QUEEN OF SHADOWS (Throne of Glass, #4): Review

18006496Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 1, 2015
Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance
Pages: 648
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Goodreads | Audible

Rating: ★★★½


Fun fact: I almost didn’t finish this book. I got about 40 pages in, had it up to my knuckles with Aelin’s moodiness, and put the book down, determined not to pick it up again if I had to read an entire book’s worth of her PMS-ing and being all haughty about it.

But I did end up returning to it, and I found some very enjoyable things: 1) the developing dynamic between our growing team of characters, including Aedion and Lysandra; 2) the growing tension and changing relationship between Rowan and Aelin; 3) how Aelin’s two worlds are finally converging and how more pieces are finally starting to come together (especially in the Assassin’s Keep); 4) everything about Manon, the Blackbeaks, and the wyverns and how those pieces are starting to connect.

It’s an eventful book, even if it mainly serves as the transition book to Empire of Storms, as the set-up for a bigger battle and much higher stakes. Don’t let Aelin’s terrible attitude turn you off, because there are a lot of other things you won’t want to miss out on in this book, if you can just tolerate her.

 

 

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THE CRUCIBLE: Review

17250The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Published by Penguin Classics on March 25, 2003 (first published 1953)
Genres: historical fiction, play, classics
Pages: 143
Format: Paperback
AmazonGoodreads | Audible

Rating: ★★★


This play really messed with me. I read it for school, and, whether because of its stirring monologues or the time period in which it was set (as long as the Salem Trials’ historical parallels to the Red Scare, which this play was written in response to), I was invested in it.

You start by sympathizing one character, and then, as soon as you hear something from another, you contemplate changing your allegiance, because this is a war, of sorts, and, if you sympathize with one character, you cannot sympathize with the other. Nobody can love Abigail and John Proctor. As the play progresses and each character makes increasingly drastic decisions, loving both grows more and more impossible. I was practically pulling my hair out in hopes that this would resolve well, because, despite his mistakes, John seems like a good person, and, while I’m all for retribution, wrongful death to obtain said retribution doesn’t fly with me–not when it razes a community on this level and affects so many people personally.

This play does not resolve well. In fact, it doesn’t really resolve; it just sort of…ends. And that’s what this two stars is for, really. I don’t need happy endings, but I do need concrete ones. There was no closure here, and that made me really disappointed, because the play just keeps building and building and building in character guilt and body count and harsh rhetoric, and you’re waiting for a momentous decision that doesn’t end up happening. So I felt a little cheated.

I want to say I’ll read this again. It might not be for a while, because I have a lot of other things I want to read. But eventually–whether because of the nostalgia, or because I maybe actually enjoyed it–I think I’d like to return to it. Perhaps I can appreciate it more, because, now that I know how it ends, I won’t expect certain things the play won’t give me.

So that’s my advice to you: Do not expect a happy ending. Do not expect closure. Expect drama; expect back-stabbing; expect lies and many, many false accusations. Expect some very quotable lines. Enjoy the ride, but don’t expect you’ll end up somewhere better after it’s all over.

HEIR OF FIRE (Throne of Glass, #3): Review 

20658347Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 2, 2014
Genres: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 565
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Goodreads | Audible

Rating: ★★★★


This is it. This is the Throne of Glass novel that finally caught my attention.

Maybe it was the change in setting. Maybe it was the change in focus, the introduction of new customs and peoples and creatures and characters. But a shift in dynamic happened in this book for me that alerted me to the potential this series had…and the change that was coming.

I loved seeing Aelin challenged. She’s talented, but she’s also a haughty brat (as seen quite prevalently in Queen of Shadows), and seeing her have to prove herself and sharpen her skills to learn how to wield her inner magic was entertaining and provided some good character growth. Rowan’s strict training and seeming lack of compassion angered me at first, but Aelin stepped up to the challenge, and reading the two of them butting heads was an engaging experience.

Short story shorter: Though I can’t remember specifics (because this series is long and so are the books in it), this book was my favorite out of the Throne of Glass series so far besides Empire of Storms due to the prowess it promises and the maturity it signals for Maas as a fantasy writer. If you can make it this far in the series, I’d say you’re in good hands.

Mood & Music Monday: 12/4/17

Hello, friends, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday! (Finally!)

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? Okay, so I love The Killers. I’ve loved their music for years. But I haven’t listened to their latest album in full yet, so I’m finally doing that now. The first song is…hmm. But I like “The Man” and “Run For Cover,” so I’m excited to hear the rest.

What are you reading? I FINISHED WUTHERING HEIGHTS. GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST. Still working my way through the rest of the books on my currently-reading shelf.

What are you drinking? Water, hot chocolate, yah know. Christmasy drinks.

Any goals for this week? Mainly to read stuff. I have a few books due at the library soon, and I want to get them out of the way so I can focus on others. Wish me luck!

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

DREAMLAND: Review

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Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Published by Speak on May 11, 2004 (first published September 1, 2000)
Genres: young adult, contemporary romance, abuse
Pages: 250
Format: Paperback
Amazon Goodreads | Audible

Rating: ★★


You all know how I feel about Sarah Dessen; her books remind me of Hallmark movies. You have the same set-up–middle-class high school girl must navigate growing pains, controlling parents with high expectations, and family issues while falling in love–typically in the same setting (Lakeview, NC).

However, this book features something other Sarah Dessen books don’t: an abusive relationship between the main character and her love interest. Both for book research, and to explore some of her earlier work (which I’ve heard is more original), I checked this out.

This is one of three YA books I’ve read that feature abusive relationships (again, for book research), and I can say with confidence that this was the weakest of the three.

There’s a good rationale for why Caitlin be drawn to Rogerson (gosh, that name is so stilted and strange, I couldn’t take him seriously) and everything he stands for: Rogerson is the antithesis of the academically-well rounded, extracurricular-filled future Caitlin’s parents have planned for her as the successor to her sister’s legacy; and, because Caitlin has grown up in her sister’s shadow, she sees rebelling against these things as her way to distinguish herself from her sister and discover herself. Being with someone like Rogerson allows for the risky adventuring Caitlin pictures as part of that self-discovering process. That makes sense.

But, other than that, I didn’t feel Caitlin’s attraction to Rogerson at all. I’m not saying I need to be attracted to Rogerson; I just need to feel that she cares for him. But I didn’t, due to an overload of telling instead of showing.

Caitlin tells us a lot about her escapades with Rogerson, and a lot is summed up or recapped instead of shown to us, which makes for a brief book that feels like a long (and boring) read. When the fallout finally happened, I was glad Caitlin was out of the cycle, but I didn’t feel anything for her, because, the whole time, I’d been thinking, “Well, that’s a dumb decision” instead of being able to sympathize with her viewpoint. I couldn’t connect with her because, while I could understand the progression of the relationship, I didn’t really get to know her or Rogerson well enough to feel the progression along with Caitlin. And that left me feeling empty more than anything else.

Overall: a great set-up, but I don’t feel impacted in the slightest after reading it, and I don’t feel like the time I spent on it was worth it.

WE CAN BE MENDED (Divergent, #3.5): Review

we-can-be-mended-large-coverWe Can Be Mended (Divergent, #3.5) by Veronica Roth
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 17, 2017
Genres: young adult science fiction, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, romance, short story

Amazon Goodreads | Audible

Rating:  (but I’d give it zero stars if I could)


I was okay with the ending of Allegiant. I didn’t want the series to end the way it did, and I didn’t like the decisions Roth made regarding some big series/world-building reveals because they didn’t make scientific sense to me, but the ending of the book, to me, was powerful. It was emotional, it was gripping, it was well-written, and I felt it did justice to Tris and Four, even if it could have been avoided. Given their characters and their flaws, that ending just made sense to me.

This “epilogue,” however, does not.

We don’t need an epilogue. I don’t need to know how Four is feeling five years later; that was already hinted at in the last pages of Allegiant. By adding on more story after the supposed end of the series–going in and retying what was already resolved–Roth runs the risk of ruining the effect of Allegiant‘s twist.

Which she did with this epilogue. Royally.

I was so excited for more from Four (I loved the short stories from his point of view, and he’s my favorite character in the series) that I pre-ordered Carve the Mark (which I’d had plans to read eventually, anyway, so this seemed like a win-win) just to have the opportunity to read this short story. But I didn’t realize until later what the ramifications of revisiting this world in a narrative occurring after the main series ends would be.

I won’t spoil anything for you, but I will say this: If FourTris is your OTP in every sense of the term, DO NOT READ THIS. Not only will it ruin the powerful ending of Allegiant by needlessly drawing out the narrative; it will shatter your already-wounded shipping heart.

“But I want to know how Four’s doing!” you say. “I want some closure for him!”

Yeah, I did, too. But this short story doesn’t give it. The whole thing–no longer than 40 pages half the size of a Vanity Fair napkin–serves only one purpose: to introduce another development in the story that you will not appreciate if you loved Tris and Four.

Yes, I want him to be happy and to heal and to move on. But the decisions he makes in this short story don’t correlate with the character we’ve known for three books and over 1,000 pages. Roth already showed him accepting his circumstances at the end of Allegiant. We didn’t need to see more of that here, and the things that happen in this short story don’t just disregard what occurred in the original series; these developments nullify what was, in my opinion, the strongest part of this series, the component that kept me reading because it was so unlike anything I’d ever read in YA literature. And now I can’t view the rest of the series the same way, because I know that component–my favorite part of it–is no longer canon.

Recovery is good. Healing is good. But the developments used in this short story to facilitate that process were pointless and discouraging. I wish I’d never read this short story. I wish I could forget its contents and the fact that it exists.

I have never said that about a book before. And I’m sorry that, if I had to say it about a book, it had to be this one.

Mood & Music Monday: 11/27/17

Hello, friends, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday! (Finally!)

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? I just recently started getting more into Lord Huron, and I love what I’m hearing. Their sound makes me want to hop in a car and drive to Montana and snow and never, ever come back. “Fool For Love” is one of my favorites.

What are you reading? Right now, I’m reading A Game of Thrones, Tower of Dawn, The Assassin’s BladeWuthering Heights, and Now I Rise. I finished Strange the Dreamer yesterday, and I really enjoyed it! I don’t plan to finish all of these books immediately (or at once), but I do plan to finish them soon.

What are you drinking? I’m gonna make myself hot chocolate soon. Stay tuned. >:)

Any goals for this week? *sighs* I have an ambitious list: Finish A Game of Thrones and Tower of Dawn for Tome Topple, winning NaNoWriMo, writing several articles for my school’s online news site, and updating this blog by writing some reviews. Should I add “saving the world” onto that list, too, you think?

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?