A Court of Wings and Ruin Review by Sarah J. Maas

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

 

 

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin is Sarah J. Maas’s third foray into Prythian, the continent upon which the ACOTAR series takes place. The first two books in the series (A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury) were both engaging reads for me, and I counted down the days for ACOWAR to be released so that I could see what happens next to my favorite literary couple. I read through the book twice because there was just so much to take in, and I also wanted to make sure that my feelings were validated a second time around.

 

From here on out, there will be major spoilers. I highly suggest that you do not read ahead unless you are prepared.

The Good

I really enjoyed getting to see more of Prythian and being introduced to the other High Lords. I was happy to see Tarquin again, and I loved Helion. I felt that all of these new characters each had their own depth, and I wanted more. Maas says that other ACOTAR books will be released which focus on characters other than Rhys and Feyre, and I find myself holding my breath in hopes that we will get to see more about the courts outside of Spring and Night.

I adore how Maas handled Tamlin’s character. I love to hate Tam, and I relished seeing his court ripped apart by Feyre’s devious mind. The best part about this storyline, however, was not her actions… it was the way that Maas wrote the consequences of Feyre’s actions. The fact that Spring is left with very few defenses is important, as they are the court that borders the mortal lands. It would have been easy to just let Feyre merrily run amuck, but instead we are faced with the realistic difficulties of war when one of your allies is weaker.

I also appreciated the fact that Tamlin didn’t have instant redemption. Indeed, the book’s plot does still not redeem him; though we see signs that maybe he is taking steps in the right direction. It’s no secret that Tamlin exerted every piece of the Power and Control Wheel (aside from using children), and that the relationship in both ACOTAR and ACOMAF was abusive. It would be unrealistic for Tam to suddenly have this epiphany and suddenly be a good male. I really appreciated that Maas didn’t let him off the hook for his previous deeds. Tamlin is hurting, but the way that he had handled the situation was never a positive.

THE MONSTERS. Y’all, I loved the monsters in this book. The Bone Carver, Bryaxis, The Weaver, and my old bestie The Suriel really made this book so much better. I adored every minute that I found them on my pages, and often spent time wondering when I would see them again.

I was very happy to have Lucien around so much in the beginning of the book, though I wish that he had remained one of the central characters. I thought that his character development through all three books was very strong.

The Bad

This book had much less character development than the previous books. It’s always a gamble to finally let the two main characters get together (because that’s when readers get bored), but this book skips over Rhys and Feyre getting to know each other more. I missed their sly remarks and their antagonistic flirtation. Instead of further developing other characters (The High Lords, Azriel, Cassian, Mor, and Amren), Nesta and Elain receive undeserved focus. I hate these characters for being both abusive and neglectful to Feyre for so long; instead, they’re easily forgiven and made into major players in ACOWAR. I haven’t forgiven. I haven’t forgotten. I am still angry. I also felt that Elain’s seer abilities were super obvious from the start, and it annoyed me that no one else could see it.

Along the same lines of the lack of character development, I felt that there was too much action packed into the pages. It seemed that the characters never caught a breath – and neither did I. At the same time, I grew bored of the constant running around from one dramatic moment to the next. Potentially powerful moments lost their luster because I just didn’t care anymore. This is particularly true in the scene where Rhys dies. I should have choked up. I should have felt more emotion about this moment. I just… didn’t. In my heart I knew that it wasn’t permanent. There seemed to be little to no consequence to this war. I knew she wouldn’t let this happen to him. When I read the fateful sentence that should have made me stop and sob, I just kept turning the page.

The Ugly

I’m going to get on my soapbox here.

Sarah J. Maas has been criticized for the lack of diversity within her writing. I agree with the sentiment – I wish that her other books had more LGBTQ+ characters in particular. The pressure was intensifying for her between ACOMAF and ACOWAR, and so she decided that Mor is a lesbian – suddenly, with no prior warning. I feel comfortable about saying “with no prior warning,” as I specifically reread the first two books after finishing the third to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.

I honestly feel like Mor’s character is completely incompatible with this revelation. I don’t feel that she would hide her identity from Rhys, Az, Cassian, and Amren – they are basically the only family that each of them has. I don’t foresee a situation where any of them would feel that she was any less for her sexuality, and I can’t make myself see a space where she would think that they would either. I also don’t think that Mor is a big enough jerk to lead Az on for 500 years. I just can’t see that in her.

I’m also pretty bothered by Maas’s portrayal of bisexuality in the book. As much as I adore Helion, I am frustrated by how stereotypes are being enforced here. Helion is almost hypersexual – he wants to have sex with everyone regardless of who they are or what is in between their legs. He doesn’t seem to want to commit. He is almost the exact portrait of the “greedy slut” that so many people claim bisexuals are.

I’m glad that Sarah J. Maas saw that her fans were missing out on some diversity and she tried to rectify that – props to her for being able to acknowledge her lack – but I am supremely frustrated with both of these portrayals.

Overall, the book was not what I wanted it to be. It felt rushed, shallow, and it left me with many questions and negative feelings. When I read through it for a second time, I did so in order to make sure that I just wasn’t disappointed because I had built up the story to be something that it wasn’t… but I still just felt empty after the reread. I feel like ACOTAR and ACOMAF ramp us up, and then ACOWAR let us down.

I’m sorry, readers. I tried.

3 Bards

 

Blog Tour: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash Book Excerpt

 

It’s our day on the Birdie & Bash blog tour and we are here to introduce you to a bit of the narrative!  Check out the synopsis, a bit about the author, and an exclusive excerpt below!

Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. 

Release Date: July 25, 2017

 

 

 

Candace Ganger is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsesswive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and the world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. Candace – aka – Candyland – has a severe Milky Way latter addiction + eats way too many donuts/doughnuts but all things in excess, amiright? FYI: She’s TOTALLY awkward in person (#sorrynotsorry). She lives in Ohio with her family.

 

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 26, 2017

From the outside, the Cane family looks like they have it all. A successful military father, a loving mother and five beautiful teenage daughters. But on the inside, life isn’t quite so idyllic: the Cane sisters can barely stand each other, their father is always away, and their neglectful mother struggles with addiction and depression.

When their youngest and most beloved sister, Rose, dies in a tragic accident, Mona Cane and her sisters are devastated. And when she is brought back from the dead, they are relieved. But soon they discover that Rose must eat human flesh to survive, and when their mother abandons them, the sisters will find out just how far they’ll go to keep their family together.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan Book Review

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe – a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

 

I spent my childhood going to museums and my favorite exhibits were always the ones about Egypt. When I found out one of my favorite authors was writing a series about Egyptian mythology I was ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to see how Rick Riordan would weave his story.

 

Here are a couple of things i enjoyed about The Red Pyramid(very minor to minimal spoilers ahead):

  • The world building was phenomenal! I loved how Riordan blends his stories with realism and mythology.
  • The character building. The way the author writes his characters and makes you become attached despite your best attempts to not become attached because let’s be honest here, Mr. Riordan is not the kindest when it comes to characters. He can enjoy seeing them suffer.
  • The fact that incest is actually addressed.  There is a lot of incest in Ancient Egyptian history.  It actually makes learning more about the culture of the pharaohs a little difficult. The way Mr. Riordan handles it is graceful and leaves no doubt in your mind that there is no incest in his books.
  • I have always enjoyed how the love story is not a big deal in Riordan’s books.  It helps us keep in mind that the character are in their young teens.  No young teenager needs to worry about being in love and finding the love of their life. There is plenty of time to do that when they are older.
  • In Chapter 9 she says ‘My dear, i’m a cat everything i see is mine’.  I have always loved cats i have 3 of them. They are simply the most precious and sassy animals in the world.
  • Not many authors are comfortable about addressing race in their books but something Riordan has always done well is talk about the realities of being one race or having a specific belief.  In The Red Pyramid the relationship between PoC(in particular African American men) and the Police. He is very open and honest and states things exactly how they are. He does not gently blow this topic off(which would be difficult since one of the main characters is a PoC)
  • One of the final things I appreciated in this book is the fact that Riordan makes little references to his other books. In particular he references the Percy Jackson Series. If you have not read the Percy Jackson books you won’t understand the reference but if you do you will immediately be saying to yourself ‘I see what you did there’.

This book is perfect for anyone who wants a story that has an adventure but isn’t all consumed in romance. I feel like most adventure books are more absorbed in the romance and use that as a point to move the plot along but in my opinion none of Riordan’s books do that.  This book is technically middle grade so it is also very easy to read.

Overall I give this story 4.5 Bards!

The Kane Chronicles, Book One: The Red Pyramid


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Waiting on Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 19, 2017

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

PRIDE Celebration: An Essay

To celebrate PRIDE Month, our very own Olyvia has an essay to share:

 

What does Pride mean to me? I’ve never sat down to try to articulate that. Pride has been such a huge part of my life for so long that I’ve never actually had to think about what it means to me.

Pride is family. I remember when my dad came out to me and my sister. We were around 7 and 8, respectively. We’d been living with his partner for years and it wasn’t weird to me, it was just like having an extra parent. David loved us and we loved him. My dad didn’t tell us he was gay, or even what ‘gay’ was until they’d broken up, and we were moving out. I couldn’t really tell you why at the time, but I knew my dad being gay was something to keep to myself. He kept it from us, so we should keep it from other people.

Except during Pride. Pride became part of my summer routine in Rochester, NY. Even after moving to Florida, we were back for the summer and still going to Pride. Pride celebrations were some of the only times I got to see my dad be himself, when he was with this family that he’d found. A family that understood and accepted him, when he didn’t always get that from his own.

Pride is courage. When I still lived in Rochester, I told one person that my dad was gay, and I was amazed when she told me she had two moms. It was incredible that my best friend understood my life and my dad perfectly. But I also understood that this was still a secret. A secret that I could finally share with someone, but a secret nonetheless.

A few months after moving to Florida, I was hanging out with my closest friend and a few other people when one of them made some comment about the LGBT community. I could not for the life of me tell you what he said because all I remember was my friend’s quick and fierce response, “my sister is bisexual, do you have a problem with gay people?” Later that day when we were hanging out at her place, she became the second person I ever told that my dad was gay. I figured if she could just tell everyone about her sister and defend her sister, and if my dad could live his life and not be ashamed, I wouldn’t be ashamed of him either. I would be proud that he had the courage to come out when he did and be a single parent at the same time.

Pride is representation. After I started being more open about my life, I got the opportunity to be a part of the first Gay-Straight Alliance at my high school and then would go on to serve as the Vice President of the LGBT student organization at my university. I met two of my best friends, one of whom is trans, the other pansexual, who would become my found family.

In working with those groups and having the majority of my friend group identify as queer I started watching and reading more and more queer media. But also I noticed that as the years went on, there was more and more queer media available. Not all of it good, not by a long shot, but still, there is more and more every year. I listened and saw how important it was to see oneself on a screen or in the pages of a book. More importantly, I started to see myself.

Pride… is honesty. I’d always known that I liked men. I’ve only had relationships with men. I’ve kissed a lot of women, as well as men. But I always assumed because none of that led to a relationship, I was just straight. I knew, logically, that I could like both, but realistically, I’d heard  (and even said) a lot of terrible things about bisexual people.

I met the love of my life five years ago. I have no intention of ever letting him go. He’s good to me, he makes me laugh, he understands me, he listens to me complain about the stupidest shit, he lets me cry and snot all over his shoulder when things are really bad, he tells me bad puns just to see my face crinkle, he teaches me new things, he makes me believe growing old wouldn’t be so bad with him by my side.

The truth is I don’t need to be with anyone else to validate my identity. My identity as a bisexual woman doesn’t go away just because I’m with a man and I plan to be with him for the rest of my life. So this Pride month, I’m going to be honest with myself and with everyone, because it’s important to me. And I think it’s especially important at this point in our world, to be who you are in the face of ever-increasing adversity. My hope is that someone else will see my story and can relate and it makes it easier for them to be honest. And above all, to be proud.

Waiting on Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 19, 2017

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Waiting on Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Repost: Interview and Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

28374007In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Holy moley this book was an excellent roller coaster of emotions and craziness.

Blake has created an absolutely intriguing story world where the isolated island members are pretty fanatical about their precious queens and they will do almost anything to see their queen crowned.

The narration in this story is a bit muddled at times, because the story seems to flow from character to character third person limited, so that way the reader is in the loop about all of the dealings behind the scenes, and everything that is going on within the three areas of the island where the girls are kept.  Obviously the reader gets the point of view of each of the queens, Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella.  But we also get the point of views of those closest to them, Natalia and Pietyr for Katharine, Jules, Joseph, and Billy for Arsinoe, and Luca for Mirabella.  While I did find the narration switches to be confusing at times and sometimes the narrative voices blended together, it served the story well and it allowed for a few *gasp* moments during my read.

As for the queens themselves as characters: I can’t decide which one I like more.  Fierce Arsinoe who has overcome her faults and accepted her fate only to find her fate different by the end of the novel.  Loving Mirabella who can control raging fire but can’t control how much she loves and misses her sisters.  Shy Katharine who is stronger than anyone will give her credit for, despite her short comings.  They were all raised to hate and want to murder their siblings in order to take their crown, but fore the most part the girls are pretty reluctant.  It seems that for the most part, none of them actually hate each other, but are just kind of resigned to their lot in life…of having to commit murder in order to live.

It’s a pretty dark burden they all carry, but they do manage to find a bit of happiness in their worlds, although an unfortunate love triangle pops up that broke my heart for two different characters. Damn you, Blake for giving me feels.

The narrative has such a sense of urgency throughout the whole book, which is excellent considering the story takes place over a number of months leading up to the final conclusion of Beltane at the end of Three Dark Crowns.

The readers learn a pretty important plot point there at the end, one that will change the course of the next installment.  Overall the world building was excellent for a first fantasy novel, and I’m sure we will continue to get more details on the history of the prophecy for the triplets (I can hope!), and more insight into what happens if the queens fail to kill one another.

4.5 Bards! Keep an eye out for our interview with Kendare Blake from the Texas Teen Book Festival!

four.fivebards

 

 

 

 


Waiting On Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: August 29, 2017

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

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