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

 

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: June 6, 2017

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Be sure to check out my review of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest.

After reading this novel, can I just say that I am super thankful that Bloomsbury announced the collection of Lunar Chronicles short stories?  Especially since one will expand upon the epilogue from Winter.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.  I need to go back to the beginning and review the entire book.

We open Winter not long after Cress finished off, which Scarlet captured and kept as a pet for Princess Winter on Luna, Prince Kai is aboard the Rampion as a “prisoner,” Thorne is still blind, and everyone is trying to scramble to figure out how to move forward.

Cinder and Kai shippers will be very happy with the opening chapters as they are filled with lighthearted flirting and a fair amount of kissing before they are separated in order to try and defeat Queen Levana and take Luna for the true heir.  There will be some heartrending places in the novel for these two, but don’t worry, true love does prevail regardless of the outcome.

Cress remains hopelessly in love with Thorne, who is still his generally douchey self.  I really wish she would have the guts to tell him how she feels without it taking away from the climactic takeover scene in the novel, because it really just bogged down the narrative at that point.

Overall, I will say that this novel felt like it had a lot more exposition than should have been needed for a final installment.  However, I can kind of understand why when the readers are finally getting Princess Winter’s point of view and with that, an inside view of the Lunar kingdom.  This is especially important for readers who haven’t read Fairest, which serves as the prequel to the Lunar Chronicles.

There are a few twists and turns along the way, and while the length could have been shortened, I think that Winter was an extremely solid conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles and could have done without the additional short coming in February 2016.  Selfishly, of course, I just want to live in that world a bit longer (and see where our favorite heroes and heroines end up).

I’m giving Winter 4 Bards, and for die hard fans this is the ending we’ve all been waiting for.  Be sure to pick up a copy.

fourbards

Winter (Lunar )


New From: $13.22 USD In Stock

Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

openroadsummerAfter breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

Taylor-Abigail-467

Taylor and Abigail

It was absolutely impossible for me to not draw some kind of comparison between Dee (Lilah) and Reagan’s friendship and what the media knows about Taylor Swift and Abigail’s relationship.  I mean, both Reagan and Abigail are mentioned in their respective best friend’s tunes, and they attend award ceremonies as their best friend’s dates.  So yeah, I imagined them as Taylor and Abigail at first.

However, Reagan, as a character, defines herself fairly early on.  She is an individual who is completely rough around the edges, which is partly from her life experience but also from walls she has constructed for herself.  Dee, on the other hand, I would describe as kind of a circle with a few dings taken out.  Dee is strong in another sense, but is definitely more well rounded and adjusted than Reagan seems at the beginning of the novel.

I’ve seen a number of reviews of this novel that mention the negative attitude that Reagan takes toward other female characters (other than Dee), and I’d like to comment on that.  Reagan reveals that her mother left her as a child.  Not only does this realistically provide an intrinsic distrust of other females, but it does explain the origin of her trust issues as well.  It would be natural for a person in her shoes to dislike a lot of females and I think that Lord portrayed this realistically.  I do understand that in today’s world it is absolutely necessary for women to uplift other women, but since this is a novel set in reality, we have to think realistically.  Not all teenagers are in that frame of mind yet and Lord depicts it.

Lord is practically my narrative godmother at this point, because both Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You are so well paced and structured that they kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more, while also having satisfying endings.

The romance aspect of Open Road Summer is much more pronounced than in The Start of Me and You, and I think that it works both ways for Lord as a writer.  I absolutely adored the slow smolder of obvious attraction between Reagan and Matt in Open Road Summer, but I also loved the sudden realization of love between Paige and Max in The Start of Me and You.  Since I mentioned Matt I think it is only fitting to say that if you do not swoon over this wounded character at least once or twice throughout the story then I think something is wrong!

Lord also did a phenomenal job with writing song lyrics to accompany the story, and each one I could almost sing along with in my mind.  Can someone sell these to a singer so we can have some of these on our iPods?

Going home to my guitar now. 4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

 

BUY THIS BOOK

Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

 

Book Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

the start of me and youIt’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Wow.  Brilliant.  Wonderfully real.  Emotional.  I firmly believe that Emery Lord struck gold with this novel.  I cannot even think about this story without it bringing tears to my eyes.

This novel is first and foremost about grief.  Lord does a phenomenal job at showcasing the struggle that people go through when trying to move past such a defining moment in life, and how detrimental it is to handle it with the utmost care.  Paige’s grief has manifested itself in an intense fear of water and drowning, nightmares, and isolation.  She has isolated herself from a social life in high school and has alienated herself from herself.  That sounds a bit confusing, but she has started to also define herself as the girl with a dead boyfriend, rather than moving past it.  That is what is so brilliant about Lord’s portrayal of Paige.  Paige wants more than anything to get out of that rut and begin to define herself again.  It provides an excellent narrative arc that also allows the reader to struggle along with Paige.

Paige has an amazing support system throughout The Start of Me and You.  Her three best friends, Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan are the absolute best example of how friends can really help you through the toughest times.  No lie, it really made me miss my two best friends from high school, because we are scattered through the east coast now!  All of the girls were also well written as individuals that function as a part of a whole unit.  I loved that these characters could stand on their own with their differences, but they worked better as a friend group.  Paige isn’t the only one who has problems, but they continually step up to help one another through anything.

As for the two main male characters, Max and Ryan, I think that Lord concocted a very interesting juxtaposition between them, especially since they are best friends.  Ryan is described as being bright blonde and blue eyed, while Max has darker hair, green eyes, and glasses.  Ryan is the hot guy jock and Max is the adorable, gangly nerd. The novel immediately sets up Ryan as the main love interest for Paige, but Lord does a good job of displaying how Paige and Ryan would not fit, regardless of how stubborn Paige is in her crush.  While Max sneaks up on Paige and her heart, it was clear to me from the beginning that she would end up with him, but that did not deter me at all.  As Max says in the story,

Max's Post Secret (Made by Me)

Max’s Post Secret (Made by Me)

“Knowing what happens is different from knowing how it happens. And the getting there is the best part.”

Lord really outdid herself with the relationship between Paige and her Grandmother.  Not only was Grammy struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but she suffers from two strokes as well.  Paige is extremely close to Grammy and considers her the only person she can share secrets with.  They have such excellent conversations, and the dialogue in these scenes is on point.  Lord made me cry a number of times during the scenes with Grammy, as it really reminded me of my relationship with my Mawmaw, who passed on a few years ago.

This novel really hit home with me, and I hope everyone will pick up a copy and read it.

5 Bards.

fivebards

Book Review: One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted… But just what – and who – is she really risking?

Release Date: July 22, 2014

Now, this book had a really cool premise.  The idea that a person could wake up in a different life, different WORLD, really, every 24 hours is absolutely fascinating.  (Now all I can think is that maybe we ALL do this but we don’t remember it like Sabine does) It does really play with the whole idea of fate and whether or not one specific life may be the best for her.

So, Sabine has two separate worlds, and a lot of the novel is her trying to decide which life she hates less enough to stay in it permanently (presuming that if she dies in one life, that she doesn’t die in the other).  This brings up all kinds of questions about suicide, mental health facilities, terminal illness, patient/doctor relationships, true personalities, and nature versus nurture.

That’s a lot of things, right?! So much jam packed into a book that has a really cool premise…it can almost be overwhelming. There is also a crazy love story that takes place in one of the worlds that really makes the reader to avoid the other life, much like the character. I don’t know about anyone else who read it, but I would have had a super hard time choosing based on the circumstances of both worlds, just like Sabine did. Kudos to Shirvington for making me feel all of the feels.

In addition, just when you think it’s going to end completely in your tears, Shirvington gives you a glimpse of hope that makes you wish there was a second novel so you can continue Sabine’s unique story.

Even if you haven’t read Shirvington’s other novels (I’ve only read one), this novel can easily make you a fan, and I think you should put this on your To-Be-Read list.

4 Bards.

fourbards

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