Reading Sara Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses AND A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas


modern romance

Reading Sara Review: I am combining these books because they are the first two in the series (third one coming out in 2017). Like most series, I actually hate it when I can’t just keep reading them – so perhaps should have waited until the third book to begin. Oh well, too late now.

I picked this one up on a whim over a holiday weekend because I had been hearing a lot about it and the second book won the Best Young Adult Fantasy Book on the Goodreads Readers Choice Awards for 2016. I hadn’t read much fantasy this year and thought it would be a fun way to wrap it up. I realize that I am posting this in 2017 – but I finished both books in 2016.

Let me start with: this did not feel like a young adult book to me! Both of these had some pretty darn steamy scenes, so I’m not sure how these books get categorized, but just a warning!

A Court of Thorns and Roses is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairytales. I thought it was creative, fun, and brought my imagination to life. Our heroine, Feyre, kills a wolf in the forest as she is hunting to feed her family. A beast-like creature arrives demanding her life for the life of the wolf, so she is sent to live with him across the wall (parts of this series felt like they were “borrowing” a bit from Game of Thrones, but I’ll let that slide). The beast-creature turns out to be an immortal faerie, who humans were taught to be afraid of. And lucky for Feyre he is a handsome and rich faerie named Tamlin. Tamlin and his people are under a curse, which is revealed throughout the storyline. Her hatred and fear toward the faeries subsides and by the end, she is willing to do anything to save their kind – but especially to save Tamlin from ruin.

There is action, adventure, romance, fighting, a badass female heroine -it has a lot of great pieces for a fantasy story. I definitely enjoyed it.

So, I jumped right into the second because it was a quick read (and I read like I watch movies – I want to know the ending!). It is going to be hard to review the second without any spoilers, so read ahead at your own risk (if you never plan on reading these, it shouldn’t be a problem and perhaps you already stopped reading!).

A Court of Mist and Fury picks up about three months after Feyre has broken the curse on the faerie lands. She is struggling with the guilt of what she had to do, who she had to become, and her new self. Tamlin, unfortunately, is not a calming presence during this time and instead is confining and protecting her rather than letting her breathe and heal. So, lucky for Feyre, she made a deal with the handsome Rhys while Under the Mountain that obligates her to a week with him each month. With Rhys and Tamlin being enemies, this complicates matters in her relationship with both of them.

So, Rhys is dreamy and wonderful – and we quickly discover that he isn’t who everyone thinks that he is. He has wonderful friends and truly helps Feyre heal and learn who she can be with her new powers. My biggest complaint is that it sort of felt like we were supposed to get invested in Feyre and Tamlin in the first book, and then all of sudden hate Tamlin and move on to someone else. The love of Feyre and Rhys was done well, through a deep friendship and connection rather than a classic love triangle, but I still had a difficult time getting on board. I wish that more had been set up in the first book so that I was better prepared. But, by the end, it is impossible not to be on team Rhys.

Beyond the love and friendship, truly why this book was good (and I believe why it got the hype on Goodreads and other outlets) was that Feyre becomes even more badass. She is the female heroine that readers want her to be. She defends herself, her people, her friends and doesn’t rely on a man’s power. She figures out what she believes in, what her destiny is, and follows her heart. In the beginning of the book she is so broken, but Maas does an incredible job of growing the character and letting us see into her mind and soul as she heals. With her flaws, she is an incredibly real character.

I heard rumors of a movie deal for this series – it would be so fun to watch this come alive and see the characters and places of Maas’s imagination (even if they do continue stealing things from GOT, I am ok with that because GOT is awesome). So, if you are in the market for some fantasy (I really don’t know that it is young adult appropriate!), pick this series up. It’s a good one.



Reading Sara Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Part 1 & 2), a play by Jack Thorne


Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.; Special Rehearsal ed. edition (July 31, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 7/10

modern romance

Reading Sara Review: When I began this blog, I had no idea that I would get to write a review on a Harry Potter story, so this is a big bucket list item for me. I love the magical world that JK Rowling created – it was so fun to watch the characters grow up, to be delighted and surprised as a reader each time a new book came out. I would wait in line at midnight (for the books and the movies), devour the book with little sleep, and usually be inspired to re-read the other books. So, Harry Potter is a passion of mine.

I am getting older, so going to a midnight release party wasn’t on the top of my list for this one, but I did pick it up the following day. I had to finish another book I was reading (Liane Moriarty’s new one – review coming soon!) before I committed. But, once I committed to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I didn’t put it down and finished it easily in an afternoon.

Many people have been surprised about this book release; it has been much quieter than previous Harry Potter-themed stories. It isn’t a novel, but a transcript of the play occurring in London right now that features Harry, 19 years after we last saw him in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It is based on an original story written by JK Rowling, with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, but the script for the play (which is what this book is) was written by Jack Thorne.

Now on to the spoiler-ish portion of the review (I won’t give many details, but I will talk about some themes that I thought were interesting, so some may perceive them as spoiler-y. Read at your discretion!)

19 years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry is a government employee while Hermione is (obviously) the Minister of Magic. Harry’s youngest son is about to head to Hogwarts – a place that Harry found friendship, solace, and refuge in his childhood. Unfortunately for young Albus, he isn’t quite as excited. The beginning jumps quite a bit – and you can just picture how this would look on stage — full of magical illusions that make the time passing much more interesting than reading on a page. Instead, some of it does not come to life until later. Albus and his best friend Scorpius Malfoy (yep) decide to chase adventure and help right a wrong that Harry influenced in his youth. As we all know, changing the course of history has significant challenges and can be detrimental to the future, which Albus and Scorpius soon find out. Spoiler: Scorpius is the best new character in this book!

What is great about this adventure story is being back in the magical world, watching Harry as a father, and being reminded of the places and characters that have slipped our minds since reading the previous books. Unfortunately, JK Rowling was not the primary author, and there were times that I could tell. I wouldn’t go as far as other reviewers have and say that it felt like fan-fiction, but there were times that it felt too forced or just a little bit off.

The story at the core for me was a wonderful story of friendship and loyalty – something that was always prevalent in Harry Potter books. I was happy that this kept that consistency.

There is a villain, as always, and he who must not be named will always need to be defeated. It was a pleasant afternoon spent reading this book, and I would encourage any Harry Potter fan to read it (or better yet, go to London and see the play – and take me with you!). But if you are new to the Harry Potter world, don’t start with this one.

Book & Wine Wednesday! Last Minute Gift Buying for your Book and/or Wine Loving Friends & Family!

Book & Wine Wednesday Special Feature

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I will be the first to admit that I haven’t finished my holiday shopping. I usually get a pretty good head start with most of my family, and then get distracted and fail to complete my shopping promptly and have to suffer through going to the mall around the holidays.

So, if you have not finished your shopping, or thinking about grabbing a little something extra, I bring you the first Reading Sara Book & Wine Wednesday Gift Buying Feature! Bonus: you can still use Amazon Prime and get everything in time!

For your niece: If she loved The Fault in Our Stars and all of Rainbow Rowell’s books, she would devour Everything Everything, by Nicola Yoon. I devoured it, too, so you may want to sneak in a quick read before wrapping it. Everything Everything is a great coming-of-age story about a girl who learns to explore her world inside her head and outside, and, because it’s YA, it includes a lovely love story.

everything everything

For your crafty, travel-loving friend: Paris Coloring Book by Min Heo. I picked up this bright orange Paris Coloring Book in San Diego over the weekend. I can’t wait to color everything from Notre Dame to baguettes to the Seine. Pair the book with some beautiful colored pencils and you will be giving your adventure-loving friend hours of relaxation and dreaming in the coming New Year.


For your work BFF: She’s the one who listens to you complain and always has a hug to give you. I recommend a badass book for this badass friend. The book, You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero is a great confidence-booster and reminder to her that she is totally awesome.


For your sister who graduated in May and has not quite figured it all out yet:  Adulting: How to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps, by Kelly Williams Brown. Adulting is a must read for any out-on-their-own-for-the-first-timer. I went to college with the author, so am biased toward her brilliance, but truly wish I had a book like this when I was 22! It is full of creative wit with sound advice.


For your single brother: I am a huge Aziz Ansari fan, and I bet your brother is too. Help him out with Ansari’s newest book Modern Romance. Buy the hardback, not the Kindle version of this one!

modern romance

For your Mom: I think it is a fact that all women over 55 love Robert Redford and they especially loved him in the movie Out of Africa. I recommend treating your mom to the new Paula McLain Book, Circling the Sun, reviewed by yours truly here, and the Out of Africa movie for a girl’s night in. Throw in a bottle of bubbly, recommended here, some popcorn and chocolate, and you are in for a special evening!

Circling the Sun

For your Sister-in-Law: I have a sister-in-law who is the absolute best and very much like a real sister to me. If you are as lucky as I am, you will want to get her something special. For my birthday, she bought me the complete Jane Austen Book Set from Penguin. Trust me, your sister-in-law (or real sister) will love this gift. They are so beautiful and a perfect decoration for her shelf, and (obviously) classic books to pick up and read when she needs her Jane Austen-fix. She will be surprised and delighted to find a thoughtful gift like this under the tree! Jane Austen, the Complete Works can be found on Amazon.


For your boyfriend/husband: If he has not read the Song of Ice & Fire Series by George R.R. Martin yet, the entire set is a great gift that will last him months (this is that Game of Thrones thing that all of your friends keep talking about…but the books, which are great). If he has already read them, spruce up his collection with these pretty ones!

song of ice and fire


For your BFF: Almost Famous Women: Stories, by Megan Mayhew Bergman. First of all, the cover itself told me that this would be the next favorite book of mine. I will post a review of this one soon, but in the meantime, I plan to give it to some of my favorite women this holiday season!

almost famous women

For your other BFF: Humans of New York: Stories, by Brandon Stanton. This book came out in October and is an incredible compilation of stories that will inspire and astound you. Grab a favorite bottle of wine and read the book together!

humans of new york

For Your Book Club: You all worked hard this year! Don’t forget to treat your group to something special for the next meeting! I recommend California Sparkling Wine, made by One Hope. Every bottle provides 15 meals to a child in need…So you are drinking a beautiful bottle of bubbly, talking about great books, and helping kids eat…seems like a pretty good deal to me!

One Hope


Good luck with your holidays! Don’t forget to buy yourself a book (or two or three!).

Reading Sara Review: If I Stay and Where She Went, by Gayle Forman

If I Stay and Where She Went, by Gayle Forman

If I staywhere she went

If I Stay

Rating: 4/5

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)

Where She Went

Rating: 4/5

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 17, 2012)

Reading Sara Review: I have had a wonderfully lazy weekend, which has inspired a Sunday Double-Feature Book Review! If I Stay and Where She Went are a part of a two-book series by Gayle Forman.

I first heard about If I Stay from a movie trailer. I was at the theater seeing Fault in Our Stars, the book of which I had already read – and knew was a wonderfully sad young adult book.  Well, when the preview for If I Stay came on the screen, I was already crying – and continued crying for the next couple of hours through the movie. I did not go back to the theater to see If I Stay, but remembered the preview and was interested, and heard that it was a book, so I added it to my TBR Goodreads list and mostly forgot about it. Then, recently the movie came on Netflix and I watched it – and cried a bunch again.

Now friends, I did something that I had never done before after finishing the movie. I read the sequel to the book before reading the first one. To be honest, I just was not sure that I was going to love the book and felt like I could just get a taste of what happened (because there is a big cliff hanger at the end of the movie and I really had filed these books in my head under “guilty pleasures” not necessarily good books). But, here’s what happened: I ended up really liking the book. I thought it was creative, well written and a good portrayal of what happened later. But we’ll get to that in a minute. After I finished the second book, Where She Went, I decided to read If I Stay – because I was convinced by now that I would like it (and it is always fun to see what is different between the book and the movie). I am not recommending that you follow my super unique way to read these books and watch the movie – do it your own way!

If I Stay follows a teenage girl, Mia as she makes heart-breaking decisions. Her family is in a terrible car-accident and Mia has an out-of-body experience and watches the aftermath of the accident unfold (ok, so she is sort of a ghost – but not in a creepy way). She relives her past, how she fell in love with musician Adam, how her family loved her, and her incredible talent as a cellist, and has to make a decision – does she want to continue to live?

In Where She Went, we meet the characters again 3 years later. Some are famous now, some are struggling, but this time the story is from Adam’s point of view. As a fly on the wall of what happens when two former flames reunite and resolve unspoken hurt, I found myself less moved emotionally than in the first one, but just as invested as I had been before in the outcome. It was a wonderful resolution to the first book.

Clearly I am avoiding spoilers in this review – because I want to keep the fun of discovery for all future readers. I thought these were well done young adult books that deal with some heavy issues, but in a loving way. They are not destined to be classic literature by any means. But, for fans of the young adult genre, both books are well written and well told, unique stories. And, if you need a good cry – check out the movie and buy an extra box of tissues!