REVIEW | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (In Which We Discuss Plagiarism).

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Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 693
Published: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Goodreads Rating: 4.59/5
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Final Feeling: Angry

THIS FIRST SECTION CAN BE *LIGHTLY* SPOILERY.  I HAVE A LINE SEPARATING IT FROM THE EXTREMELY WORLD-DESTROYING SPOILERS.

See, I’m actually starting my review telling you, the reader, that I love Sarah J. Maas and her brilliant brain.  She is my top author, my only instant-buy author, my favorite go-to author.  So it really pisses me off and frustrates me beyond belief when I pick up a copy of her highly anticipated book only to reread parts of  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  

Do you know how frustrating that is?  How confusing and saddening it is?  This book was good but it wasn’t great.  It suffered second book syndrome even though it was the 5th book in the series.  Throughout the series we have followed Aelin through so much shit and then we get to this book, the fifth book, where Aelin is meant to take back Terrasen and be queen and defeat the evil forces.  Instead, we went on a really long road trip to find some TOG deathly hallows that could defeat the evil Lord.

Literally. What. The. Hell.

So my warning for all of you who still have yet to read my review, stop and go read the book and then come back.  It’s a really good book, her writing just keeps getting better.  But this review isn’t full of fangirling.


We start off pretty much right where Queen of Shadows ends.  The group arrives in Terrasen and they have to set up a meeting with a group of rebels who have been fighting the cause since forever ago.  Aelin is essentially rejected as Queen within the first few chapters, regardless of everything she’s gone through.  Darrow was a total piece of shit and I honestly got the vibe that we would be seeing his epic assassination somewhere in this storyline.  It didn’t happen.  In fact, a lot didn’t happen.  It’s like we were completely led to this point where Aelin was going to finally be home in Terrasen and then that direction of the plot just cluster-fucked and was totally scratched.  For the whole 693 pages of this book, that didn’t happen, we saw nothing of Terrasen because 98% of this book didn’t take place there.

Speaking of seeing nothing, where the hell was Aelin/Rowan in the first 40% of the book?  We got like two chapters from their POV in the first half of the book.  The focus of the series morphed into seeing EVERYBODY’S perspective and it became a lot of information to handle.  There are SO many different storylines happening all at once and it’s partly great because *holy crap she’s brilliant* but it’s also a little much.  I think the storyline would have been fine without some of these chapters.

Most of this book was an info-dump and I’m not sure it was in a good way.  I’ve seen this done in one of the books from Morgan Rhodes’ the Falling Kingdom’s series but it’s still a lot for an author ask of a reader in a high fantasy book.  Especially if the book is almost 700 pages, there’s almost no excuse for it.  I have read this series four times and I was still struggling to remember all the names, plot twists, and places.  This book seemed more like a lead up to the next book than a solid book in itself.  What I really didn’t like was that so many vital things happened BEHIND the scenes, and it would just randomly spring up that “Aelin did ______ ___ months ago” “Aelin told ______” “This is the result of Aelin doing ______ in _______ on ______”.  The results of all of these “secret” things Aelin did was just piled onto us at the very end of the book.  I would have much preferred to have actively been kept in the loop as to what Aelin was plotting instead of just hearing about how great she is.

The romance was kind of tacky.  I’m not sure why or when Raelin was morphed into this weirdly sweet “forever happy” pairing but it was a little cringe-worthy at some points.  I am completely on the Raelin ship but he’s like 500 years old and she’s 19 and their sex read like fan fiction.  What the hell happened to the 500 year old, pure blooded Fae who was a lethal killer? Why is he all laugh-y and chuckle-y and smile-y now?  Why was his character just reduced to a shitty stereotypical YA male?  Rowan is an excellent character with such depth, but it just seemed like something was missing in his character this book.  He’s been reduced to a basic male when he could have had such a bigger impact.

And speaking of things missing, where the fuck were Chaol and Nesryn?  You’re seriously telling me in 693 pages Cesryn couldn’t make a damn appearance?  Freaking ANSEL* was brought back into the storyline and the wispy desert people and we couldn’t get a glimpse of Cesryn?  They sailed to the south to get him healed and build up an Army and we got like two fleeting mentions of them in the book.

*who is that, you ask?  The chick who backstabbed Celaena in the desert in book 0.5. Yeah I had to look it up.

I’m not sure what else I’m missing, so let’s talk about plagiarism – the reason I’m really pissed with SJM and EOS.   Because I cannot be the only one in this gods-damn world who read chapters 64, 65, and 68 and DIDN’T see blatant copying from The Deathly Hallows.

Elena = Dumbledore / dead HP family knowing Harry Potter’s (Aelin’s) fate.

Nehemia = Weird Snape hybrid who was secretly helping Aelin always to save the world.
Manon = dead Voldemort horcux baby? (LOL)
Aelin = Harry Potter
Maeve/Erawan = Voldemort

Let’s start off the scene….

Aelin had a body that was not a body.

She knew only because in this void, this foggy twilight, Manon had a body. A nearly transparent, wraithlike body, but… a form nonetheless.

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“What is this place?”

The mirror had transported them to… wherever this was.

“Your guess is as good as mine, witch”

Had time stopped beyond the mists? Had Maeve held her fire upon learning she was not present- or attacked anyway? Aelin had no doubt Rowan would hold the lines for as long as possible. Had no doubt he and Aedion would lead them. But…

Whether the witch mirror was the Lock she’d sought, she’d expected it to have some immediate reaction to the two Wyrdkeys she’d snuck into her jacket.

Not… this. Not absolutely nothing.

So the Wyrdkeys are the Deathly Hallows.

The mirror of Elena is basically showing them all these collected memories. Something like the penseive in Dumbledore’s office.

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“I think.” Aelin breathed, “we have been been deliberately misled about what we must retrieve.”

“Why?” Manon said with equal quiet.

“I suppose we’re about to find out.”

A memory- that’s what this was. But what was so vital that they had been sent to retrieve it when the whole damn world was falling apart around them?

Aelin and Manon stood in silence as the scene unfolded. As the truth, at last the truth, now wove together.

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(start reading pg. 603)

“Please” Elena breathed.

The three-faced one said, “Tell Brannon of the Wildfire what occurred here, tell him the price his bloodline shall one day pay. Tell him to ready for it.”

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The one with three faces studied her. “Mala’s bloodline shall bleed again to forge the Lock anew. And you will lead them, a lamb to slaughter, to pay the price of this choice you made to waste its power here, for this petty battle.  You will show this future scion how to forge a new Lock with Mala’s gifts, how to then use it to wield the keys and send us home.  Our original bargain still holds: we will take the Dark King with us. Tear him apart in our own world, where he will be but dust and memory. When we are gone- you will show this scion how to seal the gate behind us, the Lock holding it intact eternally. By yielding every last drop of their life force.

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(memory of Nehemia and Elena talking, long long ago)

“It is Mala’s bloodline that will pay, not your own.”

Her back stiffened. “You have not answered my question.”

Elena wished she could hold back the words, keep them locked up. But this was the price, for her kingdom, her people. The price for these people, this kingdom. And others.

“In the North, two branches flow from Mala. One to the Havilliard House, where its prince with my mate’s eye possesses my raw magic- and her brute power. The other branch flows through the Galathynius House, where it bred true: flame and embers and ashes.”

“Aelin Galathynius is dead,” Nehemia said.

“Not dead.”

So Dorian Havilliard is basically Neville Longbottom.  Compliments though, mature Neville is likely as good looking.

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The words hit her like stones. “The Queen Who Was Promised” Aelin said. “But not to this world. To the Gods-to the keys.”

To pay the price.  To be their sacrifice in order to seal the keys in the gate at last.

Aelin has to die to save everyone.

“The witch mirror’s power is fading: it will not hold you here for much longer. Please- let me show you what must be done. How to end it. You won’t be able to see me after, but… I will be with you. Until the very end, every step of the way, I will be with you.”

Manon only put a hand on her sword as Aelin swallowed and said, “Show us, then”

So Elena did. And when she was done, Aelin was silent. Manon was pacing, snarling softly.

But Aelin did not fight it as Elena leaned in to kiss her brow, where that damning mark had been her whole life. A bit of cattle, branded for the slaughterhouse.

Oh. Oh!  You mean like the lightning bolt scar? The cursed life?  The pig prepped for slaughter?

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Nameless is my price. To buy them a future, she’d pay it.

She’d done as much as she could to set things in motion to ensure that once she was gone, help would still come.  It was the only thing she could give them, her last gift to Terrasen.

Elena stroked her cheek. Then the ancient queen and the mists were gone.

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So… this is where I pause.  Because as much as I love SJM, I don’t approve of this.  There are blatant resemblances to the Deathly Hallows and I really don’t think it’s possible to look away from it.  Believe me, I tried.  I expect this from other authors, I’ve even seen this before.  But from Sarah?  She’s brilliant and creative and twisty, why do this?  This kind of blew EoS for me.  What do you think of the resemblances?  Do you think it’s plagiarism? Heavy inspiration? Nothing at all like Deathly Hallows?  I’m a huge SJM fangirl (seriously, no joke) but I’m not okay with it.  It seemed like a really weak cop out.

I had a lot of problems with this storyline.  Only one thing I predicted happened and it wasn’t really in a good way, like everything else wasn’t.  The ending for me wasn’t that gut wrenching.  The whole time I was just wondering, where the fuck is Rowan?  His mate was being whipped to SHREDS and he couldn’t sense it? He couldn’t hear it? He couldn’t see it?  She was whipped like 900 times, how did he not get there in time?! How did he not freak the fuck out the moment he landed? How did his Fae senses not answer all of his questions and more the instant he was in range?  How did he not see her being dragged to the ships?  

ALSO, HOW THE FUCK DOES SJM HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MARRY AELIN AND ROWAN AND NOT SHOW US??? SHE LEGIT PULLED AN ______ AGAIN AND I CANNOT COMPREHEND.  *flips table* #allbowtoKingRowan #myGrace #bowing

Sigh.

How?!!?!?!?

I’m raising my fists to the literary Gods just wondering how this even happened.  This glorious book just… wrong… somehow.  I don’t know.  Did you read Empire of Storms? How did you like it?  The writing was excellent, and you see her growth as a writer, but this book was almost sloppy in a really non-sloppy way.  Aelin and the Deathly Hallows should not have happened.

4/5 angry stars.

 

 

 

 

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REVIEW | A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

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A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Pages: 512
Publisher: 
Tor Books
Published: February 23rd 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.38/5
My Rating: 4.5/5

I’m a little embarrassed, you see.  Why? Because I finished A Gathering of Shadows less than 48 hours after I finished A Darker Shade of Magic.  I just couldn’t not read it, you know?  After I wrote my review for ADSOM (check it here) I quickly realized how much I wanted to continue on with the series. So I did. It was REALLY good.

In fact,

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AGOS summed up: angsty | magic everywhere | holy crap | WOW PLOT TWIST | WOW ROMANCE HAS BLOOMED | is that a dress? | CLIFFHANGERRRRRR!!?!

That’s all for non spoilers everybody, get outta here if you haven’t read this book yet.

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What I Enjoyed

  • There is still fantastic dialogue! I think it was even better than last time.  The storyline and characters were so much more interesting because we got past most of the slow world building in the first book.  Schwab really gets into the characters and we see sides of them of them that we didn’t see in the first book.

“What are you supposed to be?” he asked.

There was a glint of mischief in Rhy’s eyes as he bowed with a flourish. “A commoner, of course.”

Kell shook his head. It was a superficial ruse. Despite the clothing, Rhy’s black hair was glossy and combed, his fingers dotted with rings, his emerald coat clasped with pearlescent buttons. Everything about his registered as royal. “You still look like a prince.”

“Well, obviously,” replied Rhy. “Just because I’m in disguise, doesn’t mean I don’t want to be recognized.”

  • I absolutely LOVED the conversation Kell and King George the IV had about religion.  It’s not often you see this type of conversation in fiction and it’s not often it’s done well.  I’m not sure why this hit home for me, but I feel like there was an underlying message here.

“I didn’t say that,” answered Kell. “I suppose you could say we worship magic. That is our higher power.”

“That’s heresy.”

Kell raised a brow, his hand slipping from the tomb’s lid. “Your Majesty, you worship a thing you can neither see nor touch, whereas I worship something I engage with every moment of every day. Which is the more logical path?”

George scowled. “It isn’t a matter of logic. It is a matter of faith.”

Faith. It seemed a shallow substitution, but Kell supposed he couldn’t blame the Grey-worlders. Everyone needed to believe in something, and without magic, they had settled for a lesser god. One full of holes and mystery and made up rules.

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  • I also loved the pirate privateer/thief adventure Lila was on at the beginning of the book.  I especially loved our hunky Captain Alucard Emery.  I totally envisioned him to be EXACTLY like my favorite character from Once Upon a Time, Caption Hook*.  Not only is this man captain of a ship, magical as hell, AND a Royal…

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*UGGGGHHHHHH, yes please. Just look at the GIF, he’s perfect. @_@

..He’s also a past lover of Rhy Maresh (feel the fangirling below)

“You’ve come for the tournament,” said Rhy, making small talk.

Alucard pursed his lips at the attempt. “Among other things.”

Rhy hesitated, unsure what to say next. With anyone else, he would have had a flirtatious retort, but standing there, a mere stride away from Alucard, he felt short of breath, let alone words.  He turned away, fidgeting with his cuffs. He heard the shine of silver and a moment later, Alucard snaked an arm possessively around his shoulders and brought his lips to the prince’s neck, just below his ear. Rhy actually shivered.

“You are far too familiar with your prince,” he warned.

“So you confess it, then?” He brushed his lips against Rhy’s throat. “That you are mine.”

HOLY GOD THIS WAS SO UNEXPECTED AND I’M FLAILING AND THIS SCENE WAS PERFECT.  I WAS SO DONE WHEN I READ THIS AND MY SHIP HAS OFFICIALLY CHANGED. SCREW RHYLA, ALRHY FOR LIFE.*

*PS this is now high competition for my highest rated SS couple, Malec.

Other Thoughts

  • KELL + LILA THOUGHHHHH. Why did it have to take so long for them to finally face each other? Also, DRESS?! LILA PUT ON A DRESS TO SEE KELL. It was so sweet and yet Kell had to have a tantrum and get all angry.
  • KELL WAS ARRESTED BY ORDER OF HIS “FATHER”. Holy fuck!  I’m not really surprised, but it added a huge nail in the Maresh+Kell family coffin. He grew up with these people and now they suddenly treat him like an outsider.  He SAVED their son from death and yet the King and Queen are PISSED about it.  It will be so interesting to see what happens in the next book.

What I Didn’t Really Like

Only one thing, but I didn’t like how Lila decided to enter the tournament with other experienced wizards.  She literally came into Red London four months ago and suddenly has all these magical abilities that were on par with experienced wizards.  Delilah is great but does she really have to be that great?  I guess it would have been worse if Schwab had her actually win the tournament*.

*thank freaking god she didn’t

So I figured instead of doing a formal review for sequels, I would just talk about things I liked/disliked.  This book was really awesome, I very much preferred it over the second. .

What did you think of AGOS?

REVIEW | A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

(This is probably the 207475th review you’ve seen of this book but that’s ok).

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Pages: 384
Published:
February 27th 2015
Publisher:
Titan Books
Genre:
Fantasy
Goodreads Rating:
4.04/5
My Rating: 
4/5

*Avoid the quotes if you really don’t want ANYTHING revealed because they’re a little spoiler-y, otherwise you are safe, friend. You are safe. They make me laugh though, so if you want to maybe giggle, read on*

Synopsis:

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

After turning down reading V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, I finally decided to broaden my horizon and delve into her work.  I won’t lie, it was pretty good.  And YES YES, I know, I should have read it earlier. What can I say? I’m a procrastinator.

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Anyways, I guess I should start off by telling you I really do recommend this book.  In fact, if you’re like me and choose books based off the cover* and don’t like this cover**, still go ahead and read this book.

*Ahem
**Confession: I really don’t like the covers and that’s why I didn’t read this series until now

Quick reasons why you should read it (if you haven’t):

  1. The plot was pretty awesome
  2. Alternate universes
  3. PIRATES, MAGIC, ADVENTURE!
  4. Perfect dialogue that ISN’T awkward and weird.

The plot was rich and well thought out.  Instead of a single world, A Darker Shade of Magic takes place throughout multiple London’s.  Kell, our main character, describes each London as having a color – grey, red, white, and black – as a way to separate them*.  Grey London is our version of London and is run by King George, completely bare of magic and extremely dull.  Red London is a place where magic exists and is ruled by the Maresh family, this is where Kell is from.  White London is a place of tyranny and violence, where civilians fight and kill for power over magic.  The last London, Black London, fell.

*This is literally the easiest way to remember, because I was kind of confused at first as to what was what

“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” [Kell] said, but the fight was bleeding out of his voice.

“Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.”

I really loved the characters.  Instead of doing my typical BLAH BLAH *this is them*,  I decided to broaden my sweet horizons and also show you how I pictured each character (because BAES).  Schwab did an excellent job not making each character super tacky and her dialogue was on point.

Delilah Bard is now one of my favorite female characters because she isn’t one of those WOE-IS-ME weak characters*. Lila is hard.  Lila is a fighter. Lila is a thief. Lila is a woman who relies on herself and survives.  Lila seeks a great adventure in Grey London, and finds it with the help of Kell.  She’s also pretty hilarious.  She’s also gender fluid (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and chooses to dress in male clothes and have cropped hair.

*thank freaking God

She poked at the skin under her eyes, tugged at her cheeks, ran a finger along her lips.  It had been a long time since anyone had called her pretty.

Not that Lila wanted to be pretty. Pretty wouldn’t serve her well. And lord knew she didn’t envy the ladies with their cinched corsets and abundant skirts, their falsetto laughs and the ridiculous way they used them. The way they swooned and leaned on men, feigning weakness to save their strength.

Why anyone would pretend to be weak was beyond her.

Kell Maresh is our other MC who belongs to Red London and is an Antari, meaning he can travel between the London’s.  He is responsible for delivering messages between all the royalty, and we get a great insight as to how he does this in the beginning of the book*.  In each world he is considered royalty but seems to think of himself as an outsider in the Maresh family.  Regardless of his insecurity, he loves his family and will do anything for them.

*Fun fact: At first, I actually envisioned Kell as a younger version of Willy Wonka because of his magical coat of coats in coats.
**I also learned from Schwab’s wiki page on him that he’s also a cat person and would be sorted into Gryffindor.  SO FITTING.  Totally makes me love him even more.

Rhy Maresh isn’t necessarily a main character but we see bits and pieces of him throughout the storyline.  He is the Prince of Red London and also Kell’s brother.  He’s a womanizer and acts as a sort of comic relief.  He’s a looker, hence the Brazilian hunk.

“I don’t like the way the guards are looking at me,” she said before glancing up and seeing the prince’s gold eyes on her. “I’m sorry,” she added. “I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Then what did you mean to do?” challenged Kell.

Rhy held up his hand. “You are surely not an intrusion,” he said, pushing himself up in the bed. “Though I fear you’ve met me rather out of my usual state of grace. Do you have a name?”

“Delilah Bard,” she said. “We’ve met before. And you looked worse.”

Rhy laughed silently. “I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”

Rhy broke into his perfect smile.

*MY SHIP: RHY AND LILA. AKA RHYLA. TELL ME YOU SHIP THEM BECAUSE EEEEEEE.  

There is a fluttering of romance, barely a tickle, barely a whisper.  And I, the romance loving queen, have to say that it was PERFECTLY FINE.  IF YOU’RE READING THIS AND YOU JUST GOT TURNED AWAY BY THIS COME BACK.

Why should I? – says you

WELL, the main focus of this storyline is the adventure and romance would have really dampened everything. Even though our two main characters were male and female, they weren’t forced into a weirdly awkward couple-thing you would see in a typical YA book.  Delilah legitimately doesn’t need no man, and Kell was just… Kell.  Not every hero and heroine needs a significant other to accomplish something, and not every man and woman in REAL LIFE needs someone to complete them.  Characters can be perfectly capable without a significant other, and this storyline proves just that.

Schwab’s comment on Lila: “Lila is not a sidekick, she’s the hero of her own story. She’s not a love interest, and she’s not a plot device. Her purpose isn’t just to please the reader or Kell, it’s to be true to herself, and that self happens to be a total self-serving badass.

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I keep saying this, but I LOVED the dialogue!  This may seem pretty harsh, but some authors who write YA create pretty cringeworthy dialogue.  It’s almost as if they were trying too hard to relate to us* younger folk and don’t realize how tacky it comes off.  Schwab seems to grasp the idea that young people can be snarky, intelligent, diverse, well versed, and interesting.

*LOL I’m 23 but hey, young at heart.

WARNING WARNING SPOILER QUOTE BELOW BUT IT’S SO DAMN FUNNY

“How did you know?” she asked, looking down at the rubble of the queen. “How did you know she wasn’t me?”

Well managed an exhausted smile. “Because she said please.”

Lila stared at him, aghast. “Is that a joke?”

Kell shrugged slightly. It took a lot of effort. “I just knew,” he said.

“You just knew,” she echoed


So, my final thoughts? I really enjoyed it.  It wasn’t a 5/5, but a 4/5.  I was a little “meh” with the actual world building because I wanted to get into the good stuff.  I will absolutely be continuing on with the series and I hope you pick it up.

If you’ve read the book, how’d you like it? Do you ship anyone?  How’d you like my choices for the characters, or did you envision other people as a better fit?  I’m trying to open up my reviewing style (because god damn stagnant reviews bore me, and they probably bore you too).

REVIEW | An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Pages: 446
Publication Year: April 28th 2015
Publicist: Razorbill
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.31/5
My Rating: 4/5

Laia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

You know when you read a book and it just ends up being so lackluster because the author just didn’t do the storyline any justice at all? This book isn’t like that. In fact, the amount of detail and hard work that went into this novel is 100% obvious. Tahir went above and beyond what a lot of authors do nowadays and I wouldn’t be surprised if this became adapted into a movie.  An Ember in the Ashes was an action-packed fantasy novel with very few dull moments.

That’s why I’m a little confused because I liked the novel but I didn’t love it.. and I’m not really sure why.  I actually tried to avoid peoples reviews so I wouldn’t go into reading this novel completely hyped and full of expectations. The only thing I went in “knowing” was that people were raving and it had a nice cover. So there wasn’t an external influence totally destroying my perspective, but… this novel just didn’t reach the “holy balls this is amazing” part of my brain.

This novel focuses on two main characters: Laia and Elias.  Laia is determined to make up for her lack of bravery when her brother needed it most, and Elias is trapped in a commitment he desperately wants to escape from.   Both the main characters were dealing with their own demons and fighting their own battles, and slowly but surely came together for the bigger picture by the end of the novel.  In fact, the dual POV feature reminded me a lot of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy (which I really enjoyed!).  Unfortunately, what Tahir failed to do with her exquisite POV writing was give me enough information to care.  The MC’s had purpose and intent but nothing really had me rooting for them, and that’s a really big let down.

Tahir has an excellent writing style for a fantasy author.  Each scene in this novel does play an integral role in the future of storyline, and I really don’t think fluff is anywhere in this novel (AWESOME).  When I had finished reading this book, An Ember in the Ashes was a standalone novel, but it looks like it’s now a trilogy.  You can pick up A Torch Against the Night on August 30th 2016.

Overall thought: MEH

Review: The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

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The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

Pages: 531
Published: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.17/5
My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.

The Mirror King is the second book in The Orphan Queen duology by Jodi Meadows.  To be honest, I felt pretty impartial after reading The Orphan Queen and had given it 3/5 stars.  However this book was much more interesting and I’m really glad I had decided to pick it up.  Jodi Meadows has a real talent for the high fantasy writing style, and although the book was rather slow in certain areas it ended up being a really good read.

This review has no spoilers.

Wilhelmina, our main character, does show some growth throughout the book.  She honestly is pretty childish in the first book, and I think that’s what threw me off at first.  However, she grows up in TMK and really starts to make sound decisions with sound reasonings.  Unfortunately, one thing that really irked me was how she treated the wraith boy… It was pretty shitty and really sad.  Wraith boy was pretty much like an enamored puppy and although he was all “power”, I couldn’t see a justification for Wil to treat him like absolute shit.

We explore a little bit more of the kingdoms, which is pretty nice.  One thing that always frustrated me about certain fantasy authors was that they would make up an elaborate world and not let us explore it.  To me, world building and exploring said fantasy world are vital in actually making it come to life.  Imagine hearing about Hogwarts and not actually “experiencing” it, the HP storyline would have completely combusted.  Jodi Meadows actively decided to show us some places in the kingdoms and how they function.

Magic-related plot holes are everywhere.  There is an agreement between the kingdoms that no magic is supposed to be used, but it still is… in almost every chapter..  And magic plays some huge roles throughout the book.  And now that I’m reflecting back on it I’m kind of frustrated Meadows even made this a thing, why waste our time?

Magic is expressly forbidden, so we can’t repair a factory that would 100% help the poor”

A COUPLE CHAPTERS EARLIER: “Please woo these inanimate objects into doing ____ things”.   *snap snap magic happens*
There you go!”

There is a romance, and the storyline doesn’t suffer because of it.  I really enjoyed the slow building romance in this novel because it wasn’t at the core of the storyline.  Rather, it was just an aspect that played along nicely.  We really do watch Wil become who she is destined to be, and she is never stereotypically “saved” by a male.  Wil is a strong MC who really doesn’t need a man to rescue her and that makes this so much more enjoyable.  I’m really happy Meadows didn’t fall into that ugly pit of YA bullshit.

The ending was bittersweet, and the side characters are memorable.  Each of the sacrifices, betrayals, and friendships in this series play a significant role in the series.  Although they weren’t the best they also weren’t one dimensional.  You are kept on your toes trying to figure out the motives behind many characters, and it was really enjoyable to do so.

Overall, I really did enjoy this series.   Although it wasn’t the best series ender, it wasn’t a “meh” book either.  I’m kind of bummed it’s only a duology but I think Meadows did an excellent job wrapping it up.  I could definitely see an epilogue being released just to let us see what has happened in the kingdoms.  I definitely recommend this book.

4/5 stars.

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I am literally sobbing after finishing this book. Oh my god.  My heart is possibly broken and stabbed and I just have no idea how to continue.

My foster dog ate my MacBook charger so I can’t write a full review (this is on my phone). But I plan on rereading this again and will revise.

Until then? Go read this fucking book because it is 100x better than ACOTAR (if that was even possible).  It’s 5/5 bold stars.   Top book of 2016.  I think it even outmatched Lady Midnight.

Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

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Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Pages: 480
Publisher:
Harlequin Teen
Published: February 23rd 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 3.81/5
My Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

ONE CHOICE.
TWO REALMS.
NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

This has been a highly anticipated novel for me since I saw it floating around the blogosphere.  The synopsis immediately grabbed my attention – first life, after life, choosing sides? – it all sounded so. damn. cool.  And honestly, the idea is really cool, however it fell pretty flat.  I’m so, so disappointed by the execution of this novel.  Instead of repeating what the synopsis is saying, I’m going to jump right into this review, so get the gist of it from there and continue on!

(POTENTIALLY SPOILER-Y PARTS IN PINK)

This novel was full of action… and an endless, angsty love triangle.  The synopsis makes this sound like it would be a battle between realms and Ten fighting to figure out which side to claim.  But what it rudely (yes, rudely) left out was that Showalter was also going to run an angst-filled LOVE TRIANGLE for the entire storyline.  The love triangle began in the first chapter and soared right to the very end, and the worst part is that this novel would have been ten times better without the romance.  The concept of this series was so cool that this novel did not need a love triangle, and it’s so frustrating that Showalter chose to kill its ranking by incorporating shitty love.

I noticed a lot of similarities between Firstlife and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and not in a good way.  If you’ve read those books, you likely remember how obsessed with numbers Juliette was.  Ten is honestly not that much different, in fact they probably would have been friends if you had stuck them in a room together.  There were a lot of parallels in their personality and I feel kind of ripped off by this.  In Shatter Me, Mafi has this really beautiful and poetic way about incorporating Juliette’s obsession with numbers; and in Firstlife Showalter just makes Ten weirdly obsessed with numbers and “making up poems”. Ten and Juliette both start off being locked up, they’re both obsessed with numbers, they’re treated like shit in the asylum/prison, they meet a boy they fall in love with (both were dicks and had brown there), they meet some evil bad guy to fall in love with (who happens to both be sexy and blonde), they have to choose which “side” to be on, they’re both “special”.  You get my drift.  It just seemed poorly done and I’m rather annoyed that Showalter didn’t give any credit towards Mafi when she discussed Ten’s obsession with numbers in the interview at the end of the novel.  I really thought she got inspiration from Shatter Me because of the similarities.

The whole time we follow around this “special” 17 year old main character who refuses to choose a side and yet we are never told WHY.  WHY is Ten so against just choosing a damn side?  What is she fighting for?  What is she fighting against?  People are literally DYING left and right trying to get her to choose and she just fucking la-dee-da’s around complaining about the “pressure”.   If you’re going to write a novel about an MC opposing “the man”, at least give us a freaking reason.  We are NEVER given a solid reason for this, so Ten just ends up coming off incredibly selfish and spoiled.  Why does she need men to constantly save her? Why can’t she be a strong MC like the synopsis suggests?  Why do females constantly have to be weak in YA literature?  I don’t get it.

The plot holes are big enough to blow a tire out.  It is constantly stressed that each person must choose a side, for if they don’t they’ll end up in the Realm of Many Ends.  This is especially true when it comes to our favorite MC, Ten.   Ten dies like 3-4 times in this novel, goes to the “cursed” Realm of Many Ends, and she just gets resurrected like NOTHING happens.  It’s like “Oh you died? Insert 10 coins to keep going!”. Constantly.  And the worst part is, when she gets resurrected the first time she STILL REFUSES to choose a side, even though she saw what awaits in Many Ends.  It doesn’t make any sense.  If you go to a land of horrifying creatures and acid rain and torture, why the hell would you not do everything you can to never go there again?

I’m pretty “meh” and sad about this novel.  I would have liked to see more badass-ery and strength from Ten, less info-dumping, and just a better execution in general.  The writing wasn’t the best, but it was easy to read.  Although this novel boasts 480 pages, they go really quick.  I read this book in one day and I don’t feel like I missed anything.  I do recommend this book, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with the series.  I really didn’t fall in love with any of the characters and the setting just wasn’t that interesting by the end.

3/5 stars.

Book Haul #3 (+ where I’ve been) | Choose What I should Review!

Happy Monday!  My mum has flown up from South America to visit this month so I’ve been trying to figure out life while entertaining her.  It’s been hard to juggle work/reading/hanging out with her but I am forcing myself to post this.  I also made a website for our online business and it took me 5EVER to get it semi-set up.  I missed you guys so much, forgive me! D:.

Today I am doing a book haul because HOLY CRAP.  I went in my library today and pretty much every book I have wanted to read was there and I went into complete fangirl mode.


A Little on The Books

 

I saw an interview with Ruta Sepetys and she’s such a well versed and eloquent woman.  Her personality just made me want to read her works, and it’s also rated 4.3+ on Goodreads.

I actually reread Cinder by Marissa Meyer because I had completely forgotten what happened by the time I started Scarlet .   I gave Cinder a 3.75/5, but I definitely want to know what happens next.  I was never big on Cinderella so the premise didn’t leave me that excited.  Do you want me to review Cinder?  If so, let me know below.

Truthwitch has been on my hit list since I heard of it, and to be honest Dennard is only getting the light of day because SJM is my favorite author.  I’ve GLIMPSED whispers of it being a hit or miss but refused to look further.  I’m not overhyped, and I’m definitely going into this book with neutral expectations. #perfectstrategy

I actually heard of Firstlife here on WordPress and the synopsis sounds SOOOOO GOOOD. I’m super excited to read this.

Two days ago I started reading Red Rising by Pierce Brown.  The cover says something about it being perfect for lovers of Katniss (aka my bff), so I’m intrigued as to how I will like it.  This series has received endless raves.

Lastly, my quick thoughts on Glass Sword...  I wasn’t really that impressed by Red Queen.  I DNF’d it the first time I read it, and when I did read it I forced myself to give it a 4/5.  I guess I was feeling super generous that day.  Anyways, I said I’d continue with the series so I will!  We’ll see how it goes. :).

ON A FINAL NOTE: THE COURT OF MIST AND FURY IS OUT SOON AND I AM SO EXCITED!!! If you preorder the book you can get a FREE TOTE BAG.  SJM released a newsletter about it, so you should go to her website for more info if you want to get one.

Anyways, that’s all!  I tried getting my hands on The Night Circus but the heathen who has it checked out has yet to return it. Maybe next time ;).

PS. IF YOU LIVE IN NY PLEASE GO OUT AND VOTE TOMORROW! PARTICULARLY IF YOU’RE FEELING THE BERN.  

Review: A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

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A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

Pages: 359
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: June 23rd 2015
Genre:
Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings:
4.03/5
My Rating:
3.75/5

Synopsis:

Modern-day sisters discover deadly ancient magic in book 1 of this Falling Kingdoms spin-off series!

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her mother’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspear Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself….

Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart. 

Note: This review may have tiny spoilers, but from everything I’ve revised, it is all a small expansion from the synopsis above.

A Book of Spirits and Thieves (read: ABOSAT) is a spin off of Rhodes’ epic fantasy series Falling Kingdoms.  This time, the storyline is taking place in both modern-day Toronto and the and Ancient Mytica while the goddess Valoria is still alive.  If you’ve read FK you know how different kingdoms worship different Goddesses – Limorans worship Valoria, and Auranians worship Cleiona.  And maybe I missed it in FK but holy shit Valoria is literally so evil and it makes so much more sense that Limorans would worship her.  In Mytica, this book takes place after Cleiona is murdered and people are being punished for having any sort of magical ability.

Similarly to FKABOSAT is following multiple characters storylines: Crystal Hatcher, Farrell Grayson, and Maddox Corso. Crystal Hatcher is one of those stereotypical, misunderstood teenage girls – she has blonde hair and light colored eyes.  She wears those witty, pun-filled t-shirts, unfashionable black rimmed glasses, and walks around with a vintage Pentax camera.  She has no desire to finish school and wants to become a photographer, totally artsy and hip.

Farrell Grayson is the typical rich boy born into a rich family.  When I pictured Farrell I was actually thinking of Nate (aka Chase Crawford) from Gossip Girl.  Super handsome and desirable but also weirdly unappealing?  The more we delve into the storyline the more unappealing and gross Farrell became – he’s a snob, he’s cocky, he’s honestly a total dick.   The deeper he got into the cult on Magnus King, the more cruel and heartless he became.  And the thing is?  I get he felt “middle child syndrome”, but when you compared his character from before the cult and after there’s not really that huge of a difference.  I could honestly care less about what happens to him in the next book of this series.

Then we have Maddox Corso from Ancient Mytica – a teenage boy being abused by his scam-artist guardian, scamming rich Myticans into believing their homes are haunted.  Quite honestly, for most of the book Maddox was a pretty weak character.  He just seemed so “woe is me” “I’m cursed” “blah spirits forever” and it made him fairly underwhelming.  Which is really unfortunate because he develops into a stronger character by the end of the book – huzzah character development! – but it doesn’t hold much interest.

Since Maddox does have a fun, spirit-summoning ability, this is where the two worlds combine.  Within the first couple chapters, Crystal’s sister Becca touches a magical book in the family bookstore and is transported as a spirit to Ancient Mytica.  In Mytica, she basically appears on Maddox’s doorstep and since he’s the only one who can see her, she forces him into helping her find her way back home.  Because he can obviously do that.

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How cute.

One thing I’m kind of unsatisfied with was the amount of plot holes Rhodes left open.  As one example, she was constantly talking about Farrell’s younger brother, Adam, joining the cult and the implications that followed.  However about halfway through the book Adam kind of just disappears from the storyline and I really don’t understand the point of it.  It almost seemed like an afterthought when she brought him back into the storyline –  It didn’t make sense and left me feeling a little “what the hell?”.  Also, there were some really weird and convenient plot twists that furthered Rhodes’s storyline agenda and I’m not too positive they worked well – a forced romance, a change of heart, revelations, etc.  It was all a little convenient and I really don’t think they were necessary.

Regardless, I have always been a huge fan of Rhodes’s writing.  She has a fantastic writing voice and knows how to draw in the reader.  Other than my couple issues mentioned above and the semi-underwhelming characters, the book was pretty good.  I seriously loved the mixing of Toronto and ancient Mytica, it was SO FREAKING COOL.  The Toronto storyline felt like the love child of The Skulls and Nicholas Cage’s National Treasure movie.  Both of which I love with a passion.  Even though I gave it a 3.75/5, I would definitely recommend this book (as long as you read FK first!), and I will be picking up the next one.