Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

 

BookReview

Written by: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Pages: 640, hardcover
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2
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Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

LetsTalk

I am going to veer off from our normal way of writing reviews for this one. I’m not gonna talk about what didn’t work and what did work, because this book…It’s just so much more than that. It’s been a long time since a book has worked its way into my very soul. But I’m here to tell you A Court of Mist and Fury is now printed on my soul.

I listened to this book on audio, at first it was because of the fact that I was cleaning, but then it simply became such a powerful way to just dive into this story that I couldn’t bring myself to read the physical book. I just would lay on the couch, and simply watch the ceiling and listen. This story was one that was so much more than I ever expected. I didn’t dive in for such a long time because I feared love triangles, and more problems like what Queen of Shadows had (Yes it was a great book, but it had problems, let’s be honest here).

At the start of the book we meet such a different person than we left in A Court of Thorns and Roses. She’s broken, she’s dealing with PTSD, she’s hurting. You want to cheer for her to break through these chains, but depression is so much more than that, and the way that Maas writes it? It crushed me, because it felt so real. It felt like I’d lived it all myself and sometimes I didn’t even see the way out.

While I know many have said that Tamlin changed drastically in this book, he really didn’t. As soon as I finished A Court of Mist and Fury, I downloaded A Court of Thorns and Roses audiobook to listen to. Mostly because I couldn’t just put Mist and Fury on my shelf and walk away. But as I listened to Thorns and Roses I realized Tamlin didn’t change at all, all of the possessive annoying traits were all here in this book. I as the reader and Feyre as the narrator both overlook them, blaming the fact that he is Fae, or High Lord. We both allow things to slip because of the moments when he is wonderful and loving and beautiful. But all of those abusive possessive moments? Oh they’re here. Now I roll my eyes so hard at him, it’s not even funny.

Rhysand in the first book is cold, calculating, but there’s this hint that maybe he’s something more. Maybe there’s something else under that High Lord’s mask. Mist and Fury takes his mask and throws it away. Rhys is so much more than I ever gave him credit for. I didn’t trust him anymore than Feyre did at the start of the book, and just like her he won me over.

I don’t feel like this book has a love triangle. I feel like there’s a linear love story, that gets distracted. But isn’t that how real life is? Sometimes you think you’re with the right guy only to realize you’re not? That guy that you love and trusted turns around and hurts you? The fact that Maas doesn’t shy away from things that are so realistic, and this time handles them so beautifully… Well to say I’d choose this series over Throne of Glass any day is almost an understatement.

The story told within these pages is a beautiful and romantic and amazing wonderful story. I don’t know how anyone could put something so amazing together into pages. But I do know that this series is now in my all time favorites. I am so glad that I got to read it. So so glad.

I need that third book though. I will say that. Because wow that ending. Because wow Maas can take a book a million places within one book. Because holy shit I don’t know where anything is going to go from here, but I can’t wait to get that book in my hands and see everything for myself.

Sondra

ARC Mini Review: Defying Doomsday Anthology

MiniReviews

Edited by: Tsana Dolichva, Holly Kench
Release Date: May 31st, 2016
Pages: 432, Paperback
Series: Standalone
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BookTeens form an all-girl band in the face of an impending comet.

A woman faces giant spiders to collect silk and protect her family.

New friends take their radio show on the road in search of plague survivors.

A man seeks love in a fading world.

How would you survive the apocalypse?

Defying Doomsday is an anthology of apocalypse fiction featuring disabled and chronically ill protagonists, proving it’s not always the “fittest” who survive – it’s the most tenacious, stubborn, enduring and innovative characters who have the best chance of adapting when everything is lost.

In stories of fear, hope and survival, this anthology gives new perspectives on the end of the world, from authors Corinne Duyvis, Janet Edwards, Seanan McGuire, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Stephanie Gunn, Elinor Caiman Sands, Rivqa Rafael, Bogi Takács, John Chu, Maree Kimberley, Octavia Cade, Lauren E Mitchell, Thoraiya Dyer, Samantha Rich, and K Evangelista.

MiniHere’s a fun game for you: go through the sci-fi/post-apocalyptic/generally apocalypse related shelf of your bookcase and see how many books feature disabled characters. Now see how many of those characters are NOT magically cured, to the point where they don’t experience any negative effects of their disability. How many are protagonists rather than side characters moving someone else’s plot along. How many display complex attitudes towards their disabilities, and are allowed to be complex characters themselves.

Yes, that’s right. Not a whole lot. And that’s why this book exists.

The stories here are varied in so many ways–in the type of apocalypse, the world, the character’s disability, the role the disability plays in the character’s life (an added difficulty or an advantage or a mix of both). However, all the stories share a nuanced portrayal of life with a disability. In all the stories, the disability is an important part of the character without being all there is to that character.

And of course, all the stories are excellent survival stories of their own right; with many of them, I was left holding my breath for the characters, or terrified of the apocalyptic threat (shout-out to that one story with the spiders here!) or having warm fuzzy feelings about certain relationships, or tearing up, or all four. My one issue with the book was how technical and science-y some of the stories were (I got lost in the technical terms), but that was really my fault, and anyway it’s sci-fi and I don’t what I expected. The only authors I was familiar with before I started were Corrine Duyvis and Seanan Maguire (whose stories I loved, no surprise), but a lot of the stories impressed me enough that I’ll try to check out the writers’ other works.

Some of my personal favorites:

  • And the Rest of Us Wait by Corrine Duyvis: an excellent intro to the anthology with a strong message, taking place in the same world as her novel On the Edge of Gone with some recurring characters. I love that the main characters respond to their situation through pop songs.
  • Something in the Rain by Seanan Maguire: For some reason the apocalypse scenario here was the scariest to me, plus I loved Holly’s voice and this story was relevant to my interests as a cat person.
  • Did We Break the End of the World? by Tansy Rayner Roberts: Surprisingly cute and banter-y, with an excellent ending. I would like to read more in that world.
  • In the Sky with Diamonds by Elinor Caiman Sands: After I finished this one, I put my phone down, took a deep breath, and said, “Well, that was intense.”
  • Selected Afterimages of the Fading by John Chu: I loved the way the disability (muscular dysmorphia) was intertwined with the worldbuilding (things fade if not given attention).
  • Spider Silk, Strong as Steel by Samantha Rich: A good mix of scary and heartwarming. This is the one with the giant spiders, so be careful if that’s not your thing.
  • No Shit by K. Evangelista: For the cute relationship between the main character’s and for Jane’s hilarious voice, which brought lightness into the anthology.
  • I Will Remember You by Janet Edwards: This one made me cry a little bit. Again, I wouldn’t mind a follow-up a few years afterward.

And the fact that I listed so many stories for favorites says a lot, I think! Pick this one up if you want something different and original.

 

Sondra

ARC Review: The Crowns Game by Evelyn Skye

Written by: Evelyn Skye
Release Date: May 17th 2016
Pages: 416, hardcover
Series:The Crown’s Game #1
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Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the ARC!

Book

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

LetsTalk

First things first lemme just get some quick fangirling out of the way: lakdsjroierulakdsf this book holy crap. I just. GUYS. This book was done so amazingly fantastically well. There was so much history and words and gorgeous things. The ship and the characters and the MAGICCC.

Okay there, I’m done now. I’ll be coherent.

So this book takes place in historical Russia, but Skye adds in this amazing magical element that just twists this historical novel into a beautiful high fantasy that just comes alive on the page and honestly one that just made me fall head over heels in love with it. Yes there were some problems with the book that I’ll get into here in a little bit but the story itself was just gorgeous, the writing and the way that people interacted was just wonderful. The characters in this novel were so vivid, and what I really loved is it felt like a push pull of plot and characters driving the story which I found really uniquely wonderful, especially in a debut book.

Didn'tWork

 

Alright this is gonna be weird to explain but I’ll try it the best way that I can. There’s two big tropes I’m not a fan of in this book, and Skye tried to change them, and tried to work with them, but I just… I don’t know if she was fully successful. I mean she was successful enough that I didn’t DNF the book, and I still wound up loving the book, but still there were moments of eyerolling.

The first trope is gonna be the love triangle. While this fits in with the second point I’ll focus on this first. The love triangle felt a little rushed, which it was, it was also less of a love triangle than it was a plot point because the love triangle was needed to fuel the plot. Without the love triangle (that even felt fairly one sided) there would’ve been no need for a large portion of the plot in the second half of the book, not to mention the change of friendships and such.

The second trope is gonna be insta-love. Now Skye tried to use it historically, as in it’s more of the men staking their claim of a girl by saying they love her. Marriages weren’t really decided by true love as they were lust, or even enamorment. That’s how I feel at least one side of this love triangle was. The other side however? I think that was largely due to the type of magic these two wield.

DidWork

I know I just went on a three paragraph rant about what didn’t work after fangirling so hard over this book earlier but I want you to understand that while those elements are there in the book, the overall nature of this book was just absolutely beautiful. The prose, the showing us of feelings, the subtle ways that things were brought to the front. Overall those bits were so beautiful that I feel that everything was more than made up for. But I also know that those mentioned above are touchy for some people.

Okay so now to focus in on the most amazing aspects of this book.

The prose, it’s no secret around here I’m a sucker for a well written book. Now while this book isn’t like one of the top books I’ve ever read with prose, the way that Skye brought her words together painted a vivid picture. I felt like I could see the town as Vika walked through it, and that alone is something masterful to me and my reading. I fell in love with the world and the magic of both Vika and Nicolai as they tried to impress the Tsar.

I really also loved the characters that came to life in these pages, they were bright and alive, they were scared but pushed forward anyway. I think that all around they were the real stars of this book. They were pushed forward by the plot, but often would make choices that would in turn push the plot around. That subtle push pull of things, along with how Skye showed us things rather than telling us it just held this book to an amazing standard.

Pickup

I REALLY loved this book. The magic, the world, the characters. But I also do see that it has it’s issues, some of those are really touchy subjects for people so, if those are going to bother you then don’t pick this one up. If you’re able to just enjoy the story and move past it? Oh absolutely get your hands on this book.

Sondra