New Adult, New Adult Romance, YA Fantasy

My Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.5): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: May 1st, 2018

Number of Pages: 229 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Genre(s): YA Fantasy, New Adult Romance

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

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

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

To see my review for book #3 – A Court of Wings and Ruin – Click HERE

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

Total Star Rating: 3 Stars

I am so torn on this novella (a shorter version of a regular, full length novel); part of me loved to once again read about this amazing cast of characters and see that their stories are not actually over and are still going on, but not nearly enough happens in this story to make it feel all that satisfying of a read.

It’s Prythian’s winter solstice after the war against the King of Hybern and this story is all about the after effects of war: the PTSD, the grief over losing loved ones, and just the struggle some have more than others to go back to having a “normal” life in Velaris…well, as normal as someone’s life can actually be in a Sarah J. Maas novel. Like before, some characters get more attention that others, but this novella does one thing in particular for the first time in the series: having someone other than Feyre’s perspective. Sure it’s Rhysand, but with this small gateway, it provides us the the opportunity to see the story begin to focus on other characters…

…but I just wish this book went further with it, so it would’ve been beneficial to make it a full length novel. However, there are several more books being added to this series, so maybe us SJM fans just need to be patient and savor what we are given at the time!

Stars flickered around us, sweet darkness sweeping in. As if we were the only souls in a galaxy.”

– Sarah J. Maas, “A Court of Frost and Starlight”

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

What I Liked:

  1. The Themes of Dealing with Grief and Recovery! While this novella isn’t the most exciting or action packed out of SJM’s books, it does address these complex emotions with how her characters are dealing with the fallout from all that happened with the war against the King of Hybern. Everyone deals with grief in different ways, and I think SJM does a great job of showing different ways in which her characters are dealing with everything; it’s not an easy path to go down, but it felt so real to look into their heads and see the different methods of recovery they chose, plus it helps lead me into my next point!
  2. The Potential for More! With the themes of what I just pointed out, also in this short story is that there are some potential easter eggs discovered to bridge the trilogy to the next phase of these books! While the King of Hybern is defeated and there’s no big threat like him (at the moment at least), there’s still a lot that has to be addressed within the cast of characters!
  3. Rhysand and Feyre’s Romance! These two and their relationship are still the forefront of these books, and this book is the first where the storyline doesn’t focus solely on Feyre’s POV; Rhysand takes center stage for a few chapters too! While some readers are sick of it by now, I personally didn’t mind at how these two seem to only have sex on the mind whenever they’re around each other! I mean think about it, they’re still kind of newlyweds who don’t have war or the safety of their world to worry about finally; they can just be a normal couple and slow down and breathe a little easier with their everyday lives. I think it still made sense, but I do agree that the word “mate” could’ve been said a lot less! We get it….they’re mated, but husband and wife can still refer to each other by their actual names and not have them simply be referred to as “my mate.” they’re too big of characters to be reduced to that! There’s lots of fluff between them for the hopeless romantics out there!
  4. Nesta’s Development! Nesta is an incredibly complex character, and the fandom is really torn on her character. Some despise and call her the “stone-cold bitch,” others think she’s a total badass who’s going to unleash a whirlwind of hell with her fae abilities. I’m not the biggest fan of her, but I can get where she comes from, especially with her reluctance to remain close to the “inner circle” that she’s obviously not a part of. She gets a really interested exploration of her character because she’s not handling the death of her father a well as she’d like the others to believe. She’s going down a dark path, and making some questionable choices, plus there’s the whole thing with Cassian too! She may piss off a lot of you when you read this story, but I can appreciate how SJM sheds so much light on a minor character and reveals so many complex things going on beneath the surface!
  5. “The Wall Scene!” Small victory for those who enjoy the smuttier side of this series, but we finally get the scene that Rhysand brought to our attention all the way back in Mist and Fury! Hey, I say take a victory like that whenever you can!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. It’s Only a Novella…With how the “trilogy” ended with us having so many more questions, plus leaving certain story aspects up in the air, this book hardly gives us any answers, and that’s simply because it’s a shortened version of a novel: a novella. It was simply supposed to be a bridge/teaser into the next phase of the whole Court of Thorns and Roses series, and while it certainly gives us easter eggs for some conflicts to come later on, it wasn’t really enough to fully consider it a satisfying read. Maybe if it was longer and just had more going on, it would be much more successful, but even with it being two years later as this review is being published in 2020, with this long of a gap between the books, it would’ve been nice to get more! Not trying to knock SJM for that, because I know she’s had a lot going on in her personal life since this book released, so I don’t want to sound whiny/bratty about all of this!
  2. Mor’s Situation Isn’t Explored…I guess you could say this kind of continues off the last point made, but Mor gave us a big confession of being queer in Wings and Ruin! She confessed that she doesn’t know how to break it to Azriel, who’s been following her around like a broody, lovestruck puppy for 500+ years, and I was really hoping this whole storyline would’ve been addressed, and it was…but it didn’t develop any further than Mor admitting she’s waiting for the right time to tell others….okay, I’m already not exactly thrilled at how this is how to break in a queer character, but Mor holding off like this is making me like her less and less, and I can say I’m justified in this reasoning considering I’m queer myself…I know it’s hard to come out and that everyone should have the freedom to do it when they choose, but c’mon….he’s one of your best friends who you’ve been stringing along for 500+ years and you still can’t just break it to him? It just doesn’t sit right with me…
  3. Redemption Arc for Tamlin?…So the scene with Rhysand and Tamlin was probably the most interesting scene in the whole book for me! I got the impression that Tamlin is going to potentially get a redemption arc of some sort, and to be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about that. Some redemption arcs are absolutely amazing–Prince Zuko, anyone?–but the thing about them is all about how it develops! If it’s done the right way, it can be amazing, but that also means it depends on the character themselves too. While Tamlin showed he’s not completely on the dark side with how he helped Feyre escape the King’s camp in Wings and Ruin, I’m still skeptical if he can truly redeem himself at this point unless he makes some major life sacrifice, which is usually the way these storylines end. I don’t know, I guess we’ll have to see how this is addressed in the future books!

Conclusion:

Overall, this novella is merely a tease that hits at more, but doesn’t really give enough to make it fully satisfying. There are some good things to come out of it: mainly at the hints of what’s to come later on in the later books and how well SJM deals with grief and characters with poor mental health and the choices they make to either save themselves or further dig themselves deeper down the dark hole of depression and further alienation.

It’s just such a brief bridge from the original trilogy and into the next phase of this series, which all I can for sure say is A Court of Silver Flames, coming out February 16th, 2021 and it will star Cassian and Nesta, who had the most development within this novella and had the most potential for an interesting story moving forward based off Frost and Starlight alone! I seriously can’t wait for the next installment; SJM has confirmed it will be her smuttiest book yet and my body is READY for it!!

I want you out of Velaris,’ Feyre breathed, her voice shaking.

Nesta tried—tried and failed—not to feel the blow, the sting of the words. Though she didn’t know why she was surprised by it. There were no paintings of her in this house, they did not invite her to parties or dinners anymore, they certainly didn’t visit—

‘And where,’ Nesta asked, her voice mercifully icy, ‘am I supposed to go?’

Feyre only looked to Cassian. And for once, the Illyrian warrior wasn’t grinning as he said, ‘You’re coming with me to the Illyrian Mountains.‘”

– Sarah J. Maas, “A Court of Frost and Starlight”

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fancasts/Dreamcasts

My Fancast/Dreamcast: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas

Image courtesy of Instagram profile: @courtofmaas

In Sarah J. Maas’s second bestselling series, a mortal young woman named Feyre Archeron is thrust into the world of the High Fae: a world full of mystique, beauty, political intrigue, and danger. the shadow of War is brewing upon the horizon, and with her newly found allies and inner circle, she must defeat a powerful enemy in order to save the world she already knows comes to love…

This has been such a popular series amongst SJM fans, it seems to be more popular than even her first series, Throne of Glass! I personally prefer TOG, but that doesn’t detract from ACOTAR; I still consider A Court of Mist and Fury to be the author’s best book to date!

Below, I’ve included an image of the main cast created by the extraordinary artist, Charlie Bowater! Her work is simply breathtaking and she is some of my all time favorite digital artists!

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

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

To see my book review for book #3 – A Court of Wings and Ruin – Click HERE!

To see my review of book #3.5 – A Court of Frost and Starlight – Click HERE!

To see my review of book #4 – A Court of Silver Flames – Click HERE!

~~~

Here is my official Fancast/Dreamcast:

~~~

Feyre Archeron: Barbara Palvin, or Josephine Skriver

One thing that grinds my gears with a lot of the other fancasts/fanart I’ve seen is that they make Feyre out to be blonde….um nope, that’s cancelled because she’s brunette! Both of these models have delicate & feminine features, gorgeous smiles, and have a particular look that I believe is the essence of our heroine of this whole series!

Elaine Archeron: Minka Kelly

Minka Kelly has such a soft voice, similar to Vanessa Hudgens’ but much less annoying. You may remember her from Friday Night Lights, the TV Show and the college thriller flick, The Roommate.

Nesta Archeron: Bar Refaeli

Nesta was a hard character to cast, but I believe this supermodel has a look that’s very similar to the cold, intimidating, and oldest Archeron sister. She’s not an actress, but has been on the cover of the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated magazine, and dated Leo DiCaprio!

High Lord Tamlin: Kellan Lutz, or Luke Bracey

Anyone remember Kellan from, like, nine years ago? It felt like he was everywhere thanks to his fame found with being involved in the Twilight movies as Emmett Cullen, but he’s been on the down low ever since he got married. Luke Bracey is another name to add; he was in the Nicholas Sparks movie, The Best of Me.

Lucien Vanserra: Tom Busson

A lot of other fans say that Outlander male lead, Sam Heughan, is their choice for Lucien. I had him too for quite some time too, but now I believe he’d be just too old to play the part. Maybe he’d be better suited for Eris or his father Lord Beron, but I believe this Instagram model has a look much more suited to our beloved Lucien Vanserra!

Alis: Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer is just so adorable! She’s cute as a button, but can also go into a serious mom mode in her characters, and I thought she’d be perfect to play the part of Alis, the attendant who looks after Feyre when she’s brought to the Spring Court. It also makes sense considering Alis is from the Summer Court, and if we’re going to talk about Representation, the people from there are typically of African descent!

High Lord Rhysand: Ian Somerhalder, or Sahib Faber

One’s an actor while the other is a model, but both could so easily play the coveted role of the High Lord of the Night Court. If anyone has watched The Vampire Diaries, Ian portraying Damon Salvatore is a dead ringer for Rhysand: same personality, same swagger, same inner turmoil hidden by smirks and wisecracks, and of course the same devilish good looks. Sahib is a more unknown choice, but why not have some more choices? Plus…just look at him! Would you just look at him? Just look at him!

Amarantha: Eva Green, or Deborah Ann Woll

I admit both actresses have such different looks when compared to each other, so as for who might be a better choice? I guess it depends on who you ask…Eva has such a nefarious, villainess look to her, but Deborah matches a lot of the fanart I’ve seen of Amarantha, so either choice works for me!

Morrigan: Maryse Ouellet-Mizanin

Mor was another hard choice! Everyone seems to be going for Margot Robbie for some reason, but there’s two things wrong with that casting: she’s too old for the part, and she doesn’t even have brown eyes. That may sound picky, but whatevs…it’s my fancast, so get over it. I personally envisioned this former WWE Women’s competitor who is undeniably gorgeous and physically fits the description of Mor much more effectively!

Azriel: Nick Bateman, or Shiloh Fernandez

Both of these male actors are tall, lanky and can pull off the moody, brooding look: so for me, both of them could be excellent choices for our Lord of Shadows, Azriel! Nick does small acting jobs but is mostly an Instagram model, but Shiloh starred alongside Amanda Seyfried in Red Riding Hood.

Amren: Jamie Chung

Jamie is a fan favorite among others who’ve shared their fancast for this series, and I agree with it! She’s given her voice acting chops for Big Hero 6, and was also a wonderful Mulan in the show, Once Upon A Time, and if I don’t have you convinced yet, check out this image of her below with total Amren eyes:

Cassian: Santiago Loker

This guy is probably unknown to a lot of you, but oh my goodness, is he easy on the eyes! He’s an Instagram model, and looks great with a manbun which was a must to play our favorite charming, cocky general for the Night Court’s army.

High Lord Tarquin: Michael Ealy

I loved this man in Think Like A Man, and seriously…look at those eyes! They’re so hypnotic and I could so easily get lost in them for days! He never does anything even remotely close to Fantasy-genre, so it’d be cool to see him broaden his horizons and play the High Lord of the Summer Court!

Ianthe: Laura Vandervoort

Ianthe needs to be played by an actress who’s obviously attractive, but also looks like she could have a stick up her ass the entire time, and Laura looks the part 😂…She was in the show Bitten and was even Supergirl back when Smallville was still a thing!

King of Hybern: Jason Isaacs

I mean…Do I really need to justify casting the man who magnificently played the evil and elitist Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies? Nope, I didn’t think so either!

High Lord Beron: Mads Mikkelsen

He’s so great at playing villains! I’ve known this ever since he starred opposite Daniel Craig in 007: Casino Royale, and the guy played Hannibal Lector too! He’d also be another great choice to play the part of Big Boss Villain, the King of Hybern…It’s funny how Maas literally has her villainous kings just named “King of _______” from her books.

High Lord Helion: @rathekendoll

Another harder one to cast; most of the actors that would be eligible—or were fancasted by many others—were either too old or too young. Someone posted a video of this gorgeous specimen speaking on a Facebook group page for the ToG books, and “Holy Mufasa, Batman!” His voice is so deep and full of bass, I instantly thought of him playing the High Lord of the Day Court. Don’t know what his actual name is, just going off his Instagram profile username, FYI!

High Lord Kallias: Heath Hutchins

Kallias, High Lord of the Winter Court, is a character I liked but him and and his mate, Vivianne, were barely in the dang books! I wished we got to see more of the other high lords, but maybe that’ll happen in later books; according to Goodreads, there are supposed to be, like, three more titles for the series!

High Lord Thesan: Hamid Fadaei

He’s an actor and model, even if I haven’t seen him in anything. He’s a pretty gorgeous Persian man, so I thought he was an excellent choice for playing the role of the High Lord of the Dawn Court!

Eris Vanserra: Ryan Cooper

He’s an actor who’s actually played a corpse in Rough Night, starring Scarlett Johansson, but also starred in a Colleen Hoover novel-turned-movie Confess. Dye his hair red, and with that wicked gleam in his eye, he could definitely be an option to play Lucien’s devious older brother!

Prince Varian: Jesse Williams

This man is in Grey’s Anatomy while it goes into its 15000th season, and I like casting him in Fantasy roles, so I’d like it if he played Lord Tarquin’s younger brother and subtle love-interest to Amren.

Princess Cresseida: Logan Browning

She has the similar features of other actors I’ve casted for the Summer Court’s royal family. She’s got gorgeous darker skin and mesmerizing eyes, so she’d look great playing the young princess!

Jurian: Taylor Kitsch

I’ve been a fan of his since he played Tim Riggins on the TV Show, Friday Night Lights, and he was decent in Vince Flynn’s movie adaptation of American Assassin, so he’d be my pick to play the interesting role of Jurian!

Priestess Gwyn: Emma Stone

Image courtesy of the actress’s IMDB profile

Now some people may think of someone younger like…Lily Collins to play this character (even though they’re both close in age but whatevs…), but this is my fancast and as soon as I read that Gwyn had red hair, for some reason I just really pictured Emma Stone! She’s an amazing actress and would portray Gwyn amazingly

Emerie: Lindsey Morgan

Image courtesy of superstarsbio.com

I don’t know much about this actress, but she’s in the CW show “The 100” and that seems really popular, so her face popped up and I thought she looked like what I imagined the Illyrian shop-owner turned Valkyrie!

~~~

HERES THE LINK TO MY FANCAST OF THRONE OF GLASS, SJMAAS’S FIRST YA FANTASY SERIES

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