A Court of Mist and Fury Review

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Title: A Court of Mist and Fury

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Flap Copy:  “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.”

So I’ll admit, I was not looking forward to reading this monster of a book. It is over 600 pages!  I’ve been finding myself getting really annoyed at the editor of Maas’s books because she is not pulling it back. The Throne of Glass series books just keep getting bigger. And since this book is not the end of this series, I will admit to fearing that the next book is going to clock in at 900.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

I don’t remember being in love with the first book. It was good, but it didn’t have the punch in my mind as other books did (Hello, The Winner’s Curse). I have to say though, this book is BETTER than the first one. Much more character work and relationships. I found myself saying out loud, “I love that bitch” about one of my favorite new characters.

Could I have done without a lot of the sex scenes? Yes. This book is definitely for older teens, but even then it just started to really annoy me. I also would have cut a few lines and there is one line in particular that stands out as god awful that I am still not sure what the author meant.

One thing I am learning at work is how to look at book pages shortly after being designed to see how they look when they read, i.e. does an italicized word look the same size as the rest of the words. Whoever did that for this book FAILED.  SO many italicized words and they looked weird on the page.

I still thinking that the editorial team needs a refresher course and to pull the author back, but this is one of those reads that if you like commercial books, and need more sex scenes in YA fantasy, it will be right up your alley.

I love Sarah J. Maas, and I would love to have her as an author, but I also think someone needs to reign it more when editing.

Side note: still not a fan of the covers.

Why I Gave Up on Kierra Cass and Why I Almost Did on Sarah J. Maas

I bought the newest Selection novel and A Court of Mist and Fury (review to come soon), and I have a confession: I am done with Kierra Cass, and I almost threw in the towel on Sarah J. Maas. Don’t get me wrong, I do love their books and I follow them on Twitter, but I have had it up to here.

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When I started reading The Crown, I just couldn’t bring myself to want to read it. With my job, I spend a lot of time reading books and make judgments on many factors. And when I tried reading this new Cass book, I just snapped back to my annoyance with the previous book. The writing was too commercial, and the character drove me nuts. When there are only so few hours I can dedicate to fun reading, I find myself getting pickier. I like The Selection series, but the quality has really gone downhill. While they remain the same size, quality is not the same.

When I got A Court of Mist and Fury, I almost cried. It was the same size of Queen of Shadows and I had strong feelings about that book. I love Maas’ writing and I love her stories and strong characters, but I am getting really frustrated by how big those books are getting! Queen of Shadows did not need to be that big. Someone needs to help trim those books down. But I was pleasantly surprised by A Court of Mist and Fury. I think there are some areas that could have been cut, but on the whole, I wouldn’t have cut that much of that book down.  I’m not throwing in the towel yet. But seriously, please don’t get any bigger and please be more critical about what needs to go in!

If I had unlimited time, I’d probably be on board with it all, but really, who has that kind of time anymore?

An Ember in the Ashes Review

**WARNING: Minor Spoilers**

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Title: An Ember in the Ashes 

Author: Sabaa Thair

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)

Flap:

“Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.”

So I will admit, I didn’t think I was going to like this. I had heard from that it wasn’t that good, and when I looked at the sample pages, I will admit I was not excited to see alternating points of view (POV).

But HOT DAMN!

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I started reading this on a cold weekend when I was in the mood to just sit in bed, under heating blankets, and read. And I DEVOURED it. I could not stop! I legit texted my mom that I wasn’t going to the gym, she was like “the book will still be there if I went to the gym”, and I was like “nope, too good to stop.”

I love the complexity of both Laia and Elias. Laia is a character I can relate to you from the first page. She is not Katniss or Hermonine. She shows a healthy dose of fear when trained killers come for her family. But then she spends the rest of the novel trying to atone for her cowardice (or as I see it, as reasonably healthy dose of self-preservation).

Elias is awesome! One of my favorite childhood books is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. Elias reminds me of one of the characters in that series (I am not telling which one just so you can go and read the books and then guess who he reminds me of).

I could go on and on about this book. But seriously, this was a book I didn’t think I would love and then it was so beautiful, I couldn’t NOT love it.

Would I have tried to acquire? YES, I would have tried my hardest.

Me, The Professional Reader

So it has been a long time! WordPress has changed yet again, the New Year is underway, and I am trying to keep up. If you have been following this blog then you know there are a lot of good books out there that I am dying to read, but alas duty calls elsewhere.

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My TBR pile as of this morning.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to prepare for the future. As you know, I love my job and the career path I am on. And soon (hopefully) I will get to actually start acquiring books and building stories with authors. And as a result of our connected world, this blog will be found and tied back to me and my job.

Isn’t that great? Agents, authors, industry professionals can all find this blog and discover the type of books I am drawn to and wish I had worked with.

So what does this all mean for me as a reader?

Glad you asked.

It means that if you see a tweet from me on Manuscript Wishlist, I have to read with an eye to the author’s writing (WARNING: this is a industry only hashtag, but it is fun to look through for readers to see what editors and agents wished they had coming across their desks). I work with two imprints: Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books, and as a result, the books I can acquire must fit with those imprints. So while I do love a great commercial book, like the Gossip Girl series, I have to have an eye for the creative direction of my imprints. Atheneum is the more literary driven imprint, and McElderry falls in the middle with commercial titles and literary titles. The difference between literary writing and commercial writing is like sampling fine chocolate.

Another great way to understand me as a reader is to check out my Pinterest. If you do, you might notice I am all over the map: fantasy, darker stories, humor, historical fiction, contemporary romance, etc. I love it all, except graphic abuse stories. I extremely picky about those since they hit you right in the feels.

I can hear some of you asking, “Natascha, this is great and all, but why should I care if I don’t work in publishing?”

Great question! And the simply answer is that this is great way to learn more about my reading tastes, and the types of books you will likely find on this blog.

And with that I will wrap up this post. Stay tuned for more as I continue my writing weekend. Christmas was productive and I have posts to get up. 🙂

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Shamless bookstragm shot. You know you love it 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl at Midnight Review

Girl at Midnight

Title: The Girl at Midnight

Author: Melissa Grey

Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)

Flap Copy:

“Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.”

I really want to scream. What was Kirkus thinking giving this a starred review? Seriously, I question them. Is this book bad? No. Is it great? No. The world building and the characters are amazing, but if you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone then this book does not seem so great.

The romance and adventure just don’t feel as intense. Even the war between the two races lacks impact. It really did read like a less impressive version of Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

I think I would acquired it, but it would have been almost a completely different book. I love the world, and her writing, but the story right now just is not doing it for me.

The Heartbreakers Review

Heartbreakers

Title: The Heartbreakers (The Heartbreak Chronicles)

Author: Ali Novak

Publisher: Sourcebook Fire

Flap Copy:

“ “When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara―even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver ― dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band ― when her sister could be dying of cancer?”

This book was a bit of let down. As you all know, I am on a teen romance trip, but nothing seems to be hitting the spot. I like Novak’s previous book, but I just wasn’t feeling this one as much.

I like the secondary characters of the band more than Stella. But I wish Novak would have either embraced the full Hollywood teen romance, or the sick sister story. It waffled in between and as a result, I felt like neither side got the full attention it deserved.

Would I have acquired this? Not sure. I like Novak, and I feel like she has some solid stories, I just am not sure I could have pulled the story out of her that I wanted.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Review

Thorns and Roses

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Flap Copy:

“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 over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.”

Welp, what can I say? This is definitely a book for older teen readers. But it was soooo good. Beauty and the Beast  meets Cupid and Pysche. I loved the give and take between Feyre and several of the characters. Maas is brilliant when it comes to creating tension and witty dialogue.

The book is on odd size though so it looks slim but it is actually a good size book. And I am not a fan of the jacket itself but Maas seems to be doing a good job with illustrated books for YA.

I would definitely acquire this.