A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas – Book Review

We’ve been patiently waiting for this book for years, and as soon as I read that first page it felt like I was home.

As I started this series, I thought back to when I first met Sarah at The Hay Festival in 2015. I remember listening intently to Sarah’s passion and love for this series, unbeknownst to the never-ending joy, emotional comfort and magical wonder it would bring me. Fast forward six years, and here I am, once again enamoured and emotionally ruined after experiencing the incredible masterpiece that is A Court of Silver Flames.

There’s something wonderfully familiar and comforting about Sarah’s writing, it takes you by the hand and leads you back into this incredibly detailed and limitless world that many of us readers like to call home. It warmly welcomes you to join these characters on their journeys of love, self-discovery and bravery, and I can’t help but consider them as family. It’s silly, but these characters and the world Sarah has created makes me so emotional and have become apart of my soul. Words will never express how much I adore this series and the wonder and escape that it has granted me. And for that, I will be forever grateful. Thank you, Sarah, truly.

As much as I adore Feyre and Rhys, it was time for them to pass the pen on and for Nesta’s and Cassian’s story to be told. And what a story it was. Nesta is hated and broken. But her journey isn’t about ‘fixing herself’ because, in reality, she isn’t broken, she’s hurt and trapped in her spiral of self-loathing. Sarah explains Nesta’s hostility and fears with grace and understanding. Her character arc isn’t as simple as ‘getting over it’ but is instead one of delicate and powerful determination and acceptance. Her struggle is painful and messy, and it’s not pretty or clear on how she’ll learn to move forward or if she’ll learn to move forward at all. Sarah always portrays trauma and mental health beautifully, she doesn’t sugar coat things instead she shows them as they are which is real, complex and relatable. We see brilliant, vulnerable sides to these characters that we haven’t really explored before, all of which are depicted gracefully from beginning to end. We are not all easily healed. Healing isn’t always a straight journey, it’s a mountain climb, one step forward two steps back and once again Sarah manages to capture that in Nesta’s journey, one which I am honoured to have taken alongside her.

This series has always been about family, and Nesta’s new chosen family and friends are her support system and gives her the strength to fight. She accepts the love she thinks she deserves but, it is through Cassian’s steadfastness and Gwyn and Emerie’s sisterly bond and unified support that helps her tear down the stone barriers from her past to form a loving environment from which she strengthens and blossoms. Like the House of Wind, Nesta finds a home for herself and learns to face the darkness and to focus on what brings her joy, it was a pleasure to witness her grow, and I particularly enjoyed watching her fall back in love with music.

And then we have Nesta’s relationship with Cassian, a relationship that starts with playful and witty remarks and escalates into sexual teasing and mutual wanting. Cassian refuses to give up on Nesta, and it’s his dedication that ignites a relationship that rattles the stars. It’s clear why these two are mates, they are two sides of the same coin and compliment each other beautifully.

The smut. Hot damn. Is it too forward to say that I loved it? I’ve taken my first steps into adulthood alongside this series, and it’s refreshing to see these book mature with its reads and develop into something so much more. Those intimate scenes between Nesta and Cassian are wild and passionate yet controlled and loving, this was different kind of love and one, which I have fallen head over heels for.

I should also mention that addition Azriel chapter, it was EVERYTHING! And I could 100% see him with our little warrior Gwyn. Don’t you just love it when Sarah teases us with new relationships!

As expected, I cried a lot at this book. Every time I read these books, I give my heart to these characters, and they return it broken, battered and yet filled with more love and wonder than before. There were moments, like the Winter Solstice and those final chapters, in which these characters achieve ultimate happiness and found myself crying with joy because everything was perfect. There’s so much more that I want to discuss but I think it’s best if I hold off on the spoilers for now!

Once again, Sarah has crafted an emotionally intense and beautifully perfect masterpiece that has gifted me with a reading experience like no other. These characters mean the world to me, so being able to join them again on another adventure was the ideal escape and one I wished would never end. It was the perfect ending – and new beginning – to Nesta and Cassian’s relationship and a journey that will stay with me forever. I finished the entire book in 24-hours, and I’m honestly considering re-reading it again soon because I loved every page so much. Like us, Nesta has found her way home, and she is a reminder that we all deserved to be loved and to have the courage to go out into the world, face our fears and climb that mountain.

Mini Reviews – Song of Achilles, The Witchling’s Girl and The Cup and the Prince

Welcome to Blogmas Day 3! I haven’t written a book review in months, so I thought I was about time I shared my overdue opinion on some recent reads!

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Don’t you love it when you finish a book and then spend days trying to collect your thoughts into complete and coherent sentences? This book left me in awe and I just want to re-read it again and again. I now REFUSE to read or watch another Troy retelling that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that Achilles and Patroclus were lovers, as Miller has crafted a beautifully heartbreaking love-story.

I knew the story. I knew what was going to happen. But the enchanting quality in Millers prose lures us into the comfort of caring for these characters. The emotions shared between Achillies and Patroclus are profoundly physical, and those last five chapters tore the heart from my chest, leaving me empty and alone. I’m still unable to full comprehend my thoughts and emotions about this book but its fair to say that it has earned its place as one of my all time favourites.

 I received these following books from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Witchling’s Girl by Helena Coggan – I picked this book up around Halloween time as I wanted something spooky to read but instead I got something completely different. This book is haunting. Coggan’s beautifully evocative prose and world building surrounds a battling story of love and death that will break readers hearts. The characterisation and development is what makes this book truly stunning, Haley’s succession to becoming the Witchling is one heck of a journey that I’m thankful to have experienced. I can’t recommend this book enough, everything about it is uniquely wonderful!

The Cup and the Prince by Day Leitao – This is probably one of my biggest disappointments of 2020 and it breaks my heart to admit that because I hate writing bad reviews. As many of you know I was hooked by this book’s synopsis but sadly this is one of those rare cases of a great premise but not so great execution.

I’ve never DNF’d a book but after reading the first chapter, I was close and instantly knew that I wasn’t going to click with the overly simple writing style and characters. Our protagonist Zora is trying to be this powerful and feminist figure but instead ends up feeling naive and indifferent. However, the plot was pretty solid, and the world Leitao has created has the potential to become something really intriguing. I feel like the only person who didn’t like this book, but if you’re looking for a fast paced and easy fantasy adventure then this might be something to look into!

The Raven Boys Series by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Book #1)

I went into this book with high expectations and believe me I wasn’t disappointed. Stiefvater has created a unique and quirky band of characters that you can’t help but love as we join them on their journey of discovery and adventure. This book encapsulates everything wonderfully classic about treasure hunting adventures, and provides us with an intricate and imaginative storyline that focusing on the mystery behind ley lines and Welsh folk lore. What really makes this book special is it’s characters, they’re unique individuals that, despite their differences, compliment each other perfectly. Each of them had their own personality and realness to them; they’re all also a little weird and I love it!

The Dream Thieves (Book #2)

It breaks my heart to say this, but this was my biggest disappointment of the year, I knew it was going to be difficult for this book to top its predecessor but I just felt like something vital was missing. I felt like we were missing the camaraderie and brotherhood of the first book, I understand that it’s good for each characters to have their own time and storyline but it just felt a little empty. Despite this Ronan is one of my favourite characters, and it was heartbreaking to discover more about him and the nightmares that torment him.

The last 50 pages were intense! Everything seemed to happen and then it just ended? Thank goodness I had the next book at arms length, as I don’t think I could have patiently waited for its release.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Book #3)

I was so happy when I finished this book, because I loved it. I was so worried that I wasn’t going to love it after the second book but so much happened in this book that I loved. We’re one step closer to discovering Glendower, and believe me when I say that this journey is nothing short of eventful. I’m finally clicking with the writing style and I’m starting to appreciate how beautiful and dimensional Stiefvater’s style is, there’s just something about it that pulls you further into the page.

She is also teasing us with all these relationships and I can’t take it. I’m not just talking about Blue and Gansey but Ronan and Adam! They’re completely different yet compliment each other beautifully, all the little things that happen between them are just adorable and I need more. These characters have been through so much together, their interactions always bring a smile to my face and I love exploring more about each character, they’re all so well thought-out and real. I just pray that they all end up okay, I don’t think I can deal with anymore deaths.

The Raven King (Book #4)

Depending on where you began the story, it is about friendship. This series was never about Glendower but the unbreakable bond of our beloved characters as they try to save each other from the darkness.

Stiefvater’s writing style is magically unique and has the power to create peacefully unnerving and impressionistic scenes that are equally beautiful and haunting. The complexity of her storylines and the way in which her characters intertwine with each other, adds another layer of intimate adoration for this series, that left me wishing for more. For me Ronan was the standout character in this series, his character development and interactions are among some of my favourites and I’m happy that he got the happy ending he deserved. This was a perfectly fitting conclusion to a masterfully artistic series that’s bursting with wonder and magic, and if you haven’t read it yet, then I highly recommend you do!

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas

Crescent City is a perfectly crafted masterpiece. Once again, Maas excels at creating a unique fantasy world filled with an equally fantastic cast of characters and an unexpected storyline that is never once predictable. Like I’ve said before, I could read Sarah’s shopping list and I’d love it, there’s just something wonderfully magical about her writing that sends me head over heels and into her captivating worlds and adventures.

I didn’t read the synopsis before reading as I wanted to go into it blind, so those first few chapters left me stunned and savouring every page. I’m huge murder mystery and crime solving fanatic so this combined with the art of Sarah’s writing was everything I wanted and more. Everything was perfectly paced and pocketed with revelations and of course some unexpected surprises! Admittedly the world building was slightly overwhelming thanks to its intricate detailing and the unique blend of fantasy and futuristic but it wasn’t long till it became second nature and a world that I want to discover more of.

Sarah has the ability to perfectly craft an imaginative and compelling storyline that is enhanced by her breathtakingly attractive and witty cast of characters that you can’t help but instantly love. Bryce is strong-willed, quick witted, emotionally raw and has her fair share of flaws and problems; everything about her was quintessential Maas and I loved her. Crescent City is ultimately her journey of self-discovery and acceptance, and it was a privilege to have been able to share it.

Now let’s gush about Hunt! I think the reason I’m still single is that I’m waiting for one of Sarah’s fictional heartthrobs to come and sweep me and my high expectations off my feet! Him and Bryce at two sides of the same coin. Together they fill the voids of pain inflicted upon them and enable them to experience an undying love that will endure and overcome anything thrown their way. Their interactions are heartfelt but shadowed by their battling wit and sarcasm to create a thoughtful and well paced romance with fleeting moments of sexual tension and, of course, heartbreak.

Right from the first chapter I knew this was going to be a five star read that I’d struggle to put down! Everything about it has been crafted with delicate precision and endless imagination, it’s perfect.

Out of Love by Hazel Hayes

‘A breakup is like a death without a funeral.’ 

Oh Hazel you’ve done it again, haven’t you? I finished Out of Love this morning and all I want is a big cup of tea and an even bigger hug; I’ve been left an emotional wreck. For the past five years I’ve followed Hazel on all her creative journeys, her short-film Happy and Time of the Month series being a stand-out favourites and videos I continue to re-watch, always with a box of tissues at the ready. So, when I heard she was writing a novel, I knew I was in for a treat.

Hazel posses the rare ability to craft an effortlessly real and raw narrative, that takes its readers by the hand and invites them to experience the intimate inner-workings of her characters psyche and emotions. The first chapter breaks your heart, and we spend the rest of the novel, alongside our narrator, tentatively putting ourselves back together and remising on the highs and lows of love. Most of us have endured the repercussions of heartbreak and even if you are fortunate enough to have avoided such pain, then still you won’t be immune to the poignant and soul-stirring effects of her writing. The narrative is pocketed with witty sarcasm and Hazels trademark cynical humour that masks the true sentiment of a break-up, creating a warming sense of security that successfully avoids the sappy cliches of many contemporary love stories,

Hazel manages to capture the essence of a break-up and those final stages of a relationship beautifully, the entire novel is a treasure trove of powerfully meaningful quotes. Each turning off the page uncovers another delicate layer of intimacy, as we delve further not only into our protagonists relationships but our own. The novel starts off as a ‘break-up in reverse’ but is ultimately an individual journey of self-discovery and worth. The narrative is poetically human and handles heavy themes of abuse and mental health with the upmost respect and awareness.

Like our protagonists, I struggle with endings, but I closed this book and left these characters with an overwhelming hope and optimism. I’m grateful to have shared this journey and I only wish that one day I will be able to write half as well as Hazel. I hope in the future I’ll have the opportunity to thank Hazel in person for everything she’s unknowingly helped me with and for being (I know it sounds cheesy) but a truly wonderful inspiration and friend.

Nevernight Trilogy by Jay Kristoff – 12 Days of Blogmas

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

A mysteriously artful and exhilarating read that refused to be put down and one which has earned a place as one of my favourite reads of 2019. It is clear that the writing style is either a hit or miss with readers, but for me it was a beautifully crafted masterpiece filled with unique and descriptive metaphors that came to life on the page. Mia is a powerful and fiery protagonist that successfully drives the story along a path of unexpected twists and turns. Her developing relationship with Tric is again a new favourite, and I especially enjoyed their playful conversations and blossoming romance. Everything about this book is incredible, Mia journey is one that needs to be shared and enjoyed by readers and is one which is constantly filled with intense fight scenes, carefree and foulmouthed language and a level of sass that remains unbeaten.

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

After falling utterly in love with everything Nevernight, I had very high expectations for Godsgrave and its fair to say that Kristoff has once again surpassed my expectations and has crafted an exhilarating read filled with jaw-dropping moments and surprise twists. Mia still remains one of my favourite fictional characters, she’s fierce, intelligent and emotionally raw, leaving us readers with a character that feels real and thoughtful. I particularly enjoyed the witty remarks from both Mr Kindly and Eclipse (and Mia)! In this book, Mia is forced to train as a Gladiator in order to accomplish her lifelong desire to assassinate two of the most powerful men, and believe me when I say that the fight scenes in this book hold a grand and cinematic quality; they are beautifully intense and page-turning. Once again, Kristoff excels at creating a unique fantasy world filled with equally fantastic cast of characters and an unexpected storyline that is never once predictable.

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

I wasn’t prepared for this series to finish, believe me when I say that I savoured every page. I was expecting a grand and fitting conclusion for Mia, and that is exactly what we received, the fight scenes we bigger, the relationships were stronger and the whole experience was unforgettable. I cried, which isn’t really a surprise but Kristoff manages to give these characters a sense of realism and an unexpected emotional connection that has you praying for their survival and much deserved happy ending. What dominates this book is the intensity of the action and the beautifully choreographed fight scenes that allow our characters to shine and do what they do best. Kristoff also manages to include love triangle without lowering the tone and making it cheesy, all the emotions are raw, real and heartbreaking. Mia and her gang of assassins is a group I’ve learned to love and cherish, I’m going miss her witty interactions, impulsive nature and killer instinct. Thank you Jay for creating a wonderfully imaginative and compelling story packed full of memorable and unique characters, this whole trilogy has been a ride from start to finish and is an experience that has inspired to explore my own writing capabilities.

Strange the Dreamer Duology by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I went into this book completely blind, so trust me when I say I utterly blown away by Taylor’s endless imagination and skill in creating a uniquely unexpected masterpiece that is filled with intricate descriptions and beautiful characterisation. This book was refreshingly unlike anything I’ve read before, the limitless scope of Taylor’s world and perfect strangeness of her characters makes this such a memorable and enchanting read that left me eager for more. Admittedly at times Taylor’s heavily detailed writing was a challenge to get through but it was worth it for that ending! Lazlo’s childlike optimism and desire to explore the world was adorable and was an attitude that I also shared when reading as Taylor’s world is one full of mysteries and unanswered questions. Again Sarai was such a heartbreakingly wonderful character who I couldn’t help but love as she searches for an escape from the claustrophobic isolation she’s been forced to endure. This was my first Laini Taylor read, and I’m sure it certainly won’t be the last.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

I have a confession to make, I didn’t love this book as much as everyone else and I don’t know why? Taylor successfully crafts a beautifully unique world filled with wonderfully developed characters but for me there was something missing, but I can’t say what. Weird, right? Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable and captivating read that picks up right after the shocking events of book one, throwing us gracefully back into the magical and dark world of Weep. The fleeting moments between Lazlo and Sarai are small, precious and so lovely that they make my little heart flutter and I can’t praise Taylor enough for her well-paced and delicate development of all of her characters and storyline. I hated Mine throughout the first book, and slowly but surly my opinion of her began to change as we delved into her subconscious past, proving once again to never judge a book by its cover. Everything is handled with such care and intricate thought and it is clear that Taylor’s imagination is limitless.

Mini Reviews – Circe, The Night Circus and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Circe by Madeline Miller

I finally gave into the hype surrounding this book and let me say that everything said about this book is true, it is a wonderfully original and captivating read that explores the shadows of villainized women Greek Mythology. Millers choice to tell Circe’s story in first person was genius, it made transcending her emotions and hurting off the page more impactful and somewhat realistic. Her journey is one of many delicate and divine layers as she grows from a naive and hopelessly blind nymph to a powerful and compassionate heroine who’s weaknesses only excel her quest of love and acceptance. Throughout the book we get glimpses into other myths but storyline is solely Circe’s personal tale of heartbreak, desire and motherhood. A beautiful masterpiece filled with thought-provoking and powerful quotes, this book is a must read for all.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Prepare to be transported to the beautiful and enchanting world of the Night Circus where anything is possible thanks to Morgenstern’s magically intertwined storylines and sparkling prose which creates a place that is majestic and thoroughly irresistible.Behind the scenes of Le Cirque des Rêves, there is a tournament underway between two magicians who have been trained since childhood for this exact purpose by their instructors. Morgenstern includes every element you’d want in a book, a whirlwind romance, a beguiling mystery and peculiar characters that drive the story. This truly captivating adventure is proof that magic does exists.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

It is clear why Gail Honeyman’s debut novel ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ won last year’s Costa Book Award as is a stunning example of a beautifully written and profound novel that touches on a collection of different issues and aspects that will leave readers feeling wrecked in the best and worst ways possible. Eleanor is lonely, damaged and awkward and every day of her life is the same, but one night, all of that changes rather abruptly. Eleanor is a uniquely refreshing and quirky character but that doesn’t stop readers from establishing a connection with her and understanding why she is, the way she is. Instead, we take her by the hand and join her on her emotional journey as she experiences different events that act as a catalyst for change and wonderful character development.

An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes (Book 1)

An Ember in the Ashes is an original and gripping storyline that is carefully filled with a wide cast of characters and page-turning moments that will have readers unexpectedly blown away. There’s always a danger in creating a character who is overwhelmed by fear and is forced into bravery but Tahir crafts our protagonist Laia beautifully. She’s not your typical heroine instead she is a scared and lonely girl going against every instinct to save her brother and we as the reader have the pleasure of joining her on her adventure and character development. And then we have Elias, who’s dark and mysterious exterior masks his kind and honest heart, and again is another character who exhibits masterful development. Along with loveable protagonists Tahir is brilliant at creating characters that are equally villainous and cruel, brace yourselves as the Commandant will have your blood boiling! Tahir again masters the fluidity and distinctiveness of multiple perspectives, allowing the narrative to stay face paced and engaging. A perfect example of new-aged YA, that subverts the overused and cliched tropes whilst providing us with a wonderfully exhilarating read.

A Torch Against the Night (Book 2)

Picking up right where we left off, Tahir has once again crafted a wondrous story and book I found nearly impossible to put down. I thought I knew where this story was going but I kept being pleasantly surprised and shocked. Tahir’s writing leaves you hanging on to every word and has mastered the ability in crafting a well paced storyline that although may not be perfect, it is one which is certainly entertaining. Laia is more determined than ever to free her brother, a determination that fuels her own courage and fight. As much as I like Laia, Helene was my favourite perspective to read, her internal battles make her a more dimensional and layered character with a narrative that is nail-bitting and heart-breaking.

A Reaper at the Gates (Book 3)

This book was beyond intense, it was an exhilarating and wild read pocketed with moments of pure shock. I devoured this book in a couple days as Tahir made it so easy to be transported back into the world and it’s gripping storyline. I enjoyed the fact we were able to discover more of this fictional world and meet more characters I know will play an important role in the next book! Tahir’s use of prophecies is relevant throughout the series but in particularly in this book. They are all nearly thought-out and disguised by a shroud of unexpectedness, leaving gaping moments of surprise. Admittedly I found Ellis’s’s struggles a bit repetitive and I wish we had more time to explore Darin’s character but aside for that i really enjoyed joining these characters on their on their ongoing quest.

Mini Reviews – Shades of Magic Series by V.E Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Book 1)

A wonderfully captivating read that takes place in a unique and complex world crafted with the upmost perfection and thought. There is no limits or bounds to Schwabs imagination as she successfully transports us to a world of chaos and magic. Schwab creates a cast of instantly love able characters who we have the pleasure of following on an adventure that is filled with those page turning moments of anticipation and suspense. Laia Bard’s wit, strong-minded mentality and habit of getting herself into trouble makes her an ideal protagonist for story as wildly exhilarating as this. Our second protagonist Kel, is one surrounded by an air of mystery and complexity, making him a character you can’t help but care about. His is blossoming relationship with Laia is one I’m eager to continue exploring as well as the secrets they both hide. Admittedly the world building was slightly overwhelming thanks to its intricate detailing but it wasn’t long till it became second nature and a style that I now adore.

A Gathering of Shadows (Book 2)

There aren’t enough words to describe how much I adore these characters and this series, each page is crafted to the uttermost perfection and is layered with a delicate narrative and magical moments that make it impossible to put down. Schwab’s imagination is unlimited and breathtaking, there is so much depth and detail to these characters and to this world, it truly feels like you’re right there with them. I adore Lila, and seeing her discover new things about herself and develop new (and existing) relationships was one of my favourite elements, alongside all the action and trouble she tended to find herself in! The addition of the tournament was the perfect opportunity to discover and explore of more of Schwab’s wonderfully unique world and the role in which magic plays within them. Brace yourself for a fantasy adventure like no other!

A Conjuring of Light (Book 3)

A fitting and intense conclusion to an incredibly captivating series that is filled with magical moments and an equally magical and inthralling narrative. So much happens in this book and I devoured every moment with a feverish enjoyment and treasured every character interaction. Lila’s hot-headed and fierce ability to find trouble at every turn makes her a force to be reckoned with, and then we have the mysterious and brave Kell who will do anything to protect the ones he loves. Together they create the perfect duo that us readers can’t help but adore. The battle scenes we witness are well paced and thoughtful, in the sense that Schwab has the ability to transport you right into the heart of the action rather than sitting on the sidelines spectating. It breaks my heart that this series is ending and I pray that this isn’t the last we see of Lila, Kell and the rest of their team.