Tag «Shapeshifters»

Series Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy

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Synopsis for A Court of Thorns & Roses (from Goodreads):
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.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy; ACOTR
Author: Sarah J. Maas
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological (Books 4-6 are a different story arc)
Complete?: No, Book 4, will be published in 2020
Genre: New Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Faeries, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was a huge fan of Throne of Glass before it became mainstream. I loved the world Sarah J. Maas created but before I could move her from a “must-read” author to a “favourite author” I needed to read another series/book by her. So when I saw that she was releasing a 2nd series my reactions were this: 1) WHAT?! Write Throne of Glass faster! Not start a new series!; and 2) Yes please!

I love fairy tale retellings and Beauty and the Beast is a very popular one. So I really was expecting something out of the box with this book; especially because it focused on actual Fae, my favourite fantasy species. I also was expecting some fantastic world building, a strong heroine (or at least one who becomes strong) and a great romance. Some tall shoes to fill but I knew Sarah J. Maas could do it.

This book was everywhere before and after its release! ARC reviews were posted months in advance and there was so much hype that I was a little terrified to read this. I avoided all reviews (sorry everyone!) so I could go into it with a fresh mind and give it a fair shot.

The Concept / The World:

I loved the world Feyre lives in because I LOVE faerie stories! Doesn’t matter how many faerie books I read, each one has its own unique flare that sucks me in and this book is no exception. Maas does a great job building up the world and devotes the first half of the book really explaining how the faerie world works. And this could have been really dry but I felt like things moved along at a decent pace for the first half of the book so it didn’t bore me.

As for the Beauty and the Beast element, I liked that it didn’t follow the traditional conventions. The parallels are obvious but I felt like each had its own little spin on it. I thought it worked really well and I would have to say it is one of the best (if not the best) Beauty and the Beast retellings I have had the pleasure of reading.

The Plot:

So, don’t hate me, BUT, I felt like the first half of the book was really slow. It could easily just be due to the fact that I was reading it really early in the morning or late at night so I was more than a little tired. However, I feel like there really wasn’t much happening in the first half of the book besides building up the world–which is fine and all but not my personal cup of tea. I like action in my books and when it comes to faeries, I love their games.

Which is why I adored the second half of the book. It focused more on the faerie world’s political games, had more romance and had better character growth. I couldn’t put down the book once I reached the halfway point. And I knew that going into this book because Throne of Glass was written in the exact same way: slow and building.  So while I was expecting it, that doesn’t mean I was happy that that was the case.

The Characters:

What I loved about this series is that these characters made you work to like them. Feyre is jaded and initially hard to like because she really isn’t in a good place in her life. You really sympathize with her and I enjoyed watching her grow throughout the novel.

Tamlin–yeah, I wasn’t completely sold on him. I really didn’t feel like he was present much in this book enough for me to develop a crush on him. Sure, in theory he is everything a swoon-worthy hero needs to be: mysterious, charming and caring. It just didn’t work for me.–I’ll explain more in my romance section. I feel like he’ll have some great development in the sequel (that seems to be the trend in the Throne of Glass Series) so I’m hoping that will convince me of his “amazingness”.

All the other characters were great. Love ’em or hate ’em, they were all well developed and evolving as the story progressed which was great.

The Romance:

For a majority of the book, I wasn’t really sold on the romance between Feyre and Tamlin. A lot of their interaction isn’t narrated verbatim, rather it is just summarized by Feyre after it happens. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great scenes between them–because they’re are–I’m just saying it didn’t totally convince me their feelings were at that higher level. I could see why they would suit each other, I just wanted more scenes together that showed that.

For me, I couldn’t see why Tamlin had such deep feelings for Feyre when they really hadn’t talked all that much. They ignored each other at the start of time together (or at least is seemed like that because a lot of their interaction happens “off-stage”) and then BAM! His primal instincts are calling for her. It was a little too alpha male for me and I don’t like alpha male heroes.

Eventually, I warmed up to their romance and was totally rooting for them–it’s hard not to really given what happens in the last third of the book. It’s just that they won’t be gracing the top of my favourite couples list anytime soon.

I know that some people’s concerns with the Beauty and the Beast romance is the Stockholm Syndrome  situation. I definitely had those thoughts when I started reading and I could see why people would label it as that (I mean Feyre can’t really leave) BUT, I felt like these two would have connected even if they weren’t kept to his estate for the majority of their relationship.

Now, I feel like I have to say that is book is more like a New Adult Fantasy than it is a Young Adult Fantasy. While the sex scenes aren’t fully described (and there really isn’t a lot of them either)–they are sex scenes that don’t leave much to the imagination which isn’t really a YA characteristic. I found that refreshing because I don’t understand why sex should be so taboo in YA (I’m not saying full out, descriptive endless pages here)–it happens people so why should we ignore it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really don’t know what to expect for the next book! While not everything is wrapped up in this book, I felt very satisfied in how everything is left at the end of the book. I’m not dying for a sequel though I really do want to read it. I have some worries because I fear that one of my least favourite romantic tropes is on the way BUT I’m putting my faith in Maas to deliver and totally shock me like she did with Crown of Midnight–no pressure though!

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–July 3, 2016– Book #2: A Court of Mist and Fury


I was really impressed with this book!

I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses but somethings just weren’t on point for me, so it wasn’t an automatic 5 star read.

But what Maas does here is genius! The manipulation of the Beauty and the Beast story; the richness of the faery world; to Feyre’s character development–everything hits its peak here, making this one hell of a read.

While I still struggled to like Feyre, she definitely grew on me; as did the romance. The way everything interweaves and builds really helped with that.

I can’t wait to see what is in store for this cast of characters next!

–July 21, 2017– Book #3: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Oh dear, I’m in the minority for this one!

My rating hovers somewhere between 2-3/5 but considering the fact that I would have DNF’d this book at the 30% if it wasn’t the finale of the series (which it isn’t [ugh], but it is the end of the arc), I’m going to leave it at a 2.

Admittedly, I had high expectations. ACOMAF blew me away in every respect so it would be a hard book to top regardless. And the hype around any Maas book is so UNREAL lately. So I was a little scared to start this one.

This one just seemed painfully slow. Which sucked because it started so strong! Yet once I reached the 30% mark, it totally lost me. It just seemed slightly repetitive and monotonous to me. This book could have easily been 200 pages shorter and it would have delivered successfully. I needed more intrigue and action to keep my full attention.

So maybe seek an alternative opinion! Because others seem to enjoy it, but for me, this one fell flat and it has me thinking the next 3 books aren’t going to be for me.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

A Court of Thorns and Roses 4/5 | A Court of Mist and Fury 5/5 | A Court of Wings and Ruin 2/5

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This series starts slow, peaks in the middle and has a slower end. But if you want a series that keeps you guessing; is rich in characters and the world; and has a heroine who truly transforms from start to finish, you might consider investing your time in this one!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, faeries
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, don’t like jaded heroines, don’t like fairy tale retellings

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Series Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Talon by Julie Kagawa | Talon Series

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Synopsis for Talon (from Goodreads):
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Author
Series: Talon Series
Author: Julie Kagawa
# of Books: 5 (Talon, Rogue, Solider, Legion, Inferno)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Inferno, will be published April 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Shapeshifters, Dragons, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: October 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations / Why I Picked It Up:

I’m basically at that point where Julie Kagawa publishes a book, I’ll be reading it. The Iron Fey Series is one of my all time favourite series and while I didn’t love the Blood of Eden Trilogy, I didn’t dislike it enough to give up on her writing yet. Also, the fact that this series is about dragons? Um yes please!

My Thoughts on Talon (Book #1):

This series is basically the love child of the Firelight Trilogy by Sophie Jordan and the Angel Trilogy by L.A. Weatherly. Honestly, that is the best way to describe it. But if you haven’t read those two series, here’s the breakdown: take the dragons and their hierarchy from Firelight minus the unbearable heroine and add the slower pace plot-line and an assassin who questions his ability to kill his target from Angel Burn and you have this series. I like to think it is the best parts of both those series wrapped up into one.

I didn’t fall in love with Talon immediately. It starts off slow–like the first 75% of the book is just building up to the last 25% of the book. And the last 25% of the book is great–it really had me on edge and I was excited to see where it would go! But that first 75% is nothing remarkable–it’s actually almost a bit of a cliché for those who have read numerous shapeshifting Young Adult novels. I can’t help but to compare it to the Iron King where I felt like we dove head first into the action and I feel like Kagawa’s subsequent novels fail to have this faster start. Yet I still found myself drawn into the story.

I think it helps that you get multiple perspectives throughout the book. It helps you see the larger picture and keeps the slower pace moving. Another thing I liked was Ember. I was surprised that I didn’t mind her character because at first glance she is everything I dislike: an angsty, rebel teenager torn between two guys. However, she never got on my nerves. Maybe it’s because I had other POVs so I didn’t get overwhelmed by her or maybe it’s simply Kagawa creating a tolerable heroine or maybe it’s a bit of both.

When I started Talon, I thought it was going to be a trilogy (because most things are nowadays) but the fact that it is 5 books long gives me mixed feelings. For one it makes me happy as it explains why this book started off so slow–because it has to set the tone for the rest of the series. But it also makes me hesitant because I really don’t know what to expect out of the next four books and I don’t want to be stuck committed to a series that could possibly be dragged out. Regardless, at this moment I am going to have faith in Ms. Kagawa and eagerly await the next novel in this series, Rogue.

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–May 22, 2015– Book #2: Rogue

I was really excited to read Rogue. When I saw that my library had added it, I immediately grabbed it despite the bazillion other books I had out. I’m glad I did (though I’m going to have to wait forever for the next book!)! Rogue was more of what I thought Talon was going to be. It was faster paced and kept me on the edge of my seat. I moved through it much quicker than I expected–which was great! Rogue had a great blend of character development, plot development, action and romance.

As for the love triangle, it didn’t get on my nerves. It’s really underplayed in this novel (as in it isn’t the entire focus). While I definitely have a “team” that I am cheering for, I truly have no idea how it is going to develop. It’s just one of the many plot developments I’m looking forward to in the third book, Solider.

–September 20, 2016– Book #3: Solider

Unlike the inaugural novel, this one moved at a terrific pace. Even while the story was building to its HUGE (and I mean HUGE) climax, the action was still there pushing you forward. Meaning it didn’t feel like just a bridging novel–like most book 3s do in a 5 book series–it actually had its own plot while building the rest of the series. It did lag a bit for me near the end but it still held my attention…hard not to after that cliffhanger!

Everything had a great flow to. The romance was just right; the action was consistent; and the characters became more dimensional to me. Easily my favourite of the series so far.

–October 9, 2017– Book #4: Legion

I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed in this one. I found it to be a very slow start–more talking than action–but I had high expectations. I think if the cliffhanger had turned out a different way, I would have felt differently.

The last third of the novel really picked up and kept my full attention. I’m excited to see how this wraps up!

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Series Rating: 4/5

Talon 3.5/5 | Rogue 4/5 | Solider 4/5 | Legion  3/5 | Inferno TBA

overall

Readings about dragons is a nice change from vampires and werewolves. While it starts slow, the series is heading into the right direction (from what I can see) and promises faster paced times ahead. A great pick for Kagawa fans or for those who enjoy shapeshifter series.

Read if You Like: stories about dragons, forbidden romance, rebellious characters
Avoid if You: don’t like slower starting series, reading mulitple POVs

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Series Review: The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater

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Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy; The Shiver Quartet
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
# of Books: 3 (Shiver, Linger Forever)

There is a companion novel that takes places after Forever called Sinner. It is Cole and Isabel’s story.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Young Adult, Werewolves, Romance, Supernatural, Shapeshifters, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: lukewarm

Thoughts:

This was one of those series that seemed to be everywhere when it first came out and people seemed to be gobbling it up. I decided to pick it up and thought it was a good idea to try something that didn’t focus primarily on vampires for once.

Unfortunately, werewolves don’t do much for me. This series really helped me reach that conclusion once I finished it. I’m not sure why I don’t like them but I find series that only focus on werewolves are ones I tend to not enjoy. There are only a select few (and by that I mean like 2 series tops) that focus on werewolves and are books I actually liked. I don’t mind when there are werewolves in stories with other paranormal creatures, but on their own werewolves turn me off of a series.

Shiver didn’t do too much for me overall. It was a slower paced book and I instantly disliked Grace. She really irked me by the time I got to Linger. I just found she was a little bratty and a little too “angsty” for me to enjoy reading her POV. While I can sympathize with her situation at home and see why she may act they way she does, I just didn’t connect to her character enough to let me completely empathize with her.

So it was nice to get a break with having the POV alternate between her and Sam. Sam’s story I found a lot easier to sympathize with and overall, at least with Shiver, I liked him more than Grace. Of course that changed as the series progressed but for the most part I think Sam was the reason I stuck it out with Shiver.

To be honest, I probably wasn’t going to read Linger but based on the way Shiver ended and the promise of Isabel and Cole’s characters added to the mix, I was intrigued. I actually wish Isabel and Cole were the main characters because I enjoyed their stories a lot more than Sam and Grace’s (and my wish was granted with the release of Sinner). Linger was actually my favourite of the series because of Cole and Isabel’s presence (but seeing as how I didn’t enjoy the first or last book very much, it isn’t a surprise that book 2 was my fave).

It had been a long time since I had read the first two books so by the time I got to Forever I had kind of forgot most of the major plot. I basically skimmed the last book just to see how it ended. Unfortunately, the ending was really disappointing to me so I that soured the series for me.

I have to say that although I didn’t particularly care for werewolves, Stiefvater’s spin on lycanthropy was interesting and it made for some cool plot twists in an otherwise drab storyline. I also thought it was cool that the font colour of the published books match the overall colour of the cover–it was a nice touch.

UPDATED (Aug 4/14): Although I didn’t love the trilogy, I was actually really excited to read Sinner, the companion novel to the trilogy that is told solely from Cole and Isabel’s POV following the events of Forever. I found that there really wasn’t an overall plot to the novel like the rest of the trilogy had. Instead, it focused on character development which was good because Isabel and Cole are two of my favourite characters and I loved getting more inside their minds. However, their minds are rather dark and you kind of love to hate them because they aren’t the nicest people (and the best part is that they know it). I wish there was bit more of a plot though because it seemed like it was 50 pages too long and it dragged a bit. But I loved seeing more of Isabel and Cole so it was worth the read.

Conclusion:

This was a really disappointing series for me. I think those who want a clean, werewolf read might enjoy this series but be warned that the characters can be a little irritating and it is a lot of the typical teenage indecisiveness and angst throughout the series.

Fun fact though, apparently they are planning on making this into a movie :O I will probably pass but I am sure fans of the series will be excited.

Rating: 2.5/5

Similar Reads: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (Dark Divine #1) and Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lyn Barnes (Raised by Wolves #1)

Synopsis for Shiver (from Goodreads):
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever