Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Page Count: 292
Publishing Date/Publisher: July 3, 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Review: I had a very difficult time rating this book because it had a lot of elements that I loved, and yet the ending did not make the impact on me that I was expecting it to.
I really enjoy reading retellings of classic tales, and this one really takes the cake for originality. I thought that the author very cleverly wove in concepts such as modernization, colonialism, and the proselytization of indigenous peoples into the narrative. She also touches upon some very difficult topics such as abuse, rape, murder, suicide, trauma recovery, and transphobia (for lack of a better word). A lot of these subjects can be gleaned through subtext, so they may not be apparent to every reader. I want to stress that this book is not at all graphic or gratuitous. It simply shows that even in a place as magical as Neverland, darkness lurks beneath the surface.
The author does a really good job of balancing the heavier content with the yearnings of first love. Tiger Lily and Peter’s love is intense and raw, but their naivety adds an element of innocence to it. It is heartbreaking as a reader to witness their struggles as they try to define themselves and what they mean to each other. This book very eloquently shows that although we may not always end up with our first love, they can still hold a special place in our hearts long after we have moved on.
The ending of this book was satisfying in it’s own way, while at the same time feeling a bit rushed. That, coupled with the slow pacing, prevented me from giving it a full four star rating.
Title: Impossible Things
Author: Kate Johnson
Performer: Penelope Rawlins
Length: 13 hr, 34 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2015 by W.F. Howes, Ltd.
Review: I decided to veer away from the realm of Young Adult fiction because most of the audiobooks I want to listen to are on hold. I browsed around for awhile and landed on this audiobook, which was immediately available through my library. I checked it out with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised from the very first chapter. The performer was very engaging, and I was immediately sucked into the story of Ishtaer and Kael.
Ishtaer was an interesting character. She had a lot of depth and her character arc was very profound. She spends most of the book working through her traumas, coming into her powers, and finding the version of herself that was lost through years of abuse and captivity. Kael was a rather cliché character – brooding, fierce, and secretly sensitive – but, I still enjoyed him. I appreciated that this was not an insta-love story, but rather a slow build romance (my favorite kind). Although it was clear that there was going to be a romantic angle, it wasn’t very critical to the plot until the very end. This allowed for a lot more character development from Ishtaer and overall made the story feel more like high fantasy rather than a paranormal romance.
This book lost a star for me because although the author is a very talented writer, her action sequences were short on description and entirely implausible. I was glad to see representation for people with disabilities in a fantasy novel (Ishtaer was blind and her best friend was an amputee), but it almost seemed like Ishtaer’s blindness was used as a literary crutch to explain away things that should have been better described, and this was especially apparent during scenes where Ishtaer was pulling off something heroic. Even so, the book was so engaging and well-written that I was able to look past these shortcomings and love the story for what it was. I will absolutely be reading more books by this author!
Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Page Count: 418
Series: Throne of Glass, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: August 27, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Review: Sarah J. Maas is a truly an exceptional storyteller. These days it seems most fantasy series are trilogies, but she manages to drag her stories into long sagas without becoming boring. Her characters are engaging, her twists surprising, and her plot layering is superb. The only reason this is not a 5 star book for me is because it reads very much like a second book in a trilogy (i.e. setting the stage for a final installment), at least at the beginning. I have noticed this is a common trend in Maas’ writing. She starts out slow and then hits you with a lot in the last 25% of the book. Her ability to write strong endings is what keeps her readers chomping at the bit for more. I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Heir of Fire.
Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Performer: Ariana Delawari
Length: 10 hr, 38 min
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2015 by Listening Library
Review: I like the story of A Thousand and One Nights, so I was excited to read this YA adaptation. I was underwhelmed. This book did not do nearly enough to develop the story or the characters before jumping into the romance. The whole time I was thinking, they have spent hardly any time together, know almost nothing about each other, and yet they are deeply in love. After so many extraordinary girls before her, it is unclear why Shahrzad is the one who gets to live. She tells stories? So what. I personally did not find the stories she told to be that riveting and I was perplexed by the rapid passage of time. She tells one short story and then it’s dawn. Hooray she lives to tell another tale! The king trusts Shahrzad implicitly, but again, why? I just didn’t buy it.
I did enjoy the imagery and I listened to the book in it’s entirety, so I didn’t hate it. I would have loved to see the magic aspect fleshed out better. I saw great potential with that particular storyline, even if it didn’t get a lot of page presence. I am on the fence about starting the next book The Rose & the Dagger.
Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Performer: Amanda Leigh Cobb
Length: 6 hr, 24 min
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 3.1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Recorded Books
Review: I don’t know how this author churns out as many books as she does. With both her Throne of Glass series and this one, she has supplemented her series with interspersed novellas. This novella is much shorter and less action packed than the three full-length books that come before it, and it is focused on the introspection of our main characters as they deal with the aftermath of the great battle with Hybern. It reveals more insight into our main characters and offers POVs that were not present in previous books. I did enjoy the book and the reader, but I found this book to be much soppier than the rest of the series. A lot of focus is put on the mating bond between Rhysand and Feyre, and the rest of the book is more of a snapshot in time as our characters prepare to enjoy a holiday together.
Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Performer: Amanda Leigh Cobb
Length: 25 hr, 8 min
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 3
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2017 by Recorded Books
Review: This book was very much like the two that proceed it in that the plot starts out slow and then later picks up speed. I was never bored during this story, but it sort of annoys me when things work out too perfectly in the end. Sure there was a lot of bloodshed, but I never truly feared for any of the main characters, because they always seem to come through in the end. I was also a little annoyed that Feyre was all of a sudden some sort of master spy and manipulator; however, I was greatly entertained by the shifting allegiances, political maneuvering, and a couple surprising character reveals. This story certainly keeps you on your toes as friends become enemies and enemies become friends. I don’t see a release date yet for the fourth book, but the Throne of Glass series should keep me busy in the meantime.
I was a little surprised that they changed the reader partway through this series, but was even more shocked at how similar she sounded to the woman who narrated the first two audiobooks. At first I didn’t even realize that the performer was different because she did such an excellent job matching the character voices to how the original reader performed them. Amanda Leigh Cobb is very talented, and the switch did not negatively impact my listening experience in the slightest.
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.