September 2015 Wrap-Up

Reading

In September I read six books and a novella. Of those one was adult, three were YA, two were arguably either YA or middle grade, and one was definitely middle grade. All but two were fantasy with one being magical realism and the other being sci-fi/dystopian.

Short Synopsis: “The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”–A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness

Thoughts: If I had known this book was from the perspective of a boy whose mother is dying of cancer I wouldn’t have read it, but even though as a general rule I don’t read books featuring cancer, I’ll admit that this is a well written, amazing quick read. I highly recommend it to people looking for a book along those lines, but do be aware that this book is a very emotional read.

Rating:

five blue jays

Short Synopsis: A thief is offered her freedom in exchange for forging an emperor a new soul.

 Thoughts: I had no idea a novella could be this good. Then again, it was written by Brandon Sanderson, so I’m not all that surprised.

Rating: 

five blue jays

Short Synopsis: Matt must figure out why he is the only intelligent clone in a society where clone’s brains are permanently damaged at birth.

Thoughts: A thought provoking read that deals with many real world issues. It may also be the only book I’ve ever read set in Mexico. I think this would be a great book to read in a book club or classroom setting.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

Short Synopsis: Child genius, Sophie, discovers she is an elf.

Thoughts: I think twelve-year-old me would have loved this book, and I’ve already recommended it to an eleven-year-old. As of when I read this, however, I found the first half of the book read a little too much like info-dumping and almost stopped reading, but enjoyed the mystery element of the second half much better.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays

Short Synopsis: When rithmatist students start disappearing from an elitist school Joel, the non-rithmatist son of a cleaning lady, is determined to learn who is responsible.

Thoughts: Really enjoyed this, though not as much as some of Sanderson’s other works. Part of that is the concept of rithmatists, magicians whose chalk drawings come to life, seems a little ridiculous though Sanderson did a great job developing it. The other reason is it takes a while to get to the action. I would be upset that the sequel won’t be out until 2017, but I want Sanderson’s other books just as much if not more.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Short Synopsis: The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series.

Thoughts: Definitely enjoyed this one, but I’m having a hard time putting my feelings about it into words.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Short Synopsis: When Alina discovers she has magical abilities her life changes forever.

Thoughts: Flew through this book, and some of the characters were really well developed. However, there were times when I felt that although I was still very engaged not a lot was happening.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Writing

I’m still working on revising my high-fantasy work in progress. My goal for October is to have finished with part one, but I’m in college and have midterms in October, so I’m not sure how practical that is.

I’ve decided that I am probably going to participate in NaNoWriMo again this November. There is a new idea I’ve been longing to write so I’ll be taking a break from my revising for the month. The first draft is unlikely to make it to 50K because I’ll be writing a middle grade novel and tend to underwrite. For this reason, my current goal for November is to finish the entire first draft in a month as opposed to the usual 50,000 words/month.

In other news, I’ve printed out about the first fourth of my YA sci-fi work in progress and plan to print out the rest soon. This is the first time I’ve seen any of my novel length works in physical form so I’m ridiculously excited about this. Once I get the whole manuscript printed I’ll probably be carrying it around everywhere with a huge grin on my face like I do when I get my most anticipated book releases of the year.

Blog

This past month I’ve come to have over 50 followers, and this will be my 49th blog post. Thanks everyone who subscribed/ reads my posts!

I know I’m extremely behind on my tags, but I still have every intention of doing the ones I’ve been tagged for.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas 4.5 Stars

16096824Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publication date:  May 5, 2015

Genre: New Adult High Fantasy

Synopsis:.Killing the wolf in the woods was nothing personal. The wolf merely got in the way of Feyre’s hunt for a deer to feed her starving family. When a beastly faerie shows up at Feyre’s home demanding retribution for the life she has taken it becomes clear the wolf Feyre killed was not a wolf but a faerie in wolf form. The creature agrees to spare Feyre’s life if she will come with him to live on his estate for the rest of her life.

Faeries once ruled the entire world keeping humans as slaves. Now Feyre is about to return to the part of the world where the creatures’ rule never lost hold. There everything Feyre thought she knew about faeries and especially her captor, Tamlin, will be challenged.

Review: I went into this book expecting it to be a lot like Throne of Glass. Both series involve faeries, and I had a hard time reconciling how the author would have two fictional worlds containing fae with significantly different world-building in each, but Maas managed it.

It’s not only the world that felt significantly different. While Celaenna and Feyre share some characteristics like their physical abilities and willingness to fight for what they believe is right they have very different personalities and back-stories.

Feyre only wants to keep her family fed and safe in spite of the fact that they treat her like dirt and constantly criticize Feyre. They didn’t even seem to care that Feyre was practically the only reason they’d managed to survive this long. What really bothered me about the situation is that Feyre was the youngest child. I don’t think I would have been nearly so annoyed had she been the oldest who in our society is often expected to take on an almost parental role when parents die. The sisters needed to come to terms with the fact that their wealth was gone and was likely not coming back.

Maas spends a lot of time building a sense of mystery around the faerie lands. Feyre and the other humans in the novel have clearly defined notions of what the fae are like. It has been centuries since the humans were freed from the faeries’ slavery, and in that time period many misconceptions about them have emerged in addition to false rumors circulated by the fae during their rule to keep the humans subservient.

What sets this book apart from other Beauty and the Beast retellings aside from the great character development were the politics. Faerie finds herself caught up more and more into the faerie politics as the story progresses and she begins to learn about how these affect even the human world. While for the most part I enjoyed this political element some of Tamlin’s actions still didn’t make sense to me even after the political elements became entirely clear. I hope these will be more fully explained in the sequel.

The middle of the book slows down to allow time for Feyre to sort out what elements she has been told about Fae are true, and allow time for character development. With the exception of Feyre’s family the characters were well developed, and there was more to most of them than first appeared. (Tamlin, Lucien, and Rhysand in particular.)

This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and so some plot elements were predictable, but there were enough differences between this retelling and the original faerie tale that some plot elements remained unclear.

The pacing at the end of the story picks up again to become much more action paced. This book reads like a standalone, but with so much left to explore and some minor plot threads left incomplete I’m glad this is a series.

What readers should know: When I heard this novel was being marketed as new adult I was expecting some detailed romantic interactions. While there was talk of sex and even scenes involving it this element of the plot was not nearly as detailed or prominent as I was expecting given my experience with New Adult which, granted, is not very extensive.

Since this was a Sarah J. Maas book I was also expecting a fair amount of violence. While there certainly was some violence especially in the form of torture late in the book (Tamlin always treated Feyre with respect, even in the beginning), this was nothing compared to what I expected after reading the Throne of Glass series.

Rating: This was an excellent book overall. However, I felt the pacing in the middle was a little too slow, and even after learning the full details of the faerie politics in the book some of Tamlin’s actions didn’t entirely make sense to me. I highly recommend this book to fans of Beauty and the Beast, faerie book series like The Iron Fay and Splintered, or Throne of Glass. 

4.5 blue jays