Monday, September 24, 2018

REVIEW Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm

Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm
Published by Amazon Kindle Publishing Services
Fiction / Fantasy / Fairytale Re-telling


Boy oh boy do I have a doozy for you guys.

I have a lot to say about this book. I wrote pages upon pages of notes and had to make an OUTLINE for this review to get all of my thoughts straight. So I'm just going to go ahead and get into it.

Warning: This review contains some spoilers, but are they really spoilers?

Heart of the Fae by Emma Hamm is a Beauty and the Beast retelling set in Ireland using heavy elements of Irish mythology to drove the fantasy aspect of this story.

It follows Sorcha, a midwife and healer, who still honors the Old Ways and worships the Fae, and her journey to save her family from the spreading blood beetle plague. After striking up a deal with the Goddess Macha, she travels to Hy-Brasil to convince the master of the island to come back to the mainland with her. Eamonn, the master of the island, is a banished Seelie Fae prince who was betrayed by his twin brother, Fionn, for the throne. During Sorcha's time on the island she becomes involved with Fae dilemmas all the while making friends with the Fae residing there, and becoming romantically involved with Eamonn.

The whole premise of an Irish Beauty and the Beast was what drew me to the book. The cover is gorgeous on top of that. The research in terms of the Irish mythology was very well done, and, as someone who works with the Celtic pantheon, I really appreciated it.

Aside from that, not much else about this book was intriguing. The plot, in concept, is interesting, but the execution was horribly lacking. Sorcha's purpose for being on the island seemed to be put on the back-burner to focus on her relationship with Eamonn. The flow was choppy and jarring with constant scene breaks. The most interesting part of the story didn't occur until 80% of the way through when Eamonn's brother finally became a living, breathing character. That was when the threats and stakes actually meant something and when I began to care about what happened. Any long or short term stakes and threats ended up not being that big of a deal because of how convenient everything became for Sorcha. So much happened for her rather than her taking action to make things happen, thus preventing any character growth by allowing her to make mistakes. Oh, you need to find these two twin Fae? Oh, well it just so happens that your neighbor you just ran into is on her way to see them right now! Oh, the island you need to get to can only be seen every seven years? Well it just so happens that it's going to be showing up in just a week! The merrow-men are after you? Don't worry they won't catch up! It takes the adventure out of everything!

Characters


There were very few characters that I cared for and rooted for. But I will be giving a list describing each character and my thoughts on them.
Sorcha: the main character. Sorcha is the daughter of a woman who was burned at the stake for being a witch. She was adopted by a man who turned the rest of his adopted daughters into sex-workers. But he designated Sorcha too special to be one and decided she should be educated and be a healer. She is your stereotypical hot-headed, forward-thinking "strong female protagonist" who will argue with and insult anyone who disagrees with her or is  the slightest bit rude to her. What annoyed me the most about Sorcha's character was how two-dimensional she was. I feel like I've read her character so many times before and the author gave her the yelling match with a sexist character to tell the readers "See? She's a feminist character because she's telling off this sexist pig that she's just as smart as a man is in a society that looks down on women!"

The most feminist characters are the ones where we don't need that told to us. I'm just tired of reading characters like that.  If you have to tell me she's feminist rather than show me an original three-dimensional character growing from her mistakes and just overall being a good person, then I'm not going to believe that you have a "strong female feminist character". What is ultimately supposed to be her flaw only makes her appear stubbornly ignorant, and her desire to see peace over fighting is contradictory to the decision she makes in the end.
SPOILER: the ending is what made me absolutely despise her character. When Eamonn's brother comes to attack she is given information that could ultimately end the slaughter of her friends and save Eamonn. But she decides to not do that because she doesn't want to be involved! How selfish is that?! And then she has the gall to ask her friend how she can stop the fighting! What?! You HAD the chance and even acknowledged it but decided to not do it. This can't be defended by calling it a mistake. That is active, selfish disregard.

Sorcha's family: as mentioned earlier, Sorcha's "father" adopts female orphans and turns them into prostitutes. Ahem, what? We're only introduced to two sisters by name, and there is a mention of twins, but there are apparently more in the brothel that we are never introduced to. I understand that this situation is meant to be represented as sex positive since the girls seem to be content with their lives and profession, but it only comes off as bizarre and kind of creepy. They seem to be living in this unrealistic bubble where they think a wealthy man will come around and take one of them as his wife. In what post-Christian medieval Ireland world would that actually happen? I will speak no further on this subject.

Geralt: I can't believe I actually made one of these for this character. Geralt is the resident Gaston of this book. He is the sexist pig that Sorcha tells off in the author's declaration of her feminist character, who is also in love with her and has proposed marriage to her sometime prior to the book's beginning.  The issue that I had with this character is that we are never given anything else about him.  We don't know why he loves her and has proposed marriage, nor do we have any indication as to what their history is.  Then he never shows up or is mentioned again.  This indicates that this character is only in the book for Sorcha to show off how feminist she is, and to show that she is desired.  He was such a poor excuse for a character and had no other relation to the plot.  His character could have been cut out completely and nothing would have changed in the story.

Manus: Manus is the captain of the ship that Sorcha sails on to get to Hy-Brasil.  He is a swaggering sailor who also honors the Fae.  To me, he was one of the few characters that I actually really liked, and the only character who seemed three-dimensional.  I agreed with him on so many things and didn't blame him for kicking Sorcha off his ship when he realized the sacrifice his men went through (a ton of them dead and dying) just to get her to Hy-brasil wasn't worth getting her to land safely.  I wish he was more of an important character, but of course he wasn't.

Oona: Mrs. Potts as a pixie.  No joke.  That's what her character was.  She was almost a cut-out copy of Mrs. Potts who served very little to the plot.  She moved some things along, but not much.

Cian: Cogsworth as a gnome, but what's the difference?  He served absolutely nothing to the plot.

Bran: I just realized that he was the Lumiere of this story.  Seriously, how many things are you going to pull straight from the Disney films?  I thought his character was interesting at first.  He is half-man and half-raven and can transform completely into a raven when he chooses.  I liked him until he opened his mouth and became the flirty best friend of Eamonn who hit on Sorcha almost every time he got the chance.  Pass.

Eamonn: Eamonn was my favorite character in this book, if I can say I had favorites.  I disliked him the least aside from Manus.  Eamonn is the brooding Seelie Fae prince banished to Hy-brasil by his twin brother, Fionn.  His 'disfigurement' is probably the most unique, original, and fascinating part of this entire book.  What makes him appear 'beastly' are his scars.  However, they are not just ordinary scars, they're filled with crystals.  He has webs of crystals protruding from his entire body.  He is often compared to a giant geode, which I loved the imagery of.  If there was anything I actually loved about this book, it was this aspect.  His personality, on the other hand, I am mixed on.  The Beast character in any Beauty and the Beast retelling is supposed to be, well, beastly.  We are shown very little of this, the only thing being that he has a temper and pig-headedness that rivals Sorcha's and he takes his anger out on throwing furniture during his hissy fits.  He is otherwise a very kind person who looks at the lesser Fae as actual living beings, compared to the other Seelie Fae who use them as slaves.  The issues with Eamonn that I have are his choices.  He keeps Sorcha on the island after she shows up and insults him to his face, throwing her in the hag hut, rather than, I don't know, throwing her off the top of a tower.  Which is what I half expected him to do given what I kind of knew about his personality, but no, he had to keep her around for the sake of the story moving forward.  Darn.  Would have done us all a favor.  Wishful thinking, but oh well.  His motivation into keeping her around was also very weak.  It was literally, "I find her intriguing."

I thought he was the only character who actually grew throughout the whole story, as little growth as it was.  I'll finish his character off with one last thing that I find questionable.  Drunk, non-consensual kiss?  I'm still squinting my eyes about that.

Fionn: Lastly, the brother of Eamonn.  He is mentioned throughout the book, but doesn't become an actual character until 80% of the way through.  He's obviously the bad guy, but I wish we had gotten more of him throughout the book other than just brief mentions of his character and what he did.  The book got 10x more interesting when he showed up because we had an idea of what he could do, and the stakes were instantly raised.  We should have gotten more of him throughout the book to further the plot and keep the stakes raised.

Setting


If I hadn't looked at the map at the start of the book and someone told me this book took place in Ireland, I would have slapped them.  The word 'Ireland' or 'Eireann' was never used.  Descriptors such as a few Gaelic words and "rolling green hills" were the only indicators given to tell the readers that it was set in Ireland.  It's very clear because of this that the setting was not well-researched at all.

To support this further, we are given no time period, nor clear description of what specific clothing looked like.  When world-building, time period and clothing are huge helping factors in developing the reader's vision of the world.  All we can deduce from this is that this story takes place in post-Christianized Ireland, given the mention of churches, no one believing in the Old Ways anymore, and Sorcha's mother being burned as a witch.  However, there is no mention of Christianity at all.  For the longest time, I actually thought this book took place in a fantasy world because there were almost no indicators pointing to the setting taking place in Ireland.

There were also a few missed opportunities when describing Hy-brasil.  This is supposed to be an island stuck between the human world and the Otherworld.  I would imagine it would be somewhat magical.  I felt like the descriptions of the island were very plain, and that may have had something to do with the fact that maybe it was glamoured.  There is a part when Eamonn opens Sorcha's third eye so she can see past the glamour and she describes her surroundings as being more colorful in a way.  We're given a look into the wondrous Fae realm and yet not much of the island is described.  Specific places such as rooms, the hag hut, and the throne room are described in much more detail than the actual island.

On top of this, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts were rather...dull.  I didn't find anything about them terribly remarkable.  This is disappointing considering it's the Fae realm.

Romance


Romance is one of the most important aspects of a Beauty and the Beast story.  You can always expect it in every re-telling but since there are so many re-tellings of this fairy-tale, you need to be able to make the romance unique in order to set the story apart from others.  This book failed in that miserably.  The romance was completely contrived, and nothing about it felt natural nor unique.  The desire started too quickly, and it made any further interactions between Sorcha and Eamonn cringey.  It felt like it was only being rushed in order to get to the cute/steamy romantic stuff.  The growth of their relationship felt forced and their arguments were petty and non-linear, making it just annoying.  Because the romance was so rushed, their relationship seemed based more on lust rather than love.

Writing and Tropes

I said this earlier in the setting portion of this review, but I will say it more clearly here: the amount of descriptions was inconsistent throughout the book.  We would get lovely detailed descriptions of specific rooms, but a passing vague sentence of something that's actually interesting.  This only constitutes into lazy world-building.

When Sorcha reaches the island, she asks Oona a TON of questions about the Fae and Hy-brasil.  We get answers of course, but we're simply being told about all of this world-building rather than having the character interact with it.  She passes by a selkie man, but we're only told that they're troublesome.  We get no physical description of the selkie man, just that Sorcha should stay away from them.  This is an excellent example of the need to show rather than tell.  The best way I can describe this and how it's a problem is by bringing in The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  Cassandra Clare has an interesting world, but has Clary ask so many questions about it just to get the useful information out of the way, and the reader is being dragged along while they're drowning in an info-dump disguised as conversation. It's nothing short of lazy-world building, and half of the information wasn't useful for the reader to know anyway.

The originality of the content is up for debate also.  So many characters are rough copies of characters taken from Disney's Beauty and the Beast films.  Some situations as well.  Eamonn saves Sorcha's life at some point, he surprises her with a larger than life gift.  I'm not saying you can't use some of the same things that help develop character relations, but a line forms when there are just too many similarities that it takes away from your story's originality.

There is also the reveal of too much information about characters the moment we meet them.  We are given Eamonn's whole life story in the first chapter.  Apparently, this information is supposed to be a huge shocker for Sorcha when she meets Fionn.  Why not have Eamonn and his brother shrouded in mystery and have us find out with Sorcha?  The storytelling is lackluster and doesn't allow for anything to come as a surprise.  We don't learn things at the same pace as Sorcha, and because we know so much more information than her it makes everything she does look stupid.

Now...

TROPES


Sorcha is bizarre and strange but still drop-dead gorgeous
Forward-thinking female gets into feminism argument with sexist douche
NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS
Flirty side character
Main Character is favored by all-powerful beings
Almost every creature on the island she comes into contact with loves her and thinks she is so sweet and kind.
         
Okay, that's enough of that.

Editing, Pacing, and Arrangement


I was surprised to learn this book had an editor.  The amount of grammar mistakes is almost embarrassing.  It's clear that this book needed a few more looks over before being published.  This book read more like a draft, like there were still more edits that needed to be made.  There were many scenes and characters that should have been cut from the book for the sake of pacing.  Dialogue was choppy, forced, unnatural, and non-linear.  

One of the details concerning the Fae are actually the names.  If a human gets the name of a Fae it means that they have the power to control them, which is why few actual names are given in the book.  However, there were several instances where names were being dropped when Sorcha should not have known them.  This was careless editing, and I'm surprised it wasn't caught, because it appears several other readers caught it too.  

The pacing at the beginning of the book was all over the place.  It switched between being too slow and too fast.  Around chapters three and four are where it started to even out a little bit, and then it sped up again.  The romance was rushed and turned to desire and lust almost instantly.

There were several scenes that I thought could have been better served in different locations throughout the book.  This is something that is also done in editing, in order to help better introduce or serve characters or serve the plot.  If some of the scenes had been rearranged, the plot and pacing of the book would have been more steady.

Overall Rating

This was one heck of a rating, and I'm sorry it was so long.

My rating:

⭐⭐

Technically, 2.5 stars.

This book had the potential to be great, but it was bogged down by poor editing, a weak plot, annoying two-dimensional characters, and not enough research.  I really wanted this book to be good, I wanted a reason to buy a physical copy so I can have the beautiful cover on my shelves, but the blaring issues I have with it just prevent me from doing that.

What I will say is this, even though Sorcha's decision at the end of the book made me not want to pick up the second book, I actually care enough about Eamonn to be curious about what happens to him.  So I am picking up the next book on my Kindle.  Honestly, if I had a really well-plotted book just about Eamonn (and if he was just a tad bit more developed), I would buy that in a heartbeat.  Sorcha was the one character that just completely ruined it for me.

Once I read the second book, I will be doing an individual review of that one, but then I will make a YouTube video talking about the series as a whole and my overall thoughts on it.

Thanks for sticking with me guys!  Let me know if you've read this book and if you liked it.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

REVIEW Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey
Published by SwoonReads
Fiction / Young Adult / Romance / Regency



I read Cindy Anstey's first SwoonReads novel, Love, Lies, and Spies sometime last year and gave it a glowing review.  After I found out about Duels and Deception being out, I bought it in a haste and waited to find the right time to read it.

You can read my review of Love, Lies, and Spies on my Goodreads page here.

I can say with confidence that I loved Duels and Deception even more than Love, Lies, and Spies

This book follows Lydia Whitfield, a practical heroine who believes she has her future settled and doesn't believe everlasting love would ever find her.  She strikes up a friendship-turned-romance with her lawyer's clerk, the adorable Robert Newton, and together they tackle a potentially scandalous mystery as to who is trying to ruin Lydia's reputation after she is kidnapped.

Fans of Jane Austen, both teen and adult, would find an enjoyable read in this book.  Engaging enough to keep you turn the pages rapidly, charming enough to keep you dreaming of the lovely imagery and fluttering relationship growth of Lydia and Robert, and funny enough to have you chuckling to yourself, this book evokes a flowery and witty voice that you don't find in YA very often. 

The mystery was fun to keep up with throughout the book.  I knew who the schemer was early into the book, but that doesn't mean it was too predictable.  I was still surprised at the end.

All of the characters float off the page and into my imagination with such grace, and I adored Lydia and Robert the most.  Their relationship felt so natural and I enjoyed watching Lydia navigate through her feelings for Robert.  Robert was so pure and adorable while still being dreamy.  As far as Regency heroes go, I put him up there with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Tilney.  I loved him THAT much!

The sub-plots in this book were equally as interesting.  They didn't take anything away from the story and were weaved in flawlessly.

Swoonworthy?  Indeed!!  Lydia and Robert's romantic tension was beautiful!

Overall I give this book:

💖💖💖💖💖

Technically, 4.5 stars!

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a good Jane Austen or Regency romance.  This book is perfect for a light, spring read!  I can't wait to read Suitors and Sabotage and Carols and Chaos next!

Have you read this book?  Let me know what you thought of it below!


Sunday, July 22, 2018

REVIEW A Star of Song!: The Life of Christina Nilsson by Guy de Charnace (Forgotten Books Classic Reprint Series)

A Star of Song!: The Life of Christina Nilsson by Guy de Charnace
Published by Forgotten Books
Non-Fiction / Biography

                           



Christina Nilsson is an 18th century opera singer that unless you are a Phantom of the Opera buff, you probably haven't heard about. The story of a poor Swedish bumpkin being picked up and offered a chance at a life filled with music and operatic future seems like a Cinderella fairytale.

I picked up this book for research; you see, I'm writing a retelling, and I need as much information as I possibly can.  And while I was slightly disappointed by how thin the book was, I'm still happy I got it.

Guy de Charnace gives us a snippet of the beginning of Christina Nilsson's rise from an angelic farm girl into one of the most celebrated opera singers around Europe.

While I was hoping this book would be longer, and a more thorough insight into her life, this little chapter book expands her humble beginnings to several years following her operatic debut in La Traviara at the Theatre Lyrique. With several glimpses into her character, and switches between teachers, we are finally given mass details of the public interest and reaction toward the Swedish girl.
Through many roles she had undertaken we see professional growth, and a reminder than no matter who it is we idolize, even they're not faultless. Several firsthand accounts in this book, describe audience reactions, and even the quality of Christina's voice and acting choices compared to her famous contemporaries.

This was an interesting and somewhat useful insight into the beginnings of Christina Nilsson. As a research tool, this can be helpful to timeline, and even the personality of the ambitious, yet modest, Christina.  I know I will definitely be using it for my book.

Overall, I give this book:

⭐⭐⭐⭐

If this book had been longer and in more detail, I would be worshipping it right now.  But, alas, it will have to do for now as a decent source for my research.  I respect Forgotten Books for reprinting this so that it may be available to those who want to learn more about Christina Nilsson.

Friday, June 1, 2018

REVIEW The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
Published by SwoonReads
Fiction / Young Adult / Thriller / Mystery



I'm a huge fan of SwoonReads and their publishing. I came across this book about a year or two ago in some BookTube videos as an ARC copy. I always thought it sounded interesting, and earlier this year I caved and bought it.

Firstly, the cover is beautiful and one of the main reasons I picked this up. Also, it's Swoonreads, and I am on a journey to read a lot of their books.

This is a mind-control thriller that takes place in 19th century Italy at a ballet school. All of the ballerinas are being controlled by the owner of the school, Master/Cirillo. I love the setting, I think it's intriguing, and I am one for thrillers and the like.

I liked the idea behind this book, I liked the characters for the most part and thought it was a really solid YA book. I thought the descriptions were lovely, and I didn't have a hard time following what was going, most of the time. There were one or two points where I got a little lost and confused.

There was a lot that could have been done with this book, and most of those options I wish had been done. I was hoping for a kind of Phantom of the Opera type book; the young, pretty ballet dancer who has the attention of a dark and mysterious Master. Even if she wasn't at all attracted to him, the creepy/enticing factor could have been played up more. All the other girls seemed to be very attracted to him, which leads for a sense of mystery, and an opportunity to mislead the girls and the main character. There was misleading in the book on the Master's side, but not as much as I was hoping for.

The book jumped into the action pretty quickly, which surprised me, and I was fine with it, but by the middle of the book I wished I had had some more time with the characters and their relationships to Master a little more. He's the central figure and I wish I could have read more of Penny's interactions with him.

Spoiler-ish section:
I just learned that this is a standalone book, and that heavily disappoints me. The motivations for several of the characters were completely lost on me and were never clearly resolved by the end of the book. To give it away, Master and Bianca. Some of the characters, I got their motivations quite clearly, but those two, not so much. And knowing that this is a standalone, I will never never know completely the mysteries behind those two. It ended with me asking infuriating questions.

What was the real reason Master opened a ballet school? Was it purely for experimentation? Was he lonely? Was he trying to manipulate himself the perfect girlfriend? He begged Penny for him to explain, and I really wished she had stayed to get that explanation. And Bianca? She knew what was going on. I wanted to know her relationship to Master and why she remained so devoted to him.

Those are such important questions to just leave the reader with, and it made me kind of mad that I won't find out.

In terms of Swoonworthy? It was meh. The romance and tension could have been played up more between Penny and Cricket, and between Penny and Master.

I give this book:

💛💛💛

I wanted this book to be better, and it was good in a lot of ways, but it left me frustrated at the end because of all of the missed opportunities. I would recommend it to a friend it it was the exact type of book that they were looking for.

Note: For all Swoonreads books I will be using hearts instead of stars!


Sunday, May 27, 2018

REVIEW A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury
Fiction / New Adult / Fantasy / Romance
Release Date: May 1st, 2018


The long anticipated novella to the ACOTAR series!

To start this off, I know why some people don't like it in comparison to the previous books. The plot is subtle, if there at all as some would say. I knew going into the book as soon as I read the premise that this was a bridge book, one to give us some extra information before leading us into the next full novel.

This is what seemed to bother people, because they felt that nothing happened in this book.

Not technically true. In terms of action on the level of, say, A Court of Wings and Ruin, yeah, not much happened. But there were some key points in here and some important information that needed to be separated from the next full novel (there should be a sneak peak into the next book), where, if this had been added into the beginning, it would have just been a weak beginning to a novel. This needed to be its own thing, and, to be honest, I appreciated it.

In this book, it's been several months since the end of the war with the King of Hybern, and the Court of Dreams, along with a few others, have been adjusting. It's close to the Winter Solstice (Yule in Paganism which she respectfully pulls from) and the time to come together and work past the pain and rebuild towards a brighter future feels necessary for Feyre. As High Lady, the first in history, she maneuvers through multiple responsibilities to try to find her place and role in Velaris. Rhysand, Azriel, and Cassian (#bae) struggle to find the roots of a brewing rebellion among the Illyrians, we begin to see more attention on the Archeron sisters and how they are coping with their new High Fae lifestyles, bodies, and place, and we witness additional tension between Rhysand and Tamlin over border legislation now that the Wall is gone.

So, technically, there is quite a lot that happens in this book. The plot just isn't as action-packed and heavy as the past novels. It relies solely on the growth of relationships and finding purpose.

To me, that's far deeper, and more interesting, to read about sometimes. Especially when it comes to characters that you've grown to love and care about. Others probably aren't at that level with these characters yet, and that's fine. I think this type of book was appropriate, even necessary, to have as we continue on to more adventures with these characters. The Hybern plot is over, but there's obviously something brewing in multiple parts of Prythian and the Fae World that will carry on to be huge plot points in the future.

Now that my defense is over, let me go into some of the more analytical aspects of this review.

I always thought that Sarah J Maas did a pretty good job of showing the effects of PTSD, and this one, she expands to show that it does indeed come in multiple forms. In this book, we see Feyre try to find her own release from the trauma, which comes in the form of painting, and ultimately results in the creation of non-profit painting classes for children and their parents trying to cope with the loss of parents in the war, and the horrors they witness when Hybern attacked Velaris.

But the most interesting character to read about in this book, was Nesta.

We begin the learn more about how Nesta is faring following the war, trying to adjust to her new body, life, and situation. Her form of coping with the trauma she experienced is by secluding herself in a hovel in the shady side of town and drinking herself into stupors to the point where limitations mean nothing. She refuses to speak, let alone see, her sisters or anyone from their group despite the upcoming holiday. From a distance, she's being unnecessarily difficult, but looking at it closer, it's understandable. She can't stand to see anyone happy, because why should they be? It's clear she's still traumatized by her transition in the Cauldron, and the death of her father at the hands of Hybrern. And probably immensely embarrassed at the fact probably everyone in the Fae Realm knows about her shielding a dying Cassian from the fatal blows Hybern had in mind for them. Showing affection was never her strong suit, and she views that instance as a reveal of weakness. Cassian sees it differently though.

I'm excited to learn where she and Cassian go and how their relationship develops. It looks like the next book will be focused on them so I'm more than giddy about it at the moment.

The other thing I am interested to learn more about in the coming novels, is Tamlin. Yes, Tamlin the Tool.

He has proved himself to be nonredeemable throughout the past three (yeah three) books. In ACOTAR, glimpses of his possessive nature glimmered in several situations, ACOMAF is self-explanatory, what a douche-bag, and then in ACOWAR he was still an asshole, but kind of came through at the end with saving Rhys's and Feyre's lives. But one good deed does not erase three books of douche-baggery.

In this book, Tamlin is only a shell of his former douche-bag self. Through Rhys's eyes, we see a lonely, disheveled ghost in a torn down palace of his own making. Wanna talk about regret? Yeesh.

He's let literally everything slide, including the enforcement of his borders in relation to the missing Wall, posing a threat to the Fae and humans, and the reason Rhys is there.

In a way, it's satisfying to see Tamlin the Tool swimming in his own regret and buried in the shattered rubble of his pride, but it's also intriguing. I almost want a book describing and guiding us through that descent after the following of ACOWAR. Yeah, it would be depressing as shit, but oh my Gods it would be interesting to read all of those raw emotions.

It's obvious we'll see more of him in future books, since the Wall issue will probably be a huge plot point in future books and he's still a major character. But I want to know one thing: what will ultimately happen to him?

I ask that because of one of the last things he said in this book, and that was: “Do you think she will forgive me?”

There's that glimmer of the regret that his pride will allow him to reveal, even to Rhys, that made me curious as to what would happen to him in the future. He seems willing to just waste away into nothing with nobody by his side. Not that I think he deserves Feyre's forgiveness, but I think there's still growth in Tamlin yet, and I can't tell you what kind I think that is. It's up to SJM now.

Now that I've finished this review that's about as long as the book itself, I overall give A Court of Frost and Starlight:

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Technically 3.5 stars

I think it was a solid bridge that was necessary for this book series as it continues into further books. It's not perfect, and I think with some stronger analytical thinking it's clear that there were quite a few things in here that weren't pointless. It drives the characters forward, and I think if you also read the Acknowledgments section at the end you will see that SJM did struggle while writing some of this. It could have been a little shorter and cleaner, but it was good to read about the growth of some of these characters and where they are in relation to the next book. There's still more to come people, whatever you're waiting to read about, it will likely come in the next couple of books.

If you're the type of person who likes to really read more into characters without necessarily focusing on a mid-to-heavy action based plot, then this will appeal to you. If you don't like that, here are a few of the important things you need to know going into the next book:

Feyre and Rhysand are trying for a child, Rhysand bought Feyre a huge estate, Netsa is a mess and Cassian has been low-key stalking- I mean keeping an eye on her, Tamlin is a mess, no Elain is still not speaking to Lucien, the Illyrians are probably going to start a rebellion, borders aren't being enforced, Morrigan thinks some shady shit is still out there, and Feyre started a painting non-profit.

There you go, you're good for the next book.

And as for the first point, yes, there is a pretty sexy scene in there, it's on Chapter 22. You're welcome. Some people didn't like it, but I thought it was okay.

Look for the next review coming up I don't know when. Currently I am reading A Clockwork Orange and Throne of Glass.

Have a good one!      

Friday, February 23, 2018

REVIEW Pagan Portals - Odin: Meeting the Norse Allfather by Morgan Daimler

Pagan Portals - Odin: Meeting the Norse Allfather by Morgan Daimler
Published by Moon Books
Non-fiction / Spirituality and Religion
Release Date: March 30, 2018



Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an e-reader copy of this book for me to review!

This is a good beginner's guide to understanding the basics of Odin worship.  Anyone, Pagan, Heathen, scholar, or not, would find something useful in this book about the All-Father.  It's brief but still informative if you're looking for a quick know-all prior to more detailed research and practice.  The style was clear and easy to understand aside from a handful of sentences that were confusing.

The last quarter of the book was about current practice for Odin worship, based on the author's research and experiences with the deity herself.  This includes poetry, ideas for offerings, and modern rune practices.  This was, to me, the best part of the book.  She gave an incredible insight into modern Pagan worship and the relationships we form with our deities.

On some more detailed notes, some of the wording throughout the book was repetitive, particularly with the word "complex".  Understandably, this deity (and general Norse mythology) has many branches, family members, and interpretations.  It only slightly threw me off of what I was reading, constantly wondering how it was complex, and of course, never finding out how complex it actually was because the book can only be so long.

Additionally, there were several instances where I questioned, the credibility of the author to write this book.  While no one expects the writer of a beginner's guide to be a wholesome expert, I would imagine the author would have done enough research so that they don't have to write such sentences as "I've also heard X, but I can't remember the source at the moment" or "I'm not an expert in X, so you're going to need to do further research to learn more".  Such sentences could have been omitted, or been thoroughly more researched to provide a reliable source, or even replaced with a statement like "This resource says X, but in contrast, this source says X".  While I don't doubt the research and experiences the author has had and done were extensive, I expected something done with a little more professional finesse.

That aside, the information that was more researched was in-depth and interesting to read about.  Daimler put in all of the information that was essential to know about Odin, and didn't make it seem boring.


Overall, I give this book:

⭐⭐⭐

I would recommend it to a friend who was merely interested in learning menial Odin worship, but wouldn't recommend it for much else.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

National Novel Writing Month: Day 1

(I chose this one for a reason)


Ahoy mateys!  It's been a little while, yes, yes, it certainly has (no idea where that came from).

Like every year since 2014, I am partaking in National Novel Writing Month.  2015 was my shining year when was I was finally able to call myself a winner (and I bought the winner's shirt to reward myself).  Last year, not so much.  I started off and maintained a word count that had me ahead by about 5 days, but the worry of job hunting and starting a new relationship put it on hold.

If you read my last post on my story of winning NaNo in 2015, you know that one of my tactics is 'No Excuses'.  That's the most true statement when it comes to finishing NaNoWriMo.  Do I follow it?  I obviously didn't last year.

However, this year I'm approaching NaNo differently.  I'll go over some of my tactics this year as I go through the journey of trying to accomplish my mission this year.  Don't expect a new blog post every day.  Jeez, don't you know it's wrong to spoil your children?  But every now and then I will post about something I tried this year and whether or not it's working out for me.

Day 1 has concluded with 2,033 words written.  I probably could have written more, but, to be completely honest, work today was not my favorite, and I just didn't feel like writing more.  Don't get me wrong, I'm already ahead of my daily word count, I woke up early and wrote, I wrote a tiny bit at work, and I even wrote a little bit while in the waiting room to see my psychiatrist.  2,033 words on the first day is pretty good.  Last year was similar.  Looking at the stats from last year, though, at the end of week 1, I had over 24,000 words written.  My word count was technically supposed to be at 10,000 words.  So where did it all come from?

During the first week of NaNoWriMo I like to write in sprints.  I have the most energy to write at the beginning of a writing challenge, as I think most people do.  I try to write as much as I possibly can in as short a time span as I can so that further down the line when I reach days when I don't have time or energy to write, I'm not horribly behind.  I may even be able to take a day off if I needed it.  In all truth and reality, what I end up getting on the page is probably worse than the first draft of a tropey YA novel, but word vomit that gets you further than you should be during the first week is better than having 6 days to write 15,000 words due to a concussion you got by putting on a sock (it happens).

You want to be careful not to burn yourself out too much.  I tend to get sick of what I'm writing pretty quickly, especially if I've been obsessing over it for the past month prior to when I'm supposed to start.  But getting in a huge word count in during the first week will allow you a day or two to refresh yourself and your creativity to get back into writing it again.

Will I be able to pull off over 24,000 words in the first week like last year?  No, absolutely not.  Why?  I had no life last November.  I was a recent college grad whose summer and weekend job had just ended for the season, and I spent my days crying over the possibility that I wouldn't have a full time job by the time my parents' health insurance ended, ultimately feeling like I would be a failure and low-life nothing in their eyes and in mine.  It's just dandy being a millenial with depression and a generalized anxiety disorder. 👍  The only great thing was that I was writing, forgetting my woes and troubles by studying Victorian culture, and finally dating again.  Oh, and my favorite author emailed me back the day before NaNo started giving me advice on how to battle writer's block.  That was nice.

In the end, sprint writing has helped me during NaNo.  There is no doubt I'll feel burnt out by the end of next week, but I'll know that I will have a short blanket of time to recover without worrying too much about how far I'll get behind.

Has sprint writing ever helped you guys?  Let me know down in the comments how you like to spend the first week of NaNoWriMo!

Also, I have created an Author Page on Facebook!  Feel free to check it out and give it a like!
https://www.facebook.com/JMKnehr/