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Book Review! A Court of Thorns and Roses

Friends, I tried my hardest to get hold of an advance copy of this book, but I just couldn’t make it happen. Since I was so head-over-heels for the Throne of Glass books, I decided to go ahead and pre-order this one from Barnes & Noble for my Nook app so I could read it right away. Of course, I finished it just a few hours after it landed in my inbox.

It was awesome.

But I’ve been sitting on this post for a while because I was having a hard time writing a review that wasn’t too spoiler-y or too basic and vague… Anywho, here we go!

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

First of all, how amazing is that cover!?! I like that it gives you an idea of what the main character looks like without being the “girl in a formal dress looking over her shoulder” style that’s become ubiquitous. Also, red. Which is very fitting given the plot of this story. To get us started, here is the publisher’s blurb:

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.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

First of all, the relationship between Feyre and Tamlin is a slow burn with a few bumps in the road, not an insta-love like the publisher’s blurb might suggest. There are lots of hard choices to be made, and Maas doesn’t pull punches to give Feyre an easy out, which I quite liked. About 2/3rds of the way through the book we learn more about Feyre’s family and a lot of depth gets added to their characters, which really took this book to the next level for me – it would have been so easy to use the family characters as set-up in the beginning and then leave them there, as flat, one-dimensional individuals who were holding Feyre back and had little to no redeeming qualities of their own, but Maas took the time to give them layers and make them continue to be an important part of the story and Feyre’s choices. Bravo.

There are a couple of characters that “help” Feyre out at various points in the story – for a price, of course. We’re dealing with the Fey here. Based on those characters I’m anticipating much more political gamesmanship in the next book, which is great, because Maas does so well with the politics and individual characters’ motivations in the Throne of Glass books. I’m also looking forward to seeing more of Rhysand in the next book, because I’m always a sucker for a tall-dark-and-handsome bad boy 😉 Although this is known to be a sort of Beauty and the Beast retelling, Maas very skillfully places the story in the world of the Fey and gives nods to the original tale while staying true to her own writing style and keeping the story fresh. If you know it’s there, you can most definitely see the parallels, but subtle enough that you could miss it if you didn’t already know.

While I really enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses and I love Sarah J. Maas’s writing, I think I like the Throne of Glass books just a little bit more. The two series each have a distinct feel to them, and I find that world and those characters a bit more intriguing. It probably stems from the fact that Throne of Glass is a totally original world from the author. That said, I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

If you like a darker sort of fairytale à la Holly Black or Gregory Maguire, A Court of Thorns and Roses should be right up your alley!

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Book Review! Throne of Glass Series

Holy blog traffic, Batman! I’m sure most of you are here because of the lovely shout-out from Franish – with whom I’ve been bonding over the perfect maroon-y purple skirt from JCrew Factory. If so, you might be interested to take a peek at my favorite pieces for work casual wear, or the gym, and my makeup basics, and then please stick around for one of my favorite topics, book reviews!

 

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass Series #1)

I’ve read the first two books of the Throne of Glass series, by Sarah J. Maas, in just two days, and I’m already halfway through the third book. Yup. Hooked. This is hands-down one of the best YA fantasy series I’ve read in years. Since the series isn’t done yet, I’m not sure if it will top The Abhorsen series, by Garth Nix, or the Tortall books, by Tamora Pierce, on my list of all-time best YA books, but it’s pretty high up the list.

The publisher’s blurb on these gives you a good idea of what to expect from the books, and it’ll be hard to do a review of all three books without any spoilers, but I’ll try! Celaena Sardothien is an assassin, trained from a young age to be the best at her brutal trade. When she’s summoned from her hovel mining salt in Endovier and sent to the capitol city of the ruthless Adarlan king to compete for her freedom, she’s not sure what to expect. Almost immediately, Celaena is drawn into a scheme much larger than herself, and with no one giving her the information she seeks – or any of the truth – she has to figure things out for herself, before she winds up on the executioner’s block.

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass Series #2)

One of the things I’ve truly enjoyed about this series is that Celaena is very decisive and not afraid to take action, even when she has doubts and may need to adjust her path once things heat up. Although she’s painted as a cold-blooded assassin, there are plenty of internal struggles and emotions for her to face, and ultimately she ends up being better and more mature for it. I’ve enjoyed seeing her character evolve so far over the first three books, and according to Goodreads, there are three books yet to go. (Which makes me deliriously happy. I love a good, long series!) There are also several interesting (read: not shallow) male characters and other important female characters that pop up over the course of the first three books, which gives the plot more depth and keeps things racing along quickly. No dragging, endless descriptions and boring filler scenes here!

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass Series #3)

One of the reviews published in the paperback version of Throne of Glass (book one of the series, followed by Crown of Midnight, and then Heir of Fire) that caught my eye stated that they viewed Maas’ series as a combination of Tamora Pierce and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, which I think paints a pretty good picture of where this sits in terms of fantasy works. The writing is much more direct and (overall) is less  gruesomely realistic than the Game of Thrones books (see my Goodreads reviews on those if you dare, I didn’t care for them) but also involves more politics, plotting, and death than Pierce’s books. The Throne of Glass books are broader in scope, but they remind me a bit of The Castings Trilogy, by Pamela Freeman (if you like the Throne of Glass books and fantasy in general, those might be worth a read.)

If you’ve read any of the Throne of Glass books, please let me know your thoughts! Did you devour them like I have, or were they not your cup of tea?

If you’re just popping by to check things out, I’d love it if you said Hi in the comments or maybe took a second to fill out the quick blog poll I posted recently!

(*Disclaimer: None of the links in this post are affiliate links and I am not getting anything at all from the respective companies or blogs they link to. But if JCrew, Goodreads, or Barnes & Noble ever start giving me goodies or cash, I’ll let you guys know! 🙂 )

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Book Review! The Diviners by Libba Bray

This book was creepy and thrilling in the best kind of way. I love a good mystery thriller.

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The book was far better than I originally anticipated and tremendously suspenseful for a YA novel. I’ve read the first two books of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series (A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels) so I’m familiar with her writing style and the publisher’s blurb of this book really drew me in. While I like her previous books, I never read the last book of the Gemma Doyle series (The Sweet Far Thing) because I just lost interest over the course of the second book.

The Diviners was Bray’s haunting writing style turned up to 11 (80’s reference – if you don’t get it, you’re probably in the target demographic for this book 🙂 ) If you’re into all things YA-paranormal, spooky, or novels about the Roaring 20’s, this is the book for you. I’d also recommend it as a lighter read for fans of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. There were several times while reading when I was struck by how very similar the tone of the books felt, although Bray’s version is clearly for a YA audience, while Carr’s is not.

I checked out a few reviews before I purchased the ebook for my Nook, and many of the reviewers were disappointed that the “diviners” part of the plot was not more prominent. Without getting into spoilers, I will say that it was a smaller part of the plot than I expected, but I don’t think that it made the story any less enjoyable. This book is intended as the first in a new series (there was a small sneak peek of book 2 at the back of my copy) so while most of the plot is spent on the specific mystery of an occult serial killer, there is a lot of background being established at the same time. Bray’s descriptions of the killer and his house had me breaking out in goosebumps and really set the tone for the book as a whole. Some of the 1920’s slang was a little overdone (any of the words using -ski should have been nixed, in my opinion) while other times it added to the feel of the novel. I didn’t hate it, but it could certainly be refined in the coming books.

Bray chose to introduce several different characters with special “divining” abilities and the book gives you a good grasp of each of them, setting the stage for future adventures. Evie, the main character, is by turns a typical teenager and someone with a surprising gravitas, stemming from her brother’s death overseas in WWI, her rocky relationship with her parents, and the responsibility and negative consequences of her “divining” powers. My favorite characters, though, are Memphis – whose attachment to his brother is both endearing and ultimately pivotal for him – and Theta, who I think is the most realistic character in the novel – a good time girl trying to hide from her past. I’ll be very interested to see how Bray works with Sam’s story in the next book, and I hope that she includes more information about Henry (he is the only character whose backstory I think it still incomplete – other than Uncle Will, but that mystery seems to be part of the larger story arc for the series.)

Slight Spoilers Below!

I did think that the hints of “romance” at the end of the novel between Evie and Jericho were unnecessary and detracted from the story. Actually, I enjoyed the fact that Evie doesn’t just fall for Sam, and I was hoping that I could get through the whole book without and of the typical YA-romance, but it didn’t quite happen. I hope that Bray has a good idea of where she’s going with this in the second novel, because frankly I just don’t see how these sudden “feelings” fit into Evie’s character. It’s not a big enough deal that it kept me from liking the book, but it’s definitely the difference between a 4 star and a 5 star review from me.

I’ll definitely check out the next installment in this series. Does anyone else have a favorite spooky/creepy thriller novel?

Also, on Friday I got the copy of Moth and Spark from the Goodreads First Reads giveaway that I won – super fast shipping! I’ll try to post a review in the next week or so!

* You may notice that the links in this post are all to Goodreads. I purchase my books through Barnes and Noble, but I’ve been using Goodreads a lot lately to check reviews and enter the First Reads giveaways, so I thought it was appropriate to use those links here. Of course, I’m not being compensated by either company, I just like them!