Friday, May 29, 2015

Feminist Fridays: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Welcome to the first Feminist Fridays! This is a new feature I'm trying out on the blog, because of some issues I've been finding more and more in some books. Please, please read the disclaimer on the Feminist Fridays page before going off on a rant in the comments. Understand that what I say in these reviews in no way means the book is bad, just that it has some issues that could do with being changed, to make it more equalThey do not, in any way, shape or form, reflect my views on the authors or their lives, and I am not blaming them for anything.

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses

General Rating: 3/5
FF Rating: 2/5

This review contains spoilers for the ending of the book.

For the general review for ACOTAR, go here.

Like I said in the main review, there were some problematic points with ACOTAR that I feel should be addressed.
First of all, even though Tamlin isn't exactly Feyre's jailor, he isn't warm and fuzzy either; in fact, throughout the first part of the novel, she is terrified of him. Now, I don't know about you, but I find it deeply disturbing that a man who once scared her so much went from tormentor and scary guy, to lover in just a few chapters. Maybe, if the relationship had evolved over the whole book, it would have been less disturbing. Although I know why she wrote it like that, considering the plot, it still didn't sit well with me at all.
It's quite sad that a Disney movie aimed at children, that couldn't have been longer than an hour and half, managed to portray a more likeable and slightly less creepy romance than a book with hundreds of pages. I mean, I get that the naga were meant to be the wolves, and let's face it, there's always been grumblings over Beauty & the Beast and Stockholm Syndrome (grumblings I always sort of ignored good-naturedly, because, come on, it's a fairytale, you have to cut it some slack, especially considering the context of production for that movie. Also, even though the Beast keeps Belle in the castle, there's never really any hint that he'd physically harm her, and we see him actively trying to be nice and make her feel at home. With ACOTAR, not only did Feyre's very physical reactions of distaste and fear of Tam create the idea that he might physically try to hurt her, because the narrative was told solely through Feyre's first person POV, it's hard to see any real evidence of Tamlin actually trying to be nice; instead, he's dismissive, and only offers to buy her stuff to paint with in what feels like almost a way to trap here there. It's creepy, it's scary and it did nothing to help me believe that they could have a healthy, loving relationship). So, maybe the problem was with the nature of the fairytale itself, rather than with the book. Still, in a retelling of a Victorian fairytale, some aspects always need to be changed, because that's what fairytales do: they adapt to the society they're being told to, and that was sorely missing here.

Also, the imbalance of power between Feyre and Tamlin, at the start of the book (because of course, by the end, it's been erased... sort of. More on that later), with Tam being a High Fae immortal who can turn into a beastie and use magic, and Feyre a lowly illiterate human. It's a massive imbalance, and in no way makes for anything even resembling a healthy relationship. Feyre would always be second to Tam, always less important, less noticeable, less valuable... less.
And, yes, by the end of the novel she's High Fae herself. Which breaks some of that imbalance pretty neatly, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that will play out in the second book; but there's still the fact that Tam is still a High Fae of something, while Feyre will always just be Tamlin's girlfriend (or whatever it is we're calling them).
So she's Tamlin's girlfriend, Rhys' property for a week every month... why is it that woman are so defined by men in this book? Can they not exist on their right?

Which brings me on to the thing that quite possibly bothered me the most. I could sort of overlook the creepiness of the romance if I squinted real hard and ignored the first half of the book. What I couldn't ignore was the fact that about 90% of the conversations in this novel would not pass the Bechdel Test. I didn't actually count them all, but around the time Feyre goes back home, this was seriously bothering me.
Not only are there very few women in the book (other than Feyre and Amarantha, who, surprise, surprise, is a seductive older woman, out to corrupt the incorruptible Tamlin *groans*, the only other women are Alis, who is a secondary character at best, and Feyre's sisters, who are maybe tertiary characters if they're lucky), but the few conversations they have between them, generally are about men. I think the only ones that would pass would be Feyre chatting with the worshippers of the Fae at the beginning, and her conversations with her sisters before they found out the truth. And maybe some chats with Alis, though even those mostly were about Tamlin.

All in all, points for the plot and the idea, but dear god, this book pissed me off sometimes. I will read the next one, because I'm curious, but I'm lowering my expectations exponentially.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
Cover: 8/10
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.
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 grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Oh, boy.
Where to even start. First of all, I love Beauty & the Beast, it's my favourite fairytale, and I generally quite enjoy the retellings of it; in fact, fairytale retellings are my crack. I love reading them, I love analysing them, and I love comparing how different they are to the tales I grew up with. So, I was pretty excited for ACOTAR.
I mean, a Beauty & the Beast retelling by one of my favourite authors, and the book had been getting rave reviews? It was like a dream come true. But somewhere along the way, something went horribly, terribly wrong.
Don't get me wrong, the last ¼ of the book was actually pretty amazing. But until I got there, the story dragged by, filled stuff that could be seen as necessary filler background if it had actually been used to develop the romance. Instead, one day Feyre wakes up, essentially trapped in this house, and decides that the guy who can turn into a lion and who had scared her witless, to the point where she flinched away from him, no longer scared her, and actually, he's really quite handsome.
Now, okay, I know the nature of the fairytale involves some rather questionable romance aspects, but it really says something when a Disney movie, that cannot be longer than an hour and a half manages to make romance more believable than a 400 pages book. But I'm going to keep that rant for the feminist review, so suffice it to say, I didn't buy what Maas was selling.

And maybe it was just that, even though the book was in first person, it felt like it would have benefitted from being in third. I lost count of the amount of times I was jarred out of the narrative by Feyre thinking 'I', when I'd been pretty sure it would be a 'he/she'. It's possible that's just me being used to Maas' books being in third person, but I felt like that was maybe not the best decision in the world.
And then there were the characters. I loved Lucien so much, and, like I mentioned before, did not buy the Tamlin-is-an-awesome-guy routine. Feyre was a good, solid narrator at most times, although she did have her annoying moments.
But, the characters that most intrigued me was also the one we saw less of?! I wanted to get to know Rhys. I wanted to sink my teeth into his character, find out of what made him tic; we sort of almost got there in Feyre's cell, but there are still so many questions left. What was that look he gave Feyre at the end? Why did he protect her? What's his angle? I NEED TO KNOW! And Nesta, she was awesome, and I'd love to have seen so much more of her.

The most amusing thing for me was solving Amarantha's riddle in seconds. I'm thinking either my Ravenclaw-ness is rearing its' head, or that riddle was way too easy!

All in all, a fun book that kept me entertained. Despite my misgivings with it, it had a solid plot and interesting characters, plus awesome world building.

Cover Love: Dangerous Lies

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.
After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.
But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.
As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks… 
Dangerous Lies is due to be published November 10th.

Cover Love: The Mirror King

Look at the pretty! If The Orphan Queen was stunning, this one is just... *drools*

Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right. 

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.

The Mirror King is scheduled for an April 5th release.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cover Love: Red's Untold Tale

Just up today, the cover for the companion piece to ABC's show Once Upon a Time, Red's Untold Tale looks gorgeous and might actually help me get my Ruby fix - I've missed her pretty face on my screen!

Being released on September 22nd, Red's Untold Tale will "explore an earlier chapter in the life of one of our most beloved characters. Plagued by nightmares she doesn't understand and a temper she can't control, 16 year-old Red struggles to save Granny's troubled business and to nurture her budding romance with Peter even as the betrayal of her classmates awakens the wolf within."

To those of you who don't watch the show (you should!), Red is their retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. I won't give anything away, but they definitely put a twist to the story!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pre Order Queen of Shadows + Goodies!

Quick stop before my next review goes up to let you all know about a giveaway Bloomsbury is doing for Queen of Shadows. All info in the picture:

I have a button bag that will look absolutely stunning with these on it! ;)
As a reminder, Queen of Shadows is out September 1st.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spotlight Wednesdays: Mercy Thompson Series

Title: Mercy Thompson
Title of First Book: Moon Called
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: UF
Rating: 4/5

Why You Should Read it

Putting it simply, it's awesome.

Mercy is a shapeshifter coyote that was brought up by a pack of werewolves. She got sick and tired of always be the outsider, and left to live in the human world. She's a pretty decent mechanic, and she likes the life she has.

Except when the job fixing a bus for a vampire customer gets weird, Mercy has to consider asking for help from the werewolf pack that moved in next door to her years before.

It's got everything anyone could possibly want - mystery, romance, supernatural uglies, danger, explosions and a badass lead.

Did I mention she has two hot as hell werewolves fighting over her, and a weirdly chivalrous vampire has shown interest? Yeah, everyone either wants to be Mercy, date Mercy or kill Mercy.

No, I'm serious.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Cover Love: Endure

Just out today, hot off the press, is the gorgeous cover for the third - and final, sadly - novel in the Defy series.

The remarkable third novel in Sara B. Larson's bestselling Defy series!
At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.
When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers, and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?
Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy, that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page. 

Endure is scheduled for publication on Jan 5th 2016.