The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

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This is a book of five novellas that act as a prequel to Throne of Glass. There’s some confusion as to when to read this one. I’ve seen a lot of people read it between Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. I personally waited until after I finished Heir of Fire to read it. The book includes “The Assassin and the Pirate Lord,” “The Assassin and the Healer,” “The Assassin and the Desert,” “The Assassin and the Underworld,” and “The Assassin and the Empire.”

Rating: [3/5]

Reading Challenge: A book of short stories

Goodreads Summary:

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

Likes: I really enjoyed getting to see this insight in Celaena’s character and seeing more of her relationship with Sam and her relationship with Arobynn. It was also really awesome to see her as an assassin. My favorite of the novellas were the last two, “The Assassin and the Underworld” and “The Assassin and the Empire.” They were so intense and explained a lot about what happened in Throne of Glass. Also I loved the cameos of some old favorites.

Dislikes: This one had a hard time keeping my attention. “The Assassin and the Pirate Lord” was pretty good, but “The Assassin and the Healer” and “The Assassin and the Desert” had a hard time keeping my focus. They weren’t bad by any means, but they felt kind of draggy at times.

Tune in next week to read my review of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer!

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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Y’all are probably sick of my Throne of Glass reviews by now because they are obviously over-hyped and way biased, but oh well. It’s hard reviewing a book you absolutely loved, because then it just sounds like you’re vomiting rainbows and it’s hard to take opinions like that seriously. I  know it. But that doesn’t erase the fact that I am completely in love with these books. Especially this one.

Rating: [5/5]

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Likes: Okay. Where to begin. The main thing I love about the series is the characters. All of the characters are beautifully detailed and even if they aren’t likable, they’re interesting. That just continues with Heir of Fire and the introduction of some new characters. It also shows in the development of Celaena’s character, her backstory, the emotional turmoil she faces throughout the novel. Speaking of emotions, this book was incredibly emotional and the author did an amazing job of conveying those emotions and really making the reader feel them. Finally, the world was developed even more. It really feels like this world has history and culture of its own.

Dislikes: Queen of Shadows isn’t out yet! ;)

Tune in next week to read my review of The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas!

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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After waiting impatiently for this book to come in from the library, I devoured it in between work and studying for my online class. By the time I finished it, it was 3am and I was lying in bed whispering “what the fuck” to myself repeatedly while my husband was very kindly waiting up for me.

Rating: [5/5]

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

Likes: The characters and their relationships are by far my favorite part of this series. All of them are just so good and they all have such great chemistry. And the twists! This book had so many plot twists and massive character reveals. I literally could not out it down.

Dislikes: None, nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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I had literally never heard of this book before, outside of all the cute pictures, until I started following bookmad and books-and-cookies and saw them post about it. So I thought: why not? And then I ended up a bawling pile of feelings on the floor at 2am.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book by an author you’ve never read before

Summary from Goodreads:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Likes: Celaena is a badass and feminine and basically everything I have ever wanted in a female character. I love all of the supporting characters too. Not to mention, I have never seen a love triangle written this well. Usually when I read books with love triangles, there’s a clear winner and it makes it hard to take it seriously, but I did not get that at all from this book. Celaena has such amazing chemistry with both guys. Plus, I loved her friendship with Nehemia. More books need good girl friendships like that even though I kinda also shipped them too oops. And (yeah, I’m still going) the worldbuilding was phenomenal. This book has some of the most detailed worldbuilding of any fantasy book I’ve ever read.

Dislikes: This book is perfect and I have nothing but rainbows and sunshine and glitter and kittens to say about it.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Okay, so this book has been on my list for a while and I finally got it from the library. Based on what I’ve heard, it’s one you either love or hate. And I definitely loved it.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book with magic

Summary from Goodreads:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Likes: This book is beautiful. I mean, it is BEAUTIFULLY written. I really felt like I was at the circus and at the Midnight Dinners. The level of detail and description without detracting from the story was just incredible to me. The parts in second-person were risky and they really paid off to get the circus experience across. Plus, I absolutely love the romance in this book.

Dislikes: Okay, gonna be honest here…it’s been a little bit since I read the book. However, I can’t remember anything that I actively disliked.

SERIES REVIEW: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

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I’ve never done a series review before! Step back and prepare to be amazed! Okay not really. But I’ll probably do more of them for things like comics or manga or shorter things like this in the future. Anyway. There are three books in this parody series: Verily, a New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back, and The Jedi Doth Return. My aunt got this series for me at our local comic shop and I saved them for some fun summer reading.

Rating: [3/5]

Reading Challenge: A trilogy

Summary: Basically, this series is exactly what it sounds. It is all three Star Wars movies rewritten and adapted into iambic pentameter and put in play format. Doescher uses traditionally Shakespearean methods to retell the story and really plays on themes found throughout all of Shakespeare’s plays.

Likes: My favorite part of the series was how much Doescher used Shakespeare to adapt the stories. He didn’t just put the films in iambic pentameter. He used a chorus to describe action sequences, had certain characters act as fools, and use prose and poetry to indicate character’s class. Plus, there were several famous Shakespearean speeches that he somehow managed to work directly into Star Wars without seeming too forced.

Dislikes: Plays and iambic pentameter in particular are always tough for me to get into, so I had a hard time reading these books more than an act at a time. But that’s not the book’s fault; that’s my brain’s fault. I’m trying to get more into drama/poetry and more into Shakespeare, so hopefully this won’t be a problem for long.

The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer

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When I was a kid, I absolutely loved the Artemis Fowl books. Seriously, I have read them more times than I think I’ve read any other book series. And I love other books that Eoin Colfer has written, so when I picked up The Supernaturalist, I thought I would really enjoy it.

Rating: [2/5]

Summary from Goodreads:

In the future, in a place called Satelite City, fourteen-year-old Cosmo Hill enters the world, unwanted by his parents. He’s sent to the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys, Freight class. At Clarissa Frayne, the boys are put to work by the state, testing highly dangerous products. At the end of most days, they are covered with burns, bruises, and sores. Cosmo realizes that if he doesn’t escape, he will die at this so-called orphanage. When the moment finally comes, Cosmo seizes his chance and breaks out with the help of the Supernaturalists, a motley crew of kids who all have the same special ability as Cosmo-they can see supernatural Parasites, creatures that feed on the life force of humans. The Supernaturalists patrol the city at night, hunting the Parasites in hopes of saving what’s left of humanity in Satellite City. Or so they think. The Supernaturalist soon find themselves caught in a web far more complicated than they’d imagined, when they discover a horrifying secret that will force them to question everything they believe in. Eoin Colfer has created an eerie and captivating world-part Blade Runner, part futuristic Dickens-replete with non-stop action.

Likes: I liked the characters most of all. Based on what I’ve read, Eoin Colfer always writes really funny, unique characters. The banter between Cosmo,Stefan, Mona, and Ditto made me giggle to myself at times. Plus, Mona was a Latina mechanic, so that was pretty neat.

Dislikes: The lack of worldbuilding. Like, it took place on Earth in future but there was really no explanation as to why things were that why. I get that it’s a sci-fi novel for middle-grade age people, but that doesn’t mean you get to skimp on worldbuilding. I’m thinking of some other middle-grade books like The Giver or Percy Jackson and the Olympians here. Also, the plot was kind of all over the place and difficult to follow at times. Ultimately, the lack of worldbuilding and convoluted plot made it really hard for me to get into.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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I got this book a couple (a bunch) of months ago for my birthday. Based on everything I’ve seen, I thought I would really enjoy this book. After all, it’s incredibly photogenic, artsy, and a little bit trippy. But ultimately, it kind of fell flat in my opinion.

Rating: [2/5]

Reading Challenge: A popular author’s first book

Goodreads Summary:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Likes: Visually, this book is stunning. All of the photographs are incredible, and in some cases, even a little chilling. After all, the fact that all of the photos in the book are authentic, unaltered vintage photographs is pretty impressive. Plus, I really liked the way that the author integrated the photos into the story itself.

Dislikes: Honestly, this book was kind of boring. The story never really grabbed me. Reading it, I felt like I kept waiting for something to happen. Also, the romance in the book was a little creepy and kind of sad, in my opinion.

TL;DR: While the idea of a novel filled with vintage photographs is appealing to me, this one didn’t really work for me in particular.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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Somehow I never got around to reading this book when I was younger. But a bunch of different people have recommended it to me over the years, and I knew right away it would be the kind of book I would like. I ended up buying it on my birthday and saved it to read over the summer as a reward to myself for finishing school.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book that became a movie

Summary: Jonas is 12 years old, which means that he, along with all the other 12 year olds, will receive his job assignment. However, unlike all the other kids, Jonas isn’t sure what he wants to do or what he would even be good at. He ends up getting assigned to apprentice with the Giver. As he spends more and more time learning about the past with the Giver, he begins to see his society in a whole different way, a way that the others in his town cannot understand.

Likes: I found the world-building of this book to be the most compelling part of it. There wasn’t much of a plot, but the way the author described all the rules and history of the town made it feel like a real place. Additionally, the way that Jonas felt about the rules as he began to study with the Giver was really telling about just how messed up this dystopia really was.

Dislikes: There honestly wasn’t anything I disliked about this book.

TL;DR: This book is amazing and if you like dystopian fiction, you will like this.

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

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So, I’ll confess that I actually love the TV show based on this book, Legend of the Seeker. That’s how I found out about Terry Goodkind’s books. I first read Wizard’s First Rule back in high school–before I even had a blog–and I reread it recently because it fit one of the categories on the Popsugar challenge I’ve been doing this year. And my thoughts are pretty much the same.

Rating: [2-3/5]

Reading Challenge: A book based on or turned in to a TV show

Summary: Richard Cypher is a simple wood guide, but his life is turned upside-down when he meets a mysterious woman named Kahlan Amnell. She is from across the boundary, which separates Westland from the Midlands, and, more importantly, magic from normal life. After being named Seeker of Truth by the most powerful wizard in the land, Richard must use his powers to save the Midlands from Darken Rahl, an evil and powerful wizard who abuses his power and the people he rules.

Likes: Probably my favorite thing about this book is the relationship between Richard and Kahlan. They’re full of cuteness and angst and sexual tension. I’ve seen a lot of comments about implausibly their relationship develops, which I can understand, but this hopeless romantic likes it nevertheless. I also really enjoyed the magic and world-building in this book. The different creatures and types of magical beings and powers were really unique and interesting, in my opinion.

Dislikes: One thing that has been hugely problematic for me both times I’ve read this book is the way the author deals with rape and sexual abuse. One of the minor characters is literally a pedophile, and the only point this serves in the book is to characterize him as a villain. Not only is this incredibly disgusting, it’s lazy writing. Second of all, [potential SPOILERS ahead] Richard becomes involved with one of the Mord Sith, a group of women who use pain and bondage to torture and enslave men. Some of this involves sexual encounters. While it’s pretty clear that the author is trying to portray a BDSM-type experience, Richard does not consent to these acts. Which makes it rape.

TL;DR: I basically liked everything in this book, except for the several ways in which the author handled rape, which was disgusting and lazy. That’s why I can’t really decide what to rate it as.