Sunday, November 29, 2015

Twisting a Tale as Old as Time: A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)
Bloomsbury Kids, 2015

*ARC provided by the publisher at ALA Midwinter 2015 - thank you! This in no way impacted my opinions of this book.*

I guess you could say that it took me a while to get my thoughts in order about this book because I read it months ago but never wrote my review. Why is that? Well, largely because I have been recommending this book to fantasy lovers left, right, and center. In the first installment of her newest series, Sarah J. Maas crafts a dark, seductive, and enchanting faerie story rooted in one of my personal favorite tales as old as time: Beauty and the Beast.

In A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre has no idea the trouble she's about to unleash when she kills a wolf in the woods near her home. Her thoughts are on survival, not just her own, but her father and sisters'. As she soon learns, it was no ordinary wolf, but a faerie in disguise, and one who served one of the fae lords at that. As punishment and to protect her family, Feyre is dragged across the border into the faerie lands and the estate of Tamlin, a faerie whose lands are subjected to a cruel curse. Feyre's feelings for Tamlin change from harsh hostility to pure passion, but if she's not careful, Feyre could be the one who lifts the curse as well as bring about even bigger dangers.

I flew through the pages of this novel, eager to see what happened next and desperate to keep up with the intense feelings flying between this faerie and fair human. I particularly loved how Maas twisted in aspects of the Beauty and the Beast story we know and love - I could clearly see what she was referencing in the traditional story, but she took aspects and made them her own, fitting and molding them to the world she's building. The narrative had a satisfying arc, making the book feel whole unto itself, but it also leaves a satisfactory number of questions lingering to be answered in future installments. If you're a fantasy lover and haven't read this yet, what are you waiting for?!

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Enchanting World We Live In: Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Harcourt, 2001

Yes, I know that I was 14 years late to the party, but let's just be happy that I got there at all. Actually, a big part of me is grateful that it took me so long - I'm positive that had I read this book when I was younger, I wouldn't have fully appreciated it. So in that sense, this book was worth waiting for the right moment.

In this modern classic, Yann Martel crafts the story of Pi Patel, a man who may seem ordinary at first glance, but has actually lived an extraordinary life. Growing up in India where his family owned and operated a zoo, Pi was always a bit of an outsider. After all, how many people do you know who are Christian, Hindu, and Islamic all at once? Well, Pi is. He just loves God, simple as that. And all of Pi's faith is put to the test when a storm destroys the ship he and his family and their animals are traveling on to Canada. Somehow Pi makes it into a lifeboat, along with a fully grown Bengal tiger.

Martel's writing is rich and lush, and considering how much of this book revolves around discussions on religion and faith, I never found it to be preachy. It was conversational yet poetic prose, opening my mind and heart to a simultaneously eloquent and simple look at God, giving a much-needed boost to my personal beliefs. In the survival sections of the book, Pi's hallucinations, trials, and struggles are raw and gripping - even though the structure of the narrative meant as a reader, I knew things would turn out, I was still invested in Pi's safety and

If you are looking for a novel that will challenge you, that will you push you to look at the harsh world we live in through magical, loving, compassionate, and courageous eyes, then pick up Life of Pi if you haven't done so already. I know I'm glad I did.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!