A Court of Frost and Starlight – Sarah J Maas

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 12.00.32 PMPublisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Page Count: 272 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

Feyre, Rhys and their companions are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated – scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their court.

A Court of Thrones and Roses is one of my all time favorite series. I own the print editions and have the second and third installments on audio (because we all know the first one isn’t nearly as important or enjoyable – boo Tamlin). I was a bit disappointed by A Court of Wings and Ruin because it felt like some of the magic created in A Court of Mist and Fury had been lost. It didn’t diminish my love for the series as a whole, but it did put a bit of a damper on my excitement about it. Because of that, it was with  guarded excitement that I counted down the days for A Court of Frost and Starlight to be released.  This is just a short novelette meant to bridge the gap between the first three books and the spin off series.

I was finally able to sit down and read it last night (two whole days after I received it, the horror) and breathed a sigh of relief as I turned the final page. I really needn’t have worried, because while nothing really major happened, it felt like Maas found her voice again. It was absolutely wonderful to be back in the Night Court with these characters I’ve grown to love so much. The banter was spot on and so very witty. I laughed out loud several times and read much of the book with a big stupid smile on my face.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 2.23.04 PM.png

Maas wrote ACOFAS from several different perspectives, a few of which we’ve never had before and I absolutely loved it. The chapters are pretty short and follow the characters as they prepare to celebrate the Winter Solstice together, which is very much like a Christmas celebration. They put up decorations, shop for gifts, and take time away from day to day responsibilities to be together. All around those preparations and celebration however, we learn about how all of the characters are coping, or in some cases, not coping, since the war. Some of the plot decisions were frustrating to read, but I know she’s creating conflict and opening up avenues for the new series.

I will say in a **minor spoiler** that Queen Maas FINALLY delivered that wall scene, you know the one.

ms-XNyKuj.gif

I won’t give away any details, but oh my goodness was it HOT. She really stepped up the dirty talk and I am HERE. FOR. IT. I’ve placed it in my top three favorites along with the scene at the inn and basically all of chapter 55 in ACOMAF. I think I loved it so much because it felt like those scenes. There was something missing between Feyre and Rhys in A Court of Wings and Ruin, almost like someone else was writing their dialogue and love scenes. This was not the case here, and I’m hoping she doesn’t deviate again.

Everything considered, Maas set out to deliver a short story to link the two series, and fill in some of the details from after the war and I think she succeeded. And it’s clear based on the final product that she had a great time doing it. At the end of the book is an expert from the first installment of the new series, and after reading it I’m not sure I can bear the wait. It’s clear it will be written from the perspectives of both Cassian and Nesta, but beyond that I don’t know much.  Fingers crossed we get more details soon.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.20.19 AM

Any other ACOTAR fans out there? Gush with me will you?

Advertisements

Circe – Madeline Miller

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 2.56.32 PMPublisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Date: April 10th, 2018

Page Count: 400 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.

I am hesitant to do a review for this book because I loved it so much that I’m not sure I can do it any justice with my words. I’m going to try to jot some coherent thoughts down, but what I really want to do is smash the keyboard for a few minutes to try to convey my excitement.

You guys, this book!

This. Book.

 

I loved every word of it. Every page. Every second I spent reading it. The writing is so incredibly beautiful and extremely quotable. I am going to return to Circe time and time again and lose myself in Miller’s words. I tried to start another book today and read the first sentence about ten times before giving up and closing it. Then I went onto Amazon and purchased Miller’s first book, The Song of Achilles, so I could immerse myself again in her work.

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 10.21.03 PM.png

Then I learned that I could bend the world to my will, as a bow is bent for an arrow. I would have done that toil a thousand times to keep such power in my hands.

Many of the reviews called out fans of Greek mythology as a target audience. I studied Greek mythology in school so I recognized many of the names and stories of the Gods, Titans, heroes, and monsters. While it was fun to recognize and revisit so many of their tales, not having any prior knowledge would not have detracted from my enjoyment of the book. I think anyone who is looking for an epic story full of magic, betrayal, love, revenge, adventure, and intrigue would enjoy the hell out of this.

 

It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.

 

Circe is one of the most compelling and relatable protagonists I’ve read in a long time. She is flawed in so many ways, but somehow manages to turn those into great strengths throughout her life. Her development from a weak child who is an outcast in her own family, to fierce, brave, and powerful witch, ready to do anything to protect what she loves, was a sheer delight to read. And while my love for her would have been enough to make this book shine, I fell in love with so many of the secondary characters as well. There are countless minor storylines happening at once, a backdrop to the main focus of Circe and her daily life, but the threads are never lost. In this, Miller is truly gifted and weaves pure magic with her words.

As I neared the end, I started to panic a little. My enjoyment had built up into something huge and I started reading it more slowly to savor it as long as possible. I was delaying the inevitable, anxious that the ending wouldn’t meet my expectations, but I needn’t have worried. I closed the book with tears in my eyes and could not have hoped for a more perfect conclusion.

Please read this book. Then come back and tell me how much you loved it. And if you’ve already read it, tell me your thoughts in the comments. I’d really love to gush about this one with you.

 

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.20.19 AMFive enthusiastic as hell stars.

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 1.37.17 PM

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publication Date: February 7th, 2017

Page Count: 496 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket: In this gorgeous, page-turning saga, four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew.

“There could only be a few winners, and a lot of losers. And yet we played on, because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones.”

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters–strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis–survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 3.44.34 PM.png

Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.

Pachinko follows several generations of a Korean family after they have fled to Japan because of circumstance and war. The story opens in a boardinghouse in Korea where we meet Hoonie and Yanglin. A marriage is arranged between them, and together, they have Sunja. It is Sunja’s story that takes us from Korea to Japan, after an unplanned pregnancy with a married man threatens to bring great shame on her family.  The consequences of that choice, for Sunja and her children and grandchildren ripple throughout the rest of the book.

In Pachinko, Lee writes of familial love and sacrifice, war and prejudice, perseverance and bravery. Much of the book centers around the female characters and their roles in providing for their families and the strong relationships they develop with one another. She seems to effortlessly weave personal and political details, making every aspect of the book accessible and engaging. She writes about the Pachinko business and what a large role it played in Korean livelihood. She writes about the discrimination the Koreans face at the hands of the Japanese, the repercussions of which continue to impact families for several generations.

One of the first things to strike me about Pachinko was Lee’s writing style. It is simple and sparse and straightforward, but nothing ever feels lacking. She used the same voice whether writing about the most mundane details of a sitting room or describing the death of a character. And as a reader, I was equally enthralled throughout. I found myself relishing in her descriptions of the boarding house where the story begins. She’s also an incredibly efficient storyteller, allowing no detail to go to waste. After just a few chapters I started looking forward to each new detail she added because I couldn’t wait to see how she weaved it in to the larger tapestry of the story.

At the end of this book, Lee includes a lengthy Author’s Note where she describes how she initially got the idea for Pachinko in 1989 and has been working on some iteration of it ever since.

Just let that sink in.

Almost thirty years to create this work, and all I can say after reading it, is yes. Yes, I can absolutely understand how this incredible book took almost 30 years to craft. Yes, I can see the dedication, time, and love in even the smallest details. Yes, this book is absolute perfection. And not only did I enjoy the hell out of it, but I learned so much about a part of history that I had no previous knowledge of. I cannot recommend this enough and I hope I do not have to wait 30 more years for her next book. But if I do, I have no doubt that it will be worth it.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.20.19 AM

(And I’ve added it to my list of top all-time favorites.)

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 3.43.23 PM.png