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The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha ShannonTitle: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
Publishing Info: August 20, 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Date Completed: December 1, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant - and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine into the world of fiction. It also introduces Samantha Shannon, an extraordinary young writer with huge ambition and a teeming imagination, who has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

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THE BONE SEASON is an incredibly interesting book and it’s also very complicated. I had first started to read this via audio a few years ago and the audiobook narrator was just sooooo boring that I ended up returning it and I never came back to continue on until now. I’m definitely glad that I read this one and Samantha Shannon sure packed in a whole lot of new and exciting information!

The world-building was incredibly interesting and EXTREMELY detailed. So much so that it was a little hard to sort everything out in my head, even with a full chart in the front of all of the abilities. There were just a lot of new names with seven different abilities PLUS the whole concept of being a voyant in the first place and what the aether meant, and then all of the subcategories on top of it, and THEN being in a future world set in London with a whole SECRET world and another race of beings AND monsters. Whew. It’s a lot. It was all so, so interesting but it was just a looooot of information so my biggest hang-up while reading the book was that I just couldn’t dang remember it all. I had to get a grip on all of these new things and top that off with the fact that I wasn’t expecting the book to take place where it did and take the direction it did, so it was just a lot for my brain to try to understand. Good, but complicated.

I… didn’t love the romance. I saw it coming, was hoping it wouldn’t be the case, and that was still the case anyway. I just don’t get the romance trope, which is apparently a thing, where the guy is an immortal who falls in love with a teenage or young girl. Ummm, why? I get that the girl is always the special thing but still. Someone who’s hundreds of years old being attracted to a young girl and vice versa… that’s not sexy. I actually DID like Warden and he has that mysterious appeal buuuuut. It’s not sexy to be a million years old (dramatic, but you know). =

This book didn’t leave me with a WOW feeling but I really do want to see where it’s going and what happens next. I was kind of hoping for more things to unfold in THE BONE SEASON, to be honest. There’s a lot of set-up and it’s enjoyable and I like Paige, but also I think more reveals could have happened here to pull the reader in more and get some more of that wow factor. I guess it probably also doesn’t help that I read this book coming off a Mistborn re-read where things are just so well-structured and I love how those reveals are timed.

I definitely want to continue on in this series and I do have a pull to it. I wish more had happened to connect me in a few more ways, but it was still an enjoyable read and I never felt bored or like there was a lull. Things were still always happening even if it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Separate fantasy worlds. This wasn’t quite a portal world but it was a similar-type feel! There was a significant separation between reality and fantasy (with a little bit of overlap) and it was interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Separation. I wish the fantasy part had been saved for a second book, or on the contrary, I wish it had been introduced more gradually. It was just a bit too abrupt for me to go from mostly reality to full-on fantasy.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a really fun concept and I actually liked the character chemistry and relationships! I would say after spending time away from the book, I’m still not sure I really feel drawn to read the sequel, though.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BONE SEASON

             

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) – Sarah J. Maas

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: October 23, 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: November 17, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

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So. This was the end and I had one roller coaster of a ride with this series! I went from enjoying the first book to adoring the next three, like favorite-series-ever adoration, to being super salty about EMPIRE OF STORMS, DNFing TOWER OF DAWN, and falling somewhere in the middle with KINGDOM OF ASH. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a mixed range of feelings toward a series overall, so bear with my thoughts here. I’ll try to express both the loves and the things I didn’t enjoy.

Let’s start with the good things. Sarah J. Maas created this huge series that appealed so to many readers who didn’t think they were fantasy fans, including myself. This was one of the series that launched me into reading fantasy and knowing I could enjoy these big series. She created a very firm, passionate connection with Aelin, packed a lot of punches and surprises, and brought so many characters to life that became immense fan-favorites. I loved how she connected things from the entire Throne of Glass world in the first four books and the ending for Aelin and the crew felt right and satisfying.

My issue throughout all of KINGDOM OF ASH was just that it was too long. In Sarah’s Chicago tour stop, she said she “would die” (yes, that’s a direct quote) if she had to cut any more from this book and I felt like there was a lot that could have been condensed, especially from books 4- 7. There’s a lot that happens on the page with so many characters and as much as they are loved, I think characters like Elide, Manon, Aedion, and Lysandra didn’t really need as much on-page time as they were given in KINGDOM OF ASH. Aedion and Lysandra to carry a lot of that action when things are happening away from Aelin, but it didn’t really push the story forward. There was a lot of battle action and, of course, there was romance, but everything felt like it really could have been shorter and more focused. I didn’t think Nesryn needed any POV chapters at all and her part in this book really didn’t push anything forward. I’m still salty about Chaol’s role in the series, being so prominent through QUEEN OF SHADOWS, being eliminated in EoS only to have ToD and then his real purpose for the series seemed only to bring Yrene to the fray, which was EXTREMELY important and made me even more upset that Yrene only came to the series in a novella and in TOWER OF DAWN when she should have been a much more prominent character of this series from the start. I actually think she should have swapped focus with Manon, who I loved earlier on but didn’t connect with in KINGDOM OF ASH much at all. I also felt like Manon didn’t get the ending she deserved, not because of the THINGS that happened but because I was so excited for her connection with Aelin and how they crossed paths in the previous books and something just didn’t connect. Yes, her storyline does play an important role in the battle at Terrasen but I feel like we left her in a place that is deserving of a whole new series focused on Manon because I just don’t like where her story ended in this series.

I also noticed right away that I had issues with the writing this book. There were a lot of sentence fragments.
On every page.
In so many ways.
In every third paragraph.
And it really broke up the flow of the story. There were a lot of places where a sentence was chopped into fragments where it could have just gone on as a continuing idea and it really made things choppy and dramatic. I get it — they’re for effect — but it doesn’t have to be every other paragraph or every fifth sentence. It was a LOT.

I also felt like there was a real lack of world-building here. There was a lot of time spent with characters and witnessing their actions, but too many big moments and concepts were presented with not a lot of weight supporting them. Some of the big worldly concepts felt like they just happened without a lead up and readers are just expected to accept them as things that are possible in this world because hey, there’s magic. Granted, there’s a certain understanding that some of these characters have fae magic and that doesn’t really need explanation, and that I get, but some of the wyrdkey/portal/magical item/god/magical ability concepts seemed to just sort of happen. For how big and detailed these books are, I felt like more attention should have been focused on some of these interesting details about the political structure and magical rules. Too many characters seemed to be able to just have these certain magical abilities all of a sudden and I wouldn’t question it if it was just one who discovered they had more powers than they knew, but it kind of happened a lot and other moments seemed to come out of nowhere with these random grand magical gestures happening at the most convenient times when they were never mentioned before. I’m not off-put by their existence but I would have liked to see the characters discuss more about how some of these abilities worked, what sort of lore there was behind powers that could destroy the Valg, why some people inherited or developed X powers, etc. There were too many things that I felt like I was just supposed to take as they came instead of making a really cool connection into the rules of the magic.

And lastly, while I did feel like the ending was a great way to wrap up the series, I did still feel like there weren’t enough risks taken and not enough was… sacrificed, mostly because I’ve had these feelings before with the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and I couldn’t shake that feeling in this epic conclusion either. War isn’t clean and it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t protect all of the best people. There were some choices made and sacrifices given but it still felt a little too happy and perfect in a few ways. I’m glad I finished the series and I’m glad I read it and it was quite the epic adventure.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Finales. I am glad that I finished the series! It’s always so complicated ending a series but it’s so refreshing as well.
Left Me Wanting More: PLOT. Ugh, I felt so frustrated that this book barely moved anything forward. It was the finale!! We spent far too much time with the characters and their love stories or random action sequences that did nothing for the book when so much could have been happening.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’ve made it to the end, it’s worth finishing! I did like finishing the series even if I didn’t really love it.

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BOOKS LIKE KINGDOM OF ASH

             

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) – Holly Black

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) – Holly BlackTitle: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Little Brown
Source: ALAAC18, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 8, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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I have such mixed feelings about The Folk of the Air, mostly because of how much everyone loves these books and all of the hype. I’m plenty interested and I love the clever, well-thought out twists that really make these books so interesting but there’s just something that I keep missing and I think it has to do with the characters.

Don’t get me wrong — I actually love all of the characters, even the horrible ones. Jude is awesome, strong, and so true to herself. Cardan is terrible but also softening towards Jude and I love their hate-to-love relationship….. And yet, I feel like I just don’t connect to Cardan as much as I’m wanting to. I don’t think a book needs to have split POVs to connect to both main characters by any means, but I’m noticing the same issue I had in THE CRUEL PRINCE where I don’t feel like we spent enough time with Cardan and actually getting to SEE who he is. We’re told he’s cruel, doesn’t like to do work, doesn’t want responsibility, etc and there are instances that show that but I just feel like I don’t get to see that hidden layer as he softens to Jude. I guess because he still kind of doesn’t. They do both still hate each other and yet there’s an obvious attraction. It still just felt so icy and shut off and I still feel like I didn’t get to know him as much as I want to.

The plotting, as always, is amazing. The big twists and reveals are mostly saved for a big finale, where everything in the book ties together for the grand next step in the plot to steal the throne. I love seeing everything come together like that and the surprise to the characters as well as the audience. I kind of love how even though Jude has been planning things for a long time, it’s not revealed to the readers so everyone gets a good surprise! I do still have the same issue that I had in THE CRUEL PRINCE, though, where I wished that I had a hint of where things were going or some sort of other… thing to keep me engaged. I mean, I still was engaged in the story and I was invested so it’s hard to explain. There’s just a little something that was missing in both books that kept me from being wowed and I don’t know what it is.

I do think I became more invested in everything in THE WICKED KING and I actually really liked the ending, as world-changing as it was. You just never know where Holly Black is going to take you and as much as I can guess where things might go in books, I really don’t expect any of these monumental changes. It is quite exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cardan. I started to get the Cardan appeal a bit more with this book! He had some really great moments and I felt more connected than the first book!
Left Me Wanting More: Movement. The ending of these books hold so much excitement but I just feel like I want things to keep moving forward and not just rush to happen all at once at the end.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s a suuuuper popular series that so many people love. I’m stuck on not understanding that love as much but it is still a solid series.

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BOOKS LIKE THE WICKED KING

             

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid KemmererTitle: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 27, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

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A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was so enjoyable from start to finish! I’ve been struggling with some YA reads lately so I was afraid that like many others I’ve read recently that this would fall into a pit of tropes, but this book soared beyond my expectations! Right off the bat, I loved the tone of the book and I think the crossover/connection between the modern world in Washington DC and the fantasy world of Emberfall really made a difference. The readers are able to get a unique twist on this fantasy concept with a modern voice from Harper and that old-world, medieval-type feel from Rhen.

You may have heard that A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY is a Beauty and the Beast adaptation and I thought that was done brilliantly! Concepts are taking from the classic fairy tale but still given their own twist. Not every piece of Beauty and the Beast was made to fit this novel and A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY also goes along its own paths, not needing to stick to the concept 100%. What I loved even more was seeing the book’s originality lead back to the fairy tale adaptation without realizing we were on that road and I was so impressed seeing things circle back around to the adaption in their own way. I’ve read a lot of retellings over the years and some stories stick too religiously to the original work so I was really happy to see how expertly the author’s original concepts were woven in with the inspiration from Beauty and the Beast.

The characters here were just wonderful and they really made this story what it is in so many ways. Harper is strong and fierce but the way that Brigid Kemmerer chose to craft this character was really special. There are so many badass YA heroines out there that get too cocky or are just magically perfect, but Harper felt more like a real person to me than most of those other leading ladies. I loved that Brigid Kemmerer included Harper’s cerebral palsy and how it was portrayed as the way that Harper was born and not as a disadvantage or weakness. It was also great to see Harper grow into her boldness, from being a little sheltered by her brother to being thrown into this fantasy world and having to make a name for herself, quite literally. She didn’t change in personality but merely let that side of her grow in the proper atmosphere and situation. The reader was able to see that potential in Harper and with her situation in Emberfall and the other people by which she was surrounded, Harper was able to really grow into her confidence and it really felt so natural.

Rhen was another fantastic character in so many ways. Harper originally felt that he was a cocky prince but really he had so many levels that unfolded as the book progressed. Readers learn of his remorse for everything that’s happened to the kingdom and how much he really took it all to heart. Rhen’s challenge in the book seemed to be with his emotions and feelings, having to trust in his heart and let go of some of his overthinking. Being forced to repeat so many scenarios due to his curse, he essentially has ages to plan without growing older and somewhat replaying the opportunity to fall in love to break the curse, he employs different strategies, none of which work, of course, because love can’t be won by strategy. Harper and Grey, Rhen’s commander, help Rhen learn how to trust his heart and not feel so forced to fall in love. He has to let go before he can really latch on.

One of my favorite things about the book was the romance, which doesn’t happen often these days. So many people get excited over big love scenes, passionate kisses, and fiery romances. I was all about this gorgeous slow burn romance that took its time and really established those deep emotions! It’s not quite a hate-to-love situation but since neither Harper nor Rhen trust each other (naturally), there’s quite a spark of mistrust and Harper’s brashness also leads to a few spats that have these two at odds in the beginning. I really loved that as well because it’s so much more rewarding seeing the two soften towards each other and really piques that curiosity if the two can manage to fall in love. That’s the whole point of the book so you assume it’s coming and yet there’s still the question if that really is what will happen and how they’ll both come to believe it. It’s so expertly crafted and those quiet, stolen moments were absolutely everything in this book! I love those moments more than anything in books and I think they’re some of the most special scenes to read.

Finally, there’s the fact that this book delivers something of its own with a few unique twists that I did not see coming! I loved the set up for the next book and reading something like this actually made me glad that it’s a series whereas usually I’m wishing for more stand-alones. I do think that this book could have been made into a stand-alone if that’s what the author had wanted and it would have been beautiful, but I’m also glad that I get to keep reading about these characters, this world, and this beautiful writing for a little bit longer!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Retellings. I’ve been hesitating with some retellings as of late because they’ve been taking the adaptation a little too literally or leaning on it to tell the story, but this was such an excellent blend!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. I think this could have gone juuuuuust a bit deeper and it would have been an absolute slam dunk! It was already wonderful but there was just a touch of something that could have been that one smidge better!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I enjoyed this adaptation so much. I’ve been a little hit-or-miss on fairy tale retellings lately because some are just not very well done but this was the absolute perfect blend of original and adaptation!

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BOOKS LIKE A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY

             

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 2, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 12, 2017
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

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This read went pretty much about how I thought it would. I used to LOVE Sarah J. Maas books and I had a really hard time with the pacing and characters ever since A COURT OF MIST AND FURY and EMPIRE OF STORMS. I was wholly sucked into QUEEN OF SHADOWS and ever since then, I lost the magic. I feel like the books aren’t well-edited anymore and Sarah J. Maas is so big that she is allowed the freedom to write whatever she wants and things don’t get pared down when they should. I’m not saying that actually is the case but that’s how it feels sometimes. I’m totally okay with books being long, especially series finales like A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN, but there were several parts that could have been cut down and a lot of things in the past two books in this series could have used a fair bit of editing, from pacing to structure to dialogue. I felt very alone in these opinions with ACOMAF but it seems like this happened a little bit more with ACOWAR which actually surprised me, but I’m glad that I wasn’t alone in that feeling!

The highlight of this series for me is the Inner Circle! Azriel continued to be my favorite, I think because he was, well because he was broody first and foremost but I loved his quiet gentleness and yet he had a ferocity about him on the battlefield and also towards his friends and family. He is a warrior after all! Cassian is also a favorite with his lightness and humor to go along with his brute strength and warrior-mode. Amren is delightfully dark and I love her sass and Mor rounds out the “lesser” characters of the Inner Circle to add a caring and warm quality to the group. I love their squad goals and how well these four fit together. Yes, four… not six. I actually didn’t care about them being involved with Rhys and Feyre (even though Rhysand is the whole reason this group exists). They just had so much personality and I wanted to see them shine even more. I think they were really deserved more of a spotlight in this book after being introduced in A COURT OF MIST AND FURY because they were so important in so many ways and they really brought so much to this book/series. I felt more connected to Azriel and Cassian because I felt like their histories were detailed well and reiterated several times throughout the series. Amren was so amazing and she should have had more of a history in this book and not just the breeze-through conclusion in the end, and we get to know more about Mor but I felt like she was often pushed to the background too. Feyre’s sisters ended up being a big part of the book and Nesta did get much more “on-screen” time but I don’t think Elain got the attention she deserved either, nor did Lucien after setting up his whole part in this series in the second book. He did do big things in this book but again, it was like he was there for the “big things” and then pushed back into the background. There was a whole story line with him and Elain that was established and then not really developed.
These characters really were the highlight of this book for me and I really wished I could have had more from them, like their own chapters or something. This book, especially, being from Feyre’s POV only really limited what action readers could see and it just pushed my favorite characters in the background because the focus was on Feyre and Rhys. I feel like Sarah J. Maas has a tendency to introduce these characters that we love and then they get pushed aside for the main characters instead of getting their own development. Then more characters get added, and more characters get added, and readers get even less of that development that they’re craving (or at least in my case).

For some reason, I’ve never been a Feyre and Rhysand shipper. I loved Rhysand’s darkness and that forbidden allure to him in ACOMAF and he was just a little too perfect in this book. I know we discover in ACOMAF that there’s much more than meets the eye to Rhys and he’s actually a pretty good guy, which ughhh. I liked his darkness! He still has that snark and sass but the darkness is pretty much gone in ACOWAR which was something that really interested me. I especially felt this in ACOWAR and I got bored with Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship. It was like once they got together, the spark was gone, and so much of their relationship felt forced. The details of the relationship just felt like TOO much at times. Too perfect, too over-the-top, just too much. And speaking of too much, the sex scenes just felt way too forced as well. Not necessarily in content, although that didn’t feel natural either, but there were far too many and in random places. Every time something good happened it was like yay, let’s celebrate with sex! I just felt shoved in there for the sake of sex scenes and keeping it steamy the end and I would have rather had SOME fade to black scenes instead of every single instance being full detail. I don’t have a problem with those scenes at all (I read the occasional romance) but it was more the fact that I felt like I was reading a romance novel sometimes instead of a strong fantasy book with solid character, world, and plot development.

I also got really annoyed that every single main character had to get paired off into a couple or if not in a couple at the end, the single person had some unrequited love going on. I can see that war makes you want to be with the one you love or match up while you still can but I got annoyed that characters that I thought would be awesome on their own (I won’t say who because possible spoilers, I guess) ended up pairing off with someone and it very felt out of character. I was excited about the Elain/Lucien set-up in ACOMAF and was super disappointed that wasn’t used to its fullest potential here. It was set up and then never really went anywhere and I found myself wonder why it was introduced at all. If that hadn’t been established in the second book, it really wouldn’t have affected the third book or in the moments it had, the action could have resolved in some other way. It all felt forced and superficial and that bond wasn’t even there. It was a total waste of character development that could have been put towards something else since it wasn’t even developed anyway.

Mostly, I just wasn’t impressed with the writing. As I said before, I feel like the book needed much more editing. There were a lot of out-of-character things, strange pacing, an excess of characters, and the world-building was just off. To be honest, I feel like Feyre, Tamlin, and Rhysand all went through personality flips since the first book (at least in perception like in Rhys’ case, if not true character changes). There’s a difference between personality development and taking things to a totally different realm and I think it’s good that Feyre isn’t the same person that she was in A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES because she should be different and show some growth but I felt like the person that she became didn’t feel characteristic of the person she once was and it seemed like too much of a personality change.

I was also missing so many details on some really interesting things like the Weaver, the Bone Carver, and other unusual creatures/gods/immortals. I even found myself asking myself what exactly the Cauldron was all about. The Cauldron! A huge part of this series!!! It didn’t feel like infodump when I first learned about all of these things and yet I felt like I couldn’t remember any of those details later on in the series or recall learning more about them in other spots. Those are the parts of a book that I love and I just felt like a lot was missing. I think Sarah J. Maas missed a lot of world-building opportunities that really could have brought this world together even more.

The ending was a little too perfect and happy for such a huge war and giant conclusion. I felt like a few things were cop-outs even though they were happy things. I had set myself up for some Big Things and was disappointed for some reason when bad things didn’t happen to good people…? Truly, I just think it’s just realistic within a war that not all of the good people survive or end up mostly untouched. Things did happen, though I won’t go into detail, but I think we all braced ourselves for some really bad stuff so it almost felt a little anticlimactic! For some reason the Rhysand chapter at the end was also totally cheesy and I don’t know why but it reminded me of TWILIGHT… I think the observation and listening in on Feyre? I don’t know — don’t ask. But that was the vibe I got from it so it was just a little too sappy and not necessary (though I wished we could have had his POV throughout the rest of the book).

So yes, this was a lot of venting or however you want to take it but those are my feelings and my opinions. Although it was a lot of things I wished that would have been better, that’s actually what I expected to feel when I read this book. I wanted to finish to finish the series so I wanted to finish this book but I didn’t expect to love it and it actually went pretty much as I thought it would. After feeling a lot of the same things with ACOMAF and EMPIRE OF STORMS, I almost definitely won’t be reading the spin-offs for this series, and I guess we’ll see how the next Throne of Glass book goes. I definitely still want to finish that series since I’m so invested in it time-wise and I do want to know how that concludes but after Throne of Glass finishes, I’m not sure if I’ll be reading more Sarah J. Maas books.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Inner Circle. These characters were truly the best part about the book. Serious squad goals, banter, loyalty, ferocity, and a great mix of personalities. Truly the highlight of the book.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I just don’t feel like it’s there and I don’t know what happened! QUEEN OF SHADOWS was one of my favorite books from that year and I just don’t feel that magic anymore.

Addiction Rating
Take it or leave it

It’s the last book in Feyre’s story so it’s worth finishing to conclude the series but I also think if you’re having the same issues, it’s not a huge deal if you don’t.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    FALLING KINGDOMS

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on Instalove

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog tour stop for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING by Jeff Giles! I was so honored to read the book early and provide a blurb for the ARC, thanks to Bloomsbury Kids, and then to meet Jeff Giles at BEA and be able to say hello. Now I’m a part of the blog tour and it’s been so great being so involved with this book!

For today’s post, Jeff Giles is talking a little bit about instalove. As with some books where two worlds collide, instalove happens. Heck, instalove just happens in real life. When I first saw the topics for guest posts for the blog tour, I instantly latched onto this one because I feel the same way! I even had a post that defended instalove because not all instalove is unrealistic. Today’s post has a full discussion from Jeff and I just love it!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on InstaloveTitle: The Edge of Everything (The Edge of Everything #1) by Jeff Giles
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 27, 2016
Related Posts: The Edge of Everything

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

“INSTALOVE ACTUALLY”
by Jeff Giles

When you’ve got a novel about to come out, you spend a lot of time reading reviews of other people’s books as a sort of dress rehearsal for reading your own.

I love the intensity of opinion among readers, whether it’s positive, negative or sideways. For some reason, I especially love the continuing debate about instalove, so I thought I’d share the thoughts that have been piling up in my head.

When I was younger, instalove was called “love at first sight”—and nobody ever questioned it. People generally liked the idea that, at any moment, they could turn a corner, accidentally spill coffee on someone, and proceed directly to Happily Ever After. The trope was no more realistic then than it is now, but it made every second of every day feel like a lottery ticket that could pay off big.

These days, a lot of readers DNF novels like that, of course. That may be because young people are savvier now. They know, from the internet, that some people lie about/disguise who they are every day.

For the record, I think it’s a good thing to be careful about falling in love and to expect novels to be subtle and realistic. I’m not in love with instalove in any way—but I want to say a few things in its defense, because I think it get a bad rap sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. So let’s pretend that I’m instalove’s court-appointed lawyer and I have to defend it, because it’s my job. Okay?

Here we go.

1. Sometimes people DO fall in love instantly.

It happens, even if it doesn’t happen a lot. One of the gifts, and curses, of being young is that you feel things with an almost supernatural intensity. Juliet was 13. Romeo was a couple years older.

But people of all ages can fall in love fast. It may be because they’re at a transitional point in their lives and especially open to possibility. It may be because they’re vulnerable after a loss or a trauma. It may be because they’re stranded in the Artic during a scientific expedition and the generator’s dying and the helicopter’s not coming after all and they have to huddle for warmth. But it does happen.

2. Not every character who THINKS they’re in love is ACTUALLY in love.

People lie to themselves sometimes. We ALL know people like this. They want to be in love so much that they rush in, in clear violation of the famous Elvis song about how only fools rush in. A lot of times instalove is just insta-lust in disguise, obviously. If you see a character whose eyes turn into heart emojis within three pages, the author may setting him or her up for a fall.  

3. If a novel (or a movie) is good enough, it will make you forget that you hate instalove.

The Titanic sank within four days. Four! That’s how long Jack and Rose had to fall in love. Yes, it helps that Jack selflessly gave his life even when there was definitely enough room for him on that floating door.

4. People are more likely to fall in love fast if someone (parents, say) or something (an iceberg, maybe) are trying to keep them apart.

That happens constantly in books and movies, right? It happens in real life, too. None of us want to be told who to love. None of us want to give up because there’s a war coming, or a dystopian government has outlawed love.

5. Even bad instalove is better than that thing where two people meet and hate each other’s guts before realizing they’re soul mates.

I can’t stand that. Give me anything else. Just because you detest someone does not mean you should marry them!

6. If a character is going through tragic stuff, as many YA characters are, an author may just really want to give them a partner for the journey.

It’s not a great excuse, I know. But authors are protective of their characters, and they often want someone to stand by their MC every second and say, “I love you. You can do this.” Yes, that person could be a friend or a sibling or a sentient robot, but sometimes you really just want to give your character someone to kiss.


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING!

GIVEAWAY

There’s also a giveaway as a part of the tour for one copy of the book + keepsake metal bookmark! This giveaway is open to US/Canada only. Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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The Edge of Everything – Jeff Giles

The Edge of Everything – Jeff GilesTitle: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 27, 2016

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

bookreview1

I was fortunate enough to read THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING incredibly early when Bloomsbury asked me to include a blurb for the ARC! (Eee!) it’s a weird thing to sit on a review for half a year but I knew I had to write some things down after reading, otherwise I’d never be able to form coherent thoughts when reviewing!

THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING was a really unique novel for me. If you’re looking for a feel, I’d thrown out EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton (the Underworld aspect) meets DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor (the forbidden romance). THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING is about Zoe, the quirky yet girl-next-door type who meets a bounty hunter from hell —  literally. When Zoe meets X, her entire world is turned upside down in so many ways and it was incredibly interesting to see the ways that she and her family were affected by X’s appearance.

The book started off a little slow for me, but not in a bad way. X appears on the scene and Zoe can clearly see that he’s not quite human so after the first few chapters, the first half of the book is a lot more character development and set-up before it hits some of that world-building that I love. The delay in action really had me focused on the characters and their clear pull towards each other which was definitely important for some plot points down the road! It was also a bit slower, I think, because the concept took a bit of figuring out. This really wasn’t like many books I’ve read before so I was trying to place it into a genre (Fantasy? Paranormal? Mystery?) and figure out how everything really worked. My advice is to just let the book take you where it will and don’t try to put this one in a box! There are lots of elements at work and things came together really well in the second half of the book!

I was hoping for a bit more world-building regarding the Lowlands earlier on the book but I’m such a sucker for that kind of stuff that I was just dying to know what it was all about. It’s not quite Hell or the Underworld as we “know” it so I was so curious to explore the different rules and regulations, functionality, and why it was so important in Zoe’s story line. There was a lot to explore there and I was curious to investigate this dark side and how it maintained balance in the world. I will admit that I was hoping for a bit more in this book BUT there is still a lot to explore in upcoming novels which I’m pretty excited for!

I didn’t know this was a series when I started since I read it so early but I’m actually really glad it is! Once I really got into the book, I was so curious about really everything and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next! There’s so much more exploring that I want to do and I’m really excited to see where Jeff Giles takes his readers. I see so much potential for even more development and I can’t wait to see where this story goes!

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal concepts. This was kind of fantasy, kind of paranormal, kind of urban fantasy…? I loved the unique mix and it was such a unique read!
Left Me Wanting More: Developement. I just wanted a BIT more development of the world and romance!

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This was a really interesting and unique read and I think it’s a great selection for fans of Brodi Ashton and Laini Taylor!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING    DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) – Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: September 6, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

bookreview1

I’m actually fairly disappointed with this book which makes me very sad because QUEEN OF SHADOWS was literally one of my favorite books of 2015 and I’ve fallen so in love with Sarah J. Maas’ books. Admittedly I did have a harder time finding time to sit and read this one but I did read 400 pages more or less in a weekend to finish and still wasn’t captivated. This surprisingly felt like that “second in a series slump” that I so often hit with trilogies, possibly because it’s the second book in the second half of the series.

I didn’t feel as engaged with this book at all. I had met all of these characters in QUEEN OF SHADOWS but so many were secondary characters there and I didn’t quite feel that solid transition from supporting to main character. The stories felt disjointed and not as detailed and alive as in QUEEN OF SHADOWS. I did love Elide and Lorcan the most because there was a lot to discover there and their personalities really started to shine. I felt less drawn to Aelin, which was so incredibly disappointing. She should have grown more, as she had been in previous books, and really started to come into her own as the rightful Queen of Terrasen, and I just felt like her character became very tired and less important with all of these other new main characters to follow. I also somehow lost that magic with her and Rowan and I just didn’t even feel that connection anymore.
I really didn’t feel as connected to Manon in this book either, which is a shame because I loved in her QUEEN OF SHADOWS and I was so excited to see where her story was going. I mean, I’m hoping it connects back to the main story line in the last book because otherwise, Manon should have just had her own series, to be honest. I enjoyed what was happening with her and her Thirteen (and others) in EMPIRE OF STORMS but I’m still not 100% sure why it’s so relevant to Aelin and her story. I can only assume the pieces all fall into place in the last book but I’ve been waiting for three books now, really, to see how this ties in and why it’s so important to have Manon’s whole point of view, so hopefully we’ll see that in the last book.
I also felt like Chaol was completely thrown away and that was incredibly frustrating, and I wasn’t even a Celaena/Chaol shipper. I don’t understand why he was such a main character only to switch a romance (which I was fine with, actually) to Rowan and then totally cut him out of ALL of book five. I understood quieting his role down, as he may not be playing as major of a role, but I don’t really understand what his purpose was then if he’s just getting totally pushed to the side. I guess Sarah J. Maas can write whatever she want, of course, but it just seemed like a big injustice to his character.

I feel like Sarah J. Maas incorporated some tired tactics to keep this story going and not a lot of new stuff happened here. The things that did carry the story over, which are the things I’ve loved from her in the past, weren’t really refreshed enough for me and I had a hard time remembering some of those things from other books, especially references to the novellas. I read those a long time ago and I didn’t have the time to reread an entire series for this book so it would have been nice to have some more details and updates on the events in the novellas that appeared in EMPIRE OF STORMS. I also think more details would have been very beneficial to those who haven’t read the novellas. I spoke to friends who haven’t read the novellas and they actually felt less lost than I did since they didn’t know it was a reference back to the novellas but I also think the characters, the history, and the plot could have been so much richer with those little updates.

I’m mostly disappointed in the elements that were used in both the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series. When writing two Fae series at the same time I think it’s super important to keep them very different and I don’t think these two are, which is especially disappointing because that was something I noted on the positive side after reading A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES. I had actually really liked that Feyre and Celaena/Aelin were so strong and yet two very different personalities. The more I read of both series, the more they really blended in concept and plot direction.  I felt like A COURT OF MIST AND FURY had too many elements from QUEEN OF SHADOWS and now reading EMPIRE OF STORMS, I noticed some twists that were already used in ACOMAF, and that was really disappointing. The ending became totally anticlimactic because it borrowed an exact same situation from ACOMAF and I was just so let down that it didn’t seem like an original idea.

EMPIRE OF STORMS was still enjoyable and I am still interested in the Throne of Glass series, but admittedly, I’ve lost a lot of faith in Sarah J. Maas at this point. I feel like this just didn’t have as much substance and character as previous books in this series. I loved QUEEN OF SHADOWS and to feel like this after EMPIRE OF STORMS is a major let down. I’m just very upset after finishing this book and even more so after reviewing it because I feel like I’ve really started to fall out of love with this series after EMPIRE OF STORMS and I’m losing faith in Sarah J. Maas.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Aelin // Character obsessions: Terrasen, Rowan, freedom, power.
I actually lost so much interest in Aelin this book and I don’t know how this happened. She just felt like she actually lost so much depth and really, she lost all her spunk. I get that she’s more serious now that she’s fighting for control of Terrasen but I kept missing all the sass and banter and FUN that we saw from Aelin in previous books. She felt so flat in EoS.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New characters late in a series. I’m not an author so I can’t tell you what is good/bad/iffy to introduce late in a series but I really enjoyed new characters Elide (who was previously in the series but a small role) and Lorcan. When they’re done well, they bring a new and exciting element to a series and help fit even more pieces together. I actually did love a few (well really, I loved all of the new characters) but I also had a hard time with why they were really important to have MAIN character roles. I did like Elide and Lorcan because of their connection and romance but others I really wonder if they needed to be lead roles and what they brought to the book, even though I enjoyed getting to know them.
Left Me Wanting More: Terrasen. I thought this book was going to be all about Terrasen considering where QUEEN OF SHADOWS left off and we barely even saw it. I was really missing that because the whole quest for QoS was leading there and that was not where we left off in EoS.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I mean, I still recommend reading the book. I fell so in love with the series in the first four books but this one felt like it was too much filler and not enough happened. Lots did HAPPEN but it didn’t all feel really relevant and I felt like there was a lot of time spent building up romances that didn’t need to happen too.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE EMPIRE OF STORMS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

TRUTHWITCH    THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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** Warning: This is NOT a spoiler-free review like I usually write. I won’t give away twists from the very end but I WILL be discussing things that happened throughout the beginning and middle of the book! **

I was pleasantly surprised when I read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES last year because going into it, I knew it was a story with a strong fae presence. By this point in time in my reading career, I wasn’t new to fantasy but I was still a bit picky about what sort of fantasy I liked and fae did not fall into that category of selected themes… But knowing how much I loved Sarah’s Throne of Glass series and the fae presence there, I dove into ACOTAR and loved it! It had a bit of a BREAKING DAWN ending so I wasn’t quite sure where the second book would go but naturally I had very, very high hopes for it since I hadn’t been let down by a Maas book yet!

I won’t sugar coat it — it actually took me a really long time to get into the swing of this book. I was enjoying the plot but the beginning felt so incredibly dramatic and I just didn’t feel like things were moving forward. There was a lot of time spent on Feyre’s PTSD from her time Under the Mountain and I absolutely understand and don’t think that her traumatic experience should be just brushed over. I do felt like there was too much time dwelling on it though. ACOMAF isn’t a short book and I think some pages could have been saved and still gotten the point across throughout a few sections in the beginning. If the book were more character-based instead of plot-driven, it might have been more appropriate but the plot really seemed to suffer because of this and this isn’t the first time I felt this way in a Maas book either. I understand that these characters have gone through something that truly does change them but I felt like I was reading about totally different characters when I started ACOMAF. Feyre and Tamlin were just not themselves and I think had ACOTAR ended with a bit more of this shadow or if it had slowly creeped in throughout ACOMAF, it wouldn’t have been as much of a surprise. I just really felt like I was thrown into a totally new environment and it was really hard for me to adjust to, especially since I had read ACOTAR over a year before I got to start ACOMAF.

I continued to have issues with Feyre throughout the book. I don’t know why but she was just really bothering me. Instead of snarky, witty comebacks, I felt like everything with her was taken as an insult and she was constantly being defensive and kind of hated everyone. It was really hard to watch her interact with characters and I started to latch onto new (or new-to-the-spotlight) characters like Rhysand and his gang. It did make me extra thankful for Rhys coming onto the scene and shaking things up, though! The interactions between Feyre and Tamlin were just unbearable and painful to read. Then I ended up on the flip side where although I didn’t want Feyre and Tamlin to still be together, I also felt really weird that Tamlin was almost totally absent from this book. He was there in the beginning and I won’t speak of the ending but this book was straight up about Feyre and Rhysand and it almost felt like a waste that we spent all that time building up a romance between Feyre and Tamlin in ACOTAR to have it totally change. I absolutely love where it went but it’s confusing to understand why the Feyre/Tamlin romance was so important and developed in ACOTAR and why Rhysand wasn’t more of a main character throughout that courtship to really get his foot even more in the door.

I’ve followed the romances in Sarah J. Maas’ books quite well, I think, considering they’re not always simple and straightforward. I know some people who have issues with love triangles or already have their OTPs with the first love interest really have trouble moving with the characters as they fall out of love or move from one interest to realize that their true match is someone else and I feel like I’ve followed along with that fairly easily. I can see where people feel like the romance in ACOMAF is a love triangle and I guess to a certain extent it is, but Feyre also does not have interest in both men at the same time. It is quite complicated though so if you’re sensitive about triangles, you almost definitely won’t like the romance.

I personally loved the development of Rhysand as a love interest, especially once Feyre really started to struggle with Tamlin. I found it telling that at the hardest points in their lives, Feyre and Tamlin drifted apart and just couldn’t find a way to even communicate instead of being able to rely on one another and get through a hard time together. That doesn’t always mean that you shouldn’t be with someone but in the case of story telling, it’s a pretty big sign that the main character isn’t where they should be. I’ve heard this complaint from other Maas readers but this is the first of her books where I really felt like the romance started to take over the book. While I did love the new Rhysand/Feyre development, I felt like there was a lot of back and forth between them before anything major (finally) happened and that could have been cut down to some more meaningful interactions instead of repetitive, similar situations that happened more than a few times throughout the course of the story. Their romance actually is a very important part of the plot so it’s not like I wanted it to be downplayed but I just felt like so many points of the large general story were pushed aside to develop the romantic moments and it started to turn more romance story than epic fantasy — and yes, there are some cheesy romance book-worthy moments. Let’s just say this is NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK, friends. There are some very explicit scenes so if you have teens or are directing/teaching teens who are reading this series, you may not want to put this book directly into their hands. (Not that I’m saying censor them but. Ya know. Read it first so you know what you’re giving them.)

The sections where the plot progressed were really quite delightful. Sarah J. Maas is still a master at layering stories and it’s so interesting to see how much of a previous book comes back in a different light in a subsequent book. There were so many moments that the reader is able to recognize from ACOMAF and see from a different character’s perspective or reassess it with more information and it makes the story that much deeper! Once things started to really take off around halfway through and a little thereafter, the book was simply addicting and I couldn’t wait to see where the entire plot of the series was going! Sarah really does have an amazing ability to craft an overall series arc and it’s so fun to watch that develop. The ending positively floored me and it was hard to remember why I had been so frustrated for a while throughout earlier sections of the book. So many things were revealed, actions taken, and trusts betrayed that I just really didn’t know what was coming. The twists and surprises were epic and once again, I was left in utter anticipation of the next book!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Performance: Very good! I might not seek out more narrations from her but I did like her narrator of ACOMAF.

Jennifer Ikeda was a great narrator for Feyre! I think her demeanor really worked well with the character (or she adapted her demeanor very well to Feyre’s tone) and she was great with the quips and sass and rudeness. There were times I wasn’t totally into her narration but overall she was very good. I’m not sure if I’d seek her out but if there was another book I wanted to listen to, I’d definitely listen to her again.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Feyre // Character obsessions: Freedom, Rhysand, independence.
Feyre was just so hard to get along with throughout the beginning of the book. I remember significantly noting that I liked how she was strong and fierce but her character did NOT feel like Celaena from Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Once Feyre started to heal and move past her PTSD, she was understandably hardened from it but then she absolutely started to feel like the same character as Celaena and I was a bit disappointed. That essence that made her feel different was gone and I loved the badassery but and took that over the weird, rough Feyre that I couldn’t get a hold on.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New Adult non-contemporary. Most of the New Adult books I read (when I do read them) are of the contemporary romance variety due to that being the main market for NA. It’s interesting to read New Adult as a fantasy! I guess it’s not really that much different than YA or Adult fantasy but it feels so much different when actually classifying it as such!
Left Me Wanting More: Focus on the plot. I’ll tell ya. I was really missing the plot in the beginning. The beginning and middle were quite character-focused which I don’t have an issue with… when I’m not expecting the book to be plot-driven. It really took me a while to adjust.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

The ending was just fantastic and really kind of made up for the rocky times I had in the beginning. If we have similar reading tastes, just beware of possibly having the same issues here!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE WINNER'S KISS    shadow and bone

When We Collided – Emery Lord

When We Collided – Emery LordTitle: When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publishing Info: April 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 10, 2016
Related Posts: Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.
Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

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Emery Lord is an auto-buy author for me. I fell in love with her debut, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, and every book I read from her is a wonderful and thoughtful experience full of growth, friendship, and a little bit of romance. After finishing WHEN WE COLLIDED, one of the things that I’m really starting to appreciate is how incredibly individual each book feels from is predecessor. Emery Lord’s writing is deep and powerful but still allows each character to let their silly side show and really tells a very realistic story without getting caught up in the dramatics that some young adult books tend to overemphasize. Each book has had a very different story to tell and WHEN WE COLLIDED may be the most powerful one yet.

WHEN WE COLLIDED is the story of Vivi and Jonah but it’s also a story for anyone who’s dealt with grief, depression, mental illness, or really any hard times in their life. The reader learns that Vivi has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that Jonah’s father has recently passed away and his family is still grieving. WHEN WE COLLIDED chronicles the journey of these two characters throughout one summer as they crash into each other’s lives when they’re both at their very bottom and how they’re able to help each other grow and heal. The book is incredibly powerful. There’s so much emotion as Vivi and Jonah sift through their struggles individually and how once they start to open up, they’re really able to help and support each other by sharing their own personal hurdles.

What I loved the most about WHEN WE COLLIDED was how realistic everything truly felt. Sometimes I have a hard time connecting to big families like Jonah’s (especially young children for some reason) but just like Vivi, I easily fell in love with each and every one of them. Emery Lord is able to bring even minor characters into full color and share their dazzling personalities with the reader. I also really appreciated all of the personal experience as well as research that went into Vivi’s character. I haven’t personally seen the effects of bipolar disorder in any of my friends or family members (that I know of) but I felt like this was an incredibly realistic and thorough view of what someone with this disorder might be going through. Experiencing Vivi’s emotional highs and escalation as she went through her manic period was truly an emotional roller coaster and as an observer, I was incredibly nervous for her throughout the book. I was afraid of what might happen when that mania finally came back down and feared for when depression might hit. Vivi has a naturally spirited and unique personality so there was also this blur and question of whether her actions were simply because she was such a sizzling personality or whether some of her decisions were affected by her disorder.

I adored the relationship between Vivi and Jonah. It was such a sweet romance full of highs and lows and it was exactly what these two characters needed. Jonah needed someone who would break down the door and push themself into his life in order to really accept help and start to talk about what his family was going through. She opened Jonah up to acting a little silly sometimes and allowing himself to really act his age when there was so much weighing on his shoulders. Vivi needed someone a little grounded to reel her back in at times but still love her for exactly who she was. Jonah was able to offer her a peek into a big family and the loss of a loving father and these two really learned a lot from each other that they never set out to find.

I could really go on gushing about WHEN WE COLLIDED but it’s a book that really must be experienced. It was so incredibly well-written and I love how it shares some similar elements of Emery Lord’s previous books (strong female characters, great friendships, tons of growth) and yet it truly stands on its own. It was such an emotional ride for me and one that I will absolutely continue to recommend. If you haven’t read any of Emery Lord’s books yet, start anywhere but make sure you do read WHEN WE COLLIDED as soon as possible!
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

when we collided goodreads

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Vivi // Character Obsessions: Costume design, staying unique, fun, adventure.
Vivi was such a wonderfully layered character. She has this struggle with bipolar disorder but she’s so spirited to begin with that at times it’s hard to tell where this disorder creeps in but then you realize that so much of Vivi is just that adventurous, free, and bubbly. I loved her unique personality and you will never find a dull moment with Vivi. She really brought Jonah out of his shell and truly loved who she was.
Jonah // Character Obsessions: Family, responsibility, cooking, his father.
I adored Jonah’s love of cooking (some of these things seriously made me hungry!) and how much I fell in love with his big family. He has the burden of being one of the older siblings and really taking care of the littles as well as his mom as she continues to struggle with the loss of her husband. The whole family is still grieving and I admired Jonah’s strength (although I’m sure it didn’t feel like strength to him) as he attempted to piece his family back together again.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mental health awareness. I thought the authenticity of Vivi’s bipolar disorder was so accurate. I read the author’s note at the end of the book so I know she put a lot of personal experience into creating this character but also really did a ton of research as well to represent it as well as she possibly could.
Left Me Wanting More: Fairy tale endings. Obviously I wish for a fairy tale ending where everyone rides off into the sunset but actually… I’m glad that it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies in the end. Things get real and the ending is realistic and not just smacking a happy conclusion on there just for feels. I loved that I was left with some great feelings but it wasn’t overly sappy.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

You NEED to read Emery Lord’s books if you haven’t yet. Every single one is truly unique and WHEN WE COLLIDED is such a powerful story.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES    I WAS HERE