in her playroom) with her baby doll and said, "Bye, Mama. I go to work now." When I inquired where she worked, expecting smugly that she would say she was a teacher like me, she looked at me squarely in teh face and replied: "I work at Cracker Barrel. I cook the chickens." When I asked what kind of chicken she cooked, she answered: "I cook-a chicken BREASTS…MWAHAHHAHA" with her maniacal laugh and I rolled around on the floor chuckling at that one. She is one of a kind.
  • When anyone comes in our house to the cacophony of poodle barks, SP meets them at the door and instructs them to "Say hayyo to Mister Tuck-a-duck." and will not rest until they have greeted Tucker properly. "Now you say hayyo to Mister Bobo." She follows up, keeping our rare guests in line etiquette-wise.
  • When we went to dinner with the in-laws a couple of weeks ago and then to a birthday party afterwards, DH wandered out of the party room and came back with a huge Diet Dr. Pepper for me. "I saw you frown at the restaurant when they didn't have it so you had to drink water." He explained. I was jacked at how thoughtful that was.
  • When we went to the concert last weekend (first concert since Gin Blossoms in 2008, which tells my age that I went to a GB concert at all…), we laughed crazily at the dumbest things, the way we did when we were dating and even before we were dating. Also he let me have the crunchy caramel things off of his dessert at PF Chang.
  • I look forward to my run. I bought a five dollar pair of Wal Mart shorts to run in for the ceremony of it, and because they are moisture wicking and, well, running=sweaty in a most unfeminine (har) manner. I already feel stronger and my pants fit weirdly now (looser in the waist, tighter in the thighs…) which I think means that I'm willfully changing my body to make it more efficient.
  • I see the joy my mom gets from playing with SP and so I am thinking ahead to grandchildren, like I want to be sturdy and be able to take them down waterslides and stuff like that when SP is grown, has her Ph.D. and decides that she and her award winning documentarian/philanthropist civil union wife want to adopt some special needs orphans from Haiti, I'll be ready. And no, I'm not one of those parents who projects a future on to her kid. Nope. Not me. The child can paint tea cups and live on a commune if it makes her happy  (or judging from her personality so far, stage a coup and become dictator of a small Latin American nation).
So what are your reasons why it's fantastic to be yourself this summer? Are you taking a fabulous vacation? Have you cleaned out your closet or volunteered at a soup kitchen? Did you find the perfect pair of sandals? Tell the Diva. She wants to know.