Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin

This book has more ups and downs than a fairground roller coaster. If you’d asked me at the start to predict what would happen, I would probably have given you a fairly detailed description. But it would all have been completely wrong. So many shock twists that I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash.

Just as you think a character is good, it turns out that he’s not so good any more. But wait, is he really bad or might he actually be good. Sigh. So hard to keep up with, but oh so thrilling.

For 700 pages, this book went by oh so quickly. As I reached the end, I was longing for more. Over the last three books I’ve grown to love Feyre, she is definitely a strong character with her own mind, not content to sit and pine for her gorgeous mate, but willing to risk her life to save everyone again and again. That said, there were times when she was slightly reckless, but things always seemed to work out well for her.

But although I like Feyre running off and being kick-ass on her own, I also loved the times when she and Rhys were talking quietly (or even not out loud at all). You really got a sense of their connection and the more sensitive sides of both their characters. In fact, this book definitely shows you a different side to many of the characters. They’re not all war-hungry and bravado-filled, but they all bring different strengths to this epic fight that they’re undertaking.

And epic it is, so much drama packed into one book. Everytime I thought I was reading what would be the main part of the book, I’d read a bit further and realise that the bit I’d just read was nothing compared to what was coming.

Like the previous two books, this one has its fair share of steamy moments, and I would definitely be in two minds whether it’s appropriate for teenagers, I’d definitely think it’s aimed at older teenagers and young adults rather than a complete teen book. There are also some quite troubling violent scenes that wouldn’t be appropriate for those that are younger.

I think my top five favourite things about this book are:

  1. Feyre and Rhys. Their relationship just gives me all the feels.
  2. Lucien is back. I sorta shipped him and Feyre in the first book, so was glad to see him return.
  3. Well written battles – so many of them! The final battle, I have no words for.
  4. The library. Such a different side to Rhys to see this place where he cares for these abused women with no expectations of anything in return.
  5. Nesta and Elain and Feyre back together again.

I’d love love love to read more stories set in this world, I think the other courts definitely have their own stories to tell. I look forward to see what is coming next.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 699
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 29th December 2017 – 14th January 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.53
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J.K. Rowling – The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The last of the three Hogwarts Library books, and book 52 of the year (hooray!). This was my favourite of the three, it felt more familiar to me and seemed exactly like the books of stories I used to read as a child (minus the magic of course). You can definitely imagine that it would be read by little wizard children, and it’s a very clever set of stories by J.K. Rowling.

The book consists of five short tales, followed by an explanation from Dumbledore about the back-story of the tale or the moral or how well received it was by young wizards. These little explanations really do make the book, as the stories are not always as you would think!

It was nice to finally read the tale of Babbity Rabbity after I’d heard it mentioned so many times by Ron in the Deathly Hallows.  Which of course leads me to my favourite of the tales – The Tale of the Three Brothers.

If you can read this story without hearing it in Hermione’s voice, I’ll be amazed. Having watched the Deathly Hallows so many times, this story felt incredibly familiar, and that’s probably the reason it’s my favourite. While reading it, I could even see the animations in my head.

“There were once three brothers who were travelling along a lonely, winding road at twilight…”

So yes, this was a great book to end the year on. As well as lovely tales, the illustrations were beautiful and it was just a joy to read.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2007
Number of Pages: 109
Format: Hardback
Date Read: 30th December 2017 – 31st December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.07
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J.K. Rowling – Quidditch Through the Ages

Quidditch Through the Ages

Yay! Illustrations! The one thing I thought was missing from Fantastic Beasts, it really helped to complete this book. Interspersed throughout, and still only very crude sketches, I was so happy! I know, it probably makes me a child, but if this was supposed to be a proper textbook (as with Fantastic Beasts), one would like to think it would have even the most basic pictures.

I can’t imagine as a student of Hogwarts, any of the students would have read a textbook which was non-stop text, with the exception of Hermione of course!


Cushioning Charm

I really felt like this read like a real textbook, if I hadn’t known that Quidditch wasn’t a real sport, I would have been utterly convinced (although try telling that to these guys):

Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography

I really appreciated that the history of Quidditch was so thorough, with lovely anecdotes spread throughout to make it super-realistic. As well as the history of the sport itself, it goes into detail on the history of the balls and broomsticks, as well as giving you an overview of the 13 league teams.

I definitely preferred this book to Fantastic Beasts, although again, a full illustrated version would certainly be much better!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2001
Number of Pages: 105
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 30th December 2017 – 30th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.86
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J.K. Rowling – Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Considering this has been out for so long and been sitting on my shelf pretty much since it was released, I can’t believe I haven’t read it properly. I think I flipped through it quickly when it was bought, but it didn’t have a ‘read’ date on Goodreads. And since I have 2 days left to read 3 books in my 2017 challenge, it seemed like this would be perfect.

I found this book quite informative, reading a bit more about creatures you hear about during the Harry Potter books/movies. I do wish I’d read it properly before I saw the Fantastic Beasts film though as I would have had more of an idea what the creatures were.

My main complaint with this book was that it was just text. I know there’s now an illustrated version, but I did think there might have been some sketches in of some of the creatures and I found it a bit disappointing that there weren’t. I did, however, like the little doodles that had been ‘added by Harry and Ron’. Like this delightful one:

Childish but fun nonetheless.

Being so short and with such large text, it was a quick read and quite pleasant, but I think I will enjoy the illustrated version much more!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2001
Number of Pages: 123
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 29th December 2017 – 30th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.96
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Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury

It’s official. I’m not the smartest person. 3 days to go on my 2017 book challenge and 5 books left to read, and I go and pick a book that’s more than 600 pages long. Unfortunately I think that might have tainted my appreciation slightly as I was so annoyed with myself, but I’ll try not to let that affect my review!

We left the first book in this series in a really interesting place, Feyre had returned to the spring court with Tamlin, but bound to Rhys for one week a month as part of the bargain for saving her. Regardless, Feyre is happy as it means she can be with the love of her life. And of course the small matter that Feyre is now an immortal Fae, a conversion necessary to stop her from dying.

But quite quickly, the dream with Tamlin shatters, as he leaves her alone in the house for long periods of time, won’t let her join in with anything more dangerous than eating her lunch, and then resorts to locking her in the house to prevent her from leaving.

But still, she loves him and is going ahead with the plans to marry him as soon as possible. But of course, Rhys isn’t happy with those plans and turns up in the middle of the ceremony to take Feyre away to the Night Court. But this seems like it may be a blessing in disguise, as Feyre soon realises that her life with Tamlin was no life at all.

But her life with Rhys is about to get much more complicated, and much more dangerous…

I won’t go too much further into the plot as I don’t want to give away more spoilers than I already have, but all I will say is that this book for the most part feels action packed all the way through. There were a few times when it felt like it was going a bit slowly, but those parts didn’t last long.

I stand by my comment on my review of the first book in this series that although this might be a ‘young adult’ book, it’s definitely not aimed at the younger end of the spectrum. There’s quite a lot of graphic content in there which wouldn’t be appropriate.

And the ending. Wow, the ending. Nothing that I expected at all and leaving my thirsting for more, desperate to know what Feyre and Rhys will do next. I’m so glad I have the third book in this series checked out of the library already so I don’t have to wait, although I think I’ll wait a couple of days til the first of January so I can complete the last 3 books of my challenge first!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2016
Number of Pages: 626
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 28th December 2017 – 29th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.71
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Lauren Graham – Talking As Fast As I Can

Talking As Fast As I Can

I was a late-comer to the world of Gilmore Girls, I’d heard of it of course, but only started to watch it when it came to Netflix last year. And what’s not to like, a program about an independent woman and her equally independent daughter, who just so happens to love books…

I binge watched the whole thing on Netflix in a matter of weeks, so when I read that Lauren Graham had written an autobiography that obviously covered her time on Gilmore Girls and the reboot, I knew I wanted to read it.

While reading, it was hard to tell the difference between Lauren and Lorelai, they seem to have very similar personalities, bubbly and chatty and unable to stop talking. This  felt more like a nice chat with a friend over a glass of wine than a 200+page book, I read the whole thing in one go, staying up til after 1am to finish reading. In fact, if I’d read the back of the book before I dived in, I would have read this, which couldn’t have been more true:

This book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

If you ever watched the Gilmore Girls, I would definitely recommend this as a lovely sneak peek inside that world, as well as finding out more about what makes Lauren tick and what lead her to Lorelai.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2016
Number of Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 27th December 2017 – 27th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.02
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Jenna Lucado Bishop – Love Is…

Love Is...

Now that I’ve finished this book, I have mixed thoughts. It was supposed to be read as a six week bible study, but I read it as a more intense read in just two days, so it may be partly my fault, but I do think that there wouldn’t have been enough content to keep me interested for six whole weeks.

I did, however, love the premise of the book. Aimed at teenagers, it’s a redefinition of what we think of the word ‘love’. It’s not the smushy proposals we see in films, or big grand gestures, but in actuality, love is a person: Jesus Christ.

Over the course of the book, we see how Jesus shows examples of love through six different interactions, including Jairus and his ‘dead’ daughter, and the bleeding woman who had such faith that just a touch of his cloak healed her.

It seemed like the content of the book was well researched and claims were backed up with references which I really liked. But I found the tone of the book a bit too casual, it was very conversational as if you were sat in the room with the author, which was a bit off-putting for me – others may like it though!

The other thing that annoyed me a little was the fact that the bible verses being discussed weren’t printed in the book.  None of them were particularly long, but it meant that I had to keep my Bible open at the same time as well. Not so much a problem when I’m reading at home, but if I had been reading this on the bus to work, it would have been frustrating to say the least.

I’d still recommend this book, but I’d say maybe read it over a longer period of time than I did. Maybe not 6 weeks, but over six sessions perhaps.

My Rating: 3/5
Year Published: 2013
Number of Pages: 144
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 26th December 2017 – 27th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4
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Sarah J. Maas – Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass

I think the fact that I started this book 3 weeks ago probably gives you a good idea what I thought of it. It was only 400ish pages long, but it felt like a long hard slog to get to the end. The plot was just really slow and it felt like there was a lot of emphasis placed on certain areas and others were just skipped over entirely.

To say that the main plot line was a series of tests to determine the new King’s Champion, there were too many times where the entire test was skipped over in a single sentence telling you who had been eliminated, which felt like a bit of a cop-out – give me some action please!

That, of course, left much more time for the stupid love-triangle slash will-they won’t-they series of events which seriously dragged the book down in my estimation. I prefer my female leads to be a bit more kick-ass and a bit less doey-eyed than Celaena was, and more than once I just wanted to give her a kick up the backside and tell her to pull herself together.

It also felt like it took way too long into the book before any ‘real action’ started, it must have been over halfway before I felt it pick up – this is probably the main reason it took 3 weeks to read.

When I started reading, I reserved the next 3 books in the series on my library e-reading app so that I could go straight on to the next ones without waiting, but after 2 weeks of reading and not even getting to 50% through, I returned the others so someone else could have a go. I may come back to them at a later date and see if book two can pick up the pace somewhat, but for now I want to read something more compelling!

My Rating: 2/5
Year Published: 2012
Number of Pages: 416
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 6th December 2017 – 6th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.23
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Mayim Bialik – Girling Up

Girling Up

I wasn’t sure what this book really was about when I asked for it for Christmas, but I like reading books by strong independent women, and Mayim Bialik is one of those to me. Not afraid to speak her mind and to practice her religion (she’s Jewish) without fear of being judged. I just wanted to read what she’d written to see what it’s all about.

As it turns out, this book was a book about puberty and growing up as a girl (hence Girling Up), and was aimed at pre-teen and teenage girls. As such, it was most definitely not the right kind of book for me, and (thankfully) I didn’t learn anything from it, but I can see how it would be perfect for young girls.

The whole facts of puberty were laid out plain in a matter of fact way (no shying away from more sensitive subjects including sex), but written in a way that would be really accessible to someone young and inexperienced. As well as dealing with the physical changes, Bialik also talks about the emotional changes too and weaves her personal experience throughout the book to let you know that you’re not alone.

All I can say is, I really wish I’d had this book when I was 11, 12 or 13, it would have answered so many questions that I had which weren’t answered clearly for me for a long time after I should have known the answers!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 192
Format: Hardback
Date Read: 25th December 2017 – 25th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.78
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Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses

I was recommended this book by one of the girls at the youth group I run on a Monday night. She’s only 12 so I had been putting off reading the book as I thought it might be a bit juvenile, but she’d mentioned it so many times that I thought I might as well give it a go.

I actually was pleasantly surprised. Unlike some of the reviews I’d seen on Goodreads, I found that the plot was well paced and not too shallow for a young-adult book. In fact, the girl at my youth group had mentioned that her mum wouldn’t approve of some parts of the book if she read it, and I can kind of see why. There was some adult language, and a couple of adult scenes. but they were quite mild really – I guess they just feel naughty when you’re young!

I spent the whole book waiting for a love triangle to start, and was so pleased when it didn’t. I find it quite annoying when you read young adult fantasy books and they all seem to have an infantile love triangle in just for the sake of it. It makes them very same-y and predictable.

I found Feyre to be quite a strong female character, willing to risk her life to save someone she loved. And then later on, willing to risk her life and that of her loved one to save the whole faerie world.

When I got to the end of the book, I was so looking forward to diving in to the second book, and was so incredibly annoyed to find out that I’d accidentally reserved book 1 and 3 on the library app but forgotten to reserve book 2, which has now been checked out by someone else.

Looks like I’ll have to wait until after Christmas to carry on reading. In the meantime, I’ll move on to the author’s other series – Throne of Glass. I’ve heard mixed things about this series – it’s won lots of awards but my best friend said she found it disappointing. We’ll see!

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2015
Number of Pages: 432
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 4th December 2017 – 6th December 2017
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.28
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