Book Review

Book Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses, Mist & Fury, and Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

I have to admit, I was a little late to the Sarah J. Maas party. Late last year, I was a part of an online book club and one of the books was THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas. I read through the five books that are out relatively quickly. Maas writes high fantasy Young Adult and Adult novels. Both series she has written are about Fae, a race of magical warriors in fictional lands.

As a result of reading that series, and seeing all of the raves about A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES (released in 2015, henceforth called ACOTAR), I decided to buy that one for my 2017 “To Be Read” shelf. It sat on my shelf for weeks before I finally picked it up. ACOTAR is the first of three books: A COURT OF MIST AND FURY (released 2016, ACOMAF) and¬†A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN (released 2017, ACOWAR). Now that I have thoroughly confused you, let me continue. ūüėÄ

Because I jumped on the ACOTAR bandwagon late, I was able to read books one and two pretty much back to back. ACOTAR was amazing from the very beginning. The description is below:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

Given that I already read THRONE OF GLASS (TOG), I worried that I wouldn’t like ACOTAR. I had a hard time relating to the main character in that series. She was a lot of things that I’m not. From the moment I started reading ACOTAR, I related to Feyre. One, because she’s the youngest of three children and, two, because she’s the self-sacrificing type. Feyre is a mortal woman, trying to find food for her family because her father lost their fortune. She has all of the odds stacked against her, but she’d rather be the one out there hunting, trying to find food, than letting her family starve.

So, Feyre is hunting in the woods. It’s snowing. She spots a deer. But she isn’t the only one that spots it. There’s a huge wolf nearby. For a moment, she contemplates if it’s just a wolf, or if it’s a Fae in a wolf’s disguise. This is the first introduction we have to the tension between Fae and mortals. Mortals fear the Fae. Fae have long been rumored to be these ruthless brutes.

Thinking of her family, she kills the deer. The wolf turns and looks at her. Just looks at her. Doesn’t flee or attack. She shoots him through the eye with an ash arrow (ash is hazardous to Fae; she uses it just in case). Then, she skins the wolf, takes the deer, and moves on with her life. She has a family to feed.

From there, we learn about her family dynamic. She has two sisters: Nesta (cold, selfish, not quite grateful) and Elain (warm, funny and loves to grow things). Then her father, who used to be rich, but lost his fortune, was injured, and now is unable to work. That’s why Feyre has to provide for the family. Not long after, she takes the pelt of the deer and the wolf to the market to see what kind of money she might be able to get for them. She meets an assassin there, who warns her that the pelt may not have just been an ordinary wolf.

Enter: Tamlin.

A giant wolf busts down the door to Feyre’s home, demanding to know who killed the wolf. He spouts something about the treaty between men and Fae and says a life for a life. Feyre is taken from her home and goes beyond the wall separating the world between Fae and mortal.

Sound familiar?

ACOTAR is a retelling of Beauty & the Beast (BATB). I LOVED it. I won’t give away any major plot points, because I really would like for you to read the book for yourself. Just like BATB, there is a curse that has to be broken by a girl falling in love with a beast. It goes a little beyond the normal BATB storyline, which I really liked.¬†Overall, ACOTAR was one of the best new books I’ve read recently. Given that I was so worried about the main character not being relatable like the main character in TOG, I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Feyre.

I have a couple of friends who are big fans of Sarah J. Maas. I was chatting with one of them when I finished ACOTAR. At that point, I was getting close to vacation, so I told her I would wait until my cruise to read it. I remember her asking me why the hell I wanted to wait so long. I just kept wondering what the big deal about ACOMAF was for her to be that excited for me to read it.

I read it while I was on my cruise and Oh. My. God.

In ACOTAR, a character is introduced. Rhysand. He’s dark and mysterious and cruel. He’s the High Lord of the Night Court (where Tamlin is the High Lord of the Spring Court). The way he was portrayed in ACOTAR, I figured there were some shades of gray to him. I love those types of characters. The ones that you have to dig deeper to find out the truth about. And there are¬†lots of things you don’t know about Rhysand.

In ACOMAF, you see Feyre change. You see her go from this girl who is scared to a woman who is strong. A lot of that has to do with the two male love interests in the story.¬†I don’t¬†want to give anything away,¬†so it’s really hard to write this…because I’d love to gush about the storyline, about¬†the backstory, about the characters, about the ending. But I can’t. That wouldn’t be fair. Just know that ACOMAF is where this world¬†is completely blown apart, and it is not what¬†you would expect by reading ACOTAR.

I finished ACOMAF about five weeks before the third (and final, in this series) was to release on May 2, 2017. (Side note: there will be six books in this world. The first three were this particular plot arc; the next three start in 2018) My excitement for ACOWAR began to jump the closer the release date got. The more I talked about the books with my friends, I joined some fan groups, I was just really excited to see what would happen, because the ending of ACOMAF was left on a cliff hanger.

The book delivered to my house while I was at work on the day it came out (Thank you, Amazon Prime!). It’s been a long time since I’ve had books that I’m genuinely excited about on release day. Before this year, the last time was in 2007 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out. This year, I’ve had multiple (KING’S CAGE by Victoria Aveyard, ACOWAR, & Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare), which is exciting. I’m the type of person that I can’t just savor a new book. I read HP & DH in 8 hours on release day in 2007. Back then, I didn’t have a day job. I could spend all day reading if I wanted to.

That being said, I started reading ACOWAR around 5:30 PM on release day, and I finished it the following day at 10:00 PM. That is how good the story was.

There were things I felt it lacked, but they were very small. I wanted to see some things drawn out a little more. I love a good romance, and I felt like the romance had been set in ACOMAF. This is really Sarah J. Maas’s style of writing, so I wasn’t too mad about it. ACOWAR had everything: tantalizing romance scenes, development of characters (many were introduced before, but this book managed to explore them and the people around them) to where I felt more invested in them and their success, and high octane action sequences. I reached a point toward the end of the book where I couldn’t put it down because the action was going, going, going.

The ending was satisfying, and did not leave anything unanswered. Well. The big stuff. There were some supporting characters that didn’t have their happy ending like I wanted, but I feel like that is because they will be a part of the second trilogy. Or at least I hope so.

I don’t want to give any spoilers but there is one character that I feel was cheated. Sure, he made some bad choices, but his ending was just so…not…settled. I would have preferred this character die and sacrifice himself than to end up as he did. I loved the constant battle I felt in regard to this character. There are times when you’re like, Yes, yes! Do that. And then (I literally sent this to one of my friends) “UGHHHH F*CK….(character name)”. The ups and downs you go through are just heart wrenching. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be a part of the next trilogy and get more. I just wanted more for him.

All in all, I give this series a 5/5, and would heartily recommend anyone to read it. I’ve never been a huge Fantasy reader, but these were worth every second I spent on them, every tear I shed, and every flicker of emotion it made me feel. Maas is such a great author. She’s talented in ways that most authors are not. She knows how to draw an audience in. She knows how to keep just enough from the reader to keep them invested until the very last moment.

I loved this series! If you’re wanting to discuss more in depth (especially the second and third books), I will gladly talk with you! I just feel this story is too good to spoil for anyone who hasn’t read it.

Thanks,
Abbie

I have to admit, I was a little late to the Sarah J. Maas party. Late last year, I was a part of an online book club and one of the books was THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas. I read through the five books that are out relatively quickly. Maas writes high fantasy… Continue reading Book Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses, Mist & Fury, and Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Book Review

Book Review: Possession by Elana Johnson

So, sometimes I’ll buy random books. I don’t read the reviews. I just read the blurbs on them and buy them. I also sometimes compulsively buy books that I don’t need. Because books make me happy. Sue me.

Most of the time, I am pleasantly surprised by these random purchases. Sometimes, I am not.

This was one of those times. (I feel like I need the Law & Order dun-dun right here. ;))

Several years back, a friend of mine turned me on to the MATCHED series by Ally Condie (LOVE LOVE LOVE!!). This was when dystopian novels were at their peak. What’s a dystopian? Think¬†HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, or¬†THE GIVER. Dystopian novels¬†are set in our world, but¬†after some sort of apocalypse turns the world upside down.¬†This differs from a post-apocalyptic because there is¬†a new structure in place, new society, after the world has gone to hell. ¬†At least, that’s my definition of it. Genres can vary based on the person.

So, MATCHED was pretty much my favorite dystopian novel. The new society was one of control, where the officials chose what job you did, what activities you could participate in, but, most importantly, who you ended up with. They matched you with someone in society, most of the time it was someone from another area. Rarely was it someone from your own sector.

POSSESSION set up similar to that, based on the description of the book:

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous–everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Literally, the summary on the back explains the first….two…? chapters.

I had high hopes for this story. I read a lot of good dystopians. The fact that this one has five books, I thought okay, it must be good, right? Meh.

In general, it felt like I was walking through this world blind. The main character had such a narrow viewpoint, it was hard to piece together what things looked like or felt like or…really anything if we’re being honest. She starts out madly (sarcasm) in love with the guy she’s been matched with, Zenn. Then all of five minutes later, she’s madly in love with Jag. Even though they’ve just met. Even though we don’t know a dang thing about him. Even though all he’s basically done is insult her.

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They’re locked up in jail together. For some reason the smarties in this world thought, with all of these empty cells, to put she in a jail cell with Jag. Someone asked “Aren’t you two working together yet?” Which I feel was never fully explained. Why would these people, if they’re the baddies, care if the two of them were working together? I had no clue what was going on. Not really, anyway.

The story is a Young Adult. Okay, I understand. A bunch of teenagers. Cool. Raging angst, tumultuous emotions, Daddy issues. Got it. I read a lot of Young Adult. I prefer YA to Adult sometimes because of the themes.

These characters acted like they were twelve. Vi and Jag broke out of jail and made their way from the “Goodlands” toward the “Badlands”. He “abandoned her” (oh, it was this big ordeal about how she trusted him and he just left.) My commentary: Sweetie, you just met him, you cannot expect for him to think you’re this be all, end all of relationships. It is not his job to protect you. And if you’re going to call him names, why the hell would he want to be around you?

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It read like a Middle Grade novel trying really hard to be Young Adult. As a writer, I ask myself…how did this person get this published?

Don’t get me wrong. Please, understand my criticism is because I had higher expectations of this story. It started off with great promise. But it really read like it was the first draft of a novel. So many things weren’t fledged out. Characters were only half-developed. I wish I could have beta read this for the author and given feedback, solely because it feels so unfinished. It has the bones there to be something really good, but the execution was so not good.

There were plot twists, things that I really liked, but they weren’t explained. They weren’t fully explored. Those are things people need to have in a first novel if you’re hoping they’ll read on to the second (and on and on and on). For 99% of the book, I felt like I had a blindfold on and someone would pull it up for small glimpses of the story. Then, all of a sudden, the character had powers. Could see into people’s dreams. Could control Tech. Control others’ minds. What? How? Who? I don’t understand. More back story, more explanation would have cleared this up.

Out of all of the books I’ve read this year (37, according to goodreads. :D), this has been my least favorite. I literally set the book down when I finished and said, ‘Well, that was dumb.’

It’s easy to be a reader and pick apart someone’s work when you don’t know them, have never met them, will never meet them. I always try my best to appreciate a writer’s hard work. Especially because they’re published and I’m not. Obviously someone saw the potential in this writer to sign them and help them get published. But I just didn’t see it. I don’t understand how this could have been published with still being so unfinished.

This is the importance of writing several drafts. First draft, bones. Second draft, improvements. Third draft, beta readers. Or whatever works. But at least draft and draft and draft until you feel like you can’t draft anymore. Needless to say, I won’t be continuing this series anytime soon, and if I do, I’ll probably¬† borrow the books from the library.

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Would I recommend this book? Sorry. Nope. If you’re looking for a dystopian about a society that tries to control you, and has real, heartfelt relationships between Young Adults? MATCHED. Read it. ūüôā

Thanks for checking out my review. I’ll have one for the A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES/MISTS AND FURY/WINGS AND RUIN next time.

Abbie

So, sometimes I'll buy random books. I don't read the reviews. I just read the blurbs on them and buy them. I also sometimes compulsively buy books that I don't need. Because books make me happy. Sue me. Most of the time, I am pleasantly surprised by these random purchases. Sometimes, I am not. This… Continue reading Book Review: Possession by Elana Johnson

Book Review

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I follow a lot of reader and writer accounts on Twitter and Instagram. While I already have a huge “To Be Read” shelf, I am always on the lookout for new books. I’ll read just about any age group and genre, but I tend to prefer the Young Adult/New Adult genres. WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones kept popping up on Amazon, but I wasn’t sure just by the cover if it was something I would enjoy reading.

On Instagram, one of the accounts I followed absolutely raved about this book. I remember her saying if there is just one new book by a new author to try, it’s this one. After several posts of positive reviews, I looked it up. The description of it immediately captured my attention:

“The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride‚Ķ
All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds‚Äēand the mysterious man who rules it‚Äēshe soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won‚Äôt soon forget.”

My favorite movie of all time is Labyrinth. When I hear the words “goblin” and “king” together, I immediately think of big-haired David Bowie in tights, playing cruel master of Jim Henson’s world, singing Magic Dance¬†or As the World Falls Down. I think of the goblins, gross looking and yet endearing at the same time. I think of the many lessons the story teaches to children like be careful what you wish for, or words have power. This book had so many references to Labyrinth, from the Goblin King’s physical appearance, to a ball in the Underground, to rotten peaches, to “I wish…”. Within just the first 30 pages, I found myself fangirling over all of the references. I was hooked immediately.

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Now, WINTERSONG is not a retelling of Labyrinth. It’s sort of a cross between Labyrinth and Phantom of the Opera. The setting is 19th century Germany, and explores the life and times of those living then. The main character, Elisabeth (or Liesl), was easily relatable for me. She is the eldest of three siblings. Her character has sacrificed nearly everything for her siblings, including¬†her music, her love, and, eventually, her life. Elisabeth goes on a journey to find herself, who she is, outside of her family or the expectations of those in her life. She has experienced bouts of suffering. This story is set in a time when women were expected to be runners of a household, a piece of arm candy, not career driven. The Goblin King gives her a chance to fully explore her talents with music in a way that she would not otherwise have had a chance.

What follows is a beautiful love story.

Jae-Jones’s words were gorgeously written, and they flowed like a composed piece of music. She captures the mischief and darkness of the Goblin King in such a way that one wants to know more about him, like most want to know more of the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera. Elisabeth is such a relatable character for anyone who has felt the weight of self-sacrifice.

The end of the book wrapped¬†the story¬†up where it could stand alone, but left it just open enough¬†in case of a series. I discovered a sequel is coming, and I can’t wait to read it.

I started this book on a Sunday morning and finished it that night. That is how good of a book it was, to me. Not everyone will understand or adore the Labyrinth references, but if you like the movie, I would highly recommend WINTERSONG. If you like characters shrouded in shades of gray, read it. If you want to escape to the Underground for a while, read it.

This is, hands down, my favorite book of 2017 so far. The only book that comes close is KING’S CAGE by Victoria Aveyard (I adore the RED QUEEN series). It lived up to the hype, which, I find, is really rare for books these days (one example, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, call me a monster, I didn’t like it).

So, this was my first book review on this blog (I have two others that have been sitting in my drafts for months…oops). If you have any feedback, please leave it in a comment or reach out to me on any of my social media accounts.

Thanks for reading,
Abbie

I follow a lot of reader and writer accounts on Twitter and Instagram. While I already have a huge "To Be Read" shelf, I am always on the lookout for new books. I'll read just about any age group and genre, but I tend to prefer the Young Adult/New Adult genres. WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones… Continue reading Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones