House of Salt and Sorrows – a Snapshot Review

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

My Rating: ##/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.98/5

Published August 6th, 2019

This is not a full and comprehensive review, but merely a summary of my thoughts on the book.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:

#/5 – There is no character development.  The characters remain exactly the same throughout the story, and they seem insubstantial to start with.  I don’t remember anything about Annaleigh, other than she was the MC.  The attempt at romance was feeble.  The entire book could’ve been written without any kind of romance as it added absolutely nothing of value to the story.  I skipped through most of the romantic scenes towards the end.

WORLD BUILDING:

#####/5 – Yes.  Yes. YES!  A million times yes!  Can someone take this world and write a really good fantasy series about it?!  The atmosphere, the landscape, the setting – everything about this world is magnificent.  I love the dark gloomy islands, surrounded by storms and rough seas.  I love that you can taste the salt and hear the waves crash against rocks and feel the strength of the wind.  I would’ve loved a map though.

WRITING STYLE:

###/5 – The writing style starts strong, but trickles away as the story unfolds.  There are gaps in time towards the end, that have nothing to do with the sequence of events.  I don’t know if this was done on purpose to illustrate the confusion the characters are experiencing – I got the feeling the writer just needed to quickly conclude the book.  It was either a genius move or utter laziness.

PLOT:

##/5 – Again, it starts strong.  You are gripped and sucked into their world of grieving and dancing.  There is a sense of appreciation for the retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Edge of your seat events unfold, but then it just gets bizarre and confusing.  Towards the end, I dreaded picking it up and finishing it because it was just not making any sense!!!  The theme of the book changes at 80%.  Yes 80%, where the story should reach its climax and start concluding, you are introduced to all these new settings, characters, and histories – it left me feeling “What just happened????”.

VILLAIN & CONCLUSION:

#/5 – Which one? Each one is more forgettable than the previous one.  The ending is laughable, confusing and bland.  What happened to Verity? Why couldn’t anyone see Cassius?? Who is the Weeping Woman???

The Beautiful – a Snapshot Review

The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renée Ahdieh

My Rating: ##/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.65/5

Published October 8th, 2019

This is not a full and comprehensive review, but merely a summary of my thoughts on the book.

PLOT:
#/5 – The plot is very limited and, in some instances, non-existent. Some chapters could’ve been stand-alone(s), as they add no value to the movement of the story.

STRUCTURE:
###/5 – The structure is well-thought-out, but the pace is so slow, that I lost interest 30% in. I was ready to DNF at 40%. I pushed through as I was one of the first people to jump up and down about this book.

WORLD-BUILDING:
##/5 – Here is a city that has so much rich history and culture. The potential is limitless. If you think of New Orleans, you see vibrant colors and celebration, you hear music, you feel curious and intrigued by mystery and a little frightened of all the rumors and legends. All of this could’ve been a beautiful backdrop to a fast-paced, well-loved and complex story (helloooo The Originals ? ? ? ! ! ! !), but it was mentioned ONCE. There is ONE Mardi Gras carnival scene.

THEME:
#/5 – The theme is unclear, and you are not even sure if there are actual vampires until much later in the book

CHARACTERS:
###/5 – As with We Hunt the Flame, the characters are why I wanted to finish the book. The characters are well rounded. There are characters that you want to fall in love with and there are characters that you want to love-to-hate and hate-to-love. The characters are relatable and interesting.

DIALOGUE:
#/5 – Most of the dialogue are thoughts and memories. Very little is spoken between characters and when done, feels disjointed and has you wondering: “what did I miss??”.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January – A Goodreads Choice 2019 Nominee

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

My Rating: ####/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.16/5

Published September 10th, 2019

“When I was seven, I found a door. I suspect I should capitalize that word, so you understand I’m not talking about your garden- or common-variety door that leads reliably to a white-tiled kitchen or a bedroom closet.
When I was seven, I found a Door. There – look how tall and proud the word stands on the page now, the belly of that D like a black archway leading into white nothing. When you see that word, I imagine a little prickle of familiarity makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You don’t know a thing about me; you can’t see me sitting at this yellow-wood desk, the salt-sweet breeze riffling these pages like a reader looking for her bookmark. You can’t see the scars that twist and knot across my skin. You don’t even know my name…”
– The Blue Door, The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

I was gifted a copy of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Must Read Books YA SA and Jonathan Ball Publishers. This is an unpaid review.

One of my favorite books from 2018 was The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. When I read the synopsis for The Ten Thousand Doors of January I felt the sentimental longing to go back to Anthony Peardew’s mansion, meet Laura for the first time and discover the story of The Keeper of Lost Things all over again. I had to know if TTTDoJ was going to leave the same wistful affection in my heart.

“But you still know about Doors, don’t you? Because there are ten thousand stories about ten thousand Doors, and we know them as well as we know our names.”

January Scaller is an orphan of sorts. She doesn’t belong anywhere; she doesn’t come from anywhere and she doesn’t know what the future holds. She feels ignored and alone and out of place. When January discovers a strange book that talks about Doors (with a capital D), other worlds, love, and adventure, how can she not read it? With each turn of the page, January’s whole life changes and she discovers there is one door that she will never be able to enter – the door before The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

“But I was done with the fanciful nonsense. No more doors or Doors, no more dreams of silver seas and whitewashed cities. No more stories. I imagined this was just one those lessons implicit in the process of growing up, which everyone learns eventually.”

I get a lump in my throat just telling you about January’s story and this book. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. Alix E. Harrow transports you into a world so magical and so full of adventure, you feel a little like the son or daughter of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, meets The Keeper of Lost Things.

Alix E. Harrow delivers the twists and turns of this magical, fantastical plot with elegance and confidence. Narration in sections of TTTDoJ nods to the narration at the start and end of The Age of Adeline (2015) and these were truly my favorite part(s) of the book. The narrator imprints on you that time weighs heavily on all the characters and for good reason.

“She became something else entirely, something so radiant and wild and fierce that a single world could not contain her, and she was obligated to find others.”

Every chapter is named for the Door discovered in the chapter and gives insight on what to expect throughout the chapter. Will it be a wonderfully lovely Door or a worrisome Door to be wary of? There is the Unlocked Door, the Door to Anywhere, the Door of Blood and Silver, the Burning Door and the Door in the Mist.

January’s Doors is going to stay with me for a long while still…

“…not every story is made for telling. Sometimes just by telling a story you’re stealing it, stealing a little of the mystery away from it.”

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | LOOT | READERS WAREHOUSE

We Hunt the Flame – a Snapshot Review

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal

My Rating: #/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.82/5

Published May 14th, 2019

This is not a full and comprehensive review, but merely a summary of my thoughts on the book.

PLOT:
####/5 – The plot is interesting, well-thought-out and unique.

STRUCTURE:
#/5 – There is no structure to the story. Plot twists and plot reveals felt disjointed. It was hard for me to get into the flow of the story.

WORLD-BUILDING:
###/5 – The world-building is creative and there is a history to the land and its people. The world-building fits well with the plot of the book. I was excited when I saw the map in the book, but the map fell short in information and didn’t assist me in understanding everything. Important areas in the map are not labeled or labeled with a different terminology than what is described in the book.

THEME:
##/5 – The theme is clear from the start of the book but gets muddled in amongst the over-detailed storytelling as the story progresses.

CHARACTERS:
####/5 – The characters are why I wanted to finish the book. I fell in love with the characters in We Hunt the Flame immediately and rooted for each one of them all the way. There are several strong and complex personalities, struggling with their grief and trying to come to terms with whom they have become. They all have one mission in mind – discover the lost artifact and restore magic to the land.

DIALOGUE:
#/5 – The dialogue is almost non-existent, flat and unstructured. This made it hard for me to imagine any sort of friendship, relationship or kinship between the characters as they barley uttered more than a couple of words to each other.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

By Sarah J. Maas

My Rating: ####/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5

Published May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

SHE STOLE A LIFE. NOW SHE MUST PAY WITH HER HEART.

Way back when I read a review on GoodReads where the reviewer described A Court of Thorns and Roses as “more or less softcore erotica”. As you can imagine, I put it down even before you can say “New Adult Fantasy”. I just don’t have the time, nor the stomach for that.

So years have gone by, more books in the series have been published and it has never lost momentum. Along with a large fanbase, loyal ACOTAR-ians (see what I did there) and more YouTUBE videos than you can count, people are still pushing it on me. So I decided to try again. It took another two attempts, to be honest as it still was not love at first sight for me.

But I do like it and I will be continuing with the series. I have already purchased the second book and fans are telling me how the second book is their absolute favorite.

The title nods to a Beauty and the Beast retelling and the cover is supremely inviting. My first impression was that the book was going to be disjointed and disorganized as there’s no Table of Contents, so I didn’t know what to expect from a chronological point of view. It is important to note that ACOTAR is not a Young Adult Fantasy novel as most believe, but New Adult Fantasy. I appreciate that the back cover clearly states that this book contains mature content. But it’s not smut at all and it’s not Fifty Shades of Awful erotica. There are mature, intimate love scenes that add to the weight and emotions this novel portrays. But the story flows beautifully and with ease. I didn’t once feel embarrassed or that the storyline didn’t follow events or character development.
The story is about Feyre who has been taken captive by a High Fae Lord in the Faerie Realm because she slaughtered a faerie. But there is a lot Feyre doesn’t know about her captor, her new home and the enchanted forests around her.
I found Feyre’s character to be refreshing. She is strong-minded and self-aware. Albeit a little predictable, Tamlin is handsome and gentlemanly. Lucien, Tamlin’s emissary, adds a bit of dark humor to the trio.
I cannot tell you my favorite, nor least favorite parts of the books without revealing spoilers. I can tell you though that as the story progresses, it gets better and better with twists and turns and plot reveals. The ending had my heart pounding in anticipation, and I couldn’t scan-read those pages fast enough.

Fans of The Bear and the Nightingale, Shadow and Bone and A Curse So Dark and Lonely will appreciate the complex storytelling, world-building and internal struggles of the characters in A Court of Thorns and Roses.