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 – 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.

Still Slaying that Series…

In February of 2016 I started a quest to complete all of the series that I had begun (slay that series,) but had yet to finish. I knew I wouldn’t get it all read in that year, so let’s check in to see where I’m at now…
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Of the 18 series I listed last year, I completed 9 – so half way. Not bad. I probably would have read more, but kept getting distracted by new releases. Plus, I tend to not enjoy marathoning books so much, I like variety. Also if you read many series end to end, some details start to feel repetitive as the author usually has to re-introduce you to the world, or summarise the story so far with each instalment of the collection.

But my TBR for slaying that series has also grown. Books which I thought were standalones have turned into many more. And sometimes I could not resist picking up another novel which is a start of another collection… glutton for punishment anyone?

Now my new ‘slay that series’ tally stands at 19. How sad to feel I’ve made no progress staring at that number. But going back I have completed 11 series that weren’t included in this read-a-thon I’d set myself over the year.

So here’s where I’m at (in no particular order):

The Lunar Chronicles:

Slay that Series The Lunar Chronicles by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I kind of stalled with this series, I don’t mind fairytale re-tellings or science fiction, I think after a break away I’ll polish them off in quick succession.

Shadowhunter Universe:

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Slay that Series The Infernal Devices by Casey Carlisle

Slay that Series The Bane Chronicles by Casey Carlisle Slay that Series Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by Casey Carlisle

Slay that Series The Dark Artifices by Casey Carlisle

It’s like when your at a candy store and there’s so many yummy choices that you end up catatonic. Must. Read. So. Good.  I really want to marathon the rest of this series, and I know there will be more to add to my collection, but I’m not letting myself buy any more Shadowhunter goodness until I read the rest of these.

Darkest Minds Trilogy (and Novellas):

Slay that Series Darkest Minds Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Again, another crowd favourite that failed to impress me. An average sort of read, though I’ve only read the first novel, there is plenty left in the series to blow my britches – fingers crossed! Plus with a screen adaptation on it’s way I want to finish off this trilogy before viewing.

The Caster Chronicles:

Slay that Series The Caster Chronicles by Casey Carlisle

I absolutely adored the debut novel, but held off after reading bad reviews for the subsequent installments, but I’m getting that itch again. Maybe I should stop looking novels up on Goodreads and just enjoy the experience as I turn the page – let the words cast their own spell on me… (see what I did there?) Plus there hasn’t been a witchy read in by reading list for years.

Unwind Dystology:

Slay that Series Unwind Dystology by Casey Carlisle

Teens for spare body parts – love it! We were just on the verge of rebellion in the first novel, so I really want to get back into this series. I don’t even remember why I stopped.

Lux Universe:

Slay that Series Lux Universe by Casey Carlisle

Ahh, hot glowy aliens… need I say more? A guilty pleasure with angst, heavy petting, and high school. With two more books just added to my collection I need to get on to it! There are lots of other Jennifer L. Armentrout series waiting for me to sink my teeth into next.

Translucent series:

Slay that Series Translucent Series by Casey Carlisle

A new series I recently got into. Easy, fast sci-fi reads. Invisibility and dark matter. Not the best written series, but a great way to spend an afternoon. I can’t wait to see what Dan Rix will do with these girls… but the final book was published in e-book form over a year ago and I’m still waiting for it to be released in paperback form to complete my collection – so frustrating! Get a move on Mr Rix!!

Deathworks Series:

Slay that Series Deathworks series by Casey Carlisle

A Grim Reaper. A multi-national company of Grim Reapers! And it’s set right here in Brisbane, Australia! Such a great seires by some local talent, took me ages to track down the rest of Trent Jamieson’s books, but now I have them in my hot little hands.. mwah ha ha! (that was my maniacal laugh btw.)

Under The Never Sky Trilogy:

Slay that Series Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

While I haven’t been all that impressed with this trilogy, there is only one novel left – and it’s typically the best one. Looking forward to putting this series behind me.

Fetch Series:

Slay that Series Fetch Series by Casey Carlisle

The second of this series is yet to be released, but I had fun reading about this dystopian world. Not sure if it will remain a duology, or continue expanding, but its fun light reading. And dystopians always remind me of my highschool days for some reason :/

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Collection:

Slay that Series Miss Peregrines Peculiar Children by Casey Carlisle

Heard lots of great things. I was so-so on the first book, but love the mythology. Really keen to see where Ransom Riggs will take as.

The Lady Janies Trilogy:

Slay that Series My Lady Janies Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Scarcasm and hilarity in this historical fiction fancy. Can’t wait to see what they do with other Jane’s from the past. Eagerly waiting for the relese dates to complete the trilogy.

Elemental Series:

Slay that Series Elements Series by Casey Carlisle

Picked up the first book on a whim and sped through it. Along the lines of Jennifer L. Armentroug’s Lux series. A guilty pleasure paranormal romance full of tropes and hot boys. Nice to break up the more heavier reading content.

Red Rising Trilogy:

Slay that Series Red Rising Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Struggling with the writing style of this series, but with only one book to go am determined to finish. Then I’ll decide whether I want to attack Pierce Browns new Iron Gold trilogy in the Red Rising Universe set to start releasing in 2018.

Between the Lines Duology:

Slay that Series Between the Lines Duology by Casey Carlisle

An interesting contemporary, and am curious to see where the story does in the last part of the duology. Fictional characters coming to life – yes please!

Red Queen Collection:

Slay that Series Red Queen Collection by Casey Carlisle

I’m having a love/hate relationship with this series, sometimes I am raving about it, sometimes a bit meh! But just have to wait for one more release in 2018 and we can call it quits. Plus I’d like to see what Victoria Aveyard will write after this series.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy:

Slay that Series A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Really enjoyed the first book, the second I struggled with a bit, but am expecting an explosive thrid installment in true Sarah J Mass Style. I thought it was only going to be a tirlogy, but in the end pages of A Court of Wings and Ruin we are teased with a new realease in 2018 – WTF!

No Ordinary Star Trilogy:

Slay that Series No Ordinary Star Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Wonderful premise, but this is a trilogy that I’d rather poke my eyes out than read, but my OCD won’t let me just drop it – lucky they are short novellas… let’s hope M.C. Frank can turn my opinion around.

Zeroes Trilogy:

Slay that Series Zeroes Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Such a fun gritty series and incredibly well written to boot. I have the second book ready to go and the third preordered to satisfy my Zeroes lust.

Sidekick Squad:

Slay that Series Sidekick Squad by Casey Carlisle

A new series that has captued my imagination – funny, witty and just enough sass! Not sure how many novels will be released in this seires, but eagerly waiting for ‘Not Your Villain’ out in October this year.

The Illuminae Files:

Slay that Series The Illuminae Files by Casey Carlisle

Hurry up May 2018! Have been having a blast reading this series and hope it continues with its masterful tragectory. Who hopes this is more than a trilogy too?

Children of Eden:

Slay that Series Children of Eden by Casey Carlisle

Children of Eden’ was a bit of a surpise for me, and I got toatally invested in the story. Let’s see if Joey Graceffa can keep it going with the next book due for release in October this year.

Warm Bodies:

Slay that Series Warm Bodies by Casey Carlisle

Two short stories and a trilogy from our all-around favourite zombie, R. Love Isaac Marion’s writing and eager to complete this collection and find out how the world recovers from a zombie apocalypse. Hopefully all the books will be released by the end of 2017.

Tales From Foster High:

Slay that Series Tales From Foster High by Casey Carlisle

Something about the topical writing with gay main characters struggling through high school (and much adversity) has wormed its way into my heart. I think I’m committed to see this series through to the end – another one of my guilty pleasures. It’s like finding out what happens after the fairy-tale ends…

The Girl With All The Gifts:

Slay that Series The Girl With All The Gifts by Casey Carlisle

Upon first reading ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ I didn’t totally love this series – but it grew on me, and am excited to see what new discoveries about the zombie-like world can be made in the sequel…

 

That leaves 66 books left to read to finish off all the series listed here – so it’s definitely going to take me longer than a year to read them all – especially given I like to sprinkle in stand-alones, new releases, and am making my way through Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler’s back catalogue. Plus some of the titles above have not been released yet, or not confirmed as complete, so this list will continue to evolve and change… but hey, I’m not adverse to adding more books to my TBR. It keeps me excited.

What series are you determined to finish of this year? Got any opinions on any of the books listed above? Your works might just push a book to the top of the pile…

In the meantime – happy reading 🙂

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

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. 

Page border by Casey Carlisle

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

A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© 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.