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! 

 

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The Hype, the Hope, and the Hesitation: On Reading Massively Popular Books

Book blogs raved about it, it was on the forefront of so many Top 10 lists, and even my friends were encouraging me to read it. And because I had ten dollars to spend and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was sold out, I caved. I finally bought the book Cinder.

Cinder

And I then finished Cinder. On the same day, at that. It was that good. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong–I love fairy tale retellings, and this one was definitely one of the more unique ones, but I just never really cared for the story of Cinderella.  (Never mind that Just Ella, another Cinderella retelling, is one of my favorite books. I read it in middle school because it was one of the only on my teacher’s bookshelf that I hadn’t finished.)

So while everyone went on and on about Cinder, I was busy with books like The Sisters Grimm, and the Looking Glass Wars. (Both fab.) And then people kept talking about Cinder, and I began to feel so jealous because what was I missing out on? What if the book really is great? And turns out, it was. Cinder was a spectacular twist on the original boring, slightly drippy tale of Cinderella and I loved it and if I had another ten dollars I’d buy the second book now, too. But after I finished Cinder and realized that the hype surrounding it had been hyping it for a reason, I began thinking about the nature of book-hype, and how it affects different readers. Because while I usually am more compelled to buy a book when everyone is talking about it, I’ve noticed many bloggers write that they are reluctant to read books because of the hype. And I can kind of see where they’re coming from. When everybody is raving about a particular book, the standards are impossible high, which often leads to disappointment. But the curiosity to find out what everybody is talking about always convinces me to buy the book, and in truth, I’ve found some of my favorite books by just going with the flow. Of course, just like anybody else, I’ve been let down by a book that so many people love, and I think that, in a way, that’s a really cool thing about books. That what a hundred people choose as their favorite book could be a letdown for one person, and that one person’s favorite book could spark nothing but antipathy in a hundred people. Books are all subjective; they mean something different and strike a new chord in every person they meet. They are like music for the eyes.

In any case, I digress. Because I was thinking about books and the hype that surrounds them, I found myself wondering what books I read because of the hype, and whether or not I think they deserved the hype. I also started thinking of books that deserved more hype. So I decided to tell you my personal example of each. Feel free to leave your own experiences in the comments!

 A book that you read because of the hype: Cinder, of course! As I said earlier, the only reason I read the futuristic retelling of Cinderella was because everybody was going glowy over it.

A book that you declined to read despite/because of the hype: Well, I don’t really choose not to read books that everyone else loves. Usually, hype makes me excited. But a book that I didn’t read that has a lot of hype would be the Maze Runner by James Dashner. (Whoah. Just noticed that the guy whose most famous book is the Maze Runner has a last name that includes the word Dash. Just whoah.) I probably will eventually, though. It’s just not that important to me.

A book that deserves the hype: Hmm. This is hard. Because a lot of books deserve the hype. But the one I’m thinking about right now would be the City of Bones. I started this series years ago, when it was still popular but not insanely, movie-out popular like it is today. But, like I said, it was popular and as I read it I remember thinking ‘well, no wonder.’

A book that disappointed: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. It seems like so many people were giddy about this book, but to me the best part was the cover. Finley had two different personalities, and I didn’t care about either one.

And finally:

A book that deserves more hype: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde. I absolutely loved this book when I was in middle school. It takes place almost exclusively in a virtual reality world where the heroine has become trapped, and follows her attempts at escape through the only means possible: winning the game.  The writing was witty, the main character was likable, and there was a dragon! Despite all this, I don’t think it was ever super popular, although it has a strong Goodreads score. So, yes, you should check it out.

So, my questions to you: Does the hype surrounding a book affect the likelihood that you’ll read it? If so, does it influence you in a positive way, or a negative way? Also, what books deserve the hype, and which ones don’t? Let me know in the comments, below! 

‹Oh, wow. Just realized this was my 42nd post. I shall take this time to pay homage to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

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! 

 

My Bookshelves

So, I’ve seen a couple of posts around the Blog-O-Sphere showcasing reader’s bookshelves, and since I really enjoy looking at other’s shelves, I thought I’d do a post showing my own.

I don’t know about anyone else, but reorganizing my bookshelves is a recurring phenomena. I can only go so long with the same book shelf layout. Over the years, I’ve organized my books by author, by title, by genre, and even by color. Usually, I end up reverting back to the last name of the author within the set genre. Since I have a fair amount of  books it can be a bit of a hassle getting them all lined up again, but it’s actually quite soothing to sit on the floor surrounded by hundreds of books, stacking them into pile upon pile. It takes me hours to organize them because I always get distracted by books that I haven’t read in a while, and the first page turns into the second which turns into the third–and you know how the story goes. (Haha, story. Get it…book…story? Sorry…that was lame.)

My Bookshelves

My Bookshelves: (From BL up, to TL, to TR then down to BR) 1. Literary Fiction, Horror 2. Fantasy Pt. 1 3. Action/Adventure/Misc. 4. YA Contemporary Fiction, Chick-Lit, Romance 5. Mythology and Fairy Tales 6. Humor, TBR, Books That Have No Other Home (So…like Hermes’ Cabin in the Percy Jackson Series) 7. Books written before 1950, children’s books 8. Favorite’s Shelf 9. Paranormal Romance/Dark Fantasy 10. Science Fiction 11. Books in Diary Form, Historical 12. Mystery, Fantasy Pt. 2 

These are my bookshelves from my latest organizational overhaul. (It’s funny…I’m a self-proclaimed and other people-proclaimed disorganized person in almost all aspects of my life. But my books are the one thing about me that I keep in tight running order. Even when my books are scattered on my floor, I still always know where they are.) Instead of an alphabetical variation which is what I normally do, I decided to just clump shelves by certain genres and organize in different stacks and sorts the books that belong to said genre. It’s the first time all my books aren’t just lined up spine-to-spine, and although I’m two months into liking it, I have a feeling I’ll switch it back to alphabetical and straight before long.

Favorite Books

Favorite Books

This is my favorite shelf of all my book shelves. Literally…it’s where I keep all my favorite books (only one book from each series). The newest addition on there is American Gods, which found its way there early this morning. I’m so glad somebody recommended it to me on one of my blog posts. I think that’s one of the great things about having a blog and interacting with other people–I’ve read so many awesome books that I might never have done if not for all of you. My favorite shelf is fairly constant, although some books find their way on after a second read through, and some books I eventually decide aren’t up to par compared with all the other books I love. But for the most part, they are my precioussssss, and I love them. Like, a lot. Like, my love is actually kind of destructive. I’m so sorry Jane Eyre. So sorry.

Anyways, those were my bookshelves! They’re no grand library, no magnificent, beautiful, soul-searching enclave of wonder…but they’re mine. I’ve travelled to different countries and brought back those books. I’ve visited countless Half Price Book Stores, Barnes and Nobles, and Books-A-Millions for them. I’ve read them by the pool, in my bed, lying on the floor, while on road trips, and when I’m feeling particularly fearless: in the bath (again, so sorry Jane Eyre!). They’ve been laughs at two in the morning, friends during my worst moments, and a source of inspiration, always. They’re home. And I’m so lucky to have them.

Do you have a favorite shelf on your bookcase? What kind of books are on it?

Do you have any cool ways of organizing your books? I could use an awesome new method! Let me know in the comments below!