Book Review – A Court of Frost and Starlight (#4 A Court of Thorns and Roses) by Sarah J. Maas

Christmas, revisiting familiar characters, but my least favourite book in the series.

A Court of Frost and Starlight (#4 A Court of Thorns and Roses) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 229

From Goodreads:

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.  

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I was actually looking forward to delving back into the fantasy world of Feyre, but not too far into the novel little things started to chip away at my enjoyment. There is a lot of repetition in the narrative – even using the same words. It became tiresome. So too did the sexual carryings-on between Feyre and Rhysand. Maybe it was meant to be sexy or romantic, but the language choice and the way it was delivered (far too many times in the story) came across as smarmy and icky. I actually said ‘blargh’ out loud many times and skimmed through these scenes. It totally was not cute.

I also balked at all this smelling of each others’ scents… really that’s kinda, well, gross. It was okay mentioned a few times, but when it hits a beat in nearly every chapter about smelling the desire of one’s mate conjures up an altogether unpleasant smell – dude go take a shower and keep your nose to yourself.

The story line of ‘A Court of Frost and Starlight’ pretty much only deals with the Winter Solstice (their form of Christmas) and touch on the aftermath of the battle with Hybern.

We get a number of perspectives: Feyre, Rhysand, Cassian, Nesta, Morrigan, but mostly the first two aforementioned. The chapters are short and give a little insight into how each character is handling the loss and devastation of the war, piecing together their life and finding joy again to celebrate the Solstice.

A Court of Frost and Starlight (#4 A Court of Thorns and Roses) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThere isn’t a lot of character development, but we get a small amount of growth from many of the cast. This was a quaint whimsical story, and I’m not a huge fan of fantasy, but there was something about Sarah J. Maas’ writing style in ‘A Court of Frost and Starlight’ that was bland. I put this book down many times due to lack of interest, and for a short novel, that’s not a great thing. I found a number of comical moments that had me laughing out loud and definitely lightened the mood and dragged me back into the narrative.

There was too graphic a sex scene for me – it went on for pages. I don’t know – again something about the writing style made me feel uncomfortable and dirty. Not romantic, just smutty. I think it’s the masculine tone of these encounters. The forwardness of both Feyre and Rhysand which I find aggressive and not alluding to images of love and comfort, but of rutting animals and seedy drunken passes in some dive bar.

I don’t know what I was expecting going into this story – There wasn’t anything really to predict other than Feyre’s assembled family coming together for the seasonal gift exchange and party…

So there’s going to be another three books for this series, and frankly, I’m kind of tired of Maas’ writing, the characters are starting to feel laboured, and the repetitive nature of her storytelling does not inspire me. Though she can weave a great plot when she wants to, and I have enjoyed some of her novels in the past… we’ll just have to see what teasers she can deliver to weigh up on whether I will continues to follow Feyre and Rhysand’s journey any further.

Nice to visit the characters again, but the story is a bit pointless. You could skip this book if you wanted to, it doesn’t really add any plot points to the first three novels in the series. I’m choosing not to recommend this one unless you are a hardcore fan.

Overall feeling: Bit of a struggle-bus

A Court of Frost and Starlight (#4 A Court of Thorns and Roses) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

A Court of Frost and Starlight (#4 A Court of Thorns and Roses) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Book Review – ‘Hunted’ by Meagan Spooner

A Beauty and the Beast re-telling with a modern attitude.

Hunted Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 384

From Goodreads:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast? 

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Meagan Spooner tackles a Beauty and the Beast re-telling with ‘Hunted,’ delivering another fantastic incarnation, breathing life into one of my all-time favourite fairy tales.

Hunted Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleWe follow protagonist Yeva, affectionately called Beauty, while she tries to find her place in the world. She wants more than getting married off in her small village. We see Yeva longing for the forest and hunting with her father. Once tragedy strikes, she begins to embrace the role she’s always wanted… but is it more of an escape than survival?

I loved how we don’t get another bookish beauty with this re-imagining. Yeva stands her own in a male-only occupation. Combined with her mental strength and desire for something more leads her down a darkened path.

Enter the beast.

Spooners reinvented beast is much darker than some other versions I’ve read. He has a duality to him that is distinct and warring for dominance. The mythology in this version feels older than what we get in the Disney version. There is no pretty flower or need to have Beauty fall in love with him to break the spell. This was so much more fun to read. I highly recommend you give this title a go.

The pacing is pretty good – slow in some parts – but only because it is keeping with the cadence of the popular tale. But I did complete ‘Hunted’ in two sittings and was not bored or disinterested in the slower parts enough to put it down and take a break.

We get some prominent themes in ‘Hunted’ which I found delightful. It’s not about romance, more around facing our animalistic nature and thirst for more.

Forget about a Gaston-type character in ‘Hunted’ in the traditional sense. There is no stereotypical fame obsessed machismo set to make Yeva his own. Which was another aspect to this novel that really appealed to me.

Spooners writing style and world building create a picturesque landscape that doesn’t drag too much with details, but keeps the story klipping along at a decent pace.

I’m a little of two minds over the ending. I felt like I wanted something bigger. Only because there were a few parts that I wanted resolved better – but that’s just because I love the big dramatic endings. Especially in the fairy tale genre. But on the whole I’m not mad at reading ‘Hunted.’ I went in dubious, because, you know – yet another Beauty and the Beast re-telling *yawn* But Spooner really got me excited for old becoming new again.

Totally recommend.

Overall feeling: Sucked into the adventure

Hunted Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Hunted Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – A Court of Mist and Fury (#3 A Court of Thorns and Roses) by Sarah J. Maas

A great story, a beautiful romance and lots of fae.

A Court of Wings and Ruin Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 699

From Goodreads:

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.  

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Started off better than I had anticipated. Very impressed. I have to stay I enjoyed this book far more than the previous 2 in this series.

I loved reading Feyre. Although she did feel predictable – I guessed her actions well in advance. But she was ballsy and did not let a man define her (much.) And I liked how the element of family played a strong part of who she is in this instalment. She always wore her decisions, good or bad. It is an admirable quality and helped me connect and invest in her story.

While I loved the relationship between Feyre and Rhys, his character seems to have evolved into a Mr Goody-two-shoes. Where was that scary darkness that he let us glimpse in the first two books? It gave him an edge. So while a great culmination in their story, I was starting to get a little bored with Rhys.

The shining part of this book, as minor as it is, was Suriel. It tugged on my heart strings and even had many tears falling at the beauty of Feyre’s interaction with it in the forest.

A Court of Wings and Ruin Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgMaas is still a fan of overusing the phrase “a mask of…” to describe facial expression and emotion. Almost wanted to turn it into a drinking game. I’m finding frequent repetition of descriptions and qualifiers, which is disappointing because a good editor should have picked these issues up.

I was put off by the overt erotica in some parts – it was fine when it added something to the plot or character development, but the rest just left me feeling… itchy. The graphic content felt like it was included to service Sarah J. Maas’ opinion on the ultimate sexual relationship – how a male should put the woman’s needs first. And left the whole experience a little contrived.

There was a focus on gender within the narrative, and people being coupled off, which while cute and expected in YA, I was hoping for a little more grit and daring. Especially in a fantasy genre where you can push the envelope a bit further.

The second half of the book was much easier to read than the first half – I guess the story arc with Tamlin bogged things down for me. Focusing more on political manoeuvring than action. Though I understand it a necessary part of the overall storyline. As we needed to see some sort of resolution between these two.

Mass’ writing style, especially when setting a scene, painted the landscape with such rich language I was truly impressed.  There was a lot too it. A lot happened. The pace just kept driving forward. Though there were some spots where it felt a little slow. As a lot went down, the cast grew, transformed, challenged, I really can’t comment too much about them without giving away any spoilers – but enough to say I really enjoyed the journey of all the secondary cast members. With such a wide and varied collection of characters, it was easy to track and identify each one.

Have developed a great fondness for this collection.

A Court of Wings and Ruin’ is a big book – I frequently got aching hands trying to hold this slab of paper up. The typesetting and formatting is of a comfortable size and layout so that not too much is cramped on to one page and you find yourself re-reading a line of text. Love the cover art and how it ties into the previous two novels. But it is reminding me that I’ll read books over 600 pages in e-book format so that they are easier to hold.

What started out as a Beauty and the Beast re-telling grew into an epic fae fantasy I’d recommend to lovers of this genre, Romance and female warrior protagonists.

Overall feeling: Brilliant ending!

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Masterful writing from Maas.

A Court of Mist and Fury Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 624

From Goodreads:

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two. 

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I really couldn’t wait to get my hands on ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’ after loving the start of the series ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ (a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ re-telling) so much. And I jumped into the first few pages with excitement.

What I was confronted with was a little unnerving: a graphic sex scene. Maybe I’m a bit of a prude, but I like my intimate encounters to be personal and romantic, titillation shot through a soft focus lens. This one was all hard banging and rough, it felt violent and reminded me of rape.  Though, I liked how Feyre was empowered throughout. It was definitely not to my taste. I’m still not sure what it added to the story exactly. Need and want can be set up in other less confronting ways, and any aspersions to Tamlin’s nature had already been expressed. So straight out of the gate, my happy feelings for this sequel plummeted a little.

A Court of Mist and Fury Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI certainly did not expect this to continue and my excitement wane so quickly. I stumbled over the story, putting the book down many times – it plummeted me into a mini reading slump. Not because the writing was bad, or that there wasn’t anything interesting going on… the build of the story is so slow that the pacing dropped off for me and I had to take a break, several times, and completed another five novels over the duration of reading ACOMAF. Such a disappointing thing to admit to after a fun experience with ACOTAR, and such high praise for Sarah J. Mass’ writing. Admittedly I am not a huge reader of high fantasy, but read enough to be considered widely experienced. I just wish this book had a larger impact on me. Especially from a prolific author.

Of note, however, was Feyre’s journey to empowerment. We really see her grow, test out her powers, mental strength, and challenge her emotions. The character development in ACOMAF lifts my opinion back up, though not quite as high as for its predecessor.

I liked the cheekiness of Rhysand in ACOTAR, but loved his equal mindedness in ACOMAF, he felt like a stable voice of reason in the new world of the Fae Feyre has to navigate. He also grounded me as a reader given the uncertainty in the world and its characters.

A phrase that was overused and annoying towards the end of the book – everyone “had a mask of…” to conceal their true feelings, pulling me from the narrative repeatedly. I hope Maas comes up with some new adjectives or descriptions in the latter books for this series.

Given that I gave the book a rest for a bit, it will come no surprise when I say ACOMAF felt long, though, the action and pacing picked up in the second half. We finally got to see some interesting things happen in plot, and I was hooked again even after the first half being a struggle.

I really loved the ending, another cliff-hanger, and can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book – I just hope it doesn’t lag as much as ACOMAF. Amazing storytelling from Maas as always, but not the easiest read.

A point of contention for me with the hardcover edition, dark blue ink of the cover kept staining my fingers. So it maybe needs to cure a little or have a different finish.

Overall feeling: Didn’t quite meet my expectations, but enjoyable nonetheless

A Court of Mist and Fury Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

A Court of Mist and Fury Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Beauty and the Beast turned Fae – Yes Please!.

 A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 416

From Goodreads:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever. 

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This is the first novel from Sarah J Mass that I’ve read, and I have to say I was impressed.

Not being a fan of fairy-tale re-tellings, but am finding this genre to continually grow on my bookshelf – ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses,’ puts an original spin on the Beauty and the Beast fable.

Outstanding story telling – although there are a few moments, one at the start and one near the end, that felt a little too convenient and were made to happen for the sake of the story line (and to fit into the original fairy tale mould). Which is what ultimately knocked this down half a point for me; I guess because the writing and character development had so far exceeded my expectations that these contrived plot points were glaringly contrite. But that is the worst of my criticism.

It has been years since I’ve gotten lost in a fantasy world. I’m usually reading contemporary, science fiction or supernatural. But Maas got me hook, line and sinker…

Feyre is obstinate and challenging from the first page – and we really get to believe her assumptions, ‘know’ that she is right. And then it slowly gets pulled apart like a slowly unravelling jumper. I loved her fierce independence and will to stand up on what she feels is right. Feyre is the type of character that spurns me to continue reading page to page – and that’s without the action and intrigue of her story.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Tamlin is a great beast. Scary, complex, intelligent and handsome. Most incarnations of beasts are superficially frightening, but Tamlin is righteously terrifying in all his glory. And, as the story goes when he’s softened and tamed by Belle (Feyre) we get to see more of his beauty. Don’t think he’ll become any less infamous though.

The adventure has only just begun. It’s obvious upon completion this is not a stand-alone, and I am very excited and eagerly awaiting the next instalment. So, in the meantime, I will catch up to many of my bookish buddies and fill in time working my way through the Throne of Glass series.

‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ left me feeling a little shell-shocked by the end. We really get put through the ringer. It’s fast paced adventure makes the 400+ pages a breeze and Maas’ beautific writing style pull you into a magical world and make reading effortless.

Even though we all know the story of Beauty and the Beast, this story still manages to surprise. Definitely adding this to my favourites list and it is listed in my Top 5 Favourite reads of 2015. Highly recommended, even if you are not into fantasy, this will blow your mind.

Overall feeling: *uplifting music*

A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.