Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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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.

One of my goals for this year is to review every YA book I read, even if I don’t like it. I had high hopes for this book. It was billed as a take on Beauty and the Beast (which I love) and I’ll admit I was drawn to the gorgeous cover. Plus, I have read so much praise about Sarah J. Maas, so I really wanted to try one of her books. Sadly, this one just wasn’t for me. I almost DNF it and kept putting it to one side but came back to it and managed to see it through to the end.

It started off promising. In the opening scenes Feyre comes across as a brave and determined character and I liked that she cared so deeply about her family, even though they seemed a pretty ungrateful bunch. Having lost their fortune they are struggling to come to terms with their meager way of life. They are completely reliant on Feyre and her hunting skills. So far, so good – I was really rooting for her. And I was also loving the ominous sense of threat building in the background, with so much uncertainty about the dangerous fae in the neighbouring kingdom and the reports of sightings of them.

Everything changes when Feyre kills a giant wolf that is actually a faerie. Then fae lord Tamlin arrives, in the guise of a beast, to come and claim retribution. And, just like dear Belle, she must pay the price by going to live with him in his enchanted castle. Forever. This is where it started to go wrong for me. When Feyre was hunting to keep her family alive she had fire and courage, but wandering around the castle grounds she was just… well, a bit boring.

If you’re familiar with Beauty and the Beast you’ll have guessed what comes next, so no spoilers here: she falls in love with Tamlin. He, of course, is actually pretty hot when in his fae form, though Feyre can’t fully admire his face because he has a mask glued to it (part of the curse his estate is under). If you’re looking for hot and steamy scenes you won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure. But for me the romance fell flat because it felt so cliched and predictable.

There are darker powers at play in the kingdom of the fae, and it’s not long before Feyre comes into contact with various forms of faerie nasties. This was what turned me off the book altogether! The Naga, Attor and various other creatures just seemed ‘made up’ – I don’t know how else to put it – and silly where they should have been terrifying. It was a bit like when you watch a budget horror film, and the monster is really scary until you actually see it – and then it becomes laughable.

In the latter third of the book Feyre comes back into her own a little again when she has to fight through a series of challenges in order to save all she holds dear, and much more. I think that’s why I did keep reading through to the end, to find out whether she would succeed or not. But I don’t think I will bother with the next in the series. One of my main problems with this book, in hindsight, was probably the fae theme – I think I realised that I don’t really like reading about faeries! So, I do still plan to read Maas’s Throne of Glass – a story about a bad-ass assassin has got to be good, right?

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Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2016

2016 is here and what better way to start off the blogging year than with a Top Ten Tuesday post about bookish goals for the year ahead?

1. To read these series/books which I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. I’m off to a good start as I received quite a few of these for Christmas and I’ve already finished Cinder, #1 of The Lunar Chronicles.

2. To read War and Peace by the end of January (??!!). This one was one of two 2016 challenges set for me by one of my best friends. I’m not going to lie – feeling a tiny bit daunted at this point but I will give it my best shot! She also challenged me to do a 10k run (???!!!) by the end of the year. My challenges for her were: to get a radical new hair cut and to befriend a stranger!

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3. To read and review all of the books shortlisted for the 2016 UK YA Book Prize. I did this challenge last year and it was a lot of fun – it also introduced to me quite a few new authors whose books I might never have picked up otherwise.

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4. To get through my TBR Books Owned pile. I say this every year! It never happens! But I can dream!!

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5. To read more graphic novels.

6. To write a review about every YA book I read – even if I don’t like it or DNF. It’s so hard to muster up the enthusiasm to write about a book I don’t enjoy! But I’d like to give a more balanced view on my blog so I’m going to try.

7. Every month to read and review at least one YA book released within that month.

8. To not make too many unrealistic goals!

What are your bookish goals for the year?

Thank you to the Broke and Bookish for hosting this wonderful weekly meme.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading in 2016!!

Christmas Book Haul

I have been a very lucky reader this Christmas – all of these were waiting for me under the tree! I suspect I won’t be leaving the house for a very long time…

This year my Christmas wishlist was filled with much talked about YA fiction books that I have been meaning to catch up on for a while, plus the latest from one of my fave adult fiction authors, Marian Keyes. I cannot wait to get stuck in to these beauts!

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What books did you get for Christmas?

Happy Festive reading to all and may 2016 be filled with good books and good times!!

 

 

Top Ten 2016 Debuts Novels I’m Looking Forward To

I can’t even get over the fact that it’s December already! And here we are talking about the most anticipated books of next year. But pulling together this list I realised there is a lot to look forward to in 2016. So thanks, to The Broke and the Bookish, for this week’s topic from their weekly meme.

The Way I Used to Be

Starting straight in there with a hard-hitting story about a young woman struggling to find a way to survive in the aftermath of an assault. Maybe not the cheeriest of topics but I do like to get stuck in to a good read that deals with real issues.

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The Mystery of Hollow Places

This sounds like a gripping thriller – about a girl who sets out to track down both her missing parents.

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The Year We Fell Apart

Not too long to wait for this one as it’s out in January. Harper is trying to find a way to cope with her mum’s cancer – and also figuring out how to fix her own mistakes and learn from her past (oh yes, there’s a boy involved).

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After the Woods

Two girls, Liv and Julia, get attacked in the woods. A year later another girl’s body turns up in the same woods, which triggers some of Julia’s memories about what happened, making her realise that the nightmare is far from over. This sounds very dark, and totally gripping!

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The Star Touched Queen

 A ‘vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology’? Sold!

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The Love That Split the World

In the summer after school finishes, a girl’s world peels back to reveal another time and she meets a boy who needs to be saved. This sounds whimsical and like it could be quite lovely.

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Revenge and the Wild

A western with dark magic thrown in? Hell, yes!

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A Shadow Bright and Burning

Billed as the YA Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, this one is already getting a lot of hype.

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Dreamology

About a couple who fall in love in their dreams… and then meet in real life. Will reality measure up? I can’t wait to find out.

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And that’s it, I could only come up with nine this week! Can anyone recommend another to round it out to ten?

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Goodreads description:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

If you’re looking for a sweet and charming book that will up your happiness levels significantly, then stop right here. There is only so much I can say about this book without giving too much away so I am going to keep this review short and sweet. I implore you to read this book! It won’t take you long as it’s so hard to put down. And I’m dying to be able to talk to someone about it so if you do read it, come back and tell me what you think.

Meeting Maddy

Madeline Whittier, or Maddy, as Olly calls her, has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, also known as ‘bubble baby’ disease. This means that she can never go outside. The only people physically in her life are her mother and her nurse Carla. I have no idea what it feels like to live your whole life inside one house, cut off from the outside world, but there were other things about Maddy, like her love of books and the way she learns about the world through them, that I definitely could identify with. She felt so real and vivid from the very first page. Her voice is very direct and the opening chapters are short and punchy, giving you little tidbits about her life and sucking you right in. She has a positive nature and dry sense of humour that makes light of her situation – she is an expert at enjoying the little pleasures in life and finding contentment within the parameters of her life, rather than fighting against them. Nicola Yoon has done a great job of creating the kind of character you’d want to be friends with in real life, because you know she’d always be able to see the good in every situation.

Enter Olly

And then she meets Olly. When she starts exchanging messages with the boy who moves in next door things start to change. The balance has been upset, and for the first time Maddy has secrets that she keeps from her mum. The friendship that develops between Maddy and Olly is absolutely adorable and perfect in every way. There is a real innocence to it that you don’t get that often in YA books, and because of Maddy’s situation all of the intense feelings of getting to know someone special for the first time are even more SUPER INTENSE. I also loved and believed in the relationships between Maddy and her mum, and Maddy and her nurse, Carla. She doesn’t have many people in her life so you can see that she is totally invested in the relationships that she does have. While Maddy’s blossoming connection to Olly is very sweet, I think it was actually these relationships and the changes that they underwent that interested me most.

Where to from here?

So Maddy lives a life confined to her house, then begins a friendship with a boy next door – but she still can’t go outside, so what next? You will have to read it yourself to find out: that little dilemma will keep you hooked right until the last page. I did have mixed feelings about the ending. It was well-executed, so no gripes from me on that front. But I felt very torn between wanting a perfect happy ending for the characters but at the same time not feeling completely prepared to accept the changes that this could entail. I’d love to say more but I can’t, because spoilers.

Bonus feature 

The book also included some very cute illustrations which were a nice added touch and they helped to bring Maddy’s unique world viewpoint to life.

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