Review: Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas

Review: Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. MaasQueen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: September 1st 2015
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The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series contrinues Celaena's epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Anticipation and expectations go hand in hand when it comes to series and books we love. As a reader you spend days, weeks, months, years (sometimes), waiting for a book to come out and your expectations grow. The problem with expectations is that it is very rare that something can live up to what you build it to be in your head. I mean there is no way for what you imagine will happen to actually happen. But as a reader I have learned to make peace with that. I have learned that you need to take something for what it is and not be upset when a book doesn’t go the way you had hoped or imagined. Did Queen of Shadows live up to what I expected it to be? No. What I thought would happen didn’t happen at all. What I hoped we would get was not what I got. But you know what? I think it was better than what I expected it to be. Queen of Shadows took the Throne of Glass series and made it grow and I’m actually really thankful for that. When all is said and done I had one thought: That book was fantastic!

Without getting into detail, as I don’t want to spoil anything, I guess the thing I liked most in Queen of Shadows was the growth of the characters. Life changes day in and day out. Feelings you had when you were 6 are not the same feeling you will have when you are 36. As you grow and come into your own and figure out who you are feelings change and responsibilities change. I felt like that was the case with the characters in Queen of Shadows. They all started out as these sheep that just followed along with what they were supposed to do or as people hiding from their true responsibilities. But as life and experiences changed they did to and I loved that. Did some of those changes hurt my heart? Sure, at times they did, but I also understood them. They made sense to me and because I that I was able to accept it. (My hope will never die though!)

Basically what I’m saying in my long winded attempt to not give anything away is that I loved Queen of Shadows. It didn’t meet my expectations, it surpassed them. Sarah wrote the story in a way that got me on board with anything and everything she decided to do because I understood it and I wanted more of it to see where it will all go. I took my time reading this one so I didn’t miss anything and I’m happy I did. It was a really strong addition to a series that is already remarkable and I can’t wait for more. I have some theories on what is to come and I can’t wait to see how wrong I will be as the series winds down in the final two books.

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Review: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas

I have reviewed this book before in the form of a discussion review. This is my own personal review written directly after reading.

Review: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. MaasCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Published: August 27th 2013
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"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 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.

Do not finish this book at lunchtime and have to go back to work. That is the very first thing I can tell you, the very first thing that comes to mind when I think of Crown of Midnight because of HOLY CRAP!

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, I’m not a fantasy reader. I’ve tried it and have been successful a handful of times but unsuccessful just as much. It isn’t my usual jam. But if all fantasy books could be written like Crown of Midnight I would become a convert in a heartbeat. I mean did I say Holy. Crap. yet?? Because…Holy. Crap.

Crown of Midnight is the second book in the Throne of Glass trilogy which features our favorites Celaena, Chaol, Dorian, Nehemia and that adorable dog Fleetfoot. Celaena is now the King’s Champion and with that comes a level of responsibility. Trying to work towards her own freedom and keep the people she has come to care about safe, Celaena is waking a very dangerous line, but a line she sees fit to balance. But as Celaena is far too aware of, not everything is as it seems. And when one single night changes everything for her and those she loves Celaena decides it is time to take no prisoners no matter what the cost to her.

So my summary does the book no justice. I mean how could it when this book is filled with awesome, and awesome that I definitely do not want to give away. There are some major twists and turns, some I saw coming, and some I didn’t, but it is something you need to read for yourself to find out what they are. What I can tell you is that Maas is a genius for getting me to love this series the way she has with her writing, for getting me as invested in these characters the way that she has, and for getting me to want to read anything and everything she writes. And considering if you look at my auto-buy list and see that all the others are just about contemporary authors you’ll truly see what this means.

I could gush and gush and gush. I could tell you how much anxiety I felt reading part of this story. I could tell you about the time I cried on the train reading this book (true story!). But honestly, they are just words. All you need to know is that this book does not suffer from second book syndrome. It actually makes the story stronger when all is said and done. In the end, you will be clamoring for the final part because Crown of Midnight will get you invested no matter what you tell yourself. A DEFINITE must read series!

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Review: Heir of Fire – Sarah J. Maas

Review: Heir of Fire – Sarah J. MaasHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Published: September 2nd 2014
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Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I can’t. I just don’t even know what to say. I mean my initial thought when I could form one was “What the heck did I just read???”. No joke I sat on a super uncomfortable concrete bench for like 2 minutes with my eyes wide and my mouth hanging open because…WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST READ???!!!

I’m not going to go into a description of this book. What I say wouldn’t really give it any justice. But what I will tell you is that Heir of Fire is very different from the other two books and I had a whole host of emotions going through me when reading it. I had read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight pretty close to reading Heir of Fire so I expected something similar to the two. But that is not what Heir of Fire was. As one of my blogging friends said to me, this is Celaena’s book. And I couldn’t agree more. But because of that, I had trouble when I first started reading this one. It was on the verge of being 4 stars. I know, GASP! But as I progressed further into the book, the book was pushed up to 4.5 stars level. And then when I read the last heart-pounding 60 pages it was cemented as a solid 5 star read. Let me tell you why:

4 Stars: The new characters flustered me. After reading Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight pretty much back to back, I was used to a certain setting with certain people. Heir of Fire threw that comfort out the window. There was more magic than I expected, an added level of enemies that was hinted at in Crown of Midnight, and just plain more people. I had trouble connecting to the newbies when I craved my trio.

4.5 Stars: Celaena started to grow and not be so mopey and whiny. In the first two books, Celaena was this powerhouse that had no fear. She was so strong. But she was changed in Crown of Midnight and that change carried over into the beginning of Heir of Fire. At first, it was not a change I liked. And then the book started to grow and take shape and Celaena started to find herself again. She stopped being stuck in her land of self-pity and became the warrior, the champion, we all love her to be.

5 Stars: THE END. The fantastic flipping ending! That is really all I have to say. This book could have been a 2 star read throughout the whole story and I would give it 5 stars because of that freaking ending! I can’t even comprehend that ending. Maas blew all her other books out of the water with that ending. (Hmm…how many times can I say ending in one paragraph???)

So basically all I can really say about Heir of Fire is that it is an amazing roller-coaster of emotions and growth and action and heartbreak. I cannot stress enough to not go into this book expecting things to be the same as they were in Crown of Midnight. Now that I am removed from the book I can see why things changed and why Heir of Fire was different. It’s because of life changes. There are always new obstacles and we have to deal and move on and Maas clearly got her point across on this one. As it was said in a discussion with two other book bloggers (I’m looking at you Judith and Alexa), Heir of Fire is very much Celaena’s book and I now feel closer to her after reading it.

Give me more Ms. Maas, GIVE ME MORE!

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Review: Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

Review: Throne of Glass – Sarah J. MaasThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Published: May 7th 2013
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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.

I’m not really sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already be said. I’m admittedly late to the party on this series and almost missed it entirely. You see, I’m not a huge fantasy reader so I skimmed by this one. That was until I was told over and over again how good it is and even non-fantasy readers have loved it. I decided to take the plunge and the book was just fantastic. The story, the characters, the writing; it was all there.

Throne of Glass is about Celaena, an 18-year-old assassin that has been a prisoner in the salt mines. One day the Crown Prince, Dorian, and the Captain of the Guard, Chaol, make her an offer. If she fights to become the King’s Champion and wins Dorian will give her her freedom after 4 years. If she loses she will return to the mines where her death will likely be met. With little choice, Celaena agrees and heads to the castle. With only thoughts of freedom, Celaena does what she has to to survive the competition. But that isn’t her only problem in the castle. When the champions start dying violently and a mystery is brought forth Celaena needs to figure out what is going on and fast before she is next. Add that to the fact that Princess Nehemia has befriended her and she has unexplained feelings for both Chaol and Dorian, freedom isn’t the only thing Celaena finds herself focused on.

The hard part of reviewing this book is getting out what I really loved about it. The story reminded me of The Hunger Games meets The Selection meets Divergent meets Dawson’s Creek. And I’m sure you are now looking at me like I’m crazy. Let me explain. Throne of Glass had elements of all of these books/show. It had the strong female lead like both Divergent and The Hunger Games, had the competition of Divergent and The Selection, and had the best friend with one girl feel from Dawson’s Creek (more in that). Basically, it took my favorite elements and put them all into one book making awesomeness. See, I make sense.

What I truly liked about the book most was the characters. Celaena was awesome. She had an edge to her but she was still a teenager with past demons. She was strong and did what she had to but she still felt things deeply no matter what people thought about her based on the fact that she was an assassin. I also really liked how easy her friendship with Nehemia was. Two girls from totally different backgrounds and standings just fit together like a lot of good friendships do. And Celaena’s interactions with both Dorian and Chaol were AMAZING. She had major chemistry with both, that’s for sure. Where it will go I don’t know, but I thank Maas for making it not really matter because both boys are awesome in their own right (not so secretly I’m a Chaol fan for life!).

Oh, those two boys. What to say about Dorian and Chaol. I’ll start with my Dawson’s Creek reference. Chaol is Pacey Witter to Dorian’s Dawson Leery. There was one scene that I read and I saw almost all of Dawson’s Creek playing in my head. These two guys were best friends, had been for years. Only Chaol would never live up to Dorian in his mind no matter what he tried. Dorian was a Prince and just not something Chaol could compete with. You could feel the disappointment in himself that fell off of Chaol in waves feeling like he was never enough. It was actually one of my favorite themes I found when reading. It wasn’t like Dorian was an awful tyrant that you hate. So not the case. It was more like I like a good underdog and that what Chaol is (and Pacey too for that matter). Either way, though I really liked their friendship and how they respected each other.

Like I said I’m not a huge fantasy reader. I’ve been trying to read more and more to broaden my reading and some have worked and some not so much. Throne of Glass…it worked and then some. It has gotten a lot of hype and Sarah J. Maas has gotten a lot of love and I can now say I get it. I 100% understand as this book should get that and more. Can’t wait to read the rest of the journey these characters embark on.

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