Friday, April 24, 2015

ARC Review: A Court of Thorns And Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Expected Publication: May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children

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.
*An ARC was provided by Penguin Random House & Bloomsbury Children's Books in exchange for an honest review.*

A Court of Thorns and Roses is, as I'm sure you've all heard, the first book in a new series by one of my all-time favorite authors, Sarah J. Maas.  Needless to say, I needed to get this book in my life, as soon as possible, and while my hopes were pretty much sky high, this book managed to sink it's teeth *ahem* ;) into my very soul and hold on for dear life.  Any moment that I wasn't reading this book was torture and I found myself dreaming about it at work, in the car, before falling asleep at night and pretty much everywhere in between.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is something of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but rest assured, it's wholly original in it's own right.  Only the broader details of the classic tale remain, and the rest is a glorious mixture of survival,  a swoon-worthy and deliciously slow-burn romance, the Fae and the discovery of an amazing new fantasy world.  I was quickly swept away into the magical and terrifying wilderness that is the Fae realm and desperate to know every inch of it.  There's an expansive estate, an enchanted (and haunted) forests, a starlight pool *swoon* and rainbow waterfalls. ♥  There are wickedly vile creatures lurking about, waiting to prey on the innocent, but most the most unnerving of all might just be the variety of Fae courts - like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Night, Dawn, etc. - with their immortal powers and thirst for human blood. Except...except Tamlin, 'the beast' and Feyre's captor - the ruler of the Spring Court.  He seems different, and though he's terrible to behold in beast form, he doesn't quite seem to share his people's hatred for humans...

Let's start things of with Feyre, our main character.  Feyre is definitely a one of a kind heroine.  She has a quiet resolve about her and her incredible inner strength won me over from the word go. She's a huntress, but she doesn't enjoy killing - she just does so to survive.  She takes care of her family even though they seem unappreciative at best, and downright ungrateful at worst.  Through it all, Feyre is selfless and makes sure everyone one is fed, clothed and does her best to keep the peace.  She isn't as 'in your face' as some other heroines I've come across, but she left her mark in my heart all the same.  I admired her devotion to her family, as well as her willingness to do whatever it takes to survive.  Her honesty and snarkiness on through it all didn't hurt either ;)

Moving on to Tamlin. Sigh...  Tamlin is... dangerous, tortured, powerful and beyond enigmatic.  I enjoyed his awkwardness around Feyre at first, but what develops through the course of the book was better than anything I could have imagined.  Tamlin is fiercely protective of his friends and his Court but he also has a lot of secrets, a complicated past and a whole mess of family issues.  He was a mystery that I couldn't wait to unravel and with every layer we discovered through the story, came new reasons to feel for him, to swoon over him and to love him.

The romance between Feyre and Tamlin is luxuriously slow-burn. Maas really takes her time with them, allowing them to get to know each other, despite their prejudices against one another and their personal issues.  There is a mutual respect for one another that develops first, followed by an appreciated and admiration for each other.  When things finally cross over to attraction and affection, it's deliciously drawn out and hopelessly addictive.  For someone like me, who rarely picks up a book for the ships alone, I was head over heels on board with this one!  Despite the fantasy setting and the action/adventure which are central to the story, A Court of Thorns and Roses is, at it's core, a romance. And it's a phenomenal one at that. Words seriously can not express my glee over how Feyre and Tamlin won me over :D

Inevitably though, it's hard not to compare A Court of Thorns and Roses to SJM's other epic series: Throne of Glass though, and while some readers will no doubt prefer this steamy, dark fairytale retelling, I still prefer Celaena's fiercely epic, kick-ass escapades.  Considering the fact I tend to read for the world-building, adventures and characters instead of the romance, that fact shouldn't be surprising though. That being said, ACOTAR definitely stands on it's own as an addictive and deliciously atmospheric romantic adventure.  I can not wait to continue on with Feyre and Tamlin's story - especially considering that ending. Gah! Knowing Miss Maas, the sequels will no doubt be even more impressive than this one already was.  Bottom line: A Court of Thorns and Roses is beyond promising as a debut to yet another innovative and addictive series for Sarah J. Maas. This woman is a goddess and I will forever read every single book she comes up with.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Harry Potter MotW #87

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts  & Me @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!  How to join &  upcoming topics here.

Character I Wish I'd Invented

Without a doubt, I wish I had invented Harry Potter, the boy who lived himself.  It blows my mind how underappreciated Harry is as a character, in his own series no less, because for me, Harry was always the standout character.  He is my hero of heroes, my inspiration and my absolute, all-time favorite fictional character of life. People say that Hermione would have been a better hero because of her wit and the fact that she's much less impulsive than Harry  - and don't get me wrong, I adore Hermione as well, but those people^^ forget that Harry was better than Hermione in DADA and that Hermione not only refused to believe that Draco was a Death-Eater, she also refused to believe in the Deathly Hallows, period. So I'm sorry but my money's on Harry - her's the only one who could have ever defeated the Dark Lord and saved the Wizarding World.

''Harry is the best hope we have. Trust him.'' -Albus Dumbledore 
''I am not worried, Harry, I am with you.'' - Albus Dumbledore

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #20

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish which features a variety of bookish top ten lists!

Top Ten (-ish) ALL-TIME Favorite Authors

J.K. Rowling - Was there any doubt that this fine lady would make the top of my list?  The Harry Potter books are what got me back into reading almost 10 years ago and I honestly don't think I'd have rediscovered my passion if not for Miss Rowling.  This amazing woman is my inspiration AND she's responsible for creating my all-time favorite hero,The Boy Who Lived. But it's more than just about Harry. It's about all the characters in the series, all the wonderful magic and THE.BEST.STORY.OF.ALL.TIME.  I think all of us feel like we owe her so much ♥  I expect to find her on every TTT post I visit today...or else. *glares* (just kidding...not really)

Brandon Sanderson - THE King of high-fantasy in my honest opinion. His books never fail to transport me into his richly imagined worlds, complete with some of THE most memorable characters out there.  I have loved I've read by him, which spans 4 series (so far!).  He makes me dream impossible dreams and that's the best compliment I could give. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Sanderson (twice) and I'll never get over it. I was totally tongue-tied both times of course and just basically babbled about how awesome he was but he was a sweetheart throughout and made me love him even more.  

Sarah J. Maas - My queen!  I am not worthy. *bows*  Yeah, I worship this woman, not going to lie. Firstly, she completely blew me away with the Throne of Glass series - Celaena is my all-time favorite heroine and my love for her grows with each new ToG installment ♥.  And second, she delivers yet again with her new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses (look for my review later this week!). The fact that Maas was able to create Feyre, another heroine who is wholly unique and engaging in her own right  Meeting SJM last year turned me into a giddy, ridiculous fangirl & I REGRET NOTHING - except that I wish we could have hung out and maybe I could have braided her hair. O.O

Maggie Stiefvater - I might have been a bit late in jumping on the bandwagon with this fine woman, but my love for her grows stronger with every book of hers I read. Her way with words is unlike anything I've ever come across and Oh My Ronan, she creates some of the best characters in life. Basically I'm in love with all of the Raven Boys (and Girl!) and anyone else from Henrietta.  Miss Stiefvater is a poet, a goddess and, quite possibly, a witch as well, but I wouldn't change a thing about her.  Except maybe beg her to let Gansey live. PLEASE.PLEASE.PLEASE.PLEASE.PLEASE!!  

Suzanne Collins - The author responsible for getting me out of my fantasy-addiction - this was the first dystopian I read and no books in the genre have ever come close to the genius that is The Hunger Games trilogy. I don't remember a worst book hangover than when I finished her series.  I was so wrung-out, I wanted to crawl into my bed and sleep for a week. Katniss will always be one of my favorite heroines because she faced hell, survived and changed the world in the process. Even though there was a love-triangle in the series, I adored both boys in their own way and that's something that's never happened since.  THG was so much more than a romance though - it was about family, bravery, change, war, hope and revolution.

J.R.R. Tolkien - The father of high-fantasy deserves a spot on this list, right?  None of the popular fantasy books we have today would have existed without The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings. The films might have defined our generation, but it was the books that started it all. It all started with a hobbit and a wizard but soon dwarves, elves, a dragon and a ring made it epic. There are so many characters that stole my heart here: Bilbo, Gandalf, Galadriel, Aragorn, Legolas, Samwise...the list goes on and on! It's a classic story that has endured for a hundred years and there's no doubt in my mind that it'll be around for hundreds more. 

Laini Taylor - Never have words flowed more beautifully than they did in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.  It was the first time in my life that I found myself rereading certain sentences over and over, just to bask in their beauty.  If that isn't enough, there was a slew of amazing characters, parallel worlds, scary angels and friendly demons.  I was swept away into this world from the first pages of the very first book and my journey from that point to the last pages of the final book was one that was filled with every emotion known to man.  No joke! I will read anything and everything this woman comes up with in the future.

Karen Marie Moning - Her Fever Series was my very first adult read, and my first urban fantasy series.  Admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to the heroine, Mac but when I did, I was her number one fan.  I knew I was hooked from the first book, regardless of any issues because I rushed to the bookstore once I finished and quickly picked up the rest of the series.  These books are a sexy thrill-ride that delivered action, magic, thrills and hotness - not to mention the best heroine transformation I've ever read about. Moning not only made Mac's transformation believable, but she did it while delivering twist after mind-blowing twist. Definitely a series I'll be rereading! 

L. M. Montgomery - Growing up in a small town in Atlantic Canada, there weren't many books available featuring heroines that came from my neck of the woods.  That's probably why discovering Anne of Green Gables was such a treat back then.  I remember how thrilling it was to read descriptions of places I'd actually seen in real life!  But it took much more than familiar locations to make this one a favorite of mine.  That honor is all Anne Shirley's.  A poor little orphaned girl with an imagination to match my own and an old soul I could relate to even then.  Anne is a kindred spirit for life :)

Frances Hodgson Burnett - The fact that a woman born in the 1800's makes it onto a list like this t says a lot about her skills as an author.  The fact that her heroines transcend time and continue to be relevant today is amazing, to say the least.  I discovered this author in high-school English class but I actually reread my favorites a few years ago and I was thrilled to discover that I loved then just as much - if not more - the second time around.  I will most definitely be rereading both The Secret Garden and A Little Princess throughout my life.  The themes present in FHB's books stand the test of time and could warm even the coldest of hearts.

Bonus: Philip Pullman - While I had some issues with the religious undertones of the later books in the series, I was still blown away by the parallel worlds, unique magical items and host of enchanting characters, both human and animal (daemon) alike.  Now that I know how the trilogy ends, I absolutely must reread them and see how my appreciation for the story might increase a second time around.  Pullman is easily responsible for one of the most unique fantasy worlds of our time so I felt he deserved the 11th spot on my list - plus it seems I could benefit from adding more men to my list ;)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Stacking the Shelves *46*

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews showcasing new books we've gotten a hold of (bought/given/gifted/trade/for review).

Hi everyone! This edition of StS is a much delayed birthday haul post - my bday was last month (oops!) - but I was waiting for a few items to arrive by mail before I actually put my post up. Now that everything's arrived - I think, let's get down to business:

Soulless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #1), Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (Lumatere Chronicles #1) - Thanks Lee ♥, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente (Fairyland #3)

The Simpsons Family History by Matt Groening Productions

My friends know me too well - Soulless, Finnikin of the Rock and Fairyland #3 had been on my wishlist/tbr shelf for some time now, so it was a real treat to have them show up in my mailbox.  And then, one of my oldest friends showed up with an awesome Simpsons book - these guys are the best :D 

And finally, I got a couple of books for review:

Even though I still need to dig into my copy of Stolen Songbird, I couldn't resist requesting a copy of the sequel. I figure this pretty will motivate me to catch up before it actually comes out :) Similarly, I still have to get to my copy of Angelfall that's been collecting dust on my shelf for far too long, but when I saw World After available on NG, I couldn't help myself. I figure it'll serve as the kick in the pants I need to finally get caught up in time for book 3.

That's it for me this week!  What did you guys get?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Let's Discuss...(1)

Let's Discuss...
Let's a new feature here on Lunar Rainbows Reviews, inspired by many of my fellow bloggers and their discussion posts.  For my posts, I'll be discussing random bookish and fandom topics.

Hi everyone!  I know a lot of those who know me will remember how I've been talking for ages about launching a discussion feature on the blog.  Well, that day has finally come!  I'll posts these whenever I have something I want to chat with you guys about, and so far I have ideas lined up for a bunch of other posts, so hopefully you guys will enjoy these :)  For my introductory post, I wanted to talk about:

How do you decide what to read next? 

I think that it's fair to say that as bloggers and avid readers, we've all been there at one point or another: struggling to decide what to read next.  I have an entire bookshelf filled with my 'to-read' books, so sometimes, the choice seems impossible.

To complicate matters even further, I am a HUGE mood reader, so when I finally do get my hands on a coveted wishlist book, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'll get to it straight away.  So, this begs the question: how do you decide what to read next?

Personally speaking, there a few different techniques I've tried over the years, but they don't always work for me, so that's why I'm putting this out there - in the hopes that one of you will give me a magic answer and solve all my decision making woes.(ha!)  Here's what I've come up with:

  • Kismet.  Sometimes a book just calls to you.  You can almost hear it's siren song the moment you pick it up.  When that happens, I never ignore it - I will push aside review copies without a care when a book draws me in like that.  When a book beckons, you listen, because that my friends, is magic.

  • Prioritizing.  This is realistic Micheline, which doesn't pop up as often as she should, but will chime from time to time and be like: Ok, you really NEED to read this review book, mood be damned! Now if only she would show up more often...and if only I listened to her all the time.

  • Multitasking.  That's what I call reading more than one book at a time.  The most I've ever juggled is three, with two at a time being the norm.  I tend to have short attention span so at the beginning, when books are setting up and all that introductory stuff, I can get bored. Having more than one option to choose from can be helpful.  Until one book steals the spotlight and then the other(s) get ignored until I finish the one that captivated me the most  >.<
...into another book that is.
  • Sampling. This is a new one I came up with a few months back. I pick up around 3-5 books I know I want to get to asap, and then I read the first chapter of each one, to see which one will grab me first.  If I still can't decide after one chapter (it's happened only once), then I just start all over again and read the second chapter of each book.  This has been my failsafe method so far, and it hasn't let me down.  The only problem with the approach?  Last time I tried it out, all 5 books grabbed my interest and I couldn't decide which one to stick with. And now I'm currently reading 3...but the other 2 give me side-eyes everytime I walk past them o.O

Those are the methods I've tried to help me decide what book to read next. Which brings me back to you guys: Do you struggle to decide what to read next? Or are you a good reader who schedules books and lets the calendar decide? (-Oh, how I envy you.)  Have you ever used any of the techniques I mentioned above?  Got any new tricks I could test out?  

Let me know in the comments below :)  I'd also appreciate any feedback on my new discussion feature: do you like it? Any suggestions for future discussion topics are also welcome :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Harry Potter MotW #86

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a  meme hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts  and Me @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!  How to join up &  upcoming topics here.

Favorite Book Featured within the Series

Can I pick all of them? For real though, I'd want to pour over from this world...and then start all over again until I could recite them ALL off by heart - like Hermione!  That being said, there are a couple of standouts for me, including:

Hogwarts, A History

Seriously, I never understood why Harry and Ron didn't read this one as many times as Hermione did.  The bits of magical information about Hogwarts that we do find out are worth their weight in gold in my books, so I'd be reading this beast again and again.  I want to know all of Hogwarts secrets and this book^^ seems like the best place to start.


The Tales of Beedle the Bard

I have a never-ending soft spot for this book^^ probably because it was featured in my favorite Harry Potter book, Deathly Hallows, and the fact that it has to do with the Hallows ♥  I really enjoyed the excerpt we got to read through with Hermione and as soon as this one was made available for Muggles, I needed to get myself a copy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #18

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish which features a variety of bookish top ten lists!

Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books

''It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities''

-Dumbledore, Chamber of Secrets, J.K.Rowling

''And then I am going to rattle the stars.''
-Celaena Sardothien, Heir of Fire, Sarah J. Maas

''All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost, the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.''
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Rings

''It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.''

-Dumbledore, Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling

''I am one of billions.I am stardust gathered fleetingly into form. I will be ungathered. The stardust will go on to be other things someday and I will be free.''

-Karou, Days of Blood & Starlight, Laini Taylor

''It is well know that reading quickens the growth of the heart like nothing else.''

-Catherynne M. Valente, Fairyland #1

''Life before Death. Strength before Weakness. Journey before Destination.''

-Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

''It would not take a monster to destroy a monster - but light, light to drive out darkness.''

-Sarah J. Maas, Heir of Fire

''Every second he breathed, the smell of grass, the cool air on his face, was so precious: To think that people had years and years, time to waste, so much time it dragged, and he was clinging to every second.''
-Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

''Words are where most change begins.''
-Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance
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