Elatsoe

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Darcie Little Badger
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pub. Date: Aug. 2020 (read March 2021)

I’m not sure how I stumbled upon Elatsoe, it may have been on Booktube, but I was immediately intrigued by the plotline. Elatsoe is a young adult story about 17 year old, Lipan Apache member, Elatsoe. She is one of a long line of women who can raise the ghosts of dead animals and is inspired by her six-great grandmother for whom she is named.

When her cousin, Trevor passes after a car crash and his ghost visits her in a dream, warning her that he was actually murdered, Elatsoe is catapulted on a mission to bring her cousin’s murderer to justice. She travels to his hometown with her parents to comfort his widow and immediately starts searching for the truth of Trevor’s untimely passing. In the process, she encounters more ghosts and makes a worrisome journey that causes her to seek advice from her elders.

I loved this book. It is such a wholesome story – it deals with heavy themes, yet it always feels like a light and fun read. I thought it read a little more like middle grade than YA, but that is really what made this feel like such a wholesome read. Instead of the teenage angst you usually find within the pages of a YA novel, Elatsoe is an individual who is very much comfortable with who she is and maintains good relationships with her friends and family. In a way it’s a coming of age story, but one in which she is respectful of her family members and seeks guidance from them. It is mentioned in passing that she is asexual and I loved that it’s just accepted by all the characters and we move on from there. Her best friend is male, but there is no love story between them and their friendship is very much built on trust and respect. It’s refreshing to read a book with such well balanced and respectful characters.

The author, Darcie Little Badger, is also Lipan Apache and she brings a very interesting fantastical element to the story. Elatsoe lives in a similar world to us, but her world is filled with monsters both seen and unseen. Personally, I thought the monster idea could have been a bit better developed and overall could probably have done without it, but the inclusion of ghosts in the story is really what makes it shine. She integrates Lipan Apache culture into the story flawlessly and I loved how she wove the verbal storytelling of Elatsoe’s ancestors into the book. I found it very engaging and it added so much depth to the story.

This was really close to a 5 star read for me. I thought it got a little plot heavy towards the end, and while we do see character growth throughout, I would have liked to see a little more character development at the end instead of going heavy on a ghost showdown. But it’s really a minor comment and I would still absolutely recommend this book to everyone. The writing is lovely and it reads very quickly. I think it’s a story that can be enjoyed by all ages and am so happy to see more indigenous voices and indigenous stories being published. 4.5 stars!

A Court of Wings and Ruin

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy
Pub. Date: May 2017 (read May 2017)
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3

I’m not going to blurb this because if you like Sarah J Maas, you’ve definitely already read it, and if you haven’t read Sarah J Maas, you probably don’t care at all about this review. So it will have SPOILERS, BEWARE. Heads up – I wrote this back in February, just days before ACOSF was published.

For those who care, I hate ACOTAR and love ACOMAF. I’ve read ACOMAF several times, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to re-read ACOTAR. The best I could do is this time around I decided to re-read just the parts of ACOTAR that Rhys was in because I wanted to see how I perceived him in the first book having now finished the series.

Anyways, I couldn’t help myself from launching into ACOWAR right after finishing ACOMAF (that cliffhanger!). Undeniably it is just not as good. I did really like some parts, but as a whole, this book is long and to be honest, kind of boring. The beginning is a fun ride with Feyre being so empowered, but then it turns out she pretty much completely f*ed Tamlin over, and consequently Prythian, so it kind of takes some of the joy out of it.

After that it’s a lot of running around. I mean, ACOMAF was a lot of running around too, but it was balanced out by all the awesome character development. Maas is soooo good at writing tension and flirting, but ugh her sex scenes CRINGE. Like can we talk about the fact that after Feyre leaves the Spring Court she basically wanders the wilderness for a full 7 days with no food, before being brutally attacked. Then when she finally winnows back to Velaris, her mate is like, ‘you smell, but let’s get it on’! Like girl, go eat some food first!

Then it’s just preparing for war, yada yada, a million battles, yada yada, Cassian staring at Nesta, yada yada. For a book with so much action, it’s surprisingly slow. Also, I feel like I’ve read this before, you know? Like, we already tried to destroy the cauldron once; we already had an amazing 7-high-lords-resurrection; and literally every romantic reaction is the exact same. Soulful brooding with deeply obsessive, creepy mating behaviour.

Here’s the excerpt Maas released on her instagram from ACOSF today “The first time I saw that look on your face, you were still human… and I nearly went to my knees before you”. I can only assume this is Cassian talking to Nesta, but like, WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!? And also, how is this any different from Feyre and Rhys, I could literally believe that was Rhys talking to Feyre. Why are all Maas relationships so all consuming? There’s something said for having a bit of balance in your life, but every relationship in her books is this creepy possessive mating thing. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Rhys, but there’s only one Rhys. Can we get some variety here?

Anyways, I’m clearly going off on a tangent rant. You know what I did like about this book? Tamlin! I’m glad Maas redeemed him a little – poor dude has still some issues to deal with, but at least we saw some growth here. I also was into the whole bone carver/weaver/library demon thing, that was a nice side plot, as well as what Maas decided to do with Eris in this book. I love when authors take an evil character and give them more dimension. They can still be evil without it being the entire summation of their character.

So will I read A Court of Silver Flames? I am very much on the fence. I guarantee I won’t be re-reading ACOFAS, because that book was trash, but I am on the fence about Silver Flames. Apparently in my review for ACOFAS I said I would be reading the next book, but so much time has passed I’ve kind of lost my zeal for the series. I’m tempted to read it because these books are now fresh in my head, but I don’t really like Nesta that much and Sarah’s little blurbs on social media are not convincing me that she’s going to do anything new or interesting in the next book. She did leave some doors open at the end of ACOWAR for where the plot can go, but as for characters, I’m not sure how much more I can grow with these people. They have great characterization in books 1-3, I just don’t want to keep beating a dead horse.

I definitely won’t be paying money for the book, it’ll have to come from the library, so I guess only time will tell if I continue with the series or not. Sorry to all the dreamers out there. I gave this a 4 as my initial rating. Now I think it’s probably closer to a 3, but I’m going to leave it as a 4 because it is still a pretty epic series and even though it was somewhat lacking in execution, Maas did create something magical.

A Court of Mist and Fury

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy
Pub. Date: May. 2016 (read Dec. 2016)
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2

I recently re-read ACOMAF and ACOWAR (but not ACOTAR because I hate it). I had a review for ACOMAF on my goodreads that I’ve apparently never posted here, and discovered I’d never actually written a review for ACOWAR. So check out my old review for ACOMAF here and I’ll post my ACOWAR review shortly.

This review has some spoilers for ACOTAR and ACOMAF.

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I love this book so much!!

I read this series for the first time about 5 months ago because I love Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like ACOTAR, but I stuck with it because I heard ACOMAF was much better and I’m so glad I did!

I love Feyre’s journey in this book. She was such a contradiction in the first book, being both strong, but also whiny and pathetic. I thought she was so real in this book. What happened Under the Mountain completely destroyed her and I appreciated Maas for recognizing that it’s okay for strong characters to fall apart. It took time for Feyre to accept the things that happened to her and her slow healing felt so natural and cathartic.

This book was quite a bit longer than the first of the series, but I thought the flow of the story was fantastic. I love where the story went and all the new characters we were introduced to throughout. I loved everyone in Rhysand’s inner circle and I felt they were all well-realized characters, yet I’m excited because I know there’s so much more to learn about them.

And of course, this book was sexy. The slow build flirtation and romance throughout completely moved the story along. I absolutely love the love story in this book. Feyre and Rhys’ relationship was so moving and healthy, I totally fell in love with Rhys too. A lot of romances feel very one sided (i.g., the man as protector or decision maker), but the romance in ACOMAF was built on equality and the freedom to make your own choices. What I loved about Rhys was that all his imperfections were what made him perfect. I loved that Maas took a character that had been pretty awful and made me fall in love with him.

As much as I didn’t like ACOTAR, I can appreciate it a little bit more now that I’ve seen where Maas was planning to take the story. This was my second read-through and I am going to start A Court of Wings and Ruin immediately because it just came out today!!

Hollowpox

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Jessica Townsend
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pub. Date: Oct. 2020 (read Oct. 2020)
Series: Nevermoor Book #3

I wish I’d taken the time to write a review for Hollowpox closer to when I actually read it, but that’s pretty much the story of my life this year.

What to say about a series that is just so fun and perfect. What can I add that I haven’t already said in the first two reviews? I decided to re-read the first two books before reading Hollowpox, which was definitely a good decision because I’d forgotten almost everything that happened in Wundersmith. Seriously, almost every single twist caught me by surprise again, so it was a real joy to basically experience it for the first time again. 

Given the choice between the three books, I’d probably say this one is my least favourite, but know that it is a super high bar and I still gave this book 5 stars. Everything about the Nevermoor series is so wunderful. The world building is excellently managed, the writing and plot are fun, the characters have depth, and there’s an intriguing mystery that threads its way throughout the entire series. Jessica Townsend has created something magical and along with her complex cast of characters, she weaves a number of subplots into the story that have real life relevance and meaning. 

At the same time though, the series does have an element of frustration because there are a lot of unanswered questions and you want answers. I’ve seen some criticism of this book that it doesn’t take the story anywhere new. I can understand some of the criticism – people want to unravel the greater mystery of Nevermoor, but I disagree that Hollowpox had no relevance. We learn so much more in this book about the Wretched Arts and Morrigan develops so much of her power (even if some think she is still woefully under trained). The very mystery of where the Hollowpox came from reveals so much to us about this world and the relationships that exist between every faction of it. I thought it struck a good balance of giving us answers without giving the game away. 

With a series like this, it’s really all about the journey and I will happily read a dozen more books about Morrigan Crow and Nevermoor! 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genres: Fantasy
Pub. Date: Oct 2020 (read Nov. 2020)

Addie LaRue was my book club’s pick for December. Despite having already read a lot of V.E. Schwab’s work and having liked most of it, I wasn’t super enthused to pick this one up for some reason. It’s probably related to my ongoing fatigue with fantasy, but mostly I just wasn’t that into the premise of a 300 year long love affair with the devil.

I heard a lot of good things about this book though and I ended up eating my words as I was completely sucked into the narrative almost immediately. Addie is born in the late 1600’s and yearns for the opportunity to travel and really experience life. She’s disenfranchised by the expectations of her sex and wants to marry for love rather than duty. So on the eve of her wedding, she strikes a deal with the devil to allow her to escape her obligations and be granted the time to live her life. The catch, she becomes invisible. She can still interact with people, but the second she is out of their sight, they immediately forget her – nor can she tell them her name – giving her a long life, but one where she is unable to develop relationships or leave a mark on the world.

If this sounds like a nightmare to you, it is to Addie as well. The first few years of her life are dedicated to just surviving in 1700’s Paris. It was horrifying to read about, but Addie is still determined to make the most of her life and does her best with the gift of time she has been given.

Like I said. I was sucked into the story pretty quickly. Addie was ahead of her time and her determination and stubbornness are endearing. The devil continually tries to break her, but it only spurs Addie on and she becomes more determined in her quest to leave her mark on the world. She discovers that while she cannot be remembered herself, she can inspire ideas and dedicates the rest of her life to seeking out artists and musicians for whom she can be a muse. Until 2014 when she walks into a bookstore in New York and suddenly everything changes.

While this is a compelling story, it’s also a long one. The story jumps back and forth between the past and modern day. Initially I was more intrigued in Addie’s early days trying to make sense of her curse, while after Henry enters the story, I wanted to spend more time in the modern day. The story is both entertaining and made me think a lot, but I also thought it could have been about 100 pages shorter. The length and scope of storytelling definitely made me feel like I was reading an epic, but I think the author could have shortened a few parts of the book. After a while the past did start to feel a bit repetitive and I wanted to spend more time in the present since at least something new was happening there. 

I also felt there were a few plot holes with how Addie’s curse actually worked, but I can let it go because it doesn’t take away from what the author is trying to evoke. It’s both enthralling and horrifying to think of what it would be like to have all the time in the world but to be forgettable. I really enjoyed the relationship that developed between Addie and Luc over the years and despite the length, I did really enjoy reading this one. Can’t decide where it sits in my repertoire of Schwab books though… certainly better than her monsters duology, but on par with Vicious and Darker Shade of Magic.