Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas.

Oh! My! God! This book! I have not read a book this good since… I don’t even know when! Maybe since The Silmarillion! I really want to give it five out of five stars because this is so easily one of my favourite books that I’ve ever read, it is so good that I already want to read it again, and am shaking with excitement about reading the next book in the series. Unfortunately, even though it is so amazingly perfectly awesome, there is one problem with it that prevents me from rating it a full five stars, and that is the enormous, stupid – would be – ending – but I’ll get to that later.
Let the review begin!

This book was a big deal for me. Before reading it I knew that I would either absolutely love it, or want to throw it as far away from me as I could because Beauty and the Beast is one of my all-time favourite stories. Thankfully, Sarah managed to write a masterpiece and made this Beauty and the Beast fan very proud.

I’m not really sure where to start with this. Maybe at the beginning? I was hooked from the very first chapter. Sarah’s writing is captivating to say the very least. She chooses every event, every action, and every word in this book with care and precision. Not one sentence is wasted or used as filler,
Her style, her layout, and, in the case of this book, her poetry, and limericks, all flow so well. Her writing is a wave that just carries you to the next wave, and the one after that, and on and on and on, each word intrinsic, carrying you to wherever it is you are going to end up.

I take a ride up and down the emotional spectrum with A Court of Thorns and Roses. I was filled with both and rage at the start of the book, after the killing of the wolf, mostly because I love wolves, but also because Sarah’s writing is so intense and vivid that it felt kind of real.
As the story progressed I went from happy to sad, sorry to fed-up, jealous to annoyed, scared to excited, turned on to turned off, and round and round until I was emotionally exhausted. Let’s not even talk about how many times I blurted out with laughter, if anyone was there to hear me, they’d think I was crazy.

There isn’t too much to say about the story as it is an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast and so the story isn’t really the book’s story, and I’m pretty sure everyone already knows the tale as old as time.
However, there are a few things to say.
The fantasy element is incorporated very well, and perfectly reflects the fairytale side of it. Of course, there are parts in ACOTAR that don’t come from the Beauty and the Beast story, like the trials and what not, and they seem to go so organically with the story and fit in perfectly. In fact, the new elements that Sarah has added actually kind of expand and further the story.
I also really enjoyed how she added in even the tiniest little details from the fairytale, like the chipped tea cup in her house, the picking of the rose, and the big things, too, of course.
As for the characters, they are kind of similar to Belle and the Beast and Gaston, etc. but they also have a lot of unique traits that make them original and separate them from their counterparts.

I actually forgot to write this part and had to come back and add it in. I just want to talk about how good Sarah’s erotic writing is. Like, it’s SO good! Admittedly, I haven’t read many erotic novels, but any that I have read have nothing on Sarah’s. It’s so hot and so intense and so passionate. She should toooootally write something in the erotica genre… even if it does have faeries in it.

Now. The one thing that lets this book down. The massive, for lack of a better phrase, plot hole.
Normally I wouldn’t write any spoilers in my reviews, but this bugs me too much not to write about. Okay, so, near the end when Tamlin sends away Feyre… WHY WOULD HE DO THAT? IT MAKES NO SENSE!
His logic behind this decision is to keep her safe, correct? Okay, but sending her away actually puts her in more danger, and takes away her only chance for safety. The threat that looms over her is Amarantha, whose goal is to take over Prythian and then destroy the mortal world. Well, the only way to stop Amarantha is by breaking the curse so everyone gets back their power, and the only way to break the curse is for a mortal (Feyre) to fall in love with Tamlin. So, knowing that there are only a couple of days left to break the curse, and knowing that if he doesn’t then Amarantha will take over and soon destroy the mortal world, wouldn’t it make sense to keep Feyre nearby and use every last second to break the curse? By sending her away he sends away the only chance to break the curse, and thus loses his only chance to stop Amarantha, and the humans obviously stand no chance of defeating her and her people once they invade. So, by sending her away, he is basically ensuring her death. FAIL!!!
Sarah! What happened there?!?

Phew! It feels good to have gotten that off my chest. Now!
I don’t think I really need to clarify that I absolutely loved this book. It’s easily in my top 10 books that I’ve ever read.
The recommended audience is pretty obvious, but to be honest, I think everyone should just read this because it is so damn good!



Book review: Knights of the Borrowed Dark, by Dave Rudden.

Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Okay, it wasn’t that bad. Or was it? It wasn’t good, that’s for sure.
I planned to read this within three days, but it was so bad, I ended up taking five. It is cliché, it is pretentious, it is slow, and it is boring.

The main thing that I didn’t like about this book was the characters. Denizen, the central protagonist, was only thirteen years old, which is far too young for a book like this. None of his dialogue, actions, and reactions were that of a thirteen-year-old. On top of this, the writing style did not match his age, at all.
He and all of the other characters were also for cliche and overplayed. There was not a single character in that book that had their own defining traits. Absolutely nothing to make them anything more than rehashings of previously seen – seen many times before – characters.
The same thing can be said about the plot. A young kid, down on their luck, finds out a big family secret and quickly becomes a hugely important character for no reason at all, and somehow saves the day. This is possibly the most overused narrative in the children’s/young adults fantasy genre, and this book plays it down to the very last sentence.
While on the topic of the plot, let’s talk about the plot holes and massive lack of information and detail.
Rudden has put so much of his book down to plot convenience. Not only is there a huge lack of information given to the reader about the story, the characters, and the fantasy world, but there is also a number of times when the story only progressed because things happened in an unrealistic way. Take the beginning of the book for instance: *SPOILER ALEART* when the villains come to find and kill the central protagonist, they leave him because he didn’t instantly show his power when they thought he should have. Putting aside the fact that these are villains who want to come and desroy the entire world, and who live on misery and despair, why would they leave him alive anyway if they thought he would be a threat. They’re villains.
Dave Rudden is a lazy writer. I have no doubts about it.

There are no interesting character connections in the book. No one to empathise with. No one to get attached to. No interesting romances to follow. Nothing. It’s as though they’re all traitless blobs trapped in a human skin.
A similar thing can be said about the story. Where is the intrigue, Dave? Where is the suspense? Where is the writing that makes you want to read on? It was so dull. I only finished it in the hope that eventually something interesting would happen. It didn’t.
The action sequences were lousy and short in detail. The dialouge was as plain as blank paper. There was a very poor balance of emotions. So much so that, I didn’t feel any. I think I maybe laughed once.

I want to say that the shock and awe factor was good, with the few suprise end reveals, but I would be lying.
Although the reveals were rather shocking, they were unnecessary. As were many of the things that went on in this book. Rudden has attempted to build mysteries within his work, but actually he has just added pointless filler.
The only thing I can genuinely say was quite good is his descriptions. His descriptions are creative and vivid.

I think it’s safe to say I did not enjoy this book, for many, many reasons. I would reccomend this to a younger audience, perhaps of around twelve years of age. More specifically, twelve year olds who enjoy stereotypical fantasy.



Book Review: Riverkeep, by Martin Stewart.

I seem to be at a perplexing standstill with this book. On the one hand, it is a superbly written and beautifully crafted book, full of wonders and woes, magic and might, and has elements of some great literary pieces in there. On the other hand, I don’t like it. At least, not as much of one as I probably should be, given how much I appreciate the book and Martin Stewart’s writing.
Let’s just get to the review, shall we.

One thing for sure is that Stewart played off many other stories and writers. An obvious one being The Wizard of Oz. Another glaringly obvious one is Moby Dick.
As I pointed out in my last review, on Six of Crows, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in this case, I feel like Martin has used other works far too heavily for inspiration and has created something rather unoriginal.
And another thing that bugs me the story is that it seems to have no point to it. Wull, the central protagonist of Riverkeep, goes on this amazing journey full of wondrous people and grand adventures, but it all amounts to nothing. This is possibly the most anti-climactic book I have ever read.

On a more positive note, Martin’s writing is poetic and vivid and paints a great picture of the world he has created, albeit using other people’s worlds to do so.
The language he uses reflects well the dark, gloominess of the story, and he matches his vocabulary perfectly with the time and place in which the book is set.
Having said that, the dialogue he uses is extremely annoying. I get that not all characters are always going to speak in a manner you would want them to, but, damn! The characters’ dialects in this book are the most annoying I have ever had to read. I genuinely nearly put the book down a couple of times because of it.
I also felt that, at times, Martin got a little carried away with his writing, coming off not as smart and well-read, but pretentious and pompous.

I am assuming that Martin wished to leave his book with a sense of mystery about it, ending it how he did, but what he actually did was leave a bunch of loose ends that leave the book incomplete, and the reader (me) feeling unfulfilled with said reading.

Something else that I found with this book, and this may be just me, is that it took me a rather long while, a few chapters or so, maybe more, to even realise what was going on and to recognise where the book was heading. Later in the book, I ended up not paying very much attention to what I was reading, because even though there was a lot going on as the story progressed, I didn’t find any of it compelling.
A lot of what happened seemed unnatural, even for a fantasy book, like a lot of what happened would never actually happen the way it did.
Having said this, I must give points to Martin for creating emotion in me as a reader. For the most part, I was neutral toward the book and all the inhabitants of its pages, but one scene in particular, and one character stood out for me. I won’t say what happened, nor name the character in question, but I will say that I was left very shocked and surprised, in a good way, after the scene; and after what happened with said character, I almost wanted to cry.

I definitely disliked more about this book than what I favored of it, but it did have its good times, and most certainly deserves its merits for Martin’s writing.
All in all, I would say it is a good book, but I personally did not like it. An acquired taste, for sure.

I would recommend this to the older side of the young-adult audience, and fans of classic books, in particular.



Book Review: Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo.

Despite my initial thoughts on the book, during the first few chapters, I ended up really enjoying Six of Crows and was rather disappointed when it was over.

I received this book whilst working at Waterstones, along with two other books, which incidentally are the next two books I will be reading and reviewing. I had no idea what this book was about, going in, which meant I read it with a completely open mind.

The amount of character switching in this book would normally drive me crazy. However, Leigh really makes it work and writes so that it is an essential part of the book. The story of the book is actually very small and very short, and while the story is always progressing, not much actually happens. If this book were made into a film, it would have to be extremely short. Because of this, the switching not only fills out the book but allows a number of stories to be told at once, through the eyes of multiple characters. It also helps Leigh keep a bit of tension and mystery all the way throughout.
Also, due to the story having a big lack of action, it is important for Leigh to use empathy as a real for the readers. Most books keep readers hooked through a constant stream of new events, books like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or by using a deep mystery that the reader is able to try and figure out in books like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Because Six of Crows doesn’t have either of those things, it needs something else to keep readers involved, and thus Leigh uses character connection as a substitute.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, both in the present story and their backstories. I particularly enjoyed Kaz and Inej. On top of that, I was very interested in their romance story, and cannot wait to see where it heads in the next book.
The story and characters were very dark, which is a nice change as a lot of fantasy is very light, which gets very repetitive. Plus, I have always been more of a fan of darker and more twisted things.

The beginning of the book was rather boring but other than that I read through it happily and often didn’t want to put it down. It was an easy read, yet was full of twists and turns, a lot of depth, and Leigh’s writing is complex and intricate and well executed.

I often found myself comparing this book to a book I read a little while ago, The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks. The writing, the settings, the style, and the characters all seemed rather familiar. Of course, books are always going to have comparisons to other works because it’s virtually impossible to write something that is one hundred percent original. I’m also not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing that these two books are similar, simply pointing out a fact.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Six of Crows and cannot wait to read the next book in the series – which I did not know existed until I finished this book, thinking it was a stand-alone book.
I recommend this to a young-adult fantasy audience, particularly those who enjoy a darker story and a bit of action.