Monday, December 14, 2015

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewQueen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
on September 1st 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 648
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

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 continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

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If you have not read the other books in this series, this review will contain spoilers.  There is just no avoiding that.  However, I will not be spoiling any part of Queen of Shadows.

I’m gonna start off by saying that it’s been a month or so since I actually read Queen of Shadows so bear with me if this review is all over the place.  That being said, I’m still thinking about Queen of Shadows and all the twists Sarah J. Maas threw at readers this time around.  I wasn’t sure there was a whole lot left that she could shock me with but boy was I wrong!

I read the first four books (I’m including The Assassin’s Blade in that count) about two months before Queen of Shadows and I’m glad I took so long to read them.  This series has so much going on that it’s actually pretty important to remember what happened in the previous books.  All the books include hints of what is to come and I love that Sarah J. Maas plans everything so far ahead.  I know there are definitely some things that I missed but hopefully I’ll catch some more things next year when I reread the series to prepare for the next book.  That’s not to say that you have to reread the first few books every time a new one comes out but having a summary of what happened in the previous books is good so you can stay caught up.

Can I just say that Queen of Shadows was everything I hoped for and more?  Is that good enough for you guys?  I imagine most of you have already read it (I mean, who could wait?) but if you haven’t you should just stop reading my review now and go pick it up.  Sarah J. Maas managed to answer a few questions while posing some new ones that I hope to get answers to in future books.  I’m honestly amazed at her skill with weaving all these storylines together.  I don’t know how she does it (one of many reasons she is the writer and I am not.)  Everything from the first four books has been leading up to this one and I’m sure it will be the same with the next one.  While some huge things went down, there is still so much left for Aelin and her crew to do.  This series is far from over and I feel like the wait for the fifth book is going to be torture.

I loved all the characters (even Chaol) but Dorian definitely held a special place in my heart this time around.  After what happened to him at the end of Heir of Fire, I wasn’t sure what state he would be in when Chaol and Aelin saw him next.  I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say that my heart broke every time I got to a chapter from his POV.  I died a little inside every time I thought about what might happen to him.  He is the reason I spent so much of this book crying.  Just thinking about it now makes me want to tear up.

I did mention Chaol and I want to mention him again.  I loved him early on in the series but that did not last long.  I know some people love him but I was not one of those people and I’m still not really.  I like him and Dorian and Aelin as friends and that’s all I like them as.  Chaol had some serious growing up to do.  He needed to see that Aelin couldn’t just close off parts of herself because he didn’t like them.  She was a very independent woman and he needed to learn to accept that.  I did see progress on that front in Queen of Shadows and he really started to impress me again.  I also can’t fault him for his loyalty and friendship to Dorian.  They are more like brothers than friends.

I don’t even really want to say anything about Aelin because she’s just as badass and awesome as ever.  And as for who she ends up with, I’m not even going to say anything about it except that he is perfect for her.  I think Sarah J. Maas really took time to see how each guy would match up with Aelin and she chose the one that not only was good with her but was also good for her.

One of the best things about Queen of Shadows was the development of Manon and the Thirteen.  I wasn’t sure about them when they were first introduced in the series but they have grown on me and I see how they are going to play a huge role in the battle to come.  Now don’t get me wrong, I always thought they were awesome I just didn’t want anyone that awesome on the side of the bad guys.  I’m not saying they are good but I think Manon has finally realized that she needs to look deeper into what’s going on and decide for herself who she wants to side with.

Last but not least, the plot!  Things move quickly in Queen of Shadows and they build up to a huge battle.  That battle scene was just brilliant and epic!  I might have had some issues reading it since I was crying at the same time but I still know it was awesome.  A lot of huge twists happened during that battle and my jaw dropped more than once.  Sarah J. Maas is one of those authors who isn’t afraid to kill her characters and that battle had me worried for more than one of my faves.

Overall, Queen of Shadows is just plain amazing.  If you haven’t read it yet, get on it!  I know the wait for the next book seems like forever but just join me in misery while we wait together!

What others are saying about Queen of Shadows:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “Queen of Shadows had some scenes that were just stellar: an epic girl fight, a reunion, a (bloody) witch savior, fucking badass witches, an insane finale, a tear-inducing but happy ending, death (obviously), the exploration of the “who is the monster and who is the man” concept, and discussions about nightgowns and underthings.”

Fictional Darkness’ review: “Sarah J. Maas has a special talent when it comes to sculpting characters.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewHeir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 562
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king's assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

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Oh Sarah J. Maas, what have you done to me?  Heir of Fire has ruined me for all books in the near future.  This series just continues to amaze and impress me.  Heir of Fire takes things up another level for the Throne of Glass series and to be completely honest, I wasn’t even sure that was possible.

I don’t want to spoil things for anyone so if you haven’t read Crown of Midnight, stop reading.  Seriously, go away now.  I will not be held responsible for any spoilers you might see in this review.

A few people finally know who Celaena really is.  Not many, and not all the key players, but some.  However, just because people finally know her identity as Aelin doesn’t mean she’s any closer to accepting it or the responsibilities that come with it.  In fact, she may be even farther away from accepting those responsibilities than she was before.  Being sent to Wendlyn to find out about the Wyrdkeys and learn to control her magic has pushed her over the edge.  Memories from her past are surfacing, some that she’d rather not remember.  In Heir of Fire she is really forced to take a look at her past and figure out what everything means for her future.  Controlling her magic is only the first step in the process of defeating the king.

I have loved Aelin from the start, even when she was being selfish and spoiled.  I didn’t like that about her but I came to accept it and saw that she could be that way even while being a badass assassin who took shit from no one.  In Heir of Fire I came to love her even more.  She is nowhere near the same person she was when her journey began.  She’s faced losses that would cripple some people and she’s come out the other side with a very different outlook on life and her goals.  She’s still very much focused on how things will end for her but she’s learning to branch out to include some other people.  She is a very caring person no matter what front she puts on for people.  Even if she’s not sure she wants to accept the responsibilities of a queen, she knows that she wants to help her people.  I appreciated that about her.

A lot of new characters were introduced in Heir of Fire and I’m not sure who I loved the most.  I will say that I didn’t care all that much for Sorscha but I think that’s because I didn’t know a lot about her.  Her story didn’t seem very fleshed out to me.  I wanted to know more about her background and why she did what she did.  Hers was the only story like that though.  Aedion, Rowan, Manon, Maeve and even some of the more minor characters had such depth to them.  I admit that I didn’t really like many of the new characters at first but most of them grew on me.  Aedion was Aelin’s cousin and after the downfall of their kingdom, he did whatever it took to keep his people safe.  Sure he was kind of a little shit but I came to understand his actions.  Rowan was pretty damn harsh to Aelin but his history was very complicated and he saw her as nothing but a young, spoiled girl who hadn’t had to fight for anything in life.  Their relationship was twisted from start to finish but I loved it.  Not sure he’s someone I want with Aelin but I could see how it might work between them.  As for Manon, she’s a hard nut to crack.  I don’t know if she’s evil or not.  The witches roles in things are going to be very interesting.

I just want to briefly mention Chaol and Dorian because I can’t possibly not mention them.  Chaol really bugged me this time around.  In Crown of Midnight I saw how he felt about certain aspects of Aelin’s life but you really get to know his feelings in Heir of Fire.  I’ll have to see how things play out with him and Aelin in the next book because if he doesn’t switch things up soon, I’m not going to like him anymore.  As for Dorian, that poor boy has too much stuff to deal with.  My heart broke for him so many times and I don’t know how I’m going to take things in the next book if something doesn’t change in his situation.

The story is lengthy and twisted and totally nothing I ever saw coming.  The thing I appreciated most about Heir of Fire was the amount of history woven into things.  Sarah J. Maas doesn’t just dump information on you, she manages to weave it all into the current storylines so it makes complete sense.  I would have felt so lost if I hadn’t learned some info about the witches, the fae, and the Wyrdkeys.  That was one of the things I felt so clueless about in Crown of Midnight so I appreciated that things were finally explained some more.  Also, while a lot of things are explained in Heir of Fire, a lot of new things are introduced that left me with tons of questions.  I can see how this series is going to be six books.  There is just too much going on to condense these.

Overall, Heir of Fire is the best of the series, by far.  Sarah J. Maas has cemented her place on my list of favorite authors.  I cannot wait to continue this series.

What others are saying about Heir Of Fire:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “While Heir of Fire definitely has all kinds of action, it’s a looong book, and it’s slower.”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Heir of Fire is that rare epic fantasy that is about people.”

Great Imaginations’ review: “It is miles and miles away from the boy-and-candy-crazy ‘assassin’ of Throne of Glass and is instead a story of a people rising up to face an oppressor, of a girl coming into her birthright, of hope and healing and fighting back.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewCrown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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You guys, why did I ever expect a happy ending from Sarah J. Maas?  I really should have known better but I was still completely unprepared to have my heart broken by this series for the billionth time!  Crown of Midnight was full of shocking twists, horrifying betrayals, and more secrets than I could possibly keep track of.

So Celaena became the King’s Champion and now she has to put her badass assassin skills to use for someone she absolutely hates. Not only that, the king has her killing people for really dumb reasons and Celaena can’t stand it.  She may be an assassin but she’s always been able to choose which contracts she takes and who she actually kills.  She no longer has that choice.  What’s even worse is that her friends now look at her differently because of what she is forced to do for the king.  Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian don’t like the person she has become but she’s really not different, she just acts like she is.  Celaena definitely puts on a front for the king, acting completely unaffected by what she does.  Underneath that facade she does have feelings though and she hates what she does.  She’s the same person she’s always been and she has one goal in mind: her freedom.  If that means she has to appear to be working for the king, she will do it and she won’t put her friends lives at risk by telling them what she’s really doing.  She may be selfish at times but Celaena is a loyal friend, that’s for sure.

Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian really tested my limits this time around.  Nehemia really bothered me at times.  I understood where she was coming from when she tried to get Celaena to stand up for what was right but she was downright mean about it sometimes.  Nehemia’s people were being tortured, enslaved, and killed so she definitely had a right to want to fight for them and to be upset but she took things a little too far when she called Celaena a coward.  Chaol didn’t  bother me all that much but he made some mistakes when he kept certain things from Celaena.  Things could have been prevented if he just bothered to talk to her.  I’m not saying everything that happened could have been prevented but definitely some things.  Dorian, on the other hand, really impressed me.  Dorian is a prince but he is so far from spoiled.  He is smart and talented and kind and if he is allowed, he will become a great ruler.  I still don’t necessarily think he should be with Celaena but she could do a lot worse.

Speaking of who Celaena should end up with… I’m truly torn here.  Chaol is a great guy and I loved seeing his relationship with Celaena evolve but there are just certain things about him that I dislike.  He has a problem accepting all aspects of Celaena and I hated that.  She is who she is and he should not want her to change in any way.  I felt that at least Dorian accepted all of her.  They still work better as friends to me but I could understand why she might fall for him, if that ever happens.

The story is so twisted and convoluted.  I powered through this book when I probably should have taken my time with it.  Sarah J. Maas layers so many things throughout her stories that sometimes it takes a second glance to realize what exactly is happening and what it could mean for the future books.  I continue to be impressed with her storytelling skills.

I feel like at this point I don’t even need to say this but I’m going to anyway; nothing and nobody is safe.  I knew from other peoples’ reviews and reactions to Crown of Midnight that something big was going to happen and it was going to affect the fate of one of the main characters.  I didn’t know which one and I truly did not expect what happened.  I was stunned.  Sarah J. Maas makes you fall in love with her characters and then completely destroy you when you least expect it.  I love her and hate her for that.

Overall, Crown of Midnight does not suffer from second book syndrome.  This series does not lose an ounce of momentum in this sequel.  It sets things up for an epic third book!

What others are saying about Crown of Midnight:

Book Rock Betty’s review: “Fantasy readers will love this series.”

Mostly YA Book Obsessed’s review: “It doesn’t get any better than Celaena Sardothien!”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Crown of Midnight is an action-packed, rollercoaster ride of a book that will make mincemeat of your emotions, and it is, I feel, an improvement on the already glorious Throne of Glass.”

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas | Review

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewThe Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-#0.5) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on March 13th 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 430
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Celaena Sardothien owes her reputation to Arobynn Hamel. He gave her a home at the Assassins' Guild and taught her the skills she needed to survive.

Arobynn's enemies stretch far and wide - from Adarlan's rooftops and its filthy dens, to remote islands and hostile deserts. Celaena is duty-bound to hunt them down. But behind her assignments lies a dark truth that will seal her fate - and cut her heart in two forever...

picadillyblueThe Assassin and the Pirate Lord (#0.1):

As a first introduction to Celaena Sardothien, this was a pretty good one.  She may be an assassin but she has morals.  The Assassin and the Pirate Lord showcased her skills as well as her softer side.  It also did a great job showing the relationship between Sam and Celaena.  While the synopsis of The Assassin’s Blade gave away the future of their relationship, I could definitely see it coming even without the hint.  They have a spark even with all the “hatred” they have for each other.  Their banter was adorable and they really worked well together.

The Assassin and the Healer (#0.2):

This one seemed a bit unnecessary to me.  There wasn’t a whole lot of content in The Assassin and the Healer, at least not really any that seemed super important to the story.  It really just seemed more like a bridge between Pirate Lord and Desert.  I liked the introduction of the healer and I’m kind of expecting her to make an appearance sometime later in the series.  I have no idea if that will actually happen but I’d love to know what happens to her after Celaena leaves.  Really this one just showed how badass Celaena is and that she has a temper.  Nothing new there.

The Assassin and the Desert (#0.3):

I loved The Assassin and the Desert.  It was the first time I really felt like I was getting to know Celaena.  This was one of the longer novellas and it really added depth to her character.  I saw a lot of good in her here but also her selfish side.  She was very cocky and I admit, there were times I wasn’t all that impressed with her.  I liked seeing her knocked down a peg or two but I hated seeing her hurt emotionally.  This is one girl who can take whatever you throw at her but emotions are difficult for her.  I could really see that here.

I’ll also go ahead and mention, I started the novellas before I read the rest of the series and this is one that I feel was good to have read first.  Events from this one come to play later on in the series, that’s for sure.

The Assassin and the Underworld (#0.4):

This is where things got interesting.  Things between Celaena and Sam are different after her return from the Red Desert and I both loved and hated it.  They were so strong willed and stubborn that neither wanted to admit that things had changed.  Seeing Celaena get jealous sucked but it forced her to realize what she felt for Sam.  Other than the relationship front though, things really changed here.  Celaena’s mission was challenging and from the start, I knew there was something going on with it.  I won’t give anything away, obviously, but let me just tell you, I was pissed at the end.  I have never hated someone as much as I hate Arobynn Hamel.

The Assassin and the Empire (#0.5):

Speaking of hatred for Arobynn Hamel… I didn’t think it was possible to hate him more than I did at the end of The Assassin and the Underworld but I was so wrong.  I knew something bad was going to happen in The Assassin and the Empire but I had no clue how bad it was going to be.  Prepare for tears with this one.  Just have a box of tissues on hand.  I sobbed like a baby and I couldn’t stop thinking about this one long after I finished it.  In fact, it still breaks my heart just thinking about it.  This one really changed everything for Celaena and if you didn’t love her before, you will now.

Overall, these novellas flow perfectly.  I honestly felt like The Assassin’s Blade read as a book rather than a collection of novellas.  It was a great introduction to Celaena Sardothien, her story, and the world of the Throne of Glass books.  I definitely recommend reading these before you get into the Throne of Glass series and don’t worry if things don’t seem super exciting at first.  They pick up really quickly.

What others are saying about The Assassin’s Blade:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “Sometimes novellas seem kind of pointless, but these are totally not.”

Utterly Bookish’s review: “That’s it, I can’t hold it back anymore: I am completely in love with Sarah J. Maas and her books.”

Readers in Wonderland’s review: “If you haven’t started this amazing series, you really should!”