Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads Score: 4.3

My Score: 4

Things I Disliked: Pacing could be a little uneven at times.

Things I Liked: Loved the Fae world, romance had me like ahhhhhhh.

Review in a sentence: YA Fantasy inspired by the tales of Beauty and the Beast and Tam Lin with great worldbuilding and plenty of romance, but uneven pacing at times.

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“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 grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.” 

(Goodreads)

As I write this review, I’m also in the middle of another of Sarah J. Maas’ series–the Throne of Glass books. Which are awesome and witty and great and evidently in high demand right now, as the third book was disappointingly missing from my local B&N. But then I stumbled onto A Court of Thorns and Roses and I didn’t feel so disappointed anymore.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first in a new series by Maas, and the first book is inspired by both Beauty and the Beast and the story of Tam Lin. I’ve always had a fondness for Beauty and the Beast retellings–Stockholm syndrome aside–and so was already excited even before the first page.

As always, Maas’s writing is captivating; it’s hard to set her books down. I finished A Court of Thorns and Roses in one day, staying up past four in the morning because how could I not?! The book set off at a good pace, but once the protagonist, Feyre, made it to Tamlin’s estate, the action lulled, with most of the intrigue-factor in the middle of the book stemming from the romantic tension between the two leads. Speaking of romance, it was an edgier notch up from Throne of Glass…especially when it came to certain faerie rituals (you’ll definitely know what I’m talking about once you read it). I loved reading about the different species of faeries and just delving deeper and deeper into the beautiful world that Maas created. I think it’s a testament to her great writing that after I finished the book I immediately wanted to read everything I could find about the fair folk.

The main character, Feyre, was neither annoying nor a favorite of mine. Protagonist + tragedy + heavy responsibilities + stubbornness + skilled with a particular weapon. It’s a popular formula…but then, there’s a reason for that. Tragic pasts lend depth, stubborn characters tend to be more interesting than those who take orders blindly, etc. Perhaps my lack of passion for Feyre wasn’t from any particular quality she had, but the lack of anything that truly made me want to cheer her on. On the other hand, two of my favorite characters were Feyre’s sister, Nesta, and Lucien, another faerie, mostly because their personalities both intrigued me. I really wanted to know more about their pasts–so here’s hoping we’ll find out more in the sequel.

One gripe I had with the book was the overall pacing. Like I said earlier, sometimes the middle felt too languid. But then it was non-stop action for the last hundred pages. Literally non-stop. But I do like that Maas spent so much time in the evolution of Tamlin’s and Feyre’s relationship, so I guess either way would have been a trade-off.

All in all, I would definitely recommend A Court of Thorns and Roses if you’re into romance and fantasy. When I first finished it, I was wriggling with feelings and all ‘ohmygosh I love this, must tell friends’. I think a lot of that was because the passion was palpable and gorgeous, smoldering faeries and whatnot. Now that I’ve had a week or two of distance, I still really like it and will probably re-read it at some point, but I’ve also gained enough objectivity to realize that I prefer Throne of Glass, which has the same signature Maas-style romance, but also more of a witty edge…and, of course, an assassin.

Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses? Do you agree or disagree with my review? What books have you been loving/hating? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit

Wow. It seems like I have not participated in Top Ten Tuesday in a looooooong while. I keep meaning to, and then I get on my laptop, and it’s Wednesday, and I’m just like ‘okay, back to blog post B.’ But this week’s topic looked too fun to pass up. I always tell people that my love for travel is rooted in my love for books, and it’s so true. Reading about far off places and great adventures has a way of just making you want to have your own adventures in said far off places. Unfortunately, many such places do not actually exist (so far that I know). So I’ll just let out some of my inner pain with this list.

As always, the Top Ten Tuesday party is happening over at: The Broke and the Bookish. 

(In no particular order because I’m far too lazy to sort them out) Hogwarts_boats_1

 

(From the Harry Potter Wiki, because, let’s face it. You know it’s going to be on this list.) 

10. Neverland (Peter Pan)

You get to never grow up! There’s pirates! Adventures! If you got there, you can obviously fly! Dreams, take me awaaaaay.

9. Transylvania (Dracula)

That’s weird, isn’t it? Yeah, that’s weird. I don’t know why I want to go to Dracula’s reigning place, seeing as he’s this bloodthirsty creature of the night and all, but I promise if I go I’ll wear lots of garlic and keep a sharpened pencil in my pocket.

8. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

Yeah, I know that children have like a 4/5 chance of being maimed and/or humiliated here. But, chocolate!

7. England (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series)

After I read the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, I was obsessed with moving to England. And now…here I am! Wow, that worked out well.

6. Russia (Anna Karenina)

Read the first 400 pages of Anna Karenina. Could hardly focus on plot, was so absorbed with setting.

5. The Night World (The Night World series)

This is an alternate reality world where vampires, witches, and shape shifters run alongside us humans. A lot of the creatures in the Night World are kind of evil. But I still think it’d be fun to live there, because there’s this thing called the soulmate principal, and it’s really cool, and–yeah, this is just my teen fangirl emerging here.

4. Pawnee (Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America)

This is kind of cheating. You probably know Pawnee as the town from the popular, awesome TV show Parks and Recreation. But I’m putting it on here because I read the book Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. Yes, it was a book based off of the TV show. But it’s still a book. And it’s still about Pawnee. So, ha. Loopholes! Anyways, Pawnee is usually portrayed as a podunk town with a lot of ignorant people living in it. But it’s also the Greatest Town in America. I would totally go hang out creepily at City Hall, or just stock up on waffles at JJ’s Diner. And then at night, I would go party at the Snakehole Lounge!

3. Spain (The Sun Also Rises)

Immediately after I read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, I desperately wanted to go to Spain. I’m still not entirely sure why. I mean, Spain seems great and all, but everything that Hemingway talked about isn’t really my cup of tea. I’ve only fished two or three times in my life. I don’t like bullfighting. My favorite places are usually cold, cloudy ones. All of that doesn’t change the fact that I really, really want to go to Spain. I want to eat good food, and drink lots of wine, and not descend into the kind of mad partying and moral degeneration that went on in the Sun Also Rises. I think that’s possible, right?

2. The Underland (Gregor the Overlander series)

I used to be obsessed with Suzanne Collin’s first series when I was in middle school. And although I haven’t read this series in a couple of years, I still remember how much I longed to fall from my city to a secret world, just like Gregor. The Underland is not a cheerful, happy world full of fun adventures. It’s a land corrupt with violence, betrayal, and huge, terrifying rats. But in this land, you can form a bond with a bat, and said bat will be your best friend and take you flying, and I *really* like that idea. Brilliant series. You should read it, if you haven’t.

1. Hogwarts (Harry Potter series)

Duh. I mean, I’m sure this reply is on basically everyone’s list today. And for a good reason. Who wouldn’t want to go to a school where you learn magic?! I mean, a brief list of the best things about Hogwarts: you get to compete against other houses for bragging rights, P.E. could mean FLYING on a broom, Hogsmeade is like, right there, and can I just say that I would gain so much weight at Hogwarts because every freaking meal looks like an ornate feast?! Holidays at Hogwarts would be the best, and the portraits talk to you. Chocolate frogs. Pets are allowed. Sign me up.

What locations do books have you pining over? Let me know! 

Book Review: Carnival of Souls

Book Review: Carnival of Souls

By: Melissa Marr

Goodreads Score: 3.7

My Score: 3.7 (right on, Goodreads)

Highlights: Interesting Plot, Good Action to Romance ratio, Aya

Points of Interest: Told from multiple perspectives (mainly from Aya, Mallory, and Kaleb’s viewpoints, but with snippets of Belias, as well)

Carnival of Souls

Once every generation, a brutal, bloodthirsty competition is held in the City, a land where daimons live, and witches are condemned. The competition takes place in the center of the city, at a location named the carnival, and pits daimons of all castes against each other, with one winner gaining the opportunity to rule in the City’s government, and be raised from whatever life they were living before. Kaleb, Aya, and Belias all enter the competition, but for vastly different reasons. One for a chance at a better life, one to hide a deadly secret, and one to do anything to protect the daimon he loves.

Meanwhile, in the Human world, Mallory lives under constant vigilance. Born in the City, her mother gave everything she had to put Mallory under the protection of the powerful witch, Adam. Adam has spent the last seventeen years guarding Mallory and making sure that the past she fled from in the City doesn’t catch up to her. However, as Mallory’s eighteenth birthday grows closer, even the Human world cannot sever itself from the City, and there are forces there that are willing to do anything to bring her back…

Told from multiple perspectives, Carnival of Souls weaves the different plot lines that occur in the City and the Human world into one, making sure that the decadence and danger that is the carnival leaves no one untouched.


 

Usually my opinion differs at least a little bit from the Goodreads score, but surprisingly, this time I seem to be an average of everyone else. There were a lot of things I liked about this book, paired with a few things that I didn’t, as well as the general feeling that although I enjoyed reading it, I wouldn’t hunt down the sequel.

The concept of the book is cool. The idea of the carnival, where pleasure and murder can be bought with enough coin, is creepy and compelling, although these things weren’t center stage in the story. Carnival of Souls is told in multiple perspectives, and I can say confidently that my least favorite persepctive was Mallory’s. I felt like the gist of every single chapter of hers could have been condensed into ten, maybe fifteen pages, and on the whole she was just boring to me. And her fighting skills annoyed me.  Here is a girl that has trained her whole life learning to fight, and who is faster and stronger than the average human…but I would not be surprised at all if a kid with two lessons of martial arts tucked under his belt could kick her ass. I mean, seriously–she didn’t come out tops in a single confrontation.

Luckily, Aya’s viewpoint was a reprieve from the dullness that took place in the human world. She was a tough, relentless heroine who’s both ruthless and experienced, and who could probably crush Mallory with her scowl alone. At first I was a little taken aback by the lengths that Aya would go to win the competition, especially when it came to betraying her one love. I didn’t think I could get behind the forcefulness of her motives, although I was prepared to enjoy her side of the story. That’s why it was a surprising journey to find myself liking her and understanding her more and more as the book went on. Her storyline was the one that I liked the most, and if I were to read the sequel, my request would be to just focus on Aya ninety percent of the time and have a shout-out from Mallory at the very end.

The third main character, Kaleb, gave me mixed reactions. I liked reading his viewpoints, but it was less because I liked him and more because the things that were going on were interesting. Daimons are kind of like a cross between really strong humans and shape shifters (I think, in any case…), and living in the City the lowest castes of daimons are treated horribly and forced to either kill or whore themselves out for money. Kaleb is one of those low-caste daimons, and he’ll do anything to protect his pack mate Zevi, who despite being quite strong and fast and generally an awesome character, is treated by Kaleb as incredibly fragile. Kaleb has been assigned to watch over (and possibly kill) Mallory, but of course he ends up falling in love with her.

The love between Kaleb and Mallory was possibly my least favorite aspect of the book. Similar to the way Kaleb feels tied to Zevi, his pack mate, Kaleb feels connected to Mallory. It was Insta-Love to the max, and it irritated me because that’s all it was. It just felt shallow, rushed, and forced. And towards the end of the book Kaleb does what could go down in history as the worst decision ever, showing yet again that Kaleb may care about many people, but he sure doesn’t give a damn regarding their feelings and opinions.

All in all, though, I would recommend Carnival of Souls, especially for those looking for a book that’s a bit darker than a lot of fantasy worlds out there. I thought the world Marr constructed could have been further explored–many subjects were just touched on again and again, making them wide but not very deep–but I wasn’t disappointed with what I got. I tried one other book–Wicked Lovely–by Melissa Marr and I felt basically the same way. I think her ideas are always interesting, and I never regret reading her books, but would I go out of my way for another of hers? Well, meh.

What have you guys been reading lately? Have you checked out Carnival of Souls? Let me know in the comments below! 

 

Book Review: Grasping at Eternity

Grasping at Eternity

By: Karen Amanda Hooper

(I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Goodreads Score: 4.12

My Score (Official): 4.00

My Score (Unofficial): 320 peacocks out of 400.

Highlights: Fantasy (my favorite! :D), Soulmates, Nice writing style

Lowlights: Some childish interactions, April, Awful nickname for main character (Ma-Ma for Maryah. Ack!)

Things to Note: Told from two main character’s point of views, both in first person.

Maryah and Nathan have spent countless lives together, loving each other as soul mates do, with their super powers and their kindrily (eternal family) at their sides. And then Maryah makes the ultimate mistake. On the brink of another reincarnation, she chooses to erase her memories. Nobody, including herself, knows why. Now, Maryah has lost the sparkle of memories in her eyes, she remembers nothing of Nathan, and her superpowers are nonexistent. She is born to a new family, many miles away from where her kindrily waits. But while Nathan watches from afar, heart broken, and her kindrily mourns both her lost and her decision, Maryah has no recollection of any of her previous lives, and grows up with her new, loving family.

Until.

One brutal night, Maryah’s whole family is killed, leaving her as the only survivor. Maryah moves to Sedona, Arizona where her godmother and her godmother’s family waits…where everyone seems to know her, and the amount of strange occurrences grows more frequent with every passing day. She has no idea that  she has been reunited with her kindrily, just as she has no idea that the man who had her family killed is still out there, still looking for her. Now, as Maryah copes with her conflicted feelings for Nathan, and as Nathan races to track down Maryah’s would-be-murderer, Maryah must learn to believe in the fantastical things happening around her, just as Nathan must learn to believe there’s still hope left for his lost love.

My Thoughts:

So, it doesn’t take long for the plot of this novel to get going. Page 5 and all of the main character’s family are already dead. From there, the plot slows down, and it takes a while for the secrets and the truth to be revealed, which is frustrating for the reader, but necessary to build the misunderstandings that fuel the romantic tension. And speaking of romance…

The concept of soul mates speaks to the hidden romantic in everybody, and so I was intrigued from the start. However, Nathan and Maryah’s interactions just never had me wowed. I like Nathan himself (and his deep resounding love for Maryah), but whenever they spend time together, I get uncomfortable. I get that Nathan is devastated because Maryah chose to erase her memories and he’s technically lost his soulmate and all that, but the resulting character annoyed me with his hopelessness, and his sudden mood swings from detached to clinging. (Not to mention that one part with the hot air balloon! But I’ll leave that alone, as it’s a bit far into the book.) That said, I obviously liked this book, because I gave it a four star rating. And that’s because, despite my not loving Nathan and Maryah together, I just loved the way the book was written. It moved along at a nice pace, and was written really well, and there were lots of characters that I did love. Faith reminded me a little of Alice from Twilight, but unlike a lot of people, I liked Alice, and I like Faith with her upbeat bubbliness. I also liked River, boyfriend of Maryah’s friend, April, and potential friend/wants to hook up with Maryah person. He’s arrogant and he’s teasing and he’s dangerous, but I like him. April, his girlfriend, on the other hand…

Okay, no. Let me put it a different way. It’s not April herself I dislike (but I actually do dislike her, as well…) it’s her friendship with Maryah that confuses, bewilders, and irks me. At the very beginning April is pretty much the most cheerful person in the world. And it’s sincere. It’s sickening, because nobody acts like that. Nobody. Or, at least, nobody that would later get in a typically cliche fight with Maryah over River. The whole friendship was full of cliche and melodrama and make-ups and break-ups and was, without a doubt, the worst part of the book.

The best part, for me, was learning more about the reincarnation rules and how erasing works and what everybody’s powers was. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and this book didn’t disappoint. I will be reading the next book!

Prediction for Sequel: Maryah will learn things but wait two hundred pages to tell anyone about them. Nathan will look into her eyes and feel angsty. 

What do you think? Do you like the concept of soul mates? Have you read any great fantasy books lately? Had any good tacos? Tell me in the comments! As always, thanks for reading.