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A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 2, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 12, 2017
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

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This read went pretty much about how I thought it would. I used to LOVE Sarah J. Maas books and I had a really hard time with the pacing and characters ever since A COURT OF MIST AND FURY and EMPIRE OF STORMS. I was wholly sucked into QUEEN OF SHADOWS and ever since then, I lost the magic. I feel like the books aren’t well-edited anymore and Sarah J. Maas is so big that she is allowed the freedom to write whatever she wants and things don’t get pared down when they should. I’m not saying that actually is the case but that’s how it feels sometimes. I’m totally okay with books being long, especially series finales like A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN, but there were several parts that could have been cut down and a lot of things in the past two books in this series could have used a fair bit of editing, from pacing to structure to dialogue. I felt very alone in these opinions with ACOMAF but it seems like this happened a little bit more with ACOWAR which actually surprised me, but I’m glad that I wasn’t alone in that feeling!

The highlight of this series for me is the Inner Circle! Azriel continued to be my favorite, I think because he was, well because he was broody first and foremost but I loved his quiet gentleness and yet he had a ferocity about him on the battlefield and also towards his friends and family. He is a warrior after all! Cassian is also a favorite with his lightness and humor to go along with his brute strength and warrior-mode. Amren is delightfully dark and I love her sass and Mor rounds out the “lesser” characters of the Inner Circle to add a caring and warm quality to the group. I love their squad goals and how well these four fit together. Yes, four… not six. I actually didn’t care about them being involved with Rhys and Feyre (even though Rhysand is the whole reason this group exists). They just had so much personality and I wanted to see them shine even more. I think they were really deserved more of a spotlight in this book after being introduced in A COURT OF MIST AND FURY because they were so important in so many ways and they really brought so much to this book/series. I felt more connected to Azriel and Cassian because I felt like their histories were detailed well and reiterated several times throughout the series. Amren was so amazing and she should have had more of a history in this book and not just the breeze-through conclusion in the end, and we get to know more about Mor but I felt like she was often pushed to the background too. Feyre’s sisters ended up being a big part of the book and Nesta did get much more “on-screen” time but I don’t think Elain got the attention she deserved either, nor did Lucien after setting up his whole part in this series in the second book. He did do big things in this book but again, it was like he was there for the “big things” and then pushed back into the background. There was a whole story line with him and Elain that was established and then not really developed.
These characters really were the highlight of this book for me and I really wished I could have had more from them, like their own chapters or something. This book, especially, being from Feyre’s POV only really limited what action readers could see and it just pushed my favorite characters in the background because the focus was on Feyre and Rhys. I feel like Sarah J. Maas has a tendency to introduce these characters that we love and then they get pushed aside for the main characters instead of getting their own development. Then more characters get added, and more characters get added, and readers get even less of that development that they’re craving (or at least in my case).

For some reason, I’ve never been a Feyre and Rhysand shipper. I loved Rhysand’s darkness and that forbidden allure to him in ACOMAF and he was just a little too perfect in this book. I know we discover in ACOMAF that there’s much more than meets the eye to Rhys and he’s actually a pretty good guy, which ughhh. I liked his darkness! He still has that snark and sass but the darkness is pretty much gone in ACOWAR which was something that really interested me. I especially felt this in ACOWAR and I got bored with Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship. It was like once they got together, the spark was gone, and so much of their relationship felt forced. The details of the relationship just felt like TOO much at times. Too perfect, too over-the-top, just too much. And speaking of too much, the sex scenes just felt way too forced as well. Not necessarily in content, although that didn’t feel natural either, but there were far too many and in random places. Every time something good happened it was like yay, let’s celebrate with sex! I just felt shoved in there for the sake of sex scenes and keeping it steamy the end and I would have rather had SOME fade to black scenes instead of every single instance being full detail. I don’t have a problem with those scenes at all (I read the occasional romance) but it was more the fact that I felt like I was reading a romance novel sometimes instead of a strong fantasy book with solid character, world, and plot development.

I also got really annoyed that every single main character had to get paired off into a couple or if not in a couple at the end, the single person had some unrequited love going on. I can see that war makes you want to be with the one you love or match up while you still can but I got annoyed that characters that I thought would be awesome on their own (I won’t say who because possible spoilers, I guess) ended up pairing off with someone and it very felt out of character. I was excited about the Elain/Lucien set-up in ACOMAF and was super disappointed that wasn’t used to its fullest potential here. It was set up and then never really went anywhere and I found myself wonder why it was introduced at all. If that hadn’t been established in the second book, it really wouldn’t have affected the third book or in the moments it had, the action could have resolved in some other way. It all felt forced and superficial and that bond wasn’t even there. It was a total waste of character development that could have been put towards something else since it wasn’t even developed anyway.

Mostly, I just wasn’t impressed with the writing. As I said before, I feel like the book needed much more editing. There were a lot of out-of-character things, strange pacing, an excess of characters, and the world-building was just off. To be honest, I feel like Feyre, Tamlin, and Rhysand all went through personality flips since the first book (at least in perception like in Rhys’ case, if not true character changes). There’s a difference between personality development and taking things to a totally different realm and I think it’s good that Feyre isn’t the same person that she was in A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES because she should be different and show some growth but I felt like the person that she became didn’t feel characteristic of the person she once was and it seemed like too much of a personality change.

I was also missing so many details on some really interesting things like the Weaver, the Bone Carver, and other unusual creatures/gods/immortals. I even found myself asking myself what exactly the Cauldron was all about. The Cauldron! A huge part of this series!!! It didn’t feel like infodump when I first learned about all of these things and yet I felt like I couldn’t remember any of those details later on in the series or recall learning more about them in other spots. Those are the parts of a book that I love and I just felt like a lot was missing. I think Sarah J. Maas missed a lot of world-building opportunities that really could have brought this world together even more.

The ending was a little too perfect and happy for such a huge war and giant conclusion. I felt like a few things were cop-outs even though they were happy things. I had set myself up for some Big Things and was disappointed for some reason when bad things didn’t happen to good people…? Truly, I just think it’s just realistic within a war that not all of the good people survive or end up mostly untouched. Things did happen, though I won’t go into detail, but I think we all braced ourselves for some really bad stuff so it almost felt a little anticlimactic! For some reason the Rhysand chapter at the end was also totally cheesy and I don’t know why but it reminded me of TWILIGHT… I think the observation and listening in on Feyre? I don’t know — don’t ask. But that was the vibe I got from it so it was just a little too sappy and not necessary (though I wished we could have had his POV throughout the rest of the book).

So yes, this was a lot of venting or however you want to take it but those are my feelings and my opinions. Although it was a lot of things I wished that would have been better, that’s actually what I expected to feel when I read this book. I wanted to finish to finish the series so I wanted to finish this book but I didn’t expect to love it and it actually went pretty much as I thought it would. After feeling a lot of the same things with ACOMAF and EMPIRE OF STORMS, I almost definitely won’t be reading the spin-offs for this series, and I guess we’ll see how the next Throne of Glass book goes. I definitely still want to finish that series since I’m so invested in it time-wise and I do want to know how that concludes but after Throne of Glass finishes, I’m not sure if I’ll be reading more Sarah J. Maas books.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Inner Circle. These characters were truly the best part about the book. Serious squad goals, banter, loyalty, ferocity, and a great mix of personalities. Truly the highlight of the book.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I just don’t feel like it’s there and I don’t know what happened! QUEEN OF SHADOWS was one of my favorite books from that year and I just don’t feel that magic anymore.

Addiction Rating
Take it or leave it

It’s the last book in Feyre’s story so it’s worth finishing to conclude the series but I also think if you’re having the same issues, it’s not a huge deal if you don’t.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    FALLING KINGDOMS

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on Instalove

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog tour stop for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING by Jeff Giles! I was so honored to read the book early and provide a blurb for the ARC, thanks to Bloomsbury Kids, and then to meet Jeff Giles at BEA and be able to say hello. Now I’m a part of the blog tour and it’s been so great being so involved with this book!

For today’s post, Jeff Giles is talking a little bit about instalove. As with some books where two worlds collide, instalove happens. Heck, instalove just happens in real life. When I first saw the topics for guest posts for the blog tour, I instantly latched onto this one because I feel the same way! I even had a post that defended instalove because not all instalove is unrealistic. Today’s post has a full discussion from Jeff and I just love it!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on InstaloveTitle: The Edge of Everything (The Edge of Everything #1) by Jeff Giles
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 27, 2016
Related Posts: The Edge of Everything

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

“INSTALOVE ACTUALLY”
by Jeff Giles

When you’ve got a novel about to come out, you spend a lot of time reading reviews of other people’s books as a sort of dress rehearsal for reading your own.

I love the intensity of opinion among readers, whether it’s positive, negative or sideways. For some reason, I especially love the continuing debate about instalove, so I thought I’d share the thoughts that have been piling up in my head.

When I was younger, instalove was called “love at first sight”—and nobody ever questioned it. People generally liked the idea that, at any moment, they could turn a corner, accidentally spill coffee on someone, and proceed directly to Happily Ever After. The trope was no more realistic then than it is now, but it made every second of every day feel like a lottery ticket that could pay off big.

These days, a lot of readers DNF novels like that, of course. That may be because young people are savvier now. They know, from the internet, that some people lie about/disguise who they are every day.

For the record, I think it’s a good thing to be careful about falling in love and to expect novels to be subtle and realistic. I’m not in love with instalove in any way—but I want to say a few things in its defense, because I think it get a bad rap sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. So let’s pretend that I’m instalove’s court-appointed lawyer and I have to defend it, because it’s my job. Okay?

Here we go.

1. Sometimes people DO fall in love instantly.

It happens, even if it doesn’t happen a lot. One of the gifts, and curses, of being young is that you feel things with an almost supernatural intensity. Juliet was 13. Romeo was a couple years older.

But people of all ages can fall in love fast. It may be because they’re at a transitional point in their lives and especially open to possibility. It may be because they’re vulnerable after a loss or a trauma. It may be because they’re stranded in the Artic during a scientific expedition and the generator’s dying and the helicopter’s not coming after all and they have to huddle for warmth. But it does happen.

2. Not every character who THINKS they’re in love is ACTUALLY in love.

People lie to themselves sometimes. We ALL know people like this. They want to be in love so much that they rush in, in clear violation of the famous Elvis song about how only fools rush in. A lot of times instalove is just insta-lust in disguise, obviously. If you see a character whose eyes turn into heart emojis within three pages, the author may setting him or her up for a fall.  

3. If a novel (or a movie) is good enough, it will make you forget that you hate instalove.

The Titanic sank within four days. Four! That’s how long Jack and Rose had to fall in love. Yes, it helps that Jack selflessly gave his life even when there was definitely enough room for him on that floating door.

4. People are more likely to fall in love fast if someone (parents, say) or something (an iceberg, maybe) are trying to keep them apart.

That happens constantly in books and movies, right? It happens in real life, too. None of us want to be told who to love. None of us want to give up because there’s a war coming, or a dystopian government has outlawed love.

5. Even bad instalove is better than that thing where two people meet and hate each other’s guts before realizing they’re soul mates.

I can’t stand that. Give me anything else. Just because you detest someone does not mean you should marry them!

6. If a character is going through tragic stuff, as many YA characters are, an author may just really want to give them a partner for the journey.

It’s not a great excuse, I know. But authors are protective of their characters, and they often want someone to stand by their MC every second and say, “I love you. You can do this.” Yes, that person could be a friend or a sibling or a sentient robot, but sometimes you really just want to give your character someone to kiss.


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING!

GIVEAWAY

There’s also a giveaway as a part of the tour for one copy of the book + keepsake metal bookmark! This giveaway is open to US/Canada only. Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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The Edge of Everything – Jeff Giles

The Edge of Everything – Jeff GilesTitle: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 27, 2016

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

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I was fortunate enough to read THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING incredibly early when Bloomsbury asked me to include a blurb for the ARC! (Eee!) it’s a weird thing to sit on a review for half a year but I knew I had to write some things down after reading, otherwise I’d never be able to form coherent thoughts when reviewing!

THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING was a really unique novel for me. If you’re looking for a feel, I’d thrown out EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton (the Underworld aspect) meets DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor (the forbidden romance). THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING is about Zoe, the quirky yet girl-next-door type who meets a bounty hunter from hell —  literally. When Zoe meets X, her entire world is turned upside down in so many ways and it was incredibly interesting to see the ways that she and her family were affected by X’s appearance.

The book started off a little slow for me, but not in a bad way. X appears on the scene and Zoe can clearly see that he’s not quite human so after the first few chapters, the first half of the book is a lot more character development and set-up before it hits some of that world-building that I love. The delay in action really had me focused on the characters and their clear pull towards each other which was definitely important for some plot points down the road! It was also a bit slower, I think, because the concept took a bit of figuring out. This really wasn’t like many books I’ve read before so I was trying to place it into a genre (Fantasy? Paranormal? Mystery?) and figure out how everything really worked. My advice is to just let the book take you where it will and don’t try to put this one in a box! There are lots of elements at work and things came together really well in the second half of the book!

I was hoping for a bit more world-building regarding the Lowlands earlier on the book but I’m such a sucker for that kind of stuff that I was just dying to know what it was all about. It’s not quite Hell or the Underworld as we “know” it so I was so curious to explore the different rules and regulations, functionality, and why it was so important in Zoe’s story line. There was a lot to explore there and I was curious to investigate this dark side and how it maintained balance in the world. I will admit that I was hoping for a bit more in this book BUT there is still a lot to explore in upcoming novels which I’m pretty excited for!

I didn’t know this was a series when I started since I read it so early but I’m actually really glad it is! Once I really got into the book, I was so curious about really everything and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next! There’s so much more exploring that I want to do and I’m really excited to see where Jeff Giles takes his readers. I see so much potential for even more development and I can’t wait to see where this story goes!

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal concepts. This was kind of fantasy, kind of paranormal, kind of urban fantasy…? I loved the unique mix and it was such a unique read!
Left Me Wanting More: Developement. I just wanted a BIT more development of the world and romance!

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This was a really interesting and unique read and I think it’s a great selection for fans of Brodi Ashton and Laini Taylor!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING    DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) – Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: September 6, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

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I’m actually fairly disappointed with this book which makes me very sad because QUEEN OF SHADOWS was literally one of my favorite books of 2015 and I’ve fallen so in love with Sarah J. Maas’ books. Admittedly I did have a harder time finding time to sit and read this one but I did read 400 pages more or less in a weekend to finish and still wasn’t captivated. This surprisingly felt like that “second in a series slump” that I so often hit with trilogies, possibly because it’s the second book in the second half of the series.

I didn’t feel as engaged with this book at all. I had met all of these characters in QUEEN OF SHADOWS but so many were secondary characters there and I didn’t quite feel that solid transition from supporting to main character. The stories felt disjointed and not as detailed and alive as in QUEEN OF SHADOWS. I did love Elide and Lorcan the most because there was a lot to discover there and their personalities really started to shine. I felt less drawn to Aelin, which was so incredibly disappointing. She should have grown more, as she had been in previous books, and really started to come into her own as the rightful Queen of Terrasen, and I just felt like her character became very tired and less important with all of these other new main characters to follow. I also somehow lost that magic with her and Rowan and I just didn’t even feel that connection anymore.
I really didn’t feel as connected to Manon in this book either, which is a shame because I loved in her QUEEN OF SHADOWS and I was so excited to see where her story was going. I mean, I’m hoping it connects back to the main story line in the last book because otherwise, Manon should have just had her own series, to be honest. I enjoyed what was happening with her and her Thirteen (and others) in EMPIRE OF STORMS but I’m still not 100% sure why it’s so relevant to Aelin and her story. I can only assume the pieces all fall into place in the last book but I’ve been waiting for three books now, really, to see how this ties in and why it’s so important to have Manon’s whole point of view, so hopefully we’ll see that in the last book.
I also felt like Chaol was completely thrown away and that was incredibly frustrating, and I wasn’t even a Celaena/Chaol shipper. I don’t understand why he was such a main character only to switch a romance (which I was fine with, actually) to Rowan and then totally cut him out of ALL of book five. I understood quieting his role down, as he may not be playing as major of a role, but I don’t really understand what his purpose was then if he’s just getting totally pushed to the side. I guess Sarah J. Maas can write whatever she want, of course, but it just seemed like a big injustice to his character.

I feel like Sarah J. Maas incorporated some tired tactics to keep this story going and not a lot of new stuff happened here. The things that did carry the story over, which are the things I’ve loved from her in the past, weren’t really refreshed enough for me and I had a hard time remembering some of those things from other books, especially references to the novellas. I read those a long time ago and I didn’t have the time to reread an entire series for this book so it would have been nice to have some more details and updates on the events in the novellas that appeared in EMPIRE OF STORMS. I also think more details would have been very beneficial to those who haven’t read the novellas. I spoke to friends who haven’t read the novellas and they actually felt less lost than I did since they didn’t know it was a reference back to the novellas but I also think the characters, the history, and the plot could have been so much richer with those little updates.

I’m mostly disappointed in the elements that were used in both the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series. When writing two Fae series at the same time I think it’s super important to keep them very different and I don’t think these two are, which is especially disappointing because that was something I noted on the positive side after reading A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES. I had actually really liked that Feyre and Celaena/Aelin were so strong and yet two very different personalities. The more I read of both series, the more they really blended in concept and plot direction.  I felt like A COURT OF MIST AND FURY had too many elements from QUEEN OF SHADOWS and now reading EMPIRE OF STORMS, I noticed some twists that were already used in ACOMAF, and that was really disappointing. The ending became totally anticlimactic because it borrowed an exact same situation from ACOMAF and I was just so let down that it didn’t seem like an original idea.

EMPIRE OF STORMS was still enjoyable and I am still interested in the Throne of Glass series, but admittedly, I’ve lost a lot of faith in Sarah J. Maas at this point. I feel like this just didn’t have as much substance and character as previous books in this series. I loved QUEEN OF SHADOWS and to feel like this after EMPIRE OF STORMS is a major let down. I’m just very upset after finishing this book and even more so after reviewing it because I feel like I’ve really started to fall out of love with this series after EMPIRE OF STORMS and I’m losing faith in Sarah J. Maas.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Aelin // Character obsessions: Terrasen, Rowan, freedom, power.
I actually lost so much interest in Aelin this book and I don’t know how this happened. She just felt like she actually lost so much depth and really, she lost all her spunk. I get that she’s more serious now that she’s fighting for control of Terrasen but I kept missing all the sass and banter and FUN that we saw from Aelin in previous books. She felt so flat in EoS.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New characters late in a series. I’m not an author so I can’t tell you what is good/bad/iffy to introduce late in a series but I really enjoyed new characters Elide (who was previously in the series but a small role) and Lorcan. When they’re done well, they bring a new and exciting element to a series and help fit even more pieces together. I actually did love a few (well really, I loved all of the new characters) but I also had a hard time with why they were really important to have MAIN character roles. I did like Elide and Lorcan because of their connection and romance but others I really wonder if they needed to be lead roles and what they brought to the book, even though I enjoyed getting to know them.
Left Me Wanting More: Terrasen. I thought this book was going to be all about Terrasen considering where QUEEN OF SHADOWS left off and we barely even saw it. I was really missing that because the whole quest for QoS was leading there and that was not where we left off in EoS.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I mean, I still recommend reading the book. I fell so in love with the series in the first four books but this one felt like it was too much filler and not enough happened. Lots did HAPPEN but it didn’t all feel really relevant and I felt like there was a lot of time spent building up romances that didn’t need to happen too.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE EMPIRE OF STORMS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

TRUTHWITCH    THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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** Warning: This is NOT a spoiler-free review like I usually write. I won’t give away twists from the very end but I WILL be discussing things that happened throughout the beginning and middle of the book! **

I was pleasantly surprised when I read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES last year because going into it, I knew it was a story with a strong fae presence. By this point in time in my reading career, I wasn’t new to fantasy but I was still a bit picky about what sort of fantasy I liked and fae did not fall into that category of selected themes… But knowing how much I loved Sarah’s Throne of Glass series and the fae presence there, I dove into ACOTAR and loved it! It had a bit of a BREAKING DAWN ending so I wasn’t quite sure where the second book would go but naturally I had very, very high hopes for it since I hadn’t been let down by a Maas book yet!

I won’t sugar coat it — it actually took me a really long time to get into the swing of this book. I was enjoying the plot but the beginning felt so incredibly dramatic and I just didn’t feel like things were moving forward. There was a lot of time spent on Feyre’s PTSD from her time Under the Mountain and I absolutely understand and don’t think that her traumatic experience should be just brushed over. I do felt like there was too much time dwelling on it though. ACOMAF isn’t a short book and I think some pages could have been saved and still gotten the point across throughout a few sections in the beginning. If the book were more character-based instead of plot-driven, it might have been more appropriate but the plot really seemed to suffer because of this and this isn’t the first time I felt this way in a Maas book either. I understand that these characters have gone through something that truly does change them but I felt like I was reading about totally different characters when I started ACOMAF. Feyre and Tamlin were just not themselves and I think had ACOTAR ended with a bit more of this shadow or if it had slowly creeped in throughout ACOMAF, it wouldn’t have been as much of a surprise. I just really felt like I was thrown into a totally new environment and it was really hard for me to adjust to, especially since I had read ACOTAR over a year before I got to start ACOMAF.

I continued to have issues with Feyre throughout the book. I don’t know why but she was just really bothering me. Instead of snarky, witty comebacks, I felt like everything with her was taken as an insult and she was constantly being defensive and kind of hated everyone. It was really hard to watch her interact with characters and I started to latch onto new (or new-to-the-spotlight) characters like Rhysand and his gang. It did make me extra thankful for Rhys coming onto the scene and shaking things up, though! The interactions between Feyre and Tamlin were just unbearable and painful to read. Then I ended up on the flip side where although I didn’t want Feyre and Tamlin to still be together, I also felt really weird that Tamlin was almost totally absent from this book. He was there in the beginning and I won’t speak of the ending but this book was straight up about Feyre and Rhysand and it almost felt like a waste that we spent all that time building up a romance between Feyre and Tamlin in ACOTAR to have it totally change. I absolutely love where it went but it’s confusing to understand why the Feyre/Tamlin romance was so important and developed in ACOTAR and why Rhysand wasn’t more of a main character throughout that courtship to really get his foot even more in the door.

I’ve followed the romances in Sarah J. Maas’ books quite well, I think, considering they’re not always simple and straightforward. I know some people who have issues with love triangles or already have their OTPs with the first love interest really have trouble moving with the characters as they fall out of love or move from one interest to realize that their true match is someone else and I feel like I’ve followed along with that fairly easily. I can see where people feel like the romance in ACOMAF is a love triangle and I guess to a certain extent it is, but Feyre also does not have interest in both men at the same time. It is quite complicated though so if you’re sensitive about triangles, you almost definitely won’t like the romance.

I personally loved the development of Rhysand as a love interest, especially once Feyre really started to struggle with Tamlin. I found it telling that at the hardest points in their lives, Feyre and Tamlin drifted apart and just couldn’t find a way to even communicate instead of being able to rely on one another and get through a hard time together. That doesn’t always mean that you shouldn’t be with someone but in the case of story telling, it’s a pretty big sign that the main character isn’t where they should be. I’ve heard this complaint from other Maas readers but this is the first of her books where I really felt like the romance started to take over the book. While I did love the new Rhysand/Feyre development, I felt like there was a lot of back and forth between them before anything major (finally) happened and that could have been cut down to some more meaningful interactions instead of repetitive, similar situations that happened more than a few times throughout the course of the story. Their romance actually is a very important part of the plot so it’s not like I wanted it to be downplayed but I just felt like so many points of the large general story were pushed aside to develop the romantic moments and it started to turn more romance story than epic fantasy — and yes, there are some cheesy romance book-worthy moments. Let’s just say this is NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK, friends. There are some very explicit scenes so if you have teens or are directing/teaching teens who are reading this series, you may not want to put this book directly into their hands. (Not that I’m saying censor them but. Ya know. Read it first so you know what you’re giving them.)

The sections where the plot progressed were really quite delightful. Sarah J. Maas is still a master at layering stories and it’s so interesting to see how much of a previous book comes back in a different light in a subsequent book. There were so many moments that the reader is able to recognize from ACOMAF and see from a different character’s perspective or reassess it with more information and it makes the story that much deeper! Once things started to really take off around halfway through and a little thereafter, the book was simply addicting and I couldn’t wait to see where the entire plot of the series was going! Sarah really does have an amazing ability to craft an overall series arc and it’s so fun to watch that develop. The ending positively floored me and it was hard to remember why I had been so frustrated for a while throughout earlier sections of the book. So many things were revealed, actions taken, and trusts betrayed that I just really didn’t know what was coming. The twists and surprises were epic and once again, I was left in utter anticipation of the next book!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Performance: Very good! I might not seek out more narrations from her but I did like her narrator of ACOMAF.

Jennifer Ikeda was a great narrator for Feyre! I think her demeanor really worked well with the character (or she adapted her demeanor very well to Feyre’s tone) and she was great with the quips and sass and rudeness. There were times I wasn’t totally into her narration but overall she was very good. I’m not sure if I’d seek her out but if there was another book I wanted to listen to, I’d definitely listen to her again.
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Feyre // Character obsessions: Freedom, Rhysand, independence.
Feyre was just so hard to get along with throughout the beginning of the book. I remember significantly noting that I liked how she was strong and fierce but her character did NOT feel like Celaena from Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Once Feyre started to heal and move past her PTSD, she was understandably hardened from it but then she absolutely started to feel like the same character as Celaena and I was a bit disappointed. That essence that made her feel different was gone and I loved the badassery but and took that over the weird, rough Feyre that I couldn’t get a hold on.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New Adult non-contemporary. Most of the New Adult books I read (when I do read them) are of the contemporary romance variety due to that being the main market for NA. It’s interesting to read New Adult as a fantasy! I guess it’s not really that much different than YA or Adult fantasy but it feels so much different when actually classifying it as such!
Left Me Wanting More: Focus on the plot. I’ll tell ya. I was really missing the plot in the beginning. The beginning and middle were quite character-focused which I don’t have an issue with… when I’m not expecting the book to be plot-driven. It really took me a while to adjust.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

The ending was just fantastic and really kind of made up for the rocky times I had in the beginning. If we have similar reading tastes, just beware of possibly having the same issues here!

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE WINNER'S KISS    shadow and bone

When We Collided – Emery Lord

When We Collided – Emery LordTitle: When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publishing Info: April 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 10, 2016
Related Posts: Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.
Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

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Emery Lord is an auto-buy author for me. I fell in love with her debut, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, and every book I read from her is a wonderful and thoughtful experience full of growth, friendship, and a little bit of romance. After finishing WHEN WE COLLIDED, one of the things that I’m really starting to appreciate is how incredibly individual each book feels from is predecessor. Emery Lord’s writing is deep and powerful but still allows each character to let their silly side show and really tells a very realistic story without getting caught up in the dramatics that some young adult books tend to overemphasize. Each book has had a very different story to tell and WHEN WE COLLIDED may be the most powerful one yet.

WHEN WE COLLIDED is the story of Vivi and Jonah but it’s also a story for anyone who’s dealt with grief, depression, mental illness, or really any hard times in their life. The reader learns that Vivi has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that Jonah’s father has recently passed away and his family is still grieving. WHEN WE COLLIDED chronicles the journey of these two characters throughout one summer as they crash into each other’s lives when they’re both at their very bottom and how they’re able to help each other grow and heal. The book is incredibly powerful. There’s so much emotion as Vivi and Jonah sift through their struggles individually and how once they start to open up, they’re really able to help and support each other by sharing their own personal hurdles.

What I loved the most about WHEN WE COLLIDED was how realistic everything truly felt. Sometimes I have a hard time connecting to big families like Jonah’s (especially young children for some reason) but just like Vivi, I easily fell in love with each and every one of them. Emery Lord is able to bring even minor characters into full color and share their dazzling personalities with the reader. I also really appreciated all of the personal experience as well as research that went into Vivi’s character. I haven’t personally seen the effects of bipolar disorder in any of my friends or family members (that I know of) but I felt like this was an incredibly realistic and thorough view of what someone with this disorder might be going through. Experiencing Vivi’s emotional highs and escalation as she went through her manic period was truly an emotional roller coaster and as an observer, I was incredibly nervous for her throughout the book. I was afraid of what might happen when that mania finally came back down and feared for when depression might hit. Vivi has a naturally spirited and unique personality so there was also this blur and question of whether her actions were simply because she was such a sizzling personality or whether some of her decisions were affected by her disorder.

I adored the relationship between Vivi and Jonah. It was such a sweet romance full of highs and lows and it was exactly what these two characters needed. Jonah needed someone who would break down the door and push themself into his life in order to really accept help and start to talk about what his family was going through. She opened Jonah up to acting a little silly sometimes and allowing himself to really act his age when there was so much weighing on his shoulders. Vivi needed someone a little grounded to reel her back in at times but still love her for exactly who she was. Jonah was able to offer her a peek into a big family and the loss of a loving father and these two really learned a lot from each other that they never set out to find.

I could really go on gushing about WHEN WE COLLIDED but it’s a book that really must be experienced. It was so incredibly well-written and I love how it shares some similar elements of Emery Lord’s previous books (strong female characters, great friendships, tons of growth) and yet it truly stands on its own. It was such an emotional ride for me and one that I will absolutely continue to recommend. If you haven’t read any of Emery Lord’s books yet, start anywhere but make sure you do read WHEN WE COLLIDED as soon as possible!
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

when we collided goodreads

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Vivi // Character Obsessions: Costume design, staying unique, fun, adventure.
Vivi was such a wonderfully layered character. She has this struggle with bipolar disorder but she’s so spirited to begin with that at times it’s hard to tell where this disorder creeps in but then you realize that so much of Vivi is just that adventurous, free, and bubbly. I loved her unique personality and you will never find a dull moment with Vivi. She really brought Jonah out of his shell and truly loved who she was.
Jonah // Character Obsessions: Family, responsibility, cooking, his father.
I adored Jonah’s love of cooking (some of these things seriously made me hungry!) and how much I fell in love with his big family. He has the burden of being one of the older siblings and really taking care of the littles as well as his mom as she continues to struggle with the loss of her husband. The whole family is still grieving and I admired Jonah’s strength (although I’m sure it didn’t feel like strength to him) as he attempted to piece his family back together again.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mental health awareness. I thought the authenticity of Vivi’s bipolar disorder was so accurate. I read the author’s note at the end of the book so I know she put a lot of personal experience into creating this character but also really did a ton of research as well to represent it as well as she possibly could.
Left Me Wanting More: Fairy tale endings. Obviously I wish for a fairy tale ending where everyone rides off into the sunset but actually… I’m glad that it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies in the end. Things get real and the ending is realistic and not just smacking a happy conclusion on there just for feels. I loved that I was left with some great feelings but it wasn’t overly sappy.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

You NEED to read Emery Lord’s books if you haven’t yet. Every single one is truly unique and WHEN WE COLLIDED is such a powerful story.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE WHEN WE COLLIDED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES    I WAS HERE

Blog Tour: Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah | Playlist

Blog Tour: Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah | Playlist

Welcome to the blog tour for
REBEL, BULLY, GEEK, PARIAH
by Erin Jade Lange

I’m so excited to be on the blog tour today for REBEL, BULLY, GEEK, PARIAH by Erin Jade Lange! Thanks to Bloomsbury and Hannah from Irish Banana Blog Tours for having me be a part of this one!! I’m really excited to share with you a playlist from the author on today’s blog tour stop! I just love playlists and this one is absolutely perfect.

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah | PlaylistTitle: Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah Publishing Info: February 16, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 23, 2016

"The Breakfast Club" gets a modern, high-stakes reboot in this story of four very different teens and a night that changes them forever.
The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.
The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother.
The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college.
The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight.
When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive.
With cinematic storytelling and compelling emotional depth, critically acclaimed author Erin Jade Lange takes readers on literary thrill ride.


LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

ABOUT ERIN JADE LANGE

author, journalist, obsessive-compulsive list maker.
Erin Jade LangeAWKWARD 3RD-PERSON OFFICIAL BIO:
Erin writes facts by day and fiction by night. As a journalist, she is inspired by current events and real-world issues and uses her writing to explore how those issues impact teenagers.
She is an only child, so she spent a lot of time entertaining herself as a kid. This required her to rely heavily on her own imagination, which is probably why she became a writer.
Erin grew up in the cornfields of northern Illinois, along the Mississippi River in one of the few places it flows east to west. She now lives in the sunshine of Arizona and will forever be torn between her love of rivers and her love of the desert.
LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

BOOK PLAYLIST: REBEL, BULLY, GEEK, PARIAH

This is the first of my books that truly has a playlist. Usually, there’s only one song that really defines a story for me, but in the case of REBEL BULLY GEEK PARIAH, there are four very different characters singing their own tunes, and bringing them together was like trying to create a music mash-up a la “Pitch Perfect.” So here are the tunes that represent them separately and together:

“Angry Anymore” Ani Difranco – I listened to a LOT of music while inside the head of main character and “pariah” Sam Cherie, and no one song can define her for me, but this tune comes close. The lyrics don’t exactly mirror her story, but the emotions are right on target for a girl trying to rebuild a relationship with a drug-addicted mother.

“Bad Reputation” Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – This is the theme song for “rebel” Andi Dixon, a one-time queen bee turned wild child, who no longer cares what anyone thinks. The chorus of this song fits her perfectly: I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation / You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation / A girl can do what she wants to do and that’s what I’m gonna do / And I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation

“Under Pressure” Queen & David Bowie – Even though the title is perfect, it’s more the music of this song that makes me think of “geek” Boston Flint, more than the lyrics. It starts with this feeling of something bubbling under the surface and builds to an out-of-control crescendo, which is fitting for Boston.

“What I’ve Done” Linkin Park – This song belongs to “bully” York Flint, whose anger masks the guilt he carries for something in his past. This lyric in particular is something straight out of York’s head: So let mercy come and wash away / What I’ve done / I’ll face myself to cross out what I’ve become / Erase myself / And let go of what I’ve done

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” Simple Minds – I’d be lying if I didn’t confess this song was on the playlist. It was made classic by “The Breakfast Club” – a movie that had a huge influence not only on this story but also on this author, growing up in the 1980s.

“The Anthem” Good Charlotte – To some degree, this tune is the theme song to ALL of my books, but it’s most fitting for REBEL BULLY GEEK PARIAH, because every one of the characters (and a whole lot of real life teenagers today) can relate to this: At my high school, it felt more to me / Like a jail cell, a penitentiary / My time spent there, it only made me see / That I don’t ever wanna be like you / I don’t wanna do the things you do / I’m never gonna hear the words you say / And I don’t ever wanna / I don’t ever wanna be you

That last one is a song about growing up and breaking away, about shedding labels and deciding who we are for ourselves. And in a large part, that’s exactly what this book is about too. 

I absolutely LOVE these song choices and I think they really give you a little more insight on each character! Several songs on there that I already know and love and I can’t wait to check out the ones that I haven’t heard yet! Plus any mention of Pitch Perfect and I’m there! Thanks so much to author Erin Jade Lange for putting this together!! 

Have you read REBEL, BULLY, GEEK, PARIAH yet? What songs would you choose for the book or the characters?


Don’t miss the rest of REBEL, BULLY, GEEK, PARIAH blog tour stops!

Week 1:
 
Week 2:

GIVEAWAY

There’s also a giveaway for those following this tour! You could win one of three available hardcover copies of the book!! Just enter the Rafflecopter entry form below! US entries only. Good luck!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) – Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: September 1, 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Amazon
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2015
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

The queen has returned.
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.
The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series contrinues Celaena's epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

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** This review will contain spoilers for the previous three books in the series but NO specific plot spoilers for QUEEN OF SHADOWS, however, if you have not read QUEEN OF SHADOWS yet, you may consider some things I talk about in my review to be minor spoilers (about the romance!) so reader beware! ** 

QUEEN OF SHADOWS was just utter, utter perfection for me. I was a bit of a late-comer to the Sarah J. Maas fandom having just started the Throne of Glass series last year (I binge read the first three books right as HEIR OF FIRE came out) and I absolutely fell in love. Even though it’s been a year since I’ve been immersed in this world, picking up QUEEN OF SHADOWS just felt so comfortable and I easily fell back into all of the magic that this series has to offer. It’s hard to review the 4th book in a major series without giving plot points away so I’m going to stay off of plot (for the most part) and try to talk about more about specific elements of the book that I enjoyed as well as how the book seems to be standing up to criticisms (yes, people have them and I don’t understand them).

One thing that I’m always incredibly impressed with is Sarah’s ability to really make this series one long story. Even though it’s broken up into six books, each novel relates back to another in the series and I’m always so impressed with not only how they tie in to one another but also how they are constantly connected right from the beginning and we only get to find out those connections as we dive further into the series.

I also really just love how this book feels like “coming home”. Reading QUEEN OF SHADOWS gave me that feeling of “Yes, I love this world. I know this world. This is where my heart belongs” and I feel that each time I read the next book in the series. Sarah J. Maas does a fantastic job of making these books come alive in every possible way. The settings and world building are incredible and I really do feel like I’m experiencing the novel as I’m reading it — I’m fully immersed. The characters and their personalities really just come to life and I feel like I’ve really come to know these people and places.

I’m constantly impressed with the character growth throughout this series as well. If you look at Celaena/Aelin from THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE or THRONE OF GLASS and Aelin in QUEEN OF SHADOWS, she’s a totally different person and I love seeing how much she’s grown throughout the course of these books. She went from arrogant teenager into blossoming queen and it’s been amazing to witness that slow and subtle transition. She’s really grown so much and she’s starting to own this queen-business and I am 100% behind her!
I was actually surprised that character growth seemed to be a negative thing in some reviews… I did a rather silly thing and read some one and two star reviews because I couldn’t fathom why people were so put off by the this book when I felt so in love with it and some people said that Aelin was totally different and where is old Celaena. But… YES! Of course she’s different! If the whole series had been about arrogant and cocky Celaena, I wouldn’t have liked it. There would have been no character growth at all. She’s been growing and changing this whole time and I think most of that happened in HEIR OF FIRE so I was kind of shocked that this — what I felt was slight — change in demeanor was so surprising and so many people were taken aback. I think Aelin has been growing up this whole series and I’ve been so impressed with the changes she’s made! I think she still has the same personality but because of her goals, because of what she’s been through, and because of what she’s learned, she’s changing from a girl into a young woman and handling herself differently. You can’t be a spoiled and arrogant queen.

The way the romantic feelings have evolved and changed have also been handled extremely well. Personally, I was never a Chaol/Celaena shipper. I would have been happy if they ended up together (hey, they still might — series isn’t over yet) but I was never fully invested in it for some reason. Things really start to change in QUEEN OF SHADOWS and as these characters grow, they start to explore their true romantic feelings and pulls even more and in some cases, they’re not quite what they used to be. It sort of felt like growing out of your old high school crush or boyfriend — what you had in common when you were younger may no longer be applicable and as people grow, they tend to change and refocus their goals, what’s important in life, and who a perfect match for them might be. I felt like that’s what happened with Aelin and Chaol. Maybe Celaena and Chaol would have worked well together but I don’t think Aelin and Chaol are meant to be. They’ve both been through a lot throughout the course of this series and their end goal is still the same but their paths may not be quite identical anymore. I think both characters started to realize this, especially in QUEEN OF SHADOWS.

Of course, the story itself was just amazing. QUEEN OF SHADOWS was a hefty book at over 650 pages and there was so much that happened… and none of it ever felt unnecessary. I never tired while reading QUEEN OF SHADOWS and wished I could stay within these pages long after the book ended. I was constantly captivated and didn’t want to put the book down! Sarah J. Maas is an expert story teller and I could get lost in the pages of her books forever. I’m a huge fan of this series and Sarah’s stories and I will be forever anticipating new works from her! This series is incredibly well-done and I can’t wait to see where else this plot takes us.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

queen of shadows goodreads

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Aelin // Character Obsessions: Defeat of the Valg, protecting the kingdom.
I am so impressed with how much Aelin has grown throughout this series. I’ve loved witnessing her changes and how she’s been handling things in the past couple books. She’s still the same badass and has that same personality/attitude, but her focus has changed so much more now that she’s owned being the Queen of Terrasen.
Lysandra // Character Obsessions: Evangeline, debts, revenge.
There is SO much of THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE that we see coming back in QUEEN OF SHADOWS and guess what! Lysandra is back! I loved seeing the role she ended up playing in this book and I LOVE that it ties all the back to THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Epic epic fantasy. This is some EPIC epic fantasy. I love how books and series like this just fully pull me in and make me feel like I’m a part of the story.
Left Me Wanting More: Manon/Aelin encounters. I’m still enjoying the Blackbeak side of the story BUT I do wish there was a bit more connection to the main plot. I love Manon and I’ve been so happy to learn more about her but I can’t wait for this half of the book to tie in some more!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT NOW!

This is easily one of my all-time favorite series. The books, the characters, the world-building, the writing — all have grown throughout the series and I just can’t get enough.

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BOOKS LIKE QUEEN OF SHADOWS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) – Patrick Rothfuss   A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) – George R.R. Martin

The Fixer (The Fixer #1) – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Fixer (The Fixer #1) – Jennifer Lynn BarnesTitle: The Fixer (The Fixer #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publishing Info: July 7, 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 5, 2015

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather's ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.
And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess's classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

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I was in a bit of a reading slump and needed a good “me” book to pull me out and renew my faith in reading (just kidding. I could never totally lose my faith in books!) when a perfectly timed tweet from Andi bumped up THE FIXER on my TBR! As soon as I had heard about it from Bloomsbury, I knew I was interested so I dove right in! Thankfully, THE FIXER was just what I needed and really lived up to its name — fixing my reading slump!

The back cover of my ARC pitched the book as HEIST SOCIETY meets 24 and that I can totally agree with. Normally I’m afraid of the “this meets that” comparisons for books because I don’t usually feel that the comparisons are accurate but this one was totally spot on! I definitely got some HEIST SOCIETY feels from the characters as well as tone, plus the dash of intrigue and political society throughout the book. I think the 24 vibe definitely came into play towards the end and all together, these elements worked really well! The book was fun with dynamic and entertaining characters right from the beginning and it closed with some excellent action and intrigue!

The book was really just a blast from start to finish. I just loved the characters and how much the enhanced the overall story. Tess was kind of a fireball and I loved her sarcasm combined with her won’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude (just like Ivy)! The supporting characters were also tons of fun. They provided a range of personalities and feelings for the book so it was just a really fun range of emotions that I got to experience.

I really loved the pacing throughout the book. There was an excellent blend of high stakes action, investigative work, personal moments, and theorizing. I thought everything came together really well. I zipped through the first fifty pages of the book and the rest was a breeze too! I didn’t find my interest waning and I really always felt engaged! Jennifer Lynn Barnes really put together a solid novel and I was so pleased with how much I enjoyed it! I actually wasn’t sure if this was a series when I finished (it is) and I really liked how the book closed one chapter but still really left it open to continue later on down the road!

THE FIXER was a really fun read for me and even though it was almost 400 pages, it didn’t feel like a long book at all! I really got lost in the pages and everything just seemed to fit together. The characters brightened the whole book and really made it come to life! I can’t wait to read more of this series.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

the fixer gr updates

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Tess // Character Obsessions: Her grandfather, taking action, solving problems.
I kind of love that Tess’s personality essentially pushes her to become a “Fixer” even though she has no intention of being one. She’s very strong-willed and doesn’t like to see injustice so she naturally sort of falls into that role. I also love how fiercely protective she is of her friends and family. Sometimes I feel like that protection is over-emotional but I really loved Tess and the combination of her take-charge attitude and intense connection to the ones she loves.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Political thrillers. I think political thrillers are hard to find in YA (naturally, because most political scandals surround adults) but I really loved how this was done! I don’t actually feel the draw to pick up adult political thrillers but I loved the way this was handled in YA!
Left Me Wanting More: Secondary characters. There were a lot of great secondary characters — friends, friends of Ivy, relatives, politicians — and I wouldn’t say that I didn’t get enough of them but I’m definitely interested in finding out more! I’m really glad that this is a series because I found myself wondering about more backstories and I can’t wait to learn more!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

THE FIXER was both fun and thrilling. I loved the personalities within the book and the plot really constantly kept moving forward! Excited for more of the series — and more from Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

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BOOKS LIKE THE FIXER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HEIST SOCIETY     ALSO KNOWN AS

Series Review: Scarlet, Lady Thief, and Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen

I had been meaning to read SCARLET for a long time and when I heard that A.C. Gaughen was coming to Illinois for an event in June, I knew it was finally time to start… and binge read the whole series! Since I read them all so close together, I wanted to write a series review instead of individual reviews back to back to back!

Each book is reviewed individually and then I have some overall feelings on the series, all spoiler-free!

SCARLET

SCARLET had just a lovely feel to it. I’m not a Robin Hood buff, but I’ve always enjoyed the stories and I just really loved this adaptation. Scarlet — or Scar as her friends call her — is a tough gal who hangs with Robin Hood (Rob) and his band of thieves, although everyone knows her as Will Scarlet… the boy. I really loved that you were able to see her strength throughout the book and at the same time, see where she was vulnerable. She’s very humble and never claimed to be anything great and overall her character just felt very sincere!

I really loved the interactions between Scarlet and Rob and OH MY, the tension! It was kind of glorious, though. Scar doesn’t really think she’s worthy of Rob or that he could fall for her and although it made me want to shake her at times, it make for an interesting dynamic and constant romantic tension. The thing I didn’t really love regarding romance, though, was that it was pretty triangle-y. John also has affections for Scar and although she knows his feelings don’t run deep, she doesn’t always push him away. It was a bit frustrating to see her accept some affection from him and then ultimately push him away, meanwhile having feelings for Rob. I felt like the same feelings and emotions could have been conveyed without so John pursuing Scar so much, BUT at the same time, I also think that’s fairly realistic. It’s hard to say no to flattery and even if you know it’s not someone you want to BE with, the affection is nice for a little while.

I also just really enjoyed the overall story. Right from the beginning we know that Scarlet’s past is somewhat secret and there are definitely a few traumatizing events that have shaped her to be who she is now. Some of the reveals weren’t so surprising and some totally floored me but I like the way all of them were handled! The end of the book had me in a big ball of nerves and I was basically shouting in concern as I read!

LADY THIEF

It was kind of hard to start LADY THIEF… Everyone seems to love this series SO MUCH and they were so excited for me to finish SCARLET and start LADY THIEF that the book became quite hyped for me. It’s a bit frustrating, for lack of a better word. I know that everyone was just very excited but then the book and the series as a whole really had a LOT of praise to live up to. All said and done, I still enjoyed all three books but especially the hype for LADY THIEF was a killer.

That being said, I really did enjoy the book still. It definitely had a bit of darkness too it and the layers added to LADY THIEF really showed the reader more about the characters and I mean ALL of the characters. I actually found it really interesting how much I learned about Gisbourne and Prince John. Prince John became even more of a villain for me and I was really surprised that I started to feel like Gisbourne wasn’t ALL awful. I KNOW. But I got to know more things about him and that doesn’t mean I LIKED him, but it was interesting to see some human sides of a huge antagonist/villain.

Some really heavy things DO happen in LADY THIEF — that wasn’t an oversell — but with all of the hype, they weren’t a shock and they didn’t hit me as hard. I did have some great Scar/Rob feels and I definitely became more invested in everything as I read! I really, really enjoyed all of the characters and they really brought the book to life for me. I still didn’t QUITE get to a “love it” status with LADY THIEF but it was still a solid read for me!

LION HEART

LION HEART was also a solid read for me BUT I did feel myself growing tired as I read. Talking to friends who had read the series, I nailed it down to the fact that the Scarlet series grew as its popularity grew, so what originally started of as one book and then a duet, turned into a trilogy. I did enjoy all three books but for me, LION HEART felt like it should have been combined with LADY THIEF. I feel like some of the action was just filler to bring exciting scenes to the book and other pieces (that I can’t get into due to spoilers) with Scarlet would have been better for her character development in LADY THIEF. I really just felt like the last two books would have been better as one.

My feelings for Scar and Rob did grow and I loved the final pieces of their story in this book! It was also great to see Scarlet really grow and step out of her comfort zone to do what she needed to do for her people. The characters and overall conclusion were my favorite parts of LION HEART, but again, it did seem like it dragged just a bit with most of the exciting and shocking moments happening in LADY THIEF.

SERIES AS A WHOLE

I really enjoyed all three books but none of them really quite got to a “love” status for me. SCARLET was my favorite because that was where I felt the most emotion and connection to everything — characters, plot, action, romance — and I felt the most engaged. I think LADY THIEF could have been a favorite but the hype was too great and I was preparing myself so I wouldn’t be let down. I’m not sure if I prevented myself from loving it because of that or if I prevented myself from feeling disappointed… but either way, it was still about a four star read for me. LION HEART was a nice conclusion but again, I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot of plot or action going on and I think it would have fit better with LADY THIEF as one book.

The hard part about binge reading a series that I’m not absolutely in love with is that I started to notice myself wishing for the end. I really enjoyed all three books but without that extreme passion for everything, I didn’t quite feel the PULL for me to keep reading. Of course I did and I’m very glad I read the series but it’s not quite on the favorites list of mine. They were all pretty solid four-star books and I can see why so many people love them! I think a combination of hype and knowing that I was binge-reading them all had me a bit more detached.

Have you read the Scarlet series? Which book was your favorite?
If you haven’t read, are you thinking of starting these soon?

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

I didn’t personally fall in love with this series BUT that could also be because of hype. I definitely think they’re worth the read though! I really enjoyed the Robin Hood adaptation and the books were really very good!

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BOOKS LIKE THE SCARLET TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

GRAVY MERCY     THIS DARK ENDEAVOR