Monday, August 17, 2015

SA blog tour: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas - Q & A with Sarah


Today I’m thrilled to be part of the Sarah J Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses SA book blog tour. 

Thanks to the publishers, I, along with a few other South African bloggers will be spotlighting A Court of Thorns and Roses throughout the week.


With Queen of Shadows just a few weeks away from being released, we thought that there’s no better time to remind you about her latest book, which is a departure from the Throne of Glass series, and ventures into the age old world of fairy tales and folklore. 

And trust me, it’s all as wonderful as it sounds.


There’ll be giveaways (yay!), reviews and top 10 lists, to mention but a few.   

In today’s first two stops though, I get a chance to chat to Sarah, and the awesome Nerine reviews the book on her blog.  Nerine has also kindly agreed to donate her signed copy for the purpose of one of our giveaways, so look out for more details on that to come.

In the meantime, here’s my interview with the lovely Sarah, followed by information about the book, and the rest of the tour schedule.

Thanks for joining me on the blog today Sarah!

A Court of Thorns and Roses has been described as a combination of Tam Lin (which just so happens to be one of my favourites), Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun, West of the Moon.  How did your story evolve into one that draws inspiration from these specific tales?

To start off, I feel like I should confess that I’ve been a fan of fairytales for as long as I can remember.

My parents read me fairytales and folklore from around the world when I was young, and when I got older, I read any/all fairytale retellings I could get my hands on.

I’d always wanted to write a retelling of my own (The Throne of Glass series actually started off as a Cinderella retelling, and grew into something original instead), but when I got the initial kernel of inspiration for ACOTAR, there were no fairytales involved whatsoever.

I merely saw this snowy, bleak wood, heard the voice of this young huntress as she stalks through it for game, desperate to feed her near-starving family.


But when I asked myself who she was, who her family was, why they were near-starving, how they’d become poor…I recalled the original Beauty and the Beast legend, in which Beauty’s family was actually a merchant-class family, who had fallen into poverty after the father’s investments had gone poorly.

As soon as I made that link, I realized I had the perfect set-up for the retelling I’d always wanted to write! But rather than do just one retelling, I decided I wanted to blend some of my other favorite folktales—East of the Sun, West of the Moon and Tam Lin.


All three have similar elements, actually—though the latter two also have go-getter heroines who ultimately save their love interests from the clutches of powerful, wicked queens.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon probably provided more structure to the book than the other two—the first half is a love story/mystery, the second half pure adventure and action.

It’s from that folktale that I drew the most heavily, but in all honesty, despite this book starting off as a retelling, I still think of it as more of an original fantasy novel with nods to all three of those fairytales if you know where to look.


How different did you find the writing process with this novel in comparison to the books in your Throne of Glass series? What changed for you?

Honestly? Not much. Writing every book is a different journey and requires a slightly different process, no matter what series I’m writing in, but the core elements of how I write remain the same.

The only big difference for me was writing in first person—having to limit myself to only Feyre’s point of view and knowledge of things.

It required me to get creative about how she learned secrets/information that other characters knew and she didn’t (in third person, I can just switch perspectives to convey information the reader needs to know but some characters might not).

But in some ways, having two series with different styles of narration actually keeps things fresh/exciting. When I get sick of one, I can go work on the other. I never get bored. :)


What can readers who’ve read your previous books expect to encounter in A Court of Thorns and Roses? What do you think will surprise them most?

Oh, definitely expect another fierce, interesting, kick-ass heroine—and some pretty hot dudes! And there’s magic, and violence, and cool/creepy creatures.

But one thing readers might find surprising is that even though Feyre is physically capable (though definitely not as strong as Celaena), she is a quieter sort of heroine—she thinks before she speaks, is more emotionally-closed off, has massive trust issues, and still has yet to learn who she is and what she wants.

Another thing that might surprise them is that the book is a bit more steamy than my TOG series (i.e. no fade-to-black!). ;)


Can you give us a quick introduction to some of the characters we’ll get to meet in A Court of Thorns And Roses?

Well, Feyre I’ve spoken about already. But I feel like the three hot Fae men deserve *some* mention, so…

There’s Tamlin, the shape-shifting Faerie lord, who is very broody and snarly and has lots of secrets.

There’s Lucien, Tamlin’s second-in-command, who likes nothing more than to piss off Feyre and be endessly snarky.

And then there’s Rhysand, who….I won’t spoil who/what he is. ;)

I’ve read that you absolutely adore fairy tales. Does this mean that we’ll get to see more books inspired by fairy tales written by you? If so, which underrated fairy tale would you love to give your own spin on and why?


I certainly hope so! I have a feel other retellings floating around in the back of my mind (some already written, some just ideas), and I’d love to get the chance to tell them one day! As for which one… my lips are sealed. ;)

Thank you so much for your time! We hope you’ll come visit us in South Africa some day!

Thanks SO MUCH for having me!! I’d be honored to visit!

About the book (you can purchase a copy from Raru.co.za):

When 19-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it.

Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.


As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae.

But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR pile.

About Sarah:

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series (Queen of Shadows, Book 4, will be out in September 2015), as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (out 5/5/15).

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music.

She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV.

When she's not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.


Tour schedule:

Monday – 17th Aug

Tammy @ The Book Fairy’s Haven: Q & A with Sarah

Nerine @ This is my world: Review


Tuesday – 18 August


Hannah  @ Fully booked reviews: Top 10 list


Wednesday: 19 August

Monique @ Paranormalsphere:  Review of ACOTAR


Thursday: 20th August

Kyra  @ Blog of a Bookaholic  - Review


Tammy  @ The Book Fairy’s Haven – Review


Friday: 21 August

Hannah @ Fully Booked reviews – Review

Giveaway post:  Win 3 copies of SJM - TBA

UPDATE: Due to some eye health issues, I've been unable to get around to posting my review and giveaway post. All will be resumed this week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Book review: The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The final and mind-bendingly twisty conclusion to a series that proved to be unpredictable right from the start.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (first published in 2014 by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
 
Disclaimer:  A Shortened version of this review first appeared on Women24.com. 

Please note: As this is the conclusion to a trilogy, this review may contain spoilers for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (book one) and The Evolution of Mara Dyer (book two).

Let me start off by saying that I really loved this trilogy. It’s not every day that you find a trilogy where you barely find any fault with all the books in the series, and for me, The Mara Dyer collection is pretty close to perfection.

When I first started reading the series, I was initially under the impression that I was simply reading a suspense novel with a paranormal focus of the vampire/werewolf affliction kind.

What I encountered instead was a book series that really didn’t want to fit into any genre per se, but one which, if I was hard-pressed to describe, could probably be categorised as a contemporary suspense novel, with medical and paranormal overtones.

If you’re interested in books that explore genetics and ethics in the medical research industry, paired with an added dose of horror for good measure, then this trilogy will be right up your alley. 

Throw in an unreliable narrator, a dual-narrative structure weaving between past and present AND a mastermind manipulator and you have the recipe for a book that makes for the stuff of urban legends.

With this book being the conclusion to the trilogy, we find that things take a darker turn.  Mara and her friends are trapped in the medical centre which was meant to help her and others like her. Instead, what was supposed to be a rehabilitation centre quickly becomes a place in which she and her friends have to fight their way out of in order to escape.

As they run for their lives, it quickly becomes apparent that the madness they’ve just escaped is only the beginning of the hell they’re about to face. And with Mara already struggling with her inner demons, it’s not long before the group start wondering if the real danger isn’t Mara herself.

Fast-paced, gritty and gory, The Retribution of Mara Dyer had me enthralled from the get-go.

It’s a book that plays with voice and messes with your emotions. It’s a read that will having you playing conspiracy  theorist and one that will make you question everything you know about the human mind, genetic anomalies and that fine line between genius and insanity.

Mara has proven that she’s a character whose story, thoughts and reactions, constantly lead you down paths less travelled. Here you have a girl who has been through so much and gone beyond the realms of what any sane human should have to endure.

She’s come undone, but it’s the fact that she’s in the state that she’s left in that galvanises her into action. And it’s this that makes for such compelling storytelling. 

Michelle isn’t afraid of pushing her characters to the edge of the abyss in order to see just what they’re made of. With Mara, she takes things to a deep and dark level that I’m only just beginning to see more of in YA.

I knew things would even more twisted than before, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to go into such detail.  Not that I’m complaining or anything.

I loved seeing how her relationships with her close friends and loved ones remained so strong throughout the book. 

We unfortunately don’t get to see much of Noah in the first half of the book, but when he enters the scene, boy, does he make an entrance. I certainly adored the relationship between the two of them and couldn’t help but feel for them given all of the opposition these two had to endure.

However, ultimately, this book isn’t about romantic relationships (yay for the very smexy moments between Noah and Mara), although it does include it.

No, The Retribution of Mara Dyer is a book that explores human nature in all of its complexities. It’s a battle of wits, control and a desire to play puppet master in the game of survival of the fittest, or in this case, the genetically enhanced.