Wednesday, May 27, 2020

DNF Review: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Title: House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) 
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 816
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Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

Well, this is awkward. I guess it's time for my first unpopular opinion review of 2020! I'm not Sarah J. Maas's biggest fan, but A Court of Thorns and Roses is (embarrassingly) one of my favorite books. I didn't enjoy the way that series ended, but the first book is one I've read over and over. I've also been reading the Throne of Glass series and have been mostly enjoying it, so I was hesitantly excited for Crescent City.

To start, why in the world is the series name the biggest thing on the cover? Why doesn't the title of the book look like the title of the book? I haven't heard a single person call this House of Earth and Blood. But I digress.

Let's dive into this 800+ page "adult" urban fantasy novel that is holding out at 4.47 stars on Goodreads as of this review being written. I didn't really know what I was getting into with this book, but I certainly wasn't expecting to be completely overwhelmed by swearing as soon as it began. It's as if Sarah J. Maas decided all she needed to make a book adult was an F-bomb every third sentence. And I'm not exaggerating. Fun fact(s) about me: I am an Air Force veteran who spent time in Afghanistan and I'm married to a sailor. I am no stranger to swearing and honestly have quite the vocabulary in the comfort of my home, but this book was extremely excessive for no good reason. There was no point in the amount of cussing shoehorned into Crescent City. It didn't add anything and came off as extremely unnatural and it took me a long while to get used to it. So that was strike one.

Have I mentioned that this book rings in at over 800 pages? For a first book in a series, that's quite a lot. In the past SJM series have begun relatively short and got longer as they went. This worked because the reader (me) had time to get invested in the characters before diving into such a massive book. There was plenty of time to get the backstory and the world building. For whatever reason, this time she dove right in with 800 pages and, let me tell you, not much happens at least for the first 300 of them, which is where I gave up. There's an awful lot of info dumping and characters being sad and talking about how gorgeous everyone is, but not much story to actually care about.

Speaking of the characters, Bryce Quinlan has red hair. I just need everyone to know that because all I got from the 300 pages I read was that she has red hair, nice legs, and likes pink underwear. Oh, and she hates "alphaholes" even though they're the only "males" she seems to be attracted to. Yes, despite all the criticism SJM has received for using the terms "male" and "female" in both her previous series, she still does it here and it's cringe.

Hunt Athalar, said alphahole, is Rhysand but worse, at least from what I've seen so far. Where Rhysand was at least "woke" and "feminist," Hunt is judgmental and overbearing. He has big wings and super strong powers. As much as I love Rhysand (and Rowan is growing on me, I guess), I felt nothing for Hunt at all. I'm not sure at what point there's supposed to be any chemistry whatsoever between Bryce and Hunt, but by page 300 there was nothing.

I know everyone and their brother loves this book, but I just could not get into it. The world building was so info dumped I couldn't tell you anything about it outside of the places Bryce visits and I literally couldn't care less about the characters. There's also kind of a murder mystery, but I didn't care enough about the characters to care about their motivations. I wanted to love this SO much, but it just was not for me. I was repeatedly told that it picks up 200 pages from the end, but no one should have to invest in reading 600 pages of an 800 page book for it to get good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Retellings Read-a-Thon: Guess the Cover

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Welcome to the final challenge of the read-a-thon! This challenge is all bout gorgeous retellings covers. There are six small glimpses of book covers below and all you have to do is guess the book from the sneak peek. Once again, you should be able to find them on retellings lists on Goodreads if you're stumped. There are covers from Beauty and the Beast retellings, The Little Mermaid retellings, Princess and the Pea retellings, and more. You'll get points whether you only solve a few or all of them! Fill out this form to send your answers!

Good luck and happy reading!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Retellings Read-a-Thon: Retellings Crossword

Happy Monday, everyone! Welcome to the second challenge of the read-a-thon! This challenge is a crossword puzzle. There are ten words and each one is the title of a popular retelling. Each clue describes a book title and if you get stuck it might help to take a look at some retellings lists on Goodreads. You'll get points whether you only solve a few words or all of them! Fill out this form to send your answers!

Good luck and happy reading!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Weekly Recap: 5/10 - 5/16


Hi everyone! Look at me doing two recaps in two weeks! What even is life?? Things have SO thankfully been a bit more calm around our house this week. Unfortunately Kovu now has a sprained ankle and is sick of his prescription food, but is otherwise doing well. He's still gaining weight and has spurts of crazy energy every now and then. We did find out that CVS pharmacy filled his prescription with a formulation that included xylitol, which is VERY toxic to dogs. Kovu had been very lethargic for a few days and I only happened to dig through the paperwork for the inactive ingredients after we were told to double his dose. We're so lucky that we didn't accidentally kill him. This dude honestly just needs a break.

In book news, I have some of the best bookish friends! A friend from the bookish world reached out to someone at Harper and told them about everything I've been going through recently with Kovu and told her that I was a huge Daevabad fan. Lo and behold a copy of Empire of Gold showed up in my mailbox this week!! I'm not sure who the Harper contact was, but THANK YOU so much for making this happen for me! I'm deep into the book and I'm loving it so far!

In local news, my state continues to open and I continue to hide in my house unless it's necessary to go somewhere. This week I went to two different places for takeout. At one masks were required and dine in was closed. At the other, everything was business as usual and we were the only ones in the building with masks on. Universal City Walk also opened this week. Things are wild here in Florida.





The topic was books I DNFd for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday the Retellings RAT Began
On Friday there was a fairy tale word scramble
Friday book review of The Midnight Lie


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Friday, May 15, 2020

Book Review: The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 358
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Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

It has been quite awhile since I read the Winner's Trilogy and absolutely fell in love with its world and characters. When I heard that Marie Rutkoski was releasing a new book set in the same world I was eager to dive back in! Alas, the world began to end and this beautiful book sat on my shelf for two months before I finally picked it up. When I did, though, I couldn't put it down!

The Midnight Lie is the story of Nirrim, a girl living in the Ward where the the lowest class on the island are contained within a wall. Nirrim's people are not allowed outside the wall - ever. Nirrim has learned to be content with her life working for Raven, the woman who has raised her since she was abandoned as a baby. But when her paths cross with Sid, a traveler from far away, everything begins to change in more ways than one.

Like in The Winner's Trilogy, the romance is absolutely the standout of this story. Don't get me wrong! It's amazing in several other ways, but the majority of this book explores the relationship with Nirrim and Sid, as Nirrim comes to terms with her feelings. Although I sometimes have issues with fantasy that's romance-heavy, I was absolutely here for it! The relationship between these two was so sweet and heartbreakingly real. Both characters made me fall in love with them by the end and I am dying to get my hands on the sequel to continue their story!

But the rest, the rest! The Midnight Lie is technically set in the same universe as The Winner's Curse, but this island is something different and new. There's magic on the island and a whole new mythology that I can't wait to explore more. The island is divided into three distinct parts and each one is interesting in its own way, but the High Kith's world was especially fascinating. The way magic is interwoven into their society was unique and terrible and amazing.

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book, but it has earned a spot on my favorites shelf! The ending was perfect, but brutal, and I can't believe I'm going to have to wait so long to see what happens next! I'm hoping the two series intertwine a bit more in book two. This is definitely a book you don't want to miss!

Retellings Read-a-Thon: Fairy tale scramble

Happy Friday, everyone! Welcome to the first challenge of the read-a-thon! This challenge is a word scramble. There are ten words and each one is the name of a fairy tale character. Not all of them are immediately recognizable Disney names, but they are all from fairytales you probably know! You just might have to dig a little deeper to solve them all! You'll get points whether you only solve a few words or all of them! Fill out this form to send your answers!

Good luck and happy reading!