And That’s a Wrap: Jan and Feb 2021 Edition

As hard as it is to believe, we’re already two months down on 2021. Summer is over and I am so ready for Autumn to hit me up. I’ve been watching less TV over the last few months and reading more than normal, which is why I’m around 6 books ahead of where I was this time last year. Who would have thought, in order to make reading goal progress you just have to…read more? I know, I’m shocked too. Now, before you scroll down and see for yourself, let’s just get it out of the way early: yes, there’s a lot of ACOTAR going on in this wrap up.

In January I read a total of 9 books. *blinks* I’m still confused as to how I did this, especially since several of them were pretty chunky.

The Duke and I (Bridgertons 1#) – Julia Quinn ★★ | Review

As you can already tell, I liked the adaptation better than the book here. I didn’t mind the first half. Sure, there’s A LOT of dialogue and we’re reminded that Daphne knows about men because of her brothers 50 million times, but the banter is good and the friends to lovers shift is nice. The second half, however, is.. icky. Simon telling Daphne that he “owns” her, NO. Daphne taking advantage of drunken Simon to get pregnant against his wishes, MILLION TIMES NO. Also my god, the last couple of pages are so sappy I was inwardly cringing. Not what I was hoping for.

The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager ★★★★

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The story revolves around the reopening of a summer camp that three girls went missing at 15 years before. The camp setting was a great choice and provided some quality, creepy atmosphere and tension. I really liked the way the book utilised past and present timelines and how these wove together. The idea of an unreliable narrator was good but I do think it could have been used to better effect. There are parts of the climax that feel unbelievable and lazy, although the epilogue is great. I only wish that the reveals presented in it had been integrated into the main story rather than just the last couple of pages. I’ll definitely be checking out Sager’s other books.

The Burning God (The Poppy War 3#) – R. F. Kuang ★★★★.5

This series is officially one of my favourites. I finished TBG and stared at the wall for ten minutes trying to process the emotional roller-coaster of it all. There were a couple of plot threads I wish had been handled more satisfyingly or with greater purpose (e.g. The Trifecta) but overall, this was great and I wasn’t disappointed. The writing and world building is still fantastic, and I continue to remain in awe over how complex Kuang’s characters, relationships and plotlines are. Nothing is ever easy or what it seems, characters always exist in shades of grey, and despite what the victors lead you to believe, there are no true winners in war. The Burning God is grim, compelling, bloody, and memorable right til the end.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR 1#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★

This is the third time I’ve read this book and my thoughts haven’t changed much. It’s still a solid three star read for me – enjoyable but nothing mind-blowing. I think that’s mainly because most of the action doesn’t start until well into the book, many of my favourite characters aren’t introduced until book two and Feyre as a lead is on the boring side until later.

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR 2#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★★.5 | Review

ACOMAF is my favourite of the original series, but I think that’s the general consensus. I still loved it but while my original review was 5 stars, on re-read I’m knocking it down to 4.5. The second time around I definitely felt the length of the book. As much as I adore the slow-burn of Feyre and Rhys, overall it’s a bit slow at times and probably could have been cut down somewhat. Also, the storyline outside the romance could be better handled and I still agree with myself that the climax is rushed and kind of convenient.

A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR 3#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★.5 | Review

ACOWAR was also noticeably less enjoyable on re-read. Not hugely so, but enough to push it down from 4 stars to 3.5. I still had fun and love the characters but a couple of things impacted the enjoyment factor. First, the constant uses of ‘mate’, ‘female’ and ‘male’ bugged me more this time and were pretty uncomfortable. Second, there’s a few too many Feysand sex scenes. I love a bit of steam but there comes a point where it becomes repetitive and boring. Third, having just binge-read the previous two books, I found that the 700 page run dragged a lot more this time. And lastly, there are some major plot conveniences, especially when it comes to the death count of characters we know the names of.

From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash 1#) – Jennifer L. Armentrout ★★.5 | Review

Blame Goodreads. The hype made me do it. While it may not have lived up to it, I had an alright time just the same. This book is a trope mine-field and very predictable because of it. The pacing is messy at times and the world building is questionable, too. There’s also a couple of noticeable and repetitive issues with the writing itself. Regardless, it’s a pretty addictive read with decent characters and an engaging enough romance. Not the best fantasy-romance I’ve read by a long shot, but fun enough for me to want to read the sequel.

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash 2#) – Jennifer L. Armentrout ★.5 | Review

I’d heard that the sequel was better than the first book. Um, no. Definitely, no. My main issue with AKoFaF was the lack of plot. Almost nothing happens and for a 600+ page book, that’s saying a lot. The Poppy-Hawke angst was really frustrating and repetitive, and I will never understand why JLA decided that the fake dating trope route was the way to go. This felt a lot more romance based than book one and the vampire aspect was definitely played up more too (which I did like). I’m kind of annoyed because I wasn’t planning on reading the next book but then I got to the last few chapters and they were actually interesting so now…ugh. I think I’m in for more suffering.

If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio ★★★★★

To my surprise, I loved this book! There are a lot of similarities to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History but as blasphemous as it sounds, I liked this slightly more. The story follows a group of Shakespeare players/friends who slowly implode after they let one of their number die. Watching the lies, secrets and guilt slowly tear everything apart was enthralling and I was hooked. I love how Shakespeare’s plays were incorporated into the story (life imitates art) and the way the book was structured like a Shakespearean tragedy. The characters are designed to feel like stereotypes but Rio tries to get underneath the surface to explore their strengths, insecurities, and relationships. James and Oliver’s bond in particular was so good and their scenes were magnetic. Honestly, I’m shocked this was a debut and I’m positive I’ll re-read it in the future.


February was closer to my usual reading pace, still slightly ahead of normal though, and included two of my most anticipated 2021 releases. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with as many high rated books as I did in January (then again, part of January was taken up by re-reads) and I finished up on 6 books.

Lore – Alexandra Bracken ★★★

I really thought I’d love this book considering it was pitched as The Hunger Games meets Percy Jackson but, in the end, I couldn’t get past a 3 star rating. I really liked the use of Greek mythology and world building (the NYC setting gave me serious Mortal Instruments vibes) but I found myself disinterested in the plot and characters for large stretches. My engagement picked up after the halfway mark but not as much as I wanted it to. One of the other problems I had was that the main villain of the story felt very flat in that there was barely anything to him aside from wanting power for power’s sake, which is super boring. Still, a fairly well-done YA urban fantasy.

The Project – Courtney Summers ★★★.5 | Review

I’d been really looking forward to reading The Project ever since it was announced because I loved Sadie. While this didn’t reach the highs of Sadie in terms of emotional intensity and immersion for me, I still enjoyed it. Well, as much as you can “enjoy” a book about a cult with such dark themes and content. It’s a slow read which takes time to really showcase what it’s trying to say but it’s also very clever, subtle and insidious in how it goes about it. I like that Summers isn’t afraid to use typically unlikeable heroines and that the heart of the book was another complex sisterly relationship. The ending may have let me down in some ways but overall, a strong and emotionally grounded story.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne ★★★★.5

I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this. It follows the life of an adopted, gay man named Cyril living in Ireland in the decades before homosexuality became legalised. The writing in this is so darn good! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that’s managed to blend comedy and tragedy together as well as this book does. The dialogue is perfection – it’s so quick-witted and flows beautifully. It’s a quirky read and feels a little absurdist at times with the events that occur and coincidences that pop up, but it works. I only wish that I’d gotten to know certain characters better to properly feel the emotional moments surrounding them. I’ve already added two of Boyne’s other books to my to-read shelf.

A Court of Frost and Starlight (ACOTAR 3.1#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★ | Review

Like the other ACOTAR books, ACOFAS has also gone down rating wise on re-read. I like that the novella tries to show the impact of the war, but it does feel a lot like fan-fiction-ish fluff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and as a lover of these characters it’s fun seeing them get drunk, have snowball fights and hang out. However, there’s a lot of shopping, talking about gifts for solstice and SO MUCH Feysand acting like sex-crazed teens for such a short read. Can you not for just two seconds? Feyre’s sections also felt more tedious this time through. I do appreciate the way it sets up Cassian and Nesta’s story in ACOSF though.

A Court of Silver Flames (ACOTAR 4#) – Sarah J. Maas ★★★.5 | Review to Come

What a ride. There were certain parts of ACOSF that I really liked and others that were a let down or just frustrating. In the good column was Nesta’s journey. I would have liked a teensy bit more gradual mental/emotional development to go with the physical, but overall I was really happy. Also in that category was the friendship element which I adored. Super sweet and so much female empowerment. In the ‘not so good’ column was the human queen/magician/Eris plot, which I honestly did not care about except for cool magical objects, and the over reliance on sex scenes to build the Cassian-Nesta relationship. Finally, in the GTFO column, we have the Feysand storyline. Like, why? Why are you trying to steal my babies’ limelight? And Rhys, you’re massively on my shit list after this book.

Piranesi – Susanna Clarke ★★.5

This is one of those ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ experiences. For the first 70 pages or so I was bored, confused and considered DNF. Yet, I decided to stick it out to page 100 and shortly after that it started to grow on me. There were definitely stretches of this that I enjoyed but l feel in the end that I wanted so much more from it. Viewed broadly, I like the basic concepts of Piranesi‘s tale (a labyrinth classical mansion in another universe, scholars with crazy theories, an unreliable narrator who has to unravel a mystery of sorts, etc.) but I feel like it either should have been shorter, to cut down the empty beginning, or longer to properly develop the background events, characters, and dramatic reveals. On the whole, different, weird, and something I see other people really liking but not for me.


So, I actually bought a couple more books over the last two months but since I managed to read them during this period as well, I’d rather not list them here again and double up. Besides, it makes me feel better about how much money I spent. Living in a state of denial works for me, thank you very much. A few very different types of books here and I’m looking forward to each of them. I’m so excited I got approved for an ARC of She Who Became the Sun. It’s due out in July which makes me want to hold off on reading it for a while but that may be difficult as it’s being promoted as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles which, as you can imagine, makes me do love heart eyes.


Just in case you missed them, other than my book reviews which are linked above, here are the posts I published over the last two months:


Not much to report so far. Lately I’ve been trying to get some online courses done which relate to qualifications I need to stay in my job. It’s been pretty time consuming and painful, and motivation is low. This month I also started posting the occasional photo to my bookstagram again. The effect my long absence has had on how the algorithm shows my posts to people now compared to how it did a year ago has been disheartening and frustrating but I guess the only thing to do is keep at it, I guess.

On the social side, I finally got to see one of my closest friends recently after not having seen her in over a year. I’m sure you can all relate to this – the struggles of Covid-19. We’re extremely lucky that we live in Australia where our government has managed the virus so well but border restrictions and closures since things first started have made it very hard to see people in different states. My friend and I had a good catch up and went to see Frozen The Musical which was a lot of fun but definitely an experience in having so few people in the audience.


I hope 2021 is treating you all well so far and that good things are in store for March. Let me know what your favourite reads from the last two months were and what you’re most looking forward to next month!

Book Tag: R.I.P it or Ship It

I recently stumbled across this fun, silly, little tag thanks to Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. After a little digging, it turns out we can attribute the original tag (it’s a little old now) to booktuber, Emma at Emmmabooks. The basic premise is simple: write down a bunch of character names on bits of paper, mix them up and then draw two at a time. You then have to decide whether the two characters you draw would work in a relationship or not. In other words, do you ship it or is this r/shp dead on arrival and should just R.I.P.? I’ve noticed that a few people, including Emma, separated their characters into male and female jars but in going for a more inclusive and diverse approach, I just threw all of mine in together and pretended everyone was bisexual. We’re also ignoring any potential character deaths here, too. Additionally, I did try to keep to popular characters that a lot of people would know.

Match Up 1: Percy Jackson (PJO) x Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy)

It sounds super weird but I feel like maybe these two could potentially have a thing. BUT that thing would clearly be super bad for the rest of the world. Both Rose and Percy have a habit of rushing into things without thinking and their canon partners are perfect because they ground them. If these two were together it’d be like, Person A: I have this idea (a terrible, crazy idea) Person B: That’s a GREAT idea, let’s do it! Sooo….they probably shouldn’t date because they’d get each other killed and probably a bunch of other people in the process.

Verdict: RIP – for the sake of them and the world

Match Up 2: Blue Sargent x Richard Gansey III (The Raven Cycle)

I swear I didn’t do this on purpose. 100% chance occurance.

Verdict: It’s canon – why fight the flow? Ship

Match Up 3: Inej Ghafa (Six of Crows) x Holland Vosijk (A Darker Shade of Magic)

This seemed like a really weird combo at first but then I started to think that it might actually work. Inej seems to have a thing for broken boys with troubled pasts and clever, plotty minds which actually does fit Holland pretty well. Inej would also probably be a good influence on Holland, and maybe help him see more of the bright side to life. They’ve both been through some crap times so perhaps they could help each other through it.

Verdict: Ship

Match Up 4: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) x Nova Artino (Renegades)

Yeah, I don’t see this one working very well, mostly because they’re too similar in a lot of ways. Tough, troubled pasts, snarky, carry the weight of the world on their shoulders… However, I do think that after some headbutting they’d grow to really respect each other and might even become friends.

Verdict: RIP

Match Up 5: Maven Calore (Red Queen) x Amren (ACOTAR)

Oh. Good. Lord. What in the world? My sister thinks that Amren might actually be good for Maven but I have a sneaking suspicion that Amren would simply not be able to handle all of Maven’s drama. She’d be like: I am ancient and a badass, I will not put up with this bullshit. I mean, at least Maven would be able to keep Amren in pretty gems. Still, the idea of this is just hilarious.

Verdict: RIP

Match Up 6: Isabelle Lightwood (Shadowhunter Novels) x Peter Kavinsky (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before)

Isabelle is not at all like Lara Jean, Peter’s actual love interest, but at the same time I think Isabelle has a lot of the traits that attracted Peter to his ex, Gen, without all the bitchy parts. I think they’d have some nice deep and meaningful talks which both seems to need in their r/shps. On the flip side, Isabelle’s taste in Simon shows that she likes softer boys with sweet hearts and Peter can definitely be that guy for her, provided he can avoid being intimidated.

Verdict: Ship

Match Up 7: Nesta Archeron (ACOTAR) x Magnus Bane (Shadowhunter Novels)

BAHAHAHAHAHA. Could you even imagine? Someone turn this into a reality show, it’d be gold.

Verdict: If pigs flew and hell froze over.

Match Up 8: Harry Potter (HP) x Cress Darnel (The Lunar Chronicles)

This is a bit of an odd one. Harry’s another one of those rash heroes who jumps into things without thinking which is why he needs people around him, and a partner, who reign him in a little. I think Cress might remind Harry slightly of Luna which doesn’t really seem like his type. With Cress, on the other hand, Harry may not have Thorne’s sense of bravado but he does have a bit of sass and the hero thing down. He’s not bad looking either so maybe Cress will be into it? Overall, I think this one might be a friendship only.

Verdict: RIP

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And…I think that’s enough crazy-ness for now. It’s so weird trying to match up characters from other fandoms. I find that I’m constantly comparing them to the characters’ actual romantic interests and seeing if there’s an overlap but I guess it’s always hard to know. You just can’t account for chemistry.

Do you guys agree with me on these ships? And do you have any weird cross-fandom pairings that you secretly ship?

Top 10 Tuesday: Books with my Favourite Colour on the Cover (Or in the Title)

This week’s TTT topic (via Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl ) is an extremely serious one. Expect to get some serious insight into my soul and find a base for some intense comment discussion.

Just messing with you. This week we’re looking at books which involve my favourite colour either on the cover or in the title.
My two favourite colours are orange and red, but since a lot of orange shades on books end up being more like Effie’s hair than a sunset shade (thanks, Peeta Mellark) I’m going to go with red for this list. The colour of passion, red velvet cake, bold lipstick, theatre curtains, the occasional murder scene…Okay, too far. Because twelve is so much easier to put into neat little rows, I’ve done twelve red books instead of ten.

Red Books

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  • A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab) – I really love these covers and the US versions are great as well. The white, red and black scheme is really striking. Plus, extra points because Kell is from “Red London”.
  • American Gods (Neil Gaiman) – A big, red book. I quite like the silver accents too.
  • The Mime Order (Samantha Shannon) – This cover is such a bright, eye-catching red. It really stands out whenever I pull it out of my shelves.
  • Scythe (Neal Shusterman) – Just enough red and in the right places for a super awesome cover.
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli) – How could I not include this one?
  • Red Rising (Pierce Brown) – It’s so simple and yet it works so well. Red accents and the word in the title. Woo!
  • Scarlet (Marissa Meyer) – A big red cape and the title is a shade of red, winner.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas) – Couldn’t resist.
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor) – I like the UK covers of these books so much more than the US versions. I feel like the mysterious red door here perfectly captures the tone of the story.
  • Eldest (Christopher Paolini) – Badass red dragon on the cover. This definitely had to make the list.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn (Renee Ahdieh) – I adore this cover. It’s just so damn nice to look at. The red is a little different in shade from some of the other covers on this list, almost metallic, but still equally striking.
  • Vicious (V. E. Schwab) – Schwaby’s publishers really like red in their covers and for good reason, this is another great design.

What’s your favourite colour and some of your favourite book covers in that colour?

Love Ashley

Short and Sweet: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

3 stars

ACOFAS

I know this one is going to be massively popular on the review circuit and originally I’d planned not to post about it but (a) I’ve written something for every other book in the series and (b) thoughts kind of started spewing out of me right after I finished the novella so why not share them.  Here goes. Short and sweet. A bit like the novella, really.

I’ve tried to keep spoilers very minimal, but be prepared for some small details.

PLOTTING ALONG

This book can be adequately summed up as the Inner Circle does their version of Christmas with a side of emotional trauma. Most of it feels like fan service, and by that I mean it reads a lot like fan fiction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does seem somewhat fluffy and uneventful. It’s almost like those fan made conversations people post between the characters on Tumblr or Instagram except a whole book. You get to have some fun with your favourite characters as they eat, get drunk, buy & receive gifts, have snowball fights, and so on. However, I do feel like there could have been more room for substantial character drama had we sacrificed a few shopping trips (there’s a lot) or Feyre’s painting dilemmas. 

This aside, the book does dangle the smallest (bare minimum) of threads on a few future plot points. There isn’t much in the way of development on them (at all) but there’s still clear indications of their looming importance in the series to come. We might not be able to say much at this point, but there’s some definite conflict a brewin’ on the horizon. This book is merely the calm before the storm.

THE GANG

SJM’s characters really are the focus of ACOFAS – their relationships with one another, memories, and war scars (both recent and older). As usual, Feyre and Rhys take up a lot of the focus of the book and most of the chapters are written in first person flicking between the two. We occasionally get a third person perspective from other characters such as Cassian, Mor and Nesta, but our main couple remains center stage. The problem is that by this point Feysand has almost become a bit too overexposed. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still one of my favourite fictional pairings but did we really need pages and pages of them once again going on about how much they love one another? Probably not. Did we need the constant sexual innuendo (please stop. No, really) and that extended smutty scene? Nope. We get it. They love each other. Perfect together. Willing to die for one another. While some of the scenes are certainly nice, a lot of that time could have been better spent on more compelling characters with stories still to tell.

Speaking of which…

ACOFAS suggests some great character arcs to come in the new series and I’m actually now really looking forward to seeing inside some other characters’ heads. I adore Cassian, for example, and the novella has given me a strong indication that he’ll be featuring a lot more prominently from here on in. Nesta, too, will be getting a chance to shine and while I don’t much like Nesta viewed through other characters’ eyes, this book has shown me that I really enjoy reading from her third person POV. There’s just so much emotional complexity and potential there. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a Nessian shipper. Without saying too much on that point, I struggled with the believability of where that relationship was in this book after where we left it at the end of ACOWAR. Still, I know there’s good things in store after the last few pages of the novella.

Mor is short changed in this book. The woman remains a goddess and there’s clearly a big plot arc coming her way, but I do wish we’d gotten more time with her, especially after the heaviness of her early third person chapter. I’m looking forward to seeing her grow and develop, and more importantly, find acceptance in herself.

Elaine’s dilemma remains the same as before and while she’s starting to come out of her shell, I can’t help but find her a bit boring. I do want her to be happy but at the same time, more drama needs to happen soon or I’m going to lose interest entirely. She bakes and gardens. Woooo… so much fun. Have a vision already, or at least semi-deal with this maybe forming love triangle.

Ah, Tamlin. I didn’t expect you to make an appearance at all. You certainly did some very bad things mister, but I feel so, so sorry for you here. At this point, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for a damn good redemption arc, for the Lord of Spring to get his ass into gear once the shit hits the fan again. I really want him to find some happiness because these scenes just broke my heart.

WAR & CONSEQUENCES

I also have to note that I continue to be impressed with SJM’s unwillingness to skate over the emotional and physical effects of conflict and trauma. Throughout the novella we’re exposed to the damage the war has done to not only the city but the population as well. Past events aren’t simply forgotten, they carry a great deal of weight and influence a lot of what can be considered the plot of this book, whether it be Feyre picturing her sister holding a severed head or the conversation with a war widow as she recounts the depth of her grief. It’s gut wrenching but it’s real and we can’t ask for much more than that. Yet, Sarah also successfully manages to balance out the tone of the book with her usual humour.


Overall, I had a good time with this one and for what it was, it does okay. While I’ll admit that I wish certain plot points and characters had been focused on or expanded more, and there were some things that occasionally got on my nerves, I’m excited to see where the new series will go.

3 Stars

Let’s Talk: Fairies in Fiction

fey covers

When I was ten, I was captivated by the magic of The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. The fey in these stories varied in their appearance and nature, ranging from brownies and goblins to nixies and ogres, but just like in any other book about the fair folk, they were also tricksy, mysterious and of course, dangerous. As I moved into my teenage years, fairy stories soon began to lose their appeal in favour of vampires, angels, and werewolves. However, over the last few years the genre has had an epic resurgence in fantasy and, much like a lot of other people’s, my interest has returned with a similar vengeance. So, recently I started thinking about what it is exactly that’s so appealing about stories dealing with the fey these days, and here’s what I came up with:

Magic

One of the best parts of fantasy is magic and it’s something that features pretty much constantly in fey stories. It’s most common purpose is  reinforcing a hierarchy – separating the all-powerful rulers from the ruled or, more commonly, the annoying antagonist character that needs to get their butt kicked from our central characters. Magic in fey stories is also often a court identifier and shows just how rooted a fairy character’s court is in their personality. In Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series, Summer King Keenan isn’t just the ruler of the Summer Court, he literally exudes sunlight and warmth. And we wonder why fey are usually arrogant asses…

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Magic’s great at spicing up conflict situations. I mean, reading about Aelin kicking ass in the Throne of Glass books is pretty awesome but assassin abilities plus fey magic? Now you’re talkingFairy magic also acts as a great plot device in regards to coming of age or transformation stories, particularly where it’s somehow bestowed upon someone who used to be human (or at least thought they were) and now has to learn how to use it. Eventually they accept themselves, develop as a person and progress on their path towards bad-assery, as we find with Laurel in Wings and Feyre in A Court of Mist and Fury.

Truth Telling & Two-Sidedness

A fascinating component of fairy lore is the idea that the fey are incapable of lying. Yet, because of this they’re exceptionally good at telling half-truths and using the truth to manipulate situations to their advantage. Just look at the scene introducing the fairy queen in Cassandra Clare’s City of Ashes – one conversation, a little bit of honesty, and suddenly everything’s topsy-turvy in our characters’ relationships.  I love this trope because it forces you and the characters to read between the lines of what’s being said and creates the perfect circumstances for a plot twist or betrayal.

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…Or a reverse betrayal as the case is in Margaret Rogerson’s An Enchantment of Ravens.

This idea feeds into the fairy nature of being two-faced. While the fey are outwardly very beautiful and seem to delight in light-hearted things like games, music, dance and food, underneath it all there’s a compelling darkness and twisted cruelty. This provides such a great opportunity for characters to rise above all of that in order to serve as interesting protagonists. Yet, it also allows for some pretty terrible villains, acting out of a desire for power or simply their own amusement (like the asshole fairies in Black’s The Cruel Prince).

Immortality & Beauty

Okay, let’s be honest, it’s rare to find fairy based stories that don’t involve a romantic component and if there’s romance going on, you can bet that the characters involved will be damn attractive.

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And fairies are just that. They’re athletic, beautiful (often almost verging on too much so), experienced in the ways of the world, and will likely stay that way forever – that is unless someone decides to physically attack them. Essentially, there’s the attractive elements found in the vampire genre minus the creepy, well, dead issue. Listening to every human character go on and on about how amazing looking fey characters are in comparison to themselves does get a bit old but hey, a reader needs someone swoon worthy once in a while, even if they can be kind of a sucky person on occasion (e.g. Prince Cardan from The Cruel Prince, Dorian from Dark Swan, or Kiaran from The Falconer)

Courts & Conflict

Another very common feature of fey based stories these days is to follow elements of traditional fairy lore by dividing the population up into different courts. This is usually based on seasons, times of day or whether they’re feeling particularly Seelie or not (haha…okay, bad joke. I’ll see myself out.) It’s a structure used in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan books, and Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, just to name a few. And why? Because it’s a perfect driver for conflict. These courts don’t just differ in name, but also in culture, attitudes and temperament. Then again, it doesn’t help that fey kingdoms often resemble modern-era Europe in their desire for power and tendency to prey on the weak. Plus, anyone who lives as long as fairies do is bound to build up some serious grudges over the years. If it were me, I’d start screwing with people just to alleviate the mind numbing boredom of immortality…

Fairy courts also provide opportunities for alliances and political intrigue, and at times even all-out war. The fun part is watching them try to interact with one another with sometimes awful or hilarious results. See A Court of Wings and Ruin for an entertaining example. Essentially, Me:

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Are you a fan of fey related books? If so, why and what are some of your favourites?

Love Ashley

Top 10 Tuesday: My Favourite Series

Recently I stumbled upon an old video by book vlogger, Christine Riccio, in which she was talking through her top ten favourite book series. Suddenly I thought, you know what, why don’t I do that as a Top Ten Tuesday topic? (I mean, I never seem to do the set topics like I’m supposed to anyway…)

Of course, then I realised that picking my favourite series is actually ridiculously hard and involves a lot of questions of ‘would I rather read this or that’? And, ‘is it how I feel about the series now or are we going retrospective here’? Decisions, decisions… *shakes head* Anyway, so these are the ten I’ve ended up with and to my surprise there’s actually a lot of books I’ve only discovered in the last two years.

So the rules are simple:

  1. The series must consist (or will consist once they’re all released) of at least three books. That means no duologies – sorry, Six of Crows.
  2. I must have read at least two books in the series for it to count.

Sounds simple enough right?

Of course it’s not bloody simple. Being a bookworm is NEVER simple, I tell ya. But regardless, here they are, in no particular order (because having to do it like that might actually kill me):

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As if you didn’t see this coming. HP is my favourite series of all time. I could read these every year until the day I die and still not get sick of them (…probably). I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up with them but they’re still just as good as the first time. Every time I read them, I laugh, fall into the pits of sadness, and experience that strange sense of wonder that only the magic of Harry Potter can provide. These are the ultimate comfort books and one day, if I ever have kids, I’ll be cracking out my illustrated editions to hopefully instil the same love and appreciation in them.

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Ah, VA. You have such a terrible name and teenager-y covers and yet, the wonders you hold inside… I’ve read this series so many times and I love it. Love, love, LOVE it. So many vampire books from this period slowly became cliché or lost their “sparkle” as I aged (get it? I made a terrible Twilight joke) but these ones are still gold.  Rose remains one of my favourite protagonists, I adore the friendship between Rose and Lissa, there’s an adequate amount of kicking ass, and the dialogue is still hilarious. Plus, I’ll likely ship Rose & Dimitri til the day I die. In other words, it’s the perfect recipe for a great series as far as I’m concerned.

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My discovery from 2017 and I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT IT. Book three doesn’t come out until later this year but good things come to those who wait. The series has a unique, amusing and sometimes brash narrator, world building based on ancient Rome, an absolute bad-ass main character in Mia, and really interesting magical elements.  Godsgrave was the first sequel in a while that I was desperately keen to get my hands on the day and minute it came out (and I wasn’t disappointed!), and I feel like that adequately sums up my love for these books.

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Ah, Schwaby. Your novels make my little bookish heart sing. I adore the characters, world building, magic, and storytelling. Her writing is fantastic and I love it so much that I can’t wait to read them all again without having to wait in between novels.  This series has parallel universes, powerful magics, charismatic pirates, a thief, racially and sexually diverse characters, and an exciting plot in every book. Adventuring with Kell, Rhy, Lila and Alucard is where it’s at, guys.

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I fell in love with this series when I was about ten years old and it’s still one of my favourites. Sure, it has a lot of stuff I now know to be fantasy tropes but I don’t really care. Alanna is the definition of a strong female MC – willing to spend years as a boy just to become a knight. There’s a love triangle with a prince and a thief, a war,  a conniving magician after the throne, quests to far off places, magical artefacts, goddesses, and well, everything my fantasy loving heart desires. Better yet, the books are super short and perfect for reading in an afternoon when you’re stuck at home.

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Yep, I’m a cookie cutter YA fantasy fan. I ain’t ashamed  of it. You guys know all about this one, I’m sure. This series re-interested me in faerie stories. While book one was a bit average, books two and three are fantastic. The fantasy world is well developed, all of the major characters are fleshed out and loveable, there’s a strong and emotionally realistic female protagonist, and the romance is gradually built up and balanced. There’s magic (which I’m always a sucker for), battles, betrayals, many, many couples to ship, and emotional turmoil. Definite winner.

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The newest addition to this list. I actually had to make some modifications to my original draft because I knew I needed this one on here. For the first 50 or so pages of RR I was so bored but then we hit Darrow’s transformation from red to gold and I was hooked. Space battles, squabbling and politics between powerful families, revenge vendettas, a group of rebels determined to overthrow a cruel regime, friendships and betrayals, gasp worthy twists, just everything really. Impossible to put down sci-fi.

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Okay, I’ll admit, I still haven’t read the last book in this series – I WILL GET THERE! I’ve read book 3 once and I’ve read books 1 & 2 a bazillion times. Once again this is another series I now know has a lot of fantasy tropes in it but don’t care. I love it. It’s the definitive dragons in fantasy series for me. Eragon and Saphira make the perfect team and I love nothing better than following them around Alegaesia in their quests to overthrow the evil  Galbatorix. There’s also amusing dwarf sidekicks, MORE magic and an awesome warrior-elf princesses. Just don’t talk to me about that travesty of a movie.

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This series is just so much fun. It’s funny, ridiculously action packed, and has actually managed to successfully get me with multiple plot twists. I mean, a hacker with pink hair, crazy AI, zombie-like outbreak, and an interstellar war. Who could say no to that? I’m really excited to get my hands on book three in March because I know it’s bound to be awesome. I also love the variations in writing style which are so different from the things I normally read and give the books a little something extra.

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Everyone needs a guilty pleasure series and this is mine. Richelle Mead is one of my favourite authors. She writes complex, witty female characters (which Georgina is, for sure), and she’s always able to make me laugh out loud. I’ll admit that this series does have a bit of a weak point around book four but overall it’s fun, sexy and really entertaining. But then again, what else would you expect of a series about a succubus?

Bonus

This was HARD okay. I just love too many books. AHHHH!! So two more bonus series just for fun.

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This isn’t a series for everyone – there’s a lot of information to take in about the world itself but if you can get past that, it’s fab. The story evolves quite a bit over time with different elements of the world and characters being fleshed out as you go along. Paige is a solid protagonist in her balance between strong and vulnerable, there’s an interesting magic system, and a good blend between the bigger stakes of the dystopian world with the issues of the criminal underworld.

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The good old Hunger Games. What can I say about this except that it’s a fantastic dystopian YA series with good world building, a strong protagonist, and a great concept. I’ve read these through several times and they’re still exciting reads that manage to drive knives through your gut (repeatedly) whilst still managing to give you some hope for the future.

Let’s Talk:

What are some of your favourite series? Are any of these in your top 10 or are you thinking about reading them some time soon?

Love Ashley

Top 10 Tuesday: Fictional Crushes

I didn’t do last week’s TTT topic, I don’t like this week’s all that much, and so I’m going to do last week’s this week. Simple as that. As usual, I’m making up the rules as I go. I’m so good at this whole weekly meme thing…

The fictional world is just full of amazing dream boats worthy of a fantasy or two. And here are ten of my personal favourites. So make sure to grab yourself a glass of water and sit your butt down because fair warning, the swoon potential is high. Ready? Let’s go! In no particular order…

1. Dimitri Belikov (Vampire Academy)

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Ah, Dimitri – a tall Russian with badass fighting skills and the ability to work a leather duster like it’s nobody’s business. Also, I may melt a little every time he calls Rose ‘Roza’. Fiercely protective of his family, a strong sense of right and wrong, crazy good looking, and extremely selfless, teenage Ashley was head over heels. Hell,  I still am at age 24…

2. Jamie Fraser (Outlander)

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Scottish accents this time. And kilts. Jamie’s kind, courageous, intelligent, and selfless. Plus he takes easy on the eyes to a new extreme. Basically, he opens his mouth up and I turn into the love heart emoji in two seconds flat. It’s pretty much impossible not to go all gooey at the idea of someone who loves that fiercely. Now excuse me while I continue to stare at the beauty that is this gif.

3. Will Herondale (The Infernal Devices)

Okay, err…British accent. I’m beginning to sense a trend here…  Accents aside, Will is physically gorgeous but what makes him so attractive, to me anyway, is his sense of humour. He never fails to make me laugh. He’s also extremely loyal and brave. It’s a winning combination if you ask me.

4. Eric Northman (The Southern Vampire Mysteries)

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Eric, Eric, Eric. I had to have at least one bad boy on the list. I honestly can’t even explain it – he does so much awful crap but he’s just so darn sexy.  I mean, look at that cheeky grin! And admittedly, under all the tear your throat out stuff, this viking does occasionally show off some good qualities – loyalty, and a very, very deeply buried inner sweetness.

5. Dorian (Dark Swan)

Alright, Dorian definitely has his flaws – he’s a bit stubborn and slightly too keen on power but the charisma is off the chain, though this is to be expected as a fey King. He’s extremely passionate and knows exactly what he wants.  He also happens to be witty, great in bed, and essentially sizzles the moment he shows up on the page. However, Dorian also possesses an underlying vulnerability which gives him a great sense of balance – he cares deeply for those close to him and although he won’t easily admit it, the one thing he wants most is a family.

6. Jonathan of Conte (The Song of the Lioness)

Pretty much the love of my life at age eleven. He turned out to be an ass in the second half of the series (which broke my heart a little) but I’ll remember him fondly in books 1 & 2. I was elated every time he turned up on the page. Trustworthy and willing to go to great lengths for his kingdom, Jonathan was literally prince charming. It also didn’t hurt that he was intelligent, handsome and bold.

7. Rhysand (ACOTAR)

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When I first came across Rhysand in ACOTAR I kind of thought: what the actual hell? This guy ends up becoming a love interest? WHAT. Wait, he’s licking her face? And then came ACOMAF. Rhys is caring, has a great sense of humour, and confidence without arrogance. However, his most attractive quality is that his idea of love is each side encouraging the other to be the best version of themselves, and that’s pretty amazingly wonderful.

8. Aragorn (Lord of the Rings)

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Honestly, Arwen who? Rugged looks and perfect eyes aside, Aragorn’s appeal comes from his courage and strength of will. No matter how difficult the challenge, he sets himself to it. Even more so if it involves honouring a promise or helping a friend. And you wouldn’t think so but buried underneath all the gruffness and weaponry, he’s definitely a romantic – you’d have to be to hold onto a woman’s necklace that tightly and for that long.

9. Darien Freeman (Geekerella)

I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary but this one was super cute, partially due to the wonderfulness of its male lead, Darien. I’m a massive nerd and the fact that Darien is ridiculously hot, kind, and still able to make sci-fi tv references honestly makes him serious dreamboat material. Abs and Firefly quotes? Um, yes please. Find me a real life version and I’ll be set for life.

10. Jesse De Silva (The Mediator)

Another favourite of teenage Ashley. Spanish, sweet, and well, a ghost. Any guy that’s willing to bandage up blistered, bleeding, shoe ruined feet until they look like cotton balls will forever hold my heart. And there may or may not be something about the perfect way he calls Suze ‘Querida’ meaning ‘dear one’ as well as the fact that he likes animals.

War, a Cauldron, and a lot of Faerie Bickering: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

3.5 stars

ACOWAR

I was extremely worried going into this book. I’d been ambivalent about ACOTAR and then fell head over heels for ACOMAF, but had heard a lot of loud disappointment from people about Maas’s newest entry in the series.  Now, almost seven-hundred pages later – I didn’t realise I’d be signing up for almost Diana Gabaldon like territory when I began this chunky book – I can say that while I have a few problems with it, overall ACOWAR was not what I’d call a disappointment. To make things easier, I’ll break this down into what I liked and what I didn’t like.

The Good

It’s difficult to break down what I loved about ACOWAR because by and large, things were pretty good. For the most part the plot flowed in a logical and easy to follow direction. As we expected from book two, book three focused on the immediate build up to Prythian’s war against Hybern and then the actual battle itself. I enjoyed the storyline – the battles themselves were exciting and interesting to read, and there was always a slight underlying tension as I wondered whether every member of my favourite night court family would make it out unscathed. I love a great high fantasy battle scene, which I think I can attribute to my repeated viewings of the Lord of the Rings films over the years. When they’re done right, they’re great, and SJM has done a pretty fair job here.

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The build-up to the war itself was largely entertaining as Feyre and co. scramble around searching for allies and every possible upper-hand to use against the enormous armies of Hybern. The book does drag at points (characters put off doing things that you know they’ll eventually come back to later) and probably could have been a bit shorter but when it picks up, it really does pick up.  One of my favourite sections, which I, unfortunately, reached at a time already verging on unreasonable for bed, is the meeting between the various high lords of the different faerie courts. The characters are diverse and the conflict brewing just beneath the surface, which on occasion does rise to the top, is enough to keep you flipping through pages, dying to know how things will play out.

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The characters remain as wonderful as ever, playing off each other in entertaining and dramatic ways under the new stress of the war. Lucien is introduced back into the mix and somewhat redeemed after the events of ACOMAF, even though he does end up disappearing half way through on what becomes a somewhat pointless quest. Both Nesta and Elain also come into their own a bit in this book which is wonderful to see, especially during the final battle. My lovely Feysand ship remains strong and intact, ready to tackle the world. I never tire of the way these two support each other. They offer their opinions but always know that their partner is an individual and has the right to make their own decisions, good or bad.

Speaking of bad, let’s move onto my issues with the book…

The Bad

Up first, the character allegiance twists. I have to say that this was a book that was extremely messy in terms of its characters switching allegiances or being “shockingly” revealed to be different from what they appeared to be. While it’s great to keep readers guessing, there comes a point where not only does this become boring, but also difficult to keep track of who’s betrayed or fighting with whom.

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Second, the viewpoint of the battle scenes. My issue here is that of Feyre’s involvement. In order to depict the battles as she wished (aka. a bit more like third-person), SJM positions Feyre at a height above each battle scene from which she can observe the fighting. Feyre then describes which army sections are flanking others and the actions of individual characters such as Rhys and Cassian as they fight. While this is fine, I do wish that Feyre had been a bit more involved in battles, other than the attack on the Summer Court, and got to kick some ass as we all know she’s capable of doing.

Up next, a complaint about language choices, specifically ‘mate’, ‘female’ and ‘male’. I get that pretty much all of the characters in these books are fey, not human, but do we really have to refer to individual characters as ‘females’ or ‘males’ like they’re an exotic animal with little self-control or higher thought processes? Talking like David Attenborough can be fun on occasion but perhaps not in this context. Additionally, I’m very much over Feyre and Rhys’s constant references to each other as ‘my mate’. It sounds possessive and well, weird.

While we’re on the subject of relationships, I was mildly let down by the lack of full development in any other relationship than Rhys and Feyre’s. Nearly everyone in this story had a romantic plotline with someone else and I was somewhat dissatisfied with the ending of just about all of them. More ground was gained in some relationships than others but overall, none really had a proper resolution. Even Cassian and Nesta who have a sort-of moment during the final battle are never really shown discussing it in the aftermath. Way to remove the wind from my sails SJM. However, points for the sexuality discussion concerning a certain character.

Last but not least, the finale. Yes, these scenes did what they needed to do to close the story arch but I have to say, they felt a little too dramatic for me. There’s people fighting left right and center, characters splitting off into different locations, new allies turning up every few pages, a random and not properly explained betrayal, sacrifices, an almost death (really SJM, did we really need to go through that?),  an actual death, a crack in reality, and a declaration of love. It’s all just a bit overwhelming.

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Furthermore, one of the more important allies to show up is just a little too far-fetched for my liking. It’s someone who has been gone for about a book and a half, hasn’t been a significant character, somehow manages to get there at the exact right time, and renders Lucien’s quest useless. Yet, I do have to say that I liked that everyone, particularly Feyre’s sisters, ended up being necessary to save the day. Yay, team work!


I know it looks like I had a lot of bad things to say but overall, I enjoyed ACOWAR. It was an engaging and exciting read. Despite its issues, it’s still ahead of ACOTAR because it was memorable. So, if like me, you’re worried about making it to book three in the series, I say don’t be. You’re still in for a fun (and stressful) time.

3.5 Stars

A Sequel that Definitely Doesn’t Suck: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

4.5 stars

ACOTAR

Well, damn.

All I can really say is: thank you Instagram book fanatics for your unceasing photo uploads of this series. Without you, I wouldn’t have been pressured into giving it a second chance and I would never have gotten to enjoy this absolute gem of a novel. I’ve now read six Sarah J. Maas books and for the first time I can actually see what all the hype is about. ACOTAR was good but forgettable, a fine way to spend an afternoon but not much more. And then, in a shock turn of events, I find that a sequel, A SEQUEL, has managed to surpass its predecessor in basically every single way possible. So yes, I’m extremely late in coming to the party but here are my thoughts on ACOMAF.

Feyre

In ACOTAR Feyre was a reasonably solid character. She did some really stupid things but she had a good heart and an underlying spark that shone through in rare moments. However, I really did want her bravery and strength of character to come out on a more regular basis. For the first half of ACOMAF Feyre’s a little damaged. Okay, very damaged. It’s a believable state of mind after what’s she’s been through. I liked that her past actions weren’t just brushed over (as I often find in YA books) and it was refreshing to see her slowly pull herself out of the hole over the course of the book. She succeeds at just the right time to avoid the reader getting frustrated, and it’s here that she really becomes the character I wanted her to be. At last we can see the girl who managed to trap and kill a giant worm, who was spunky enough to publicly give Rhysand the finger while fighting for her life, and who threw a bone shard at Amarantha without a flinch. Feyre fights to change herself into someone who can stand their ground without fear. She realises that she’s strong and powerful, and deserves to be happy.

You go, girlfriend!

Rhysand

Now this is the male lead we deserved. Rhysand is such an interesting and complex character. Every scene he’s in, he shines. Just when you start to think you understand him, Sarah peels back another layer. He’s witty, smart, and a perfect match for Feyre. In my ACOTAR commentary I said Sarah would have to do a lot of character development for me to get on board this ship. She delivered and more. The number of conversations Feyre and Rhys share throughout the book is almost impossible to count but I never tired of them. Whether they’re verbal sparring, sending each other suggestive, disappearing notes, or sharing their most intimate thoughts, memories and experiences, the chemistry comes off the page in the most wonderful way.

After many years of reading YA fiction, I am over insta-love. So over it. It’s lazy. Points to Sarah for avoiding it. Rhys and Feyre’s relationship develops over a period of about four months and even though that’s still short, the build is so gradual and in depth, it feels extremely natural. By the time they come together, they know each other inside and out – their pasts, personalities, powers, secrets, flaws, everything. These are two people who really do make the other a better person.

I’ve bought my ticket, so let’s hoist the anchor and set sail already. Go ship, go!

The Inner Circle

While our two leads are the main reason behind the book’s success, it’s the side characters that really kick it out of the park. In ACOTAR we only really had Lucien and Alis, both of whom I liked but had nothing on the great cast of characters we find in the Night lands – Cassian, Azriel, Amren, and Morrigan. Each has their own defined and separate personalities which work in harmony with one another. The inner circle plays off each other in wonderful ways which really accentuate the idea of family and provides a few laughs along the way. I’m unable to pick a favourite because I love them all so much, even Amren with her silver eyes and creepy diet.

Prythian

Another fantastic improvement on book one is our exposure to the world of Prythian. ACOMAF introduces us to the wonders of Rhys’s kingdom – the cities, people, and landscapes. It was all extremely well developed and described with loving detail. I can actually understand how people live in Prythian now beyond the walls of an isolated manor house. We also get to see a little bit of the Summer Court and it’s great to see the contrast between the different regions. I hope we get to see more of the world in later books.

Plot

While some may claim otherwise, most of the book is devoted to Feyre and Rhys’s character development and their budding romance. I have no complaints about this. The broader plot, however, is focused on preventing the outbreak of a new faerie-human war. It was entertaining, took the characters to some interesting places, and allowed for some interaction with Feyre’s family. My only real complaint is that the last few chapters, or climax, of the story felt slightly on the rushed side and the two main antagonists almost verged into moustache twirling villain territory – you know the ones. The book ended well though and Sarah’s left herself a lot of wiggle room plot-wise for book three.

Tamlin

Last but not least, Tamlin. A lot of people have been crying over the destruction of Tamlin’s character and yep, that’s pretty much what happens. BUT it’s achieved only by drawing out and bringing attention to pre-existing problems with Tamlin’s character, for example, his possessiveness. I mean, I liked Tamlin in ACOTAR but to be perfectly blunt, he was about as interesting as a wooden board. While his and Feyre’s romance was kind of on the sweet side, I wasn’t about to hit up Tumblr yelling, “I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP” any time soon. So, yes, Sarah ruined him but isn’t he much more interesting this way?


Well done, Miss Maas. I can’t wait to get stuck into A Court of Wings and Ruin. However, I might try and take it slower than two days this time.

4.5 stars

‘A Court of Thorns & Roses’ Page-by-Page Commentary, Part 2

Welcome to part two of my commentary on A Court of Thorns and Roses. In other words, the lazy way to write a book review without it actually being lazy at all because it requires so much damn effort. Time to get stuck in:

146: She’s finally going to do some painting! Yay, bonding!

147: Aw Tamlin’s happy. And she’s getting little butterflies. It’s definitely a stark turnaround from ‘he’s a ferocious, dangerous monster’

151: Poor faery. Evil fey woman, whose name I cannot for the life of me remember, cut off his wings.

154: ‘I wouldn’t want to die alone’. Very sweet

157: HA! It’s like Tamlin and Feyre are on a date with Lucien as chaperone.

158: Lucien is chugging wine, such a lush.

160: Wow, murdering your girlfriend and then trying to murder you; Lucien’s family is worse than Feyre’s.

170: Apparently Fey is painting Tamlin now. Paint me like one of your French girls.

172-3: Tamlin’s words caress her bones, what the…? Now he’s kissing her hands and she’s getting warm feelings in her secret places.  He’s kissing her cheek, saying something ambiguous about it not being the right time yet, there will be answers, blah blah blah, and…he’s disappeared. I didn’t realise Tamlin got his dating tips from Tuxedo Mask.

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174: Oh good god, he wrote her some poems. Oh no, and he’s going to read them to her aloud so she won’t struggle reading them. Oh god, the cringe factor. Please make it stop….

175: I just can’t deal.

176: Is it bad that I’m like, phew, we’ve returned to the traumatic family back stories?

184: So, there’s going to be a faerie party. Tamlin: Stay inside all night, for your own protection. Fey: Of course, Tamlin. *five seconds later* Feyre: I should go outside because DRUMS

187: Rapey faeries. Why does Feyre always seem to need rescuing? I mean, she does do her best to fight back but could we have a little variety in conflict here?

188: Ah, enter Rhysand. I remember you. You’re the one everyone makes love heart eyes over.

189: Beautiful, magnificent. Okay Feyre, try not to drop your pants and underwear all at once.

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193: It seems that this whole faerie party thing is a sex rite to rejuvenate crops. I think I vaguely remember how this goes. In one word: raunchy.

196-7: Now I remember why this is categorised as being for older young adult readers. You definitely know it’s older when you find biting, grinding and fantasies about shoving someone’s head between your legs.

202: Fey’s all dressed up for dinner and Lucien’s so keen not to be a third wheel again, he’s leaving smoke puffs behind him like the roadrunner.

216: Severed heads on sticks. Did I pick up Game of Thrones without realising it? Hey, Joffrey, where you at?

218: Lucien gets to take care of the head. Best job ever.

222: He made her want to purr. Ugh. They’re not even together and already they’re that couple that make people want to vom.

224: Another faerie party and there’s wine. What are the odds Fey gets drunk? Also, the idea of Lucien getting Fey to eat the faery equivalent of ‘shrooms is hilarious.

225: Yep, she’s drunk. Poor, Lucien. Life is hard when you have a master who throws you in the reflection pool.

226: Now she’s dancing and Tamlin’s playing the fiddle. Of all things, the fiddle.

227: Tamlin has something better to show her than the dancing. *wiggles eyebrows suggestively*

228: Okay, calm your farm eyebrows. He’s just showing her the will-O’-the-wisps which will forever be linked by my brain to the movie Brave.

229: Their first kiss and Feyre’ like ‘that’s it?’ Awks.

231: Chill with the flirting over breakfast guys, you’re making Lucien uncomfortable, poor baby.

232: You know what, just screw already.

234: Rhysand has decided to visit. And Tamlin is extremely unhappy.

235: Amarantha. So that’s bitchy faerie’s name. Plus, Rhys is kind of an asshole.

237: Oh dear, Rhys just saw Fey’s place setting. It’s about to hit the fan.

238: Wow, Sarah you’ve got some major character work to do on Rhys. Ain’t no way I’m shipping that yet.

244-245: Well this is dramatic. Tamlin’s sending her home and Feyre’s chucking a tanty.

246:..and the mood has changed into um, well, straddling.

247: How the hell is this young adult. Questioning the classification guidelines here MASSIVELY! Like it actually says word for word ‘he slid down between my thighs and feasted on me’. What the…what?!

249: And now she’s actually leaving.

252: Oh great, it’s the cow and the mouse (aka her sisters).

264: So it seems that Nesta knows everything. She’s a smarter cow than I gave her credit for.

265: Nesta tried to rescue her from Prythian. Okay, I may regret calling her a cow.

269: Oh no. Fey did a bad thing, a very bad thing.

273: She’s off to save Tamlin!

278: Finally, Alis is here to give us some actual answers about what’s going on in Faerieland.

280-281: There’s a lot of information to process here and it’s a little hard to take it seriously when every few sentences Alis is shoving turnips and spices into a bag.

282: Amarantha carved out Lucien’s eye with her fingernail. That’s it, that bitch is going down.

283: This is a little too coincidental. Everything magically falling into place just at the right time. Also, Tamlin totally could have toned down the whole ‘Murderers!’ dramatics at the beginning.

286: Why in the world do you keep saying the seven times seven years. Just say forty-nine!

287: There’s a lot of blame going on here considering all Feyre did was fail to say I love you. Big whoop. That’s a lot of pressure on one person to save a whole freaking race from enslavement without even knowing they’re supposed to. And now she’s going to stupidly throw herself into danger with no plan, no weapons, and no clue to save everyone. Damn protagonists.

291: Yeah, I’m with Alis here. You don’t even know if you’ll get the chance to speak to Amarantha, you dumb ass.

294: Oh sure, nowww she realises she’s an idiot and should have got more information before running off into the depths of a bloody cave tunnel network. And because she’s not a ninja, predictably one of Amarantha’s sentries has found her.

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296: And somehow she’s lucky enough to be brought exactly where she needs to go, (BECAUSE PLOT) to Amarantha who apparently isn’t as attractive as expected.

287: Fey: I’ve come to claim the one I love. Honestly, Amarantha, I’d laugh too.

298: Tamlin let some poor other girl get tortured to protect Fey. Well, that was definitely morally ambiguous. I’m not okay with this.

299: Really not okay with this. It’s actually awful.

300: That is some serious revenge. This woman really needs to see someone about her inability to let go of a grudge.

304: Fey made a deal with Amarantha to complete three tasks in exchange for Tamlin and the spell being broken. And now she’s a human punching bag.

306: Yay, Lucien!

308: Amarantha actually spent two weeks torturing Jurian. Like, awfulness aside, how did she not get bored??

309: Rotting corpses on walls. I really need to get the name of Amarantha’s decorator.

310: *snorts* Rhysand, you smooth talker you.

313: Riddle time. I’m not good with long riddles. Where’s Frodo Baggins when you need him?

319: This first challenge reminds me of that scene at the beginning of Return of the Jedi with Luke and the rancor. Except there’s a maze and a giant worm.

323: yes! Go Feyre! Fight back!

324: I love that in all the chaos and being chased by a giant worm, Feyre still makes time to flip off Rhys. Gold.

328: Ha, Rhys was the only one who bet on her actually winning.

329: Oh dear, septicaemia time.

333: I repeat: Rhys is an asshole. Feyre’s growing on me in her ability to tell him to go to hell even through a fever, blood loss, no food, and a massive chunk of cow bone sticking into her arm.

335: Making deals with the devil, Fey. I’m interested to know where this will lead you.

346: Night court faeries are painting Fey’s body. Kinky.

347: Ooo it’s like in the mummy where the man wants to be sure nobody is touching his property.

352: Ugh. It’s the only way I can describe Rhys’s treatment of Feyre. Ugh. Was this entirely necessary Miss Maas?

358: Clare’s body is literally still nailed to the wall. Isn’t the smell bugging people yet?

359: Rhys, you’re a complicated one. I can’t figure you out. But then again, I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?

365: See Feyre, if you’d just accepted Tamlin’s offer about the reading lessons you wouldn’t be in this predicament

368: Why in all hell is Rhys licking tears off her face? What a creeper.

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377: Aw, it’s Tamlin and they’re touching fingertips.

382: Rhys really must not have any friends if he’s come to Fey to bitch and moan. Actually, that doesn’t surprise me.

385: Okay, maybe Rhys isn’t completely awful. Just slightly awful.

389: I forgot how completely crap this last task was.

393: Yep, no idea how she intends to come back from this one.

386: Finally it all comes together, the last little piece.

400: It’s all gone to complete chaos. Very predictably.

404: Oh yeah, you’re in trouble now bitch.

405: That was violent and satisfying.

407: Seems that faeries can show gratitude. One minute you’re dead, the next you’re immortal.

411: one minute you’re feeling guilty over dead faeries, the next you’re undressing Tamlin. I can’t keep up here…

414: ‘Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.’

Woooooo! No more typing as I read! Gosh that was hard work. It’s almost 1 am.

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And I am never, ever doing that again.

Okay, book 2. Love triangle, here I come.