Review: Heartless

5/12/2017

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4.5/5
Goal: 7/20

At its core, Heartless is the tale of a martyr, a murderer, a monarch and a mad(man). It follows the story of Lady Catherine Pinkerton as she dreams of opening a bakery, suffers through an unwanted courtship with the King of Hearts, falls in love with a court joker hiding a dark secret, saves a kingdom, and ultimately loses everything she once held dear.  The transformation from dreamer to woman hellbent on revenge was incredible, and probably my most favorite part of the story. Her fear and trepidation throughout the first 80% of the book became irritating; I wanted her to grow a spine and just do the damn thing. It took unfathomable loss for her to finally take charge, and she did it in a big way. The start of her well known madness was heart wrenching and triumphant and I loved it. Don't misunderstand: If happiness had truly been an option, I would have much preferred that for Cath. If she could have just told the hapless King that she wasn't interested (to which I'm sure he would have just said "Cool, bye," because he also lacked any true drive) and lived happily ever after, I would have been satisfied. But this was the origin story of the twisted Queen of Hearts; we already knew things wouldn't end joyously.

I was worried that my Disneyed knowledge of Alice in Wonderland would make me miss a lot of the references in Heartless, but in the end I don't think I was too disadvantaged. It was fun to compare these characters with who they become later: Hatta/Mad Hatter, Haigha/March hare, Catherine/Queen of Hearts, a more prestigious White Rabbit... even the Cheshire Cat was present, in a somewhat more friendly iteration than I remembered.

I liked Hatta as a darker character whose actions influence the fates of everyone around him, whether he intended the consequences or not. He was haunted and irreverent and ambitious and much more than a madman full of riddles.

Then there was the court joker, Jest. I wanted every interaction between Cath and Jest to last 700X longer. I wanted him to steal Catherine away from the unhappy life she was facing. I wanted him to be her happy ending, instead of her downfall. His secret was a great twist in an already great story.

* S P O I L E R S *

I loved the martyr/murderer/monarch/mad prophecy, because in the end Cath is all four things. Her heart was martyred for the sake of revenge; she murdered the Jaberwock; she became the Queen of Hearts; and she was driven mad by grief.  I see what you did there, Marissa Meyer, and I am here for it!

* E N D   S P O I L E R S *

Heartless was overall a very good book. It dragged just a tiny bit for me in some spots-- mostly when I wanted those Cath/Jest flirtations to linger longer and felt like it was entirely too long between interactions! I thoroughly enjoyed Meyer's take on Wonderland and its inhabitants.

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

5/10/2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 5/5
Goal: 6/20

I'm usually pretty sad when a series comes to an end, and A Court of Wings and Ruin was no exception. I had that black hole of dread in my stomach the whole time I was reading-- you know the one, right? When you are compelled to keep reading and reading and reading, but you get really sad when you see how much progress you've made because now there are only 400 pages left? Then 200, then 50, then you're basically just holding the back cover and sobbing because it's over? Yeah, that. I was so sad to have Feyre and Rhysand's story ostensibly end (Maas promises more books within the universe are coming, but who knows how much Feysand will be featured?!) but pleased with how things finished overall.

ACOWAR picked up right where the second book (A Court of Mist and Fury) left off, with Feyre in the grasp of her scorned ex-lover, using her skills in a way only the newly minted High Lady can to destroy the rival court from within. Everything is literally and figuratively marching towards the oncoming war with Hybern, with the much beloved (by fans) Night Court preparing to take on the brunt of the work. There are tense meetings with the other courts (I really enjoyed learning more about the High Lords) and devious magical beings, fast-paced action, and (of course) lots of knee-shaking romance. It was basically everything I wanted it to be!

And now, the * S P O I L E R S *

Can we talk a second about Morrigan? Because UGH! I like Mor, I really do, but oh my goodness gracious did she give me a serious case of RAGE FACE. I think one of the threads I most anticipated being tied up in book 3 was the whole Mor/Azriel/Cassian thing. While Mor's reasoning for not having *romantic feels* for either of the Illyrian badasses is legit, it didn't make me any less angry. Not because she didn't feel romantic love towards either one, but because it didn't stop her from treating them like her property. You don't love Azriel? Fine. But stop stringing him along! You don't love Cassian? That's great, let Nesta have an unimpeded shot and stop getting all possessive! It really drove me nuts and eventually just pissed me off that she didn't trust her friends enough after 500 years to be her true self. And it made me really angry on Azriel's behalf that he's been pining for More for over 500 years, and she never respected him enough to say, "Listen, it's just not going to work." I'm not down with that.

And speaking of Azriel... I hope he features PROMINENTLY in the next installment. Can you hear me, Sarah J. Maas? MORE AZRIEL PLEASE! I'm afraid he may be falling in love with Elain, who is mated to Lucien and I just can't see Azriel fall in love with another woman who will ultimately rebuff his affections. I just want him to find a nice gal (or guy, whomever) who will love him unconditionally, without a big secret or magical bond getting in the way. Azriel deserves everlasting happiness, damnit!

There was also The Very Big Thing That Happened. You know exactly what I'm talking about: the gut-wrenching Thing that had fangirls around the world sobbing? I finished the book around 1AM a few days after it came out, and was lying in bed next to my hubby reading when The Big Thing happened. I honestly don't know how he slept through my bawling, but he apparently slept through Hurricane Andrew when he was a kid, so I guess he's just a really sound sleeper sometimes. Anyway, the Thing. I had an inkling that it would be okay because we've seen what can happen when all the High Lords (and a Lady this time) are gathered. If it hadn't worked, if the Very Bad Thing had been permanent, it probably would have tainted my entire view of the book. But thankfully it was only temporary!

End * S P O I L E R S *

I really liked this book, and loved the series. I'm at peace with how it ended, which isn't something you always get at the end of a beloved series. I'm sad it's over,  but knowing there are more stories from this universe coming is extremely comforting, and I think it's that knowledge that's keeping me from completely falling apart. Nobody knows how to keep you begging for more books quite like Maas!

A Starting Point

When I started 2017, I thought I'd set an easy goal for myself: read twenty books. Compared to a lot of bloggers and bookstagrammers I follow, twenty is nothing. Laughable, even! Some people read twenty books in a MONTH! (Is this actually true? I hope-- for my own sake-- that it's not.) The difference is that the majority of people I'm pathetically comparing myself to don't have small children. Do you know how much time raising a 2- and 4-year-old takes? All of it. My days and nights are completely full of these tiny humans who need me for everything. When was the last time I went 12 hours without wiping another person's butt? I can't even remember. But I digress...

Twenty books.

It's May now, and I've read... six? And two of those (A Court of Thorns and Roses, and A Court of Mist and Fury) were re-reads in preparation for the release of the final book in the series, A Court of Wings and Ruin. (We'll get to this one really soon because I HAVE THOUGHTS.) The other books are: The Wish Granter, Uprooted, and A Million Worlds with You.

I'm not doing super well with keeping my resolution (though I'm still thinking about it in May, which is longer than a lot of people stick to their resolutions!) so I'm starting a blog for accountability. If we're being completely honest (and why shouldn't we?), I'm also starting this blog to feel like a functioning adult human being. I don't get a lot of opportunities to talk to people with an education level above preschool, so even if I'm just shouting (typing?) into the void, at least I'm doing it with grownup words.

So I guess... here we go?