Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

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Goodreads Summry:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

I think I need to start with this: I still have no idea how books are classified as YA, because this should definitely not be in that grouping. My friend works at a middle school library and they have these books for the 8th graders, and I personally would not let my daughter read this until late high school at least. There are some very explicit sex scenes in these books, and some extremely brutal fight/torture scenes. I may be living in a bubble, but I would like to think kids don’t know about those kinds of things in such detail in middle school. . .

This picks up right where the second one leaves off and I really enjoy the scheming, and appreciate the fact that there are times when the Tamlin we first met shines through and Feyre notes those as well. With the history all of these characters share I was very glad it wasn’t all petty hatred for each other.

Lucien was one of my favorites from the beginning and I like seeing him in a larger role again. He’s a good guy and deserves a good ending.  He reminds me a lot of Chaol and how they have dueling needs within them for what’s right and what they believe they are bound to do. But I think Lucien is already on the way to wanting to take what’s right over commands. I like how quickly Lucien acclimates to the night court, and I think a lot of that is the fact that his council is appreciated. I also liked seeing him take initiative within the court and create an active role for himself. The tentative interest Elaine he’s showing is sweet and I hope he gets his girl, he deserves it.

It’s really nice seeing Feyre finally finding her place in the night court and falling into it, especially with the arrival of her sisters and the new skills they have. Amren and Nesta and Elaine and Azriel training together are such good matches too, their similar personalities allowing them to integrate into Feyre’s new family as well as coax them out of their shells and into their new powers and the court as a whole. Cassian and Nesta’s odd relationship was also very interesting to watch as it unveils sides of each character we never really saw before, given how they hide themselves behind facades the majority of the time.

The power plays within and without the court are getting very serious, and we are seeing how all of them are having to chose between various bad choices to try and save the country and themselves. It was really fun getting some more background on Amren, and watching her with Varian was hilarious.  It was nice to see Tamlin move beyond his jealousy and accept some responsibility for how things turned out. And even the tertiary characters get a lot more attention in this, giving us more background on Jurian and some of the other characters from the first war.

This book brings everything full circle. Most of the unanswered questions as answered (apparently we have three more books coming out in this series, so we should get all the answers at some point) and Feyre and her family (human and night court) reach new potentials and grown into themselves. There was a lot of great battle scenes in this, and I quite enjoyed seeing the night court operating at full family mode – there were no more secrets (mostly) and they were all supporting each other and revealing more about themselves.

I look forward to seeing what else comes out of this world.

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Revisiting: A Court of Thorns and Roses

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Goodreads Summary:

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

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.

I was so excited about this book, I fell in love with Maas’ writing with the Throne of Glass series and so I could not wait for this. And then I started seeing reviews of my goodreads friends, who seemed to either hate it or love it, and I was terrified. Well, I loved it . . . the first time around.

I still liked it in my re-read, but it was so much slower than I remembered. I wasn’t really invested until about the 200 page mark, and nothing really intense starts to happen until about the 300 page mark. Also, the romance didn’t reel me in like it did the first time around, I just don’t really buy it’s depth, it was almost a case of insta-love with its shallowness. I mean Feyre doesn’t really know Tamlin at all, and besides the fact that he does nice things for her and is hot, I don’t know why she ‘loves,’ him. And his lack of reaction when she’s facing her trials really annoys me. I feel like Maas doesn’t want us to like Tamlin already, which is really annoying given our past experiences with romance in Mass books, and that the majority of this book is centered around a relationship.

I loved how Maas’ carried over a lot of the things we learned about Fae in ToG, consistency is a favorite trait of mine! I also really liked this loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. That’s what seemed to be what a lot of people had issues with. Not long after finishing this the first time I learned that it’s actually based on the myth of Eros and Psyche, which is what the Grimm story is based on. I don’t understand why they didn’t market it as the Eros/Psyche story since they did the Hades/Persephone for the sequel, but whatever. Anyway, if you know the myth of Eros/Psyche I think it makes the story so much better, because so many of the nuances that irritated people who were expecting Beauty and the Beast are present in the original myth and make more sense.

Other’s had issues with the basic format of Maas books, which I can understand, but I think if you’ve read ToG you will be prepared for it. The first book of her series seems to be the – get to know everyone, introduction to the conflict, scraping the top of the iceberg on what’s really going on,  and the following books are when everything gets crazy.

I really enjoyed getting to know Feyre and watching her steady character growth. She goes from someone simply surviving, a cold, hard, bitter, and pessimistic person to someone who is able to find a silver lining in everything, who opens up and pushes herself to move past her preconceived notions,  and who embraces her strengths and weaknesses to fight for the things she loves.

I also loved all the other characters, because Maas does a great job with supporting roles and weaving them into the story later. Lucien is great with his snark and tragic backstory. Tamlin suffers from a lot of the same issues Feyre is dealing with, feeling alone/trapped in their responsibilities to their families/people, but ultimately wanting to do the right thing, but we get moments where we can see that’s he fun and caring. Rhys is so intriguing! I feel like he and Feyre are going to be the Celeana/Rowan of ACoTaR, the besties who prove guys and girls can be friends w/o and ulterior motive, and he is clearly a much nicer guy than he likes to admit.

With the last ToG book, I think we all know platonic relationships are not always what they seem with Maas. And while I was so upset (and still am) with how things turned out in the last ToG book. From what I have seen about ACOMAF, she does a much better job with the romance. Though I have to say, I am getting really tired of her female characters not being able to stay true to a relationship. I understand things happen, but seriously Celeana – or whatever your name is now – get it together. I really hope Feyre doesn’t become as fickle as our ToG protagonist.

The ending’s twist was the other thing that I kind of expected, and wanted to happen, but was still slightly displeased about, I guess it just felt too convenient. We’ll see what’s to come in this second one though, it seems like things really get taken up a few notches, which I am excited about!

Review: Wanted

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Goodeads Synopsis:

In the sequel to Spelled, can Robin Hood’s daughter, Rexi, stop the Wicked Witch from finding Excalibur?

Fairy-Tale Survival Rule No. 52:
No matter how difficult the obstacles or all-powerful the evil villain, one can rest assured that the hero of the story never dies. The sidekicks though…they should be worried.

Rexi Hood is proud to be an outlaw. After all, she’s the daughter of the infamous Robin Hood. But sidekick? Accomplice? Sorry, that wasn’t in her story description. Yeah, she and Princess Dorthea of Emerald have been inseparable since they teamed up to fight the wickedest witch. But if Rexi doesn’t figure out how to break the curse that binds them, forget being overshadowed by the spirited princess, Rexi’s going to become a Forgotten, wiped from the pages of Story and reduced to a puddle of ink.

Not happening. No way in Spell.

Rexi’s plan? Steal the sword Excalibur and use its magic to write her own tale. But Gwenevere has opened a new Academy of Villains in Camelot and danger lurks behind every plot twist. And you know how it goes in Story: keep your friends close and your enemies closer…

I wasn’t a huge fan of Rex in the first book, but hoped this installment would shine some redeeming qualities on her that we couldn’t see on the surface in  Spelled, alas it was not so. And the non stop snark was a bit much. She’s so cynical and still judges Dorthea, and to an extent Kato, off their traditional fairy tale roles, as opposed to the merits and actions of their time together.
I did like the addition of King Arthur and his story to the ongoing fairy tales, however I didn’t think the two stories were merged well. And while Rexi worked between these two worlds she constantly talks about Dorthea, who brought her back from the dead over and over again – usually from stupid situations she got herself into – like she’s still some selfish brat. Rexi is the selfish brat in these circumstances, the one who yelled at Dorthea for not taking responsibility for her own actions in the first book, but is doing exactly the same thing now. Obviously I could not stand her for the majority of this novel.
After Dorthea makes Rexi the magic shoes she gets a bit better. Rex seems to understand that no one was after her, and has a “grass is greener” moment when she’s finally on her own. I got very hopeful with this revelation of hers and thought it was a sign of character growth, but it didn’t last long. Whatever small amount of growth she does achieve is not until the very end, when she sees just how much damage her choices made.
I hated that Rexi is/thinks she’s having feelings for Kato. Why can’t there just be platonic love between them, like Kato amd Dorthea feel for her? I thought the addition of the love triangle idea was completely unnecessary and one more tally against this book. I did really like the addition of Mordred, and how he doesn’t worry about good or evil, and is a little of both, but still honorable. And I think he and Rexi have much more compatibility then she would ever have with Kato.
This was a lackluster sequel to the first book, which I was surprised by and loved for it’s original take on the classic fairy tales and the growth of Dorthea. Hopefully the third book will redeem this series, especially since I think we are going back to Dorthea’s perspective.

Review: Wendy Darling: Seas

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Wendy Darling: Seas finds Wendy and Michael aboard the dreaded Sudden Night, a dangerous behemoth sailed by the infamous Captain Hook and his bloodthirsty crew. In this exotic world of mermaids, spies, and pirate feuds, Wendy finds herself struggling to keep her family above the waves. Hunted by the twisted boy who once stole her heart and struggling to survive in the whimsical Neverland sea, returning home to London now seems like a distant dream—and the betrayals have just begun.

Will Wendy find shelter with Peter’s greatest enemy, or is she a pawn in a much darker game—one that could forever alter not only her family’s future but also the soul of Neverland itself?

I enjoyed this much more then the first installment, the entire world expands. Neverland is no longer limited to Pan Island or Peter’s mesmerizing presence. Along with Captain Hook we see far more of Neverland and the far reaching influence of Peter Pan.

I immensely enjoyed watching Wendy navigate the new world of pirates; and Michael melting the hearts of all those salty men. Seeing beyond the rough exteriors of the pirates only amplifies the hidden depths of Hook. Watching he and Wendy create a familial bond through their common suffering under Peter’s hand, and common goal of bringing him to a stop is at the center of this installment. Hook becomes more human as he reveals the layers to himself – the depths of his caring and need to save all of Neverland.

Wendy is certainly becoming braver, and I really enjoyed watching her learn how to fight for herself and her family. Her constant thinking of Booth and her parents prove that she is no longer under Peter’s influence, and gives her that extra motivation to push herself past the limits she assumed she had.

Learning about the Shadow, Wendy’s role in ridding Peter of such an influence, and how the overall effects could not only impact her ability to return home but also the entirety of Neverland . . . it’s a lot. I am very interested to see how the last installment of this story turns out, especially with the arrival of Booth and the position it puts Wendy in as she works to con Peter. I eagerly await the finale to this series.

 

 

 

Review: Heartless

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

After the Lunar Chronicles I had high hopes for this, and Meyer did not let me down. I absolutely loved this, it was so original and took such an interesting approach to the overall story and the metamorphosis of a villain we all know so well.

The interweaving of classic characters from Alice in Wonderland as well as the poetic license taken to make them work with the story Meyer wove was so well done. I recognized all of the characters but there was an undeniable freshness to them without betraying their core traits. Building on the burgeoning trend of morally shady characters, Cath starts as a naïve and privileged young woman. The more we get to know her, and the more constrains put on her, it’s clear that we only saw a small part. She wants control of her life, and in order to achieve that she has to make decisions that unveil a ruthless side of her. Meyer is able to keep her in our sympathies the entire time, and her path to becoming the Queen of Hearts is organic and seemingly unavoidable.

The traditional nursery rhyme of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater was an interesting addition and the lynchpin to the whole story. It was so well done and creative. Furthermore, the juxtaposition of traditional Victorian roles for women in the fantastical world of Wonderland created the perfect conflict for Cath and felt so natural to the world given its original story.

Loved it, can’t wait for more from this author.

Review; Stars: Wendy Darling

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.

As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.

The foundation of this story, as well as its general execution, create an interestingly dark new look at the story of Peter Pan. However, I often felt bogged down by over the top descriptions – that left me more confused about the setting than informed. Those long descriptions, which I felt did more to distract the reader than suck them deeper into the story, also had me losing focus and getting bored, making this a hard read sometimes.

Beyond my one major issue, I really liked that a lot of the traits from the original story remained intact. While this is certainly a darker version, the intelligence and logic of John is a constant, the strange man/boy attitude Peter has dominates his character and control over the Lost Boys, and Wendy’s purity and devotion to her family continue to drive her actions.

Oakes’ twist on the characters is so interesting. Peter is basically insane, Tink is jealous to a murderous level, John wanting so much to belong he abandons his siblings, and Wendy’s journey with her memories makes the already darkening story reach a whole new level. The paradise of Neverland is a sham. And while I don’t think I can take on Oakes’ second installment right away, I am certainly invested enough to go back to the series and see if Wendy ever makes it back to London.

Review: The Rose & The Dagger

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Goodreads Summary:

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

While I found the start of this second – and last – installment a bit slow, it quickly picks up and sends us on a similarly romantic and dangerous journey as the first book.

I loved that we got to see Shazi and Khalid interacting without the what-ifs of the first book, they are truly devoted to each other, and secure in their relationship, and it was great watching them become more deeply involved now that all the secrets from the first book are out.

I really enjoyed seeing Shazi’s sister take on a bigger role in this book as well. Family has always been a driving force for Shazi, and it was really interesting watching she and her sister navigate a newly complicated relationship, and the blind trust they put in each other. I also enjoyed seeing Irsa come into her own, in her own way. Irsa and Shazi are very different from each other, but they both have the same strength at their core and I loved seeing it displayed in different manners.

The old and new cast of secondary characters were all amazing as well, they brought in different perspectives, new insights, and some crazy plot twists that I don’t think any of us could have come close to guessing. The development of Tariq, the relationship of Jalal/Khalid and Jala/Despina, and the changes of Jahandar were all amazing sub-plots to this epic journey.

Overall, this series was beautiful in is language, diversity, and original take on classic tales. I can’t wait to see what this author churns out next, she will definitely be someone I revisit.