Book Review (Spoilers): A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

This review will contain spoilers – they’re more about certain characters and their actions than plot spoilers but read at your own risk.


17927395A Court of Mist and Fury (sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses)

Sarah J. Maas

4/5 stars

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on 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.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Review:

A Court of Mist and Fury was absolutely phenomenal! It has to be my favourite Maas book to date and one of my favourite books of 2016. The writing is just gorgeous and I’m amazed at how far Maas has come since Throne of Glass #1. I liked Throne of Glass enough to continue the series but I wasn’t into it until Heir of Fire. I’ve fallen in love with this series a lot faster and I think that’s a testament to how much Maas has grown when it comes to her writing. ACOMAF is huge and for good reason. There’s so much good character development! I’m also a huge fan of the Fae and faerie courts, so that was a plus.

Before I really get into my review there’s something I want to address – I’ve seen it mentioned in a lot of reviews, so I can’t not talk about it here. This book is New Adult. When the ACOTAR series was first announced, Maas said herself (somewhere) it is New Adult. She’s never tried to claim it as YA. Now, there’s something you need to understand about NA. There are varying opinions on this so I might get it wrong, but NA was born, and then died very quickly in traditional publishing. Most NA authors self-publish – and a lot of the time NA books will get sold as Adult Contemporary Romance. So there’s no specific section in a bookstore for NA – I’m sure a lot of people don’t even know what NA is. Maas is a big name in YA so I think this is why the series has been lumped in the YA section. If you’re uncomfortable with sexual content and coarse language and don’t want to read that, that’s totally fine. I’m not judging your likes/dislikes, but don’t take your anger out on Maas. If you need someone to complain to, talk to the bookstore or publisher for putting it in the YA section. I personally think the content is fine for YA readers – these are thinks I’ve heard teenagers say and experience. But for the love of God, don’t try to say this is erotica. If you want to know what erotica is there’s an entire book industry devoted to it. Again, I’m sorry if I got anything wrong when it comes to NA.

Anyways, back to my review.

This book is big and I love how in-depth we get with the characters – so much more than ACOTAR. The beginning I would say is very much “setting the scene”. Feyre has been traumatized by the events of the last book. She has PTSD, maybe even depression – she doesn’t have an appetite, she has nightmares and she’s not coping well. I love how Maas is able to bring us really close to Feyre’s character and understand why she is not alright. It feels a bit slow because as readers we’re usually used to getting thrown right into the action, but this is important. Tedious, but important. We also get to see how Tamlin’s been affected by those same events. I won’t lie, if you love Tamlin you might have a hard time with this book. These events and even the trauma of his parents deaths have had a very negative influence on him, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of this. It’s always hard seeing the good guy turn bad. Even though I believe that people can just snap, I think I’d have to reread ACOTAR and really analyze Tamlin’s character. I can believe that he could snap just from those events (Under the Mountain) alone, but again it’s really hard trying to decide if this was the right choice for his character.

Most of the book is set in the Night Court and there were some gorgeous, incredible scenes. When Feyre would explore the city with Rhys or by herself or with friends it was truly enchanting. It’s definitely a place I’d like to visit. Another great thing about this book, Maas decided to incorporate the Cauldron into the plot. The Cauldron is a creation myth so its significance is huge in Prythian. Feyre needs to find some artifacts hidden in both Prythian and the mortal realms, and destroy the Cauldron (which is in the King of Hybern’s possession). Feyre travels to different courts, among them the Summer Court which was beautiful! I imagine it looks like Greece or someplace around the Mediterranean. The world-building never fails to impress me.

Rhys. I loved Rhys! Maas showed us this deeply sensitive character, and how well a person can wear a mask. I was instantly intrigued by Rhys when we first met him in ACOTAR. I really liked this dark, trickster-like character, but I hadn’t been entirely sold on Rhys + Feyre. There were a couple moments in ACOTAR that I personally found abusive. Sorry, that’s my honest opinion. When Rhys and Feyre made that bargain, I got a Hades and Persephone vibe so I knew there’d be a lot of him in ACOMAF – and I was a little worried about how the romance would play out. This book is really good at selling you Rhys + Feyre. The romance between the two was well done. There’d be moments when Feyre could take the next step but she stops herself because she’s not ready or feels guilty, thinking it’s too soon – these are natural moments in dating. The development between the two was realistic and believable. As well, there are a couple scenes I’d been dying to read since starting the book and let me tell you, they live up to your expectations. In the beginning I was a little taken back at how charming Rhys was – a little too much compared to the character we met in ACOTAR. However, as I continued to read I really grew to like him – Maas is really good at unveiling his mask. I don’t have a problem when the MC finds or falls in love with a new guy/girl – I mean, that’s life. We fall in and out of love all the time. As well, Feyre and Tamlin didn’t know each other for that long – what they went through can bring a couple closer together, but it doesn’t stop the falling out of love part. I only wish Tamlin hadn’t been turned into the abusive villain, which helped this new romance seem like the better/only choice. Make Tamlin the villain, but not the abusive one. Again, this is one of those was-this-the-right-choice-for-this-character questions.

My dislikes are mostly general but there is a specific one. This is a quote from page 296:

“I had done everything-everything for that love. I had ripped myself to shreds, I had killed innocents and debased myself, and he had sat beside Amarantha on the throne. And he couldn’t do anything, hadn’t risked it-hadn’t risked being caught until there was one night left, and all he’d wanted to do wasn’t free me, but fuck me, and-
Again, again, again. One-two; one-two; one-two-
And when Amarantha had broken me, when she had snapped my bones and made my blood boil in its veins, he’d just knelt and begged her. He hadn’t tried to killed her, hadn’t crawled for me. Yes he’s fought for me-but I’d fought harder for him. ”

I don’t like the assumption that Tamlin’s actions equal he doesn’t really care or didn’t fight as hard. Everyone reacts differently to things – I’ve personally experienced this myself, where people thought I didn’t care about something because of how I reacted. I’m not debating whether or not Tamlin fought as hard as Feyre, but the assumption that he didn’t because of his reaction.

All in love I really loved this book and can’t wait for the third one. I hope Maas continues on the fantastic world-building and takes us to some of the other courts in the next book. I know there’ll be some great action scenes because of how ACOMAF ended.

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Movie Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

I’m really late getting this post out, but I’m sure it will still be helpful for anyone considering buying or renting this movie when it’s available. If there are any places where it’s still playing in theatres, I hope it helps those moviegoers. Today I’m going to answer the important question: is The Jungle Book as amazing as it looks and more importantly, is it worth your money? Watch the trailer and read my review below:
junglebooktriptychlarge

Yes, yes it is and it’s worth the cost of a 3D ticket. This is probably one of the only movies that are actually worth paying 3D for. For this review, I’ll be comparing it to the 1967 animated classic. I didn’t have time to read the book, but if I do I’ll write a follow up post. The CGI was fantastic and I really liked how they decided to tell the story. Every character brought a different emotion to the big screen and I loved, along with other adults in the theatre, hearing the soundtrack and score of a beloved classic. It really brings you back to your childhood. For those unfamiliar with the 1967 adaptation and even the book by Rudyard Kipling, this movie stands on its own.

There are some big differences between the two Disney versions. The biggest one is Mowgli’s place in the movie. The 1967 film is largely focused on Mowgli’s story while this one is just like the title: it’s about the jungle and Mowgli and all the creatures that live in it. We get to see more of the wolf pack as well as Shere Khan. I’ve always felt like how we saw him in the 1967 movie was brief and a bit cowardly – the viewer doesn’t truly see why the jungle is afraid of Shere Khan. Here, Shere Khan is fear and cruelty; Idris Elba is phenomenal when it comes to bringing such a character to life.

The cinematography deserves 5 stars. I felt like I was there and nothing has ever done that as well as Planet Earth (the BBC documentary). Actually, I’m curious if they used some footage from PE. I also liked that they used live-action to show natural events that might happen, things that have nothing to do with Man. You’ll watch animal stampedes, the dry season, the wet season, rock slides & flooding. The CGI is fantastic – the animals look real and the 3D aspect adds another layer. I can only imagine how much time and dedication goes into that. What’s interesting, with some animals you could tell they were CGI because of their expressions, like Bagheera and Baloo. There’s this humanity, which is amazing to watch. Others, like Shere Khan, well lets just say it’d be hard to tell him apart from the real deal.

There are some big differences between this version and the 1967 version. There are only two musical sequences and they’re pretty short. While they use the same music and score, it’s largely in the background, which I think fits better with a live-action adaptation. It’s harder to imagine real-life animals breaking into song. I did like that they could bring these songs back in different scenes as well as scenes that weren’t in the 1967 version. There was one musical sequence I didn’t like and it’s one of the only things I dislike about the movie. I’m not a 100% percent fan of the actor they chose for Mowgeli and I didn’t feel like he lived up to the musical aspect, but maybe that’s just me. Overall, it was still entertaining and I think every kid in the audience was enthralled.

Bagheera is a fantastic character, and the actor sets a precedent. Even when you only hear his voice, you know who he is. He’s taken up the job of being Mowgeli’s foster father, teaching him everything a man cub needs to know to survive in the jungle. This is something Mowgli struggles with, doing things like a wolf when you don’t have sharp teeth and claws. He comes up with clever alternatives, called tricks, which gets him into trouble with Bagheera.

I loved Baloo! He brings the humour, just lazing around with not a care in the world. The actor was fantastic with this character.

One of the only things I had an issue with would be King Louie’s character and how he was brought to life. This character perhaps represents greed and lust, always looking for power and trying to climb up the food chain. He considers humans to be at the top and so is always looking for human things. He’s a giant orangutang living in ancient human ruins with his eye on fire, a human invention. I didn’t have a problem with that. However, King Louie takes on the role of an Italian mob boss and while it fits with the character and everyone laughed, I don’t know how I feel about westernizing a character from an Eastern work. I don’t feel like this character needs to be westernized to connect with the audience.

All in all, I was thoroughly entertained and impressed with The Jungle Book. The animals were so well done, and it makes it easier to think about them doing movies and characters that are largely animal-based or characters that would require CGI (Mulan!). I really, really hope they decide to take on The Lion King and Mulan next! There was actually a scene that reminded me of The Lion King. It’s my favourite movie on the planet, so my life won’t be complete without a live-action Lion King. I give this movie 5 stars.

Book Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

24790901The Abyss Surrounds Us

Emily Skrutskie

4/5 stars

Release Date: February 8, 2016

Publisher: Flux

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

Review:

I absolutely loved The Abyss Surrounds Us. It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Pacific Rim. Skrutskie combines some of my favourite things to create this non-stop, action packed, female lead debut novel. I seriously couldn’t get enough of it!

The protagonist, Cassandra Leung has been around Reckoners – genetically modified sea monsters – her entire life. Cas is a really likeable character, I could relate to her almost immediately and once I started the novel I couldn’t stop. Cas is about to go on her first solo mission when the novel starts, so we as the reader get the behind-the-scenes look when it comes to creating and training Reckoners. Skrutskie is really great with character development, especially when it comes to Cas. She opens up to the reader, to Swift – another great character – and to herself.

Going into this, I thought it was fantasy but it delves more into sci-fi. This was a pleasant surprise because I love these types of books. Cas lives in a post-apocalyptic world, the borders of North America having changed. We don’t have an exact time period of how far off into the future this takes place, but there is some explanation into why countries became smaller – it’s better suited to handle and govern its people. In this day and age piracy has run rampant so governments and companies have created Reckoners, genetically engineered sea monsters, to protect important cargo and passenger ships.

Skrutskie is really good when it comes to world building – this world isn’t so different from ours in that we focus on the story and not the history behind it. I had questions – which are mostly answered – but it didn’t deter from the plot. Modern-day pirates and genetically engineered animals are things we can readily imagine – they’re familiar elements. I do feel the world building could have been expanded on a bit more. That’s my favourite element, so I always want more. For example, there are floating cities which are dependent on piracy. These cities literally float on the water and go wherever the ocean currents take them. I wished we could have seen more of that, they seem like a really interesting aspect.

I loved characters like Santa Elena, a pirate queen with a badass story to tell. Each character has their own story, their own worth. However, I didn’t feel like we got enough time with secondary characters. The Abyss Surrounds Us is largely focused on Cas and Swift.

Santa Elena has gotten her hands on a Reckoner and tasks Cas with training him. Named Bao, he’s a terrapoid which is like this giant turtle with claws. Minus the scary I-could-eat-you parts, I wanted my own Bao – I just loved everything-Reckoner. Skrutskie really impressed me when it came to them.

If you love pirates, sea monsters and diverse characters, this is the book for you. I’m really impressed with Skrutskie’s debut and I cannot wait to read her next book. When it comes to writing fiction, Skrutskie is talented. We can expect outstanding work from her in the future.

Blog Tour: The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish + Giveaway

26109041The Voodoo Killings

Kristi Charish

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Publisher: Vintage Canada (Random House CA)

Purchase: Amazon | Book DepositoryChapters/Indigo.ca | Kobo | Audible

Synopsis on Goodreads:

For the first time since we launched Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Random House Canada is thrilled to announce the debut of a new urban fantasy series. Kristi Charish’s The Voodoo Killings introduces Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner…

For starters, she’s only 27. Then there’s the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she’s broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker–who happens to be Kincaid’s on-again, off-again roommate.

Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighbourhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he’s tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle’s infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City’s oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She’s broke, but she’s not stupid.

And then she becomes the target…As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.

I’m thrilled to be celebrating author Kristi Charish’s most recent release, The Voodoo Killings. I’ve been waiting almost a year to read this and I can’t wait for you all to read and (hopefully) love it! Today I’m sharing my top 5 reasons to check out this fantastic book. Kristi is also giving away a copy of The Voodoo Killings and an audible code, so be sure to check out those giveaways below.

top5

  1. The author – in the last year or so Kristi Charish has quickly become a new favourite of mine. Her writing is incredible and I’ve been really impressed with her debut series Owl and the Japanese Circus. When it comes to kickass heroines, Charish knows what she’s doing.
  2. Zombies – this has become a really popular theme in the last few years or so and I’m really excited to read Charish’s take on it.
  3. Strong heroine – Kincaid seems like a character I won’t soon forget.
  4. Voodoo combined with the zombie aspect sounds really dangerous, at least for Kincaid so I know we’ll get an action-packed adventure.
  5. This book sounds like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets iZombie and as a fan of both shows, that only excites me more. Also, it being set in Seattle makes me think of Grey’s Anatomy (I’m on a Netflix binge).

Bonus: just look at that cover 😍 If I wasn’t already a fan of Charish’s books, I’d pick up this book on cover alone. I think it’s impossible for a cover to look that good and the book not be as good if not better.


About the Author:

Kristi+FB+HSKristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world, and THE VOODOO KILLINGS (Random House Canada), an urban fantasy/mystery about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle with the ghost of a deceased grunge rocker.

She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. She’s also a co-host for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast.

Before becoming an author Kristi was a research scientist. She holds a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists. You can find her on Twitter @kristicharish. Visit her website.


Giveaway:

Kristi is giving away one copy of The Voodoo Killings – winner’s choice of physical or ebook and an audible code, so you have two chances to win! Both giveaways are open to US/Canada residents, but the ebook choice is only for Canadian residents. Open from June 8 to 29, 2016 midnight EST. Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted or a new winner will be chosen. Do not take entries for something you haven’t done, you will be disqualified. Good luck! Enter through the rafflecopter. 🙂

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