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: Windwitch

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

 I knew there was no reunions from previous reviewers, but it was still upsetting.  Especially since Merik and Safi they think the other is dead. While we don’t get a reunion between Safi or Iseult either, I like that the connection through the threadstones gives them a solid link to the other. And while Iseult and Aeduan are working together we get to see a lot more development between those two that was only hinted at in Truthwitch.
We get a new POV with Vivia, Merik’s sister who we come into this story having a very set reaction to. Seeing her inner workings and watching how she grows throughout the book make it clear that she and Merik have very similar goals and both care deeply for their country and their people. Merik is forced into a lot of self discovery, and confronted by the truthbombs his new companion Cam drops and he’s forced to look beyond himself in the saving of Nubrevna. It was very interesting to watch Merik spiral into a vigilante like figure and realize that though all of his intentions were good ones, he had not necessarily made things better for others, or himself, in his actions. As Merik became a quick favorite of mine in the first book, it was hard seeing the darker side of him. Dennard did such a fantastic job though in keeping him true to his character traits while exploring this dark and hopeless side of him.
On top of Cam we get a slew of new characters with the entrance of the Chiseled Cheater as a Hell-Bard commander and his two soldiers. And I look forward to seeing how all these new characters play into the overall tapestry of events as the political climate gets more complicated. The hell-bards bring up a lot of interesting questions when it comes to magic, and I enjoyed watching the tentative trust build between them and an alliance builds. I really hope we don’t see a love triangle with Safi, Caden, and Merik though. Or a turn like in the 4th Throne of Glass book. . .
My favorite part of this book quickly became watching Aeduan and Iseult interact. The two are really similar so seeing how little traits show their emotions to each other made them so much more human. They both have a dark power too, so as they come to terms with that, and the growing sense of responsibility for each other, they form a deep companionship that I don’t think either knows how to handle. On top of their alliance, they unearth more secrets about the Raider King and how far his reach spans. I really hope the two continue to work together and they confide in each other to reveal answers to common questions they unknowingly share.
The shadow man brings up a lot of questions about cleaving, he’s super creepy too.  I was hoping more would be revealed about Aeduan’s father and his ultimate goal, as well as Aeduan’s back story. The sudden reappearance of Ryber was strange to me, but I’m hoping we find out what she was doing in the next installment. Overall there was tons of character growth for all parties, and with them all being in a similar geographic region in this next book I’m looking forward to some reunions, especially between a certain dead prince and rouge domna.

 

Poison Study

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Goodreads Summary:

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

This book left me with a lot of feels, and I think I am still working them out. But ultimately, I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to continue the series (though there are a lot of mixed reviews about the other two books that have me kind of worried).

The whole premise of this book is so interesting. Especially given the fact that the main bad guy isn’t the ruler of the country. He did take over by force, and killed a lot of people on the way, but we see so many examples of progressive thought, empathy, encouragement, and general intelligence from the Commander that it’s hard not to like him, which is how Yelena feels.

Yelena is a really interesting character too. She’s been through so much, and most people would break under the treatment she’s been through but she has a will to live and an intelligence to match it. She’s smart, though not all knowing; and actively works to improve herself in learning, relationships, and physical prowess. She seems like any other woman trying to make her way in the world, though under extreme circumstances.

Valek, her tutor and keeper, is equally interesting. His devotion to the Commander first presents him as a ruthless assassin with little care for others lives. But as we get to know him we see other sides: an artist, and intellectual, a friend. It was so fun to watch he and Yelena grow together as a team and watch them work through problems and lean on each other. Neither of them have ever had a partner like that before and it was so cute to watch them learn how to create a relationship like that.

Ari and Janco – the power twins – are some of my favorite secondary characters ever. They are the levity to the story, yet also the heart of it. They are so openly caring and protective and loyal that it brings to light a side of Yelena and Valek that is sometimes hard to see.

I loved the world Snyder built, the detail she wove into the storie and the environment. Though I do have to mention that it drove me crazy that she doesn’t use Oxford commas, I hope she gets with the program with her later books.

The Bone Season

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Goodreads Summary:

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

I read this right after it came out in 2013, and decided to re-read it in preperation for the sequel, which was supposed to come out tomorrow, but has been delayed until January! I really wish B&N would update the publish dates on my pre-ordered books on the Nook, not just the website . . .

Anyway, I really love this book. It’s a little more grown up, which I appreciate, while still carrying the themes of YA that I love so much – self-exploration, personal growth, questioning of the world around you, etc. This book is also an interesting combination of fantasy, dystopian, and some historic references that I really appreciate. The whole concept is amazing and so intricate. The world building is fantastic, not only are you sucked into the world of clairvoyance, but of otherworldly beings, complicated relationships, and politics.

I absolutely love the relationship between Paige and Warden. It doesn’t start as anything remotely romantic, and you don’t even get the romance until the last couple chapters – and even then it’s not something smothering or immature (which a lot of YA books are, not that I don’t love those relationships just as much!). Warden and Paige grow to trust one another, they slowly show each other their weaknesses, they force themselves to look past the general stereotypes their people have against each other – and they form a solid and undeniable bond. All of this happens before they explore a romantic side of this relationship, and they both know that it’s doomed from the start (which is the most romantic thing ever right?). I also love that these two still part ways, they know the only way to reach their ultimate goal is to fight this war from multiple sides – as there are multiple players. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t wait to see them reunite, they make a great team!

I also really like the relationships between Paige and the other Seals – basically the relationships in this book are amazing. Her bond with Nick is really interesting: guardian, turned first love, turned best friend. I believe Nick truly has Paige’s well being as a top priority, but he also seems to fail to see that she is growing up and becoming her own person – he wants to protect her, but doesn’t really notice that she doesn’t need protection, she needs support. Jax is intriguing, Paige has this unique need to impress him, but he treats her horribly, like something to own, not an independent person – I hope to see Paige escape from under his thumb.

It will also be really interesting to see how all of the threats that were introduced in this book play out in the following ones. We know the Scion is bad, and we know some of the Rephaite are bad, but how do they all play together, and what other factors are going to be introduced? Can’t wait for The Mime Order!