Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781619630659
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Released: September 2, 2014
Length: 565
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
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?

     REVIEW

I went into this book definitely feeling afraid of what was to come. I loved Crown of Midnight so much. I knew I would love Heir of Fire too, because Sarah J. Maas is a genius and this series is a new favorite of mine, so that isn't why I was afraid. I'd seen a lot of posts about new characters, intense feels, being utterly ripped apart over and over again, etc. You can see why I had some reservations. Not to mention this is a beast of a book. I love myself a good long book but I always know it's going to take me a while to get into it, especially when it's something I'm really in to.

Heir of Fire definitely did take a day or two for me to get in to. It's a slower start. Celaena is unhappy. Actually, unhappy is the understatement of the century. Celaena is utterly broken, and though it takes quite a while, we journey with Celaena through every bit of her broken heart, soul and spirit. Sometimes slower paced books are not for me. I loved it in HoF, though. Every last word devoted to Celaena's pain, healing, gaining of power, etc., was worth it. It was necessary, even if it tore me apart while I was reading it. Maas writes pain like no other.

New characters: there are some. Are you surprised? This is one of the best epic fantasies I've ever gotten my hands on, incredibly in depth, so you can imagine how many characters we have to deal with here. There is Rowan, likely the most important of the new characters. You've probably heard/seen tons of people shipping Rowan/Celaena, and I know what you're thinking. You're probably thinking the same thing I was thinking when going into this. HELL NO, NO ROWAN NONSENSE CHAOLAENA FOR LIFE! I was adamantly against any other ships for Celaena. Don't worry, things don't go as you would expect in this area and it is perfect and wonderful, and for Chaol/Celaena shippers, you'll find yourself rooting for Rowan in a few different ways even if you think there is only room for Chaol in your heart. Trust me, I'm still team Chaol.... but I wouldn't be mad if something took a turn in a future book and it didn't go that way. As a matter of fact, I have some speculations. Not really educated guesses, just regular old guesses - things I suspect could happen... if you've read all of the books, send me a private message. We can discuss all of the horrible (and wonderful) things that could happen!

There was also Manon, a POV from a not so nice person - a witch. I won't go into much detail, but I will say this: Maas, you are a genius. How do you make me interested and even feel FEELS for evil people? HOW!? Some may have thought this POV was pointless, but I get the feeling it will be very important in the rest of the series. I have high hopes for this POV actually.

This world, this story, everything in it is so detailed, so many nuances and "storylines" to remember that all wrap into one amazing ball of brilliance. And Maas keeps adding more and I'm almost inclined to wonder how the hell this is all going to work out and tie together but the thing is is already does! Every aspect of every book matters. I remember when I read ToG, thinking that the whole magic aspect seemed out of place. I take nothing for granted in this series now. Nothing is out of place. Nothing.

HoF wrecked me, by the way. I cried like a baby for Celaena, for Dorian, for Chaol, for Rowan. But I also cheered for them, grinned like a fool, laughed like a loon. Maas knows how to write characters we will love (or hate, but in that she-writes-really-good-villians kind of way) so, so much, and I can't even fathom having to let one of them go. Listen, I'm still mourning over Sam and he was only around for a few short stories.

I feel like it is impossible to not like this series. The only book I can see not liking is ToG, but if you trust me, if you trust the wrest of the bookish world, CoM and HoF (oh and Assassin's Blade) will change that for you. It will change everything for you.


     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★1/2 - Really enjoyed it!

I loved Heir of Fire so much! It added so much to the world, a world that I didn't think could expand that much more, and I get the feeling Maas is going to give us even more come the next book somehow (which by the way we have to wait God knows how long for and it is killing me).

I know most of you loved this book. I've seen your reviews and status updates. I now this one killed you inside also. But I have so many thoughts on what could possibly be coming and I want to talk to someone about it without worrying about spoiling. I want to know what you thought, but I also want to know what you think is coming!

Also, can we talk about how excited I am for the other series Maas has coming out next year - A Court of Thorns and Roses?! A Beauty and the Beast retelling! God, I can't wait!!

So tell me your thoughts on all things Sarah J. Maas. Go!
A.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781619630628
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Released: August, 2013
Length: 420 pp
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
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.

     REVIEW

We all know that so far Throne of Glass is the last amazing of this amazing series. After reading ToG I went into Assassin's Blade which changed my entire view on ToG. Then along comes Crown of Midnight which Sarah J. Maas took upon herself to use to wreck her entire fanbase and rip our hearts out. And that's putting it nicely.

There were so many amazing things about CoM that I don't even know where to start. First of all, for those of you who haven't read Assassin's Blade but were disappointed with Celaena's lack of Assassin-y skills, she surely redeems herself in the best ways possible in CoM. I won't go into detail because it is actually a wonderful aspect of the storyline, but Celaena really is the best of the best.

The world building gets deeper here, too. We learn little tiny tidbits about Celaena's past, how Adarlan came to rule and other things important to the story. Maas builds an even richer, more detailed world than what she gave us in ToG and Assassin's Blade. It also really brings together several different aspects, such as the assassin thing, the magic thing (which felt so displaced to me in book one), some other barely mentioned aspects from book one that take on a huge and amazing role in book 2. I love that Maas brings it all together. It's not one storyline per book with small connecting things along the way. No, it all matters, it all interconnects, so make sure you're paying close attention!

Also, there is Chaol. In case anyone was wondering who I ship, it's Celaena/Chaol. Pretty sure I've made that abundantly clear in the past but just in case.. ya know.. it's Chaol. CHAOL CHAOL CHAOL. This book has all wonderful things Chaol. The great part is that Dorian isn't all of a sudden cut out and forgotten just because great Chaol-things happen. Actually, some really awesome, important Dorian things happen. I just happen to heavily ship Celaena/Chaol.

Crown of Midnight basically builds you all the way freaking up, just to tear you the hell down. Like, rips your soul right out of your body. Yes, bad things happen. It's an epic fantasy series, so I know you weren't expecting things to be all hunky dory. But it is for a reason. A really, really important reason, and I forgive you Sarah J. Maas for ending me the way you did.


     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★★ - Absolutely loved it!

When I started Throne of Glass a few months ago, I didn't think I'd find my new favorite fantasy series. I didn't think I'd find another set of books that keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time I'm reading them, a ship that would make me f*cking cry when happy things are happening, characters that I become way too attached to, a main character I admire and identify with (I love that she's such a brat sometimes. Like me! Oh and she's a bit of a book worm), etc., etc.

Seriously, I hope this review finds its way into the hands of readers who are on the fence about Throne of Glass, people who kind of liked it but want to see what Celaena is capable of and see this series at its full potential. Well I'm telling you right now, everything you were hoping for in ToG takes off at such a high level in CoM that there is no way for you to be disappointed. I promise, you'll go from on the fence to absolutely in love right from the beginning of CoM.

I'm currently reading Heir of Fire and I can't to talk about it with those of you who have read or are reading as well. So If you haven't read CoM, get your ass up and read it, so you can move on to the epically epicness of HoF!

Have you read Crown of Midnight? I'd love to know what you thought of this one, especially in comparison to Throne of Glass and with/without having read The Assassin's Blade. As you can tell, I'm obsessed. I want to know what you thought!



Let's talk books!
A.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781408852590
Format: Kindle eBook
Source: Purchased
Series: Throne of Glass #0.1 - #0.5
Released: March 4, 2014
Length: 448 pp
Goodreads  |  B&N

     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.
     REVIEW

This collection as a whole rivals literally every short story I've ever read. I tend to read the occasional short story to enjoy some more of the world and see some scenes I may have read about in passing. Most novellas/short sorties are nothing special - usually. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started the Assassin's Blade, but it was so much more than what I was expecting.

The first story was interesting enough - it was just about a covert mission of sorts that Celaena undertakes for Arobynn Hamel, her Master, I guess you would call him, with an associate of hers that Celaena really disliked: Sam (<3 <3 <3). I remember thinking that the story was what I'd expected - a story about "before", a fun little read that didn't add much to the story. Well, alone, it would have been exactly that. A nice insight into before but nothing life changing. That is, until I realized that the short stories in The Assassin's Blade read almost like one long book. Yes, that's what I said. The Assassin's Blade is like a very important, full-length prequel to Throne of Glass. The Assassin's Blade literally leads us right up to how Celaena came to Endovier, right before ToG starts, letting us see exactly what was Celaena's downfall.

And for those of you who have only read ToG, and were frustrated with Celaena's lack of apparent assassin-y skills, here is your fix. Not only will you get to see Celaena is action, which is amazing all on its own, but you will find out some of the reasons why Celaena is the way she is in ToG.

Basically, if you are having doubts about reading The Assassin's Blade after ToG, I implore you, pick it up - you won't regret it. I'm not a short story kind of person - nine times out of ten I don't even bother picking them up. But these are essential to the Throne of Glass series. YOU MUST READ THEM.

THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★ 1/2 - Really Enjoyed it!

I loved The Assassin's Blade more than I've ever loved a collection of short stories before. It seems like every author is cashing in on the novella thing these days, but I didn't feel as if I was reading something written to make more money or to give the series a push. It was a prequel to ToG, plain and simple. Just go read it already so I can stop trying to convince you that it's necessary, that you won't regret it and that it makes ToG make so much more sense! Okay? Okay.

Have you read The Assassin's Blade? Did you read it before or after reading ToG and CoM? I read it in between the two, and while I wished I'd read it before ToG, I was fine with the feeling of having an epiphany once I realized what Celaena had been through and why she acted the way she did. Did you love tAB like I did? Or did you find it to be an unnecessary collection of stories? I'd love to know what you thought about The Assassin's Blade.

Let's talk books!
A.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781619630345
Source: Gift
Format: Paperback
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Released: May, 2012
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
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.
     REVIEW
It probably isn't very fair for me to review Throne of Glass at this point, having read the short stories and the second book in this series. I probably should've been smart enough to write my review right after I finished it. Because right now, I almost can't bring myself to say anything bad about ToG when I know that it I enjoyed it a lot but didn't love it.

However, after reading the other books/stories in the series that have been released thus far, my love for this series and this book are far beyond the four star rating ToG gets all on its own. Like I said - not fair, right?
Allow me to make an attempt at writing an unbiased review.

For starters, the main character, Celaena Sardothien, is touted as Adarlan's assassin, the greatest assassin for all intents and purposes. Dangerous, unbeatable, etc. Without factoring in what I know from the other books, I was a little disappointed that we barely saw any of Celaena's mythical skill. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Celaena. She is smart and witty and funny and a little bratty which I can definitely appreciate being a huge brat myself, but I wanted to see her being assassin-y and we actually don't see much of that.

Throne of Glass takes on a weird paranormal subplot that at first didn't seem to fit and didn't interest me. It was annoying, didn't make much sense and I wished at some points that it would just disappear. Needless to say it all comes together but it was just weird.

The romance - oh the romance. I hate love triangles. With that being said, while this has a very frustrating love triangle, I loved it. I truly found myself torn between the two men and that has never happened to me before. Usually in a love triangle, one guy is like awful and everyone knows it, and the other one is perfect for her and the only reasons the awful guy has fans is because he's a bad boy and "knows" the MC better than anyone else (cue eye roll - give me a break). However, that is not the case here. I obviously am Team Chaol For Life but I couldn't help but find reasons to love Dorian, too. They are both such great, lovable characters and I got a little mad when Dorian was making me love him too much!

All in all, the book comes together, weird paranormal subplot and all, enough that I wanted to read the next book. Like I said, since the time I read Throne of Glass, I've read Crown of Midnight, The Assassin's Blade (novellas) and am eagerly awaiting Heir of Fire, so right now none of those things matter because the rest of the series makes up for the good but not amazing first book. I almost don't remember a time when Celaena wasn't being a super assassin!

     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!
CoM notwithstanding, I really liked ToG. It has great characters that just unfortunately didn't reach their full potential in this book, such an interesting world with pretty good world-building (which just gets better), and a frustrating but amazing and perfect in every way love triangle. TEAMCHAOLFORLIFE.

Have you read Throne of Glass? What did you think? I hope you loved it and didn't let the lack of Celaena showing off her mad skills effect your opinion about the book like I almost did. If you didn't love it, can you tell me why? I'd love to hear what your thoughts are!

Also, Heir of Fire comes out in just a few days!!!! I'm so beyond freaking excited I can't even EVEN. That's right, that's what I said, you didn't read that wrong. I NEED THIS BOOK NOW! How excited are you (and simultaneously horrified at the thought of waiting another year for the next one aghhhh)?

Let's talk books!
A.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Book-to-Movie-Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I went to see this movie (1) because the preview made me cry when I saw it at TFIOS premiere, so duh and (2) I'm such a dedicated blogger that even though I didn't love the book, I knew I needed to tell the world how the movie held up.

I mentioned a few times over the last few weeks that I've been having this crying issue - nothing has been making me cry. That is until I read Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins last week and it cured me! So at first I was afraid I was going to leave this movie dry-eyed and heartless, just like I'd been with every book for the past month.

I obviously didn't realize that I had nothing to worry about on the crying front. I was a fuckin mess.

     IT STAYED PRETTY CLOSE TO THE BOOK
I'm quite forgiving when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations when things are changed or moved around for the sake of the adaptation being smoother or portraying a feeling or a message better. I hate when things are totally changed around, but I can forgive when the necessary things are moved around.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that If I Stay the movie stayed rather close to the book. Not much was actually added in or changed - it was more like a lot of the tiny less important details were left out. For example, Kim's crazy mom, while amusing, wasn't necessary and was left out of the movie. A couple of other minor things but nothing that changed the story.

The only thing that was "added" in was this weird fight between Mia and Adam. I mean, don't get me wrong, the fight scene was great, Adam was awesome and rude and an asshole, just like they were trying to pull off, but I don't remember anything like that from the book at all. Mia and Adam were more passive aggressive and Adam in the book was a sweetheart but he could be a dick, too. Otherwise I was pretty pleased with how close the adaptation was.

     THE ADDED BONUS OF MIA'S AND ADAM'S MUSIC
We get to heard "Adam's" music!!! Sometimes when a book has a musician as one of its main characters, albums are made in partnerships with one or two real-life musicians, (e.g., Jodi Picoult, Colleen Hoover). The music is often good, but it's nothing like what we fall in love with on the radio or from our favorite underground artists. In the If I Stay movie, Adam's music comes to life - and it is awesome!

We see him rockin' and rollin' and his voice is even pretty great. Now I did absolutely no research whatsoever as far as the music goes and who wrote it or if Jamie Blackley was the one who was singing, but I suspect it was. I could be wrong, but I'm just guessing here. I have no idea, but I know that it was one of my favorite parts of the movie watching Adam sing on stage and getting to briefly be a part of what he loved.

It was also really awesome seeing/hearing Mia play. Now I also did zero research about Mia's music but I suspect Chloë Grace Moretz was not the source of that wonderful sound. It was mesmerizing though, and beautiful. The cello music was enough to have me tearing up at times. Definitely these were my favorite parts.

     ITS A SHAME THAT THE ACTING WAS... JUST OKAY
This Chloë Grace Moretz girl... she looks familiar to me... and she's got quite a lengthy filmography, but I hadn't ever heard of her before this movie. I think she was a good Mia, but she just didn't really do it for me. She was so clean cut (which yes, is like Mia, but the emotional parts [except for one particularly difficult one] I felt should have been more raw) and sometimes I felt like I was just watching a movie, not like I was part of it. It's just like when reading a book and no one wants to be reminded that they are reading a book, ya know? I hope that makes sense.

Jamie Blackley (Adam), quite the opposite of Moretz's performance, was pretty perfect. What a brilliant portrayal of that character! He just tore my heart right up. Plus seeing him up on stage was hot and he looked like he really belonged there. Contrary to the case with the rest of the cast, Blackley was pretty much flawless.

The parents were cute, quirky, funny, and it was hard not to love them, but acting was a bit awkward. I didn't feel much chemistry between the actors other than between Mia and Adam. OMG I forgot the grandfather. He killed me. He was amazing. And he killed my heart. But overall, it was just alright acting-wise.

     I'VE FINALLY DISCOVERED WHY I DIDN'T LOVE THE BOOK
Finally! After reading If I Stay, and after having not shed one single real tear (my eyes got watery, that's about it) I knew a lot of my blogging pals were going to be wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I know so many of you who sobbed and sobbed over the book and I started wondering what was wrong with me, too.

But the movie kept doing this really annoying thing that I realized the book (kind of) did! Every time a really sad part was happening, it would suddenly rip you from that scene and flashback to some random part of Mia's life, or vice versa - we'd be watching a particularly touching flashback then suddenly jump back to Mia in the hospital. It was hard to connect with it when the transitions seemed to be at inopportune times and not very smooth. My sister and mom even commented to me at one point during the movie, "OMG, why do they keep doing that!?" I wondered that myself. I assume it was some kind of technique to get the emotions all over the place, and for the movie it kind of worked (I mean I was a mess either way, even if it was annoying), but with the book it made it really hard to connect.

Also, I've decided I didn't like how focused the book and movie were on the romance. Is this listed as a romance? Probably, but based on the way the story starts, I felt like it should have been more even, with just as much time spent on Mia's family, friends, music, school, boyfriend, etc. So maybe I'm being picky because this probably is listed as a contemporary romance, but I wish it'd been a bit more contemp and a little less romance.

     THE QUESTION YOU'VE ALL BE WANTING TO ASK: DID I CRY?
F*** yeah I cried. Like a damn baby! I shed about one measly tear for the book while reading it. I cried almost from beginning to end with the movie. Even with the choppy, poorly-timed transitions and Moretz's slightly less than stellar emotional scenes, I was a wreck. A freaking wreck. I remember at one point, I thought I was going to lose it - like not be able to hold in my ugly cry anymore and start sobbing and making strangled noises in the back of the theater. It was rough - really, really rough. The movie connected me to all of the feelings that I was totally missing while reading the book.

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!

I really liked this movie. The book was alright for me (I rated it 3 stars) but nothing to write home about. I wanted to feel something when I read it and finally after seeing this movie, I do! Everything I wanted to cry over, wanted to rage about, I got the chance to while watching If I Stay in theaters. It was well done, the actors, while not amazing, were great, the music was fantastic, and I fell in love with this story once and for all. I actually left the theater wanting to read Where She Went which I'd written off after finished If I Stay and not loving it. I might actually pick it up!

Did you go see If I Stay this past week? What did you think? Were you like me, blubbering like a baby regardless of the small annoyances? Or did you find it not up to your expectations? Did you read the book first or did you not bother? Loved it or hated it? Let's talk about this book and movie!

A.