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No post this week :(

I don’t have many followers, so I’m not sure if this post is even needed, but I just wanted to let those who do follow me know that there won’t be a post this week. My depression sunk its claws into me over the weekend and still hasn’t let go. I planned to review the next book in the ACOTAR series – A Court of Wings and Ruin – but sometimes the plans in my head don’t align with the rest of the stuff going on in my head. *shrug*

I will try my best to have that review ready Monday November 2nd with a review of the trilogy as a whole (and a bonus review of A Court of Frost and Starlight!) later that same week.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you next week!

Book Reviews

A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas: A Review

Summary

After defeating Amarantha and saving the Fae, Feyre is back home at the Spring court and ready to start her life with Tamlin. But adjusting to her new, unfamiliar Fae body and to her new role as Tamlin’s lady isn’t as easy as she thought. The nightmares she faced Under the Mountain haunt her days and nights, and Feyre becomes a shell as she tries to work past the horrors of her trials.

Feyre hasn’t forgotten her bond with Rhysand, High Lord of the dark and mysterious Night Court. Nor has he. As she spends more time with him, she learns more about him and his court, herself, and how she fits into his dark, glittering world. As an old threat resurfaces, Feyre will need to decide where her heart lies and will need to prepare it for battle once again.

Overall Story

I’m going to admit something right now that maybe I shouldn’t, but I was a bit bored with this book. Or at least I was during most of the first half.

And I almost started to feel bad about it because I loved the first book so much! A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) was well-paced with great action and a clear plot. There were surprises that kept me interested and on the edge of my seat, but I could still easily follow along with where the book was leading me. A Court of Mist and Fury was very different. It went from a plot-driven style of writing to a character-driven style and the flip-flop was unexpected.

The direction of the story was a bit unclear in the beginning, and even all the way up to the halfway point. Whereas ACOTAR had a relatively straightforward plot line (which I appreciated and really liked) with each action and development leading to the ending in a well-paced and steady manner, I really had no idea where this book was going. There was so much time spent on Feyre’s inner monologue and feelings that I didn’t even know what the plot was. And I really didn’t like that. Not right away anyway.

But the more I though about it, the more I could appreciate Maas’ decision to go that route. Again, we’re seeing this world through Feyre’s eyes so it made sense that things would be quiet and bleak and broken because Feyre herself was like that after the events in the ACOTAR, and for good reason. She wasn’t in a good place mentally and emotionally and therefore sees things colored through that darkness.

The action and plot do start to pick up in the second half as we learn more about the feared Night Court and its inhabitants, get more history about the Fae world, and of course, find out what the villain’s plan is. And once again, there were delightful and unexpected surprises in the ending that left a wide-open path to the next book in the series.

Character Notes

There was significantly more time spent developing the characters in this book than in its predecessor. ACOTAR was more plot-driven and so it focused on that and sacrificed on giving its characters depth for the most part. Characters were just being introduced and we were left with mostly surface impressions. A Court of Mist and Fury delved past those surfaces into hidden traits, passions, yearnings, and histories. That is where this second book really shines.

We start to see the reasons behind why the characters are the way they are. Why Tamlin is so protective. Why Rhysand is so mysterious. With first-person perspectives it can be difficult to adequately give insight into other characters’ internal thought processes and motivations, but Maas does this well. Feyre learns about these traits through conversations with other characters and it is done in a natural, realistic way.

The book also focuses more on the relationships between characters and how they interact with one another. Not just how they know the other characters and what their histories together are, but also the dynamics of those relationships. Why there is tension. Why there is lightheartedness even during dark times. The relationships of the core characters were so well-written it made me want to be part of the group!

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Admittedly not quite as much as A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I’m going to chalk that up to the fact that it switched from a plot-focused, action-heavy style of writing to a quieter, character-focused style. After going over my notes and really thinking about the story, I can even appreciate that Maas almost took that step back in order to help us understand the characters more fully. And the action I was looking for during the first half of the book was definitely there in the second half, especially the last quarter or so.

I’ll be starting the next book, A Court of Wings and Fury, right away so expect that review on Monday October 26th!

P.S. This review is 100% not sponsored. I bought the book myself and was not paid for this review.

Book Reviews

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas: A Review

Summary

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas, is a first-person story told through the eyes of Feyre, an impoverished, hard, young woman struggling to provide for herself and her father and sisters. A brutal winter filled with scarcity and starvation brings her further into the woods that border the Fae lands than is safe, and she hunts and kills a large wolf in desperation. As they enjoy the spoils of Feyre’s successful hunt, an enormous beast explodes upon the family’s small cabin and seeks vengeance for the slain wolf. She is taken into the Fae lands and is to never see her family again.

But the beast is not what he seems. As Feyre learns more and more about this strange, new world she realizes most of her previous knowledge about the Fae lands and its creatures was wholly incorrect, and her eyes are opened while she discovers its wonders. She opens not only her eyes, but her heart as well and its icy layer thaws enough to allow new feelings of love and hope to flow through.

As a wicked, unnamed evil threatens all she now loves, Feyre will need to use her skills and cunning to save the beast that has captured her heart. For if she doesn’t, it is not just the Fae world that will be in jeopardy, but the human one as well.

Overall Story

With the title of A Court of Thorns and Roses and the hint of romance in the summary, it should come as no surprise that this reads as a twist on a classic “beauty and beast” type story. Which is honestly why I picked it up, it’s one of my favorite romance/paranormal romance plot lines. It shares similarities with both the classic story and its many variations:

• Just as in the classic, the main character’s father was a wealthy merchant, but falls on hard times forcing them to live in poverty.

• Similar to Belle’s passion for books and reading in the Disney version, Feyre has an interest in art and painting.

• Most obvious is the beast’s character (Tamlin) not being quite what he seems.

The world-building is absolutely fantastic. Maas doesn’t throw everything at us at once. She starts with the familiar, human elements and adds the Fae ones in at a natural, easy-to-follow pace. She also describes the alien, Fae world through Feyre’s artistic viewpoint and the colors and textures are so vividly described that I had no trouble envisioning it.

The pacing is great – action/conflict scenes that are well-written and dynamic are balanced by quieter scenes where Feyre learns more about her new world (and herself in the process). The building tension of the budding romantic relationship between Feyre and Tamlin is written at a pace that is believable, despite the original circumstances of their meeting.

The story builds itself to a satisfactory conclusion with some unexpected and delightful elements thrown in that kept my interest going right up until the end. The pacing and story line were just that good. I don’t feel like the ending was a cliff-hangar in any way. Instead, it enticed us to see where the story would go in the next book. In fact, (and by fact, I mean in my opinion!) if the ending had been just a little bit different this could have easily been a stand-alone book.

Character Notes

I won’t dive into the characters themselves, because I don’t think I could do it without too many spoilers! Instead, here are my thoughts about how the characters are written and how it adds (or not!) to the overall story:

• The story is told through Feyre’s eyes, so we obviously see other characters the way she sees them. If she hates them, we hate them. If she thinks they’re lying, we think they’re lying. Maas wrote her character so well that it wasn’t until I was halfway through the book that I remembered I was reading the story from her viewpoint alone and that maaaaaybe the other characters weren’t quite as good or as bad as I thought. Despite it being from Feyre’s viewpoint, Maas is clever enough to subtly add enough other details to their personalities and descriptions so they aren’t represented as being flat and one-dimensional but more realistic.

• Characters’ personalities and temperament are relatively consistent throughout the novel, while also allowing for growth and development in order to progress the story. For example, Feyre is seen as a bit hard and resentful in the beginning (for good reason!) but we can still see that what she does for her family is done not only out of a sense of duty and survival, but out of love as well. This characteristic is expanded upon throughout the book and softens Feyre’s otherwise tough disposition.

• The story is overall plot-driven, and while some of the characters could have been developed more in order to make them more well-rounded (ahem, Lucien), others were written with enough detail to satisfy but still left with enough mystery surrounding them to make me curious and want to learn more. (Probably a good thing since it’s a series!)

Final Thoughts

If you couldn’t already tell, I loved, loved, loved this book! I don’t think there is anything I actively disliked about it. Sure, there are scenes that made me a bit uncomfortable, but that’s to be expected from a story that’s laced with dark elements. And there were characters I didn’t love, but only because they were written that way. I had to physically restrain myself from getting up and retrieving the next book in the series immediately upon finishing this one. I didn’t tie myself up or anything, but I did put a chair in front of my office door so I couldn’t leave. That counts right?

So yeah, go read this book! I will be jumping into the next one as soon as this post is done and that review will be up (hopefully) on Thursday October 22nd so make sure you come back for that!

P.S. This post is 100% not sponsored. I bought the book myself and was not paid for this review.

For the Love of Reading · Uncategorized

Why I love re-reading favorite books

As much as I love diving into a new story, there’s a special place in my heart reserved for my favorite books. They are like old, familiar friends – they are always there when I need them and I can turn to them as often as I want.

For someone living with (and sometimes crippled by) anxiety and depression, surrounding myself with familiar things and sticking to routines is important. Drinking my coffee out of the same Totoro mug in the morning. Following the same order of operations in the shower to make sure I don’t forget a step – wash hair first, then cleanse and exfoliate my face, and finally wash my body with the same scent from Bath and Body Works that I’ve used for at least a decade now. Ordering the same thing all the time at restaurants because I know I won’t be disappointed. (My husband teases me about that because he’s definitely more adventurous when it comes to food and thinks I’m weird for not jumping at the chance to try new things. I think he’s just as weird for taking that chance, lol!)

It’s the same with books. I already know how the story ends so there’s no need to worry about not liking the writing style, the characters, or worse – when things don’t turn out well in the end. There’s nothing worse for me than making it all the way through a book just for the ending to take me somewhere I wasn’t expecting, i.e. somewhere not happy. All my favorite books have happy endings. It’s almost a requirement in order for me to like the book. I can appreciate the unexpectedness and creativity of an author when they choose to go the other way, but I’ll be boring and admit I love the cliche of happily ever after. There’s not a lot of those in real life so I want it in my stories.

For a long time now, my most re-read books are the Black Jewels novels by Anne Bishop. I fell in love when I first devoured them 15+ years ago, and I love them to this day. The story was unlike anything I’d ever read (at the time, anyway) and it was the first series that made me want to leave my own world and jump into that one. The characters are dynamic and oddly relatable considering it’s a world of dark magic and unique landscapes. And the story line itself is creative, unpredictable, and overall just amazing. I’m not going to review the series, my opinion would be way too biased. But if you like romantic fantasy, pop over to Amazon or Goodreads or wherever for the synopsis to see if it sounds like something you might be interested in.

I have a new series to read and hopefully review (new to me anyway, they’ve been out for awhile and I’m just late to the party) but after writing this, I find myself in the mood to curl up on the couch, light a few candles, and transport myself back into the world of the Black Jewels. It will be nice to visit my old friends again. See you next week.

P.S. This post is absolutely 100% not sponsored.

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Ready for Another Adventure

Hi there, I’m Catelyn and I’m a writer.

In my head I read that like I was introducing myself at an AA meeting. Like it’s something to hide, or be embarrassed about. And well, I guess it sort of is. I’ve been a closet writer for years but have never had the courage to actually call myself a writer. I’ve never had anyone read anything I’ve written and I’ve certainly never had anything published.

But here I am. This is the first step in putting myself out there as a writer. This site is to document the process as I attempt to write my first novel. I plan on posting everything – what’s going well, what’s not, and everything in between. And when I need a break from writing, I’ll slip in some casual reviews of recently read books. Or pictures of books. Or lists of books I want to read. You get the idea.

Join me as I enter another chapter of my life.