New Adult, New Adult Romance, YA Fantasy

My Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: May 2nd, 2017
Number of Pages: 699 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, New Adult, New Adult Romance

***This review contains major spoilers from the previous books, so continue reading at your own risk. You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – A Court of Thorns and Roses – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – A Court of Mist and Fury – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast for the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.25 Stars

When I first read the book back in 2017 when it was first released, I was once again blown away and majorly entertained by yet another book title released by Sarah J. Maas—if you’d read A Court of Mist and Fury, you were probably just as excited—but looking back into it all these years later leaves a bitter taste in my mouth…

You guys, this book was pretty disappointing…

I think what happened was that I was so excited, so anxious to see what happened next after ACoMaF; to see Feyre and Rhysand reunited once again now that they’re officially mated and she’s now the first ever High Lady in the history of Prythian. That, along with wanting to see the how the final battle played out, and to see if all the couples that fellow fans shipped would finally get together or not. We all wanted to see what would happen in those regards, that maybe some of us skimmed over everything else that was actually wrong with this book. Once we had time to soak it all in and get what we wanted, we could go back and see for ourselves more and more things that weren’t handled well, and we were left disappointed in the outcome. Some people were able to catch them right away, but not me…consider me initially fooled.

Part of me feels guilty that I didn’t catch a lot of the issues right off the bat, even if some of them are issues that only a specific group of people were offended by, but the fact that I first saw nothing wrong with the story aspects that were called out, but then again, is anyone the same person they were three years ago? I’ve read so many books since then, broadened my horizons, grown as a young man since graduating college, and have developed a stronger critical eye for writing and the books I choose to read. Plus, my world views have changed and have seen the real world and how it works, so case in point…I’ve changed. There’s no use beating myself up over not being informed enough then, but accept what I know now moving forward and being able to recognize it in future stories.

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings 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.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

What I Liked:

  1. Feyre’s Antics Back in the Spring Court! Going off the perfect ending to A Court of Mist and Fury, Feyre has been brought back to the Spring Court with a delusional Tamlin, and everyone there expects things to go back to the way they were, except for one major change: Feyre’s now secretly the freakin’ High Lady of the Night Court. Like a Trojan Horse, she’s going to infiltrate enemy territory and cause a little—or a lot—of chaos. Some of her acts are pretty great, like in Lucien’s bedroom…but I wish SJM had some more fun with this part of the book.
  2. Supernatural Battles! ***Spoiler Alert***……………………In the final battle for the fate of the realm, Feyre and the other courts get a little help from some supernatural baddies: The Bone Carver, The Weaver of the Woods, and a shadow known as Bryaxis. I don’t know if they’re just otherworldly monsters or if they’re considered “old world gods,” but their addition was a really cool touch. I wish they wouldn’t have died so easily, when Nesta and Elaine seemed to be able to kill the King almost too easily….but for what it was, I enjoyed their addition to the battle.
  3. Bryaxis! What a fun monster he turned out to be! I love the fact that we never actually see his true form, and the mystery surrounding the monster in general, but even Cassian was afraid of this…thing that lurks in the shadows at the bottom of the library, and the way he was introduced was fun too! Really creepy.
  4. The Worldbuilding (Again)! For this book in particular, I may mean that with the supernatural aspect of it it all. With creatures like Bryaxis, The Suriel, The Weaver of the Woods, The Bone Carver, the Ouroboros, and even Amren, gave SJM’s book a darker and creepier vibe that I really got into. Now, what she didn’t need to do was backup, chicken out on it, and try to humanize them. She should’ve just kept them as sadistic and ominous monsters, to be honest, and let their chaotic evilness reign supreme.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Back to the Beginning…While I enjoyed some of Feyre’s antics and schemes while she was back in the Spring Court, not a whole lot else happens. Actually, not a whole lot happens in the first major chunk of the book except for all the major planning and strategizing for the major war ahead. While that can sometimes be an interesting driver of the story itself, it wasn’t the case here.
  2. Major Plot Inconsistencies…***Okay, so major spoilers in this one, so seriously consider skipping over if you haven’t read it yet*** ………..but I’m talking about when Rhysand dies and is resurrected by Feyre and the other High Lords (much like she was in the first book). It’s been said how the power of the High Lords is passed down through generation to generation, and Rhysand is supposed to be the most powerful out of all of them…so how is that possible, exactly? Each High Lord has their own specific power, and it manifests into their heir, so how is he more powerful than the others? Also, if he was resurrected like Feyre, how come he didn’t inherit their powers like she did? Also, what exactly is Nesta’s power? Death? Among other things, I did start to notice that maybe the magic system could’ve used some fine tuning, because it became a plot convenience.
  3. Random Coming Out of the Closet…***Another spoiler ahead***…….so yeah, a character reveals that they are actually queer, and it’s handled just so poorly. It was treated like an afterthought, purely for cheap shock value. Yes….I do mean Mor and Azriel. Not that I’m upset that a possible hetero couple didn’t work out for once, inaction and avoidance of the confrontation that needed to happen has led to casting Mor into a less than stellar light. Stringing Azriel along and giving him a false sense of hope isn’t cool, and he deserved more than that. I get the fear of showing vulnerability, and accepting/revealing this part of yourself as identifying as queer is a big thing, but for how long she’d known him (500 years?), maybe their relationship wasn’t as strong as we’d like to believe it was if she felt she could never confide in him or let the guy off easy. I recognize that SJM has obviously listened to her fans included more LGBT characters, and she did make it so that homophobia—for the most part—wasn’t a thing to worry about. Unfortunately, a character who turned out to be bi/pansexual (it’s never fully clarified) was handled rather poorly too. Basically, they’re the horny individual who wants to have sex with everyone of both genders, and usually at the same time. It’s kind of a stereotype, and I thought it was hot at first, but hearing from others that this was poor representation made me change my mind.
  4. The Underdeveloped Villain…Who even is the King of Hybern outside of his scheme to take over the realm? Hardly any personality, hardly anything is revealed, or even told through reputation…I would’ve rather had Ianthe, Tamlin, or even the Bone Carver ending up being the big boss villain in the end.
  5. The Romance/Sex Scenes…Yes, a lot of us can agree that SJM isn’t the greatest at writing a sex scene, but I feel like that’s not entirely her fault, so let me explain. I feel like she can go further with this aspect of her writing ability, but it was more how limited based off the fact that she’s trying to include smut in a YA novel, and words like cock, fuck, vagina, clit, etc. can’t really be used for the younger reading level. She was threading a delicate line with this is in her book, and obviously wanted to write it more through the actions of a full grown adult rather than through the eyes of a teenager, which is the main fanbase that this book was marketed towards. I don’t need to go into the other words/phrases she used instead: the devouring and feasting that occurred, even after a treacherous battle and witnessing many others die before their eyes…I feel like that’s been poked to death by plenty of other readers. Think back to The Hunger Games movies, and how a lot of people said they would’ve been better if they were rated R, but were PG-13 instead to make more money? It kind of reminds me of that, so maybe she has the ability to write these scenes well, it was more how she did what she could with the materials she was limited to use.
  6. The Under-usage of Amren as a Character…I was disappointed with how little we saw of Amren, and how she became more of background character who stayed behind and simply read books to give the group answers while she sips on blood in a wine glass. Also, was anyone disappointed when it’s finally revealed what she is? I was expecting more there…
  7. Not Everyone Needed to End Up with Someone…It’s becoming a similar theme in all of SJM’s books, but almost all major players have to end up with someone, or there’s major hints at two people getting together later on. While I’m a hopeless romantic at heart and love seeing people finding their soulmate, but….there’s also nothing wrong with being single. It’s beginning to feel like in SJM’s worlds, you need to end up with someone in order to matter or be happy. This can go into the acephobia criticism the book has gotten, but I feel like others can explain that better than I can, so I’ll leave it to them.
  8. More People Needed to Die For Higher Impact…***Major Spoilers***…………This sounds unsettling I know…but I think more major characters should’ve died in the final battle. It feels too safe that they all made it out in the end…not completely unscathed, of course, but the book would’ve had so much more emotional impact if say… Mor died before she could’ve had that conversation with Azriel, Amren died after her true form saved them for the moment, Tamlin got killed for his one little spec of a moment when he wasn’t a total piece of trash, or if Rhysand had stayed dead. Make things feel dangerous and unpredictable, that literally ANYONE could wind up dead at any moment! It’s part of what made Game of Thrones such a blatant success when it was running during it’s first few seasons: so many character deaths, including major players like almost every Stark Royal, Joffrey, Tywin, The Direwolves, Khal Drogo, the Direwolves, plus many more…some of these I’m still not over.

Conclusion:

A shiny new toy that I absolutely adored when I first got my hands on it back in 2017, going back into it all this time later leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as I’ve noticed more and more things about this book that I’d either ignored, or hadn’t even realized I didn’t like it at the time. I feel like I’ve become a much different reader and overall human being since the time I first read this, and I can take note more things to call out on in whatever books I choose to read.

I’m torn on how SJM and Bloomsbury have decided to rebrand this series and rerelease it as an Adult level Fantasy Genre series. While It’s been one of the most popular series in recent memory amongst YA readers, there’s no doubt that there’s been some major controversy over some of the more mature themes it presents. I’ve always known it be more New Adult than Young Adult, although I’m conflicted about the new cover designs…I wasn’t crazy about the original covers, but I don’t necessarily fangirl shriek in anticipation of these new ones either…Here’s a comparison below for those that don’t know what I’m talking about:

The original Young Adult Covers:

The rebranded Adult Covers:

Don’t let my many criticism’s fool you, I do still enjoy the book, and will continue to read on as the stories get released. I was just disappointed with its execution and the direction SJM decided to go in on certain aspects of the story. I really enjoy the characters and look forward to reading more into others now that I feel like Feyre and Rhysand’s story is pretty much done. My impression is that the other books being released will be more like a spinoff, and other characters will get their own books, but I am nervous about continuing if my main reason for holding on rests solely with them. The next book, A Court of Frost and Starlight, is a novella instead of a full length novel, and will act as more of a bridge between the two era’s of this world created by SJM.

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fancasts/Dreamcasts

My Fancast/Dreamcast: The Crescent City Series by Sarah J. Maas

Image courtesy of marysue.com

In the start of a brand new ADULT fantasy series by one of my favorite authors, we are once again introduced to an astounding cast of characters in another richly detailed world created by one of the Queens of YA Fantasy. This book just released earlier in 2020, so of course I wanted to share my own personal fancast of this book that I’d devoured since I’d opened it’s pages.

To see my full review of book 1 – House of Earth and Blood Click HERE

Here’s the official blurb:

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

~~~

Here is my official Fancast/Dreamcast:

~~~

Danika Fendyr: Elle Evans

Image courtesy of marriedbiography.com

Elle is a model/actress that I came across during my search for some cute blondes; I guess she’s most notably from Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video.

Jesiba Roga: Evan Rachel Wood

Image courtesy of the actress’s IMDB profile

Evan Rachel Wood is an absolute show-stealer in HBO’s “Westworld,” and when I’d read Jesiba’s description in the book, Evan immediately came to mind, especially when I remembered her wearing this look to the Golden Globes in recent memory.

Connor Holstrom: Stephen Amell

Credit to owner

Stephen Amell has the perfect look for the second in command of Danika’s pack. For any of you DC/Marvel fans, Stephen has recently finished his most notable role from the CW’s “Arrow.” Despite how the book plays out, I really did wish Bryce and Connor could’ve had a chance.

Ithan Holstrom: Robbie Amell

Image courtesy of tvovermind.com

Ithan is Connor’s younger brother in this story, so why not get Stephen Amell’s cousin to play the role? I’ve been in love with Robbie ever since he played Max in Disney Channel’s Life With Derek, and he’s been in The Babysitter, The DUFF, and the CW’s The Flash.

Thorne: Steve Lund

Image courtesy of http://www.stevelund.net

Danika also had a chance at happiness with Thorne, who was a quieter member of their pack. He didn’t say much, but Steve came to mind of who I’d thought he’d looked like. Steve has been in the shows Bitten, Schitts Creek, and even had a brief appearance in Blue Mountain State.

Sabine Fendyr: Madchen Amick

Image courtesy of the actress’s Twitter profile

I absolutely adore her as Alice Cooper in the CW’s hit show, Riverdale, and thought of her when I’d gotten to meet Danika’s absolutely despicable mother.

Fury Axtar: Gemma Chan

Image courtesy of fashiongonerogue.com

Gemma has such striking features; she’s stuck with me ever since I’d seen her in Crazy Rich Asians. Looking at Sarah J. Maas’s Pinterest board for the book, I learned the mercenary/assassin was of Eastern Asian descent, so of course I’d think Gemma would be a great Fury!

Juniper Andromeda: Jessica Parker Kennedy

Image courtesy of the actress’s IMDB profile

She’s in the TV Show Black Sails, and she has the exact look I’d think graceful and statuesque Juniper would appear as.

Isaiah Tiberian: Elliot Knight

Image courtesy of the actor’s Twitter profile

He played Merlin in ABC’s Once Upon a Time, and also briefly appeared in How To Get Away with Murder. Feel free to check him out on social media and see his bromance with bestselling LGBTQ YA author, Adam Silvera too!

Viktoria Vargos: Jenna Dewan

Image courtesy of rebeccanorinne.com

The former Mrs. Channing Tatum, who is an actress and dancer, has been around dance all her life and has been linked to several big names in the music industry before she starred in the 2006 dance flick, Step Up.

Ruhn Danaan: Finn Wittrock, or Tiago Carreira

Image courtesy of the actor’s official Facebook page
Image courtesy of model.com

Ruhn was by far was the hardest to find someone to cast…he’s got such unique look to him! Odds are whoever would plays him will be spending A LOT of time in make-up to get the look of the Fae Prince. Finn has been most notably seen in American Horror Story since its fourth season, while Tiago is a gorgeous model who I wouldn’t mind seeing on my screen!

Naomi Borgeas: Tessa Thompson

Image courtesy of fashiongonerogue.com

Badass female character who’s a POC…it almost goes without saying that Tessa Thompson is made for that role!

Justinian: Harry Lloyd

Image courtesy of theapricity.com

This one is still kind of up in the air for me to be honest…

Lehabah: Lizzo

Image courtesy of affinitymagazine.com

This is a match made in heaven…the famous music artist would make an amazing firesprite who’s all about the latest gossip and the hottest males who enter Bryce’s life. I just pictured this character being more curvy and similar to Lizzo’s figure.

The Autumn King: Viggo Mortensen

Image courtesy of http://www.fanpop.com

It’s hard to imagine Viggo playing such a prick of a character like the High Fae Autumn King, especially since he’s frickin’ Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings movies. I know he’s a terrific actor, and I’d want him to try this completely different role than the one I’m so used to seeing him as.

The Viper Queen: Lourdes Faberes

Image courtesy of the actress’s IMDB profile

I’d recently watched the mini-series Good Omens, and really enjoyed seeing her play one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, Pollution, and think she’d also crush the role of the sketchy drug dealer in Crescent City.

Philip Briggs: Michael McElhatton

Credit to owner

He played the slimy and deceptive Roose Bolton in Game of Thrones, so I’d think he’d play the human terrorist/rebel who has had unspeakable terrors happen to him behind bars.

Micah Domitus: Casper Van Dien

Image courtesy of the actor’s IMDB profile

I know him best from the Starship Troopers movies that were so bad that they were actually good, but he’s got such a commanding look; he’d be able to nail the powerful role of the governor who hardly takes “no” for an answer.

Tristan Flynn: Theo James

Image courtesy of weheartit.com

To be honest, I don’t remember much that was said about his appearance, but if Tristan is such a big flirt, he’s got to have the looks to back it up, right? Theo James, without a question, can step up to the plate.

Declan Emmett: Finn Jones

Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly Magazine

Another Game of Thrones alumni, Finn Jones went from playing a Tyrell to being Danny Rand on Iron Fist.

Sandriel: Evangeline Lilly

Image courtesy of http://www.99starimages.com

Evangeline is so beautiful, it’s intimidating…she can kick some serious ass as an elf in The Hobbit movies, and is also a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Ant-Man alongside Paul Rudd. I think the bombshell would have no problem playing the ruthless and powerful governess of the northern region of Pangera.

Tharion Ketos: Austin Zenere

Credit to owner

Austin is a model, and Tharion is an extremely good looking mermaid…so it’s pretty much an easy set up there, right? I really hope we see more of Tharion and the other merpeople in the later books!

Ember Quinlan: Rose Byrne

Image courtesy of celebmafia.com

Ember was the perfect combination of funny but protective whenever it came to her daughter, Byrce. I feel like Rose Byrne would be perfect to play her, I pretty much love every movie she’s in!

Randall Quinlan: Don Cheadle

Image courtesy of Variety Magazine

Don Cheadle is extremely versatile as an actor; he can be serious in movies like Hotel Rwanda and Crash, but can show his comedy skills when he joined the MCU. Randall is the kind of father that can joke around one moment, but can become hardass, military dad with excessive intimidation in his arsenal the next.

Aidas: Lucas Bloms

Image courtesy of avemanagement.com

Perhaps the most interesting character in the whole book, the 5th Demon Prince leaves quite an impression, and must be as striking as he is chilling. Lucas Bloms is a model who’s VERY easy on the eyes, so can he manage to cast the perfect amount of wickedness as his character? I’d like to watch to find out!

Pollux Antonius: Austin Jenkins

Image courtesy of the wrestler’s Instagram profile

Another WWE wrestler because…why not? It’s my fancast, and this guy who plays the ultra-cocky “Adam Cole” character every week definitely gives me vibes for Sandriel’s commander of the triarii, the Malleus, and master of torture.

Queen Hypaxia Enador: Shay Mitchell

Image courtesy of http://www.gotceleb.com

Shay Mitchell is a favorite of mine ever since I’d first laid eyes on her in the hit TV show, Pretty Little Liars. She then completely switched up her character to play Peaches Salinger in the (now) Netflix show You. She has such a unique look, I’m a big fan, and I’d love to have her be a part of this casting!

Hunt Athalar: Colby Lopez, Enrico Ravenna, or Mario Blanco

Image courtesy of wwe.com
Image courtesy of picuki.com
Image courtesy of malemodelscene.net

Colby Lopez is a WWE Superstar who goes by the name “Seth Rollins” when he get’s inside the ring, so besides the looks, he’d obviously be able to perform the more physically demanding stunts with playing the infamous fallen angel nicknamed the Umbra Mortis. The other two guys are models, but they aren’t hard to look at at all, and it helps that they both physically fit the bill.

Bryce Quinlan: Natalie Marie Nelson

Image courtesy of the actress’s Twitter account

Natalie is a gorgeous actress/reality tv star who is most well known for when she was in the WWE and E!’s reality show “Total Divas”, under the ring name “Eva Marie.” Her hair is no longer red, but look her up and see for yourself how amazing she’d look the part!

~~~

So, there you have it! We’re only one book into this new series, so expect more characters to be added as time goes forward, and even expect some to be recasted too! I’m not 100% about a few of them, and I hope to make it a stronger fancast once we have more descriptions to go off of.

I’m very open to hear about any other names people may have; maybe it’s an actor/model/etc. whom I’ve never even heard of before.

P.S: I’ve also fancasted SJM’s “Throne of Glass” and “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series which can be found up on the main menu under “Fancasts/Dreamcasts.”

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

New Adult Romance, YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: May 5th, 2015
Number of Pages: 419 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, Romance, New Adult

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

Another title to add to those that fall under the modern retellings of classic fairytales, this one being Beauty and the Beast, but coming from the author of the bestselling Throne of Glass series, there’s no way I wasn’t going to give this a try. Like any SJM book, the reviews are mostly lovingly obsessive and elated over having another YA Fantasy series of hers to get into, and with reading the blurb on what this book is about, it also makes total sense.

After completing this book, I felt the same things as when I read Throne of Glass for the first time: intrigued, entertained, and hopeful for all the possibilities where this story could possibly go. We have a young heroine, a fascinating world, gorgeous fae men, snarky comebacks, and a teasing sample of the evil that threatens their world, and all the while this book also feels like pure set up for what else may come our way, and oh boy, there will probably be a lot coming! The main differences in this story is:

1.) it’s more high fantasy and less grimdark like the beginning of TOG

2.) Romance is put on the forefront instead of a story of revenge/redemption.

What It’s About:

Feyre Archeron, the youngest of three sisters along with only their father, has grown up used to being the only one who can actually take care of her family, who live in poverty and can barely scrape by. They live in the southern, mortal lands of Prythian, where humans have an uneasy treaty with the High Lords of the Fae, who all have their own kingdoms throughout the land north of the invisible force field known as “The Wall.”

The Map of Prythian, courtesy of the series wiki page

When out in the woods hunting for food, Feyre witnesses a wolf trying to take the deer she pursued, and ends up killing it out of self defense. She has no idea the choice she made right then and there would change her life forever, because it turned out that the wolf was actually a powerful fae who’d altered their appearance, and mortals killing anyone fae comes with deadly consequences.

The High Lord of the Spring Court, Lord Tamlin, comes to her home to take her and have her live at his chateau as his prisoner (although, if how she lives there is called a prison, she’s not really suffering too much). Tamlin wears a golden mask that hides most of his features, but seems weary of answering a lot of the questions that pop up along the way, which only makes Feyre even more curious to want to find out more the longer she’s there, but as she learns why, her initial distrust and hostility slowly turns to passion and lust as she also discovers the dangers that lurk within the magical realm.

It turns out theres an ancient curse on the land, and Feyre may have something to do in order to being able to help faerie kind break it before its too late, and the man she comes to love will be lost forever…

What I Liked:

  1. Lots and Lots of Great Characters! SJM absolutely excels at creating fun, interesting characters and giving them a unique dynamic to help drive the story. In this title, I’d say my favorite characters are Lucien, the crafty but loyal best friend of Tamlin, The Suriel who is a low fae that is extremely hard to find but has to tell the truth of any question you have should you capture him, and Rhysand…oh Rhysand…how much I want to say, but in due time with later book reviews…in this title, he’s a conflicting character; an intriguing villain/anti-hero, the High Lord of the Night Court and the most powerful of all the High Lords of the Fae, but is the right hand man of a madwoman…well, those fae males can’t be entirely perfect.
  2. Hints at More to Come! Like the first TOG title, this book felt like it was just entirely set up for what’s to come later on in the series, and one thing I love doing is brainstorming, thinking of all sorts of ideas of what those possibilities may actually be, and even helps me develop my own ideas for writing.
  3. The Worldbuilding! SJM seemed to have took more time and delicately plan out the world she wanted to have this story take place in, and seems to want to share every aspect of it, except that she doesn’t go into as much detail as I’d have liked about the other courts within Prythian. There’s seven total courts total, and they are differentiated by the seasons (Summer, Spring, Autumn, and Winter) along with the time of day (Dawn, Day, Night). The reason I put this in the “like” column is because my hope was that these courts are all shown to us later on in the series, and I was incredibly interested to see how the author made these different kingdoms come to life.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. It’s Slower Paced…SJM’s writing has improved over time and has become so much more eloquent and compelling, and there’s a ton of action going on in her other series around the time this title was released, but you may feel like you’re taking a few steps back with this one, as the overall pacing is much slower than what we’ve gotten used to. The worldbuilding is given much more specific attention, but the real danger/action doesn’t start until the last third of the book, which is kind of a shame because the author writes action so incredibly well. This story feels a little less plot driven, but more character driven and just plain exploring a new and unusual world, which isn’t always the best route to go in terms of a fantasy genre novel. Luckily, there are little snippets that hint at danger that can keep you guessing and wondering enough to keep on reading!
  2. It’s Not really a Retelling…So after reading this book, I can conclude that while there are many aspects that may be seen as similar, it’s not entirely an actual Beauty and the Beast retelling, or if it is, it’s not the best in terms of that aspect. Tamlin seems to be put in the position as the Beast: the ruler of the cursed land, the one who must somehow break that curse, and has his subjects who also share the punishment with him. While I personally know more into the story as I type this review, I know this is not true at all…but like I said, more on that later in other reviews…All I can say to sum it all up is, yes, the first part of this story feels like another retelling, but then when Feyre goes under the mountain, it changes the whole game!

Conclusion:

Sarah J. Maas does it again with the start of another fantasy series that feels so very different from Throne of Glass, and allows us to once again start over with her words, but this time after having her writing improve dramatically over the years. The world she’s created for this is much more complex, but the pacing is slower than what we’ve come to be used to with her writing…Feyre is no Aelin, that is for sure… Romance takes a bigger, more central role to the story, and the vibe is much more sensual than most YA titles seem to go towards, which leads me to say that for those that care should know that it’s a little more mature than what the genre usually gives us. If you don’t cringe at sex scenes, yay for you! Enjoy 😉

I don’t necessarily recommend this title for those looking for a Beauty and the Beast retelling; it’s there, but it’s also not prominent in the overall execution, but more for those searching for a love story involving the Fae. It is a love story in a way, along with the threat of an evil overlord who threatens the world, but those who like stories that focus on romance will definitely enjoy this title!

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: August 27th 2013
Number of Pages: 418 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, Romance

***WARNING*** This review may contain spoilers from the previous book in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – Throne of Glass – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

The ever-amazing Throne of Glass series continues into this exciting sequel, which has so much more action, suspense, betrayal and badassery than the first book. If anyone was feeling meh about it, I sincerely suggest giving this book a try and possibly change their mind. Instead of dresses and love triangles, there’s more characterization and much more surprises!

What It’s About:

Calaena Sardothien has won the King of Adarlan’s tournament to become his champion and royal assassin, but her loyalties remain in question as she’s sent on specific missions to kill his enemies, all of whom may or may not be innocent. One target in particular, Archer Finn, is suspected to be the leader of a rebel group in search of the lost princess, Aelin Galathynius, in order to restore the lost kingdom of Terrasen, Calaena’s homeland.

Calaena also deals with the changing of her relationships with those closest to her in the castle. The most notable change is her relationship with Chaol Westfall, the Captain of the Guard. It’s obvious that they both have unreqruited feelings for each other, but where their true loyalties lie may be the thing that tears them apart.

More clues are also revealed as to what is building behind closed doors within the castle. The King is up to something sinister, and Calaena is unraveling more and more about the wyrdmarks and the answers to the riddles that reveal secrets far beyond anything she’d imagined.

Tragedy strikes, and Calaena’s word is flipped upside down. Suddenly, no one is to be trusted and she turns to unconventional means to get what she wants…

What I Liked:

  1. The Bigger Sense of Direction! After reading this sequel, readers will be shown a much more intricately drawn out plot towards the overall story. The first novel, as it turns out, was merely setting the scene and introducing the world and characters that the author created, but this book takes it all so much further, and gives a much more exciting and unpredictable story to enjoy. The author truly stepped up her game with the characterization, the worldbuilding, and the rising tension that makes readers so eager to turn the pages to find out what happens next.
  2. Calaena Becomes a Bigger Badass! In the first novel, readers merely caught a glimpse at the warrior that Adarlan’s top assassin is capable of. In Crown of Midnight, it’s like she’s been unleashed, and her wild, deadly ways are truly shown. She also keeps her sassy, witty, arrogant attitude that made me like her immediately and remains absolutely ruthless towards those that threaten who she cares about. She is lethal, plus there’s so many reveals for her in this story, its amazing how many secrets she actually has about herself.
  3. The Romance! It’s no longer a love triangle, it’s a slow burn of unreqruited love between two great characters, each being torn between what they want, and where their loyalties lie. Calaena and Chaol’s relationship was filled with unexpected moments in this novel, it started off with humorous banter that makes readers ship them so hard, to much more meaningful moments that makes us think true love exists, but has a few sobering moments that make us think that romance is dead…
  4. Dorian Gets A Twist! He may not have gotten the girl, but he did get something a little unexpected…But I’m not going to spoil it for anyone!
  5. The Character Development! The original trio really change throughout this story; Calaena finally stops running from her past, and both Chaol and Dorian finally gain the courage to stick up to their fathers.
  6. That Revealing Ending! It was the moment that I knew that I loved this series.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Straining Relationships…Dorian became a favorite character of mine because he was as an apple that had fallen as far from the tree as physically possible from his father. Dorian is a great character; he’s handsome, he’s charming, he reads. for fun. The boy is straight up marriage material, but in this story, it felt like he was put on the backburner in terms of his relationships with Chaol and Celaena. He deals with a specific twist that’s life changing, and doesn’t know how to share that tidbit with anyone, but the other two seem too worked up in their own issues to even be decent friends to him anymore. Plus, Celaena’s relationship with Nehemia takes a downward turn at one point, and her and Chaol go from extremely high to low, it was all so surprising to be honest.

Conclusion:

The scene had been set, so the story can finally begin! The author went above and beyond to bring more action, excitement, danger, betrayal, and surprises; it’s added a much needed new depth to the overall story. If people get past all the less than interesting first novel filled with clichés, this novel will save their interest, and believe me, the time investment that this series requires is so worth it!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell