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! 

 

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. 

 

Book Review: Kissed by an Angel

Kissed by an Angel

By: Elizabeth Chandler

Quick Stats:

Goodreads Score: 3.83

My Score (Official): 2.23 stars out of 5.

My Score (Unofficial): 12 celery sticks out of 48.

The Highlights: Gabriel. Beth’s chock full of cheese romance. It’s quick and very, very easy.

The Lowlights: No plot to be seen, flat characters, build-up, build-up, build-up and then…nada. It’s very, very easy.

Need to Read Urgency Level: Pass.

Kissed by an Angel

This book is like a roller coaster ride. More accurately, it is like a broken roller coaster ride.

The build-up starts. You tick up inch by inch, slowly, so slowly, tense because you’re waiting for that inevitable drop to come. You’re waiting for that wild moment when the plot actually starts. Tick-tick-tick this roller coaster goes. And then…you reach the top. You’re finally there. This is where the fun begins. This is the reason you came to the amusement park. For this moment. And then–

–nothing happens.

“Hold it right there,” a worker shouts. “We’re having technical difficulties. Roller coaster’s broken. The ride’s gonna her delayed for an hour until we can get it functional again.”

The Summary

THERE. That is my feelings on book 1 of Kissed by an Angel. The first book is roughly 230 pages. It takes about 150 of that for the first major plot point to even happen, and then the mystery and thriller part is held off until book 2. UGH. So much anger. So much disappointment. I kept reading, thinking ‘oh here comes the plot’, ‘oh yes, the plot is sure to be coming soon, oh maybe we’ll have some action now…oh wait, is that plot twist I see coming?! Oh, no just a blur in the text, hmm maybe next chapter…’ but it never happened. In fact, the book ended with one of the main characters, Tristan, realizing in a great act of self accomplishment something that I thought the reader was supposed to know from the flash-forward on page 1. But more ragging to come later. First, the summary.

When Tristan, the golden boy swimmer, first sees the beautiful, head-in-the-clouds Ivy, he knows that he’s falling for her. Unfortunately, Ivy doesn’t date Jocks. However, after several chance (or maybe not so much) run-ins with Tristan, she begins to see past the guy she thinks he is, and to the smart, kind soul that he really has. Ivy begins to fall as much in love with him, as he to her, relying on his company more and more during the stressful times of her mother’s remarriage. And then one horrifying night everything changes. Tristan dies. Ivy’s whole life is turned around. Everything in her shatters. Her happiness, her hope, and even her belief in angels. But the thing is, angels do exist. And Tristan is now hers. But will he ever find a way to let Ivy know?

My Feelings:

So not even that great of a summary. I had the three book omnibus edition, and so the summary I read was very different from the one I wrote. The summary that led me to read this talked about Tristan finding his killer before he strikes out at Ivy, which I thought was intriguing. Not intriguing enough to be in the first book of the series, however. But enough about plot–or the lack of it. Let’s talk about something else. Like Ivy. Dear, dear Ivy. Ivy, who I can’t understand why Tristan would ever like in the first place. Sure, she’s pretty. Sure, she has hair like a halo. But in terms of personality? The girl is as bland as wheat bread. She’s a boring host. And she’s cold. Although Tristan seems like a nice guy who anyone would get along with, Ivy seems to be extremely irritated by his crush on her. She constantly asks everyone if he has said anything about her, is disappointed if they don’t, but claims not to be interested in him. Also, in the beginning of the novel, she dismisses him as a viable option because jocks don’t have brains. While she cares about her brother, and even her may-end-up-being-evil brother, Gregory, she is quick to judge others, although I think she’s supposed to have one of those nice girl personalities. Tristan himself is not bad, but not someone I go crazy for. He’s nice and he’s a gentleman that I’m sure many people would love to have, but I’ve always been one for guys with an edge. He’s a cardboard cut-out, just like many of the characters in this story. For example, Ivy’s two “best” friends, Suzanne and Beth, only become friends with each other in their (strangely obsessive) quest to get her to date Tristan. WHY DO THEY CARE SO MUCH? WHY? SOMEONE TELL ME WHY. The only remotely interesting characters was Gregory, but no offense Gregory, you’re not enough to hold up an entire novel.

Anyways, in summary, the plot of Kissed by an Angel didn’t end up happening, the characters were like drawings of characters (this character is not a character), and the questions I sought to answer through this book were answered by more questions.

To be fair, this book was only book one in an omnibus trilogy, and so (I think) the questions I wanted answers will eventually be answered, and according to Goodreads it get’s a lot better. I probably won’t find out, though, because in all reality: I’ve lost all caring.

Prediction for Sequel: Ivy mourns Tristan’s lost some more. Tristan talks about how much he loves Ivy. All the characters will sit around the pizza parlor and say things like “Hi. I’m Ivy’s best friend. I’m provided for comedic relief.” “Hello. I’m Eric. I’m the trouble maker.” “We may be archetypes, but we are all different.” Everybody nods.

So, what do you think? Am I being too harsh? Or do you agree with me? What are some books that you felt had absolutely no plot or ridiculously flat characters?