Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J. Maas

7

A Court of Thorns and Roses #3

SYNOPSIS: Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

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.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.  – via Goodreads

Okay. Alright. Here we are. So I read the first and it wasn’t awful, and then I read the second and I outright hated that (I am so sorry bestie, I tried so hard to like these, but that last one was just… rough), and dreaded the concept of moving on to the third, but decided I best give it a shot. So. Here we go.

I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it, but it didn’t cause me as much upset as the last one, though it is still not great. I think the biggest issue with this series is that the books are excessively long for what they deal with. Like, I think the story would be tighter if we just had less pages to deal with. So in this one we get more of all the couples (cause Maas seems to buy into the concept of nobody being capable of being alone). We get more of Nesta and Cassian, some answers about Mor, Azriel, and Cassian, and Lucien is holding out for Elain and all that, and she is stumbling around like a mute. Rhys and Feyre don’t spend much time together in this, and when they do it is not nearly as bad as before.

Tamlin remains uber-dweeb of the century, and it really annoys me that Maas wrote one whole set of characters and introduces them to us, and in the second book changed everyone. Annoying but alright. I am still a fan of Lucien. He was the one of the things I liked the most about book one, and probably the only semi-redeeming thing in the second book, and he gets some time here, and I like that. A Court of Wings and Ruin also decides to deliver us some battle, some war, and I liked that. It might not be a ton of it, but it was enough to keep me breathing a bit more, not dealing with all sorts of wonky sex and reading about “my mate, my life, my love” the whole time.

I did enjoy reading about Amren, especially what with her covert little thing she has going on with Varian. Rhys is also a character I feel that Maas wants to make too perfect. I know, unpopular opinion, but it is just how I feel about it.

Anyway, I won’t be rushing to read the little filler books between this and (much to my horror to learn) the upcoming book. Natasha said I could skip it and be fine, anyway. There is also the question of whether or not I will return to the next one. A Court of Wings and Ruin is not nearly as offensive as A Court of Mist and Fury, but it is still far longer than strictly necessary.

Review: Odd Thomas – Dean Koontz

2

Odd Thomas #1

SYNOPSIS: “The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo’s sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it’s different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world’s worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere. – via Goodreads

So for years I have been meaning to get to these books after I watched Odd Thomas and learned that the movie was based on book. I, contrary to what most people felt, really enjoyed the movie. I thought it was fun. I didn’t see the twist coming. I adore Yelchin, so it all worked. So then I finally got myself together and actually got to reading this the other day and, well… yeah. I liked it. I just didn’t love it. I wanted more from it.

Odd Thomas breezes by. Seriously, it is an easy book to read, and the characters are fun, albeit a little thin. There is the Elvis angle, and then there is Odd himself, who is truly just a sweetheart, simple and pure. There is the whole backstory with his mother that could legitimately be way more messed up than was delivered here (who knows, it might be different in later books), but I just felt it was a little flat, like just glossed over? Plus two, what a hideous woman. His dad, too, was no real great shakes.

I enjoyed the story well enough, and as I said, it breezes by. It was an easy read, nothing too hectic to commit to, nothing too major to sink your teeth into, so that means you feel that you have missed a little by the end of it. It leaves you feeling a little wanting. That being said, I had a good time reading Odd Thomas and will read more of the books at some point, though I won’t be rushing for the next in the series anytime soon if I’m being honest. I suppose Odd Thomas prescribed to the typical Dean Koontz recipe of being entertaining and fun and all that, but not really staying long after as it doesn’t pack a major punch.

Review: Daughters of the Lake – Wendy Webb

0

SYNOPSIS: After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger has retreated to her parents’ home on Lake Superior to pull herself together—only to discover the body of a murdered woman washed into the shallows. Tucked in the folds of the woman’s curiously vintage gown is an infant, as cold and at peace as its mother. No one can identify the woman. Except for Kate. She’s seen her before. In her dreams…

One hundred years ago, a love story ended in tragedy, its mysteries left unsolved. It’s time for the lake to give up its secrets. As each mystery unravels, it pulls Kate deeper into the eddy of a haunting folktale that has been handed down in whispers over generations. Now, it’s Kate’s turn to listen.

As the drowned woman reaches out from the grave, Kate reaches back. They must come together, if only in dreams, to right the sinister wrongs of the past. – via Goodreads

I think I got this as a Prime first reads option, and then I never got to it, though it looked interesting. I recently had LASIK done and decided to get this on Audible, too, for the few days where I could not read or watch too much TV. While my eyes were healing, basically. So that was my first audiobook experience in years, too, and it was quite good. The narrator, Xe Sands, was fantastic, and it was nice to listen to her. But anyway, let’s get to the book itself.

I quite enjoyed Daughters of the Lake. It was certainly not unpredictable, and the characters were not super deep or anything, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story flicking into the past and into the present, and seeing the connections come together, as well as how the story joined up. I feel that logic goes out the window a little bit, but that is to be expected in a supernatural story like this.

Anyway, overall I thought that Daughters of the Lake was a decent book and it’s a pretty quick one to go through, too. I thought it was a pretty good listen, too, as Xe Sands did a great job and was easy to listen to. Worth it.

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

7

A Court of Thorns and Roses #2

SYNOPSIS: 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. – via Goodreads

Ugh. This book. I know my bestie Natasha is a ridiculously big fan of these books, and I really wanted to love them like her, and I thought A Court of Thorn and Roses wasn’t too bad, but then this hunk of junk rolled around. It grated on my last nerve from page one essentially. Remember all that sexy time Natasha said might put me off and I didn’t get what she was talking about in the last book? Well. It is ALLLLLLLLLLL here. Let me get into this stupid book already, and keep myself reigned in as much as possible.

THE FUCKING WHINING. Dear God, will it ever end?! Not once did Feyre stop moaning and whining and feeling sorry for herself in this, which chapped my ass. Almost as much as her constant vomiting. I am not kidding. All this character does it whinge and bitch and puke and have sex dreams/fantasies. Goodness gracious me. I had some hope for Feyre from the last book. Maybe not the greatest character of all time, but certainly not the worst. But here? Save mine eyes!

The book was also excessively long. Seriously. Maas could have lopped off two hundred pages easily and still told the same wheedling, stupid story. So much of this book is wasted on erotica. And not the good kind, either. The lame, silly kind, with some exceptionally questionable sex scenes/practices going on. Forest Fuck Fest, Tom! I know how you love that phrase! This is it! I don’t like to read erotica or a ton of sex scenes, I want a story more than I want to know about… okay, let me stop there. This conversation might become too graphic for words, and is so not the way I converse. Just know I was extremely unimpressed with the offering.

Aside from Feyre working on my last nerve, the characters are again shallow and flat in this book, and Tamlin turned into a real asshat in this one. Controlling and manipulative and abusive. That bastard did nothing in the freaking uprising of Amarantha, and he is treated like the conquering hero that gets Feyre as a prize? What? CONFUSED. But yeah. Also, it irritated me that he was essentially an entirely different character than in the first. The first he had flaws, but who the fuck is this guy?! Then there is the completely NOT SHOCKING development of the relationship between Feyre and Rhys.

Maas is also a crappy writer. Well, in this series, at any rate. Repetitive language, more ellipses than should be legal and more em dashes than you can shake a stick at. Seriously. And she constantly repeats certain phrases. I don’t know how many times she used the term “vulgar gesture”, but my eye twitched every time I read it.

Okay, I am actually going to stop venting here before this turns crazy. Needless to say, I hated this book. It took me about a week and a half to read it because every time I looked at my Kindle, a little part of me wilted and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. But I am a completist and masochist and soldiered on. At least it is done now. I won’t lie, I have absolutely no motivation to pick up the next one. We will see if I get to the place where I wish to give Maas her last chance, but I don’t know. It seems my opinion is in the minority on this series, but I just don’t get the hype at all.

Review: City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare

2

The Mortal Instruments #5

SYNOPSIS: What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? – via Goodreads

Well, here we go, back to something that reads more like a Mortal Instruments novel. City of Fallen Angels really felt like filler nonsense, and I wasn’t a fan really, but City of Lost Souls starts taking us back to the things that we love in the series.

Gosh, I was so torn about all the Jace and Clary scenes here. There were times where you laughed and could picture this Jace as Jace as we know him (gosh, I know how that sentence looks and reads), but at the same time you know it isn’t really Jace. Gah, I can just imagine how Clary felt. Like we have been shipping Clary and Jace from the beginning, and then here you get sections of them together here but it’s not right. Nooooooo!

There is also that business with Alec being a complete and utter fool about the Magnus thing. I just want to reach out and slap him. His jealousy in City of Fallen Angels was super annoying and against character, but the stupid things he is getting into here with Camille really make me mad. I have shipped Alec and Magnus since Magnus told him to give him a call after the unfortunate party where Simon turned into a rat. I love them together, and what Alec has been doing is not okay!

So the story in here is back to much better. It is indeed a slow burn, but it is worth the read, and the payoff is so worth it. Sebastian really is a crooked, great villain. I mean I have been waiting for him to come back since City of Glass, as he is too good an opportunity to pass up, and I really liked seeing what Clare has done with him. I was interested to see what type of villain he would be, and so far, worse than Valentine it would seem, and I am enjoying it. I am so looking forward to more of the struggle against him.

City of Lost Souls is a return to form in the Mortal Instruments series, and has the series finally finding its feet again. We get great characters again and there is development going on again, though maybe not as much as before. I enjoyed this, and I have to say, I am so hooked on these books.

Review: City of Fallen Angels – Cassandra Clare

2

The Mortal Instruments #4

SYNOPSIS: The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace. – via Goodreads

Okay, I am going to admit immediately that, of the four books in the series so far, this one is without a doubt the most uninspired. It could have ultimately been a short story, but instead was too long for a short story, but too short for a proper novel for this series (the books are longer). It was also totally unstructured and unsure of what it wanted to be, only starting to materialise with a point to the story near the end, which is a pity. Not the worst book to read, it just not have the oomph of its predecessors.

City of Fallen Angels blunders around. We finally get to read about Jace and Clary without that horrible sibling thing going on, and instead we get sulky teens avoiding each other and having no real idea what is going on. Like… they finally became the stereotype you fear in these kinds of books. There is no actual heat between them anymore (like there has been) and they are whining to everyone but each other. There is not really much character development in this one. Alec turns into a hot, jealous mess about Magnus, and it is not endearing or even funny. If anything, it will chap your ass because Alec has never been like this in any of the other books, which is so annoying. Why is this a thing now? Stop your crap Alec!

So no real plot or character development leaves the book feeling rather hollow. It is definitely lacks direction. I lapped up all the good bits I could, and will forever look at this as more of a filler book. No seriously scary villains in this (though really, there was all the potential in the world), and I feel that I have watched inordinate amounts of Supernatural because I called the instigator pretty much from the off, City of Fallen Angels is a step down from the other books, but certainly (EVENTUALLY) sets up for the story going back to some fantastic places. We shall see where it goes!

Review: Revival – Stephen King

0

SYNOPSIS: In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price… – via Goodreads

Yes, another King novel. I have made it my life’s mission to read everything from him. I absolutely love and adore King and his work and have read a hell of a lot of it, but a lot still isn’t all, so I am rereading the ones I have read and starting the others I have not. This is one I was curious about, as it is one of the more recent ones, and when I saw it in my library I thought it was time to give it a shot.

Man, I am so glad that I did. Revival is really good, exactly what I hoped for. You journey through life with a character, from when they are children to when that one, big, crazy event occurs, and as always, Kings blows it out of the park. When Jamie looks back on his life and reminisces, it feels as though you are, because his journey has become your journey.

Charles Jacobs is an interesting character, and the man is crazy to boot. I can totally understand how a tragedy like that could push someone clean over the edge, but the things that Jacobs was willing to do for his research is intense. I really liked reading this, and enjoyed Jamie as a character. I must say I enjoyed the gaps and the encounters between Jamie and Jacobs, though many have complained. The books devolves into plain crazy by the end, but typical King style, it takes you there and you have fun with it.

Revival is well written and an enjoyable read, definitely honing in on that Lovecraftian tribute, and something I thought was really good. I breezed through the book, and though there were some niggles, and I found the secret electricity thing to be a bit much at times because we never really got anywhere with that, this is still definitely worth the read.

Review: City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare

4

The Mortal Instruments #2

SYNOPSIS: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father? – via Goodreads

So I dove straight on into this one after City of Bones. Naturally, this was after I calmed down about that horrific plotsie. Meaning I had to sleep on it, collect myself, breathe deeply, steel myself and then return to the world of the Shadowhunters. Glad I did, even though I still want to flip the heck out about the Jace/Clary arc. UGHHH. But we will come back to that.

City of Ashes returns with Clary’s mother still being comatose in hospital, which is, of course, exactly what Clary needs, what with this entire alien world and all the confusion it brings. Like, why would she need guidance? There is also the sudden shifts of Jace being close to the Lightwoods to them being his actual adoptive family, which was never actually mentioned in the first book. But we will move on from that. The book wastes no time getting back on the “Valentine is cuckoo crazy” train, and the journey is still good (though, just like the first, a little long in places).

There was so much frustration, pain, and suffering for me reading the scenes between Jace and Clary, and I don’t know when last I resented something so much and wanted it changed. There were parts of this book that inspired hope that it’s all been a mistake, and others that make me afraid Clare will try stick with this preposterous development. Then there is Clary and Simon, who actually start sort of dating each other, and it is just awkward. Like, it doesn’t feel right, even though I like Simon, I don’t like him with her, and he deserves someone that wants him totally, too. The Magnus and Alec arc is also a strange one, but one I totally appreciate and am hoping for the absolute best on.

There is more craziness going down than you can shake a stick at in this one, and not nearly as much world building as City of Bones, but that does not make this any less engaging or entertaining. I am quite enjoying this series so far, and will definitely see where it goes. There is a lot going on with Valentine, and the more I read about him, the more I think he is not nearly as straightforward a villain as you are initially led to believe, which is interesting. The Inquisitor made me think a little of Umbridge in some ways.

In any even, this series has been good so far, and I hope it continues this way. City of Ashes is an easy read, though a touch too long (as I said), but I am enjoying them. There is a lot to like here, I can highly recommend.

Review: Haunting the Deep – Adriana Mather

3

How to Hang a Witch #2

SYNOPSIS: Samantha Mather knew her family’s connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she’d find herself at the center of a new one.

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she’s been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam’s waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship.

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers. – via Goodreads

So I devoured How to Hang a Witch and loved every second of it. When I saw that Adriana Mather had a second book, I didn’t even hesitate to order it, and as soon as it arrived, I sunk my teeth into it. I didn’t read a single thing about this book before buying it, so I was beyond thrilled to see that we got to continue on with Sam’s story. This is a great example of a sequel not ruining all that fantastic groundwork laid in the first novel.

Sam’s dad is back in action, and he is actually a character I thoroughly enjoy. The setup between the Meriwethers and the Mathers is adorable, too, and I am impressed with how Mather handled the whole Jaxon/Elijah/Sam triangle from the first. Speaking of, having Elijah pop up made me way happier than I can say. For reals, the interactions between him and Sam are fantastic.

While the villain of this book was not surprising or shocking, the read is a super fun journey to undertake again. There is magic, romance, teens with their issues, friendship and personal growth, so Haunting the Deep hit all the same highs as the predecessor, which is rare. It’s cool that the Descendants are back, and we get to learn a bit more about them here, too. Salem is also the perfect town for the backdrop for this world that has been woven, so that is really cool.

Adriana Mather writes well, has given us characters to love and a world eager to be returned to, and there is not really much more you can ask for. There is heart, humour and fun to be had. Again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Go out. Read them now. You won’t regret it!

Review: How to Hang a Witch – Adriana Mather

4

How to Hang a Witch #1

SYNOPSIS: Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself. – via Goodreads

I stumbled on this randomly recently, thought it looked alright, bought it, let it languish. I mean really, isn’t that what readers do? Then I saw it in my library and was like “it’s time”, and man, I have no regrets. This book is absolutely fantastic! It is so much more than I thought it would be, and it really does tick like all my boxes. I think one of the blurbs was something like “Mean Girls meets the Salem Witch Trials”, and dammit, it really is just like that.

I need to back up a minute and find a way to articulate myself. There is just so much going for this book that had me thrilled every step of the way. Uhm, let’s see… I really enjoyed the characters. They are not super deep characters or anything, but they all have their little quirks and things, and they really give the story some oomph. The author gives a great, authentic vibe throughout the book, too. The story flows and doesn’t ever feel forced or unnatural.

I was super swept up by this, as you can tell. Everything just worked in it, and I particularly enjoyed Elijah’s character, and Sam, too, is a fun protagonist to follow. Mrs Meriwether is a lovely lady, and Jaxon (despite that spelling) is worth reading about. The book is steeped in history, but not like historical fiction. It has most definitely been modernised, and you can tell the author has put a lot of research and time into the history (not surprising when you see she is a fourteenth generation Mather).

I think that How to Hang a Witch has it all. We have romance, fun, the supernatural, a mystery, magic, everything you would need. I really felt like a young kid reading this again. It’s awesome because while this is probably directed at young adults, it totally works for adults, too. The book speaks of bullying and alienation and other themes, too, but I am really not going to get smack involved with discussing the hell out of that. Know that there are a lot of themes in this and they are all handled really well.

The book is really well written with some super fun characters and a great story to sink your teeth into. I raced through this and was heartbroken when I got to the end because, well, then it was over. I can see how this is something I am going to revisit again in the future. I loved this and highly recommend it, and will calm down now and put a sock in it.