I read six books this month, and while I did so I also packed up an apartment and worked a job at a bookstore as a barista for five days a week. I’m fairly happy with myself! Hopefully next month I will get to all of the books I’ve been craving to read. My next blog post will most likely be my July TBR, but as for now…enjoy my June Wrap-Up! I reviewed almost all the books I read except one (which I’m currently in the process of writing). You can read more of my reviews on my Goodreads here.
- Girls on Fire— Robin Wasserman
- Queen of Hearts—Colleen Oakes
- A Court of Mist and Fury—Sarah J Maas
- Milk and Honey—Rupi Kaur
- This Savage Song—V. E. Schwab
- Gabriel— M. A. Abraham
My Goodreads 2016 book challenge is to finish at least 300 books this year. So far…I’m about thirty books behind schedule. Yeah, yikes. Then again, I’d be astonished if I actually conquered my set goal (and will most likely throw a small celebration with raspberry cake and confetti streamers). I probably should’ve set a lower goal considering this has been one of the most hectic, most emotionally trying years of my life. But doesn’t that seem only right to be reading all these books to help me get past my stress? The poetic part of me says: yes, Viktoria, yes. The realistic part of me says: are you out of your goddamn mind?? Ditch the books and focus on your job/ parents/ school work! Idiot! The struggle is very real.
June 1—June 30
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Rating: 4 of 5
In flawless Schwab fashion, this book kicked ass.
If West Side Story met Supernatural and decided to conceive a semi-dystopian semi-fantasy baby…this would be it. The premise behind this book is the consistent struggle of wondering who plays the part of the protagonist and who is the antagonist. It’s a complex read full of interesting and very hellish characters (no pun intended).
In the city of Verity there resides two sides— the Flynn territory, where compassion for the damned obstructs the hunt for real monsters, and the Harker territory, where everything seems content and peaceful until you unravel the true cause for such false prosperity. It isn’t until Harker’s tamed monsters being to cause an upset in power that Verity’s pretense of crumbling walls becomes a full scale war. And stuck amidst this battle are Kate Harker and August Flynn, our two main characters. While Kate is as human as they come, she puts the savage in the title meanwhile August is our song. No kidding, considering the boy can devour soul’s by merely playing his violin.
Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.
— The three types of monsters in Verity.
One of my favorite things about V. Schwab. is her writing style. It’s almost always fast paced and focused to the point where I’ll loose track of time and have finished an entire novel in one sitting. But I say almost because in this case, This Savage Song was a bit hard to get into at first. The preliminary chapters are centered around the world building as well as introducing a multitude of characters without allowing the reader time enough to thoroughly enjoy/absorb a single character at a time (or at least a chapter). However, the book does switch between Kate and August’s point of views, which I found helpful. Yet it still took me a good seven or eight chapters to truly get into the story, and I still found certain aspects confusing.
The romance in this book is akin to that of any Schwab book: watered down. Of course, I understand that is due to the attention on individuality and action-fueled plots, however in the case that the synopsis seems to be promising an eventual romance…I felt kind of let down. But only kind of, because Kate Harker being such an empowering heroine made up for that. She’s feral.
The ending suggests that there will be more on this topic in the second book, but it looks like I’ll just have to wait another year to find out. (In other words, commence the fanfiction.)
Even if surviving wasn’t simple, or easy, or fair.
Even if he could never be human.
He wanted the chance to matter.
He wanted to live.
— August F.
As a final note, I must say that although I enjoyed this book, it wasn’t a favorite of mine like Schwab’s other novels. Then again, it will always be hard to write something that can outshine a series like A Darker Shade of Magic. That book is too unique for it’s own good.
P. S.— I still have no clue what genre to categorize this book. Oops.
A Court of Mist and Fury (book #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 5 of 5
This review contains semi-spoilers for A Court of Mist and Fury (with major ones hidden). Do not read if you haven’t already read A Court of Thorns and Roses.
But I met his stare as I clinked my glass against his, the crystal ringing clear and bright over the crashing sea far below, and said, “To the people who look at the stars and wish, Rhys.”
He picked up his glass, his gaze so piercing that I wondered why I had bothered blushing at all for Tarquin.
Rhys clinked his glass against mine. “To the stars who listen— and the dreams that are answered.”
And to me, the dumbass who locked herself in her bedroom for 48 hours without sunlight or food just so she could finish this book only to feel guilty once I realized I’d have to wait a year for the third installment…so perhaps I shouldn’t have devoured it so quickly.
I truly don’t know how to properly review this book, what with all the turmoil and ravaging emotions and throwing shit across my room at 2am, so I’ve decided to break it down into categories, starting with the most important.
A Court of Mist and Fury, in the same regard to A Court of Thorns and Roses, is a slight spinoff on a classical tale. Whereas the first book takes certain themes from Beauty and the Beast, this sequel is full of the Hades and Persephone mythology— complete with raining stars, a hidden city, and a vicious romance. We follow our heroine huntress, Feyre, in book one as she tries to free Prythian from Amarantha’s curse while also saving the High Lord of the Spring Court and reclaiming her heart. However, through many traumatic trials, Feyre shatters more than just her bones as she winds up breaking her own heart. After being forced to murder two Fae youths, watch as her lover looks on in defiant ignorance, and beat the agonizing tasks set forth by those seemingly much stronger than she, Feyre is becomes the savior of Prythian, and a High Fae, but at the cost of her own sanity…and heart.
We begin A Court of Mist and Fury three months after the events in the preliminary book, where Tamlin and Feyre are about to be wedded as a symbolic gesture for the rebuilding of the Courts. Everything is supposedly wonderful, but Feyre is nothing more than a husk of her previous self. Gifted with abilities beyond her control, and a body she doesn’t feel comfortable merely walking in, Feyre finds that she is isolated from the rest of the world, in more ways than one. Not only is she struggling to adapt psychically, but the overbearing actions of her fiance, Tamlin, are driving her mad. Distressed, she silently wishes for someone to save her…and who better than to make a dramatic appearance on her wedding day than the High Lord of the Night Court? A mere few chapters in, and we’ve got what we’ve been theorizing since book one.
Many fans have been quick to assume that the last encounter between Rhysand and Feyre will be incredibly vital to their development in this book…and we were all right. In fact, that small moment between the pair at the end of book one has become a major plot device for this sequel (not to mention it explains why we jumped three months ahead of time). All that we’ve been nervously awaiting has come alive in this ferocious second installment. We get the answers we desperately needed—and then some. Prepare yourselves. If it’s a Maas book, you know your heart is about to be wrecked.
The plot in this second book was very steady. Unlike the first book where we jump back and forth between turmoil and travesty, this type of heartache was consistent from the prologue to the epilogue. We follow Feyre as she is taken to the Night Court and faced with the devastating truths that Tamlin and Lucien had been hiding from her, truths that she had secretly known to be real.
Rhys jerked his chin towards the map on the wall.
“What do you see?”
“A World divided in two.”
Ah, yes. And there it is. With everything that has happened in the first book, it’s no wonder that the King of Hybern will be looking to make an appearance in this sequel. If we thought Amarantha was bad, and she was merely his general, you can imagine how awful this encounter is going to be. How terrifying it actually was to read. All of those creatures that had been Amarantha’s servants Under the Mountain will return to invoke their leader’s wrath once more, but this time Feyre has more than just strong will and a few jagged Wyrm bones to defeat them. As we had theorized the brewing romance between Rhysand and Feyre, we’ve also entertained the thought that Feyre, who’d been resurrected by the power of all seven Lords of Prythian, will also harbor a small amount of each individual Lord’s abilities. And we were correct.
As Rhysand trains her to control her mental abilities, new characters will step in to help Feyre train to wield blades and hone her body into a weapon. All of this is in preparation for the upcoming war, however it is hinted that Hybern may not be their only enemy to watch out for. Seeing as the King of Hybern wishes to tear down the Wall between the mortal and Fae realm, the quickest way to do so would be to march through the Spring Court. The news doesn’t sit well with anyone, but after officially leaving Spring due to her awful treatment there, Feyre begins to understand why Rhysand and Tamlin have hated each other so deeply.
Betrayal, amongst other nefarious things, is a huge affair in this book.
While studying and growing stronger, Feyre begins the slow progress towards rehabilitation with the help of Rhysand and his friends. As she stars to develop many new emotions, we get to see a side of characters in the first book that we perhaps didn’t think possibly existed. At the heart of it all is a city kept untouched for five thousand years, and a realm that Feyre can finally consider home. But just as she mends her broken soul, the plot takes a steep curve and we are once more thrown into the sways of warfare and fury. Nothing is safe, no one is true, and there’s more blood and wings than flowers and laughter in this second installment of the trilogy. Needless to say, A Court of Mist and Fury will leave you with such an agonizing plot twist, fans of Mass’ other series will think that this book surpasses the suspense at the end of Crown of Midnight. I certainly feel that way.
I supposed I’d been granted that fit once—and had used it up and fought for it and broken it. And I supposed that Rhysand, for all he had sacrificed and done…He deserved it as much as Cresseida.
Even if…even if for a moment, I wanted it.
I wanted to feel like that again.
And…I was lonely.
I had been lonely, realized, for a very, very long time.
Let me start off this section by disclaiming that, as you can tell from my first review of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’d been a hardcore fan of Tamlin and Feyre’s relationship. So much so that I had even proclaimed it my “Mother of All OTPs.” So, as a prior captain of that armada, I can say without any shame that, through reading this book and coming to understand many terrible and exciting things, I’m definitely no longer a part of that ship.
All I ever want for a female book character is for her to find happiness, and even before I had wanted Rhysand and Feyre to come together, I knew that Tamlin could no longer be an option for her. She’d be better off without any man, in fact, rather than staying with him and suffering as the pliant wife. As for Tamlin…well, I’ll mention what I feel about him in the section below (character development at it’s strangest). Although I adore the compatible relationship between our two main characters, I must include that the other sprouting romances had me quite tantalized as well. (In other words, Mass clearly knows how to really fuck over someone’s heart).
What I loved most about Rhysand and Feyre’s relationship was how he would always allow her to take the lead and make her own decisions while also encouraging her. He wasn’t controlling in the slightest, and he would always make certain that Feyre was treated the way she deserved. His concern for her while she’d return from Spring frail and thin made my heart clench. And Feyre’s concern for him, as she soothed him admit his nightmares, practically solidified my love for this coupling. They compliment each other so nicely, and although he is the strongest High Lord in Prythian’s history, I never saw him as more than her. Those two are wicked together, and their understanding of good and evil will make them a feral sight to behold when they revolutionize the realm together, as equals. They’re both dreamers, hence why it makes sense that they will rule the Court of Dreams as a united front.
Along with our new characters comes new relationships, and I mean that in more ways than just romance. For starters, and simply because I need to get it off my chest immediately, Lucien finally finds himself a mate…and it’s with someone we’d suspected! I was over the moon because of my unexplainable adoration for his character since book one. While Feyre’s sisters remerge into this story, both of them seemingly get paired off with characters I’ve come to love. I really can’t wait to see where that leads, especially since one of their relationship’s will most likely become a plot device in the third book.
Also, and somewhat irrelevant, I’m dying to find out what happens between one of our new characters, Amren, and her (what I like to call) platonic-playmate in the Summer Court, Varian. They’re both very distant and aloof with everyone around them, even their families, and yet they’re always seen toying with one another like a cat and a mouse. It’s quite adorable, but also terrifying all considering.
IV Character Development
The character development in this story was the very essence of revolutionary. To begin with, Feyre makes a complete transformation from the gloomy carcass she had been in the first few chapters. Since the events from Under the Mountain in book one, Feyre had been slowly deteriorating. In this book we see her replenishing her mind, body, and soul through mystifying ceremonies. She is the same character we fell in love with, but it’s as though she’d been a coin and someone (Rhysand, mostly) polished off the coverage of dust and grime from months of mistreatment and now she’s brighter and happier than ever before. Which leads me to my second favorite transition…Rhysand!
He is still the sarcastic, somewhat narcissistic man that we were introduced to, however we finally get to remove his many carefully crafted masks to reveal the person beneath. He is just as broken as Feyre, and his treatment towards her once she arrives at his Court is anything but what most of us had expected. Instead of being distant and calculating, Rhysand is upfront about (most) of his emotions, especially the ones regarding how strongly it enrages him to see her being cast aside and left to rot in Spring. Of course the two bicker, mainly in regards to their well-beings, but throughout the length of this novel, they help one another reach a climatic development.
Tamlin, on the other hand, shows his true self in this installment. Whereas he was slightly pushy and passive aggressive in the first book (even I noted that, and I still adored him and Feyre together), he’s beyond overwhelming in this second book. His “protectivness” over Feyre ensures that she essentially becomes the silent, cowardly wife who is locked away inside his manor and is expected only to breed children and plan festivities. At one point, Feyre even notes that the person she’d been before Under the Mountain would have roared in outrage at such treatment. Although this does occur, in Tamlin’s mind he is doing the right thing. This doesn’t excuse what is happening, but I feel as though it leaves room for potential development in another direction. It’s as though those tiny scars we’d seen in the first book have been ripped open to reveal a massive void of depravity that has become Tamlin. He is turning into his beast, and I wonder if he knows it. However, I don’t neccissarly believe he is completely “gone” just yet.
Judging by his reaction to certain events at the end of the book (view spoiler) I have a feeling that we are going to see him redeem himself in the third book…or becoming what everyone has feared. Worse than his own father. Not to mention, in regards to my theory about Tamlin being redeemed, Rhysand, although stating that Tamlin is one of his worst enemies, has mentioned a few times that he and Tamlin used to be friends. The particular scene when Rhys recounts that he and Tam simultaneously looked at each other, surrounded by their slaughtered families, and become High Lords….I believe that may be some type of foreshadowing. If not for Feyre and Lucien, it will be Rhysand who makes Tamlin realize his mistakes.
Similar to Tamlin’s downward development, Lucien, who’d been one of my favorite characters, also shows a side of himself that had been hinted at in the first book, but never quite so firmly. He is, in the most basic regard, misunderstood. We all knew from the many happenings in AcoTaR that Lucien was a bit of a coward, and prone to running to Tamlin’s side when things got rough. Yet, that wasn’t the case for the entirety of the book, because he still remained a strong individual in my mind. Even from the first few chapters of AcoMaF, Lucien is seen to be wary of Tamlin…because it is finally stated that he fears his friend. My heart broke when I read that. Lucien is so terrified of Tamlin, of what his friend’s crumbing sanity will do, that he cannot help Feyre escape Spring, not even when Tamlin performs some pretty atrocious tasks that Lucien knows are awful. I’m hoping that with the establishment of his mate, and after seeing the outcome of the second book once leaving Hybern, Lucien will band together with Feyre to either help Tamlin regain his composure, or to leave for the Night Court and reunite with the people they deserve.
After reading this book, I’m going to need to revisit the story a few more times before I can start theorizing for the third installment, simply because there was so much to take in. Overall, I’m incredibly pleased by the events in this story. No matter how long it was, I will always want more when it comes to Maas! The character were heartbreaking, the plot was terrifying, and the writing was, per usual, incredibly well done. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to make it until next spring for the last installment of this trilogy, specifically due to the cliffhanger ending in this book. Oh well, I figure that’s what Fanfiction is for?
If you for some reason haven’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses (and read this review for it’s sequel?) well then, get to it! Just be prepared for some massive plot twists. I have a feeling book three will be longer and more calamitous than anyone is ready for. It can’t arrive soon enough.
Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Rating: 2 of 5
Alice and Wonderland might not be my favorite childhood tale, but I do love retellings. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes follows the early life of a villain we all know, THE Queen of Hearts—rewritten as Princess Dinah, as she faces travesties on the long path to her coronation. Of course, we already know how her story will end much like we know the type of ruler she will unfortunately become. It was an interesting approach, I give her that much, but I feel that it failed in all other aspects.
Within the first chapter the main character’s royal title was announced at least ten times in the short span of a few pages, as though we could forget who she is when it’s also the title of the book. Right away that threw me off…and not in a good way. It was more in the sense that I’d experienced characters like her in other books, while not necessarily negative that they are 1. powerful 2. in woe of their pressing responsibilities 3. tragic in all general aspects, this character also seemed to be the only character that was given any heed while the rest were merely secondary…which made me see her as fairly narcissistic. I know that wasn’t the goal, but unfortunately it’s what I read.
The writing was fast-paced, which usually means it’ll be a quick page turner, but in this case I found myself skimming through the chapters. Perhaps it was just me, but I found myself zoning out and having to re-read paragraphs because the story really didn’t do much to hold my attention. Although written well enough, it felt more like this could have been an excellent Fanfiction. There’s nothing wrong with that. This just wasn’t the book for me.
I feel it also necessary to add that while I’m not the biggest Alice enthusiast I still know plenty about the original tale because of all the movies and reworking it has undergone, and I just couldn’t find any other details about the book that suggest this was in comparison to Wonderland. I know it was a short read, so not all characters were complex and to judge it based upon the “vibe” of the setting wouldn’t be all too reasonable, but because it’s heavily promised in the synopsis that this tale is about the Queen, I felt betrayed. There was hardly anything about Wonderland that made me feel nostalgic.
I probably won’t be reading the sequel but I am intrigued at where Oakes will be taking the main character next. It was interesting to see her side of the story pre-Alice, but I’m not in love enough with either original tale or remaking to want to find out what happens. That’s just my biased view. But all stories are different for readers, so give this one a try if you truly adore the world of Wonderland! Maybe it’ll be a better experience for you.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
I jumped on the bandwagon and recently picked up a copy of Rupi Kaur’s brilliant little book of poetry, Milk and Honey. What is it about, you might ask? Everything important, I’d respond. Especially to girls who are still growing—essentially, all of us women.
This collection of poems concerns trauma, loss, healing, and femininity. Much like it’s cover and title, the whole aesthetic of the book was very minimalist. Each page hosted a different story, and each story was short-spoken yet carried such a imperative reminder. I believe anyone who has gone through pain will be able to relate to Kaur, no matter the gender, age, or scenario. I found myself reading through this book just for the pretty diction. I didn’t think I’d get so nostalgic over old wounds.
It’s rare to find a piece of writing that truly grips your heart, as if to say look how similar we are!
One of my favorite poems is on page 95:
i didn’t leave because
i stopped loving you
i left because the longer
i stayed the less
i loved myself
I recently broke up with an amazing boy for the sole purpose of needing to recollect myself before I could give my mind, body, and essence to someone else. This book couldn’t have landed in my hands at any better moment.
It is broken up into four parts, taking us through a journey with Kaur as our narrator. Each chapter tells a different tale of sorrow, but like most awful things there tends to be a self-revolution towards the end. That section (Healing) worked better than any therapy, medicine, or tear stained pillows ever could.
Literature has proven once more to be the best remedy for heartache.
Gabriel by M. A. Abraham
Rating: 3 of 5
I’m always looking for fantasy-romance books, particularly ones with faerie elements, so of course the synopsis appealed to me. But to be fair—that was all that appealed to me once I downloaded the ebook. I tried very hard to enjoy this book, but it was such a disappointment.
1. Big let down for women.
2. Abusive relationships.
3. Boring characters.
4. Basically no plot.
The writing wasn’t awful and the sex scenes were pretty nice, but other than that…this was sadly a big waste of my time. If you’re looking for a book like this, perhaps try The Lord of the Fading Lands by C. L. Wilson.
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Rating: 4 of 5
Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.
But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…