Trappings of the Night Court || A Court of Mist and Fury Review

Initial Thoughts: 

I hereby apologize to all you Rhysand believers. I love him now. I didn’t think I ever would even if he IS sex on a stick…but I love him now. So terribly deeply. And I love Feyre’s entire growth as a character. And I absolutely loved the progression of the story and the character arcs.

And Velaris, the City of Starlight? Um, CAN I GO TO THERE?!

Yeah. You win, Maas. You win.


A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury, May 2016
NA fantasy, romance
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

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 torn apart.

In Which Mari Eats Her Hat

I will start this review by saying that initially, I had had no plans to continue this series in the nearby future. It’s not that I’m highly against Sarah J. Maas–I loved Throne of Glass and will likely love Crown of Midnight as well–but from the last time my friend Meg and I discussed A Court of Thrones and Roses as part of our podcast, we were both pretty “meh” about it.

  • I found Feyre to be silly.
  • I didn’t particularly like Rhysand (because he was most definitely a prick).
  • The worldbuilding and plot took a secondary role to the romance.
  • I thought the romance was a wee bit awkward (as were the sex scenes).
  • Aside from the pretty riveting last 100 or so pages at the end, the only character I simply adored was Nesta and her sass.

But after some soul-searching (or, you know, the fact that I have to read this book for the Fableulous Retellings Podcast) and sighing of reluctance, I finally started to read it. After the first sex scene appeared 21 pages in, I didn’t have much hope that the book would pick up. (My friend said it did, and it was her assurance that spurred me on!)

Two days and 600 pages later, I started eating my hat. Because everything I’d objected to in ACOTAR got utterly fixed in ACOMAF and holy hell, when things got fixed, they got SO GOOD SO FAST, and I absolutely adored this book.

Feyre isn’t silly at all anymore. Feyre went a long way as far as her character development went. At the beginning of ACOMAF, she is a broken woman, traumatized by what she had to go through with Aramantha and the goings-on of Under the Mountain. It was a grueling experience in ACOTAR, and it shows by how different Feyre is at the beginning of this second book.

I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.

I was a survivor, and I was strong.

I would not be weak, or helpless again. I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.

And yet she riled up and became a powerhouse. Yes, she still has nightmares, and yes, it’s still going to take some time for her to heal from her traumas, but at the end of the day, she knows who she is and what she wants. And if she wants to be a High Lady to the Lord of Night, and if she wants to spend her days in the City of Starlight, who am I to begrudge her that dream of the future?

Rhysand is my sex on a stick TDH and I love him to pieces. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. How does that even happen.

The only evidence I had at all that Rhys remained on the premises were the blank copies of the alphabet, along with several sentences I was to write every day, swapping out words, each one more obnoxious than the last:

Rhysand is the most handsome High Lord.

Rhysand is the most delightful High Lord.

Rhysand is the most cunning High Lord.

Oh, right. It’s because Rhysand is a beautiful, sassy, tortured High Lord, and he is a fucking romantic. Like, who knew from his prickish ways from ACOTAR, right? But turns out he isn’t the villain he set out to be, and just like Feyre, he made a great deal of traumatic sacrifices Under the Mountain. One of the biggest things I loved about him was his loyalty to his people, to Velaris, and–of course–to Feyre.

“Delicious,” he purred.

My brows now knotted. I read the next two words, then whipped my face toward him. “You look absolutely delicious today, Feyre?! That’s what you wrote?”

He also taught Feyre how to read and use her powers. COME ON HOW IS THAT NOT SEXY?!

It also helps that he’s a beautiful man…and I was totally tempted to put a more risque picture here…but I’ll settle for him fully clothed. *snickers*

Seriously, though, I loved him to pieces. And after that heartfelt confession in Chapter 54, I can see I had it all wrong. And I’m glad I read ACOMAF to set that straight.

The Night Court, holy hell, can I go to there AND the Summer Court, too?! We get a look at the rest of Prythian–and Hybern–in this book. I’ve actually liked the descriptions of the Spring Court, but Maas totally dialed up the beauty and vivid aspect of the Night Court, particularly Velaris. This city of Starlight is legit, and if I could live anywhere in Prythian, it’d definitely be in a place where the nights are the most beautiful. The glimpse we had of the Summer Court wasn’t bad, either, but nothing seems to compare to the glamour of a hidden, 5000-year-old city.

(But of course as far as plots go, you totally know what’s going to happen when a war is coming in, and there’s a hidden city in the agenda to crush…)

The romance was absolutely everything. You know what, after the first sex scenes, it literally took a good 500-something pages to finally get the full-on Rhysand-Feyre action that I’m sure everyone was waiting for in this book. The fact that it was such a slow-burn was the best thing ever. Yes, there were flirtations, yes, there was some tension, and of course the whole mate bond thing seems to remind me of the mate bonds I’ve read in urban fantasy (which, to be honest, is either something you like or hate). But honestly, I adored the whole journey that finally brought the Feysand ship together.

His words were a lethal caress as he said, “Did you enjoy the sight of me kneeling before you?”

… “Isn’t that what all you males are good for, anyway?” But the words were tight, near-breathless.

His answering smile evoked silken sheets and jasmine-scented breezes at midnight.

I mean, if I wasn’t already fanning myself with all the sexting and flirting going on, then those steamy new-adult scenes definitely made me squee-swoon (Squoon?)

“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story.”

She snorted.

“But I forgot to tell him,” I said quietly, opening the door, “that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key.”

“Oh?”

I shrugged. “He was the one who let me out.”

Ughhh. They’re way too cute for words. And the fanart for this fandom is AMAZING.

There’s also the fact that, mate-bond or no mate-bond, it’s clear Rhysand puts Feyre’s happiness above his own. He doesn’t force her to do anything, and always pushes and challenges her to surpass expectations. If you compare that to the possessiveness that Tamlin displayed in ACOTAR and the growing obsession of keeping Feyre safe from his enemies in ACOMAF, Rhysand is pretty much doing everything right to get the girl, including letting her decide whether to put herself in danger for his beloved City of Starlight.

He wiped away the tears on one cheek, then another. “You can either let it wreck you, let it get you killed like it nearly did with the Weaver, or you can learn to live with it.”

Sigh. Definitely shipping these two to kingdom come.

Rhysand’s Inner Circle is a barrelful of awesome. Seriously, Rhys pretty much is a misfit magnet, and that’s mostly because he’s a dreamer as well as the most powerful High Lord in all of Prythian. When I finally met Morrigan and Amren and Cassian and Azriel, I was already smitten with Rhys, and then I started being seduced into the Inner Circle madness. Cassian and Azriel are definitely fantastic Illyrians (they kind of remind me of Liraz and Hazael from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series), and Mor and Amren steal the show half the time. Hell, there were many more characters that I liked in this book, including Tarquin and Elain, and of course the fabulously fierce Nesta.

And the plot thickens. But I won’t get into what happens, only that things definitely heat up–and not in a sexy way–by the end. And yes, so it might take me a while to read the next book in the series, but I’m definitely not going to dismiss it outright like I’d done after ACOTAR.

5 out of 5 cookies! Sigh. SUCH a good book.


Did you read this book? What did you think?

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Operation Bring Back Magic || Children of Blood and Bone Review

Initial Thoughts: 

OMG I AM CRYING WHAT THE FRELL HAS THIS BOOK DONE TO ME. I AM NOW AN EMOTIONAL WRECK AND WHY ISN’T THE NEXT BOOK OUT WHY.

This is fantasy at its finest. Actually, the last bit in the book reminded me of Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce because both books clearly touched upon real-world issues and influences and put these issues in mothereffing FANTASY and it was. SO. GOOD.

Needless to say, it’s taken me ages to get from start to finish, but that’s what made the journey a million times worthwhile.


CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

Tomi Adeyemi
Henry Holt Books, March 2018
YA fantasy
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Listen. LISTEN. There’s only been a handful of audiobooks I’ve listened to that I then had the need to read a hard copy of, and seriously, that list only amounts to two so far. One was A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and the other is Children of Blood and Bone. Now, this could very well just mean “oh hey, I really shouldn’t listen to fantasy at all, because knowing me, I’m gonna want a copy of the book anyway,” and yeah, this is very true. There’s a reason I don’t normally listen to fantasy on audio.

But this book. I urge you to listen to it. I urge you to read it. Seriously, from the beginning of the very first page, I had chills as I listened to the audiobook. And then I had chills again when I read the page myself. And then I had chills thinking about both altogether.

I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree.

I think about the king who took her away.

And there’s every reason to squee, because as a reader, I savored the book as slowly as I could, entrenching myself in a world where magic is on the verge of coming back. And as a writer, I had to keep getting snapshots of my favorite lines because holy hell, the words fell so elegantly on the page that I had to admire Adeyemi’s word choice.

I fucking loved this book. So much. I don’t care what anyone else says.

But let’s pretend that I didn’t already love the book on page 1. Let’s play a game of:

If I Didn’t Already Love The Book…

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for its diversity. It’s a book inspired by Yoruba culture and West African mythology. It is an African world that touches on heavy themes like colorism (because it’s clear in the book that the lighter-skinned nobles and kosidan are treated better than the darker-skinned diviners). It is a world that touches on deep-rooted prejudism for “the Other” that every single time the word “maggot” is mentioned, you can’t help but flinch because of how much that word is drenched in puddles of hate. It is a world where women are once again marginalized by society, but it is also a world where many of the women are not at all defenseless (Kaea, Mama Agba, Amari, Zelie, Zu, Folake, the diviners and kosidan in Mama Agba’s care just to name “a few”). And hot damn it felt good to see so many of them rise up and fight.

I nod, remembering Father’s rants from long before the Raid. The Britaunis. The Porltoganes. The Spani Empire–all civilizations destroyed because those who had magic craved power, and those in charge didn’t do enough to stop them.

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the worldbuilding and rich history. There are maji clans listed in the beginning of the book. There are places I would love to visit, including the temple at Chandomble. There’s even mention of worlds that had succumbed to the dangers of magic, which gave rise to a fear and hatred against it. I loved that the world got fleshed out, and if that meant a lot more exposition happened in certain parts, then so be it!

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for its very non-subtle Avatar: The Last Airbender parallels. It is no secret that Adeyemi pulled inspiration from places like AtLA and Ember in the Ashes (which I saw with glee when the actual term, “ember in the ashes” got used in the book at least once). She’s said so in interviews herself. I mean, Inan is definitely an African Zuko, complete with amber eyes, uncanny competence in finding the Avata–erm, the ONE diviner, and a shitton of daddy issues. Okay, so Inan isn’t scarred physically, but he does gain a bit of an interesting physical feature, has a tendency to hate himself, was on his way to a really good redemption arc throughout the book, but somehow manages to eff that up like Season 2 Zuko.

Yeah, pretty sure if I had to peg Inan somewhere in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, he’d be season 2 Zuko. Without the influence of an awesome Uncle Iroh–which TOTALLY made all the difference.

If that itself wasn’t already a dead giveaway of Blood and Bone’s AtLA-ness, how about the random mentions of Zelie–whose power over the dead can be greatly enhanced by bloodbending–and her affinity to water?

“You seem at home in the water,” I say. “I’m surprised you’re not a Tider.”

“Maybe in another life.”

Zelie smells like the ocean. There’s a whiff of saltwater and sea whenever Mr. Dreamie McDreamer thinks about her silver eyes and white hair. And like…COULD THIS SHIP BE ANY MORE CUTE THOUGH?

“What were you thinking?” I ask.

“You were in danger,” he answers. “I wasn’t.”

He reaches down and grazes a cut on my chin. A strange flutter travels through me at his touch. Any possible response jumbles in my throat. I don’t know what to say to that.

And maybe, just maybe in another life, my ship actually, truly happens, too. Or, you know, there’s always fanfic!

…ZUTARA FTW #sorrynotsorry #fightme

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the perfect composition of sentences. Some sentences were like music to my ears. I had to repeat reading them because they were so well-placed. I don’t know how long Adeyemi stared at the computer for as she typed her book up, but if it were me, I’d still be racking my head around how to sort my sentences out. She just makes word choice look effortless.

But for all my plotting and maneuvering, it’s obvious the girl isn’t here. Though there’s no shortage of glaring diviners, her silver gaze is not among them.

I release the throwing knife as something I can’t place deflates in my chest. It sinks like disappointment.

It breathes like relief.

I just…sigh.

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the fire in Zelie and the lionaire in Amari. I will admit Amari wasn’t as interesting to me up until she’d started to show her competence with a sword. But she is a lionaire by the end of the book, and I was rooting for her to get shit done and shank a few people (which she does, so YASQUEEN to that!). Zelie was always my favorite, though. She is your feisty protagonist with a responsibility like no other. I cannot wait for what happens next, and if it means going back into Orisha with Zelie and Amari in tow, I wouldn’t mind it one bit.

“You clutch it the way a child clutches a blanket,” Zelie releases a heavy sigh. “You fight for a man who will always hate you just because of what you are.”

You tell him, Zelie. You tell him.

5 out of 5 cookies! Seriously, you guys. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Sass and Sword and Sorcery || Rat Queens Review

Initial Thoughts:

HOW have I not read this series until now?! This is pretty much sassy sexy females romping around a fantasy world slaying orcs and partying when the deed is done! With more plot, of course, but COME ON. Sassy. Sexy. Females.


RAT QUEENS, VOL. 1 AND 2

Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch (illustrator), Stjepan Sejic (illustrator)
Image Comics, March 2014
Adult fantasy, comics
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

Who are the Rat Queens?

They’re a pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire and they’re in the business of killing all the god’s creatures for profit. Meet Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.

This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent, monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

So I pretty much devoured the first two volumes of this series and realized I couldn’t really review the first one without reviewing the other. For one, the first volume was this super-quick introduction to the world and the chaos that is the Rat Queens. The Rat Queens definitely brook no apologies for their penchant towards booze, drugs, and foul language, and if this was an ’80s band, they’d certainly be quickly assimilated into the world of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. Which makes them badass in a high fantasy world, and I love each one of them for it.

But seriously, Hannah steals the show every time.

Not exactly the “leader” of the Rat Queens (I don’t think there’s a definitive one between Dee, Hannah, and Violet, to be honest), Hannah is the elven mage who’s got some uncanny affinity towards necromancy and the black arts. She’s the crudest as far as language goes, and a lot of her story in the first two volumes definitely gets more fleshed out (heh, “fleshed out” hehe…I’m immature) than the others. Not saying that the other three don’t get their limelight–they actually do!

But still. Hannah killed me every time.

Also, I totally ship those two. But I mean…Sawyer is kind of delish, not gonna lie.

This booze-soaked second volume of RAT QUEENS reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far.

But anyway, the first volume really just lays in the groundwork of the series. The Rat Queens are a sordid lot, and for the most part chaos ensues when they’re around. This makes them an unwelcome presence in the kingdom of Palisade, a thorn on the mayor’s side, and a headache to Sawyer, captain of the guard and former assassin. In the end, though, they eventually save the day, gain the town’s praise, and host a super psychedelic party!

By volume 2, though, the tentacle monster attacks, and shit starts to get crazy. And no, not in that hentai way (though we do see some nudity on both sides of the river). The second volume picks up the story, and I actually loved it more than the first because the volume deals with a lot of character backstories. I loved Violet and Hannah’s arcs, and Dee gets to do some major butt-kicking against the forces of darkness and the far-reaching tentacles of N’rygoth. Of course, don’t forget Betty, whose mushroom-loving bubbly personality brings light to an otherwise dysfunctional group.

Because of course Betty would.

Seriously, though, my review can’t really do justice with these first two volumes. I’d just urge anyone who likes fantasy and fierce females to read it and experience the series for themselves.

Okay, I’ll stop with the Hannah pics already!

5 out of 5 cookies for both Vol. 1 and 2!

Have you read this series? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Mary Poppins, Dreaming Anastasia

I’m beginning to really like doing these mini-reviews. Though am thinking about reformatting the images that come along with the minis. Maybe when I find myself with time in my hands, I suppose!

I never actually read any of the Mary Poppins books when I was a kid, so I was weened off of the Disney movie that the author deplored. That said, I mean, it takes a special kind of person to dislike the casting of Dame Julie Andrews…buuuut I can see where she was going with things, I suppose. (I still love Julie Andrews so whatever.)

Dreaming Anastasia was something that landed on my lap for Fableulous Retellings so this was definitely something I needed to read. I mean, I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I do love Anastasia and the Baba Yaga folk tales, so I thought this would have been a classic love-hate relationship? It totally was.

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

Long Tails and Ears for Hats || Josie and the Pussycats Review

Initial Thoughts: 

This brings me back to a lot of the pop culture I grew up with, and now I’ve got the theme tune stuck in my head and it will not go away. The artwork is fantastic! I loved the numerous pop culture references, puns, and fourth wall breakage (it reminded me of the irreverence and parodic style of Ouran High School Host Club), but it did have the tendency to get out of hand. If things pick up in plot in later issues, it would be even awesomer!


JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS, VOL. 1

by Marguerite Bennett, Cameron DeOrdio, and Audrey Mok (illustrator)
Archie Comic Publications, June 2017
Graphic novel
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies

Friends, countrymen, lend me your long tails and ears for hats–the Pussycats are back! In this series kick-off, Josie’s getting the band together to help achieve her dreams of musical stardom. But for the group to last, it needs a strong foundation of friendship and trust. Can the girls get going, or will Alexandra Cabot’s plotting put a stop to the whole thing? Don’t miss comics’ supreme songstresses’ return to the limelight in this exciting first volume!

I will let you know right now that this review is completely biased. I grew up reading old Archie comics and watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons on Saturday mornings. When the live-action movie came out in 2001, I watched the heck out of that, too. (I am unashamed to say I enjoyed the movie, and it wasn’t just because the music–sung by Letters to Cleo vocalist Kay Hanley–was toe-tapping addicting!)

I still have my meager collection of the comics! I…am somewhat surprised these are still in decent condition…

So yeah. I’m biased when it comes to Josie and the Pussycats. And when I found this volume at the library, I eagerly read it and quietly fangirled at the fact that the sassy cat-band got makeovers–and mostly for the better!

Josie and the Pussycats is a rebooted take on the 1960s comic and this first volume pretty much covers the origin story of the band. It focuses–obviously–on Josie, Valerie, and Melody, three young ladies who come together to make sweet, sweet music. The volume also brings in familiar characters from the original set, including the Cabot siblings and of course Alan M.

What I loved about this reboot was the fact that the three girls had a bit more depth to them, and Melody’s entire “dumb blonde” persona gets replaced with a geeky, though still-bubbly nerd, and honestly, she’s cute as a button this way. Josie herself isn’t the perfect band leader, either, and it’s her faults–and amusing quips that got me to like her. And honestly, I’ve always liked Val, so there’s that.

The volume was certainly energetic, fun, and amusing to read. It paid homage to the original as well as added in some fourth wall breakage, puns up the wazoo, and pop culture references that made me giggle because I knew them all (some of them were from the ’90s okay?! Definitely one of the best decades ever). It’s definitely something light to read, and if you were looking for some deep insight into life, the universe, and everything, Josie and the Pussycats is definitely not the right direction to go to. Frankly, that’s probably why I loved this volume; it didn’t take itself seriously, and I was in the mood for that.

4 out of 5 cookies! Also, now I’ve got the 2001 movie’s songs stuck in my head. #noshame


Have you read this book? What did you think?