BOOK REVIEW: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

THIS BOOK! Seriously guys, you need to read this series, if only so you can enjoy the epic awesomeness that is Queen of Shadows, book 4 in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas.

You can see my review for book 1, Throne of Glass, here; book 2, Crown of Midnight, here; and book 3, Heir of Fire, here.

Now for my thoughts on Queen of Shadows

NON-SPOILER-Y REVIEW

So much happens in Queen of Shadows that it felt both like a conclusion and a beginning, which I think speaks to Maas’s talent as a storyteller. She ties up a lot of loose ends, but also introduces some crazy new plotlines to press forward into books 5 and 6. We finally get to see Celaena unleashed in all her strategic glory, which you think you see what’s happening, but you’re just as blown away by it as her friends in the book.

Again, the world expands in this book, as does character development. You learn more about the stakes for each camp, and you also empathize with characters you didn’t think you could.

Lastly (because otherwise I’ll spoil all the things) THE PACING! Seriously. This book is crazy thick, but it NEVER lulls. EVER!

STOP HERE! STAHP!

DON’T SPOIL YOURSELF!

TURN AWAY!

GO READ IT! THEN COME BACK!


SPOILER-Y FANGIRLING

Like I said up top, SO MUCH HAPPENED in this book! I was curious what I was going to see from the characters back in Adarlan, but I have to admit, this book is my No. 1 for the year so far.

So let’s just jump in.

First off, we finally meet the infamous Arobynn Hamel, and he is just as sleazy and conniving as I imagined him to be. Though I anticipate we’ll see more the effects of his actions and deceit in future books, I loved seeing Aelin out-play him. This was one of those plot lines in the book that was so subtle but so gods-damned brilliant that when we finally learn the scope of Aelin’s manipulation, I was just in awe of her mastery. As was Aedion and Rowan.

Which brings me to the magnificent Lysandra. None of Aelin’s plan would have been possible without Lysandra’s help and connections. This new character (WHO I LOVE) was pivotal in the rescue of Aedion, retrieving the third Wyrdkey, deceiving Lorcan, destroying Arobynn, and saving EVERYONE’S ass in the final battle. She’s a strong, intelligent, compassionate woman who holds her own and is an incredible addition to team. Also, she turned into a snow leopard and puked guts on Lorcan… that in and of itself is fantastic.

**Let’s take a quick moment to discuss the phenomenal female cast in their series. None of these women need a man, or anyone, to save them. They survive on their own wits and strength, and are unrelenting in what they believe in. From Aelin, Lysandra, Nehemia, and Manon to Elide, Nesryn, Kaltain, and yes, even Maeve. Way to go, Maas, for creating the most intimidating, fierce cast of female characters EVER!**

Next up, Aedion. I know I gushed about him in my Heir of Fire review, but this poor kids went through a lot in this book. When it begins, he’s ready to die, then we have the epic heist-style rescue, followed by the adorable softness and affection he has toward his cousin. Granted this may just be my love for Rowan talking, but I think my favorite part of his role in this book was the evolution of his relationship with Rowan. He totally fangirls over Aelin’s relationship with Rowan in the beginning, but when he finds out Rowan took the blood oath, he goes the other direction entirely. But the two males come together and fight alongside each other in the end.

I’m really excited for how Aedion’s character continues to evolve throughout the story. I can’t wait to see how his paternity plays out in the grand scheme of things with Maeve and Gavriel. Plus, I really ship Aedion and Lysandra. The groundwork has been laid. It needs to happen.

Okay. Moving on to lesser than happy things.

So many feels for poor Dorian. He finally takes a stance against his father only to be enslaved by a demon, where he doesn’t even remember his own name. Absolutely heartbreaking. But I think he definitely needed this. He needed to reach a breaking point in order to grow as a character, so I’m not mad at what happened to him (I may be soulless… woops). I’m excited to see what comes of Dorian in the upcoming books as he tries to heal his country. There are so many ways Maas could go with this, especially since Chaol will be in another country and paralyzed. It’s the one plotline I can’t make a prediction for. Well, I do have one prediction… Manon. She’s already been his saving grace once. And with her going back to check on him at the end of book, I think their lines are going to intertwine some more.

*ANNOUNCER VOICE: AND NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT, AELIN VS. MANON!*
This showdown was everything that I wanted it to be AND MORE! From the shade throwing (“Swords are boring.” “I couldn’t agree more.”) to the mutual respect (“You’re too good a fighter to kill.”), I was sitting on the edge of my seat, freaking out throughout this entire fight. All of the build-up in Manon’s POV in Heir of Fire was SO WORTH it. Side note: Chaol, you’re an idiot. Really? You’re going to go the wrong way? You’re supposed to know these woods! **Shakes head**

Before I begin on the epicness that was that final battle, I have to gush about Rowan. It’s not like you didn’t know this was coming. I’ve already announced that Rowan+Aelin=My OTP.

I may have already re-read the Rowan scenes… twice… From the moment Aelin runs to him in the alley to Arobynn’s dinner (17-yr-old Rowan wouldn’t know what to do with 17-yr-old Aelin. You’d probably scandalize him with your nightclothes. LOL) to him refusing to sleep with her because she’s needs to heal to “keep up,” I just had so much love for their relationship. I just really, REALLY pray that Maas doesn’t take him away from us. I need Rowan to not die. Please. Pretty please! The fact that there are still two books left in the series makes me really worried. *curls up in corner and rocks back and forth*

Okay. The battle to end all battles. Anyone else think that was the most epic final battle they’ve read in YA F? 1. It lasted FOREVER, 2. The constantly shifting POV’s ensured I never put the book down, 3. No one’s fate was certain.

Maas already proved in books 1, 2, and 3 that she had a talent for exciting, tension-filled fight scenes, but the ending battle in Queen of Shadows was on a different level. She never gave us a moment to relax because she would write from one character’s POV until they could very well die, then shift on us before we knew for sure. I’m pretty sure I was having a panic attack during the pages where Rowan thought Aelin was dying and Aelin thought Rowan was dying.

What about ya’ll? What was your favorite moment of QoS?

BOOK REVIEW: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Here’s where the series takes off, guys. Like I said in my Throne of Glass review, even if you thought TOG was “meh,” I still HIGHLY RECOMMEND you pick up books 2 and 3 and 4…

If you haven’t read TOG, you can read my review here.

Now for my thoughts on TOG Book 2, Crown of Midnight

NON-SPOILER-Y REVIEW

When I first finished Throne of Glass, I wasn’t completely sold on continuing with the series. It could have either gone a brilliant way or a not-so-brilliant way.

Lucky for me and you, Sarah J. Maas did not disappoint. Crown of Midnight starts in a few weeks after where we left off in book 1, jumping right into Celaena’s new life as the King’s Champion.

Maas expands the world of Adarlan and the conspiracies that rule the realm. We get to see more of Celaena’s past and how her past sins weigh down her present actions. That being said we also see the depths of Celaena’s darkness, which were terrifying and fantastic.

One thing I loved about TOG was the brilliance with which Maas writes the interpersonal relationships between the characters and that continued into COM with a pacing that kept you guessing what would come next.

Throughout this book, you get a wide gambit of feels from elated joy and hope to all-consuming rage and inconsolable grief.

And that’s all I’m going to say for non-spoilers. Go read COM, then come back and we’ll discuss!


SPOILER-Y FANGIRLING

ALL. THE. FEELS. All of them.

First off, I’m going to straight-up claim that I had shipped Chaol and Celaena since the first chapter of TOG. I know a lot of people ship Celorian, but I just couldn’t get behind it… So the first two thirds of COM were a lot of fun for me.

But shit went south fast. So very fast. 😥

When Nehemia had that conversation with Elena about “I know what I have to do,” my immediate thought was PLEASE DON’T KILL CHAOL! Then he got kidnapped…

I did not expect Nehemia to die. Not at all. I know the king mentioned the threat, but I just thought it was a political move to keep Chaol busy and out of the way.

Before I jump into the shit storm that was Celaena finding Nehemia’s body, let’s discuss the fight scene! I LOVED that Maas gave it to us in Chaol’s POV. It really showed the terrifying glory that is Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin. And I think we needed this to separate us from our girl in order for us to accept her attempt on Chaol’s life later. Way to go, Maas!

And now for Celaena’s grieving. It’s an unadulterated, animalistic thing, and the way Maas depicts it – from clawing Chaol’s face to singing at Nehemia’s grave – is a glorious piece of characterization that really sets up the events of the following two books. Was I the only one sobbing when she was pounding her chest, singing the Fae language? God. Maas captures the raw pain of grief so beautifully.

Which brings us to the portal, poor Fleetfoot, and the CELAENA-AELIN-FAE REVEAL! I had a feeling Celaena was Aelin – Stupid Archer Finn. But Maas does this brilliant thing with Celaena’s narrative where it feels like there’s this very clear divide between the two women… Nope, Celaena’s totes the Lost Queen of Terrasen. And her fire power! Mushu would cower at Aelin’s feet.

And I just realize I haven’t even mentioned Dorian yet in this review… woops. Ok, Dorian fans, please don’t crucify me for this, but I’m just not sold on him yet. He’s another pretty prince who doesn’t know where he stands. Blerg. He makes good choices in the moment, but he just doesn’t seem to have any real agency. He just looks around for others to define a stance for him to take. His pure heart is his saving grace for me. He’s so willing to accept people for who they are and that’s fantastic, but I need to see him take some chances and make decisions before I can really appreciate him as a character.

But Chaol doesn’t really make good decisions either. His decision to send Celaena to Wendolyn was incredibly misguided, but I loved Heir of Fire too much to really hate him for it. Tee hee.

You can see my review of the third Throne of Glass book, Heir of Fire, here.

Personal Milestones & October Goals

It’s September 30th… Tomorrow is October… Where has this year gone?

So yesterday was a complicated day for me. It was the anniversary of losing my grandfather, and even though it hurts knowing that I won’t be seeing his smile or hearing his laugh this holiday season, I spent the day doing what I do best: working.

Anytime there’s a significant date (for most, this is birthdays or other holidays), I take a few moments to reflect on what’s happened this past year, eg. how I’ve grown, what I’ve accomplished, etc.

In the past year, I wrote my third complete MS, had it beta read, and have deconstructed it to paste it back together. That deconstruction started mid-May and here I am, entering October, with only a few new chapters left to write/revise before I begin to polish for querying. It’s surreal, seeing how close I am to turning the page on this chapter of my journey (pun SO intended).

But (and I’m going to get super sappy here) I couldn’t have gotten this far without the support of my friends, family, and the writing community.

My poor friends and family. I apparently have two modes of conversation: writing and discussing world issues. I do try to act like a human being, but that never lasts long. People bring up a movie or tv show, I mention the writing or cinematography, then the conversation begins to lull. Woops.

But I have some of the most loving and compassionate people in my life. A couple weeks ago, I was experiencing this insane bit of writers doubt, so I called my dad, who I haven’t discussed my writing with very much in the past. And he was fantastic, truly, wonderfully fantastic. He didn’t give me a “it’s all going to be all right” pat on the head, but a “you’ve been working so hard toward this; you’ll continue to do so until you make it happen” pep talk. It was exactly what I needed in that moment… I may have teared up in the middle of Starbucks… I love my dad.

And since I’ve already climbed onto this sappy soapbox, let me tell you about my very lovely CP’s. There’s a lot that makes up the perfect CP. You want someone who will keep you excited about your project while still pushing you to write better stories. And I’ve found a brilliant group of writers who put up with my neurosis. All I can say is thank God for Twitter and Facebook DM’s. Otherwise, my brain would be rolling around on the floor because my skull couldn’t contain it. My dear friend, Lynanne (check out her blog, Daybreak In Autumn), is a fellow YA fantasy writer who will go back and forth with me about characters, plots, and world building; not to mention discussing YA books, trends, as well as some choice manga’s and anime’s.

Then there’s all of you beautiful people who visit this blog and leave wonderfully supportive comments. I wasn’t sure where this blog would go when I started, but I don’t think I was prepared for all the positive feedback! I remember reading a comment a few months ago and I was crying (again at Starbucks) because I felt so humbled and thankful for a stranger’s support. (Looking at you, Nicolette Elzie & Aura Eadon! Check out their blogs, A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly and Into The Imagination Vortex.)

Ok, ok. I’ll stop with the sap.

So I’ve added a few new things to this blog (Personal Musings being one of them), but I’ve also started posting book reviews. On top of finishing up the current draft of Guarded (the current WIP & Book 1 of my YA F series) and preparing for drafting Enveloped (NaNo 2015 Novel & Book 3 of the series), I’ll be posting my reviews of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. I’ve already posted my review of book 1, Throne of Glass. You can check that out here. A new review will be posted every Friday before noon CST.

What about ya’ll? What are your October goals? Who keeps you motivated? Share in the comments below.

Happy writing!

BOOK REVIEW: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

So funny story. I’d put off reading this series for reasons I can’t remember. Then picked up book 1, Throne of Glass. Less than two weeks later, I was itching for books 5 and 6, WHICH DO NOT YET EXIST!

Over the next few weeks (the goal is once a week), I’ll be posting a review of each TOG novel with a non-spoiler-y section as well as a total spoiler-y gushing fangirliness rant section. So without further ado, Throne of Glass

NON-SPOILER REVIEW

Throne of Glass was a solid debut fantasy novel. It had the spunky, kickass heroine, the handsome prince, magical villainy, non-magical villainy, great action, and a unique, complex world.

Celaena Sardothien is an assassin who has spent the last year in a slave camp. She is pulled out of slavery to compete to become the King’s assassin. Publisher’s Weekly described it as Graceling meets The Hunger Games, and between the to-the-death competition and court intrigue, I have to agree. You find reasons to root for all the characters and you keep reading to see how their motivations all intertwine and develop.

Overall, it was a really fun adventure. But it did have a habit of feeling like every other YA High Fantasy with a female warrior. There were moments during the novel that I thought I was reading Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED this book, as well as the book it reminded me of. And though the plot was a bit on the predictable side, Maas lays the groundwork for a phenomenal series. So even if you thought TOG was “meh,” I still recommend diving into Crown of Midnight, because OH MY GOD, THESE BOOKS! Celaena and her world only become more complex and spectacular as you go along. Also, Queen of Shadows is everything!

Stop reading now to avoid spoilers.


SPOILER-Y FANGIRLING

Four words: Love Triangle Done Right. It’s not just there to ruffle the plot, Celaena has legitimate reasons to fall for both Dorian and Chaol. And because Maas writes in the 3rd person, from multiple POV’s, you know where everyone stands. So by the time you get to the dual at the end of the book and Dorian is standing by while Chaol is standing on the ring’s edge, giving Celaena strength, you’re feeling ALL THE EMOTIONS. Which I think speaks to Maas’s incredible talent and skill with wordsmithery.

I also want to talk a little about Celaena. Despite her unfortunate situation with Endovier, she’s in complete control of herself. She holds no bars in letting Chaol or Dorian know when they’re pissing her off, and she’s fully aware of the effect she has on both boys. Celaena holds her cards very close to her chest, from her friends and, somehow, from the readers. Of course you don’t realize all that until later books… SO KEEP READING THE SERIES!

And before I write a complete dissertation, I’m going to stop here. See you next time for my review of Crown of Midnight.

An Introvert’s Love Letter to Writers

As writers, we all have that book that sparked our interest in creating characters and telling their stories. For me, that book was Tamora Pierce’s The Song of the Lioness quartet. It had everything: a badass, ambitious heroine, action, adventure, and multiple well-rounded love interests. If you haven’t read these books, please do so. They are wonderful and lovely and [all other positive adjectives].

I had read books prior to that series, but seeming as how neither of my parents were avid readers, my choices were limited. My elementary school library’s collection revolved around the Goosebumps, Magic Tree House, and Boxcar Children series, all of which I devoured. But Middle School, that selection opened more doors in my imagination, which of course could only be sated by writing my own stories.

So here’s what I have to say to the writers who are struggling with either revisions or submissions, your words have the potential to inspire the next generation of writers. So forget the doubt, forget the frustration, and keep doing what you’re doing. Besides, it’s not like we got into storytelling for the money.


Current YA loves so far for 2015:

Magonia, by Maria Dahvana Headley

Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch (Book 2, Ice Like Fire, releases October 13, 2015!!!)

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard (Book 2, Glass Sword, releases February 9, 2016!!!)

The Lunar Chronicles, By Marissa Meyer (Series Conclusion, Winter, releases November 10, 2015!!!)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, by Laini Taylor

Gates of Thread and Stone, by Lori M. Lee (Book 2, The Infinite, is waiting for me on my bookshelf.)

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

More Happy Than Not, by Adam Silvera

My Heart & Other Black Holes, by Jasmine Warga

I know this is a short list. I’m a slow reader and a lot has happened this year. What about ya’ll? What have you read this year?