#MaasMondays: Week 7 – A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas

We are on HIGH alert for ACOWAR. 8 afternoons from now it will just me, my iPhone on do not disturb, ACOWAR, and a box of tissues for any rogue tears. It is starting to give me anxiety to find out what happens to all of our favorite characters. Ugh. And hooray. Because this book is going to be AMAZING.

This week I did my revisit of ACOTAR. Re-reading A Court of Thorns & Roses made me appreciate Tamlin a bit more, but also left me longing for Rhysand. So here’s my disclaimer, as usual… spoilers ahead.

ACOTAR focuses on the story of Feyre’s journey and her new life in the magic filled world of Prythian. We spend more time than I remembered in her village, and witness her hunting skills as well as her role of caretaker within her family. It is really easy to hate her family in this book. Her sisters seem spoiled, and worse, they seem to expect her to do everything for them. Her father may be ashamed of his injury, but you feel like he could do something–at the very least to keep Nesta in check. Feyre’s life is…well… sad. She’s weak from hunger, but strong and determined and a bit reckless, and finds comfort with a boy that she has no feelings for other than a desire to have companionship in an old barn. (Very romantic.) But to have that shows that she does have a desire for something better, something comforting and worth having.

If you haven’t read the book yet, and you are specifically looking for spoilers, you may be interested to know that Feyre is a human who lives south of a wall. The humans have no innate magic. The Fae, in Prythian, live north of the wall. How does she get there? Well, she kills a wolf while she is hunting that turns out to be a Fae in disguise. In the briefest of moments she thinks it could be Fae, but also doesn’t want it to kill the deer she was hunting. Besides, her family needs the meat. So she kills them both, and then Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court (though she doesn’t know that yet) shows up, busts down her cottage door, and claims her life in exchange for his friend’s. At this point, it all turns very Beauty and the Beast. In truth, his beast form to me always looks like the Beast from the B&tB. Tamlin, however, does not need to stay in beast form. It’s only his hunting form. Otherwise he is described as being tan, handsome, muscled, and pretty much what you would expect of a Disney-like prince.

Let’s move on to the QUICKish SUMMARY:

77493_originalFeyre kills a wolf and has to live in Tamlin’s home at the Spring Court of Prythian, away from her family, to fulfill a treaty code for killing a Fae. She isn’t tortured, but she is warned to stay close in his palace like home because everything in Prythian wants to kill humans. Apparently humans and Fae don’t get along that well, and in the meantime there is trouble in Prythian and the courts as there is a greater force at work that is affecting their magic, killing their young, and breaking the borders of their lands.

Tamlin and Feyre begin to have awkward exchanges. Lucien, Tamlin’s trusted emissary, tries to get her killed a couple of times but also becomes her friend in a way. Feyre nearly gets herself killed a couple of times on her own accord as well. As Tam and Feyre grow closer and things are a little tense, she is told to stay inside during a festival. She doesn’t stay inside because the drums are calling and she wants to see what’s going on. So she’s goes to the big bonfire party, and nearly immediately gets cornered by a few males only to be rescued by Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court. (She doesn’t know him or his title yet though.) All we know is that she thinks he is the most beautiful male she has ever seen. Rhysand sends off the other males and offers to escort her whereever she is going. Long story short, Feyre goes back to her room for the rest of the night, and after the rites are complete, Tamlin comes home and says that he was looking for her because he could smell her all the way out there among the bonfires and it was driving him mad. He couldn’t find her, so to complete his deed as the High Lord, he had to take another willing female, but he wanted her and he confesses he wanted only Feyre. She says “no sloppy seconds for me tonight” (not literally), and so we know she wants him to.

Tam and Feyre get together. Things are looking bad in Prythian, and there is danger. Tam sends Feyre back to the human realm. This is a very B&tB moment. You will know that she needs to say that she loves him, but she doesn’t even though she feels it, and instead goes home. She’s not home long as Nesta convinces her to go back. Seeing that her family is well taken care of (courtesy of Tamlin), she decides that she does love him, and must go back to stand by her man like the Suriel told her to. (Suriel = truth telling thing that is likely to kill anyone, and looks like a dementor.) She returns to find that the world is basically a wreck, magic is a wreck, and everyone has been taken “Under the Mountain” because she’s an idiot who didn’t break the curse in time, and all she had needed to do was tell Tamlin that she loved him. So she decides to go Under the Mountain to prove to Amarantha, the evilness within, that she does in fact love him.

Amarantha welcomes her to her court and makes a bargain with Feyre… if Feyre can answer a riddle, she will instantaneously release everyone (or something like that), and she can answer the riddle at ANY TIME. Otherwise Feyre will be put through 3 challenges of Amarantha’s devising. One each month. Again, long story short, Feyre defeats the 3 challenges (with a bit of help from Rhysand… okay, a LOT of help from Rhys), but Amarantha is displeased and says ha-ha-i-didn’t-say-i-would-release-everyone-instantly-via-the-challenges. Then Feyre, in her desperation, realizes the answer to the riddle. And Amarantha kills her. And Rhys lunges for Amarantha. And Tamlin kills Amarantha. And then all the High Lords give a ‘tear’ like thing of themselves to bring Feyre back to life. Feyre becomes Fae. She says farewell to Under the Mountain; Rhys and Feyre have an interesting departure from each other, and Tamlin and Feyre head to the Spring Court very happy to be together and alive.

Seriously, I am horrible at short summaries for long books.

What I really enjoyed about ACOTAR was the world building and all of the adventure (good and bad) that Feyre has in Prythian. Honestly, before she heads over the wall, things are pretty grim. And as I mentioned, her family is really frustrating. Life in the Spring Court may be life-threatening, but it is also enchanting. I loved Sarah’s departure from the B&tB storyline wherein she has Feyre (Belle) NOT fall head over heels at the library… because she can’t read. And also the further departure with all the fae rituals, and ultimately the horrors of Under the Mountain. Feyre has to fight so hard against the temptation to give up and leave Prythian doomed to Amarantha’s control.

What I enjoyed about the re-read of this was the little bits and pieces of Rhysand that we do get to see. I remember liking him from the start, and feeling like we (the readers) could see through his facade. When he shows up in ACOTAR, you just know something is going to happen between them because of their immediate attraction, but at the time you are so distracted by the Tamlin-ness, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Especially if you are in it for the Beauty and the Beast aspect and want nothing more than the Beast to get his Belle.

I am not generally a fan of Tam’s, but I love this book and their relationship within it. Tamlin, to me, is everything that Feyre needed to become strong but also to be cared for… something which was seriously lacking in her family life. And she, in her way, was also everything he needed. Not only because of the curse of the lands, but because he needed someone to love and to be loved by. So that’s all I can say about Feyre and Tamlin until the next book.

So my question for you, as many people criticize ACOTAR for being a bit slow. What was the moment for you that you knew this book was for you? Was it late in the game when they reached Under the Mountain? Or much sooner?

For me, it was when Lucien and Feyre first crossed paths with the bogghe. The description left me haunted and immersed, and from then on, there was no turning back. Up until then though, I remember thinking… this is good, but I don’t know what all the fuss is about, and I don’t understand when something will happen or where this is going. The bogghe changed everything for me because I finally crossed into wanting to know more about Prythian and the courts and all of the dangers and faeries about.

Let me know if you had a moment, or if it didn’t happen for you until ACOMAF!

Until next week. (So few days to go… sleep well all!)

TS

#MaasMondays: Week 6 – Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Week six already. I am going to keep this one shorter, even though this is the longest of all of the books. It was a struggle emotionally to get through this book again, though I of course loooovvveeee Empire of Storms. It did, however, remind me of how long we have to go until the next book. And that the next book isn’t even the next book, it’s a book with Chaol on the Southern Continent that happens at the same time as EoS. So there is a whole YEAR between us and the answers we need.

I keep thinking I will wait to read the Chaol novel until right before the last book comes out… but then I realize that is fairly delusional for me. There’s no way I could stay away from spoilers that long, and the only way to battle spoilers (or the search for them) is to read it immediately. And so that is my plan. What is your plan for the next two books?

Last word of warning… spoilers ahead.

Book Blurb:

28260587.jpgThe long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. 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.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

My quick summary:

I will try to do a better job at this for this week as last weeks went REALLY long.

Manon and the Thirteen are in the closest thing there is to hell currently, wherein their freedoms are slowly being stripped away, even though they are the elite of the witches. The long and short of it — Manon betrays her grandmother, saves Dorian, kills a witch, undergoes a trial, tells her 13 to get the heck out, the 13 get scattered in the hysteria, and Manon joins up with Dorian, Aelin and the gang. Also Kaltain is a bit of a rock star and blows up a fair amount of the abominations that were the result of witch / valg experiments. And Elide takes the wyrdstone, which she doesn’t know is a wyrdstone, and starts to carry it north to Celaena. Elide doesn’t know Celaena, but she is also looking for Aelin who she DOES know from her childhood. So Elide is walking around with her limp and looking for Celaena.

Lorcan finds Elide and they end up in a promise to help each other. This is an odd relationship, especially as we know what Lorcan is sort of up to. Are they a ship? Yes, ultimately, sort of. Lorcan ends up genuinely caring for Elide, and Elide does care of Lorcan. And I sort of ended up caring about Lorcan too, even though he is a bit of a jerk.

Manon and Dorian. Manon and Abraxos. Manon and Aelin. Manon makes friendships and is a badass. If you didn’t love her by now, you should with this book. Manon also finds out that she is half Crochan. And basically the most important witch there is. But we already knew that.

Aelin’s visit to Terrasen is short-lived. The lords of the land don’t want her to be their Queen. She’s not worthy other than her bloodline. So, she has to figure out how to be queen and show that she is more than a swashbuckling assassin that has done nothing for her home country. Other than leave it as a child. And set some fires. She pays a visit to a temple, learns a bunch from Gavin (much like she had with Elena in a sort of supernatural crossover event.) Then Erawan makes himself known to Aelin. It’s not pretty. Aelin realizes she has a whole lot to learn with her magic. Skipping ahead, Aelin gets to revisit the Pirate King (from the novellas) in order to use his magic map tattoos and find the lock in the swamp. Before the swamp, they have an all out battle in the bay and Lysandra transforms herself into a sea dragon in order to hopefully get a certain people to come out of hiding and be on her side. Also a goddess takes control of Aelin’s body during the battle, and she nearly annihilates everyone. Aelin’s got a whole lot of depth to her magic, and she needs to learn to control it to keep gods and goddesses from taking over again. Aelin and Rowan seal the deal with their relationship in terms of physicality. (This is where ToG goes from YA to NA.)

Then. Lots of things happen in the swamp. Everything and everyone sort of converge and there is chaos and clarity all in one. Aelin and Manon learn the truth about the bargain Elena made–and pretty much it means that Aelin is the sacrificial lamb for the gods to get Erawan and all the gods back into another realm. We also learn that Nehemia sort of figured all of this out awhile ago, but she isn’t one of the ones in Elena’s bloodline that could complete the task. The only options are Aelin and Dorian. And Aelin was the one that was ready.

Then there is everything that comes after. And this is where it starts to hurt.

  1. We find out that Rowan and Aelin got married.
  2. All of Aelin’s old friends from the novellas start to turn up.
  3. Maeve shows up with her Armada, and lets us know that Aelin and Rowan are actual mates. His prior wife was not a mate at all. Also she lets us know that Aelin was/is probably a few years from settling as an immortal Fae. And while the battles ensues, she takes away Aelin after placing an iron mask on her, iron chains, and locking her into a coffin-like box to make sure that she can’t use her magic.
  4. We find out that Aelin had a contingency plan wherein Lysandra will now shift into Aelin’s form to help carry on the greater plan for the greater good.

There is still so much skipped in this summary, and it is still achingly long. Okay. But at least I tried.

The couple of this book?

All of them. Literally enough ships to please anyone, and yet also annoy those who don’t like it when everyone is in a relationship. We had Aelin and Rowan, Aedion and Lysandra, Dorian and Manon, Elide and Lorcan. The world is crumbling around all of them, and it seems a little natural that they realize that living for someone now will give them some comfort if the next battle could be their last. There is definitely an overhanging feeling that one of them could die at any time. And when Aelin is locked up and carted away… you can’t help but wonder how things are going to get better without getting much, much worse.

 

Instead of getting into favorite quotes, I am going to forego that until my next read through before the final book comes out. There are tender moments and realizations, bold statements and heart-and-eye-clawing-and-tears-and-agony. The iron coffin is haunting. And though I imagine that things will still turn out for the best, and that Sarah has set us up in the best way possible for the final installment, I cannot help but feel wrecked by this book.

I suppose what I loved to much about this book is how everything re-focused, re-told the story of Erawan in a new light, empowered, and utterly shattered everything. The characters are drawn together by something greater than themselves, and they can only hope that with every step they take, every action that they try to make things right, that they will have a tomorrow worth having. This book, moreso than the others, is like a whirling dervish of excitement, action, revelations, emotions, and trust. Where one breaks, the rest is on the edge of ruin.

There are a lot of fans who criticize Aelin in EoS for not trusting others with her ultimate plan. But, to be honest, did she really know that everything was going to go as it did? Did she know that the people she sent messages to would really come to her aid? I think the only thing you can really be mad at her, and LYSANDRA, for is their pact to have Lysandra act in Aelin’s stead. And even so, I believe that what happened with Maeve is part of Aelin’s plan… her plan to NOT be the sacrificial lamb, but to still win the war against Erawan. I think she knows that Rowan will come for her, and that they still have a chance.

Ugh. Anyway.

I am so ready to move on to ACOTAR tomorrow and revisit Feyre’s journey. Are you doing an ACOTAR and ACOMAF re-read? How many days are left? (Not many!)

Until next week.

TS

Book Note: The Epilogue (The One #3.1) by Kiera Cass and why you won’t see a review about The Heir and The Crown here…

Just look at those beautiful covers. You’ll see a lot of posts about the dresses for The Selection series, and with good reason… the dresses on these covers are stunning. And the dresses described within are just as lush and drool-worthy if you love fashion and the idea of people making clothing to your exact size on a regular basis. It’s a luxury that is fun to read about.

Anyway. The Epilogue (The One 3.1) is only a few pages long. But it gave me exactly the right feel-good ending that I wanted. Don’t get me wrong… the end of The One was great too, but it was quite abrupt compared to the rest of the series, and though it was feel good, there was something missing. Seeing a moment of the happily ever after was the perfect was to end the series.

Then I read the first 100 pages of The Heir. And I knew if I continued, I would never forgive myself for ruining the perfect ending of The Epilogue / The One. I’m very happy that there are children, really I am. But Eadlyn is a spoiled, entitled self-righteous nightmare that must take after the grandfather that got offed in the last book, and if she doesn’t turn it around and learn something from what her parents went through… I just… I can’t. So I DNF’d it, and will choose to forget it exists. I cannot understand why a daughter of these two people would be this way… it makes zero sense. This is where the series jumped the shark.

So truly, I hope those who loved the last two books will forgive me. I’m done. My story on this ends with the perfect few pages of the Epilogue. Thee End.

Book Review Backlist: The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

This is my FAVORITE of the series. And it shouldn’t be. But it is. Finally everything happens. EVERYTHING. The whole rebel storyline finally makes sense, and the King vs. the people comes to a head, and Maxon and America learn to trust each other but also try to destroy each other again. It is a rollercoaster much like the first book again, and it is highly addictive.

18635016Maxon shows a lot of his true colors in this book. He is thoughtful, and eager to be a leader of CHANGE, and quite disagreeable at times, and has a tendency for the dramatic and a short fuse. But really you do feel like he loves America, so when she finally loves him back and sticks to that realization… it’s a magic moment.

Within the book comes Maxon’s plan to set things right, his decision of who he wants at his side when he does change the country, his trust of the northern rebels, and his exposed jealousy of Aspen. For America we learn that she has grown, that she is daring and jealous, that she trusts the northern rebels (thanks in a large part to her father), that she loves Maxon and wants to help change the country, and that her older brother is a jerk. (Had to be said. Kota sucks.)

This isn’t a series that makes you necessarily fear the future, and the possibility of a castle system after World War 4 (although the thought of two more world wars is terrifying). It’s not mind-bending in its ideas about how terrible the future could be for the US. And it isn’t a series that makes you believe everything could be fixed by a prince with a good heart and a girl from the artist caste. But it does showcase how fragile relationships are, whether they are family or friend, lover or enemy. It also shows how false perceptions can alter someone’s opinion, and that facades are common between the public and public figures.

So read it for the relationships, and enjoy the intriguing dystopian setting (even if it isn’t perfect), and hope that if you do have a ship, that it turns out to be the one that wins. Also prepare yourself for an evil twist that will rip your heart out.

Book Review Backlist: The Elite (The Selection # 2) by Kiera Cass

Deep from the TBR pile, I’ve moved forward on The Selection series. I have put off writing this review/discussion mostly because I had a rush of books I wanted to get through, including The One and the novellas around this series. So now it’s time to go back through and re-gather my thoughts. Because I’ve finished the series as much as I’m going to at this point, there are definitely some spoilers in the discussion below.

16248068.jpgSo “The Elite”. Where to begin? This was not my favorite book in the series, but I think it was still well-balanced. Although, as a side note, I have to say the whole security at the palace is a bit lacking. Rebels are legit busting in all the time. It really made me think that a lot of the guards are on the wrong side. Anyway… continuing on.

The Elite is so named because Maxon has narrowed down his choices from the original 35 girls down to 6. Usually I think it is 8, but he chopped a bunch because he was worried about their safety and didn’t want to waste their time anymore if he didn’t see a future for them. America is struggling a bit with her feelings, which makes sense as she is a teenager. She pushes him away, they are sharp with each other, and yet she also gets jealous and wants more of his time, but then sees him spending more time with the other girls, she gets jealous again, and the cycle thus continues.

What I didn’t like, and still don’t, is that Aspen is making things difficult. He was her first love, and he broke her heart, and now he’s back in the picture as a guard and trying to win her over again like she’s hers to be won. I’m sorry. That’s just awful. He is in a position of power (true, not as high as the prince, but he is a guard with access to the whole castle), and she isn’t really consenting to having any sort of relationship with him except when he pushes it or when she is emotionally hurting because of the whole Selection process. So, yes, I don’t like Aspen. Sorry, not sorry.

I did enjoy the push and pull of the relationship between America and Maxon. I always felt like he cared about her and had her best interests at heart. This book focuses so much on the love triangle though, of which Maxon isn’t even aware he is a part of because he doesn’t know Aspen is the guy from America’s past that wrecked her heart… Maxon knows that she is trying to get over it, as he knows about him, but he doesn’t realize that he’s literally in the palace. But, even so, Maxon is wary… you can see signs of it when he notices the jar with the penny and other moments. Really though Maxon has his hands full enough with 5 others girls, his parents, and rebels breaking into the palace on the regular.

The Elite also really hit home that this is a dystopian series. Much more than The Selection, which focused on the Bachelor-esque nature more than anything.

We also learn that the northern rebels are stealing books. Lots of people have criticized this, but it actually makes SOME sense. Although you would think they’d be a little more discriminating in the books they take… not that we know which ones they are, but they are out in the open in the palace, unlike the locked away books which we know about from Maxon trusting America with a secret journal of Gregory Illea. To have books stolen means that the rebels are looking for information, and it signifies more than ever that the information is controlled by the crown. Which is true in this series. We are told that most history is passed on through orations, a verbal folklore-esque style of narrative wherein people aren’t really sure what the truth is anymore.

The southern rebels are just violently calling for an end to the Selection. Which I guess also makes sense because they want an end to the monarchy as well. As long as Maxon doesn’t get a princess, there won’t be another member of the royal family from the Schreave line. In theory.

America overall is reckless, emotional, destructive, naive, jealous, selfish, and CONFUSED. The girl is a wreck. But I loved her anyway, even when I wanted to give her a throat punch. She is incredibly loyal to Marlee, and her little sister and family, and she is in a very confusing situation. People do not have the best brought out in them by competing for a boyfriend or girlfriend that deep into a relationship (to the point of having to decide if you love them). It isn’t a regular circumstance that people are equipped to deal with, so to have it under such high stakes would be awful.

One question that lingered for me in this book was… even though I loved Maxon… what if the rebels are right to overthrow the monarchy? It’s very interesting to be on the inside of a situation that people are fighting. It’s a perspective that the Hunger Games and many other dystopian series do not approach their story from. What if Divergent was told from outside the walls, or from the leaders that were trying to hold their faction together? What if the Hunger Games were told from the position President Snow’s daughter (not that he had one) and her preparing to marry and bring joy back to the country? It makes you wonder how awful the King is that his people are revolting against their rulers. Because you don’t get a lot of reasons or time with the King in these books. Mostly just Maxon who seems well-liked, as well as his mother the Queen.

So The Elite was a necessary book to get to The One. But again, not my favorite. 3/5 Stars.