A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Ugh.  I would not have made it through this book if it weren’t for the constant encouragement by my trusted book-loving friend Kelly.  She insisted it got better, and while she was right, it took 250 pages to get there.

I honestly don’t know why the first 250 pages existed.  I mean, I do, but they were so derivative and repetitive and blegh.  It’s a stereotypical Beauty and the Beast story, except like….without any of the fun drama and disgust captured far better by Cruel Beauty or The Hollow Kingdom.  They fall for each other far too quickly, and they’re both attractive, nice people….isn’t the whole point of the fairy tale the fact that at least one of them is a little bit beastly?

HOWEVER.  Things make a turn in the last third of the book, and I enjoyed the ending so much I almost find myself looking forward to a sequel.  Things got darker, more complex, and a lot more interesting.  I wish the whole book had been that way!  Continue reading

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Apparently, I’m really into unapologetically other mythical creatures.  I’m glad we’re trending away from nice vampires and friendly werewolves.  The fun of fantasy comes from the collision of two cultures that are truly dangerous to each other.  Black’s faeries are wild, passionate, and creepy.  Fairfold is a place of changling babies, drowned tourists, and missing persons.  Despite this, the humans are tentatively accepting of their faerie-surrouned world…until the sleeping prince wakes up and everything falls to pieces.

I love Black’s high-stakes world of debts repaid, female knights, and sibling support.  The Darkest Part of the Forest was entirely engrossing from page 1.  Hazel was a super cool protagonist whose eccentricities are fleshed out as the book progresses?  What makes a girl desperate to become a knight while kissing a bunch of boys on the side?  She’s not a Mary Sue character–she’s got reasons for her actions, and I loved seeing them explored.  Her brother Ben is also amazing.  I really enjoyed the gender swap dynamic wherein the older brother feels secondary to his younger, battle-ready sister.  Continue reading