Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) 
by Sarah J. Maas
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's

The breathtaking start to a seductive high-fantasy from New York Times bestselling author of Throne of Glass series.

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price.

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

"Against slavery, against tyranny, I would gladly go to my death, no matter whose freedom I was defending."

Sarah J Maas' books have become extremely popular so I thought it was about time I read one of her books and see what all the hype was about. Now, the hype is not the reason why I wanted to read Maas' books; I had been interested since Throne of Glass was released, I had just not gotten around to reading anything by her. I chose A Court of Thorns and Roses as my first Maas book because of the subject matter: faeries.

Fairytales are said to be forever, timeless stories filled with magic. However, updating and changing up the classic tales we all grew up with has become very common in the book world. It seems everywhere you turn, there's a retelling of some fairytale and I personally find these retelling to be utterly fantastic and just as timeless. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, manages to maintain the main themes of Beauty and the Beast while adding a mesmerizing journey with faeries, both good and bad, suspense, and some rather steamy romantic scenes. I must add that until said steamy scenes arose, it completely slipped my mind that this was a New Adult novel; I was quite shocked for a moment but quickly got over the shock once my brain started working again and remembered this was not a YA novel so all was good, no big deal. 

Our heroine is Feyre, a young woman whose family took a turn down poverty lane when her father lost all the family's fortune. Her mother also died and Feyre made a promise to her that she would protect and take care of her father and two elder sisters. Feyre feels very bound to the oath she made her mother, which is very admirable but also, I felt her desire to keep this promise just complicated things for herself. Also, her family kind of just uses her. By that I mean, she is the breadwinner of the family and her sisters always want the money she earns for their own selfish wants. However, as the book came to an end, I actually grew to kind of like her sisters, even respect them, especially Nesta. Feyre has become a huntress to feed her family and it is a hunt that sets the story into motion.

It is really hard for me to talk more about the book without revealing too much so I will give a few more brief thoughts on the book and characters. Feyre is stubborn but courageous. Unlike Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Feyre does not find sanctuary in reading, mostly due to the fact that she cannot read. However, she does find comfort in painting, which she does quite a lot. 

Now the "beast" of our story is Tamlin, a fey of the Spring Court of Prythian. Tamlin is charming and very protective. Despite being our "beast", he's not terrible looking. Of course, faeries are generally described as beautiful and irresistible creatures. We get the impression this is the case for Tamlin but we do not really know what his face fully looks like due to a kind of curse that has left the Spring Court all stuck wearing masquerade masks. I will not go into that because of spoilers. However, there is also a beastly element to Tamlin as he can turn into a wolf. 

Tamlin has a close friend named Lucien. He lived with him in the Spring Court and I liked him because he added humor to the otherwise humorless story. I was also pleased that he was not romantically interested in Feyre; love triangles have the potential to kill books in my opinion.

The romance...well, I was glad that it was not an insta-love type of thing. There was some build up. In fact, Feyre absolutely hated Tamlin at first and thought of killing him so that as far from insta-love as you can possibly get. They fought quite often but their relationship evolved and they lusted for each other as the story went on. I have to admit, I do not feel fully invested in their relationship. Feyre went from hating him to lusting for him which to me is not love, maybe more of a strong infatuation.  

This was not the most epic book ever, but it was very good and I enjoyed it. The world building was great and I loved learning about the fey and the history of Prythian. If I had enjoyed the actual romance more, I probably would have kept the rating at 5 stars, but after writing this review, I feel 4 stars is a better rating. I also felt it was a tad slow at parts but it definitely picked up towards the last bit where the action starts. 

“I love you,’ he whispered, and kissed my brow. ‘Thorns and all.”   

4 out of 5

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Stitching Snow

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion 

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival. 

“Brave is being scared and doing what needs to be done anyway”   

The first thing I need to say is this: people have compared this book a lot to Marissa Meyer's Cinder and while there are similarities such as the science fiction setting and a few other elements, Stitching Snow is not a rip off; it has its uniqueness and was utterly fantastic. It needs to be acknowledged that fairy tale retellings are bound to have similar themes and elements, there is no way to really escape that. 

Essie has built a life for herself on the planet Thanda, a planet of miners. However, the life Essie built for herself on Thanda does not involve mining, at least, not her mining physically herself. She is sort of a tech genius - she works on the drones in the mines and even helps repair a ship that crashes nearby. She has seven drones (get it, seven drones...Snow White retelling... ;)) all with adorably appropriate names (Dimwit being my favorite of the drones). Essie is also a kick butt heroine. To make extra cash, she fights the male miners in cage fights, and she nearly always wins. This is something I loved about Essie: she was spunky, had a mind of her own and knew how to take care of herself. She was not just some helpless damsel who let others protect her; no, she knew how to protect herself.

With the crashing ship I mentioned previously comes along Dane. I have to say, he just might be my favorite YA guy ever. He is so protective of Essie. Of course, there was some rough patches with this relationship (isn't there always?) and I cannot really go into detail about anything without giving spoilers but I will say that I feel everything that happened on both sides was justifiable given the circumstances and the hell that was breaking loose as the story went on.

Also, there was no love triangle!! I was so glad! The romance was so swoon worthy but did not detract from the main plot which was wonderful. I have a love/hate relationship with love triangles. Sometimes I am alright with them and can even see how they play an important role in the plot of a story. Though, a majority of the time I cannot stand love triangles especially when they add unnecessary drama and contribute nothing to the plot of the story. It was such a relief to not have to deal with that in this book because it would have completely ruined the story for me. Also, the romance was not insta-love, which is also a plus. 

The writing style was good and the story very fast paced. I was hooked from page one. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tale retellings. But also, for those of you who love Cinder, just as I did, don't sit there comparing the two. There are similarities yes but Stitching Snow is its own story and is up there among my favorites whihc also includes Cinder.

5 out of 5

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#22)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This meme highlights some of the books whose releases bloggers are most anticipating this year.

The book whose release I am most excited for this week is...

Damage Done

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .

The synopsis of this book had me very intrigued, which means it has done its job. The purpose of a synopsis is to attract readers and capture their interests and this book definitely has me curious as to what happened in those 22 minutes of Julia's life. While this is not a book I am dying to get my hands on, I will definitely pick it up if I see it on the shelf of my local library.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#21)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This meme highlights some of the books whose releases bloggers are most anticipating this year.

The book whose release I am most excited for this week is...

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3)

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. 

Cormoran Strike is back, with his assistant Robin Ellacott, in a mystery based around soldiers returning from war.

I cannot express my full excitement for this book. 

We all know by now that Robert Galbraith is J. K. Rowling, no spoilers there. I much prefer this series over her novel A Casual Vacancy which was released under her real name. The Cormoran Strike series is full of mystery and suspense, which I just love! The cover is also gorgeous in my opinion.

If you haven't checked this series out by now, you should:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


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Monday, June 15, 2015

Very Good Lives by J. K. Rowling

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of ImaginationVery Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling
Hardcover, 80 pages 
Published April 14th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company 

In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, Very Good Lives offers J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life, asking the profound and provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?  
Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world-famous author addresses some of life’s most important issues with acuity and emotional force.

“It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing.” 

Normally, the idea of spending $16 on a book this tiny that I could just read in the store in about five minutes would sound absurd to me and I would not do it, but its J. K. Rowling so of course I made an exception.

This was such a wonderful speech, and I expected as much from the queen herself. It really touched me and I can see myself reading this a hundred times over so I can justify the money spent on it.

Being in my last year of college, I fear the road ahead. It is terrifying to think about the future, of what is going to happen once I graduate especially because as an English major, I have been asked repeatedly, "What can you do with that? Are you going to teach?" The answer to the second question is no; I do not want to teach but rather be involved in the publishing world. The skepticism thrown my way has been rather disheartening, and the pressure to do something productive with my life has been building up. 

I read this speech during a time when I was beginning to seriously question and doubt everything about my life. All the fears and anxieties built up inside me were getting to be too much for me to handle. But this speech changed everything. 

Now, being a huge fan of J. K. Rowling, it may seem a tad bias to say that this speech had such a major effect on me because nearly everyone I have ever met in the book community have said that J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series have changed their lives, made them fall in love with reading, etc. And I am not afraid to admit, I am one of those people who says that as well. But this is not about just being a fan of an author; contrary to belief, one is not required to love every single idea that a particular author pens down. Rowling writing this speech is not what makes it special or so inspiring, it is the message she gets across.

After reading this speech, I felt better about all the things that had been causing me sleepless nights and endless worry. It gave me motivation I have been until recently been lacking, and high hopes for my future. I would recommend this to anybody; not just those who are graduating or soon to be graduating college. Its message is meant for everybody.It is beautifully written and the book itself is beautiful as well.

“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” 

5 out of 5

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