Monday, April 30, 2018

The Book Lover's Den No. 25: When the last third of a book spoils everything....

Welcome to my renewed literary musing feature! I have decided 
to post it on Mondays now!

In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.

This Week's Topic
When the last third of a book
spoils everything.....

This post contains several important spoilers. If you haven't yet read this book, and would like to, you might be better off not reading this post. You have been warned! Read at your own risk!

My review of this book can be found HERE.

Many obsessed YA fans out there have either read or are about to read this novel, or perhaps they are halfway through the series. This book had a LOT of hype attached to it before its release, back in May of 2015. So, of course, I grabbed it when I first saw it, sitting in the Book Dept. of a local Target store, sometime in September of that year. I was all set to have an enthralling reading experience!

At first, I was indeed totally enchanted with the story. It's basically a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling, and I was immediately drawn right into the story. Feyre is a skillful hunter, and her family depends on her for their sustenance, as their father has been incapacitated, and thus, unable to hunt. But Feyre is also a sensitive artist, and this is something I was able to relate to right away. She sees the world with an artist's eyes, which is very evident from the author's beautiful prose. 

The whole basis for this retelling is that Feyre has killed a wolf who was really a faerie, and friend of Tamlin, one of the rulers of the Fey Kingdom of Prythian. So Feyre (who is very appropriately named, I think) is taken away from her family, and is held prisoner at this ruler's palace. From there, the story develops with the theme of the original fairy tale, and Feyre comes to love and understand her captor, and the reason for his actions. There's also an ancient curse involved....

This novel was a page-turner for me at first, and I really enjoyed all of the gorgeous descriptions of the Fey Kingdom, as well as the various characters. I was floating blissfully along, although there were also some exciting action passages that made me sit up and allow myself to be immersed in the action. I was all set to give the book five stars, no question!

So what happened?

Well, in my honest opinion, the author ruined the story. Not everyone who has read this book will agree with me, I know. Some might even be aghast that I did not wholeheartedly love this book. Of course, there are reading tastes for everyone. What one reader detests, another will love. But I do have my reasons for not totally loving this book.

First of all, this novel should not be classified as Young Adult Fiction. It should, instead, be labeled as New Adult Fiction, or even better, as straight adult fiction. The funny thing is that it reads like a YA novel until the last third of the book. Then the author inexplicably switches gears. At one point during this last third, Feyre is, well, DISPLAYED AS A SEX OBJECT by another faerie who belongs to a rather sinister Fey court -- the Night Court. His name is Rhysand. What he does is to dress Feyre in EXTREMELY scanty clothing, and parades her around to be seen by the other members of the EVIL Queen Amarantha's court. I am unequivocally stating that Feyre did NOT want to be paraded around like that. Nor did she want to wear this "clothing". But guess what? She can't do a thing about these things, because Rhysand is CONTROLLING HER BODY. She walks where his mind FORCES her to walk, and she has to do what HE wants her to do. 

There are reviewers on Goodreads who, incredibly enough, RAVE about Rhysand. I just have to scratch my head, as I just don't see what could possibly be attractive about a male character who does what I have described above to a female character. 

Second, there's also VERY graphic violence described -- you guessed it -- in the last third of this novel. It really became too much for me at several points in the narrative, and I almost didn't finish the book. I just HAD to see how it all ended, though......

Third, Feyre and Tamlin also have sex, and again, there were graphic details. This is totally outside the bounds of a YA novel. It's not that YA authors won't allow their protagonists -- whether male or female -- to engage in sex. It's that they usually won't provide any details of the act, let alone graphic ones. They will usually just mention that it took place, or else, imply that it did. 

Lastly, after Feyre has been at the evil queen's court for several days, being forced to carry out "challenges", some of which are also graphically gross, she is then given the ultimate test -- she must KILL a faerie, knowingly this time. She is told that, if she doesn't do this, she herself will be killed. SO SHE DOES KILL THAT INNOCENT FAERIE. Now, I understand that this queen is REALLY evil. But WHY did Maas HAVE to let us readers see this by having her FORCE Feyre to commit MURDER?! And WHY didn't Feyre do the only honorable thing, letting herself be killed instead of herself taking a life?! Sure, no one wants to die, but to live at the expense of another?! She could have said, "I will NOT commit murder. Go ahead and kill me." 

I do admit that, were I to be placed in that same situation, I might do exactly the same thing Feyre did. However, the NOBLE thing to do is just that -- allow oneself to be killed, rather than kill another. If Feyre had been such a good person, she would have chosen this route. 

Well, everything went downhill for me after that. Now the female MC had actually killed somebody. Add that to the other stuff I had already disliked, and it's a real wonder I was able to finish the book! I did give it four stars, but I'm still asking myself why I didn't give it three, instead. I guess it was the lush writing that stopped me. There was no arguing with THAT; the book is beautifully-written, and I'm repeating that because it's as true as the book's less savory aspects. 

Of course, after this experience, I had no further interest in the series, ESPECIALLY when I found out that, in the second book, the romance between Tamlin and Feyre DISAPPEARS, and she then enters a romantic relationship with.....RHYSAND. That's right. The guy who dressed her up like a Playboy centerfold and MANIPULATED HER BODY. The very same guy. 

Needless to say, I am TOTALLY DISGUSTED with this development. I REFUSE to continue reading this series. And, I will most likely NOT pick up another Sarah J. Maas book again, especially not if it contains a fickle, murdering female protagonist.

Now, here's the ULTIMATE irony.....this book is VERY popular on Goodreads. There are a LOT of very favorable reviews of it. Even though I stated, in the first paragraph above, that there are many different reading tastes, I have to state that I fail to see the appeal of a man who treats the woman he professes to love, like a SEX OBJECT, even going as far as MANIPULATING HER BODY. But well, look how popular the Fifty Shades of Grey series is. I guess not much has changed at all in this 21st century.....

I ended up donating this book to my local Goodwill store. Perhaps the best thing to do in the future is to buy the ebook first. If I don't like it, then I will forget about getting the print edition. Unfortunately, nowadays, ebooks can be just as expensive as printed books. In some cases, they are MORE expensive. And I adamantly refuse to pay more than $5.99 for a simple download! Lol.


What are your thoughts on
 this topic?
Please leave me a comment
and let me know!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 248: The Falconer, by Elizabeth May

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!

Here's my choice for this week!

The Falconer
(The Falconer, Book 1)
Elizabeth May
Hardcover, 378  pages
Chronicle Books
May 6, 2014
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, 
Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction,
Steampunk, Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is the type of cover, with bold, yet detailed images, that I find simply STUNNING! 

I LOVE all the detail in the dagger's hilt, as well as in the rings, which appears to match it. The young woman's hair is beautifully detailed, as well, and I think its softness contrasts very nicely with the sharpness of that blade. 

The buttons on the young woman's richly green gown are also nicely detailed, as is the delicate lace embroidery on the sleeve of the blouse she's wearing beneath the gown.

Then there's that necklace, or whatever it might be called. It looks PERFECT with the rest of the girl's clothes. It, too, is bold, yet detailed.

The colors used are perfect, too. That green gown contrasts so nicely with the light red hair! And the shade of lipstick the young woman has on is perfect, too, although it IS an anachronism. Lol. But it picks up the highlights on the hair just right!

There is one quibble I have about this cover, and that's the title and author's name. I think the font used should have been a more ornate one, in keeping with the overall medieval feel of the cover, and I would have been happier if the title had been a bit bigger. Other than that, though, I do LOVE this cover!

The brilliant cover designer is Sara Schneider, who is the Executive Design Director at Chronicle Books. She is a graduate of the California College of the Arts as well as Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (not to be confused with the University of Miami, in Miami, Florida).

Schneider was previously the Marketing Specialist at MCI, and the Senior Designer at Jennifer Moria Design, where her clients included Levis, William Sonoma, San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, and Rizzoli.

Online Links
California College of the Arts

What do you think of 
this week's cover?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Buddy Read Update No. 1: Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation
(Dread Nation, Book 1)
Justina Ireland
Hardcover, 464 pages
Bilzer + Bray
April 3, 2018
African-American Fiction, Alternative History, American History, Diverse Reads, Fantasy, 
Feminist Fiction, Historical Fiction,
Horror, Humor, Paranormal Fiction, Satire,
Social Justice, Southern Gothic,
Young Adult Fiction

Be sure to visit Barb's blog to read her half of our "chat"! You can access her post HERE!

This post, as well as that of my fellow 
buddy reader, may contain spoilers!
Read at your own risk!

So here I am, actually reading a HORROR novel! Well, actually, I would call this "horror lite", as the darned zombies are not really the "stars" of this novel. So it's surprisingly tolerable for a non-horror lover like me! Lol.

As I stated in last week's buddy read announcement post, I have embarked upon this brave journey right along with Barb, who is Mom to two lovely Boxer pups, and blogs @ Booker T's Farm -- Books and Nails and Puppy Dog Tales.

Barb and I have a running joke about how I'm such a BIG CHICKEN when it comes to reading horror novels. I really can't stand them! However, this one caught my eye when she featured it in one of her "Can't Wait Wednesday" posts, so I left a favorable comment about it. Then Barb suggested we do a buddy read, and I went for it! And here we are!

Here's our latest "chat" about our progress!

Barb: What do you think about the parts of the letters to her mother at the beginning of each chapter? They kind of bother me, but I am getting used to them more and more.

Maria: I think they're an interesting addition to each chapter. And they make me laugh, too, because what Jane tells her mother is happening at school is the exact OPPOSITE of what's REALLY going on. Lol. These letters highlight Jane's snarky humor. Like when she wrote that she was VERY happy at Miss Preston's, and was learning SO much.... I can picture her tongue firmly in her cheek as she wrote these things! 

Barb: What happened to the family down the road? I have no clue and I feel so sorry that Red doesn't know what happened to his sister.

Maria: Yeah, I know.... Red is not exactly a nice character, where Jane is concerned, but the fact that he's so worried about his sister's whereabouts makes me like him more than I would otherwise. It seems that the mystery of that family is the central theme of this novel. And it's precisely the one that Jane is so determined to solve. This is one of the things that has really intrigued me about this novel, and thus, has kept me glued to the pages!

Barb: I NEED to know more about the Native American that keeps showing up!

Maria: Yeah, that's ANOTHER mystery! I don't like him, by the way. I don't like that HE doesn't like Jane. I wonder why that is.... And I wonder what his connection to this whole business is. WHY would he be involved in whatever is going on? What's in it for him? The inquiring minds of Barb and Maria (and their readers) want to know!!

Barb: I love the dynamic between Jane and Kate (Katherine). I love that they aren't friends but are. I mean, they will be the last to admit it, right?

Maria: This is yet another aspect of this novel that I love! And it's even funny, too. I think Kate really likes and even admires Jane, but, of course, she won't admit it. As for Jane, she thinks Kate is silly for actually WANTING to become an Attendant. She also thinks Kate is much too interested in fashion, when there are more important things to worry about -- such as zombies. And yet, Jane is very nice to Kate. But no, she won't admit to being Kate's friend, either. 

Justina Ireland has actually created a nice twist on "the mean girl at school" stereotype so often found in YA novels. So yes, I love this strange "friendship", too!

Barb: I felt so badly for the people in the theater, and that poor guy who had to stick his hand in the cage. I'm so glad the doctor got what he deserved.

Maria: This was a pretty horrible scene, and I'm even AMAZED it didn't send me running off screaming..... Instead, I kept right on reading the book! Can you believe it? I think what saved me from possibly having a nightmare because of this scene was that my mind automatically blocked the images evoked by the author's descriptions. And I kind of just flew right over the words. I concentrated more on Jane's courage during the whole thing, both when she raised an objection to the doctor's "experiment", and afterward, when all HELL broke loose!

This specific scene was a brilliant description of human obtuseness, as well as the deliberate denial of what one doesn't want to accept. The doctor, being a racist, was firmly convinced that his theory would work. He refused to admit that it might not, either, even when an unexpected person pointed out the common sense result that would inevitably ensue. Yes, he got what he deserved, but it was a tragic thing, nonetheless. I feel even more sorry for the poor "guinea pig"..... He sure did NOT deserve such a fate! I wonder why he didn't turn tail and run out of there! As for the people in the theater, they were innocent bystanders, so to speak, but SOMEBODY in that audience should have noticed and mentioned the HUGE risk involved in the doctor's "experiment"!

This scene even reminds me of the famous Hans Christian Andersen story, "The Emperor's New Clothes". People are just scared to "rock the boat" by stating the obvious. Unfortunately, in this case, it resulted in a tragedy that could easily have been avoided. I consider this scene to be great satirical writing by Justina Ireland!

Barb has just informed me that this book will have a sequel, so I've already "signed up" for the buddy read! I'm just crossing my fingers, though, that "Dread Nation" will continue to be the smart, well-handled satire, racist critique, and feminist-conscious powerhouse that it's been so far, and that the blood and gore will continue to be sort of in the background....

So stay tuned for another update next week, folks! By the way, Barb has also told me that her pups are expert zombie hunters, so I'll use their help if I need to!  :) 

What do you all think?
Have we piqued your curiosity
about this book?
Be sure to let us know!
Don't forget to visit Barb's blog
to get her side of the "chat"!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mini-Review/Giveaway!! When A Vamp Falls, by A.M. Griffin

Welcome to the tour for  
When A Vamp Falls,
sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!!

For my stop, I'm featuring 
a mini-review!
Be sure to enter the tour-wide
giveaway, too!!

When a Vamp Falls
(War of Blood and Bonds, Book 1)
A.M. Griffin
Kindle Edition, 250 pages
Evernight Publishing
March 13, 2018
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Danya Evans’s normal everyday life is turned upside down when one good deed lands her on the opposite end of fangs. The fangs happen to be attached to the sexiest man she’s ever seen.
She knows that she should stay away from the vampire who almost kills her, but everything about Ramsey calls out to her heart and soul.

Ramsey Moreau, a Vampire who has walked Earth for thousands of years, has two regrets. The first is underestimating the two new vampires who’ve found their way into New Orleans and the second is stealing blood from the trusting human he can't get off his mind. His world is mundane to say the least, but when Danya is around he finds a reason to live and love again.

He'll stop at nothing to keep her safe from harm—even go to war to protect the one he loves.

This mini-review is of the excerpt below, and not of the entire book. I do this type of thing on blog tours when the book being promoted REALLY interests me, and this one certainly does!!

This book sure sounds like LOTS of fun!! There are sparks aplenty between the two characters, that's for sure! This scene could even be part of a romantic comedy! While the topic of their conversation is a serious one, the way the author has handled it makes it sound more like a comedy of errors. And I think these two make a GREAT couple; Ramsey is obviously a HUNK with a wicked sense of humor, while Danya is not only beautiful, but a total spitfire. Oh, I can't wait to read this!! Bring on the sparks!!

           The door opened.
Ramsey stared in awe at the beautiful woman in the doorway. Danya’s dark hair hung past her shoulders. Her bangs were severely cut above her eyebrows. Generous lashes framed vibrant green eyes. He’d thought that he’d imagined how pretty she was. But no, she was even prettier.
While he looked at her, drinking the sight of her in, she however, startled, screamed, then tried to slam the door in his face. A well-placed foot stopped her before she could.
“You. You.” She grunted as she pressed her body against the other side of the door.
When that didn’t work she kicked at his foot, trying to dislodge it. “No. No. No. You aren’t real.”
He glanced down at his body. “I’m very much real, sweetheart.”
Her eyes fluttered closed. “This is all a figment of my imagination. I am delusional. This is a symptom of anemia. One. Two. Three.” She took a deep breath, then opened her eyes again.
He gave her a wicked smile. “Still here.”
Danya screamed.
Ramsey cupped his hand over her mouth and wrapped an arm around her waist, drawing her body close to his. She smelled of vanilla and brown sugar. He leaned in to take another languid whiff. Delectable.
She opened her eyes wide, and panic was behind them. He didn’t allow himself time to enjoy how her soft body was against his. He had to get her back inside before she had everyone on her floor spilling into the hallway to see what all the commotion was about.
Ramsey walked her back into her room and used his foot to kick the door closed behind them. He stopped only when her back was pressed against the wall. She shook with terror.
First attack her. Then scare her to death. Perfect.
A sharp pain hit his palm. He pulled away from her mouth to see the red bite mark. “You bit me.” Her bite didn’t do any damage, and the pain was gone already. His body worked quickly to make the repair. It was confusion that made him pull away. He hadn’t expected that.
Another pain, worse, like lightning, hit his groin. He doubled over and backed away.
Being kneed in the balls felt the same whether he were human or vampire. It hurt like hell. “Why did you do that?” he asked in disbelief.
The scared woman that she’d been just moments before was gone, replaced by spit and hellfire. She balled her fists and took a step forward to kick him in his chin. He’d let her beauty distract him but recovered quickly and caught her bare foot mid-air and pushed it, slamming her back against the wall. Before she could react, he was against her body again and in her face.
“Why. Are. You. Trying. To. Hurt. Me?” His nose was less than an inch from hers.
Her stare turned icy. “Because. You’re. Trying. To. Hurt. Me.” She punched his sides then winced. “Ouch. What the hell are you made of? Steel?”
“Dammit. Stop that.” He pinned her hands above her head.
She wiggled in vain, doing nothing but making his body react to hers. He lifted her arms higher, raising her to her tiptoes. She tried to knee him again, but he blocked her by maneuvering his hip and sliding his leg between hers.
He tried to ignore her warm heat spreading over his thigh. “I’m not here to hurt you.”
She stopped struggling long enough to glare at him. “Really? What do you call this or what you did last night?”
He let out a curse. “If I let you go do you promise not to attack me again?”
He didn’t believe her. “I only came to make sure that you had recovered from last night. I didn’t mean to take as much blood as I did.”
“Everyone thinks that I’m crazy because of you.”
“And for that I apologize.” She relaxed a little. “So can I let you go now?” He really wanted to keep her where she was, pinned against him, and take her. And if he didn’t create space between them that’s exactly what he would’ve done.
She gave a short nod.
He let go of her hands and stepped away and kept going until he was against the wall, giving them both space.
“You bit me,” she said again. “Why? I was just trying to help you.”
“And you did, by giving me your blood.”
She held up a finger. “Let’s make things clear. I didn’t give you anything. You took it.”
Yeah, that sounded about right. Hearing her say it made him feel even worse. “If I had asked?”
“The answer would’ve been no.”
“It was a life or death situation. Without you I wouldn’t be standing here now.”
She snorted. “And that’s a good thing?”
“That I’m alive? I should think so.”
“Alive and coming back to finish what you started?”
He raised a questioning eyebrow.
She pointed to her neck. “To kill me.”
“I hardly have intentions to kill you.”
She crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. She looked causal, even relaxed, but
her muscles were tight. She was getting ready for a fight.
“Thank you for saving me.”
“I could’ve died. You left me with a hemoglobin of 4.4!” Then she pulled her eyebrows together in thought. “What is it supposed to be normally?” she mumbled.
“Humans should have a hemoglobin of—”
“I’m not asking you, mister,” she snapped.
“Ramsey Moreau.”
“That’s my name.” She clenched her jaws. He let out a light chuckle. “Nice to meet you,
Danya Evans.”
She took a step to the side, sliding further away from him. “How do you know my name?”
He winked, giving her a devious smile. “I heard your conversations with the officers last night.”
“Creep much?”
“And I suppose that you couldn’t have found it in your heart to corroborate my story to save me from the humiliation of being labeled crazy?”
“Ah, no.” She cursed under her breath and kicked at the carpet. “But if you would let me,
I’d like to make it up to you.”
She turned her head. “And how could you do that? You can’t give me my blood back.
The transfusions took care of that.”
“I want to take you out to eat.” That hadn’t been his plan, but suddenly he didn’t want to leave her. Yet.

Purchase Links

A. M. Griffin is a wife who rarely cooks, mother of three, dog owner (and sometimes dog owned), a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She's a hard worker whose two favorite outlets are reading and writing. She enjoys reading everything from mystery novels to historical romances and of course fantasy romance. She is a believer in the unbelievable, open to all possibilities from mermaids in our oceans and seas, angels in the skies and intelligent life forms in distant galaxies.

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