Title: A Court of Mist and Fury
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Performer: Jennifer Ikeda
Length: 23 hr, 16 min
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2016 by Recorded Books
Review: This book took the momentum from the first book and catapulted it to even greater heights. Feyre grows so much as a character. She suffers from severe PTSD and much of the book is focused on her journey of healing. She demonstrates how our wants and needs can change as we evolve and that people in our lives can either serve as hindrances or catalysts to this change.
Rhysand fans will be very happy with the events that transpire in this book. The ending was a bit frustrating, but Maas does an excellent job of setting the stage for the conflict that will driving the next books in the series.
Oftentimes the second book in a series is a bit of a bore as it lays the foundation for subsequent books, but I did not feel this way at all with this book. It was emotional, romantic, thrilling, and utterly unputdownable.
My only gripe about this book, and this series in general, is Maas’ near constant use of certain words…male, snarl, growl, etc. It didn’t bother me enough to lower my rating, but I did find myself rolling my eyes from time to time as the words resurfaced over and over again.
Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Performer: Jennifer Ikeda
Length: 16 hr, 7 min
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2015 by Recorded Books
Review: For diehard fans of Beauty and the Beast *cough**me**cough cough*, this was a delightfully unique retelling. It had a bit of a slow start, very much unlike her Throne of Glass series, and slowly picked up speed until it reached it’s heart-pounding conclusion. I honestly didn’t think I was going to give it more than 3 stars for the first half of the book, but the last 25% of the book was epic enough to make me reconsider my rating. It’s very easy to see the influence of the Beauty and the Beast tale in this book, however, based on the conclusion, the next book in the series will more than likely be moving in an entirely different direction.
My favorite character by far was Rhysand, and it makes me very excited that he will play a central role in the second book. Maas seems to have a thing for building interesting love triangle-y sort of situations, and it does not seem that this series will be an exception. Rhysand is clearly the polar opposite of golden boy Tamlin, which should make for an interesting rivalry.
Jennifer Ikeda is a great reader and I enjoy her narration. I look forward to listening to the next book!
As a side note, my library categorizes this book as Young Adult Fiction, but I think it is more like New Adult Fiction. It is one of those books that hovers in the gray area and is hard to categorize. The sexual content is pretty graphic, which is not typical for the Young Adult Fiction genre, especially in the realm of Fantasy.
Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Page Count: 392
Publishing Date/Publisher: May 7, 2019 by HarperTeen
Review: I have not yet read The Poet X, but I’ve heard enough hype about it that I was excited to get my hands on Acevedo’s newest novel. I have a feeling this book will also be widely acclaimed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it too is nominated for a Printz Award.
This book conveys many positive messages about family, identity, hard work, and following your dreams. I thought the whole thing was very smartly packaged and it’s short chapters will make it very appealing to reluctant readers. In fact, I would say this book could be categorized as a hi/lo reader (high interest, low reading level) for teens.
Although I was well past my teens when I had my first child, I shared many of the same feelings of inadequacy and frustration that Emoni struggles with throughout the story. As a full-time librarian, I often feel that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with my son. It is incredibly difficult to balance work and family, and Emoni has the additional pressure of school and being a single parent. While many teenagers must make difficult decisions about college and the future, Emoni’s responsibility to her daughter makes the stakes so much higher. I really like the direction Emoni’s character chooses in the end, and I hope it encourages others to follow a similar path.
I loved the fact that each part of the book is prefaced by a recipe. This book really got me hyped to try new things in the kitchen, and really changed the way I think about cooking as a whole. Very inspiring!
Title: After We Collided
Author: Anna Todd
Performers: Shane East & Elizabeth Louise
Length: 19 hr, 16 min
Series: After, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: November 25, 2014 by Simon & Schuster Audio
Review: I almost never DNF books, especially not audiobooks, but three hours into this one and I had to stop to retain my sanity. Not even ten minutes in and I wanted to tear my hair out in frustration. As I stated in my review of After, I was strangely enthralled by the story, but the cooling off period between finishing that book and starting this one finally allowed me to see reason. Tessa and Hardin’s relationship becomes even more toxic in this next book and the back and forth drags on and on. It was just too much drama and not enough substance. I can officially say I am done with this series.
Title: Lonesome Dove
Author: Larry McMurtry
Page Count: 858
Series: Lonesome Dove, Book 1 (Book 3 chronologically)
Publishing Date/Publisher: June 15, 2010 by Simon Schuster (originally published 1985)
Review: This book was a slow burn for me. I didn’t love it at first, but somewhere in the middle I started to. I would caution readers, however, that this is essentially the Western equivalent of Game of Thrones. If you cannot stomach violence, abuse, and sudden death, this is not the book for you. It felt like every time I would grow a deep attachment to a character, they would die in some horrific way. What I really enjoyed about this book though is how well the author interconnected all the characters at some point in the novel. His writing had a very satirical tone, and he really brings to light the fickleness and folly of human nature. Everyone is driven by something, and in such a gritty world, many are driven by basic human need – food, water, sex, and companionship. Some characters have more complex motivators, but in the end, you are left with a sense that their efforts were all for naught. It is frustrating and fascinating at the same time.
I found the ending of this book to be a bit perplexing. I was satisfied by the ending in one sense, but I tend to like books that have a definitive end. This book seemed to cut off in the middle of a conversation between two characters. It was an interesting choice, and I wonder why the author chose to end it in this way. Nevertheless, it is easy for me to see why this book is revered as a classic and considered a cornerstone of the genre.
Title: The Everlasting Rose
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Performer: Rosie Jones
Length: 10 hr, 19 min, 4 sec
Series: The Belles
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2019 by Blackstone Publishing
Review: After being completely enthralled by The Belles, I was very excited to check out this audiobook. I eagerly waited weeks for my turn in the holds queue and when I finally got it, well I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t nearly as good as The Belles. I still enjoyed it immensely – the author really has a poetic way with words and I could listen to the reader to all day. Rosie Jones could narrate the dictionary and I probably wouldn’t be able to stop gushing about her talent.
Unlike the first book, the plot of this book is incredibly drawn out. The first 80% of the book was essentially just Camille evading capture, and it didn’t get really juicy until the end. Although Sophia is still the villain of this story, she was only present from afar for most of the book. Part of what really made the first book special was her direct role in the plot development.
The conclusion of this book was very satisfying. I was actually a bit surprised when I saw on Goodreads that there is a third book scheduled to be released sometime next year. Perhaps it will focus on another character? It really felt like Camille’s story was wrapped up nicely, and there were not a lot of loose ends, if any, left to be addressed. All I know is that I will definitely be checking it out, because I enjoyed this world well enough to be immersed in it a little longer.
Title: Blood and Sand
Author: C.V. Wyk
Performer: Brittany Pressley
Length: 8 hr, 58 min, 58 sec
Series: Blood and Sand, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by MacMillan Young Listeners
Review: I really enjoyed the first half of this book because I thought the author did a great job introducing the time period, setting, and characters. The second half of the book is where she started to lose me. I would say that this book is more strongly categorized as historical fiction rather than fantasy. I typically enjoy both genres immensely, but I hesitate to even call this fantasy. It’s more like unrealistic historical fiction. The only thing that could qualify this series as fantasy was how preposterous the fight scenes were in the second half of the book. One scene in particular, the most pivotal in terms of driving the direction of the story, was a monumental disappointment because quite frankly it made no sense. The fallout of this particular scene was equally disappointing. A lot gets thrown at you at the end, and the puzzle pieces just fit together too perfectly to be realistic.
All criticisms aside, I think that Wyk is a talented writer and I enjoyed enough things about this book to continue with the series when the next book is published.
Finally, I thought the reader for this eAudiobook had a nice voice, but in my opinion wasn’t well suited for this particular book. I’ve heard her narrate other books and liked those performances far more than I did this one. Perhaps this is because I did not care for the character voices and accents she chose for some of the main characters, particularly Attia.