Beauty, Beast, and Sexy Times || A Court of Thorns and Roses Review

Initial Thoughts:

I feel conflicted about this book. I so very wished that it was just a damn standalone because AS A STAND-ALONE I CONDONE THE SHENANIGANS A LITTLE BIT. What drove me nuts was the hint of a love triangle. OF COURSE that’s what would drive me nuts.


A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES

by Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsburry, May 2015
New adult fantasy, fairy tale
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

Note: This review has spoilers. This review is also a mess. This review won’t discuss everything I made notes on because future podcast reasons.

So I have a love-hate relationship with Maas right now. Well, maybe. Okay, not so much her as a person but the direction she takes stories sometimes. Alright, all the time, judging from what I’ve been seeing on the Maas fandom.

I’m going to back track because honestly, I loved Throne of Glass and likely I’m going to love Crown of Midnight, but I haven’t read anything past ToG in ages. And then I ended up picking ACoTaR for “research” reasons. And judging from the pattern that’s said to have happened in the ToG series (where eventually the intended ship sinks and the story goes in an entirely different direction), I’m betting it’s going to be the same in the ACoTaR series. Correct me if I’m wrong, but considering I’m hearing more about how awesome Rhysand is and not enough about Tamlin, I’m willing to bet the story gets away in the later books and shifts into something horribly wrong.

(Like Rhysand the jerkwad being part of the romantic arc. Oh god, he so is.)

So…anyway, this book.

I was a little underwhelmed by it, and for the longest time I ping-ponged between liking the story and groaning because once again, the main character was doing something stupid. Feyre is very different from the massively confident and deadly Celaena (or whatever her name is nowadays), and she constantly reminds me of how different the two characters are by putting herself down several times within the same chapter. I get it, Feyre, you’re human, you’re not something super-powerful or assassin-like deadly, you’re not even a special snowflake (up until the end of the book where we discover OH LOOK. She’s quite phenomenally a snowflake now!). But for eff’s sake, you killed a damn snow-fairy-wolf-thing right in Chapter 1, so clearly you aren’t as useless as you make yourself out to be.

Oh STFU Feyre.

Rant over, I liked where the story was actually headed at a certain point. Things picked up once Feyre actually stopped trying to run away and started trying to live her life within Tamlin’s castle. I mean, it’s an effing easy life, Feyre, stop making excuses about family vows when clearly EVERYTHING IS BEING TAKEN CARED OF. What the hell, Feyre. Does nothing please you?!

Alright, sorry, I get heated when I think of the main character.

There is a rich history revolving the creation of the wall between humans and fae. There is a great war that happens which killed off many people on both sides of the war, and somewhere along the way, a Treaty is enacted in order to keep the peace between the fairy realm and the mortal realm. Now the problem with Treaties is that for one side to stick to it, the other side has to stick to it, too. But clearly in this story, there’s some rule-breaking ahead, and that’s what lands Feyre in the mess she’s in.

I wish there’d been more of a prologue to work with. It took two-thirds of the book to finally introduce the big baddy, who turns out to be someone whose past revolved around love and betrayal–typically something you’d expect humans to feel, not so much the fairies. The whole affair in the fairy court humanizes creatures like Tamlin and Rhysand and Amarantha, and also displays the kind of shit they get into when they’re super-powered creatures with very human problems. I liked that. I liked that a lot.

(There could have been a bit more work on the worldbuilding, which is a whole other discussion that would get really lengthy, so I won’t even try to talk about that right now.)

I was pretty tickled with the romance. It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, and I don’t really know if I’d ship them, but I will admit that the sexy times were the right kind of steamy. Except for that one bit where Tamlin pretty much bites Feyre and then talks about the dirty things he’d do to her if he’d caught her during one of the fairy festival-rituals. Yes, I know, she didn’t seem so bothered by his advances, but um, dude, no means no. Totally creepy. Thankfully, Tamlin isn’t super-psychotic, and it turns out he’s kind of a nice guy, except when he’s being all fae-y. A nice, muscled, strong guy with a mask perpetually glued to his face, but Feyre totally knows he’s hot underneath that, just by how his strong jaw looks and everything. He doesn’t even keep slaves or anything! (This is me trying my best not to snort…seriously trying here!)

As for Rhysand…I still think he’s a jerk. The Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone comes to mind for comparison, and honestly, I thought the Darkling was a more compelling and seductive force than Rhysand was. It’s clear both characters are assholes, but honestly, the Darkling was a special kind of lovable asshole (or…maybe it’s just me…).

Um. Lucien was awesome. So was Nesta, actually. I want more of these two characters. Yep.

3.5 out of 5 cookies! Again, there was a lot more I wanted to say, but I’ll save it for podcasting purposes.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Bookcon Book Haul 2017

I realize that I’ve been terribly late at posting things that happened a couple of weeks ago. Like, oh, the fact that I’d gone to Bookcon and never actually posted anything about it on this blog. A bookish nerdy blog, for that matter. It’s well shameful!

Anyway, this year was my first year ever attending Bookcon. I had actually planned to go last year, but that was when they’d moved the location out of New York City, so I was at a loss there. That said, I figured I’d remedy this by getting at least ONE ticket for one of the days.

Having gone to a few cons already (DragonCon and NY Comic Con), I had expected lines. Lots and lots of lines. And I expected to be standing and walking the entire time. What I didn’t expect was how much I’d actually be taking home. Thank goodness I did have a backpack with me to roll books away!

I did learn a few things at Bookcon, and that was to pace myself and get there EARLY. I had underestimated the craze that Bookcon would have, and because BEA was rather limited as far as attendance went, a lot more people came to Bookcon in hopes of getting the latest galleys and speaking to the authors about their newest work. There were books I saw being marketed that I was terribly excited for. There were authors I wanted to meet and greet, and some of them came to NYC so very rarely that I just had to sign up for tickets to their line!

Which is where my scheduling fell apart slightly. I was so intent on getting to author signings and events that I’d signed up for author signings and sweepstakes around the same time. When I got an email a few weeks later that I’d won one of the sweepstakes (which was the I Read YA breakfast, which included some galleys), I was stoked for a few minutes. I say a few minutes because then I checked the author signings I managed to get and realized that one of them was in direct conflict of an author signing I had to go to. And because I almost never see Laini Taylor do signings in the East Coast, I had to abandon the IReadYA event in lieu of getting to my author signing on time. Sigh.

And let me tell you about those author signing tickets. Like, holy wow, they sold like hotcakes the day the ticket registration thing opened up. I had contemplated on whether or not to go to a Leigh Bardugo signing, but decided against it, since I was pretty sure she’d be high profile enough to warrant selling out in tickets (and when I say “selling out,” I’m not talking about monetary profits…the tickets themselves were free, people just had to sign up). And we were only limited to TWO, so that already narrowed down my author bucket list. So I decided on Laini Taylor and Marissa Meyer. I don’t know how I managed to grab a Marissa Meyer ticket, though, because I swear she sold out just as quickly, but I did!

(I was a little bummed that I was limited to two, because I wanted to see Ahdieh again, if only because Flame in the Mist looks GORGEOUS and I wanted it that day…but my friend was AWESOME and went to Ahdieh’s signing and and…I got beautiful illustrated cards of Mariko, who I’m totally already relating to because our names are similar XD).

But yes, the author signing lines were LONG, though much like DragonCon, waiting wasn’t too bad because there were people on the line who liked the same things I did. I mean, duh, here’s a bunch of us standing in line for a SFF author, so of course we’d all have something in common. I practically assumed the women next to me had read half the SFF books I’d read at that point, so we got to squeeing over ships and characters really quickly.

The only thing about attending author signings, however, is that it really cut down on the panel and exploring times. I had between a half hour to an hour each time just to roam the floor, and barely enough time to even stand and wait for giveaways. I never made it to a panel, and even though I’d hoped I’d be able to make it to Margaret Atwood’s panel, there was no chance I was walking into the panel room, considering people had camped out over an hour beforehand.

So maybe next year–and there will be a next year–I’ll cut down on signings and focus more on getting more galleys to read. Not that I’m complaining about what I got. I barely made it home with an intact back, so I don’t know how much more I could have managed if I kept getting books!

Some fun things:

Underlined’s swag bag and bookcrate. Seriously, signing up for a First in Line account ages back was so worth it. I got a ton of goodies from them, including a small battery pack, a tote bag, a pouch, a towel…two books, and a pouch that I could probably put my bookmarks in.

Posters! I loved some of the posters. My favorite was a dual-sided animal retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It was black and white on one side and colored in the other, and it is a HUGE promo poster. I loved it. Now I just need to figure out where to put all my posters, considering my room is already filled with them…

Swag! Some booths gave swag every hour or so, which was neat. I also decided on getting a couple of purchases on top of things.

Some things to watch out for:

VIP overhaul. I think the downside to not being a VIP is the fact that much of the author signing tickets had already been taken due to the VIP package.

Extremely long waits. This was more of a concern when you were lining up for well-known authors or authors with a highly anticipated book coming out. Marie Lu’s in-booth line was swamped, and everyone was trying to get to her for a copy of Warcross. I’d heard Leigh Bardugo’s line during BEA pretty much ran forever-and-a-day, and not everyone got the Wonder Woman book she was slated to release. Hell, even Laini Taylor’s and Marissa Meyer’s lines were swamped.

But yes, I did have fun overall, and I will have to come back again next year! Maybe I might even be able to pull off getting a ticket for BEA as an ELA teacher…hmm….

TTT: Fictional Fathers

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here,

So last month, I’d done a TTT in commemoration to Mother’s Day and the book moms I’d encountered in stories. With Father’s Day also coming up this month, I thought it was high time to talk about the fictional dads as well! Like fictional mothers, the fathers in the stories I’ve read are also pretty nonexistent. Half the time, we get the deadbeat dads who want nothing to do with their offspring, and on the rare occasion that they do, it’s because down the line, they want to use their kid for a greater purpose.

And then, of course, there are the father figure type role models, which are cool, in a sense. And I do want to mention them at some point, but I can wait to do so at a later time on a category about mentors and parental figures. This TTT is for the fictional fathers who’ve raised fictional daughters and sons.

Top Ten Fictional Fathers

Arthur Weasley – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling – Well, honestly, I couldn’t include Mrs. Weasley without her other half! Rarely do we see both parents playing positive and amazing roles in books, so honestly, the Weasley clan is lucky (for the most part…hem hem). I took to Arthur much easier than I took to Molly when I read the series, and for good reason. He’s unambitious but brilliant in his own way, and he’s personable and enthusiastic. He’s definitely one of the father figures in Harry’s life, but let’s not forget he’s managed to rear five individualistic boys as well! (And on a related note, my heartstrings almost snapped when he got bitten by Nagini in the fifth book!)

Easier said than done, Arthur.

Mr. Murry – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – The Murry children are exceptional, and all of them are mathematically and scientifically gifted. I’d say it’s in the genes, considering both Mr. and Mrs. Murry are geniuses in their fields, but I believe half of it is also how the kids were reared. Meg, in general, is practically mathematically inclined, and her love of the subject can be attributed to the fact that her father often played math games with her to bolster her learning. That’s A+ in my book.

George Cooper – Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce – George and his mother weren’t exactly living the high life, and even as a healer, mom wasn’t earning respectable wages. So George, being the young man–well, young man chosen by the Trickster–that he was, decided to go in the way of the criminal folk. The man was the bloody King of the Rogue for a good number of years until he’d decided things needed changin’. And that’s where Alanna and the crew came in. At the end of the Song of the Lioness Quartet, the thief-king turned a new leaf and became a nobleman spymaster, and he went ahead and taught his only daughter the tricks of the trade. Even with his feisty wife objecting quite a bit.

By the ever talented Minuiko.

Terciel – Sabriel by Garth Nix – I mean, this could go either way, to be honest. I didn’t think Terciel was very present in terms of his rearing Sabriel, and honestly, he was pretty deadbeat when it came to raising Lirael. However, for a man who’d been the only Abhorsen left during a tumultuous time, I think he tried his best to do right by his first heir. Sabriel did admire her father, and while he couldn’t physically make his way down to magic-less Ancelstierre, he’d occasionally send his spirit-form out in order to spend some time with his daughter. Which is a good thing, because his ass needed saving, and there was clearly only one woman who’d loved him enough to even bother looking for him.

Hans Hubermann – The Book Thief by Markus Zusack – Hans Hubermann! He and his wife were the adoptive parents of Liesl Meminger, and they were amazing. I will admit I am basing this off of the movie first, and then the audiobook of The Book Thief, but I mean, come on. How could anyone not love a father who teaches his adoptive daughter to read? And then proceeds to turn his basement to a mini-dictionary?

Maxim Maresh – A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – Here’s another father that kind of came off as standoffish and surly on first impression. Admittedly, it wasn’t until the beginning of the third book where I even changed my mind about the man. That said, he loves his family, and in his own way, he tried very hard to protect them. It was heartbreaking to see the ordeals he faced in the third book of Shades of Magic, though in a way, I was glad that it happened, if only because the Steel Prince came into action one more time.

Adam Hauptman – Moon Called by Patricia Briggs – Honestly, I could put Bran AND Adam on this list of fatherly werewolves (because honestly, Mercy was raised by the Marrok, and he is absolutely lovely as well). I went for Adam mostly because he’s got a human child, and he’s terribly fond and protective of her. The first book pretty much puts this out in the open when he goes ahead and brings down his fury on those who’d gone over to harm Jessie. His protective side shows up again in Iron Kissed in much the same extent, and you really don’t want to be on the receiving end of that anger.

Bigby Wolf – Fables: Vol. 18, Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham – Here’s another werewolf father! It’s interesting to see how Bigby changes throughout the series. At the beginning he’s pretty much the lone wolf with a powerful pull on the Fabletown community. By the time the Adversary arc comes to a close, he’s more than happy to give others the reins just so he can spend more time with his children. And honestly, with the group of kidds he has, it’s no wonder he chose to settle down! All the same, when his children get in trouble, Bigby–and his wife–is the first to spring to action in order to help save them. To a certain extent, that is, but uh, spoilers.

Mr. Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Yes, yes, of course I was going to put Mr. Bennet in here! If I was going to put his wife in the Mother’s Day TTT, I was going to have him down as well. Unlike Mrs. Bennet and her theatrics, I like Mr. Bennet for his cynicism. He does get as ridiculous as his wife, but hey, he tries. And he dotes on Lizzie, which is something.

Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – My high school life pretty much revolved around this book and how much I actually admired Atticus Finch. Of course, it also helped that the fantastic Gregory Peck had starred as Atticus in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird movie. But yes, it’s kind of easy to do so in the eyes of Scout, who pretty much venerated her father and respected his views.

Who are your favorite fictional fathers?

Literature and London Part 2: Hogwarts and Harry Potter

Technically, most of the Harry Potter stories don’t really figure into London, and even the Warner Bros. Studio (which houses many of the original scenes and prop decorations) lot isn’t located in London. But I suppose it wouldn’t be a “Literature and London” series if I called it something different every time, heh.

And I did say I was going to write about my Harry Potter experience.

Which was much easier to say than to do. At first I’d thought it would be almost impossible to do just the one post about a series that originally spanned seven books. I mean, seriously, what pictures would I have to choose? What quotes would fit each picture? And did I really need to add 30+ Quidditch-related pictures? No? Darn.

But what I will add, is this stunning depiction of the Great Hall entrance in all its glory. Because I totally got emotional just seeing them open. I’m not a sap, promise. Okay. Maybe I am. #sorrynotsorry

Seriously, I could go on and on about the series and how much of it has been a part of my life. I could go on and on about how I walked the halls pretending I was kinda sorta there, in my own way, down at Leavesden, inside the Warner Bros. lot. But at the interest of brevity, I won’t go crazy, and have limited myself to blogging about a few choice pictures.

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

It’s the first sentence quite literally heard ’round the world. And it’s the first location within the HP books that readers paid attention to. Not so much because of its perfectly normal, English quaintness, but because of the things that happen right after. Like cats reading maps and owls flying by day and a cloaked man putting out the lights with a cigarette lighter in the middle of the night.

It didn’t come….he kept on running…he opened his eyes.

A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven o’clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it. He had done it.

I hadn’t been able to visit the King’s Cross Station platforms much, even though I had walked by that way a few times to transfer lines. That said, it was still fun to walk into the HP Studio to find myself transported to Platform 9 3/4, with a full-blown train set on makeshift tracks, just waiting for people to board it. And I didn’t even have to walk through a wall!

There was a loud “Oooooooh!”

The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.

I had originally selected a different picture, one of a much larger model of the Hogwarts grounds. Unfortunately, WordPress didn’t seem to like showing it because it’s one of those weird panorama photos, so I had to make do with a miniature model of what set designers pictured Hogwarts would look like. Still, it’s rather impressive. And if you were standing before a much larger model of the castle, you’d be severely knocked out with awe.

“You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking…I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death…”

Confession: While I probably would have excelled in Arithmancy (because math-ish magic? Yespls!), my passion would have probably been Potions class. And not because I think about using it for evil or anything…um. Let’s hide any evidence I try to poison people through my concoctions…*buries the Dark Mark cookies under pillows and stuff*

Honestly, though, the Potions class boasted an excellent ambiance and well-stocked equipment. I wish I had the kind of budget for my future science classroom, but alas.

“The Chasers throw the Quaffle and put it through the hoops to score,” Harry recited. “So–that’s sort of like basketball on broomsticks with six hoops, isn’t it?”

“What’s basketball?” said Wood curiously.

Quidditch! Anything that can let you fly on broomsticks is a fun game to me. And yes, I do have a position I prefer to play, which is kind of fitting, considering I’d probably end up being one of the more violent ones on the field. Unintentionally, of course. I mean, as a Ravenclaw I’d be sort of expected to be able to approximate the trajectory with which to send a bludger careening down the opponent’s head, right? Right? Okay. That joke was made in poor taste. #sorrynotsorry

THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE.

This was quite honestly one of my favorite props there. Apparently the door–which opens up into the Chamber of Secrets–is made out of several snakes that actually do move through a series of mechanisms.

With a yell, he rolled back onto the pavement, just in time. A second later, a gigantic pair of wheels and headlights screeched to a halt exactly where Harry had just been lying. They belonged, as Harry saw when he raised his head, to a triple-decker, violently purple bus, which had appeared out of thin air. Gold lettering over the windshield spelled The Knight Bus.

Also another of my favorite descriptions of things Harry Potter related. This one happens to operate in London in the books, and for the longest time, I actually did think that buses in London were triple-deckers. Of course, I eventually realized that normal buses were only two decks, not three. And none of the official transport was purple, either. How unfortunate!

“What we need,” said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, “is more time.”

“But–” Hermione began. And then her eyes became very round. “OH!”

It takes a very trusting teacher to give a 13-year-old that much hold on time. Hell, I barely trust my 12- and 13-year-olds to do anything right when given that much responsibility. I mean, you’d think that after two years people would get the idea that Hermione broke almost as many rules as Harry and Ron did during their time at Hogwarts. That said, wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff was interesting at best.

The lid creaked slowly open. Dumbledore reached inside it and pulled out a large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames.

No flames in this particular cup, but then again, this one isn’t exactly the Goblet of Fire. This one happens to be the Triwizard Cup, a prize given to the player who makes it through the third task first. Of course, things don’t go exactly as anyone would expect, but things sort of pan out slowly by the end.

The walls of the Hall had all been covered in sparkling silver frost, with hundreds of garlands of mistletoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling. The House tables had vanished instead, there were about a hundred smaller, lantern-lit ones, each seating about a dozen people.

I always thought the Yule Ball was much better done through visuals than description. It was cool to see how the Great Hall was decorated, and how it had changed once the music went from a classical style to The Weird Sisters. Also, the food and drink must have been grand!

And that’s where I’ll stop. I had hoped to have seen a couple other places like the Department of Mysteries and maybe even Xenophilius Lovegood’s house, but I suppose there’s room for them to add to their exhibits later on. When I went, the Forbidden Forest had just opened up, which was cool to see. The Ministry of Magic also had a few highlighted areas, but again, not enough in my book. I would have loved to have seen more.

That said, I did end up walking out of Hogwarts and back into London with a spring in my step and a sweater to tout off my Ravenclaw pride.

For the first Literature and London post, please click here.

Coming up in the last Literature and London post: Odds and ends and a bit of Shakespeare.

Mini Reviews: Snow White, Camelot

Oh, blog. I know I have neglected you. Come to think of it, I’ve been neglecting many things lately. In lieu of the end of the year shenanigans, I’ve been generally swamped with grading, exam writing, teaching, and more grading. I’m behind on my Goodreads goal, I’ve not written a blog post since the end of May, and I’ve completely dropped off the face of the editing and short story writing circuit.

Buuuut…

I needed to get out of this slump/hiatus. And it’s ALMOST the end of the school year. And I have a ton of catching up blogging-wise, so hang onto your, uh, figurative hats, yeah?

Anyway, got a few blog posts I need to write for the next few weeks, I just need the actual time to write it now!

So first, a couple of graphic novel reviews. I went back to reading some Fables goodness because it was high time I finish reading this series once and for all. My goal this year is to at least finish a couple of completed series, novels and graphic novels included!

** Note: These two graphic novels are Volumes 19 and 20 of the Fables series by Bill Willingham, so while I do attempt not to spoil the story so far, there is a bit of a jump.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?