Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and FuryA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Normally I wouldn't try to read a book this long in one day anymore, but I had Memorial Day off, and had spent the previous 2 days doing outdoors active stuff with my family, so I allowed myself a full day of lounging around and reading, a real luxury. And then, how could I just stop reading and go to sleep at a reasonable hour when I'm already at 75% and I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? That alone is generally a good sign that I am liking a book.

I already had a soft spot for Rhysand - I could tell based on the way he helped Feyre in the first book that he wasn't as needlessly cruel as he pretended to be. I was delighted in this book that we really get to know who is his beyond the facade he presents to the world, especially when we get insider peeks into what he's really thinking, either through seeing scenes unfold in his memory, or through him basically rebelling the first book from his perspective. I'll admit, I got a little swoony when he finally told Feyre the whole truth, how he started having dreams of her years ago, ones that kept him sane Under the Mountain, and how he knew they were mated but kept his distance when they finally met, both to keep her safe and to honor the love she felt for Tamsin, and how to tortured him to see her slowly losing weight and becoming more and more withdrawn, but he still kept his distance until he heard her ask for rescue at the wedding.

I appreciated how the love story or triangle or whatever you want to call it transitioned from Tamsin to Rhysand. It felt real, and the reasoning behind Feyre's actions and emotions made so much sense, especially when you throw in the wildcard of being magically mated to someone. I liked that being in love and being someone's Mate weren't assumed to be the same thing, or mutually exclusive. Rhys's story about his parents' mating and marriage was an interesting case study - they mated but we're ultimately incompatible and fell out of love - and I loved that Rhys was willing to give up a future with Feyre, even though she was his Mate, if she was in love and happy with Tamsin.

People change overtime, and sometimes the person who is right for you at one stage of life is not the person who is right for at another. That doesn't give you free reign to bail whenever things get difficult, but there is room to say, "I loved you once, but I have been through this traumatic event and you don't even see who I am anymore." It reminds me of someone in a domestic violence situation - their life wasn't always like that, otherwise they never would have been with that person, but somewhere along the line things changed and life became untenable. If someone is hurting you physically or mentally or emotionally, regardless of their intentions, you can't stay with them just because you love them.

This book talks a lot about respect, and allowing people, and women specifically, the right to make their own decisions, regardless of how it makes you feel or what you think is best. Rhys mentions that he doesn't want to be compared to Tamsin, but I don't think he realizes how far ahead he comes out in that comparison. Every step of the way, he watches Feyre but allows her to make her own decisions regarding her safety and life choices, which Tamsin could never do.

Tamsin wasn't an inherently bad person. Feyre would never have fallen for him if he hadn't been kind and caring, especially in the beginning. But somewhere along the way, it became more important for Tamsin to have peace of mind that Feyre was safe back at his house than for Feyre to actually be happy and healthy. He claimed to love her but stopped truly seeing her, leaving her to deal with her own nightmares and issues entirely by herself. Even to the end, Tamsin was convinced he was doing the right thing, that he was "saving" Feyre, when anyone could see that was not the case.

I was glad to see Feyre call Lucien out on not stepping in and helping her when she was clearly miserable and slowly wasting away. He continuously backed Tamsin, even when he was making careless, dangerous moves like making a deal with the King of Hybern, even when Feyre explicitly told him that she was never going back. Lucien claimed to be her friend, but refused to help when she needed it most.

I love the new characters we meet in this book, and the ones we get to know so much better. Mor is lovely and kind and sassy, and it would be interesting to compare her to other Morrigan characters throughout myth, literature, and pop culture. The ones that come first to mind are the Morrigan from the comic the Wicked and the Divine, which is about reincarnated gods and one of my favorite comics ever, and the Morrigan from the TV show Lost Girl, which is about the Fae, both good and bad. I'm super curious to learn more about Amren and what exactly she is under that human shell. Cassias and Azriel remind me of angels, in both the style of their names and their mighty wings.

While I'm sad Ianthe ended up being traitorous and power-hungry, I'm excited to see what happens with Nesta and Elain now that they are both Fae as well. We barely saw them in s book, which seems fitting, but I'm sure they will play a much larger role in book 3. I totally called Elain and Lucien having a connection, and I'm hoping his inherent need to help his Mate will cause Lucien to side with Feyre instead of Tamsin in the coming battle. I'm also really curious to see what Nesta is like as Fae. Cassias already has some sort of connection with her, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out. I'm also skeptical about what Feyre's father has been doing on the continent for so many months. I can't imagine he's completely out of the story.

Perhaps my favorite aspect to this book was seeing Feyre grow, not only learning how to use her new powers, but also training physically and slowly healing her heart. It takes time, because she has to not only admit what has been haunting her - killing of innocents - but learn to accept and love herself again, for doing the best she could under difficult situations and saving the most people she could. Her trip to see the Bone Carver was particularly enlightening, when she admits that she was prepared to kill herself rather than live with what she had done. Part of her recovery was also being able to share in Rhys's recovery - knowing you're not alone can lift a huge weight off your mind, especially when you can talk through what haunts you with one other. Tamsin and Feyre had been aware of each other's nightmares, but they pretended them never existed, basically ignoring them and hoping they'd go away. With Rhys, he would hold her hair and comfort her while she threw up, and try to distract her so she could slept, and in return, Feyre wake Rhys from his own nightmares and was a comfort to him as well.

The action scenes, as I like to call them, were fast-paced and riveting. It seems the best way Feyre learned to use her powers was to be thrown into a situation where she needed them - escaping from the Weaver (YUUUUUCK), tracking Rhys and winnowing to rescue him from torture and certain death, the battle in Velaris where she conjures the water wolves and turns the attacking army into ice, even the underwater theft of the first half of the book. When given the chance, Feyre proved time and again that she had a lot of power and ingenuity, and wasn't to be messed with.

Also, I just have to say, I'm SO happy and relieved that it wasn't the mating bond that was broken by the King, but just the more superficial deal bond. AND how amazing that Feyre was officially made High Lady of the Night Court?! I can't wait to see what impact that has on events in the third book.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This series has been super popular in my Facebook circles, and since the 3rd one just came out, I figured it's safe to pick up the series now that I won't have to wait eons between books. :)

For the most part, I really liked this book. I didn't realize it was a play on the Beauty and the Beast story until Feyre got to Tamlin's castle. I appreciated how it used the traditional story as a loose guide without feeling the need to stick completely to the story. Twisting the elements of magic and the curse so that everyone in the castle are faeries who have been cursed by another fae was really interesting, as was the reasoning behind the curse - that Amarantha cursed Tamlin not just to gain his power for her own and control him, but because she wanted him and and hated that he didn't love her and refused her. The curse itself was particularly twisted, and the fact that Feyre hit all the particulars to fulfill the curse was both fate and convenient for plot reasons. :)

The trials that Feyre had to go through under the mountain were all really fascinating. I love how many contributors there were to helping her succeed. The first task, hunting the giant worm monster, was a success mostly because of her own ingenuity and hunting skills, but it was a timely warning from Lucien that was the tipping point in that task. After the task, Feyre would have died without the assistance of Rhysand - no matter what Lucien says, that he would have come to help her, he was in so much pain he wouldn't have arrived in time. During the second task, it's Rhysand that basically solves the task for her. For the third task, yes, it cost Feyre her own soul to kill the first two innocents, but I'm not sure she would have been able to stab Tamlin had she not thought back to the advice Alis gave her, and played back the conversations she'd been purposefully let to eavesdrop on that told her Tamlin had a stone heart that couldn't be stabbed. After Feyre solved the riddle and was killed, it was the High Lords of all the Courts who pooled their power and brought her back to life, even if it was no longer as human. I will admit, I figured out that love was the answer to the riddle pretty early on, but I had not caught on to the whole stone-heart thing, so that was a nice surprise.

I really enjoyed all the characters and how their relationships were built. Feyre and Tamlin didn't fall in love at first sight, but were eventually drawn to one another and fell in love. I saw another review that was annoyed and called it "instalove," but that really didn't feel like the case to me here. They spent months together building that connection, and you can tell that when Feyre first arrives at the castle that she is truly terrified of Tamlin. Feyre's relationships with the other fae also built strength over time. Lucien hated and resented Feyre at one point, but eventually felt kinship and loyalty to her. Rhysand saw Feyre as merely an interesting pawn in his battle to regain his own life, but eventually was helping and saving her, even when it wasn't to his benefit. To be honest, I think he also fell in love with her. Maybe it's a trope, but there's something about Feyre's brokenness and loneliness that, combined with her probable beauty, really attracts these other broken, lonely people to her side. Someone that's never had to fight just to survive likely wouldn't have much in common with guys like Tamlin and Rhysand, and part of what they see in her is themselves, reflected. And although Tamlin and Feyre clearly love one another and are dedicated to each other, I could see a future where there is a bit of a love triangle, especially since Feyre will be spending 25% of her time with Rhysand in the Night Court. I can't imagine her betraying Tamlin, but I can see how she could start to really care for Rhysand, which could potentially cause drama in her other relationships.

We don't see much of Feyre's relationship with her family throughout the book, but I do appreciate the development we do get to see. Their connection at the start of the book seems to be purely superficial, and owed in large part to the vow Feyre made to their mother on her deathbed. After returning from the Spring Court, however, we really see those relationships blossom as she spends more time with each of her sisters. Elain has such a kind heart that she is easy to love and a joy to spend time around. The connection I was most touched to see, though, was Feyre's with Nesta. It's easy early on to write Nesta off as an uncaring, spoiled, proud woman, but she really is a complex person, so it was nice to see the two sisters to connect and finally be honest with one another. I love that Nesta was the only person the glamour didn't work on, and especially that she actually tried to go north to find and save Feyre. Nesta will be a good protecter for their family, but I'm kind of hoping that instead of taking the family south to safety on the continent, she sticks around so we get to see a bit more of her.

Not knowing much of the trilogy as a whole, I was kind of hoping each book in the trilogy would be about a different sister. Now that I've finished the first book and read the back-of-book blurb about the second, I see that isn't the case, but I hope we do get to see more of the sisters in the future. Maybe it's the matchmaker in me, but I could totally see Elain and Lucien together and Rhysand and Nesta together. :) I guess we shall see! It looks like the next book will have more relationship stuff and more conflict with the King of Hybern, now that Amarantha is gone, as well as Feyre dealing with the emotional (and possible other) consequences of killing innocent people, even if it was for "the greater good."

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