I have never read a greater hook than the one I read in, ‘In Five Years,’ by Rebecca Serle. Dannie Kohan goes to sleep one night engaged, and wakes up five years in the future, getting a small glimpse of a moment in time – but with an entirely different man than the one she became engaged to. This sets off a chain of events that forever impacts Dannie’s life, especially when Dannie actually meets the other man from her dream.
The fantastic hook and premise set far too high of an expectation for me, and as the book played out, I found myself disappointed and wanting. I thought I was opening up a dynamic love story, but it turned out to be a sad tale of friendship, more than anything. Had Serle labeled their work as contemporary fiction, rather than the time-travel romance tale it was marketed as, I think this would have prevented such the let down that I felt.
As to the beautifully wonderful things that Serle did fantastically, the structure of the novel was quite intriguing, as the reader already knew the ending. The real reason I kept reading was to figure out how Serle masterfully tucked together an intricate web of a story, towards the ending revealed to us from the very beginning.
Overall rating: 🖤🖤🖤🖤 Romance rating: 18+ (Bumped up from the previous novel, due to the portrayal of some of the darker romantic themes.) I enjoyed this book so much more than the first in the series! There was beautiful character development on Feyre’s part. Maas has the ability to incorporate such real feeling emotions in her characters. In the previous book, a quart of thorns and roses, there seems to be the general consensus that it had a very beauty and the beast feel to it. With the second book, a quart of missed and fury, it had a different flavor all its own. (Despite there being the familiar theme of stealing away Feyre from the world she knew before) The world building in this book was better than the last, and the unique chemistry that forms between the characters was more palpable than the previous book. The plot development shows that Sarah J Maas really considered her overarching goal for the series before she ever put pen to paper for the first novel, and for that I truly commend her.
However, the unrealistic character transformations for Feyre’s love interests really became distracting for me. The biggest issue that I had with the second book in her series, and the reason why I couldn’t give it a full five stars/hearts, is that I just didn’t find the timeline and love interest character swap to be believable. The main character, Feyre, had a change of heart regarding two very important characters, and I think those feelings that Maas wrote felt very organic and genuine. But I just didn’t buy into the good guy suddenly becoming a bad guy and the bad guy suddenly becoming the good guy. It’s not that the storyline itself is unbelievable, but the abrupt character shifts just didn’t make sense. Some actions aren’t fully explained, leaving the reader to wonder why the new good guys did bad things in the past and the new bad guys did good things. The ending seemed to be one of those too good to be true endings, where our main character Fayre pulls off a challenging heist over an ancient, more prepared adversary.
Despite the drawbacks of the second book, I personally would favor it more than the first and will be reading the rest of the series eagerly. Sarah J. Maas’s ability to write in beautiful emotional characters is certainly one of her greatest talents, and though I had several questions throughout the book, I still continued reading so I can continue on Feyre’s journey with her.
Overall rating: 🖤🖤🖤.🖤 Romance rating: flexible 18+ I went back and forth on how to rate this book, and I struggled for a while on putting my finger on exactly what it was that pulled this book back from being rated 4 stars. Grace Draven cultivates immediate intrigue in the first chapters of Phoenix Unbound, and I found myself turning page after page eagerly. The middle began to lull for me, and the pacing slowed. The characters are compelling, so I continued reading towards the ultimate crescendo of the novel, and JUST when I thought Draven was going to pull the rug out from under my expectations as a reader, the direction shifted and the novel tied together in a wholly unexpected way. I think this would have worked if the twist had felt more planned, and less crafted by happenstance. I feel there is a difference between a plot twist, and finishing a series with an unexplained bang – just to have some sort of ending. For those that have read the book or intend to, I am speaking of the very, very end.
Some of the best features of this book were the world-building and the deeply rich lore. Draven created an immersive world that is rich in its flavor and surroundings, and I found myself enraptured by their depiction. While this book might not be one that I purchase for my personal collection, I would certainly recommend this book to others if they are fans of fantasy and compelling backstories for their female heroines.
From the moment that readers are introduced to Feyre, we are immediately immersed and enmeshed with a strong female lead who has been shouldering the burdens of the world on her shoulders. I sympathized with Feyre, and really came to root for her as she struggled to make sense of the Fairy world that she unknowingly threw herself into.
The characters don’t quite have perfect chemistry, but now that I am well into the second book I believe that that must have been purposeful. I’m glad that I waited to read the second book to rate the first one, because I think it better informs what the first book actually is intended to be for the reader. Because a Court of Thorns and Roses was so reminiscent of stories like beauty and the beast, I really found myself wanting to love the love story. There were a few plot twists that didn’t quite make sense but against the backdrop of the second book, I’m sure in the series some of these unexplained twists will come to light. I would not call this book a ‘cozy’ love story at all, but it’s very well written, and the characters extremely believable and relatable.
Haunting. Enchanting. The perfect mix of magic, love, and loss.
From the moment that the reader becomes acquainted with Lou, we understand that there is something unique and special about this world we are being introduced to. Thrown immediately into a secretive operation between Lou and her friend Coco, we become intimately familiar with the interworkings of the pair of witches.
Serpent & Dove has a pleasant and attractive hook, that constantly pulled me in. I was very nearly halfway into the book before I could even blink. From the moment I opened those pages, I was championing Lou and her seemingly hopeless attempt to escape and be free. Lou is incredibly relatable. Her assertive personality and quick wit pair well with her haunting backstory. I would love to be able to sit down to dinner with Lou.
The plot twists in Serpent & Dove held me constantly on edge. Shelby Mahurin weaved a masterful love story, mystery, and action/adventure sewn onto the backdrop of what I could only compare to 18/1900’s London. Her scenes were vivid, and her story compelling.
I have already reserved the sequel, Blood & Honey, at my local library, and I have a feeling that I will have to own a physical personal copy of Serpent & Dove in the very near future. If you are a fan of drawn-out romances embedded within a colorful plot, I would HIGHLY recommend Serpent & Dove as your next read.
Madeline Miller quickly made my charts as a favorite author with her retelling of the Greek mythology of Circe, daughter of Helios, the god of the sun. Miller portrays Circe as being the outcast of her own family, as well as an outcast from the gods themselves. Circe finds no true home for herself until she is sent to live the rest of her days on a deserted island. It is in her solace that Circe begins to find who she is as an individual, apart from the disappointment forced upon her by her father, and apart from the wariness of the gods. Her tale is weaved with many familiar faces in Greek myth, such as Icarus and Odysseus. The journey of Circe’s mending heart seemed to reach out and heal something within me, too. I walked away from this novel feeling as if the world might be both a little brighter and a little sadder, all at the same time. If you are a fan of Greek mythology and classic retellings, or have a penchant for subtle romances, you will enjoy this novel!
‘We Were Mothers’ was a dramatic break from my usual reading, and I opened her pages with no expectations. I was blown away by the realness that Katie Sise wrote into her characters. Somehow, it was as if every relatable housewife/mom/mother/sister/friend had been rolled into the character line-up: Cora, Sarah, Jade, and Laurel. The book quickly addresses the untimely death of Cora’s sister, Maggie. Though it occurred years ago, she and everyone around her seem to still feel the pain of her passing. It is revealed that Maggie’s death has some… extenuating circumstances, brought back to light by a series of events related to the sudden disappearance Laurel’s daughter, Mira. The entire novel covers the span of a weekend, but it feels like so much more time passes than that. The internal dialogue and multiple perspective changes seem to slow the pacing down, hence the rating of only four hearts out of five. Even so, the pacing of the novel picks up rather quickly towards the end and becomes an absolute page-turner as you search among the fractured clues, trying to understand what exactly happened all those years ago to the beloved sister and daughter, Maggie.
Another beautiful read, authored by the immensely talented Madeline Miller. I found that I did not like this novel quite as much as I enjoyed ‘Circe,’ but this more than filled my quota for mythological retellings for the time being. Upon first glance, you might think that this novel is about the life of Achilles, and in a way it is. However, it is more accurately about the life and influence of Patroclus, a cast-off prince who was exiled by his own father. Patroclus falls in love, goes on adventures, and faces the kind of loss that makes you weep.
Miller took this age old tale, and revitalized it into quite the masterpiece.