Sunday, September 25, 2016

Empire of Storms

I took over two weeks to read this book. Why? Well, on the one hand I've been very busy and exhausted with work. On the other...I didn't want the magic to end. Because the next book in this series is the last one, and the last book in the ACOTAR series comes out in like 6 months and I'm not sure I'm ready for these series to be done. I will absolutely read anything else Sarah J. Maas writes, but the Throne of Glass series holds a very special place in my heart. You all know my feelings on these books, so if you don't want to read a sappy, gushing review, you should probably read one of my other reviews. So, without further ado!

Aelin Galathynius is ready to claim her place as queen of Terrasen. But dark forces brew on the horizon and what she needs are allies. And they are in short supply. With cryptic warnings from long-dead royals, and her potential friends scattered, Aelin and her remnants of a court journey toward a Lock that is supposed to help save Erilea from Erawan, the Valg king. Obstacles lie in their path, both inside and without. Snares laid millennia ago are closing, and only Aelin and her court might just stand a chance against their enemies, if only they can unravel the riddles.

Image: Goodreads
This book. I'll admit, the first few chapters were slower for me. And I'll admit that there were a few too many battles for my taste (see: my love of court intrigue and verbal sparring). But, guys, in the end I just did not care. This book is a behemoth, and I read the majority of it over two days. This series, which started as a fantasy series with a love triangle, has involved into this epic fantasy that has my toes curling in pleasure. So many times in series with many POVs, I want to skip through to the main POV (see my review of Falling Kingdoms). But, guys, the secondary POVs here...they blew me away. All the ships in this book could make an armada. Elide and Lorchan, Aedion and Lysandra, Dorian and Manon (I'll admit, that one threw me for a loop). AND, GUYS. When all of these characters finally converge, for the first time since the series started when I wasn't really sure why Manon was featured (HA I was such a sweet flower child), IT WAS EVEN MORE GLORIOUS THAN I IMAGINED. All the intrigue, all the banter, all the secret plans and Lysandra's shifting and Elide's hope and Aelin's snark and, oh man, I can barely talk about it. And that ending. Guys, that ending. The ending of ACOMAF killed me. This book ties as an ending that destroyed me. How in the world am I going to wait a year for the final installment? What am I going to do with my life once this series is finished? Will I be doomed to spend a lifetime writing fanfiction of Lysandra shifting into a ghost leopard and scaring the pants off people by waiting around castle corners? Or about Lyria and Rowan or Dorian learning to fly a wyvern? How will I cope?

Anyway, if you've made it this far in my review, you know my stance. Read this series. Now. What are you still doing reading this review? GO BUY THIS SERIES!

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Wrath and the Dawn

Final post of the night, I promise. After this I will be all caught up from my backlog of reviews. And, little teaser, the next one will be Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas because there's no way I'm not devouring that as fast as I can if it's even half as good as her other books. But in the meantime, here I am, eyelids drooping and alarm set for work tomorrow. But before I succumb to sleep, I want to tell you about The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.

Retrieved from Goodreads
Every night the King of Kings, Khalid, weds a girl. The next morning she is killed. No one in the city of Rey understands why. Shahrzad intends to find out, and then she'll kill the king. She is the first girl to volunteer to become Khalid's bride, and no one trusts her for it. She must captivate the king long enough to learn his weaknesses and then seek revenge on the man who had her best friend killed. But first she has to survive the dawn.

Ahhh, here is the breath of fresh air I've been looking for. The beautiful world with the interesting dialogue and food porn and characters that aren't cardboard cutouts. I literally had to eat after reading this book every time I picked it up. The tales of Shahrzad mix well with the rest of the story, but don't overtake the whole book in too literal of a retelling. The romance with Khalid was a slow burn that actually made me care about it. The breakaways to other POVs were interesting, though left a bit to be desired in character development. Despina and Shazi made for great banter, and Jalil is a character I'm really excited to see more of in future books. The magic is something I hope is better developed in the next books, but if it is then I'm willing to think of this book as a slow burn like Throne of Glass was. In the end, I liked this book way more an I intended to and I'm incredibly excited to read the next one!

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Ice Like Fire

Okay, I'm on a roll tonight! I'm pretty tired though, so this review will probably be shorter than the one for Falling Kingdoms. Oh, I just thought of something potentially interesting to say in my little intro paragraph-y thing! Since all of my stuff is being shipped to my new home, I've been relying solely on kindle books for several weeks now. It's really different for me, reading nearly entirely on a device, though it has allowed me to make a bit of a dent in the huge pile of kindle books that have gone unread so far. But anyways, last week I read Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch, the second book in the Snow Like Ashes trilogy, a fantasy series.

Retrieved from Goodreads
Winter is free from Spring's control, but the effects linger on. The people are suffering, but everyone is trying to hide it. But Winter might not be as free as Meira and the other Winterians hoped. They're indebted to Cordell for their help in freeing the country, and the king wants the source of magic that supposedly resides in the mountains. When it's discovered, Meira and her friends set out to find the keys to unlock the magic, though she has a different goal than the rest. She wants to keep the magic from being used, for she doesn't truly believe that Angra is gone, or that magic will be used purely for good.

Eh. I enjoyed Snow Like Ashes, though it didn't rise to the top of my list for the year. And this book...was a middle book. I feel like that's happening to me a lot lately. Meira and Mather's perspectives repeated a lot of the same poignant-but-only-the-first-three-times-it's-said things and slowly made progress toward their goals. Meira worries about being a queen, Mather worries about Winter, and everyone talks in broad strokes instead of personal intricacies. There was one character I really liked, who saved this book from getting a two-star review. Ceridwen, though her name confuses the hell out of me, was awesome. When it got to the end of the book I found myself wishing she was the main character, not Meira. She's got turmoil, she's tough as nails, she understands political intrigue, and she's got a bad home life. I'm really hoping she plays a big part in the next book, perhaps as a replacement POV for Mather. Please?

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Falling Kingdoms

I'm baaaaack with  more backlogged reviews! This time it's for Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, a fantasy which has been on my radar for a while now. As you all know, fantasy is the genre which finds itself in my hands most often, so I'm a harsher judge than I am of, say, contemporary fiction which I don't read very often. But anyways, I'll get right to the point because I'm tired and need to go to bed soon.

Retrieved from Goodreads
When princess Cleo witnesses a violent crime, it throws the three kingdoms of Mytica into chaos. magic has vanished from the land and all but Cleo's kingdom seems to be dying. Meanwhile, Jonas seeks revenge on the princess for her part in his brother's death, and Magnus is at the whims of his father's power-hungry desires. The key to saving everyone could be magic, but the keys to unlocking are lost.

I just...don't think I was the audience for this book, even though I thought I was. I love multiple POVs, but I didn't care about any of these characters. Jonas is forgotten for a good chunk of the book, Cleo is whiny, and Magnus was too different between how he acted and what he thought. And there were a few more POVs mixed in that barely registered. There was instalove and over-dramatic death. There was a war with a twist I saw coming a mile away...I could go on and on. There wasn't enough magic for my taste, and it wasn't well defined at all. But if there was one thing that made it so I knew I wasn't going to pick up book two was how overwrought everyone was about everything. There were horrible things happening, but I was never made to care about them. When bad things happened to Cleo's family, I didn't weep because it hurt her on a personal level. When all of the characters were presented with their next challenge for book two, it wasn't earned for me. I know a lot of people loved this series, but I'm going to stop with book one. 

Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars
Up Next: Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes

It's getting late in my apartment. I'm going to miss the summer when it's gone. I like the long days and that brilliant blue sky. I'll even miss the heat, though where I'm living now it's more like a hot, damp blanket draped around your shoulders. I'm pretty much part cat. I can handle heat, and can curl up with a book and end up falling asleep in the middle of the day if there's a warm breeze and sun on my shoulders. But in the winter I also enjoy sitting inside, wrapped in a blanket while rain pummels the windows. I don't know what made me think about that except I realized recently that I've lived in three states in less than a year. Crazy, huh? And my books have followed me everywhere. And with that horrible segue, here are my thoughts on An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

Retrieved from Goodreads
Laia is part of the conquered Scholars. Elias is a warrior of the Martial Empire that did the conquering. Laia's family was killed and she barely escaped with her life. Her brother was captured, and she now has one goal: free him with the help of the rebellion that lives in the tunnels beneath the city. To do so, she allows herself to be sold as a slave to the Martial academy, into the service of the most despicable warrior of all. She's to spy on a woman who has killed servants for looking at her without asking. Meanwhile, Elias wants to desert the Martial Empire. But his only way to freedom is through a contest to become the Emperor himself.

So, weird book, I'll give it that. There are some elements of fantasy that I enjoyed and I think will be good in the next book. I also appreciated how the book moved swiftly past the awkward "try to establish a family and setting when every reader knows it's going to get blown to hell in 20 pages" thing. No, readers don't care about Laia's brother. I cared about her obviously being a terrible spy and still letting herself become a slave in spite of that fact. I cared that she was missing the obvious fact that the rebellion wasn't being honest with her. I did not buy the romance between Laia and Elias. I would have rather heard more about Elias's best friend (once again, I'm so sorry, it's been a few weeks since I read the book, so I can't remember her name) who was the only girl in the academy. I also would like to have seen more of the background behind why everyone just accepted that these magic immortal guys said the emperor's line would fail and there's going to be a competition over a few weeks to determine who's going to become the new emperor. That seemed weird to me. Why would the current emperor allow for it? Why weren't there more people selected to compete? How did those competitions at all prepare people for being the emperor? I enjoyed this book, but I'm really hoping those elements get more fleshed out in the next installment.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (more like 3.5)
Up Next: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

The Infinite Sea

Ah, I've got to learn not to follow a dystopian with a dystopian. Especially if they're both also sorta kinda sci-fi and middle books. And with my mood already a bit soured by the disappointment that was Golden Son, perhaps it affected my judgment of The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey which is, I think, less than half the size of its predecessor. You be the judge.

Retrieved from Goodreads
Cassie Sullivan has her brother back, but still the world is dying. All that is left of the human race is a few scattered people. And a few who have had an alien consciousness awoken inside them. The Others are still tightening the noose around the Earth's neck, and Cassie and her friends still don't know how far they will go to rid the planet of the human scourge.

See that short description up there? That's because not a whole lot happens in this book, and even less of it makes sense. What captivated me about The Fifth Wave was the elegant writing style. It was poetic, but not in the way that Maggie Stiefvater books are poetic. No, it was compulsively readable, enough that I didn't really start to notice the cracks in the story until I was through with it. That writing style is still present here, but to a lesser extent. And when you have already seen the cracks, it's harder to ignore them. Cassie is annoying. I admired her for a good part of The Fifth Wave. Even if she did get distracted and moony over a boy, I admired her dedication to finding her brother and thr toughness she grabbed onto like a lifeline. In this book she just annoyed me. Her maybe romance with Ben Parish flickered and died and made me sad because Ben is a much better match for her than her alien love interest (whose story I had no interest in here). Ringer was the character I was most interested in. I enjoyed reading her backstory, how she managed to stay strong through literal internal torture. I liked her friendship with her captor/carer (again, it's been a while since I read it, so I can't remember all the names). There were some awesome action sequences with her. Aaaaand then she lost me. [SPOILER] She realizes what's been missing in her life is a boy and sex. And the romance was just...forced. I didn't care for it at all. Maybe if it had been realized in the next book. But Ringer did not need a romantic interest. I just...I'm going to read The Last Star, but from what I've heard it's not fantastic. I'll be pleased though if there isn't as many repetitions of the phrase "last star" in it as there were instances of "infinite sea" in this book. You have to earn using your title in your book. This book abused the privilege.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars (more like 2.5)
Up Next:  An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Golden Son

Hello, strangers! I kind of disappeared there for a month, didn't I? I haven't done that in a while. Well, it wasn't for lack of reading. In fact, even though I'm behind on my summer reading, I'm still rather proud of the amount I managed to read considering the circumstances. This summer I went back to school! That's right! It was only for a short while, but it was fruitful. You see, I'm now working in publishing again. Like, working in a brick and mortar place with a desk and a coffee pot in the kitchen and my own snazzy filing cabinets. It's crazy and I love it dearly. So you see, between school, interviewing, and then moving my entire life (again) to a different state, thing have been kind of crazy. But that's probably not what you're interested in reading about. No no, you want to know what I thought of Golden Son by Pierce Brown, the second book the Red Rising trilogy. As usual, spoilers ahead.

Retrieved from Goodreads
Darrow is a fully fledged member of gold society now. But he's an outcast. After a defeat at the academy, his own sponsor wants nothing to do with him and everyone else thinks he's ripe to kill. The rebellion against the golds is growing, but not in the way Darrow thinks his wife would have wanted. He has a new mission: civil war. He must pitch the golds against one another so the reds and lower colors can rise in a new world. But tearing the world apart means betraying people Darrow cares about.

Okay, so my description kind of sucks. I did read this book a while ago and honestly...I can't understand why this series made the splash it did. Darrow's narrative is annoying. He's such a Gary Sue. He repeats the same thoughts over and over, moralizing about how all the horror he's doling out is okay because it's in the service of Eo's dreams. Well, I agreed with him until the twenty-seventh time he thought about it. Then I just got bored. I didn't care enough about most of the characters to find their power games scintillating, which bums me out because wars with words are one of my favorite parts of books. Instead, Brown kills off most of the characters who might have been interesting or posed trouble to the cause of the reds. Darrow's boring and Mustang's gone most of the time. Sevro is crazy and probably one of my favorites. The ending got my heart going a bit, but I still didn't know enough about the secondary characters to feel all that invested. Brown can certainly write a battle scene, I'll give him that, and his technology spiels were interesting. If he'd just had a lighter hand with the moralizing I would have enjoyed this more.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars (more like 2.5)
Up Next: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey