Threaten, Flirt and Repeat: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

To those who said this book was better than the first, you lied. I feel betrayed. Prepare yourselves for an unpopular opinion. A VERY unpopular opinion,

Plot, Wherefore Art Thou?

I have no idea how to talk about the plot of AKoFaF. If I had to sit down and write a summary, I wouldn’t know where to start because, aside from an early kidnapping attempt and a mild skirmish while travelling, almost NOTHING happens for most of the book. While From Blood and Ash had a few action-filled and dramatic events to keep things engaging, this book mostly feels like a million pages of Poppy talking (and “not talking”) to Casteel and side characters. When that’s not happening, it’s pages of inner monologuing about the same tedious things until you want to stab someone. Things start to pick up around 75%, or maybe a bit more, but by the time I was finally interested in what was happening, the book was over.

Keep the Tropes Rolling

I mentioned in my review of FBaA that it was a trope-filled bonanza. Well, it keeps on going in AKoFaF. Clearly JLA couldn’t handle missing a couple in book one. As a result, we get the soulmates, here comes the cavalry, and fake dating tropes. Now, I normally love fake dating but its use here was not only annoying but unnecessary. As we all know, the point of this trope is that by two characters pretending to love one another they actually do fall for each other. My issue is that Casteel and Poppy already love each other. That’s what the first book was for! So this whole ‘fake it til you make it’ layer to their relationship only serves to add frustrating, silly drama and makes Poppy spend ages questioning everything Cas does or says.

More Romance, Less Fantasy

While FBaA felt mostly balanced between romance and fantasy, AKoBaB is more the former. If you were disappointed by the number of steamy scenes in book one, there are certainly more here. A couple feel same-same in the middle, but overall they range from very decent to hot. The whole vampire aspect of the romance is played up more this time, too, which I was super happy about (just give the people want they want, alright?). Yet, I did find that the other interactions between Poppy and Cas got tedious as the book went on, mostly because their exchanges are so damn repetitive, even more so than in book one. Half the time it feels like JLA has hit copy & paste and changed one or two words of dialogue in the hopes we won’t notice.

Cliffhanger Ending

By about 65% of the way through this book, I just wanted it to be over. I was also almost positive that I wouldn’t bother to read book 3. And then…the last couple of chapters came. *sigh*. Damn you, JLA. Why couldn’t the rest of the book be as interesting as the last 20%? WHY? The reveal at the end is predictable as all hell and still, I was like YES, PLOT DRAMA. GIVE IT TO ME. Unfortunately, now my brain keeps thinking it wants to read the next book. Good, God.

Pluck Poppy

Poppy tested my patience in this book. She really did. Her personality can now be narrowed down to just two things – is violent and asks a lot of questions. I also find it ridiculously frustrating that, despite her empathic abilities, she’s a blockhead when it comes to understanding other people’s motivations and feelings. The cherry on top: her repetitive, constant and lengthy internal ramblings which made me want to scream by the end. Just figure your shit out already, girl.

Something I actually liked was that one of the plot points in this book deals with Poppy’s powers beginning to evolve. The reasoning is vague but we’ll allow it. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll be able to guess where that leads us by the end. This plotline really doubles down on the super special protagonist trope but because it feels like the natural progression for Poppy’s story to take (especially since people treat her like a super special snowflake anyway) I’m cool with it.

Other Random Thoughts:

  • Kieran is easily my favourite character. What a bro. His relationship with Poppy is cute, too.
  • I can’t help finding it really weird that Poppy feels people’s emotions as flavours. Like, why?
  • Why is it that people like Poppy or will like Poppy just because she’s stabbed Casteel? Um, how much do you people hate Cas? Poor guy.
  • “Heartmates”. Ugh. Had I been drinking something, I would have spat it all over my kindle.
  • Poppy and Cas getting it on in the back of a carriage right in the middle of a battle was a bit of a WTF moment. Like guys, to quote Kourtney Kardashian: “Kim, there’s people that are dying.”

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire is longer than it should be, mostly filler, and loses some of the funner elements I liked about the first book. After everything I’ve just said, I wish I could say I won’t be continuing with the series but that would probably be a lie because, clearly, I hate myself.

1.5 stars

Vampire Romance Makes a Comeback: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I may not be twelve anymore (thank god), but for some reason my ears still prick up at the mention of ‘vampire romance’. I can’t help it. It’s like my brain’s been programmed against my will. So, you’ll understand why this + ‘most hyped romance of 2020’ lead to me giving into FOMO and reading From Blood and Ash.

Who, What, Where?

Our protagonist is Poppy, ‘The Maiden’ and chosen of the Gods. Poppy lives her life with strict restrictions on how she dresses and behaves as she waits for the day of her Ascension – a mysterious ritual that will supposedly secure the future of the Kingdom. However, Poppy longs to experience life outside her limited bubble and is drawn to activities and interests that risk her being found unworthy. After a kidnapping attempt, she’s assigned a new guard, the attractive and alluring Hawke who’s like no one she’s ever met before and makes her rethink her destiny. But when things inside the castle turn deadly and a fallen kingdom rises, determined to retake what was lost at any cost, Poppy begins to question whether everything in her world is what it seems.

You get a Trope! And YOU Get a Trope!

If you’re looking for something original, keep walking. However, if you’re a reader who eats tropes for breakfast, step this way. I knew going into this it’d be trope heavy, just not this heavy. Honestly, I wish I’d had a bingo card. Let’s start a list, shall we? Hidden/growing powers, dead parents, “The Dark One”, the servant confidant, ‘Not Like Other Girls’, the chosen one, a secret identity, forbidden romance, the virginal MC and experienced love interest…there’s more, but I’ll stop here.

Don’t Need a Crystal Ball to Predict This One

Tying in with what I said about the book’s reliance on tropes, From Blood and Ash is very predictable. Even going into this 100% blind, I guarantee you’ll work out all the major plot reveals from a mile away. Unfortunately, you then have to sit through the rest of the book questioning why characters (*cough* Poppy *cough*) are so freakin’ stupid that they can’t work it out themselves.

The Maiden & The Guard

In terms of our leads, Poppy is, for lack of a better word, okay. I love the fact that she knows how to kick ass and I do sympathise with her difficulties, but she also feels annoyingly young at times and extremely dense when it comes to seeing things right in front of her face. Hawke feels like many of the fantasy love interests I’ve seen before (especially if you’re a SJM fan). He’s generally likeable, has some depth, but he’s nothing new.

For the most part, I enjoy Poppy and Hawke’s relationship. It’s banter-y, fun, sexy and I love the scenes where they physically face off. Yet, there are a couple of things that bother me. First, Hawke does verge into toxic ‘alpha male’ territory at times and second, there are a few moments where their interactions verge on forced. For example, Poppy says something, and Hawke just has to give an arrogant/teasing/sexy reply even though it doesn’t really suit. They also weirdly have a couple of the same exchanges repeatedly (‘You’re so violent, it turns me on’, ‘There’s something seriously wrong with you’, ‘You love it’). I know they’re supposed to be in jokes but it’s a lot.

Steam Up Those Windows

No complaints here. If you’re in this book for some solid smuttiness just know that you’ll have to wait a long time to get there but it’s worth it. Also, bonus points for actually mentioning contraception. Woo!

Questionable World Building

Ah, world building. I wish I could say this book doesn’t fall into the trap of dumping boring bits of information on you in heaps right from the beginning, but I can’t, and it does. There’s even a chapter in which Poppy reads passages from a history textbook *face palm*. Even with these infodumps, I was mighty confused for a while. It’s probably all the terms – Rise, Rite, Ascension, Atlantians, Descenters, Ascended, Wolven…lord, help me.

This aside, there are elements that I liked. I just wish they’d been handled better than coming together at the end. I enjoyed the idea of the three different types of “vampires” and the distinctions between them – bloodthirsty traditional vampires, not-so traditional vampires, and the vicious, zombie-like Craven. I also enjoyed the reveal of the history between the Atlantians & the Ascended, although it does paint a very basic good vs evil scenario.

Pacing

The pacing in this book is messy at points. While the opening scenes which take place at a gambling den/brothel are engaging, following this, things get slow and take some time to pick up again. After this point though, I found the story pretty addictive and raced through to the end. The latter chapters, however, is where things get out of sorts again, slowing down and speeding up in a weird mish-mash of events that left me feeling serious whiplash and confusion.

Writing Issues

There were a couple of things that bugged me about the writing as I was reading:

  • Ellipses. I’m probably a hypocrite saying this, but boy were they overused in this book.
  • JLA has a weird habit of repeating the exact same information about something in dialogue and Poppy’s thoughts, almost word for word, very close together. It’s bizarre and unnecessary.
  • For a high fantasy book, the language used by the characters is extremely modern. It does make the book more digestible, but the idea of characters using words like ‘totally’ and ‘whatever’ in this context is disorienting.
  • Two words, ‘female’ and ‘male’. Just no. JLA you’re banned from reading Ms Maas.

Now, the two big questions, do I think this book deserves the hype and best romance of 2020? No x 2. Still, despite my massive amounts of complaining, I didn’t mind From Blood and Ash. It’s not amazing or revolutionary but it’s addictive, fun and a good way to shut your brain off. With this in mind, I’ll be reading the sequel.

2.5 Stars

The Han to My Leia: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (ARC)

This book is probably one of the gayest things I’ve ever read…and my god, it was glorious. After the last two Netgalley ARCs I reviewed ended up sitting around the two-star mark, I was seriously starting to panic about ending up blacklisted for being a massive grump. Thank goodness for Red, White & Royal Blue.

Who, What, Where?

Alex Claremont- Diaz is the son of America’s first female president and has big plans for his own political career. That is, until a confrontation at a royal wedding between Alex and his so called “nemesis”, Prince Henry of Great Britain, is caught on camera, posing a threat to international relations. With the PR teams in damage control, a plan is devised to fix it: stage a fake friendship between Alex and Henry. Alex can’t imagine anything worse. However, as the two spend more time together, they start to realise that maybe the other person isn’t who they thought they were. As President Claremont kicks off her re-election bid, Alex finds himself in the middle of a secret relationship, the last thing he needs getting out to the press. But is being with Henry worth potentially jeopardising not only his own future but that of his family?

I Love You All!

I’ve had a lot of trouble lately finding book characters that I really love, but good gosh did I love these.

Alex: Cocky, smug, loud-mouthed, and YET, a damn national treasure. Never underestimate his ability to make you spontaneously break out into a giant grin. Honestly, he’s that little shit of a character that were he a real person would drive you up the wall but be impossible not to love. If that doesn’t convince you, let me also say, he’s a) mixed race, b) the grandchild of immigrants, c) bisexual, and d) has undiagnosed ADHD.

Henry: If you were sitting there going, I need another sweet, cinnamon roll character in my life, LOOK NO FURTHER. Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor has arrived. Henry is closeted gay and feels trapped by the expectations placed upon members of the royal family. He’s a romantic, big on both Star Wars and classic literature, a little more reserved, and genuinely enjoys charity work. He also has a thing for boys with chin dimples who insult him.

Henry & Alex aside, RW&RB is also full of great side characters. Even better, so many of them are amazing women. Firstly, there’s June (Alex’s sister) and Nora (granddaughter to the VP), who are the kind of people you 100% need in your support network. They’re smart, confident, ambitious, fantastic wing-women, and good at keeping Alex’s ego in check.

Nora grins. “Hmm.” She pretends to think hard about it. “Risk assessment: FSOTUS failing to check himself before he wrecks himself will result in greater than five hundred civilian casualties. Ninety-eight percent probability of Prince Henry looking like a total dreamboat. Seventy-eight percent probability of Alex getting himself banned from the United Kingdom forever.”

“Those are better odds than I expected,” June observes.

Alex’s mother, President Ellen Claremont, somehow manages to be both a respected leader and a supportive parent (but that won’t stop her from making jokes about faking your death for sympathy votes). There’s also Zahra, the President’s Deputy Chief of Staff, who has no time for anyone’s, especially Alex’s, crap. She’s half scary, half hilarious. Regarding Alex’s profile fact sheet to help Henry fake their friendship:

“Does he get one of these for me?” Alex asks helplessly.

“Yep. And for the record, making it was one of the most depressing moments of my career.”

Ouch.

Laughs for Days

This book cracked me up, repeatedly. Sometimes it was the situations, but mostly, it was the banter. My lord, the dialogue, the quips, there’s just so many winners here. Throughout the book, Henry and Alex spend a lot of time texting, calling and e-mailing each other from across the world, and these exchanges are fantastically done. The two just bounce off each other magically and the chemistry is off the charts.

“In world’s most boring meeting with Philip. Don’t let the papers print lies about me after I’ve garrotted myself with my tie”…

“[W]as it a meeting about which of your cousins have to marry each other to take back casterly rock?”

** ***** **

“Alex?…Have you really rung me at three o’clock in the morning to make me listen to a turkey?”

“Yes, obviously.”

Ship that Romance!

The relationship between Alex and Henry progresses nicely over the course of the book and I feel like having the story take place over a period of more than a year really helped with this. I adored watching these two characters grow from having a rather strained relationship to friends who could light-heartedly poke fun at each other and then lovers. While the amount of gushy-lovey-dovey-ness in the middle of the book did get a bit much for me (there’s a lot of e-mails involving romantic quotes from literature and history), it’s hard to mind too much because these two are so darn cute together. Just….argggggg…*unintelligible noises*

External Angst

One of the things that frustrates me a little in romances is when characters cause conflict unnecessarily by acting stupidly or worrying about silly things. While there is perhaps one moment of slightly internal based conflict in Henry & Alex’s relationship, it’s resolved quickly (mostly by Alex swearing loudly at a bunch of people). The rest of the issues they face are more of an us-against-the world variety which is so much easier to get behind.

Political Colour

While I massively enjoyed the main romance storyline, I also like the fact that the US election was more than just a background element. By having a proper contribution to the overall plot through some choice drama moments, the story felt better tied together and the ending was much more satisfying. Some of it may go over people’s heads, but for those that are disillusioned with the current American political situation, this alternate reality will make you feel a little better (and think about what could have been).

Celebrate Queer

Honestly, this book is just so wonderfully queer positive, I can’t even find the right words to express it. Is it all a little bit too good to be real, yes, but who the hell cares? You’ve got: *SPOILERS*

  • Alex questioning his sexuality, realising that he’s bisexual and coming out to his family with amazing support
  • Henry proclaiming that he’s gay, refusing to cover it up again and finally having his family rally around him.
  • A publicly gay senator, despite adversity, kicking ass in his political career and fighting against abuses of power
  • The broader international community standing up for Henry and Alex’s relationship

All of the yes.

I could go on, but I won’t. To put it simply, this book was wonderful, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. If you’re a fan of contemporary romances and looking for something sweet, funny, charming and positive, RW&RB will be the ray of sunshine your week needs.

5 Stars

*** ARC received from St Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

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

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 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.

 reactions annoyed really come on eyeroll GIF

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.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine fox brooklyn nine nine ew brooklyn nine-nine GIF

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.

 the lord of the rings lotr frodo its over the return of the king GIF

And I am never, ever doing that again.

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

‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ By Sarah J. Mass: A Snarky & Overdue, Page-by-Page Commentary

Lately, I can’t seem to go two taps on Instagram without running into another picture of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Wings and Ruin. In January 2016, I read the first book in the series A Court of Thorns and Roses. It had an eye catching red cover and I’d already read a couple of Sarah’s Throne of Glass books (they weren’t amazing but were mildly enjoyable). I had higher hopes for an obsession to develop with this one. However, much like her other books I found ACOTAR to be…just OK. It was entertaining, had some likeable characters, but did I feel the all-consuming desire to get my hands on the next one? Nope, not really. So when I heard the third book had come out, I shrugged my shoulders and went about my business. HOWEVER, then came the promotion circuit – the Instagram posts, the posters in shop windows, the e-mails from my favourite bookstore, the blog entries. It was everywhere. I think even if I’d done a Patrick Starr and started living under a rock, someone still would have shoved a copy underneath. So I did it: I bought the next two books. Only thing was, I was now faced with an unexpected problem. I couldn’t remember a single thing about book 1. It was like someone had fiddled around inside my brain, pulled out all relevant information, and plugged the hole with cotton wool. I strained and certain details came back to me – fairies, some Beauty and the Beast influence, a romance, and then…mind blank.

Shit. I was going to have to reread the book.

Ordinarily, I’d read the book, post a review and and be done with it. Let’s be honest though, basically every man, woman, and cat has read this particular novel and it’s been reviewed to death. So instead, just for kicks, I’m going to read it and make commentary on it as I go without worrying about spoilers. How hard could it be (hard, no but tedious yes, as I would soon find out)? Without further ado, here are the beginnings of my rather disjointed thoughts on ACOTAR along with the usual assortment of reaction gifs.

Oh and just to repeat: SPOILERS!!!

3: Hm, a protagonist who is unashamedly not a virgin. That’s a nice refreshing change.

5: Like, five seconds ago you were telling me that faeries are super scary individuals who may or may not be burning villages to the ground and you’re still like, ‘You know what, I’ll kill this one’. It’s not like they’ll consider retaliation or revenge or anything.

10: I’ve read the name Feyre probably a hundred times in my last read through of the book and I’m sorry, but it just refuses to easily roll off the tongue. It sounds like two random noises stuck together by some sort of fantasy name generator.

13: Why do characters in young adult books always have such sucky families? Feyre’s sisters are cows.

14: yep, I repeat: COW

 bitch mean girls mean girls movie bitches adult humor GIF

18: Wow, her sister really is awful. She basically just called her a slut. I mean, sure a hay bale is probably not the nicest place for a romp but whatever floats your boat. Female empowerment and all that. *fist pump*

No more deer for you, Nestra. And while there was likely no way you were getting new boots before, you sure as hell ain’t getting them now!

19: Crap, I just bent a book page.

22: children of the blessed *spits out drink* seriously?

23: Okay guys, we’re throwing the word whore around a lot here. How about we just chill out a bit?

31: Here’s Isaac, Feyre’s sex buddy. I remember him being very unimportant. A summary – Fey: Dude, I’m only here for the rather average sex, Isaac: But I want to talk about my problems because I am so burdened and hard done by.

32: I can’t believe she just gave her sisters money! Come on, that Nesta cow does not deserve new books. Sex with Isaac cannot possibly be that good…

OOOOOO…Here comes Tamlin. Tamlin: I could knock and be civil but why do that when I can kick down the door, roar super dramatically, and yell MURDERERS.

 movie entrance the coen brothers raising arizona kick down  door GIF

33: Feyre is trying to work out ways to fight back against Tamlin. Now I’m actually imagining her throwing iron bracelets at him and Tamlin just standing there thinking WTF. Imagine if one of them landed on his tusks – five points to Feyre!

34: Now she’s moved on to considering throwing nails at him. I get it, iron aversion but even then the best case scenario is you hit him in the eye. Let’s be realistic.

35: Feyre: so if someone had hypothetically, accidentally killed your wolfy friend, totally on purpose, with suspicions he was a fairy, what would they do to fix it? But like, hypothetically.

New Girl funny fox awkward new girl GIF

Okay fine, I did it. On purpose.

37: Tamlin: you just murdered my friend. I therefore invite you to come live in my fey palace with much food and luxury until the end of your days. I think someone needs to explain the concept of punishment.

39: Fey’s really on a murder bender. She’s sitting there thinking, ‘oh, I can slit his throat at a later date and escape’.

46: Feyre, you killed his friend and said it was justified. All he did was put you to sleep for a bit.  Suddenly he’s the bastard. Let’s not call people names here.

So, every time Feyre mentions Tamlin’s claws under his skin, images of Wolverine flash before my eyes. It’s like, Fey, I doubt that’s how his physical anatomy works (I realised later that this literally how his anatomy works – he’s like faerie wolverine).

67: She set a freaking trap. Against Tamlin. The dude who can change himself into a beast with massive claws and teeth the size of steel bars. And Fey thought death by curtains would work out. Hahahahahahaha!

Okay, I need a break. This whole commentary thing is exhausting.

 

Alright, and we’re back. Chapter 8, here we come.

76-77: Well, that’s creepy as hell. Something invisible is breathing down her neck, watching her and she describes it as something that wants to play. I’m getting major The Shining twins flashbacks *shivers*. You know what, yeah, you take that bread knife, Feyre.

79: Oh come on, Fey, now you’re being annoying. ‘Tamlin looking after my family is not the same as me looking after them’. Really?

84: Fey wondering if Lucien can see out the back of his head with his fake eye. Sure, Lucien is clearly the faery version of mad eye moody

85: She’s not the brightest spark, is she? Of course Lucien knows why you want to hang out with him. It’s not like you’re there for the insults and winning smile. Ulterior motives galore.

87: Ooo swearing. People talking like actual people for a change. Where’s the parental patrol? They must be lurking somewhere…

90: More creepy things. Like, I get that Fey is the main character and thus nothing bad will actually happen, plus I’ve read this before but this is still super tense. Thingy wants her to look at it so it can eat her and suck out her bone marrow.

92: Ha, Feyre insinuated that Lucien’s old. He’s super offended. Clearly she added a century too many.

95: Fey, you honestly think your father who can barely walk around a hut somehow made it 2 days through uneven forest, past the wall, and then survived all the crazy murderous faeries to somehow stumble upon the exact estate you now live on. You little idiot.

 facepalm idiot idiots face palm GIF

96: He’s not wearing warm clothing, not speaking, and leading you into the dark forest, but still she follows. And Tamlin saves her. You should have bloody let her die, Tamlin. She’s clearly got bricks for brains.

98: Oh for Christ’s sake. YES, YOUR PROMISE TO LOOK AFTER YOUR FAMILY IS FULFILLED! STOP GOING ON ABOUT IT BEFORE I TEAR MY HAIR OUT! Go paint a picture or something.

Okay, I need to sleep now. Miss Too-stupid-to-live is getting on my nerves right now.

 

Back to it.

105-106: I’m really seeing the Beauty and the Beast inspiration coming out here

114: A library with wall to wall books. Sounds like my kind of heaven.

117: Feyre thinks she’ll never go North on the island – ha, the irony. I do remember that much at least. You’re going to be hanging out in the north quite a lot soon, Feyre. Tall, dark and sexy will be keeping you company.

 sexy smile yes wink sure GIF

119: She’s very critical of Tamlin. It’s quite unfair really when all he’s done is offer to help her out, show her around, etc. She keeps going on about him being some beast designed to kill things. It’s just a tad harsh.

121: Fey wants to trap a Suriel for information on the fey-human treaty and what’s going on with magic in Prythian. Why do I have a bad feeling about this? Probably because I’ve read this before.

122: Ah sarcasm and hypotheticals. My favourite. You know what, Lucien, you’re alright.

127: So Suriels aren’t likely to be winning any faerie beauty pageants in the foreseeable future. Well, not unless the criteria is black gums, a knobby spine, and corpse eyes.

129: It’s story time! Evil king, throne of bones, death, destruction, betrayal. Fun times

130: Yep, as predicted everything has gone to shit. This is bad. Oh Lucieeeennnn, where you be bro?

131: This is really bad but because she’s survives to star in two more books I’m going to make a wild guess and assume someone comes to rescue her

132:…and it’s Tamlin, right on cue.

137: My god, Feyre said thank you to Tamlin. Is that a flying pig I see outside my window?

And that’s the first third of the book. Hopefully, for those of you who’ve read the books, it made some degree of sense. I’ll post more of my thoughts in the coming weeks.