I know I am so late to the party! Why? Because I am posting a “What I read in May 2019” post and tomorrow is the 1st of July! Better later than never, am I right?! Especially because May was a good month for reading I must say! So, without further ado…
What about you pour yourself a cup of tea and eat some macarons while you are at it!
A Court Of Wings & Ruins – Sarah J Mass
|Author: Sarah J Mass
Published: May 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 736 pages
Synopsis: Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit―and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords―and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
My review: To be 100% honest, I did not read this book in May. I may, I did, because I re-read it in May. But I have read it plenty of times before. It is just a favorite of mine that I could read again and again, and thus, needed to talk to you about it.
I have one negative point which relates to the lack of POC characters in the novel, or, when present, do not really have a voice nor as much importance as the other characters. However, beyond that, a flaw which I hope will be corrected in the new series following this book that is to come, I have absolutely loved this book! The writing is beautiful, fluid, easy to read. The characters are so funny, with different personalities. The relationships, whether love stories or friendship, are never described in a cheesy way, but more in a very relatable and realistic way. By that, I mean that relationships are never easy and require a lot of work to work, even in books. The humour is on point, the come backs are witty, I could definitely see my friends say things like that. But most of all, it is the fact that it is never ever all black or white that really made me love the book so much. Vilains are not vilains because they were born that way. Good guys are “good” in their intentions but might just be as bad in the getting there. We see that even more in this third book, where, Feyre, the main character, who is back at the Spring Court and, with the intentions of a “good guy”, act like the perfect vilain. We know she is not the vilain because we’ve been following her and we know why she is there, what she is doing and why. BUT… to everyone else in this court, she could be a vilain. And as this blows to her face later on in the book, she needs to take responsibility for what she did.
I loved this book so much that I could literally write a whole article about it, but I will stop myself there! The book ended with a lot of questions unanswered which is both frustrating and great. Because I want answers. But also because it leaves the door open for the already announced next trilogy in the series!
Ash Princess – Laura Sebastian
|Author: Laura Sebastian|
Published: April 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 448 pages
Series: Ash Princess
| Plot: 4/5|
Synopsis: Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner. For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield. For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
My review: The book attracted me mainly, because of the synopsis and the idea that the main character had no magic nor special ability to help her in her task. She just had her brain and wit, which I found refreshing for a fantasy novel. I did found the first half of the book quite slow with a flow that was not always natural. However, I guess that is what happens with first books of trilogies, with setting up characters, plot, etc. Yet, when the plot starting to accelerate, it did become quite intense and I was not able to put the book down. I wanted to read to find out more, know what was going to happen. The suspense was such that there was no way to guess the outcome of an initiative until the very last minute of the realization of such initiative. There was enough mystery and suspense to get me hooked to the book early on and when I finished it, I really wanted to read book two.
As for the characters, they sometimes seemed a bit cliché and I was really afraid to fall completely into those cliché, but the author avoided that really well. We had a 16 year old heroin who had the maturity of a 30 year old woman due to her life experiences so I also think this book could target anyone who loves fantasy between 15 and 35. I was a bit disappointed when a secondary character came out as gay as it was just revealed very suddenly but never spoke of again. As if, it was there to add your token LGBTQ+ character. I was expecting more development on that.
However, overall I loved this book. I must confess I found the plot a bit farfetched. I know it is fantasy so I know there are no rules. But I found it a bit odd that a king who conquered so many territories would be fooled like this by a 16 years old and her accomplices. However, again, this is fantasy and there are no rules. That’s a read I really recommend for YA and fantasy lovers!
Thief of Lies – Brenda Drake
|Author: Brenda Drake|
Published: January 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 400 pages
Series: Library Jumpers
| Plot: 1/5|
Synopsis: Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels-magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books-rescue them from a demonic hound.
Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.
My review: I had such high hopes for this book. The summary had me sold: fantasy, books, libraries, magic. All you need for a brilliant YA book. I don’t think I was that disappointed in a book in my entire life. To be 100% honest, I was not able to finish it. I bought it back in December, stopped reading, that started again in March, stopped again, to give it one last chance in May. Nope.
I am not very fussy. If you give me a good writing style with endearing characters, even if the plot is not very exciting, I will still read through the book, even have a nice time doing so. Many things can offset flaws in a novel. But here… I could not see any… The writing was very childish and bland, with no description of what was happening beyond what was happening, making it very hard to see logic connections between each action. Events were occurring out of nowhere and so suddenly all the time, and the characters did not seem to find anything surprising. Talking about them, I have found them very cliché. The heroin is a Mary-Sue who knows everything, is the most clever, or how to control her newly found magic straight away. Her love interest is the typical arrogant bad boy with too much swagger for his own good, an uncontrollable need to protect her, and a dark past. The female characters are always in conflict for absolutely no reason but to reinforce the stereotype that wants women to be unable of friendship. Everything is such a big cliché.
The last straw however, was this reductive, outdated, guilt-inducing and so out of place view of sexuality. The girls “must stay pure until mariage” (yes, that’s the actual sentence in the book) was there just to make a point, added nothing to the plot, and was never mentioned again ever. I am not stranger to American authors being prudish when it comes to sex in their books, but never have I seen an opinion on the matter expressed like this. And I find it inappropriate in this context and guilt-inducing.
Girls Of Paper And Fire – Natasha Ngan
|Author: Natasha Ngan|
Published: November 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 400 pages
| Plot: 5/5|
Synopsis: Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
My review: I thought the beginning of the book was a bit slow and as I read, I was very afraid of the storyline falling into so many clichés. But the writer avoided that every single time. Although the wider context of the story pissed me off from day one. Men basically kidnapping women to become courtisans in the king’s harem, and all the double standards those women were subjected to. Sorry to be so sibylline but I can’t tell more without spoiling the plot altogether! I love how the plot accelerated and how we could never guess what was to happen. I felt so many emotions while reading this book – from impatience, to frustration, powerlessness to relief, etc. All the characters were very different from each other and it was refreshing to see that many good female characters. They are also almost all POC, which again, isn’t something you see often in novels, even less in YA fantasy. And, it is the first YA novel I read where the central couple is LGBTQ+. And I loved how the relationship unfolded, how I spotted all those tiny elements and details that lead to the two characters coming together. However, the relationship, although important in the plot, was not the main focus of the storyline. It helped create an atmosphere of mystery and secrecy, heightened suspense and had you hooked to the novel.
Once I started, I could not stop reading. The writing is beautiful, the characters so diverse and deep, the relationships so relatable and natural. The book touches very sensitive topics as well (kidnapping women to become part of a Harem against their consent), never judging or speeding treatment of those issues by the characters. It was great to see so many women with different strength and weaknesses together. The second book is coming out November!
What about you? Did you read anything exciting in May? Or lately? Did you know of or ready any of the books in my May 2019 reads?
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