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Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom

To Kill A Kingdom Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

I originally heard about this book after reading Tiana’s book review on her blog The Book Raven. The premise of the book sounded really interesting to me so I decided to give it a read. And I enjoyed it so much.

I found To Kill A Kingdom to be quite an engaging story. What made me so interested in this story was reading it from the perspective of two characters who have a lot more in common than they know. While Lira and Elian both were fighting the same war on two different sides, it becomes obviously clear that they are more similar to each other than different. When Lira and Elian meet each other for the first time, you as the reader can see that both characters want the same thing: for the war between the sirens and humans to end. You can also tell that they’ll both do whatever it takes to achieve that goal even if that results in their own death. I found seeing this story being told from both of their perspectives to be interesting, but also enjoyable because I found both characters delightful. I found Lira’s perspective especially enjoyable for me because I’ve never read a book where the point of view in the story was told from the perspective of a siren. But at the same time, I enjoyed reading the story from Elian’s perspective too as a siren hunter/pirate.

Another reason I’ve enjoyed reading this book so much is because I love stories featuring mythical creatures such as mermaids and sirens. I especially love the way sirens were portrayed in this story because it made you sympathetic to Lira’s character. As a reader, you originally recall sirens from stories as being creatures who would sing to lure their victims to their death. While that origin story is an important part of the plot in the book, you find out that there’s more to sirens because of Lira. She gives you a better understanding of why sirens kill people to begin with and does her best as the story progresses to work on bringing peace between humans and sirens. She isn’t your typical siren and I love her for it.

I also love this book because I haven’t read too many books that feature sirens as a main character, especially ones like Lira who start questioning their upbringing. She and many of the other characters in this story go through a tremendous amount of character development that allows them to question their morals. The two characters who face development the most are the two protagonists, Lira and Elian. Lira has grown up her whole life believing humans to be her enemy and taking the hearts of princes to prove her worth as the next Sea Queen. Whenever she becomes human, however, she begins questioning her choices and realizes that everything she’s grown up believing about humans is wrong. Elian, the prince of Midas turned siren hunter/pirate, discovers siren hunting as being his true calling in life despite being heir to one of the most powerful kingdoms. Then one day he saves a mysterious woman from drowning in the ocean after he’s already plotting on finding an item that’s said to destroy sirenkind for good. This woman he barely knows agrees to help him and while he’s reluctant to trust her to begin with, he starts warming up to her as they get closer to what he’s searching for. As the plot of the story continues and he realizes who the woman really is, he still trusts her when the plot reaches its climax. It’s when he trusts Lira with his life despite her being a siren that he starts realizing that maybe not all sirens are bad and that if they work together, they can kill the Sea Queen and create peace between humans and sirens. Both of these characters overcome their initial beliefs about each other’s kind which allows them as characters to develop and do exactly what they need to make things right between humans and sirens.

What I’ve found I love the most about To Kill A Kingdom is the references to The Little Mermaid you can see throughout the book. First, there’s Lira and Elian who both are very similar to the main characters in The Little Mermaid. While Lira isn’t a mermaid, there are definitely quite a bit of similarities between her and Ariel, such as both of them being princesses and getting turned into a human. Elian is like Prince Eric in that he’s also a prince who also seems to love traveling in the sea. Then there’s the Sea Queen who punishes her daughter by turning her into a human who’s robbed of her siren song, just like Ursula turns Ariel into a human without a voice. The Sea Queen is also a lot like Ursula too in that she wants to make sure she gets what she wants but also does the best she can to destroy both Lira and Elian once her original plan is thwarted. While the overall plot in To Kill A Kingdom isn’t at all like The Little Mermaid and there are some obvious differences between the characters, you can still see similarities between the two stories and I really enjoyed seeing them while I was reading this book.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy when reading To Kill A Kingdom was when I finally finished reading the book. I really loved reading this story so when I was finally done with it, I was sad to see it all end. It was a book I was enjoying immensely so I didn’t want to leave the tale behind.

Other than being sad when this book ended, I overall loved reading To Kill A Kingdom. The story as a whole was interesting because of the two unique perspectives of the characters telling it. I loved hearing this book from Lira’s perspective who let us know that not all sirens are bad, which allowed us to see these mythical creatures in a different light. I appreciated that both of the main characters had character development that made them realize that they could work together to bring peace to their world. And I really loved seeing the references to The Little Mermaid story that I love so much, but was glad to see that this book didn’t follow that plot completely. I believe this book along with The Night Circus are my two favorite reads of this year so far, and I highly recommend giving this book a try.

 

Book Review: Carry On

Carry On Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

After reading Fangirl, I knew I needed to read this book to see if I’d enjoy it just as much. And I did, maybe even more so for several reasons. But I found I couldn’t give it a higher rating than Fangirl because I found a lot more things wrong with it that I’ll discuss shortly.

Carry On is about the universe Cath fantasizes about in Fangirl. It’s about the world of Watford, a school for those with magic. It centers on Simon Snow, a boy who’s supposed to be the greatest mage the World of Mages has ever seen. In this book, he returns to school for his last year at Watford and his biggest nemesis/roommate Baz doesn’t return until several weeks later. It centers around the death of Baz’s mom along with Simon stopping the evil Humdrum who’s face is very similar to his.

What I enjoyed so much when reading this book is that it’s unique. While the storyline, characters and everything else in it are supposed to be a play off of Harry Potter, you can tell when reading it that it’s a completely different universe. I like that this story is very similar to the world I already love because it made it that much easier for me to understand everything that happened. The universe was very similar to Harry Potter, but in a humorous way that I appreciated. It was like Rainbow Rowell was writing a one novel parody of the Harry Potter series, but twisting it into something else that is just as enjoyable.

You Know You've Read a Good Book Paul Sweeney Quote
Via Popular Inspirational Quotes

I enjoyed reading Carry On so much that when I was finished, I was sad to see the story end. It felt like a piece of me had gone and went into Simon Snow’s world. And I know why I felt that way. This book has all of the elements I like in a story. It’s fantasy with a mixture of mystery, comedy, and its young adult literature that features LGBTQ characters. I like that the world Rowell portrays has magic in it, yet also has some real world elements mixed in that allow you as the reader to see magic alongside normal reality.

But most of all, one of my favorite features in this book is the relationship between Simon and Baz. Both characters are confused about their own identity, yet end up finding each other and connecting in a way you as the reader don’t expect: through the loss of a parent, aka, Baz’s mom who died many years ago at the hands of vampires. Simon could relate to what Baz was going through because of his own loss of not growing up with parents. So Simon did what he thought was right: to help Baz find out who really orchestrated the attack on the nursery that resulted in her death. This connection resulted in showing us their relationship continue to grow, from being roommates who hated each other to lovers. I loved seeing it come together because it was fun to watch the commentary between both of them as they uncovered the truth. It was entertaining, a breath of fresh air that I didn’t realize I needed. And it made moments in the story when things were turning weird more enjoyable for me. I could see the love for each other with each page I read and just couldn’t wait to watch their relationship continue to grow.

Carry On Simon Snow and Baz Pitch Because We Match Picture
Via Pinterest 

What also made Carry On an enjoyable read for me was the different points of view. I enjoyed reading this story from all of the character’s perspectives. It allowed me a better understanding of what was going on, gave me a clue about things I didn’t know before. It also made this book even more interesting because we were given access to these character’s thoughts and feelings, given an understanding as to what they were doing and why. I liked having access to all of the characters in this way because it allowed me to immerse myself even further into the story. It’s also different from any other fantasy novel I’ve read because there’s usually only one perspective that you have access to.

While Carry On is definitely a page turner, there were some elements when it came to the story that I disliked. For one, I thought the names of the spells in this world was ridiculous. I don’t know what Rowell was thinking when she came up with that idea, but it didn’t make sense to me. Especially because it wasn’t at all realistic to what magic is normally like in books. While this allows her world to be uniquely different, I don’t see how these different incantations would even be justified for someone with magic to say. I don’t know if she thought of this as a way to make fun of magic or something, but I just don’t see why magic wielders would have incantations that are nursery rhymes or common sayings that someone normal could say. That sounds like it could potentially lead to an accident, an incident that very easily could’ve been prevented.

I also wasn’t particularly fond of Agatha’s character. I felt like she acted throughout the story like she was above everyone else and just didn’t seem to care about the people she had called friends for the past seven years. Throughout Carry On, she was completely selfish, focusing only on the things that affected her life. She didn’t seem at all remotely interested in keeping up a friendship with Simon and Penelope, yet felt like she could criticize both of them for working with Baz to uncover the truth about his mother’s death. I felt like her character just existed in the story, but didn’t really belong. She was just in the story, wasting space that could’ve been better spent on other characters that played a crucial role in the overall plot.  I just didn’t like Agatha and wish she wasn’t a part of the story at all.

While this book was definitely a page turner for me, another criticism I have is that the overall plot was okay. It definitely had quite a chunk of holes in it that made it difficult to enjoy it as much as I’d have liked. I think part of the problem for me is that Simon Snow’s story is rushed. The whole plot structure in this story runs a little too fast, leaving very little room for making sure nothings being left out. I think part of the reason this is even a problem is because I feel like this story should’ve been spread out into multiple books. That would’ve given Rowell the chance to get the structure and story together and figure out how to end it. Instead, this story is at the final chapter of Simon Snow’s whole story. You learn most of what Carry On is about if you’ve read Fangirl, but I don’t think it’s enough because we miss out on all of the other years Simon Snow is at Watford. You get bits and pieces of some of the important details, but it’s not enough for us to just jump to the finale and see how everything will end for Simon Snow, which by the way is actually pretty disappointing too. With the plot, it feels like you’re missing something, yet not missing anything at all. It would for me be like only reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the Harry Potter series and expecting to know every detail of the whole series without reading any of the other books. I feel like we miss too much and that the details we are given aren’t enough and have holes in them that don’t really connect the story.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Carry On much more than Fangirl. But because of the amount of criticisms I found myself having about it, it would’ve been unfair to give it a higher rating. But that doesn’t make it any less of a good read for those who want to be taken away to a magical world or for people who want to read about two boys falling in love.

 

 

Book Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Original Screenplay Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut is captured in this exciting hardcover edition of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay.

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best.

Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.

As a whole, I enjoyed reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The story and characters were interesting, making me want to continue reading to find out what happened next. I especially enjoyed reading about all of the fantastic creatures Newt Scamander had in his suitcase. They really made the story magical and interesting for me. All of the creatures that escaped had different quirks, which is what helped Newt Scamander figure out where they’d be in New York. I also liked all of the characters in this story and how they worked together to get the magical creatures back in Newt’s suitcase.

Another feature of this book I particularly enjoyed was seeing how the magical world worked in America. As an American myself, when I read the Harry Potter series, I always wondered how different the magical world would be in America. How non magic folk and witches and wizards would interact. However, the way it’s incorporated in this book is different from what I expected. But at the same time, I’m not quite as surprised. It’s different because the setting for this book takes place in a different time period than the Harry Potter series. The events in this book actually take place long before Harry Potter is born, at a time when non magic and magic folk are at odds with each other. At a time when witches and wizards have to hide who they are for fear that knowing of their existence will cause a war. I find this to be an interesting time point for these events to take place because it makes the story that much more riveting to read so that you can find out what happens. It’s also interesting to see magic folks having to hide who they are for fear of exposure and threat to the safety of the world. There’s just something about knowing everything is at stake that makes this even more interesting to read.

I also find that this book has a beautiful cover. I like the way it looks because it draws me in. Now I normally don’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes when you find a book and it has a really nice cover, you just have to read it. For me, this was one of those books. I also liked the cute little illustrations you could find in between the pages. Seeing some of the creatures illustrated in the book was really nice because it added something to the pages for me.  I also liked hearing this story told as a screenplay. I found this format of the story to be very interesting because it allowed you as the reader to notice things you probably wouldn’t have if J.K. Rowling had written it as a novel. While I didn’t like this format when I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, since this screenplay isn’t a part of a series I feel like it fits better here.

However, there are a lot of things about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that I’m critical about that made this screenplay not as much of an enjoyable read for me. Unfortunately, I’ve already seen the film based on this screenplay so I already knew about all of the events that took place in the story before reading it. And the movie adaptation of the screenplay is exactly the same so it made it hard for me to enjoy reading this because I already knew what happened. Usually when I hear a book is being made into a film, I try to read the book before seeing the movie because I don’t want the film to ruin my reading experience. Part of that is while most of the time the book and movie adaptations are completely different, I worry that there’ll still be enough similarities that the film will end up ruining the book for me. That is why I don’t mind there being differences between a book and its film adaptation. However, I saw the film a while ago, but the plot is still fresh in my mind. So it was harder for me to enjoy this book because I remembered everything that happened. I believe if I’d read this before going to see the movie, my opinion of it would be different.

Another criticism I have for this book is the relationships J.K. Rowling made between the main characters. I felt like they were forced, as if she was trying to make this story a romance along with fantasy. In the film, it wasn’t quite so bad but in the screenplay, it’s very easy to notice. Because while I like the two pairings she created, I just feel like they aren’t meant to be. Especially the relationship that starts to form between Queenie and Jacob. It’s a relationship that just doesn’t seem realistic to me. I think part of it is because you know it’s not meant to be since Jacob isn’t a part of the wizarding world.

I also would’ve liked to have learned a little bit more about Newt Scamander and the creatures he has in his suitcase. He’s one of my favorite characters in the story so with each page I wanted to learn more about him and how he became interested in magical creatures. I also wanted to learn more about the creatures he collected. I know J.K. Rowling created a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them glossary long before she wrote this screenplay. But I think it would’ve been nice to hear more from Newt in the story about these creatures. Maybe even have some background of how he found them to give us a perspective of why they mean so much to him.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  But there were a couple things with the story I wish were included that would’ve made me enjoy it even more. Plus, I wish I hadn’t already seen the movie adaptation too so that I could feel like I’m coming to this story with new eyes. But I do highly recommend this story to those who’ve read the Harry Potter series and want to see more from the wizarding world by J.K. Rowling. Just make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did when you read it.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Shotgun Arcana (Golgotha #2)

The Shotgun Arcana Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

R.S. Belcher’s debut novel,The Six-Gun Tarot, was enthusiastically greeted by critics and readers, who praised its wildly inventive mixture of dark fantasy, steampunk, and the Wild West. Now Belcher returns to Golgotha, Nevada, a bustling frontier town that hides more than its fair share of unnatural secrets.

1870. A haven for the blessed and the damned, including a fallen angel, a mad scientist, a pirate queen, and a deputy who is kin to coyotes, Golgotha has come through many nightmarish trials, but now an army of thirty-two outlaws, lunatics, serial killers, and cannibals are converging on the town, drawn by a grisly relic that dates back to the Donner Party…and the dawn of humanity.

Sheriff Jon Highfather and his deputies already have their hands full dealing with train robbers, a mysterious series of brutal murders, and the usual outbreaks of weirdness.  But with thirty-two of the most vicious killers on Earth riding into Golgotha in just a few day’s time, the town and its people will be tested as never before—and some of them will never be the same.

The Shotgun Arcana is even more spectacularly ambitious and imaginative than The Six-Gun Tarot, and confirms R. S. Belcher’s status as a rising star.

 As someone whose reading R.S. Belcher for the first time, this book was an amazing read. Part of the reason I enjoyed it so much is because this book has an abundance of genres. Its part western, steampunk, fantasy, sci-fi, and history all in one. But it’s done in a way where you’d enjoy the story, even if one of the genres mentioned doesn’t always suit your fancy. These genres also aren’t too overwhelming in the story to where one overtakes all the others. They all flow together, make sense with how they are incorporated into the storyline.

Another thing I enjoyed about reading The Shotgun Arcana is you don’t have to read the books in this series in order and the shift in character perspectives. I’ve never read The Six-Gun Tarot, which is supposed to be the first book in this series. But I can still follow along to the storyline because you don’t need to read the first book in this series to understand the characters and events that happen. This is something I appreciate because with some book series, you have to read the books in order to understand what’s going on. But with this series, you can read the books separately and still get a good grasp on what’s happening to the characters. I also like that Belcher had each chapter covered by a different characters point of view. There are quite a lot of characters in this story, each with their own unique lives. So it was nice seeing all of these characters point of view, and seeing how their storyline connects with the overall picture.

What I also enjoyed about this book is seeing some powerful female figures in the story. All of the women in this story grew up during a time when women were still considered property, and didn’t have access to their own funds. But all of the women in this story were pretty level headed and strong, despite the way some of their male counterparts treated them. My favorite female characters in this book were Maude Stapleton and Kate Warne. I like them both because they were the fiercest characters in the book, but in different ways.  Most of Maude’s abilities involve elements of the supernatural while Kate Warne is a part of the law. But both characters used their strengths to their advantage, overcoming obstacles that made them the strong women in this book I enjoyed reading about.

I also appreciate that the story didn’t shy away from tough subject matters, like including racism through Mutt’s character. You see this in The Shotgun Arcana through the amount of disrespect some of the townspeople in Golgotha treat him despite that he’s one of the sheriffs in the town. Belcher also brings up interracial relationships with Mutt through his interest in Maude. Every time the two of them are seen talking together, people are always watching them, wanting to make comments about the two of them being together. There’s even a part in the story where Mutt and Maude go on a date and some of the townspeople see Mutt touch Maude so they want to hang him in a tree. What I appreciate about all this is that Mutt doesn’t let any of it get him down. While it’s a terrible thing for anyone to have to deal with, Mutt uses it to make himself a stronger and even better person. So while it’s a horrible thing to see in this book, I’m glad they include it because of the way Mutt handles it.

I also appreciate that this book has a lot of mythological things in it too, such as human characters who are actually angels. You see this through the characters of Biqa and Raziel, both angels in exile for different reasons. Both play a central role in the overall plot of The Shotgun Arcana, and I enjoy seeing them in this book because I find it to be an interesting element to include in the story.

The one thing I didn’t enjoy when reading this book is that I sometimes found the storyline to be a little overwhelming. Part of it was due to the back and forth between different characters. But I also feel like there’s so much going on in this book that it can be overwhelming for some to follow. The chapters that made me feel this way in particular are the ones that give background information about some of the villains who join forces with Raziel to try and take over Golgotha. While I found this information to be enlightening/useful, I also felt like these chapters added nothing to the story. All this information was useful, but I just didn’t see the point of adding these chapters when Belcher could’ve very easily mentioned this information when the characters actually came into play in the story. I felt like that would’ve definitely been a better way to handle them because I honestly forgot the information I read about them once these characters were finally introduced into the story.

But otherwise, I really enjoyed reading The Shotgun Arcana. It’s quite an interesting page turner that has a little bit of everything for those who don’t like reading books with one particular genre. But it also has enough action to get you wanting to see what happens next. I highly recommend this book, and hope to read the rest of the books in the series in the future.

 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

I know I generally don’t write about movies on my blog, but the original Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney films from my childhood. So I found it only fitting to write a review of this new adaptation that’s hit the big screen. 

Released in 2017, Beauty and the Beast is centered around a young eccentric girl named Belle and the habitants of an enchanted castle. When the Beast in the castle takes Belle’s father as his prisoner, Belle takes her father’s place to live out the rest of her days in the castle. At first she finds the Beast unruly but as time continues on, she begins to see the Beast for the human he really is. 

This adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is equal parts fantasy and musical, which is one of the things I love about this adaptation of the original fairy tale. The fantasy elements are especially brought to life with the spell the Enchantress put on the castle and it’s inhabitants. All of the characters who live in the castle have been transformed into different household objects that can be found in a castle while the Prince is changed into a hideous Beast due to his horrible treatment of a woman whose appearance was very deceiving. The rose also held a special significance to this because if the Beast didn’t learn to love and be loved in return by the time the last rose petal fell, he and the other inhabitants would be stuck the way they are forever. Of course, you already know this if you’ve seen the original film, but I really find it to be a good example of how fantasy comes to life in this story. 

Another element I’ve enjoyed from this adaptation is all of the musical numbers, both familiar and new. The songs that they included from the original made me feel nostalgic, like I was traveling back to my childhood. It was nice because it made the movie that much more enjoyable for me to watch. But I also appreciated that they included some new songs too. I felt like it was a good way to remind the audience that this isn’t the original animated movie, that this adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was unique in its own way. I also found these new songs made the overall story that much more enjoyable to me. 

What I enjoyed the most about this film is the back story they give you about Belle and what happened to her mother. As a part of the audience, your never told exactly what happened to her mother, but are shown throughout the movie what happened as if you are right there when the chain of events unfold. They also do this in the beginning of the film too when the Beast is still the Prince. They show him not accepting the Enchantress into his castle and you watch as he and the rest of the crew transform. But they also tell you a little bit about what happened to the Beast’s mother too to give you an understanding of his character. I love that they added this background information for the characters because this information was never given in the animated film. 

One of my favorite things about this movie is seeing the Beast and Belle fall in love. The reason I love their romance is the overall message the story tells about love and appearances. It’s the message not to judge by appearances, that looks aren’t the best to look for in a life partner and that you never know who you’ll fall in love with. This message is important because it’s the truth. You don’t know who you’ll end up falling in love with or what the person you’ll fall in love with will look like. So when looking for a partner, don’t look for appearances, see who they are as a person. 

The one small criticism I have for Beauty and the Beast is that there are some awkward pauses in the film, both in the dialogue and songs. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed them when watching but I did and they bothered me, for some reason. 

But other than that, I really enjoyed this movie so much. Seeing the Beast and Belle’s love story come to life on the big screen in real life filming was a nice breath of fresh air. I was not at all disappointed to see one of my favorite movies from my childhood brought to life and can’t wait to see it again soon. I really enjoyed every minute of it and was sad to see it all end. 

Book Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) 

Rating: 4 stars

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.

Like Throne of Glass, I found that I enjoyed reading this book. I found the story to be captivating, wanting to find out what Celaena would do after the competition. She is exactly the same character I remember from this book’s predecessor, except she does go through some development of her own whenever an unfortunate event occurs with one of her dearest friends in the castle. Her development was a shift I never saw coming and made me appreciate her character even more.  

One element of Crown of Midnight I enjoyed was the emotional pull I felt as events unraveled. A lot of things happened in this book. While I sometimes had a hard time keeping track of everything, I felt like there was a lot more deeper emotions in this one than I experienced in Throne of Glass. I think part of it is because as Celaena continues to stay at the castle, she starts becoming closer to the people around her. To the point when something happens to them, she does everything in her power to protect those who she holds dear. 

I also enjoyed seeing the politics at play in this series. Celaena is conflicted throughout about her actions and that the king will find out what she’s done. She’s stuck between making a lot of serious choices, resulting in consequences occurring that shake up her character. In this book, we finally see an emotional side to Celaena that we haven’t experienced before. She feels pain, regret and anger at some of the choices she’s made, but ends up continuing to do everything in her power to fix her wrongs. To the point where some of her serious relationships falter due to the hurt and pain she’s experiencing. 

Another favorite part of this book for me was seeing Dorian’s character continue to grow. He’s the king’s son, yet he’s completely different from his father altogether. The way his development progressed surprised me because Maas changed him in ways I didn’t see coming. But they are changes that made sense to me in the overall story. 

Like with Throne of Glass, so much happens in this book, which I see as both a good and bad thing. It’s good because the story is progressing in ways I didn’t see coming. But it’s bad because it can sometimes make it hard to continue reading, due to the overwhelming amount of information presented. 

I also found myself wondering what the king’s perspective is of everything going on. Yes, I get he’s not heavily involved with some of these events, but they do impact him too. Especially the magical elements that are included in the story. I know he’s technically the villain so he’s not going to have a bigger role in the story arch until things really start rolling, but I think it would’ve been nice to see what his perspective is of what’s going on in his castle. It’s his kingdom so I feel like he’d definitely have some clue as to what’s going on at some point in the story. 

However, Crown of Midnight  was still a fantastic read. I enjoyed all of the fantasy elements in the story and I feel like the characters are continuing to make me invested in what’s going to happen next. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series to see where Celaena’s journey takes her.  

Book Review: Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2)

                                                                

                                               Rating: 3 stars

The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dream world to save the city?

Lair of Dreams was a great read for me because the story and characters made me want to find out more. I enjoyed this book because the story centered around the ability for Diviners to walk through dreams. In particular, it centered around my favorite character’s friend Henry and introduced us to Ling, both whom can walk through dreams. I found this part of the story to be interesting because readers found out more about Henry and also learned how the dream world played a role in the events that followed. I also find dreams to be a fascinating subject, which allowed me to enjoy this book even more. Especially when Ling discovered a new ability she could harness in the dream world. I liked learning Henry could walk through dreams because it’s a nice tidbit of information that Libba Bray didn’t include in The Diviners. It also allowed me to learn more about his character before he and Theta had become friends. I also liked learning more about Theta and how she plays an important role in the story. 

I also enjoyed this story because the dream world felt so real. Bray really did a good job of making dreams so powerful that nobody would want to wake up from them. She really made the place Henry and Ling went to feel so real as if I was there myself. But she also did well at showing the dark side of dreaming and how it can affect the mind. This can be seen through Henry who starts visiting the dream world more frequently because the love of his life is there. He then starts staying in the dream world for longer periods of time to the point where it affects his everyday life. You as the reader also see this through the sleeping sickness. This sickness is the main root of our character’s problems as the sickness spreads and affects one of their own. It’s up to them to stop the cause before the sickness can spread through the whole city. 

I also enjoy the mystery of the series surrounding Project Buffalo and Blind Bill. Bray gives us little details about Project Buffalo that make us continue to be invested in the series. I also like the way Blind Bill’s character is portrayed and can’t wait to find out what his main role will be in the rest of the series. 

While I don’t particularly like the ending of Lair of Dreams, it has many more flaws that’ve caught my attention. One of my biggest criticisms of this book is Evie’s character. In The Diviners, I really didn’t mind her character too much. However, I feel like she’s devolved since then. She’s now famous because of her powers and goes on the radio to show off her ability to read objects. She also no longer wants anything to do with her uncle and starts going to parties almost every night because of her celeb status. I feel like all of these things made me like her character less because she becomes shallow, vain and selfish and allows her fame to get to her head. While I understand why she’s doing all of these things, I just had a hard time sympathizing with her and wanting to read her role in this book. She becomes so caught up in city life she fails to realize how much danger she and the people she loves are in, causing her not to play as much of a vital role in the story. 

I also disliked the role Will’s character plays in the story. I hate it because Bray doesn’t really tell us where he’s gone off to and the only time we see his character after he leaves causes the reader quite a bit of confusion. I find this to be a serious flaw in the story because it leaves me with a lot of questions that don’t get answered by the end of the book. It would’ve been nice to have some answers instead of feeling more confused than when I started. 

While I very much enjoyed reading Lair of  Dreams, there were so many issues I had with it that I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I’d hoped. 

Book Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

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Rating: 4 stars

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

I remember the first time I read this book. My sister had come home to visit from college and gave me a copy, telling me a friend of hers from school thought I’d enjoy it. I remember reading it, feeling completely mesmerized by the story within its pages, wanting to find out what happened next to Celaena. Reading Throne of Glass again, I still remember those feelings, which have returned just as deeply.

The first book in a series I have yet to continue reading, Throne of Glass made me wonder what it would be like living as an assassin. An assassin well-known for her abilities, Celaena is more than she appears, which is why I enjoy her character so much. She’s very headstrong, good with any weapon in existence, and knowledgeable about the world she lives in. Even though she’s an assassin, she cares very much about protecting the people around her, despite the circumstances she’s currently dealing with. While at times I could find the way she talked to certain characters annoying, I overall enjoyed seeing such a strong character that I can’t wait to see how she continues to develop in the rest of the series.

I also enjoyed seeing this book from Dorian and Chaol’s point of view. Having their points of view allowed the reader to better understand their characters and how they both changed as the competition continued. While both Dorian and Chaol’s loyalty belongs to the kingdom, it gets tested when Celaena’s life is at stake during the final moments of the competition. I also loved their perspectives because you could see how conflicted both characters could be. As prince of the kingdom, Dorian knew he shouldn’t trust Celaena, but at the same time you could see the relationship he had with his father was pretty rough. This resulted in him being conflicted between doing what was right for the kingdom versus his own happiness, which I believe will continue to play an important role in the series as it continues.

I enjoyed reading this book too because of the competition and how magic came to play in the story with the competitor’s mysterious deaths. Sarah J. Maas did a wonderful job at weaving both these elements together to create a unique story that keeps the reader wondering what happens next. However, I did sometimes find these elements could be a little too much because I felt like there was already a lot going on in the story. But at the same time, Maas does a good job of connecting these two things together in order to allow more possibilities to exist in the world Celaena lives in.

I overall enjoy Throne of Glass because it kept me coming back for more. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series to find out what Celaena does next.

Book Review: The Sight (The Sight #1)

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Rating: 4 stars

In the shadow of an abandoned castle, a wolf pack seeks shelter. The she-wolf’s pups will not be able to survive the harsh Transylvanian winter. And they are being stalked by a lone wolf, Morgra, possessed of a mysterious and terrifying power known as the Sight. Morgra knows that one of the pups born beneath the castle holds a key to power even stronger than her own power that could give her control of this world and the next. But the pack she hunts will do anything to protect their own, even if it means setting in motion a battle that will involve all of nature, including the creature the wolves fear the most: Man.

I remember the first time I read this novel I was in middle school. I don’t remember how I came upon it. What I do know is that the cover intrigued me and made me interested in reading the story between its pages. And so I did, several times throughout middle school and high school. It’s a story I loved reading back in those days that I felt the need to revisit.

Even though I’ve read The Sight before, I found my love for it is still there. The story is just as beautiful and enchanting as when I last read it. It’s rich in detail about wolves, making it clear David Clement-Davies did his research on the wolf pack hierarchy. As someone who finds wolves to be fascinating and beautiful creatures, the story in this book’s pages whispers to me and reminds me of why I love stories with high elements of fantasy.

I love this book too because of those fantasy elements. The story centers around this mysterious power known as the Sight. This power is rare, wolves are born with it and it allows them the ability to do things like see the future through the water’s reflection or seeing things through a bird’s eyes. This power adds a unique element to this story that intrigues the reader into wanting to find out how this ability plays out in this novel. It’s at the center of the whole universe these characters live in and makes me view wolves in a completely different way.

The storytelling in The Sight is very rich in detail and the characters are deeply developed in their own unique ways. My favorite character development in this story can be seen with Larka’s brother Fell who plays a very important role in this novel and the sequel that follows it. He’s the complete opposite of Larka, both in physical appearance and mentality. While Larka’s fur in color is white, he’s completely black. While Larka is the light of this novel, Fell’s character takes a drastic turn you don’t see coming. But in the end, he’s saved by Larka’s love for him when she realizes who he’s become. He plays an important role in the story that causes his character to shift in unexpected ways but that makes changes in his life for the better, leading up to him being in charge of his own destiny.

In this novel however, there were two things I didn’t like about it. I wasn’t particularly pleased that Clement-Davies had different names for the animals in the story, like the Omega wolves in a pack also being known as Silka. While I understand the author’s need to add some uniqueness to the story, I found that having these names without any real explanation to their origins can cause some confusion to readers like me, but also reduce his research credibility. These names also didn’t add anything to the story so I wasn’t able to really see why they had to be included.

I also have a love-hate relationship with the ending. While I understand why Larka’s sacrifice is necessary to keeping everyone free, it makes it feel like what she did was all for nothing. But at the same time, I understand that it was her destiny and she did what she felt was necessary for the sake of everyone else. It still didn’t make it easier for me though to accept, despite how many times I’ve read this story. It’s the one aspect of the novel I sometimes wish was different, but am also grateful because we wouldn’t have the sequel without it.

Despite these two things, The Sight is a beautifully crafted story, rich in folklore and fantasy that I find myself reading over and over again. It’s one of my favorite stories and I highly recommend it to any fantasy and wolf lover.

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