Let's talk about THE books from Sarah J. Maas -- A Court of Thrones and Roses (#1...aka ACOTAR), A Court of Mist and Fury (#2...aka ACOMAF), & A Court of Wings and Ruin (#3...aka ACOWAR). I read these over the course of last year and the beginning of this year (when ACOWAR came out).
Yes, I enjoy the Throne of Glass series by Maas, but I think I preferred this series (which was originally slated to be a trilogy but now may be a longer series?). I actually think that preference is largely based on HOW MUCH I enjoyed the second book - ACOMAF. A Court of Mist and Fury was such a turn around from ACOTAR that I almost got whiplash. I absolutely LOVED ACOMAF - a five star read in my opinion. It gave me such a book hangover it's not even funny.
I feel like the three books are like a sandwich made out of bread that starting to go stale. It's still a pretty good sandwich...and the middle bit (PB&J or whatever type of sandwich you like) is still really, really good...but the bread is still kind of OK but just not great. Maybe that's a good (if a bit weird) analogy for this trilogy? The first and third books are 2 star books in my opinion. Both have areas where they struggled and failed to keep my interest. The middle book was such a rockstar, though, that it kind of makes up for the staleness though. I had such high hopes for ACOWAR on the heels of reading ACOMAF only to find that it suffered the same stiltedness and lack of character development that the first book did.
It was also rather odd that the trilogy was expanded after Maas already had planned for a trilogy. I am sure she has story enough to fill an expanded story line, however, it's apparent that this was supposed to be a trilogy...and only a trilogy. In ACOWAR we have a sudden introduction of new characters and tension which, I am sure, will be the new focal point now that Feyre's story is complete. I just felt like one could tell that Maas is now suddenly preparing for a larger, expanded story when it probably should have stayed an independent trilogy.
If you are familiar with the Throne of Glass series or are curious about picking up one of Maas's books, may I recommend this series? If nothing else for the express purpose of reading ACOMAF...easily one of my favorite books of 2016.
Read my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses (Warning: it's super spoilery)
Read my review of A Court of Mist and Fury
Read my review of A Court of Wings and Ruin
Rating for the series as a whole:
((This review is originally from 24 Dec 2016 where it was posted on my Goodreads profile...prior to the death of Carrie and her mother. I remember that it was so...surreal...to read Carrie's words while knowing that she was fighting for her life. I was so sad to hear that she ultimately passed away - and then to hear that her mother followed her the very next day. I decided not to change the review to update it as I found so much resonance in reading The Princess Diarist at that time.))
It was rather eerie to read this and hearing that Carrie Fisher had a massive heart attack yesterday (Friday). She has a very conversational writing style so it almost felt like that person who was just talking to you has suddenly fallen seriously ill and may not make it. Best wishes to Fisher for a speedy recovery.
This was my first foray into Fisher's books. She has published many prior to this latest recollection about her time during the filming of Star Wars. The big reveal in this book? It's not really a spoiler since it made the news the day the book came out -- her 3 month affair with Harrison Ford while filming the first movie (Episode IV).
The book was rather odd and seemed to fall into three sections. As I said before, her style is very conversational - almost stream of consciousness.
Unofficial part one was her modern day recollection in her childhood and seeing the effects of celebrity on her mother (Debbie Reynolds). She also touches on the decision to put Leia in the cinnamon roll hairstyle that is so iconic if the character today. Finally she discusses Ford and stresses that it was a three month, one-night-stand.
Part two was her actual diaries from the filming of Episode IV. This was actually the shortest section of the book (or seemed short at any rate). The writing style is drastically different from the first part and discusses a lot of the emotions and feelings one might get while having an affair with a married man.
The final unofficial part was back to modern day with Fisher talking about her seemingly reluctant participation in the convention scene (or, as she puts it, "celebrity lap dances").
While slightly scattered, this was an interesting read that fans of celebrity memoirs and/or Star Wars would probably enjoy.
When I learned that Caitlin Doughty (author of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and YouTube channel host extraordinaire) was writing a second book (From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death), I jumped on that bandwagon. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes was a breeze to read that provided a glimpse into the world of the crematory. With From Here to Eternity (let's call it FHTE from here on out), Doughty now takes a global look at death customs...and the result was pretty intriguing.
In case you are curious, here's the blurb from the back of the book:
Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette- smoking, wish- granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning— including a glowing- Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre— and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.
In FHTE we travel from Indonesia to Bolivia to Japan...and a few places in between...to learn about the various ways different cultures treat their dead and conduct their funerary rituals. This book was a fascinating glimpse into various traditions and cultures that handle their deceased loved ones in a manner that many Americans may find foreign.
FHTE was engrossing to read (just like her previous book) and educational without being too "stuffy". Doughty's personal worldview does come through very strongly as she does not agree with Christian practices superseding native culture/tradition when it comes to how the dead are handled. Her career bias also shines through as she does not hold to the "industry of death" that currently reigns supreme in America but would rather see a return to natural burial across the country.
I would have preferred to see less of a bias presented in the book as it seemed as though Doughty took a few opportunities to take an aside and present her own opinion on religion, feminism/patriarchy, and modern funeral practices. Whether or not I agree with her worldview, I think the book would have been better served to present the cultures' death traditions on their own without a running dialogue of her opinions about how Western religion and the patriarchy have destroyed death culture in various countries. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think there's a way to present that information academically for a publication, but I fear Doughty veered into the "opinions for a blog" territory (...kind of like I'm doing now?).
If you have any interest in death culture/traditions or in the mortuary world I would definitely recommend Caitlin Doughty's books. They are easy to read, entertaining, and provide a fascinating glimpse into a world that is often considered to be taboo.
So...this was unexpectedly amazing. I must confess that I wasn't too excited to read it. I heard a lot of the hype and read the blurb and just thought..."meh?". But, boy, was I wrong.
An Ember in the Ashes (by Sabaa Tahir) is told from two points of view -- Laia, the scholar woman who voluntarily becomes a slave in a last-ditch effort to save her brother, Darin...and Elias, the reluctant soldier who, while top of his class, is desperate to escape the clutches of the evil empire he is sworn to serve.
This book had all the elements I typically don't like or am a bit burned out on -- a potential love triangle, a competition to the death, multiple points of view, etc...
I loved this! I found the story compulsively readable and the characters engaging. Some of the story was just brutal to read, but I'm glad the story wasn't watered down.
Tahir incorporates those elements I considered tired, old but somehow they seemed to fit within the constructs of this plot. I am desperate to know what happens next and am almost glad that I'm so far behind the game on this one.
Everyone has those authors that are "auto-buy" authors. For me, Michelle Moran is one of those authors. She always manages to seamlessly blend history and fiction. When I saw her latest endeavor at the bookstore -- Mata Hari's Last Dance -- I had to pick it up. No questions asked.
In Mata Hari's Last Dance we follow the famous exotic dancer/courtesan/spy through the start of her career up through her tragic end. The story is told by Mata Hari herself and is peppered with flashbacks to her childhood and formative years. We travel Europe with the dancer as she conquers news headlines and hearts and causes not a few scandals everywhere she goes.
Compared to her other novels, I feel as though Mata Hari was a smaller book. I was able to read it in about a day. I don't mind smaller novels, however, I left Mata Hari's book wanting more. She was such a colorful character (to put it mildly) that I couldn't help but want to dive in deeper. I'll confess - I don't know much more about Mata Hari historically other than that she was an exotic dancer/courtesan and accused of/executed for spying during WWI. Moran paints a picture of a woman with a troubled past who's formative years may have shaped her later life and ultimately led to her final fate.
The pacing of this book was...odd? The bulk of the book is spent showing Mata Hari doing what she (I guess?) did best - dancing and seducing. It almost became a bit repetitive until Moran branched off into more frequent glimpses of Mata Hari's past life. Just about the point where I finally felt like we were actually getting a glimpse of the TRUE woman behind the Mata Hari mask, Moran takes the story down yet a different vein - espionage. At this point I was almost 2/3 of the way through the book and the text just seemed to sprint through the final, tragic events in Mata Hari's life.
In the end, I really did enjoy this book. Moran is a master of historical fiction and this book, in my opinion, is no different. Was it my favorite book from Moran? I'd have to say probably not. While enjoyable, I feel like other books contain more developed characters and I always kept wanting Mata Hari to be better fleshed out. Will Moran keep being one of my "auto buy" authors? Absolutely - without a doubt. I can't wait to read whatever she releases next!
It may have been two years of no updates on this blog...but I was definitely still reading. Here is a sampling of the books I read in 2016. Reviews for those are coming - probably one or two a week until I catch up. As you can probably tell...I read a lot of YA and Fantasy in 2016.
...because that's been the only sound on this blog for two years (almost to the day). Time to fix that.
Don't worry...I haven't stopped reading in that year and a half. In fact, I read 87 books in 2016 and I'm holding at 78 books so far this year.
So, what's the plan now? Here are some things (but not all) you can look forward to as I start the wheels moving on this blog again:
If you've stuck around for this long, thank you for your patience. With illness in my family as well as a household move, I have still enjoyed reading...but just haven't had the wherewithal to keep up the blog. I think *knocks on all the wood ever* I am finally ready to dive back into my little corner of the internet.
Keep an eye on this space...more to come very, very soon!
I was waiting for a book to lift me out of my book slump. A book that grabbed my attention from the first chapter and blasted off from there.
HERE IT IS!
Here's the back of the cover blurb:
Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet.
That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.
If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you'd get Deviana Morris -- a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy
I loved this book.
It's light, fluffy science fiction at it's very best. We have Devi Morris who is a tough-as-nails mercenary who takes a job on the most dangerous ship known in order to turbo-boost her career. What she doesn't know is she will meet a mysterious cast of characters - a cook with secrets, a captain who is more than he seems, a captain's daughter who is silent, yet deadly, and many more.
The book takes off quickly and doesn't slow down. I will say that I was not surprised by the "big reveal" at the end of the story. That said, the slight predictability did not deter me from continuing to enjoy this book - I raced to the end, yelled and complained about the cliff-hanger, and almost immediately snagged book #2 for my Kindle.
Great, great read
Cue the ACDC music and pyro -- I'm back!
Almost a year since my last post to this site too. It's been an...interesting...year. Shortly after my last review (October of '14) while celebrating an anniversary we received a cancer diagnosis in my immediate family. It's amazing the effects a diagnosis like this can have on a family who has to watch their loved one suffer through the situation. You grieve even though no one has died. You are angry that everybody else seems fine but your family is suffering. You are angry that your family was singled out to tackle this challenge. You are resolved to help in any way you can...yet you feel so helpless. You are depressed in the face of the huge task before you. You steel up to try to be the pillar your loved one can lean on...yet you cocoon up to try to protect yourself and your loved one.
As I hear stories about cancer survivors (and those who did not survive) I'm even more amazed now at the exhibitions of bravery and strength evidenced by those who have suffered through the various forms of the disease and their families who journeyed with them.
Cancer can really kill any semblance of joy in your life if you let it...even if you aren't the one struggling with the disease. My focus was entirely on the disease and the next steps we had to take to move toward conquering it. I'd like to think I was strong...but I lost it on many an occasion. I'm only just starting to get my "mojo" back to be honest. And by "just" I mean...maybe a month ago I started to feel the layers coming off? I'm starting to read again...starting to vary my hobbies again...starting to begin looking at life as a whole and not just the "next steps" in front of me.
It may take me a while to get in the groove of things again. I'm slowly going to start updating this page...I've also started a blog page called Ishari's Collection that I will link to on this page. Bear with me as I start working on this and check back often if you like. I hope to create an update schedule and be more reliable with my updates as I move forward.
I am so thankful that the cancer in my loved one now appears to be fully gone thanks to surgery and the miracle of modern medicine. We are hopeful now life will continue to go back to "normal"....whatever "normal" truly means.