Reviews

Review: ARC of The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

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Review: The Beast’s Heart ~ by Leife Shallcross

Paperback 416 pages ~ YA fantasy

Paperback February 2019 ~ Ace Publishing

My Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★

Goodreads Description:

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse. _____________________________________________________________________________

Note: I was provided with an ARC of The Beast’s Heart through NetGalley and Berkley/Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:  

I have always loved classic fairy tale retellings, Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites, and The Beast’s Heart definitely did justice to the amazing story. There was so much to love here so I will start with what I loved most.

img_1529What I loved:

  • The POV of the Beast was, of course, my favorite part of this book. It added a really fresh take on a story that has been told so many times. I really liked the connection to the Beast’s family and his legacy/heritage through the portrait of his Grandmother. Also, the legacy of his father that he desperately wanted to escape. This made the Beast a really well rounded, fully fleshed-out, human character rather than just a mythical fairy tale figure.
  • The magic, the land/house, and invisible servants- I really loved that the magic of the land and the house was connected to Isabeau’s arrival. However, I loved that in this version, Isabeau stays of her own accord. The Beast never wants her to stay with him because of her potential to break the curse. He is not even aware of this possibility until at least halfway into the book. Instead, he is interested in her as a person, and their conversations reflect this mutual interest. I also appreciated that Shallcross didn’t attempt to recreate the servants as enchanted tea-cups, and teapots, etc. Instead, they are invisible forces tied to the house and land that seem to be orchestrating things the best they can.
  • Writing Style- the writing was reminiscent of an old fashion classic – think Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters- I really liked this style and thought that it added another interesting layer to the story.

What I didn’t love:

  • My biggest complaint with the book was that there wasn’t much in the way of conflict between the Beast and Isabeau. While I loved that Isabeau was given a choice in whether she stayed with the Beast or not, this really caused a lack of tension in their relationship. This story is typically one of unlikely friendship/love, but there was nothing really unlikely here. They share mutual respect and admiration right from the beginning. They are considerate and polite to each other and Isabeau never once seems frightened of the Beast. They seem to really like each other, if not love, pretty early on. Therefore, there is no conflict or suspense. 
  • While there is no tension between the Beast and Isabeau, there is tension between the sisters and their father/the Beast and Isabeau’s father. However, this tension is also very simply resolved. I never felt like the book reached any point of tension or suspense. When it did, it was resolved rather quickly. 
  • As much as I loved the connection to the Beast’s family legacy, I really wanted more. I would have loved some flashbacks that showed the relationship between him and his Grandmother/him and his father, rather than just being told what their relationships were like. It’s called the Beast’s Heart, and I really wanted details and experiences that showed what shaped his heart other than Isabeau. All the time spend watching Isabeau’s family would have been better spent diving deeper into the Beast’s character because he was really the most interesting part of the novel. 

For more information on Leife Shallcross and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: The Gilded Wolves ~ by Roshani Chokshi

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Review: The Gilded Wolves ~ by Roshani Chokshi

384 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2019 – Wednesday Books

My Rating: 5/5 ✰✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

My Thoughts:

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In the author’s notes, Chokshi states that she has always had a hard time reconciling the glamour of 1889 Paris- “courtesans and the Moulin Rouge, glittering parties and champagne” with the horrors of the Exposition Universelle, and rapid colonization and anti-Semitism that was also spreading at this time. She states “I wanted to understand how an era called La Belle Epoque, literally The Beautiful Era, could possess that name with that stain.” One of my favorite elements of this book is Chokshi’s ability to explore this question in such an artful and thought-provoking way. She has done exactly what she set out to do in this book. We still get the glitz and the glamour that you would expect of this era, but there is always an underlining push to question history, ownership, and who has the right to tell our stories. As she states, “I wanted to write this trilogy not to instruct or to condemn, but to question….Question what is gold and what glitters.” And she has done exactly that. Besides this artful juxtaposition of the La Belle Epoque Era, we also get an amazing cast of characters who I challenge anyone not to fall in love with, plus an adventure full of magic, myth, and suspense. Below are a few more of the high points for me:

The Characters • So many people have been comparing this to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, but I honestly found myself relating even more to these characters than I did in SoC. I saw little parts of myself in each one of them. They all have to overcome injustices and their own insecurities, while still staying true to themselves and going after what they want.

  • Severin- “That boy looks like every dark corner of a fairy tale. The wolf in bed. The apple in a witch’s palm.” He is the dark, mysterious, brooding, mastermind that I always seem to fall in love with. He is really interesting because he has found a way to use his troubled past (his 7 fathers, named after the 7 deadly sins) to his advantage. He has an intense love for his friends, but his desire to protect them also causes him to close himself off.
  • Laila- “A way to move through a world that tried to keep her to the sidelines = Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.” L’Enigma- The Mystery. This name is so fitting for Laila because the nature of her life is the only part of her that is the mystery. She has yet to discover how and why she was spared from death as a child. But Laila herself is not a mystery- she is open and loving, smart and determined. She carries great pride in her Indian heritage while trying to understand her future.
  • Enrique- “When he realized he didn’t have the talent, he chose to study the subjects that felt closest to Forging: history and language. He could still change the world….maybe not with something as dramatic or grand as Forging, but in more intimate ways. Writing. Speaking. Human Connection.” Enrique is our brilliant Historian who longs to be part of the change and reform of Paris. Like Hypnos, he is also super witty- his batter between Zofia and Hypnos was definitely a highlight for me.
  • Tristan- “His landscape artistry looked like the fever dream of a nature spirit. It was unsettling and beautiful, and Paris couldn’t get enough of it.” Tristan wants nothing more than to protect his friends, mainly Severin and Goliath (his tarantula), and create his magical plant worlds. But unlike Severin, he is not able to let go of the trauma of his past and he is haunted and broken in ways that are not always apparent.
  • Zofia- “She’d said the wrong thing. She wanted to take it back, but then she remembered Laila’s advice. To perform. To own whatever illusion one cast of themselves.” Zofia’s social anxiety is one of the reasons that I relate to her the most. She is constantly evaluating and questioning herself, and unfortunately, always sells herself short. Everything is a numbers game to Zofia, so she has to work harder than most to live outside of her analytical world. 
  • Hypnos-”I shall keep your identity a secret, L’Enigma. And before I forget, I must tell you I adored your costume. So shiny. I’m rather tempted to see if it will fit me.” Wit beyond measure! He reminded me so much for Lord Henry Wotton from The Picture of Dorian Gray. He is constantly teasing and egging people on, trying to get to the core of what makes people tick, but at the same time, his desire to be loved and accepted by the group is so apparent that you can’t help but love him.

Magic/Heists/Codes/Puzzles •  The magical heist in The Gilded Wolves definitely has Six of Crows vibes but while the characters in SoC rely heavily on stealth and sleight of hand, these characters have to rely on their knowledge of math, history, science, mythology, and religion in order to solve complicated puzzles and codes. It’s one of the elements of the book that puts you right in the action and it’s really exciting to read.

Obviously, I’m a huge fan. This book is thoughtfully written by an author who has clearly set out to pay homage to an era in its entirety- and not just the “beautiful” parts- but the darker, ugly side as well. She wants to show that both of these sides can and did exist simultaneously. But she also manages to give us one hell of an adventure while doing it. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series and to see where these characters go next!

Happy reading!

A HUGE thank you to BookSparks for allowing me to be part of their YA Winter Reading Challange 2019 and for sending a copy of this my way. It has really been a pleasure partnering with this amazing group.

For more information on Roshani Chokshi and her books, check her out on Goodreads & Instagram

I am super excited to be attending Roshani’s signing in Phoenix tonight- I’ll be posting picture and videos over on my Instagram if you’re interested!

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: Siege and Storm ~ by Leigh Bardugo

Review: Siege and Storm ~ by Leigh Bardugo

358 pages ~ Genre: YA Fantasy

2013 ~ Henry Holt and Company

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Description: Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

My Thoughts:

I really loved Shadow and Bone, but Siege and Storm had so much more action, humor, intrigue, plus- Nikolai! This series just got even better!

Here’s were some highlights for me:

  • Alina’s draw to the Darkling in this book was the most fascinating element for me- her subconscious need to understand him and the hidden truth that he is the only one that will ever be able to understand her- added such a great underlying tension to the plot.

“Like calls to like.” “There are no others like us, Alina. And there never will be.”

  • Alina’s own shadows – I loved how this book played with the difference between the Darklings ‘merzost’ and the Grisha’s small science. It felt like Alina’s fascination with the Darkling and his nivhevo’ya were foreshadowing her own eventual battle with her own “shadows.” I loved how this played with the idea of light and dark existing in all of us.
  • The addition of Nikolai (aka Sturmhond)- The “too clever fox” was seriously a perfect addition to this series. His witty retorts made this book so much fun and brought a lightheartedness that was missing in the first book.
  • Alina as the leader of the Grisha Army was another amazing element in this book- watching her assert her authority and command a room was inspiring. The “war room” scenes were giving me major Daenerys vibes.
  • The imperfect relationship between Alina and Mal- It’s obvious Mal and Alina love each other, but I thought that it was really refreshing that we didn’t get a “love conquers all” scenario between them. Both Alina and Mal have personal demons that they have to work through and I really liked that these weren’t easily swept aside. They actually had to overcome a lot together and separately in this book, and I’m sure they will have to overcome more as the series continues.
  • Court intrigue – the cat and mouse game between Nikolai and his brother; Alina’s interactions with the King and other members of the court; and we also get the conflict between the Grisha Army and the First Army- all of the intrigue just built this story up so well.

The ending was stress-inducing, so I immediately jumping into Ruin and Rising!

For more information on Leigh Bardugo and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: Clockwork Princess ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices Series book 3)~ by Cassandra Clare

567 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2013~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

“Sometimes when you cannot decide what to do, you pretend you are a character in a book, because it is easier to decide what they would do”

My Thoughts:

Ok, now that I have finally finished the whole series, I can reflect back on how I felt going into it. I was honestly not expecting to love it this much. I had watched a few episodes of the Shadowhunter series on Freeform with my daughter and I honestly thought it looked super cheesy. However, I was complete attracted to the Victorian aesthetic and so many people had recommended it. So, I thought at the most it would be a fun fantasy. It was fun, there is tons of action, humor, and romance, but I did not expect to be so moved by these characters and to fall so in love with Cassandra Clare’s writing. She has not only managed to craft a beautiful love story between these characters, but she has thoroughly paid homage to the Victorian era and its literature. Below were some high points for me:

  • My favorite thing about the final book in the series was way that Clare was able to clearly express the bond between Will, Jem, and Tessa, and the love they have for each other.

“They say you cannot love two people equally at once,” she said. “And perhaps for others that is so. But you and Will—you are not like two ordinary people, two people who might have been jealous of each other, or who would have imagined my love for one of them diminished by my love of the other. You merged your souls when you were both children. I could not have loved Will so much if I had not loved you as well. And I could not love you as I do if I had not loved Will as I did.”

  • Clare is also so good with plot! Sometimes with fantasy the epicness of the plot can overshadow what is going on with the characters. Here, the dangers which the characters were up against (Mormain, the automatons, ect), mirrored their own internal struggles, questions, and shortcomings. Everything just melded together so well.
  • I know I mentioned this in my Clockwork Angel review, but I just love the way Clare was able to make the novels feel so Victorian. This consistently kept me immersed in that era as I read.
  • The parabatai connection between Will and Jem was so beautiful described in this book- the rune, the knife, glimpses of the ritual- I loved this element of their bond and the way Clare made it feel so scared and otherworldly.
  • There are so many great minor characters here:

Magnus Bane – his need to protect Will and his desire to find true love despite his impossibly long and tedious existence

Woolsey Scott – the aesthete-werewolf – his snarky loathing of everything

Henry – his inability to make anything that works, but still be completely charming

Sophie- who is finally able to fight for herself and what she wants 

  • Lastly- I loved that the final message of the book was connected to human goodness and redemption. That although we are such flawed creatures, there is always the potential for goodness.

“There was human goodness in the world, she thought- all caught up with desires and dreams, regrets and bitterness, resentments and power, but it was there.”

There was so much tragic beauty in these novels and I won’t soon forget these characters.  Ok, I’m obviously complete trash for these books and should probably end my rant now.

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: Clockwork Prince ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices Series book 2)~ by Cassandra Clare

498 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2015~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them.

The human heart has hidden treasures,

In secret kept, in silence sealed;

The Thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,

Whose charms were broken if revealed

Charlotte Bronte, “Evening Solace”

My Thoughts: I loved so much about Book 1- The use of Victorian Literature and Poetry, the descriptions of Victorian London, the humor, the inclusion of the Occult, and characters….ahhhh! So much to love! And Book 2 was even better. This book had a much faster pace, the plot held my interest even more than book 1, and although I do not normally like love triangles, this one was so beautifully done that it made this book my favorite in the series so far.

Below were some of my favorite scenes and elements from Book 2:

  • The opening scene of Will in the Cross Bones Graveyard buying ingredients from Ol’ Molly – the ghost who is hunting for her lost wedding ring. This scene was so creepy and gothic!
  • Tessa and Jem visiting the Poet’s corner in Westminster Abbey- this was a special nod to book worms everywhere
  • The Irish Cook, Bridget, who only sings sad Irish ballads all day- this was such a funny addition to normal, trivial parts of the plot and was something that all the characters bonded over
  • I loved how the Shadowhunter world expanded in this book – we get to see the workings of the Clave, the other Institutes, the Silent Brothers, the Mortal Sword, information on Parabatai, and the backstory of other well-known Shadowhunter families like The Herondales.
  • The backstory on Mortmain plus Tessa’s sympathy for him – this added an interesting layer to the “villain” role that Mortmain inhabits especially because he wasn’t actually in this book
  • Victorian outlook on women’s issues was more of a focus in this book. We see Charlotte fighting to keep her position as head of the London Institute against Lightwood, who claims: “women cannot run an Institute; women do not think with logic and discretion but with the emotions of the heart.” We also see Tessa’s own views about women’s sexuality and her belief that women are supposed to be more restrained and sexually chased than men. It was great to see women in this time period challenge these stereotypes and realize their own desires, authority, and power.
  • One of my absolute favorite characters was Woolsey Scott- I loved that he represented the “aesthetes” of Victorian London, he reminded me of Oscar Wilde with his “velvet jacket, knee breeches, and a trailing scarf with paisley print,” and his wit, and humor. He even lives in Chelsea, the artistic, literary area of Victorian London.
  • We also get to see Tessa and Sophie train to fight as Shadowhunters- I loved this element because it showed both girls becoming stronger, more determined, more self aware, and more confident. Tessa especially grows into her role as “Boadicea” in book 2.
  • There is so many different types of love in this book. We have the brotherhood between Jem and Will- these two are two of the best male characters and their devotion to each other was so so lovely; we have restrained, reserved love between Charlotte and Henry; the sweet, protective love between Jem and Tessa; the all consuming, burning-up type of love between Will and Tessa – I thought it was so great to see all of these different types of love represented in a time period that frowned on anything other than “traditional” love.
  • I found Tessa’s love for both Will and Jem to be so authentic and sweet. Her love for each boy was so different, but both felt very real to me. In turn, each boy loves her in such a different way.

“She could not stop herself from comparing the two- Jem with his odd combination of delicacy and strength, and Will like a storm at sea, slate blue and black with brilliant flashes of temper like heat lightning.”

  • I was so nervous going into Book 2 for the love triangle that I felt sure was coming, but Clare really did an amazing job of making this part of the plot feel genuine- it was heartbreaking, but at the end of the book I understood why each character felt the way they did and why they made the choices they did.

I will definitely be moving to my list of favorite YA Fantasy Series, EVER!  As always, I would love to hear from you! Happy reading, everyone!  

Read my review of book 1 of this series, Clockwork Angel – HERE 

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: Clockwork Angel ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices Series book 1)~ by Cassandra Clare

476 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2015~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Goodreads Description:The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them.

My Thoughts:

As a fan of YA Fantasy I have wanted to read Cassandra Clare’s work for a while now. Although I have heard tons of recommendations on the order in which her books should be read, I decided to go with my gut and start with The Infernal Devices series. I started with this series because I adore the Victorian Era – its literature, ideology, and aesthetic. I just find it fascinating. Knowing that Clare was going to mix up this era with magic, demons, and angel warriors? I was completely on board. I didn’t know what to expect with Clare’s writing, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I loved her use of metaphor, and her gorgeous descriptions of London. She really did justice to the Victorian era in every possible way!

Below were some high points and low points for me:

High Points

  • Connection to Victorian Literature and Poetry- I loved the way that Clare wove Victorian Literature in to the narrative. Every chapter starts with a sample of poetry from this era and they all tied so beautifully to the narrative. Also, since Tessa is a bookworm, so much of the way she sees the world in connected to the books of this era and it was really cool to see how all of these great works of literature colored her outlook on life. The connection to the literature was also double sided because it was used to show a connection between Tessa and Will, and it also works as a connection between the reader and the writer. Overall- this was just brilliantly done!

“Are there any bleak moors in it, shrouded in mysterious mists? Ghostly brides wandering the halls of ruined castles? A handsome fellow rushing to the rescue of a beauteous yet penniless maiden?”

“No,” Magnus said.

“Then Tessa won’t have read it, either.”

  • Victorian aesthetic & historical accuracy -wow, this book was just so….Victorian! Everything felt so on point. From Tessa’s outlook on women and there lack of “blood lust,” Jessamine’s desire to be a “lady,” the illusion to Darwin via the clockwork creatures, Jem’s illness and “opium” addiction, people’s fascination with Jem and his “foreignness,” and the wonderful descriptions of Victorian London, and its fashion. Clare did such a great job of capturing all of this!

“He was staring out at the city, a black outline against the reddened sky. The dome of St. Paul’s shone through the mucky air, and the thames ran like dark strong tea below it, bracketed here and there with the black lines of bridges.”

  • Wit/Humor- The banter between Will, Jem, and Tessa was lovely. Their wit reminded me so much of Oscar Wilde and it seemed to fit so well with this time period.

“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”

“I’m not sure a book has ever changed me,” said Will. “Well, there is one volume that promised to teach one how to turn oneself into an entire flock of sheep-”

  • Magic and The Occult- Since the Victorians were obsessed with Spiritualism and the Occult, I thought that Clare’s decision to make Mortmain and the other members of the Pandemonium Club “mundanes” added another layer to the Victorian aesthetic of the book- seances, ouija boards, spirit cabinets, ect, but also to their desire to become more powerful via dark magic.

Low Points

  • The only thing that I didn’t love was the foreshadowing of the love triangle. It was glaringly obvious that we can expect a love triangle between Jem, Will, and Tessa. While I am not normally a fan of the love triangle, I do understand how Tessa could eventually fall in love with both Will and Jem. They are both such complex, haunted, and intriguing characters. I am a little apprehensive going forward with this love triangle, but I have a feeling that Clare will make it work.

Overall, this made my Victorian-lovin’ heart very happy! It had all the elements of a great YA Fantasy, plus, an author who clearly set out to pay homage to this era and its literature. I am starting book 2 immediately! Happy reading, everyone!  

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight ~ by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight~ by Sarah J. Maas

Bloomsbury, 2018~ 272  pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Goodreads Description:

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

My Thoughts:

This novella is really hard to review because there is not much of a plot. It is a really fun, little window into the lives of Rhys, Feyre, and the rest of the Inner Circle, but there is no conflict, climax, or resolution to critique. There were some issues with the novella, but there were also some really funny, lovely moments of normalcy that we don’t get a lot of in a full-length book. After the trauma that all of these characters experience at the end of book 3, it was really great to see them just trying to be normal, and enjoy the simple things in life. Below were some high points and low points for me:

High Points:

  • Normal” issues that come with running The Night Court-It was great to see Rhys and Feyre deal with normal, everyday aspects of being High Lord/Lady, such as: listening to people’s complaints, dealing with alliances after the war, and trying to keep the Illyrians inline while still trying to train their females.
  • Everyday moments with The Inner Circle- I loved the casual conversations while the characters shopped for Solstice gifts, ate dinner, decorated, did puzzles, and walked through the festive city streets.
  • Feyre’s mysterious dressmaker – I loved that Feyre’s mysterious dressmaker was finally revealed to be Rhys’ mother. “Long ago, when I was still a boy, she made them – all your gowns. A trousseau for my future bride.” I loved this and I thought the connection to past, present, and future through the dresses was a nice touch.
  • Cassian and Feyre drunk decorating- this moment was just simply hilarious. I loved how Azriel had to come in and try to fix the mess they made. 
  • Feyre painting again- The connection between creativity/art and healing was a really prominent theme here. I loved that Feyre opened an art studio as a form of therapy for kids who were affected by the attack on Velaris. The weaver who has lost her husband states: “I have to create, or it was all for nothing. I have to create, or I will crumple up with despair and never leave my bed. I have to create because I have no other way of voicing this. Her hand resting on her heart.” I really love the idea that something beautiful and enduring can come from suffering and pain. 
  • The description of The Night Court in Winter- Maas always does a great job of vividly describing her settings, and the winter wonderland atmosphere of the Night Court was no exception.
  • Feyre and Rhys’ Cosmic-Sex-Magic (my name for it) – Ok, I know a lot of people had reservations about this scene, but I’m not gonna lie, I loved it! These two people are linked in every possible way, it only seemed natural that magic would start to play a role in their connection.

Low Points:

  • Nesta- ok, despite everything, I like Nesta. I am fully committed to sticking with her through her trauma and hopefully I’ll get to see her eventual growth. But I don’t think that her trauma and her reasons for seeking solitude are ever fully explained. At the end of book 3 she seems to be finally coming around to Feyre, Prythian, being Fae, and to the other members of the court, Cassian in particular. Her and Cassian share a very profound moment on the battlefield – she is prepared to die for him/with him, and he reveals that his greatest regret is that they didn’t have more time. I felt that their relationship might finally be going somewhere. But in this novella, Nesta has retreated even further into herself. I understand that she has lost her father, and the experience of the battle itself was traumatic, but I was really scratching my head through this book asking why she is so upset. This was especially surprising because I thought that she had finally turned a corner at the end of book 3. One example of this is when Rhys states: “Nesta had made it clear enough she had no interest in Cassian- not even in being in the same room as him. I knew why. I’d seen it happen, had felt that way plenty.” Ok- I have so many questions here. He saw what happen? Her becoming Fae, losing her father, protecting Cassian? What is he referring to? And why did he also feel this way at one point in his life? If I am missing something here, I would love for someone to explain it to me. Overall, I would just have liked more insight into her, so that her actions lined up with who I thought she was and where I thought she was going as a character.
  • Lack of a plot- As I said, there is no real plot in this novella. It seems to more or less setup potential conflicts for future books to solve. Other than seeing the members of the court prepare for Solstice together, finally celebrating together, and seeing them deal with minor issues of state, not much else happens plot-wise.

Overall, it was really fun to spend more time with all of these characters. I really do love them all and I will blindly follow them where Maas takes them. It was nice seeing the moments of normalcy and watching them deal with the everyday issues that come with running the court, rather than a full-blown war. I feel that it is unfair to compare it to a full novel because I don’t really think it was meant to have that kind of scope. But based on my own enjoyment and my love for these characters, it was still a 3.5 star read for me!

As always, I would love to hear from you!!

Happy Reading! ~ XO

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