A Court of Thorns and Roses Series Review | Part 2

 A Court of Thorns and Roses A Court of Mist and Fury | A Court of Wings and Ruins 

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 Sarah J Maas | Bloomsbury Australia

Welcome to Part 2 of my review of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas! In this review, I will be detailing everything I didn’t like about ACOWAR. (I liked the first two books too much to find any fault in them.) Keep in mind there will be spoilers ahead!

While Sarah J Maas has a penchant for creating picturesque worlds using a combination of imagery and metaphors and very, very descriptive language that generally causes me to gawk at how beautiful her writing is, I couldn’t help but notice her writing in ACOWAR was unpolished. I understand that when we talk, we sometimes pause in the middle of the sentence to search for the correct word to describe whatever it is we’re talking about and adding “…” certainly adds authenticity to such dialogues BUT adding an ellipsis every single time someone speaks ruins the flow of the narrative. Another thing I noticed was Sarah J Maas’s questionable choice of words. I’m not a great writer so I usually don’t criticize an author’s use of words, phrases, or writing techniques (I merely comment on the overall writing style ) but there was one phrase that made me laugh out loud at how ridiculous it was – “… the back of my palm” . Umm….did you mean the back of my hand?

 Romance

Look, it’s completely fine if certain characters don’t get their happily-ever-after. I would rather they be happily single than forced to pair up with another character out of sheer convenience. Isn’t it so convenient that Nesta and Elaine became high Fae and are paired up with Cassian and Azriel respectively. ( I don’t see Elaine and Lucien getting together and as Mor is officially out of the picture, I feel like Maas is pushing Elaine and Azriel towards each other) Amren’s sudden romance was also unnecessary. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with characters staying unattached so why did Sarah J Maas have to pair Amren, the deadly, formidable otherworldly being with a High Fae? Was it really necessary?

 Nesta and Elaine

Nesta and Elaine read to me like Cinderella’s two stepsisters. I understand that Feyre forgave Nesta and Elaine for failing to help/provide for the family in the years before ACOTAR but I’m unable to forgive them. Perhaps Nesta redeemed herself in ACOTAR by attempting to climb over the wall to reach Feyre, but that doesn’t change the fact that she would rather to watch her family starve to death and blame her father and everyone else in the world than get her ass out of the house and help Feyre hunt for food. It doesn’t help that she’s unnecessarily hostile to everyone and I certainly don’t care how powerful she is. She does not deserve Cassian nor a place in the Night Court.

As for Elaine, I think she’s even worse than Nesta. She reminds me of Bella Swan from Twilight. A beautiful damsel in distress that isn’t capable of physically doing anything to help out. No one got angry with her for not helping to provide for the family because she was kind? Really? That sounds to me like she’s just utterly useless. In ACOWAR, she spent a good few weeks wasting away in her room – exactly what Bella did in New Moon. What about during all the battles? Someone always had to look after her because she was so useless she couldn’t defend herself. Sarah J Maas attempted to portray her as a hero in the last few chapters but I guess even Bella Swan had her heroic moments eh?

Despite having issues with ACOWAR, I was satisfied with the ending. Sarah J Maas’s battle scenes kept me at the edge of my seat and everything played out perfectly. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be back for the spin-off series (I have no interest in any of the other pairings.) I am however, looking forward to Sarah J Maas’s future projects as long as they feature sexy male leads like Rhysand, Az or even Tarquin J

A Court of Thorns and Roses Series Review | Part 1

A Court of Thorns and Roses | A Court of Mist and Fury | A Court of Wings and Ruins 

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 Sarah J Maas | Bloomsbury Australia

***Spoilers Ahead***

 It is no secret that ACOTAR was my favourite book of 2015 and 2016’s was ACOMAF. Instead of writing a traditional review for each book, I’ve decided to post my thoughts about the series in general. This review is divided into 2 parts – Part 1 will convey why ACOTAR and ACOMAF are books that I believe delivers powerful messages to its readers while Part 2 will explore reasons why ACOWAR didn’t quite work for me. Note that I wrote Part 1 before I finished reading ACOWAR and Part 2 was written after.

Books are powerful. The messages they convey, the portrayals of characters, relationships and the dynamics between people, family members, friends, partners etc. are very likely to shape a reader’s understanding and perception of the world. Perhaps not always. But I know it does for me.

The reason why I’ve suddenly developed an immense gratification and admiration for Sarah J Maas is due to her willingness to incorporate important social issues into her ACOTAR series. I read ACOTAR 2 years ago and ACOMAF last year and only TODAY discovered the ‘hidden’ messages within the books. Perhaps I’ve become more in touch with my social surroundings and social media has alerted my attention to the grave significance of issues such as domestic violence, abusive relationships, sexual assault to name a few. There will be none of my usual fangirling in this review; I suppose this will be more of a personal reflection for me than an actual review.

Abusive Relationships

Reading Colleen Hoover’s ‘This Ends With Us’ was the first time I recall sitting down and thinking about something that is prevalent in our society but is rarely discussed openly. I myself am not too acquainted with this topic but I am aware of how important it is for men and women to identify the red flags and leave the relationship. I’m an active Reddit lurker, especially on the AskReddit subtopic and some of my favourite threads are ones that are marked “serious” where people from all over the world share their personal stories in response to whatever serious question is being asked. I recall reading several threads that were associated with people leaving a relationship/marriage because of physical and/or emotional abuse and it truly breaks my heart to read these stories.

I love how Sarah J Maas draws on this type of relationship in ACOMAF. Perhaps the red flags were evident in ACOTAR, perhaps not, but if they were, I certainly missed them.

“I trashed half the house,” he said, leaning forward to press his brow to mine.

I remember reading Beautiful Disaster years ago and a similar quote came up. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I thought it was “romantic” but now? Holy shit this violence is disturbing.

“During that first week back, I wasn’t allowed out of sight of the house. “ | “He’d trapped me in here; he’d locked me up.”

Having her entire life dictated by Tamlin and treated like a possession as opposed to a human being was so upsetting for me. The fiercely determined Feyre from ACOTAR was gone and replaced by an empty shell. She withered away day by day, yet no one fucking helped her.

Sexual Assault

I’ve detected a gradual increase in Rape Culture interest/posts on social media and in newspapers in light of recent incidents that have made headlines over the last year. I’m sure you know which ‘incidents’ I’m talking about. (If you don’t, think judges handing out light sentences to rapists or blaming the victims for getting themselves into those situations in the first place.) There is no excuse for rape. None at all.

I’ve seen many personal stories about men getting raped and/or sexually assaulted and keeping silent about this their entire lives because there is a stigma in society that “men can’t be raped”. Yes they can. They can and society needs to stop thinking otherwise. The ‘relationship’ between Rhysand and Amarantha in ACOTAR was a cleverly crafted representation of sexual abuse – Rhysand being tortured and assaulted at the hands of Amarantha. Despite Rhysand’s cold, merciless exterior, this ordeal has left Rhysand traumatised and broken, as illustrated in ACOMAF.

I’m currently reading ACOWAR and so far I’m really liking it. I’ll most likely end up reading it twice – the first time for my pure enjoyment only and the second to pick up on things that I missed the first time round. Lastly, I need to mention that while Sarah J Maas seems to advocate very strongly for redemption and forgiveness, personally I could do without Nesta and Elain’s recurring appearances in all the books. In my opinion, there is absolutely no need for them to play such a huge role in the series – sisters or not.

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited
by Becky Albertalli 

Publisher: Penguin 
Release Date: 11th April, 2017  

 

 Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. 

 Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness-except for the part where she is.
Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.


 There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

The Upside of Unrequited 

I’ve discovered that with time and age, my reading preferences have changed. I’m certain 16 year old me would have swooned, gushed and raved endlessly about how cute The Upside of Unrequited is and talked excessively about how adorably slow and perfect the romance between the Molly and Reid is. Unfortunately, 22 year old me thought the whole push and pull between the two was too cute for my liking – I think I can only tolerate small doses of cuteness before I go “Yeah, nah”, onto the next book.

I’ll start with what I enjoyed about The Upside of Unrequited, and then I’ll address the main issue I had with it. I think most people would disagree with

A relatable main character 

The Upside of Unrequited had the ingredients for the perfect YA book. In particular, I found Molly’s actions and the situations she found herself in very relatable. Molly has had 20-something crushes in the past and none of them moved past the ‘crush’ stage because she never communicated her feelings in fear of rejection. Yeah, guess what – same here. The whole time I was thinking “wow….this is so me”. Some other examples of some things I do that I didn’t think anyone else did until I read this book.

“I google the number, but Google doesn’t know, and I feel dumb asking who it is. So I ignore it. “

So yes, when I receive a random call and he/she doesn’t leave a voicemail, or when I receive a random text from someone I always google the number first and then decide whether or not to call back. Usually when they don’t leave a voicemail, I ignore the number.

“It’s the second time, because you’ve already used up all the obvious topics of conversation.”

This one is so applicable to me when I meet people I don’t ‘connect’ with. I mean, I can keep a conversation going during our first meeting – no worries – but if we randomly bump into each other again, say the next day then sorry, but what the heck am I suppose to talk to you about?! All obvious topics of conversation have been exhausted! Hhahahahah obviously this doesn’t happen all the time, but when I read the quote above, I just thought of situations in the past where I had nothing to say to someone I’d just bumped into.

Diversity

I’ve been on and off on twitter over the last few years so sometimes I miss out on important bookish news and trends. Sometime last year/ this year ‘Diversity’ became a top trending topic between readers, bloggers, authors and publishers. From reading a couple of tweets it seems the gist of it was readers wanted more diversity in books. Well, turns out, you asked and Becky Albertalli delivered.

Now, I’m going to say something that may not be well received since after reading a few reviews and general comments on Twitter, I’ve concluded that my feelings belong in the minority. While I appreciate Albertalli’s attempt at creating a world with all types of diverse characters, the impression I got was more of a ‘diversity dump’ or a shopping list of diverse characters. I personally felt it was a desperate attempt to incorporate all these diverse characters into one book to appeal to readers to the point that the characters didn’t feel realistic anymore. They felt like chess pieces brought in for the sole purpose of writing a book about diversity; there was no substance or depth to any of the characters beyond their labels. I remember at least one character was Jewish, and others had different skin colours, religion, sexuality but that was it. The terms were thrown around and then the story went back to the cute interactions between Molly and Reid.

I was slightly annoyed at Albertalli’s representation of Mina. The first time I realized she was Asian I thought “Oh yay! An Asian character, I like this book already!” Then after a few chapters I got the feeling that Albertalli was desperate to reiterate to the readers that Mina‘s A PERSON OF COLOUR, that it felt like she was shoving this fact in my face. Cassie was constantly saying how Mina is “Korean-American” and the whole time I just imagined Mina with a banner above her head with the words LOOK AT ME. IM KOREAN-AMERICAN. A DIVERSE CHARACTER.

So my point is I like books where the author doesn’t tell me once, twice, or five thousand times that someone is pansexual, or Asian or Jewish. Please do your research and show me this information. Having said all that, The Upside Of Unrequited wasn’t bad – it was a quick read and I definitely enjoyed it but I probably won’t be coming back for more.

2016// Review [PART 4]

May // Travelled along the west coast of USA, went camping, hiking and thought I was going to die because my shoes were too slippery. Went to a strip club in Vegas and thank the lord my eyesight was bad. Mid- May, I flew up to Montreal and stayed at Anubhav’s place with Jessie. Then visited Toronto, and met up with Marcus in New York. While bicycling to Brooklyn Bridge, I temporarily separated from Jessie and Marcus. I had no phone (Marcus had my phone) ,no money, no map and had absolutely no idea where I was. Luckily there was a map where I parked my bike and I was able to walk the rest of the way to Brooklyn Bridge, where I hoped to reunite with Jessie and Marcus. I walked the length of the Bridge twice and almost lost all hope of finding them but thank the lord once again, Jessie and Marcus had similar thoughts of finding me on the bridge and we bumped into each other. Apparently Marcus got hit by a car and during the chaos, I lost sight of them and rode ahead (instead of turning right.) Marcus and Jessie were considering calling NYPE if they didn’t find me on the bridge LOOOOOOOL and Jessie thought I was crying by myself HAHAHHAHAHA. Gooooood days!

 

June // Said goodbye to Jessie and Marcus and commenced the next leg of my trip. Flew from New York to Milan, with a stopover in Iceland. I had almost a whole day in Iceland so I bought tickets to go into the heart of Reykjavik and explored what has now become one of my favourite cities in the world. If there’s one place I need to revisit, it’s Iceland. Arrived in Milan late at night, and slept in the airport. Reunited with Alicia in the morning!!!!!! Then on to Florence and Rome. In Rome, we got kicked out of “Altare della Patria”, got fined for jumping on the train without a ticket, almost missed our flight (we would’ve if we had waited to buy train tickets), and once we landed in Barcelona, realised that my luggage had never left Rome. Spent the first 2 days in Barcelona wearing Alicia’s clothes, and she used my makeup. Spontaneously bought tickets to see Diplo at Razzmatazz (one of the biggest/most popular nightclubs in Barcelona). Spent my time in Madrid with random nose bleeds and sneezing every 5 minutes. Had never been so glad to get out of there!! Budapest, Vienna and Prague all stole my heart….honestly don’t think I have a heart to give away anymore LOL.

We celebrated Alicia’s birthday in Prague, and went our separate ways. I landed in London for Summer School at LSE. Met a bunch of wonderful people from the states and finally got to hear first hand stories about frat parties HAHHAHAHA

July // Celebrated Fourth of July with my American mates heheheh. Then had to say goodbye to them after 3 weeks 😦

Finally came back to Sydney!!!!

August // Applied for Pandora and received my offer a few days later. Had a my first on the job training at the end of August! Also started applying for internships/looking at courses to do in the holidays if I didn’t get an internship.

September // Applied for KPMG and got accepted into their Audit and Assurance stream! Was probably one of the happiest days of my lifeeee heheheheh Went to Port Stephens with mum and dad – was pretty damn fun!!!!

October // Barely surviving Uni, went hiking, Night Noodle Markets, celebrated Bianca’s birthday and went clubbing for the first time in….forever haha

November // Completed my second last semester of Uni!!! Attended Bi + Jessie’s graduations, caught up with exchange mates over brunch and a trip to La Perouse, celebrated my 22nd birthday.

December // Officially started my internship on the 5th!! Met all the other interns in Corporate Audit as well as my engagement team. Spent the first 2 days training, the next 2 at client’s and Friday was spent at Barangaroo. Saturday and Sunday, I worked at Pandora. The following Monday, we got paid to literally run around the city being tourists. Tuesday and Wednesday were both spent at Barangaroo and Thursday was SCA’s Christmas Party. The vaccies weren’t told about the after party, which was apparently where the ‘real party’ started hahahaha. The firm wide party was held the following week and the venue was stunning!! Spent the other days of the week working at Pandora. I basically worked 7 days a week in the first two weeks of December and had my first day off in the third week, then back to work at Pandora. Celebrated Christmas with exchange friends on the 24th, and New Years at a house party on the 31st 😛 Went bouldering on the 30th, lost my grip, fell and hit both my ankles against the boulders. Luckily the swelling isn’t too bad.

Anywayssss, i hope 2017 will be as good as 2016 but that’s probably asking for wayyyy too much (since 2016 has literally been the best year of my life so far!) But *fingers crossed* 2017 will be just as great as 2016!

 

 

2016// Review [PART 3]

February // Went up to Grouse Mountain to ski and for the first time in my life I thought I was going to die. Celebrated CNY with friends from all over the world – yum cha for brunch and hot pot for dinner! During spring break, I set off to Mexico with a bunch of new friends and had a fantastic time! I was also the only person who didn’t get food poisoning after  eating street tacos. Came back to UBC only to be bombarded with 3 consecutive exams (all of which I passed – thank god!!) Went up to Cypress at the end of February.

March // My first frat party was rather….underwhelming. At least pre’s was fun 🙂 Had the time of my life at Blank Canvas though 😛  Also went on my first hiking adventure in Vancouver – one of my regrets is not going on enough hikes during my time there. Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by getting woken up at 6am by drunken neighbours and then spending the rest of the day periodically drinking. Watched my first UBC Thunderbirds Basketball Game (too bad we lost!!) Went up to Cypress again and tried snowboarding for the first time. I failed badly, but at least it was fun!! Later in March, the crew and I went on a cruise hosted by the Exchange Society and then spent hours at a nearby casino.  Joined my curry mates for an arvo full of fun at Holi! During Easter Break, I went to Victoria with a bunch of other mates; it was honestly the most boring place ever and tbh, I never want to go back hahaha.

April // Started off April with a bonfire with the ENTIRE crew. Everyone was sad about our inevitable departure. Went skiing one last time at Whistler and had a blast! Celebrated the end of another semester by  attending this music festival-esque event hosted by UBC. Exchanged ended with fine dining and dress ups (men in suits, women in dresses and heels). Took one last group photo with the UBC sign. Went hiking at the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge park. Wrapped up April with Jessie, Ben, Simona and Zacq by flying off to the States for our West Coast adventure!!