**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for the books I’ve recently read. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z. **
Good news, friends! My temporary position has become full time! I’m so excited to be brought on by the company I’ve been working for so long, but it’ll be a busy next few weeks as I take on more responsibilities. I’m hoping to continue a good balance between work and blogging still, but if a post is late or missing, you’ll know why!
As you’ll see with my reviews this week, my latest obsession with YA hasn’t slowed yet – I can’t get enough! When I was younger, I read my fair share of YA and Juvenile Fiction, but it seems so different these days – bigger and better, everything I wish was available in my teens. I’m so jealous of the youth today for having such a wonderful selection and wide range of genres within YA to choose from. Most of the novels I read in middle school were family focused, real world adventures or romance novels – a fantasy or dystopian novel for teens was unheard of then. But, as we all know, YA is not just for the young! Their themes speak to tragic and emotional personal battles, outlining issues we can all relate to at any age. What are your favorite YA novels?
The Chimes by Anna Smaill
The Chimes is an exquisite link between the literary world and the power of music – set in a dystopian world where memory is forbidden and written language forgotten, where music is the last remaining key to the past and the only way to build a new future. With his parents’ deaths, Simon journeys to London, a directive given by his mother, a last hope for building his future and discovering the truths of the past, but with drastic change to his every day routine, his memory is flooded and his quest forgotten. He joins a pact of runners, a group of teenagers searching the deserted underground tunnels of London for fragments of palladium, a metal that disrupts the memory erasing effect of the chimes. By honing his ability to retain memories and those of others, Simon finds an ally in Lucien, the leader of the pact and a talented musician, trained by the very order responsible for the demise of memory. With great imagination and musical prose, The Chimes is not a novel to miss – a great choice for LGBT Pride Month.
“How without mercy and without blame we have all of us been. And how careless to have misplaced so much.”
Where to begin? This novel is amazing, and thinking back on my reading, I’m tempted to add another star to my rating! The novel begins quite suddenly with Simon’s short journey to London. Once there, the language of the action is taken by the melody of confusion – both for Simon and for me. I wasn’t quite sure on the specifics of the world Simon lives, what are they hunting for in the river? Why is it important? The specifics of their world are only revealed as Simon is able to recover his memories and learns them for himself, bonding the reader to Simon’s plight and making for a thrilling discovery. Though, once the secrets behind the Order are revealed, the novel comes to a quick conclusion. This is the reason for the lower rating – the end is both rushed and anticlimactic with little more than a simple explanation behind the creation of the chimes. I was left wanting more, more of the history and more of the whys and the hows, but especially more of an ending for Simon and Lucien.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the fantastical retelling of Beauty and the Beast we’ve all been waiting for. Living on the outskirts of Prythian, the land of the Fae, nineteen year old Feyre is out hunting for her family’s survival when startled by the presence of a wolf. Days later, after selling the wolf’s pelt, she’s visited by a beast demanding penance by an ancient treaty between the fae and human kind: death, or her return with him to Prythian for the rest of her days. Little does she know, but the beast is no animal, but Tamlin, High Lord of the Spring Court and high fae. Expecting to be treated prisoner, she finds herself treated equal with all the indulgences the court has to offer laid at her feet, but with a magical blight o’er the land, there’ll be vast mysteries to uncover as she finds herself caught amidst an ancient war between faeries.
“I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.”
I absolutely loved this novel! Full of action, mystery, lore, and romance, there’s absolutely nothing lacking in this beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Let’s just start with Feyre – I love her character. She’s smart and independent, but she’s also vulnerable and while she doesn’t often take no for an answer or let others push her down, she easily lets her family take advantage, a soft spot I think we can all relate to. Though her relationship with Tamlin is difficult from the start, their teasing slowly turns to respect, to friendship, and then to love, a path all to familiar in life. Part of their relationship is based on his kindness, for the first time in her life, Feyre is treated as an equal, someone to be cared for and not forgotten, something that truly opens her eyes to Tamlin, but I can’t help but feel something desperate lurks in his intentions.
PLEASE STOP READING – SPOILERS!
My issues with the novel begin with the rite – though it’s an ancient tradition that he’s required to take part, I still can’t believe she’d forgive him so easily. He slept with someone else and had the gall to pursue her right after doing so, like an animal. He’s controlling and more than the gentle giant we’re introduced to at the novel’s start. And for his chance to finally see her under the mountain, he spends their time lusting for her when he could be consoling her, helping her. He does nothing but for himself, but that’s just my two cents. Then there’s the riddle – wasn’t it glaringly obvious?? Each line seemed to correspond perfectly to a specific character and their given background, but given her duress, I can see her difficulty in solving the puzzle. Oh, but Rhysand. I’m still not sure what to make of him – why should he help her? And why is he so much more attractive than Tamlin? His cunning and teasing – he always brings about Feyre’s snarkier side. Still, I thought she died, so why is the bargain still valid? I thought faeries were always specific with their wording and all about their loopholes – so with her new beginning, the bargain should be dead in the water. Guess we’ll just have to see what happens in the latest installment, The Court of Mist and Fury!
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
The Darkest Part of the Forest is the perfect fusion of modern life and faerie lore, a combination I couldn’t resist. Hazel and her brother Ben live in a magical town on the outskirts of the forest, side by side with the magical fae and a mysterious glass coffin in the heart of the forest. Waves of tourists flock to their little town to visit the peculiar horned boy asleep in the coffin, but the people of Fairfold know better than to test the limits of the fae. Never eat their food, never drink the wine, never say thank you… There are rules to be followed to ensure peace between kinds, until the day the glass is shattered and the enchanted prince awakes. As secrets are revealed and loyalties made, Hazel will have to trust her instincts to save the town.
“Hazel, Hazel, blue of eye. Kissed the boys and made them cry.”
A modern fairy tale with faeries? Count me in! I really enjoyed the premise of the novel, expecting to be wowed by enchanting characters and faerie lore, and while Black did deliver on those points, the melding between the modern and the fantastical didn’t always work. The novel novel felt separated into two parts, one story in which Hazel is a normal teenage girl: family problems, boy crazy, self-doubting, a total tease, and the second part in which Hazel is a bad ass knight – kicking ass and slaying monsters. As more of her story is revealed, we see she has even more problems that implied at the beginning, an element of the story I struggled with. Yes, the end of the novel focuses more on her childhood and parental abandonment all those years, but it’s not really dealt with, so much as acknowledged, and for a girl who’s spent years exerting so much violence – how is she so normal? But, that aside, Hazel is pretty great: loyal, brave, willing to stand up for others, she’s stronger than she knows and makes for an excellent hero. Sub-story to the plot, there’s a good deal of romance thrown into the mix. Hazel falls for a changeling, Jack (yup! I really love that there’s a changeling in this story – maybe it needs another star) while her brother falls for the faerie prince, an unexpected romance but my favorite. While Hazel’s relationship seemed rush in its progression, the story reveals Ben has been a frequent visitor to the glass coffin for years, talking to the prince as he would a friend – culminating to a grand gesture and heartbreak. Together, the fantastical elements, romance, and focus on friendship makes for an amazing read, AND another great YA for LGBT Pride Month – and yes, just another fun happenstance in that regard.
What have you been reading lately?
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