A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas • Magan Reviews

book cover for A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas [twitter • website]
First Book in the Series
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Pages: 416
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: Faeries, Magic, Fantasy, Beauty and the Beast Retelling
Reading Challenge: Flights of Fantasy with Alexa + Rachel

Summary: After Feyre unknowingly breaks the treaty between humans and Faeries, she’s faced with the choice of living in Prythian away from her family for the rest of her life with the Faeries or dying to pay penance for the wolf she killed. She doesn’t know that her choice will lead her to love, luxury, danger, and longing.

• • •

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Gardens. Woods. Masks. Meadow. Danger.

This is what Sarah J. Maas’ work does to me: It makes my imagination burst and absolutely come alive. My goal was to find a few images that would maybe scratch the surface of what types of scenes were cinematically running through my mind, but Sarah’s writing is just so, so much more. There’s depth and detail and emotion and clarity. But best and most of all, there’s passion that courses through Sarah’s writing. It’s obvious she doesn’t rush a story for publication purposes; she mulls over all the details and intricacies until everything is so beautifully, wonderfully balanced.

I have a confession though. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t love A Court of Thorns and Roses as much as I love her Throne of Glass series. Well, false. The way this Beauty and the Beast retelling made my inner child resurface and blossom into something new and amazing as an adult (because let’s be honest, the connection between Feyre and Tamlin is …phew, steamy) was incredible. It gave me so much to relate to, even as a person who doesn’t read a ton of fantasy and often has a hard time getting absorbed in the world.

Feyre is a poor, young impoverished woman. Since her family’s fortune disappeared and her mother passed away, Feyre’s been solely responsible for making sure her disabled father and two heads-in-the-clouds sisters have food to eat and clothes on their back. She daily puts herself in danger’s way, but is extremely under-appreciated and often overlooked. One day as she’s hunting in the woods, freezing and exhausted, she has to make the decision to kill a wolf that’s threatening to hunt the deer she’s had her eye on. She’s hunted down by another giant beast because she’s broken a treaty between the humans and the Faeries. Her choice is either to live with the beast in Prythian on the other side of the wall that will forever separate her from her family, or die. She chooses to go.

In Prythian she takes up residence with Tamlin, the beast who claimed her from her home. He’s a shape-shifter, but mostly lives in his Faerie form, not all that unlike humans, but with curved ears, and a very attractive physique. Tamlin’s home (i.e. mansion) is a luxurious, spacious, and peaceful haven from the life Feyre knows back home. She’s torn between leaving her family behind (How will they survive?) and embracing the luxury of Prythian’s Spring Court.

Tamlin is frequently protecting the land, easily disturbed by Feyre’s abrasive attitude, and is extraordinarily giving even though he doesn’t have to be (and often, Feyre doesn’t seem to deserve his generosity). Lucien is Tamlin’s right hand man with a lot of gumption, a hot temper, a crazy sense of humor, and is very protective of Tamlin, leaving him very cautious around Feyre.

Feyre and Tamlin are essentially enemies. They’ve been brought up to hate one another. For nearly 500 years, it’s been Faeries versus humans.

Sarah J. Maas made me love everything about this childhood fairy tale all over again. I loved Feyre’s story — the escape from her depravity and meeting Tamlin, who pulls her out of her miserable fate to something so much more. Knowing what to expect, but with added elements of the scenery, haunting Attor and other creatures, and the brutal separation that leads the two lovebirds back together really gave A Court of Thorns and Roses its own identity.

And plus, how much more fun is it to read a grownup Beauty and the Beast retelling with super hot, steamy, sexy scenes? Sign me up for more of Tamlin and Feyre’s story, please.

• • •

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An early copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Magan: Cress by Marissa Meyer

lunar chronicles book reviews by marissa meyerCress by Marissa Meyer (website | twitter)
Other Books Written by This Author: Cinder (Book #1) | Scarlet (Book #2)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 560
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: dystopia, fairy tale retelling, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel
Format Read: ARC borrowed from Sasha (Thank you!)

Summary: In the third book of the Lunar Chronicles series, we’re introduced to Cress, a young girl trapped in a satellite somewhere between Earth and Luna. She finds herself obsessed with the whereabouts of Cinder, whom the whole world is searching for, and conflicted over whether to report their location or join Cinder’s team to finally escape her solidarity.

[I’ve tried to be completely spoiler-free, but since this is the third book in the series,
proceed with caution JUST IN CASE.]

What? What’s that? I read another book in a series? Heck yeah! If you’ve been following along with my reviews of Marissa’s Lunar Chronicle Series, you’re well aware that I love, love, love the genius and brilliance that is this series.

Cress continued to further prove how incredible Marissa’s writing is — how she’s been able to weave together all of these fairy tales into one intricate story just …blows my mind. To briefly recap, in Cinder the story begins with a Cinderella retelling with Linh Cinder, a girl with engineered body parts that label her has a cyborg. Her story intermingles with Little Red Riding Hood’s (Scarlet) in the next book, Scarlet. And in Cress, we meet Marissa’s version of Rapunzel, Cress. Would you ever guess that these ladies would be together in one book? Me neither. But lemme tell ya: it just works. Perfectly.

As the cast continues to grow larger, so does the world and our knowledge of what’s going on and how order will be restored, hopefully. Cress becomes such an essential player; she’s this brilliant, young girl who has been rotating in between Luna and Earth in a satellite. Yes, stranded and alone. She’s a very curious girl who becomes incredibly obsessed with Cinder and her whereabouts, especially as she and her team’s location is unknown and everyone is on the lookout for them. Only Cress has the skills necessary to find them. But she’s torn between sharing the information and reaching out to Cinder. What’s a girl to do when she’s trapped between the Earth and the Moon?

Cress moves rapidly — there’s no lull in the action. There’s constantly something you’re anticipating happening, but you’re not quite sure when things are going to fall apart. I was most surprised by how well all the characters are pieced together; I know I probably sound like a broken record, but thank goodness for Sasha because she helped me keep everyone in line. I really began to second guess myself a few times because I thought, “There’s just no way Meyer could have worked things out so intricately,” but alas, SHE DID.

Cress is filled with so many meaty details that keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time: What’s happening with Prince Kai? Will Cinder reveal the truth about herself? What detestable things does Queen Levana have in store? Who should you trust? What’s Cress’s motive?

There’s so much I want to say about Cress, as if you and I were having a heart-to-heart after we’ve both read the book, but I can’t ruin any surprises. I do hope that after you’ve finished reading, you’re as impressed with where the story has gone and as anxious to see how everything ends in the final book, Winter, as I am.

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Book Cover for Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Magan: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Book Cover for Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 464
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: dystopia, fairy tale retelling, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood
Format read: ARC from Macmillan at ALA Annual (Thank you!)
Previously Reviewed: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Summary: Cinder needs to figure out how to break out of prison after causing a scene at Prince Kai’s ball. Halfway around the world, Scarlet’s grandmother disappears and she’s introduced to Wolf — the only person who says he can help her.

[Please note there will be spoilers for Cinder. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t read beyond this point!]

Cinder was classified as A Book Magan Should Have Read Sooner. Much sooner. Thankfully upon finishing, I was able to dive right in to Scarlet. (Recommendation: Reading these back-to-back was flawless so if it’s been a while for you, do a refresher so you can remember all the details).

We meet Scarlet right away — her grandmother is missing. Law enforcement doesn’t believe she’s been kidnapped. They close her case because they want to believe that her grandmother chose to leave. They allude to suicide, but Scarlet knows better. Things seem super sketchy, right?

If you’re nervous about what happens to your favorite Cinder characters and you need answers + more Prince Kai, never fear. Cinder is still locked in prison and she’s just found out she’s Princess Selene. She desperately needs to escape before she’s taken back to Luna. The only way out is to ask another prisoner, Thorne, for help. Unbeknownst to Cinder, Thorne becomes her sidekick. He is comical, quirky, and despite being a nuisance 99% of the time, he proves he’s quite useful when he needs to be.

Ultimately, Cinder and Scarlet’s stories begin to interweave and this is where Marissa Meyer blows your mind. At times, the pacing seemed a bit slower than Cinder was, but I was still very engaged as a reader. I wanted to how/when/where Scarlet and Cinder’s stories would intersect. Kai was more of a peripheral character for me (I always, always want more Kai); he’s confused about Cinder. Did she use her glamour to persuade him to trust her? Did she manipulate him? He’s frustrated that Queen Levana has forced him to make abrupt decisions. Ay, yi, yi — Queen Levana — detestable woman!

What remains to be one of Meyer’s most striking storytelling tactics is how she alludes to details and lets her readers in on secrets before the characters have fully come to realize them. She continues to give clues that we can use to figure out what’s going to happen next, but I must say… Wolf confused the heck outta me. Scarlet is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling so naturally, I refreshed my memory because I wanted to know what to expect of Wolf. I didn’t want to fall in love with a character I was only supposed to hate! But oh, no! Meyer took my heart on a roller coaster ride and while I had a few suspicions about him from the very beginning, I still didn’t know whether or not to love him. He was dark and mysterious, carrying around lots of baggage. (If you like brooding boys, brace yourselves, girls!)

Scarlet was very much a — Who do I trust? / What’s happening in this world? / How does this piece together? / Where do things go from here? book. I feel like I have a grasp of what Meyer intends to do in the grand scheme of things, but I cannot wait to see what she does with the characters we’ll be introduced to. Believe me, guys, Scarlet is awesome. Remember how you felt about Cinder? Multiply that awesomeness by a million.

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book review for cinder by marissa meyer

Magan: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

book review for cinder by marissa meyerCinder by Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 387
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: fairy tale retelling, Cinderella, Beijing, future setting
Format read: ARC from Jess at Gone With the Words (Thanks!)

Summary: Set in Beijing, Cinder is a futuristic retelling of the classic Cinderella fairy tale, in which she’s a mechanic with a metal foot and arm, classified as a cyborg.

 

You know those books you see pop up a TON on review blogs? You read incredible reviews for the book and add it to your TBR list on Goodreads, but somehow it takes you months to pick it up?

Yup, that was me with Cinder.

I sincerely wish a blog had blatantly stated SKIP EVERYTHING ELSE AND READ THIS NOW. I absolutely loved Cinder that much. So, this is me telling you to stop what you’re doing and read Cinder immediately.

Fairy tale retellings are a popular thing right now. It’s such a great way for us big kids to relive the stories we used to adore as children, but with a shiny new twist on things. Cinder was precisely that for me – unique and artistic, fresh, and oh-so-good.

Meyer took a lot of creative liberties and didn’t follow the original Cinderella to a T. It’s set in the future and our beloved Cinder is a cyborg, a human that’s been “fixed” by having a foot and an arm replaced with engineered, metal ones. Her step-mother is as atrocious as ever, but the circumstances are different. Cinder is adopted into the family by her step-father (who does, as in the original, pass away). She’s one of the best mechanics in town and undertakes as much work as she can to provide the cushy life her step-mother has grown accustomed to.

Cinder is a mere sixteen years old, but she’s tough and unbreakable. (I suppose having a wretched step-mother can callous you.) I loved her hard core attitude and the way she fumbled over her words when she was in the presence of Prince Kai when they first met. Kai isn’t your stereotypical arrogant/conceited/egotistical prince. He’s a little quirky, very funny, kind and tender-hearted. He was so sweet and immediately had my heart swooning.

Part of the brilliance of Cinder was that the entire cast of characters felt so fully developed. I connected and sympathized with Cinder, but my love wasn’t just for her. All the layers of Kai were peeled back, allowing us to see him for more than just a prince. (I wrote a list of moments I adored with him: when his father passes away, when Cinder arrives at the ball, quiet moments with her in the elevator, and meeting Cinder for the very first time at the festival.) But Meyer didn’t stop the amazingness with the primary characters. She gave Cinder an opinionated, original robotic friend, Iko and the sweetest, most innocent younger step-sister, Peony. Iko and Peony helped show us more than Cinder’s abrasive, distrusting side.

Oftentimes, I dislike when I can guess where a plot is headed (I like to be outsmarted by the author). Something I’ve learned to really like about Meyer’s writing is that she gives her readers just enough subtle hints without spoiling it entirely. Instead of feeling let down that I guessed the ending, I felt a rush as my suspicions were confirmed because I felt like I knew something Cinder didn’t know. I do think Meyer is intentional in the little breadcrumb hints she leaves along the way – she builds anticipation by allowing us to know things and be surprised when the truth is revealed to the characters.

I could go on and on about  my love for Cinder, but I hope you’ll take my word for it and pick it up soon. You’ll want to be prepared for the sequel, Scarlet, to come out in February! (This time we get to meet Little Red Riding Hood!)

[Do you enjoy listening to audiobooks? Cinder is also available as one from Macmillan Audio. Enjoy a sample of the first chapter by clicking play below or visiting this site!]

(I’m serious — read it now!)

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