Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series – Sarah J. Maas

I need to start out with saying I think this series is on the right track for things we need in YA Literature. I loved it. I shamelessly loved it, and I will continue to read it, probably even after the publisher ruins the plot with those added six books they signed.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only 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 over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

So that’s the excerpt from the first book. It’s going to get spoilery from here on out as this is more of a discussion than a real review. The review is: I loved it.

So anyone who’s read the books knows everything goes to shit in the second book and Feyre and Rhysand are mates and DEATH TO TAMLIN… right? Well. While I love Rhysand, and I truly believe he and Feyre were meant to be, and I love where the plot took them, I want to take a little time to argue for Tamlin.

I took to tumblr to get my fill of Feyre x Rhysand fanart and found everyone and their mother talking about how they knew Tamlin was just an abusive relationship from the start and how grotesque he is etc etc -___-

-___-

But let’s talk about Tamlin for a second because there is a very important lesson here that a lot of discussions miss. I just read a point by a tumblr user that pins Tamlin as irredeemable because he killed Rhysand’s family, or idly watched.

Tamlin’s father felt threatened by Rhysand’s court. That was the point. Tamlin’s only fault is that he followed his father. His father told him that, as a king, this is what had to be done to keep their families safe. Tamlin standing on the sideline and watching Rhysand’s mother and sister die was purely a matter of “whose side are you on?”

When a war breaks out, each side thinks they’re on the side of the righteous. No one ever fights a war because they think they’re wrong. We are horrified that Tamlin watched because we love Rhysand. We are on Rhysand’s side. We see him as the righteous leader we would get behind because we are reading through Feyre’s unreliable narrative.

Now, is Tamlin a shitty ass boyfriend? Sure he is. But was it justified? Absolutely. Feyre keeps saying that he stopped trying to woo her after they got engaged. Which might be true. But he was upset and heartbroken when she didn’t break the curse at first. He could have helped her, but maybe he was hurt and outraged by the 50 year curse he had failed to break. He probably blamed himself as well as Feyre.

Now. When they got back to the Spring Court, the boy who lost everything is trying to protect Feyre. The boy who already demonstrated for us how controlling he had learned to be from his father’s fae tradition, is being a dick. Tamlin is a product of his environment. The only problem with Tamlin is that he is ignorant.

Tamlin has feelings. He loves Feyre. He just thinks he is displaying his love, and going to the ends of the earth to help her, to find her, to make up for what he didn’t do under the mountain for her. (Because keep in mind, Tamlin doesn’t know Rhysand the way we do. Tamlin knows the Rhysand of the Court of Nightmares. Please keep that in mind. He knows that Feyre hates Rhysand. He has not seen what we’ve seen.) The problem with Tamlin is that he needs to be taught how to love and Rhysand has already been taught how to love.

Tamlin is a victim of circumstance.

Rhysand is a good person because he has had life experiences that have lead him to understand true empathy and Tamlin is ignorant to that kind of love.

Tamlin is shitty and redeemable. His heart is in the right place.

** Edit**

I got a response here basically stating that Tamlin shouldn’t be excused because he “Doesn’t know any better.” Because he is not a child. And I agree, this is my response:

He has to learn how to behave differently from how he was raised. Tamlin follows the law and does not question it. Because he is an adult it is taking him much longer to learn to question the establishment, where Rhys grew up with that mindset. He didn’t help Feyre because tradition told him not to. Be isn’t someone who doesn’t know any better at all, that is not the point I was trying to make. He is someone who was taught values and truly believes he is on the side of the just. He believes in tradition. But he is willing to change ad displayed in the last scene with Feyre. It’s just taking him a while because he is so old and has grown up with this set of values. I think he’s shitty and I’m glad we got to know Rhys who is undeniably a better character no matter how morally ambiguous he is, but again, Tamlin doesn’t know Rhys as we do.. so if we knew Rhys as Tamlin does, we probably would have acted as Tamlin did. And regarding watching Rhysand family die, again, he thought his father was right. He believed his court was the righteous. It isn’t that he didn’t know better, it’s that this is what he believed to be true and because he believes in tradition, he doesn’t have the mind to question anything.
Tamlin has a lot of learning to do. To be redeemed he has to stop doing things he thinks are right, and start educating himself. I don’t think he has very many unique opinions or ideas. He needs to step outside of tradition and become his own person.

**Edit Edit**

Another user replied “So abuse is excusable under certain circumstances?” and I just thought it was a good part of the discussion to address

My answer for that is:

No, Abuse cannot be justified. But he is not irredeemable because he made decisions based on his past experiences. He was acting in a state of war, trying to keep her safe the only way he knew how based on how his own family was slaughtered in their beds. He tried to keep her safe as he was taught to, and traumatized enough to do, and she left and found a good relationship. He went to find her, not because he wanted to chain her up, but because the last time he saw Rhysand, he was Rhysand of the court of nightmares, the dickhead Rhysand who we know Feyre understands to be a false front. Let us not forget that Rhysand drugged Feyre so she wouldn’t remember him kissing her and grinding on her and having very lewd dancing for all to see. That is how Tamlin remembers him, and that is why he went after Feyre. Tamlin being redeemable does not mean he didn’t do things which are inexcusable. It is up to him to learn from his mistakes. Every character in this book is morally ambiguous and our side in the war determines whose actions are excusable and whose are not.

5 Days To Go! Let’s Fund Crows on Heartstrings!

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WE’RE 85% FUNDED AND NEED ONE MORE PUSH TO GET FUNDED IN THE NEXT FIVE DAYS!

CLICK HERE TO PLEDGE!

We only have FIVE DAYS! We can do this with your help!

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Crows on Heartstrings is a fully illustrated anthology of short stories. We have a little something for everyone, no matter what your gender, sexuality, or color, we have something for you. We are proud to say that we are mostly created by, for and about lgbtqa+ folks. It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before. We are also comprised of 23 women, and 3 men, so READ WOMEN!

The project is in its last FIVE DAYS on kickstarter and we need all of your support to bring our dream to life! please pledge if you can, and spread the word. thank you for everything, guys. we would not have made it this far without you!

 

Here are some of our contributors:

@aegisdea @aubreymeeksart @pannan-art @sonialiao @maxwickstrom @weatherfox @alisabishop @heavenlyeros @dodtt @spectre-draws @thevioletknight @shutterbones @artofpan

@theconstantvoice

What Crows on Heartstrings NEEDS:

We need FUNDING. We need your pledges to make this a reality. If you can pledge even just five dollars if you can, and tell five friends personally to pledge as well, we can do this! We want to give you the characters you want to read. Please help us make this inclusive book written and illustrated by 23 women, and 3 men, some or most of us LGBT+ writers and artists.  Come on! We can do it!

CLICK HERE TO PLEDGE!

We only have FIVE DAYS! We can do this with your help!

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KICKSTART Crows on Heartstrings!

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Well! The time has come! Crows on Heartstrings needs YOUR HELP to get funded!
Follow the link to our Kickstarter page to donate!
We have 30 days to fund the project, starting on April 18th.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1439936295/crows-on-heartstrings-an-antholgy-of-doomed-love-s

If you want to know a little bit about the project, I’ll tell you! Becasue I LOVE this project.

Crows on Heartstrings is a collection of Short Stories which all revolve around a central theme– Doomed Love.

We represent love in all forms, Heterosexual couples, LGBTQ+ couples, familial love, and friendship. No matter what your shape or color, we have something for you, and we are coming for you!

We also take our anti-discriminatory viewpoint and stretch it across genres. We have fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, period, and contemporary pieces.

These aren’t juse romances, they’re epic tales of doom. I can’t wait to steal your heart and shatter it a little!

Please support us! Our writers and artists come from across the globe. Coming together for this project was amazing on it’s own.

Don’t let our characters suffer for nothing! Pledge so we can share our book with you!

Thank you!

Anti Valentine’s Day Cards

Crowsonheartstrings.com is releasing an ‘Anti’ Valentine’s Day card a day to promote the doomed love stories in the collection

I’ll keep posting them ad they are announced! Here are the first two, by artists heavenlyeros and Aïcha Wijland, respectively

Book Review: Ink – Amanda Sun

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I loved this. It was beautiful. The beginning worried me, why are you doing this Katie, he’s trouble, Katie! But I quickly understood.

I loved the mix of ancient Japanese gods, the harmonizing and clashing of cultures, and real urban adventure in this book.
At times, it read like a painting, full of fluid color. At other times, I almost felt like I was reading a text version of a manga, so punchy and full of drama. Everything was lovely.

However, that all being said, it was very generic in it’s basic plot. Ordinary girl is maybe not so ordinary, she falls for the bad boy who is definitely not ordinary, her friends are annoying etc etc.

I know on goodreads the readers think this is somehow a disservice for what the story could have been. What I think this generic plot did was serve to bring YA readers a bit outside their comfort zone.

Unloading Japanese mythology and Yakuza and a completely different culture on teens through literature is a wonderful way to do it, but how do you get them to take the bait? You tie in elements of what they already love through tried and true methods and give them something more, teach them about culture. The story is extraordinary when you think about how seamlessly stitched the two worlds were.

I think this book was engaging, beautifully written, and well designed.

Please pick up this book!

When they met… Abomination Boy and Half a Prince Part 10

Lucien and Elijah Header“Though, since we are on the subject, I am well versed in both the kindness and unkindness of humans, I have Dahlia, and that boy you shot me for. He’s been trying to steal my horns to sell the bone off to one of his buddies. He thinks he can get a good price for them, I suppose.” Lucien’s eyes narrowed. “Were you looking to save that guy or just shoot any demon halfling that came along?”

Laugh burst out from Elijah. He craned his neck back and drank in Lucien’s inquiry. “I slay any demon that attacks me. I don’t have any intentions of saving a human. It’s a waste of sweat. I approached you because I had sensed something strange in you that I cannot decipher well. A lot of demons are after me, and I cannot let anyone be one step ahead of me in that matter.” He met Lucien’s eyes, and they fastened their stares just a breath too long, only Dahlia and Natalie’s voices from the kitchen cut them out. “Either way, I will keep my eye on you until I am certain you won’t be a threat to me.”

Lucien was sure that was some sort of threat, but when compared to the way Lilith kept her eyes on him, it was an empty one at best.

“Elijah. Honestly, how many people have I injured since you’ve met me?” He asked through fits of boisterous laughter. He hid his unnaturally white smile behind his hand and bit down on his knuckle to try and be a bit more respectful. Droplets of blood slipped through some sloppy wounds scattered across his chest.

That stopped him. Elijah widened his eyes a fraction. He opened his mouth to speak, but came away with nothing. “Well,” a shrug. “You’ve hurt insentient things, the mailbox, Dahlia’s van, the ground you fell upon. I may say, doesn’t have insurance.” A smile cursed his lips. He scrutinized Lucien – his tattered clothes, his horns, the dark eyes, and the scars that marked his body.

“Ah, I see. I didn’t know we were in a Disney movie. I can also paint with all the colors of the wind, and sing with all the voices of the mountains.” Lucien snorted. “I’ll try not to insult anymore mailboxes, lest they have feelings.” He became vaguely aware of Elijah’s gaze. His chest felt hot under the burn of Elijah’s eyes.

“What?” He crossed his arms over his chest and saved himself from squirming uncomfortably in his seat.

“You must lack sleep. The mountains don’t have voices,” Elijah’s brows creased. “The wind is colorless, and we are not in some movie.” He pressed his fingers on his temple, his head throbbing. “Do you even sleep, or eat? What are those scars? Are they from battle?”

“Elijah, I live in Hell, and even I’ve seen Pocahantas.” He dismissed Elijah’s ignorance toward human popular culture as more of a choice, since he held humans with such high regard.

Lucien’s eyes drifted to join Elijah’s line of sight. “Battles? Nah. I really did live in a cage. Most of these are experiments.” He shrugged. “These things are like the ones you saw before, with the cursed iron.” He traced lines over the flat plains of his pecs. “These are just from whippings because I sabotaged a mission.” He flicked his fingers dismissively over a thrashing group of scars over his abdomen.

“And these bruises, I got from being a whore. More or less.” He covered himself up, tugging his lips into a smirk when he didn’t want to. His hands raked his tousled hair, pulled it back, pushed it to the side… all nervous ticks. He looked up and folded his hands across his chest, suddenly feeling awkward and shy. “But don’t go spreading that last bit, I have a reputation to protect.” This smile was even more pathetic than the last. He picked at his fingers like he was bored, when his mind was moving a mile a minute, and not in a psychotic demon way.

“No need to agonize.” Elijah’s lips thinned. “I won’t be publicizing your biography.” Somehow, guilt had formed in his chest. Had he ignored his pleading before, Lucien shouldn’t have had to take a gunshot. Elijah should lack empathy, that was what he kept reminding himself. Empathy was for the weak. Feelings should be set aside, yet he couldn’t ignore how culpable feeling boiling in him. With a sigh, he said, “My apologies for the bullet in your head. Don’t think this will change anything. I just now happen to discern that you don’t earn death by my hands. Tolerating your suicidal behavior was a mistake I made.”

“Don’t pity me, Elijah.” Lucien said with a bit more arrogance than he had hoped would be injected into his voice. “Not for the scars, or the suicide, or the time I spent unable to decide who did what with my body.” He could pity himself enough on his own and pretend it wasn’t so.

Lucien stood on shaky legs. He tried to keep his t-shirt closed as he stomped towards the stairs.


 

PreviousNext


 

Welcome to the Lucien and Elijah serial by Aubrey Meeks and Julienne 

The accompanying illustration was done by Aegisdea and I couldn’t be happier!

Stay tuned for more of Elijah and Lucien tomorrow!

Lucien and Abomination Boys characters and writing © Aubrey “Meeks” Brown 2015

Elijah and writing © Julienne 2015

Abomination Boy and Half a Prince Part 7

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After a long staring competition with Natalie, Elijah hauled Lucien and threw him over his shoulder. The angel/demon was featherlight. He still smelled faintly of blood, even after his wounds had been healed and sealed. Elijah wondered what was wrong with him with his suicidal tendencies. Elijah had lived for centuries without the will to die. Even if he’d gone through excruciating years of insipid torment, he had never thought of killing himself.

Dahlia lead them to her van. She helped Elijah guide Lucien into the back seat and dove into the front.

It took only minutes to get them to her house, and in those minutes, Lucien went from zombie, to sitting upright with one horn tapping against the glass with the bumps in the potholed road.

He staggered from the parked van and swerved to the left and into the mailbox, catching it for support.

Natalie helped him out, striding fast to him and holding his arm. Elijah was there in lightning speed, telling her, “It’s best I help him instead of you. We don’t know how stable he is at the moment. You might get hurt.”

Natalie didn’t argue with Elijah about it. She went with Dahlia while Elijah aided Lucien, keeping him from stumbling on the ground.

Dahlia fumbled for her keys and held the door open for the two boys. The house was enormous, much too big for just one girl to be living in all by herself. But the grand entrance stood still in the dark with no trace of a family photo or stray pair of shoes to suggest anyone lived there other than Dahlia. She closed the door behind the boys and nodded in the direction of a ultra plush sofa in front of the window. “Does anyone want some wine? I think we could all use it.” She eyed Elijah as he helped Lucien to the sofa, then glanced hopefully at Natalie.

Natalie perched on the chair’s arm for a moment. “That will be great.” She sliced a glance at Elijah, made sure he wasn’t going to shoot Lucien again. “I definitely need a glass,” she told Dahlia and went with her in the kitchen.

Elijah plopped on the seat close to Lucien’s, snapping out the gun from his waistband and dropping it on the mid-table. He could hear Natalie and Dahlia’s voices from the kitchen, but other than their wine voices, the house was quiet. He crossed his legs and focused on Lucien. “Are you in the right condition to talk sense?”

Lucien glanced up at Elijah through his endlessly black eyes. He pulled the tattered bits of his t-shirt closed with little success, after trying once he couldn’t care enough about his bare chest. He reclined into the sofa and placed his hands over his heart like he were trying to gauge just how alive he really was.

“I suppose so. Tell the girls if I beg you to kill me again.” He didn’t smile, not even the ghost of a smile cracked against his pale lips.

“I’m not really the kind of person who’ll defend himself in a crime he willingly committed.” Elijah leaned sideways on the seat, propping his chin on his fist. “It baffles me, eternal creatures wishing for death? What has gone in that mind of yours?” Demons and angels, rarely had Elijah encountered ones who called for death, none until now. “Why do you wish to perish when your life is everlasting?”

Lucien played with the fraying bits of his shirt. “I actually don’t know if I am actually immortal.”


Previous – Next


 

Welcome to the Lucien and Elijah serial by Aubrey Meeks and Julienne 

The accompanying illustration was done by Aegisdea and I couldn’t be happier!

Stay tuned for more of Elijah and Lucien tomorrow!

HE’S UP! What’s going to happen as Lucien faces his attacker?

Lucien and Abomination Boys characters and writing © Aubrey “Meeks” Brown 2015

Elijah and writing © Julienne 2015

Book Review: Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Six-of-Crows-BookThe Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo was phenomenal and this was even better. In Six of Crows, we follow six teenagers, all with their own specialties, pulling off an impossible heist.

Leigh Bardugo crafted six very unique characters for this new series set in the Grisha world. The character development blew me away.

Can I just gush over Kaz Brekker for a second? The little street urchin lost everything and was reborn a cutthroat thief. We’re sucked into his reputation, and boy, does he live up to it. But as ruthless as our Dirtyhands is, he shows us his fears and concerns, basically that he isn’t the demon Matthias is convinced he is, through his idiosyncrasies he turns into legend.

The twists and turns in this plot were endless, and not solely concerned with the adventure the Crows take us on. We’re thrust into hints of romance, secret treasons, and outright death threats, all while each and every member of the team displays how wonderfully competent they are.

Bardugo made me root for them when I was sure they would fail, and slyly slipped their plans into the reading, just so I could be slapped in the face with “Of course! I never should have doubted you assholes!” after they managed to get by.

I cannot recommend this enough. If you want to fall in love with a gang of teenaged rats who will undoubtedly teach you there is real power in street smarts, man please, just read this. It’s so very well crafted and put together, and it was just a beautiful piece of literature.
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art by kevinwada 

Book Review: Stand Off – Andrew Smith

20662291This one was outstanding. Ryan Dean definitely grew up a bit since last year but lost none of his charm. All of his reactions and new behaviors were so real and believable after the loss of his friend,(the babe) Joey Cosentino.  Everything from how he treated his new friends and his roommate, reacted to some truths about Joey, tried to communicate with Nico, being forced to become the new Joey… but not be the new Joey, and seemed to develop a PTSD friend he called Nate, it was perfect. Ryan Dean seemed like a very real teenager before but now I could almost feel him sitting in front of me and telling me the story.

I must say, I have never been a teenaged boy, but I really hope that as pervy (Ryan Dean self proclaimed) as he is, I hope all teenaged boys are like him. He treats people withe respect and he doesn’t care at all about sexuality. He dislikes people based on their personalities, and then, still doesn’t talk shit about them. He steers clear of the people giving him problems. He’s really great, he may say some dumb things sometimes, but he’s a really good guy. He has his flaws but intolerance is not one of them.

I applaud Andrew Smith for writing this book with such profound realness when it came to the aftermath of Joey’s death, and how it affected everyone around him. I also applaud him for giving us a strong male lead who doesn’t have to be strong and prove his masculinity by putting people who are different down. Ryan Dean might be a bratty, kooky teenager, but I think he’s a decen tole model for kids despite that.

The only thing I was disappointed about was that Ryan Dean was no longer called Winger. But. If that was the worst thing, you understand why you need to read it. 😀

Please read this, and if you haven’t read Winger, the first book about Ryan Dean, please do. You won’t regret it.

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You – Claudia Gray

17234658 I started reading this book weeks ago and I wrote it off because I was in the middle of the longest book hangover of my life.

THANK THE UNIVERSE I PICKED THIS UP AGAIN!

I don’t know if we should rely on bratty reader, Meeks, who thought the beginning wasn’t very interesting.

I was annoyed about the way the character dealt with her art, being a Fine Arts major myself, but I got over it. I was also very angry because, and this is a spoiler, I loved Paul. I thought of him as this misunderstood Loki villain, and I HATED that Marguerite kept talking to me about how much Theo liked her. I wasn’t interested and put the book down.

Just to recap what the story is about, I’ll quote goodreads page:

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.”

The characters were easy enough to fall in love with. I don’t really know who Marguerite is outside of this firebird stuff, an artist, an outsider in her own family, but more than that I don’t really know.

I wish I knew why both Theo and Paul were in love with her. I think the emotional plot’s pacing was off in this book a tad. I wanted to feel Marguerite and Paul fall in love in Russia (Dimensional Travel) but I felt that was rushed.  But once she fell in love with Paul, I felt a bit of her struggle, and I did feel her love for him, and his pent up love for her as well.

The final world lacked the world building of the Russian world. The Russian world I could see so clearly because I had reference points and feelings and emotions. But with the final world, I don’t even know if I’m sure I know what it looks like. I’m going with underwater space station for now.

Aside from all that, the pacing of the action plot was terrific. I felt like I was piecing together the clues ad Marguerite did, which was refreshing and exciting. I felt engaged, like I was working this out with them.

Honestly, for me, the pros of this book outweigh my nitpicky cons. I recommend this one.