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.

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On the Downside of Being in Editorial

So recently I devoured this book for my job. Just know you should definitely read it.

The downside of being in editorial reared its head when the sequel came in the office. I eagerly devoured that as well. After episodes of fist pumping and clenching my kindle as events unfolded, I finished and eagerly looked around. I needed to fangirl so hard over it.

And I was the only one who had read it.

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I know, you are probably thinking, gosh, it must suck to read for a living. I am not complaining about that. Love my job.

BUT when you are the only one who has read something and you desperately want to share your love of a book, it can suck. No one can understand why you have been ruined for the day. RUINED. The book was so good, all you want to do is talk about it, and instead you have to sit there quietly since no one has read it. NO ONE.

So now I wait for you guys to read the first book, so I can fangirl about that one at least. But still…

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Sarah Fine, I blame you for my lack of productivity on the submission pile lately.

Book vs Movie Face Off: Twilight Saga, Part 1

I have decided to do a new set of posts: Book vs Movie Face Off. I plan to break down the good and bad of both mediums. First up: the Twilight Saga.

Last weekend, while avoiding chores, I stumbled on the Breaking Dawn, Part 2 marathon on ABC Family. I started watching a bit, never really finishing the movie, and I decided I was in the mood to read/watch Twilight. So I went the gym to watch the Twilight movie. The whole time, between my giggles from amusement at the horribleness, I had a thought: “I don’t remember the characters being this bad.” And so began the long week of re-reading the Twilight Saga and re-watch of the movies. For Part 1, I will just focus on the books since I have a feeling this will be a really long post if the two are together.

Writing

Everyone bashes Meyer’s writing. But this series was never pitched to when critical acclaim in the book world. It was meant to sell books. And it did that quite successfully. Literary writing and commercial writing are two very different things. Not to mention that this was her DEBUT books. Newbie authors only grow stronger the longer they write. I will admit to feeling peer pressure to say she is a bad writer; she isn’t. I have seen far worse. I probably would have taken this to my boss to acquire and more than likely have gone to bat for it.

Actually one of my favorite part of her writing is how she handles the months passing in New Moon. That had maximum impact to show just how in a fog Bella was

Bella

So here’s the thing: Bella does have a bit of backbone in the books. Now, stick with me here, I can hear some of the groans out there. In the first book, Bella straight up tells readers her anger is tied to her tear ducts. As someone whose emotions are tied to certain body parts, I totally get this. So sometimes ball comes off like she is crying and upset but she is ANGRY. Emotions are there.

Everyone has seen the memes about Bella vs Hermione, or Bella being anti-feminist.

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I’ll tackle the Bella vs. Hermione first. The world is filled with some many different types of people, and so it is roughly true in YA. Not everyone can be a strong character; it gets boring. The reaction Bella has to Edward leaving her is pretty similar to what I image I might feel when my mother dies: like a part of you has been ripped out and you are in pain. Remember, Bella and Edward are more than soul mates; they are supposed to be one person. Imagine losing your arm or leg. The phantom pains that people experience.  So yeah, it seems plausible she would fall apart.

As for Bella being anti-feminist, I would say whoever said that clearly has never read the books. 1) Bella has sexual agency. Most people forget that it is Bella would is always trying to initiate sex. I am not getting into a multi-layered discussion about Meyer’s motivations and messages. The fact of it is, Bella has an equal hand in her relationship as far as physical intimacies go. 2) When Edward proposes, Bella is very put off by the idea of marriage. I think this is one of her most feminist moments: Bella points out that marriage does not equal forever. She is very against the idea of marriage, especially at such a young age.  3) Bella is constantly pushing to be treated as equal. She wants to be in the fights for her life just as much as Edward.  She is not sitting on the sidelines willingly and when given the chances, tries to help out. If you think Bella is not a feminist, then maybe you should re-examine what feminism means for you. For me, it means being an equal player in the relationship and standing up for what I need. Bella does this, multiple times throughout the series.

Now there are some things I would have pushed for if I had been Meyer’s editor. Like I said, I totally believe Bella could fall apart when Edward left, but I think I would have liked to see a bit more hesitation and anger on her part when he returned. Your other half left you for several months, and now you just hope back into the relationship, maybe a bit more panicky when he leaves. I think I would have asked for Bella to be more hesitant with trusting Edward again, and also a little angry that he took her choices away from her. More drama that way.

Edward

Bella might stand up for herself, but Edward often gets in the way. People have called him abusive, controlling, a stalker, etc. Part of me agrees with some of these assessments. But I also understand the positions behind them. Keep in mind that Edward is used to hearing everyone’s thoughts. That means Edward is constantly in control of every situation. He instantly knows what the other part wants, if they are lying, if they need things from him. And then BAM! He finds Bella, who he cannot hear at all. For someone used to being in control of every situation, he is suddenly out of control. It makes a person get MORE controlling. SO yeah, that is where Edward is approaching this.

Edward’s abusive nature is a bit harder. He is trying to keep Bella safe. As Bella herself admits, she is a klutz. Edward sees Bella as very fragile and is constantly trying to protect her. And that is where the problem comes in. Edward does take away some of Bella’s agency with his over protective ways. But again, like above, Edward is used to being in control.

Edward was never my favorite love interest for Bella.

Jacob

BEST MAN EVER. I will hear nothing bad about him. Team Jacob 4EVER!

Vampire Baby, aka Nessie

When I first read the books, I was so disgusted with this development. Meyers had given multiple interviews where she had said that vampires were frozen forever when they were turned, and then she pulled this?! She was very quick to say she deliberately said female vampires couldn’t have kids, but males had the option. Whatever. Didn’t buy it then, don’t buy it now.

But having just finished the series, I can see the slow developments over time. In New Moon, Bella wishes she had a more permanent claim to Jacob, like a brother; something that would make him a family. In Eclipse, Bella has moment where an alternate future flashes before her eyes and she sees the children she could have had. Furthermore, Bella’s dreams (not quite prophetic, more like cutting to the truth and passed the façade) hint to several key developments in the books: Edward as a vampire, Jacob as a werewolf, having a baby with Edward. There are clues along the way once you know.

Not happy about the decision, but it was nicely worked into the overall series.

These books are more complex than most people would like to admit. But that is the joy about books, these nuances in character can be showcases better. Yes, there are elements that I would have loved to influence, but these books still manage to play with my heartstrings every time.

Come back tomorrow to see part two where I examine the movies. That should be fun…

Glass Arrow Review

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Title: Glass Arrow

Author: Kristen Simmons

Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan)

Flap Copy:

“Once there was a time when men and women lived as equals, when girl babies were valued, and women could belong only to themselves. But that was ten generations ago. Now women are property, to be sold and owned and bred, while a strict census keeps their numbers manageable and under control. The best any girl can hope for is to end up as some man’s forever wife, but most are simply sold and resold until they’re all used up.

Only in the wilderness, away from the city, can true freedom be found. Aya has spent her whole life in the mountains, looking out for her family and hiding from the world, until the day the Trackers finally catch her.

Stolen from her home, and being groomed for auction, Aya is desperate to escape her fate and return to her family, but her only allies are a loyal wolf she’s raised from a pup and a strange mute boy who may be her best hope for freedom . . . if she can truly trust him.”

I finished this book about two weeks ago. I have been sitting on it, mulling it over. In the heat of the moment, it was a really good book. It reminded me a lot of Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy. And America being what it currently is (not getting into a rant about the validity of women’s rights), this book really struck home for me.

However, it is two weeks later, and my instant love of this book has dulled a bit.

When I think back on the book, I feel like there wasn’t that much done. It definitely could have been a bigger book. I don’t want to outline the whole plot, but trust me when I say, while things happened, timeline events felt like nothing happened.

I still like the book and definitely would have acquired it. I just might have asked that she added another 100 pages or something.

Throwback Thursday: Anne of Green Gables

In case you missed it, Jonathan Crombie “Gilbert Blythe” died. In honor of this man, and my love of Gilbert Blythe because of him, I decided to re-read Anne of Green Gables.

Now, I am partial to this cover since I thought this accurately captured my vision of Anne, I will say this version is gorgeous.

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So what to say about this beautiful book? Well, I love when Anne breaks her slate over Gil’s head. There is also the scene with the drowned boat in a lake, or the  imagination of Anne in general.

Basically, this book is just a fun read. It is wholesome, if that makes any sense. I would totally give this to my kids to read, if I had any. I highly recommend a re-read of it.

Fangirl Review

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Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (Macmillan)

Flap Copy:

“In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”

So I hopped on the Rainbow Rowell love a little late. I had been toying with the idea of reading this book for a while, but you know how it goes, so many books, so little time. But I decided to take the plunge and download the eBook. Side note: eBooks feel like not as much of a commitment. I can just read it on my phone as I wait for the train or during lunch.

My pet peeves with this book were all the Simon Snow excerpts. We get, she is a fan. It did not need an excerpt t the end of every chapter. I felt like that wasted space could have actually gone into more story.

I have to say, I know someone like Cath and it was a nice change to read about an introvert. I loved the attraction between Cath and Levi (the always around boyfriend); it was sweet. I just wish, instead of having those dang excerpts, we got some actual meat on that relationship instead of the entire lovey dovey relationship.

Elements of this book worked for me: the new roommate, the issues with her sister. Those were all great. But I feel like I wanted other aspects explored as well. Cath’s issues with her mother: she writes a short story about it and yet, I did not see the full scope of that piece of writing.

Would I have acquired this? Maybe. Rowell’s approach to plot makes me feel the same way as I do about my mom’s creamed spinach: not sure if I like it, but darn if I will stop until I know.

Girl Books versus Boy books

I can’t stop my mind from churning. If you read my recent post, then you might know why my brain has been so active. At the time, I also read a post by the AH-Mazing Shannon Hale.

I have been following her on Twitter so I had some exposure to this post, but one afternoon, I sat down and really thought about it.

The Scholastic Reading Reports do report that girls read more than boys as they age. But as Hale points out, we give books to boys with the qualifier of “it’s a girl book.”  Her story of the third-grade boy afraid to ask aloud for a copy of The Princess in Black broke my heart.

Take a look at your bookshelves. If they are like mine, you will notice that a lot of the YA books are making a shift. I went to a lecture three years ago where a cover designer said that every YA book had to have a girl in a big poofy dress (she was discussing the current state of design elements, not saying it was actually necessary). But as I look at the books I have on my nightstand right now, I am seeing a shift. Yes, some of the books still have girls on them, but a lot of them are starting to have more artistic renderings.

Think about all the big bestsellers, for example: Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, Hunger Games, and Twilight.

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Something most people won’t notice about all of these books is that they all lack a character on the cover. In fact, all the books rally around a symbol or typography (type face like in Twilight). These books for all their content don’t make a “girl” book or “boy” book cover.

Hale’s book, by the nature of the age group she writes for, does have a character on the cover. But I agree the nature of conversation about books needs to change. We tell boys that this is a “girl” book.  The school administration assumes boys won’t be interested in what a female writer has to say.  With the “gate-keepers” making those types of decisions and statements, is it any wonder that boys believe it?

I believe there are things that both sides can do to help eliminate “girl” and “boy” books. With YA, we are seeing a shift in design. I need more research to make a point on middle grade covers. But if cover designs are shifting, why then do we still feel the need to qualify a book?

Good writing is good writing. Say, “This book is something you might like. Let me know how you find it.” Start a dialog instead of shutting it down.