Review of Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

empireofstormsEmpire of Storms
By: Sarah J Maas
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover

My Rating:
star

Summary:
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

My Thoughts:
Gah, this book was so well done. I personally feel that this series has gotten so much better as it has progressed. I love the additional characters and how all their stories have woven together into this complex and wonderful fantasy world. Personal note- I’d read the novellas, The Assassin’s Blade, prior to reading EoS. You don’t have to, but some characters from the short stories appear in this book so it’ll help you get all the lovely details.

This was one hefty book but, for me, it didn’t feel long at all. I was completely sucked in and found it to be fast paced and a quick read (regardless of the intense page count). The chapters flip between character point of views and I loved seeing things play out from different point of views. Each of these characters means so much to me and I love getting more details about how they feel and their motivations.

Because of the time spent with other characters we aren’t in Aelin’s mind as much in this book but I honestly didn’t mind that. I felt we got to see how she appears to others and it was really compelling. There was a character from the prior books missing from this one- mentioned but we didn’t see anything from their point of view. I’m sure this character will appear again but there will probably be some disappointed readers.

In this series the quests seem to grow as the series does which really ups the tension and sense of unease for the reader. As with the best fantasy (in my opinion) I really can’t fathom how these people will be able to save themselves and this world. This was such an intense read but there were some humorous parts as well as romance. A warning for the younger teens- some of the romantic scenes were pretty steamy and might be a tad mature for some readers.

I enjoy that the characters can find solace in each other and reading their interactions helped me to connect with all of them. Maas really knows how to write character chemistry.

A whole lot happened in this book and there were some twists- being a fan of Maas and her other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, I wasn’t overly surprised by some happenings. I do think that some of the storyline in each book has sort of overlapped and these books do have some resemblances. I don’t mind this myself but some reveals seemed a little less climatic because of this.

That all being said, the ending of this book was fabulous. I absolutely loved the set-up and Maas is rather evil for making us wait for the next installment.

eosig

Final Thoughts:
My review is rather vague but I don’t feel I can really venture into too many details otherwise this would be full of spoilers. For me, EoS was possibly the strongest in the series yet and I can’t wait to read what will happen next.

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

ACOMAFA Court of Mist and Fury
By: Sarah J Maas
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover

My Rating:
star

My review will have spoilers for the first book as well as this one! You’ve been warned!

Summary:
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Thoughts:
I found ACOMAF to be such an entertaining read. Though it’s a hefty book (so many pages and wow it’s heavy!) it reads much faster than you’d imagine. Maas’ writing is always addicting and this is the type of book you’ll have trouble putting down. There’s romance, twists, action scenes and overall it is such a fun book.

I opted to not reread ACOTAR prior to jumping into this sequel and I sort of wish I had. I’d forgotten some things and I honestly think I would have been able to rate this a little higher had I done a reread. I based my opinions on characters and their actions in this book on my memories of what happened. After discussing a few things that I was a little meh on I was assured by friends that there were hints in ACOTAR and that if I had reread I’d have recalled them. So, the few complaints I had were put to rest. What was that complaint you wonder? View Spoiler »

Ok, with that bit out of the way let’s talk about what I loved- the writing was addicting as I said and of course I really loved Rhys. We got to see so much more about his character and learn about the past from his side. It was eye-opening and really heart breaking. Any reservations I had about him in the last book (I didn’t have many to be truthful) were completely gone. I couldn’t help but swoon and adore him in every way.

the novel started out with a husk of what Feyre used to be like. Her life at the Spring Court had stripped her of her strength and sense of self. The first bit of this novel was really hard to read because for me, she was suffering from abuse. I hated watching her dwindle away. As things progress though I felt that she ended up growing from this hardship and becoming a stronger character. I loved her devotion, bravery and general yearning for life.

I’d not classify these books as young adult since they do contain some sexual scenes. For me, an older reader, these add to the fun of the book though I’ll admit I was rolling my eyes a few times at word choice. They seemed really cheesy but enjoyable.

All through the last book I wanted to see the Night Court and I was so happy that a large portion of this book was set there. It wasn’t exactly as I thought it would be (it was better). I loved the history we learned and all the characters that lived there. These secondary characters were wonderfully developed and complex. I had so much fun meeting Rhy’s court and watching Feyre interact with them all.

Final Thoughts:
Gah, this book is SO hard to review! I’ve been struggling since I read it last month and just can’t ever seem to get my thoughts across very well. I guess the easiest thing to say- if you are a fan of Maas you’ll enjoy this! I think upon reflection that I might like this sequel more than the first book?

 ACOMAFMug ACOMAFBooks

These books are so beautiful! You can find that lovely mug over at Helena Reads’ Society6 Shop.

Review of The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

theLongGameThe Long Game
By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Published: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Tess Kendrick, teen fixer extraordinaire, returns in a pulse-pounding thriller about a deadly conspiracy at the heart of Washington.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can–and cannot–be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover first-hand that power always comes with a price.

My Thoughts:
There’s something about Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ writing that just pulls me in. I’ve read most of her published books and each of them has been a hit for me. The pacing is usually fast and they are exciting and often quick reads. The Long Game was no different. It picks up from The Fixer last year and though I did really like this book I think I liked the other a tiny bit more.

I wasn’t as invested in the characters this round and I think some of that was the absence of Tess’ grandfather. I loved him so, so much in the first book and her struggles with his illness really pulled at my heart. Once again the setting is mostly in the posh Hardwicke School and mysteries and backstabbing abound. It’s really fascinating how many twists and turns are in these books and really it makes reading them so much fun. I caught a couple of the twists but others totally blind-sided me.

Most of the same characters are back for this sequel and we do learn more about some of them (like Henry) and get a better sense of what makes them who they are. I love Asher and his sense of humor. His lightness and flippant attitude really helped to relieve a good amount of the tension for me.

Once again the novel plays on the political schemes within Hardwicke and also in the political realm in Washington. I love how it Barnes focused on both and often they are interwoven. Tess was still a champion for those that need are under-voiced or afraid to stand up for themselves. I felt that the plot was a bit more refined this time and that the major mysteries were more focused in on.

With all the twists this book was very much a thriller and will have readers curious as to what could possibly happen next. The stakes are high- which I loved. You are never sure if everyone will make it out okay or not. This novel was very light on the romantic aspect which also might have pulled from the emotional bit some.

I really had trouble feeling any connections between the characters. I knew Ivy and Tess were working through things but I couldn’t feel it. That was my only real issue with this novel- I really wish I could have been deeply emotionally involved. Regardless, I still found myself eager to pick it up and surprised with how everything played out.

Final Thoughts:
Though I struggled feeling an emotional attachment to the characters I still found The Long Game to be a riveting, thrilling novel that kept my attention. The fast pacing and twists kept me guessing and eager to read more.

TLGPic

Review of A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

ACuriousTaleoftheInBetweenA Curious Tale of the In-Between
By: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: September 1st 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Pram Bellamy is special–she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read a good amount of DeStefano’s books and A Curious Tale of the In-Between was my favorite of them all…and I’m not even a fan of middle grade fiction for the most part. This book was beautifully executed and unique.

The pacing was even and the story captivating. The characters were so likeable and I absolutely adored each of them (ghosts and human alike). I loved DeStefano’s take on ghosts and the afterlife. I thought she made such beautiful points and my favorite line of the book was,

“Death isn’t a punishment,” Pram said, repeating what Finely had told her. “It’s just what comes next.”

I recently lost my grandfather and this line was a balm to my soul. It hurts to lose those we love and the pain is a physical and emotional ache that does ease as time passes but it is always there. This line meant so much to me and really eased some of my own personal pain.

We follow Pram’s story and early on you know she’s not a typical little girl. She can see and befriend ghosts. To her, they are as much apart of her life as the elderly that she lives with in her Aunt’s home for older folks. I loved the elderly Pram was surrounded by and found them to be such a great addition to the story. Pram’s oldest friend was, Felix, a ghost. I thought the dynamic of their friendship was so sweet and beautiful. Really, you’ll be seeing the word, “beautiful, a lot because it just fits this book so well.

Pram had one living friend she meets at her first experience in school (she’d been homeschooled) named Clarence who was just as wonderful as the rest of the cast of characters. Really, each character had something unique and wonderful about them. Even the villain of the story pulled on my heart strings a teeny tiny bit (at the least she was intriguing).

Pram has lived with her aunts her whole life because her mother passed the day Pram was born. Her aunts have kept what happened exactly a secret and Pram had many questions and some guilt about what occurred with her mother. This book focused some on Pram’s discovery of her mother’s past as well as learning about the reasons why she can see and talk with ghosts.

Final Thoughts:
Even if you aren’t typically a fan of middle grade fiction you really should read A Curious Tale of the In-Between regardless. I believe this is DeStefano’s strongest work to date because of it’s ability to touch the heart and introduce characters you’ll not soon forget.

Extras:

  • I interviewed Lauren about the Internment Chronicles and A Curious Tale of the In-Between here

Lego Cover Art- Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

Today I’m very excited to share the Queen of Shadows cover redone in Lego. My talented husband is responsible for the digital work on this cover and I think he did an amazing job.

I’ve been a fan of Sarah J. Maas for years and must say her book covers do wonderfully  in Lego. This is the third cover of hers we’ve done and I am still eager to go back at some point and do Throne of Glass and Heir of Fire.

QueenofShadows320fin
Extras

Past Lego Covers

Blocks Unhinged   The Immortal Rules   UnboundLego320

 LegoStillBlue320 thewinnerscurse320fin MortalHeartFinal KissOfDeception320 ACOTARLego320 TheWrath&TheDawnLego AMSDRLego320