A Court of Wings and Ruin: Initial Impressions

Squeeee!!!!! I got my copy of ACOWAR in the mail yesterday, and I’ll tell you right now – I read that sucker in 3 hours flat. It was so good. I am still an incoherent mess 12 hours later.

First Impressions? SJM outdid herself. She really truly did. While ACOMAF will always hold a special place in my heart, ACOWAR is quite possibly on that pedestal with it. I’m not sure yet, because I need to reread, absord, and just come to terms with just how good that book really was.

But. The feels. 

Ahem. I will be posting a full review later, probably not this week or the next, because they’re AP Exam Weeks, but definitely soon after that. I will try to pop in and out a little during these weeks, but I’ll be a sleep deprived incoherent mess. 🙂

ACOWAR Countdown: 6 Days Left

Only 6 more days left. That’s it. I can’t wait before I finally have the book in my hands, and can inhale that smell unique to a great books, feel the weight of it in my palm . . .
Sorry got lost there for a second. But. I have excellent news for you!

 Sarah J. Maas finally released her ACOWAR excerpt! It’s over here. Go check it out now!

7 Days Until A Court of Wings and Ruin

So. I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but I’m a HUGE Sarah J. Maas fan. She, for those unfortunate souls who have not been introduced to her work, is a goddess who is … I can’t think of a single adjective that will do adequate justice to the beauty that is her.

Let me try to describe her.

Most authors have a weak point, world building, character development, the story arcs, something. Sarah J. Maas doesn’t have this issue. Everything she writes is just about perfect. That isn’t to say that she doesn’t make mistakes, she does, but the pure awesomeness of the rest of her work outweighs the small, tiny really, blunders she makes.

This is seen nowhere better than in her plot twists. The littlest of things the smallest of details, they change ENOURMOUS things. I swear, she could have one of her characters dye her hair and have it be a secret message, a trap, and a disguise all while you think it’s just for vanity. And the reveal will come at the moment you least expect it and leave you just gaping

All of this is just my opinion of course, but, I dare you to read her works and not feel the way I do, or at least something close.

To prepare for the third book in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorn and Roses series, j will be rereading the first two books and posting my reviews here. These reviews, unlike what I normally post, will be full of spoilers, and theories for ACOWAR.

Let the reading begin!

When Our Worlds Collide by Kellie Wallace

When Our Worlds Collide by [Wallace, Kellie]As one city’s fate hangs in the balance, a woman’s destiny is about to be determined…

Amira Frost is forced to watch her home be invaded by the warmonger state, Argos. Divided into multiple class zones, the city’s once peaceful existence is threatened.
When an opportunity arises for Amira to get close to the General, she accepts with the hope that her new position as his personal food taster can help reclaim the municipality, but she is pulled deeper into his regime than she initially anticipated.

For every controlling force, a resistance is born…

The Ravens’ elusive leader, Grayson Roe, has one goal—to lead the resistance to victory against the barbaric military. Dedicated and ruthless, he sets out to use Amira to their advantage by offering her a proposal she’s unable to refuse.
Nothing will stop him from regaining control over his city and its people—not even the dark haired beauty whose loyalty seems questionable.

A city threatens to fall and a decision needs to be made…

As the battle rages, Amira is caught between two opposing forces and reevaluates her allegiance when her loyalty is tested. Her home is under attack, her friends and family are dying, and she is faced with a grueling decision that has the power to save or bring down an entire city.

When worlds collide, she must choose between saving her home or surrendering to the one man who threatens to destroy it all—including her.

When I picked up this book, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting. It definitely wasn’t what I got.

When Our Worlds Collide is a novel loosely based on war occupied France during WWII. Amira is the girl caught between loyalty to her homeland, and the desire to keep her family safe. She is the girl who has to choose between the man who took over her land, and the man trying to free it. And this choice is not as easy as it might seem.

Background

This story begins with Amira walking to the market. Kellie Wallace makes this seemingly simple task into a journey of exploration. You learn the history of the city, the changes made in the city since the occupation, the terror and the fear of the people in the city, and how they are fighting back. And you learn all of this in a manner that is relatively smooth and relevant to the storyline. As the story progresses this theme continues, there are some nuggets of information that are out of place, and don’t really need to be there, (why did we need to know about the former queen?!!?) but on the whole this is a well developed storyline that imparts background information in a way that is genuinely interesting.

Storyline

This story is a organically woven, complex tale. While some of the twists and turns seem a little rushed at times, overall, the story follows a natural flow and cadence, showing you things you never expected, and things you might have, but not in the way you saw them.

Kellie Wallace, following the loose tie to WWII shows the reader familiar landmarks, the labor camps, Hitler’s bunker, the French Rebellion … and shows you the other side of the story. You feel horror and sympathy, betrayal and loss all regarding the same event

Characters

Perhaps the weakest link in this story were the characters. The supposed hero, Grayson Roe, is dark and cruel and manipulative, without any explanation for this or his sudden mood swings.

The villain is innocent, and tongue-tied, while confident at the oddest times, with no explanations for the reasoning behind the horrible things he does to the populace he has taken over.

And Amira, the heroine, is perhaps the worst of all, switching from one extreme to the next, one love to the other, one side to the other, without any explanation as to why. The only constant in her character is her love and loyalty to her family, and even that is shaky at times.

 

Summing It Up

All in all this book is a pleasant read. Not for the characters, but for the world around them. The idea behind this novel is powerful, and I would love to see the beautiful creation it could become with some characters that, if not likable, can at behave in a manner that can be understood.

 

I give this book an B-.

*Disclaimer: I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy by the author for a honest review. All thoughts expressed are my own.*

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

From the New York Times #1 bestselling author, Ilona Andrews, comes a new tale from the Innkeeper Chronicles
One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles Book 3) by [Andrews, Ilona]
Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!

Before I start this review, I need to give a little background. One Fell Sweep is the third book in a series that Ilona Andrews, a pseudonym for a husband-wife writing team, started as a side project. Already wildly successful authors, they, for reasons of their own, started posting chapters on their blog week by week. When they were done, they took the book off their site, polished it up, and self-published it, with no expectation that people would buy the book after they had already read it for free.

Sales went through the roof.

Three years later, the third book in the series, One Fell Sweep, has gone through the same process and will be be available in stores on December 20, 2016.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from the authors to review. I am horribly late in posting this, as life kept getting in the way, but without further ado, here are my thoughts on this amazing book.

I loved this book. I can’t say it any better than that. I loved the unpolished version put up week by week, and I loved the more formal, and presentable version just as much. All of the characters, the events, the relationships, everything … just worked.

Let’s tackle this piece by piece, because there is so much to cover.

Dina DeMille

Dina is an amazing character, who I adore. She is such a strong woman, with a moral compass that never wavers. I particularly love the way she never advertises her talents, and skills, and then leaves everyone gaping when she causally says “Oh yeah, I can do that too.”

“They will stop at nothing to kill me,” the Hiru said. “They will run through fire. There is no obstacle you can put in their way that will deter them.”

The room fell silent.

“I don’t deal in fire,” I said. “It’s difficult to control and the inn doesn’t like it. But I’m excellent at creating a void field.”

Sean stared at me.

Arland coughed. “A void field requires a high efficiency nuclear reactor.”

“Or an inn with a skilled innkeeper,” Maud told him.

“You can do that?” Sean asked me.

“I already did it,” I told him.

Character Relationships

Ilona Andrews, is also the master of slow burn romance. The relationship between Sean and Dina is allowed to grow and flourish and change as they themselves change before they ever have sex or become a couple, which is simply amazing, especially in the sea of one book relationships of today. Not that I have anything against books where the hero and heroine come together in one book, I just love the way you get to see the relationship form in Ilona Andrew’s novels.

Story Building

This book was so good in this regard. It brought back things and people we had met before, explained concepts of the past, all while dealing with things in the present, and going towards the future. You learn about inns and their relationships with innkeepers, about ancient civilizations, and people you met in book one, all while battling evil aliens who seek to harm one of Dina’s guests. And the story never lags through all of that!

Small Annoyance

Well, it doesn’t lags because of anything described before. This book is amazing, as I think you might realize already. But in places, the story does slow. And it is because of backstory. Not backstory of characters or places, those all flow perfectly, but the backstories of things that happened in previous books. While I understand the need to catch up readers who have never read the series before, and are starting with the third book, it gets a bit annoying for continuous readers to have to relearn and go over things they already know. But in the grand scheme of things, this was a very minor annoyance.

Everything Else

There is just too much to cover about this book for me to hit everything. So I am issuing a blanket statement about the rest of the book.

It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. It will make you sob, and vow revenge, and sigh dreamily. It is everything you didn’t know you needed in your life.

 

I rate this book 5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own.*

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

30320008The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha’s legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father’s royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon’s worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.

When I find read this synopsis I went … a woman warrior, who is Celtic, AND becomes a gladiator … uh … where do I sign up?! But unfortunately the novel did not live up to my expectations.

This book was the classic case of awesome awesome story line, mediocre execution. And it is these kinds of books that bother me most. It could have been so good. But it fell just short. But then I have some strict standards, so let me tell you what turned me off.

The book starts out with Fallon, the heroine, attempting the “Morrigan’s Flight” an extremely difficult maneuver involving a chariot, a spear, and almost certain death. I don’t want to say what happens next, as I feel it would be a spoiler, but Fallon is made out to be a fearsome warrior, one of the best in her entire clan, simply by the fact that she is even attempting this extremely dangerous trick.

This makes it hard to understand, when later in the novel, she is constantly put down for her martial skills. In the first few chapters, Fallon is the best of the best. In the space of the next few chapters she becomes almost completely incompetent, to the point of cowering in a ball when someone attacks her. Needless to say, this makes no sense. And this is just the first problem.

The entire book reads like a soap opera, with people coming back to life, and dying, and backstabbing, and ominous portents, all happening without pause. One event happens, and while you are still absorbing, the next one has already happened, and the third is starting. I am not ashamed to say that I skipped a few chapters, because I couldn’t deal with all the melodrama anymore.

That said, it is obvious that the author researched her book thoroughly before she wrote it. The descriptions of the Celts, their traditions, and clothing, is – as far as I can tell – spot on, and so vivid, I can almost see them in front of me. So too are the types of gladiators, and the other cultures portrayed.

The backlashes, and startling events are all good ideas, and things I would enjoyed, if there was a split second more time between them, and romance was a wonderfully drafted slow build that were my favorite parts of the books.

No, wait I take that back. My favorite scenes were definitely the fight scenes, which were heartstoppingly detailed. I was on the edge of my seat with every word.

All in all, this book was a good book that had the potential to be amazing.

I rate this three out of five stars.

To Be Released: February 14, 2017

*I was provided an ARC by my local library for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Image result for throne of glass

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.

Before I begin explaining this book, I need to explain something. I read a lot. When I mean a lot, I don’t mean that I read a book a week, I mean that today, since I woke up I have finished one book, and started and completed two more. It is highly likely that I will start a third before I go to sleep tonight. All of this means that my favorite book changes quite often. I loved Harry Potter for a while, then moved on to Megan Turner’s The Thief, then to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. That makes it all the more significant when I say that the Throne of Glass series has been my favorite since I started it almost four years ago. There have been some books that caught my interest and moved up on my list of loves, but I always came back to Sarah Maas, because she is just that good.

The series starts out by introducing the heroine, Celaena Sardothien, who has just spent a year in a slave camp where the average life expectancy is only a month. She was put there because she was Adarlan’s assassin – the best in the land, never caught, and never seen. Until her trial, almost no one even knew that she was a 17 year old girl. She has always been the best, the prettiest, and she knows it. Even worse, she makes sure everyone else knows it too.

I love Celaena.

Throughout this book, she isn’t just an assassin who has killed too many people to count. She isn’t just the girl who became a woman in the depths of Hell. She is a woman who is scarred and a little broken, but loves pretty things, and sweets, and music. She is a woman who is scared sometimes, who loves and gets mad and is happy. She is a person, not just an assassin, and that is what I love about Sarah Maas’s work.

Too many book these days are all about the situations the main character is in. I cannot count the number of times I have read a dystopian novel in which we get to watch the heroine come to age because of the circumstances that force her to grow up. In this world we get to see a woman who already knows that the world is bad, who has already grown up inside of it, and watched her love and her innocence die, but still has the will to truly live. 

 

I rate this book 5 stars.

 

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

 

 

They came after the Diseray. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares.

Monsters.

Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it’s taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky.

To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people.

Joy soon realizes that the city’s powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers, and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they’re in—to them, Joy and her corps of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV.

When an act of sabotage against Joy takes an unbearable toll, she uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the city. There is something much worse than the usual monsters infiltrating Apex. And it may be too late to stop them…

     This book is one of the finest YA novels I have read to date. With plenty of action, a cool-headed and strong female lead, and the beginnings of a subtle love triangle, it has all the characteristics of a traditional dystopian novel, while remaining fresh and new.


     This book opens with Joy Charmand traveling from the little village in the Rockies where she grew up to the biggest city on the continent after the Diseray. Seems like a cliche right? Clueless village girl goes to the big sparkling city only to learn all is not as she thought …

     

       That is not what happens. Without giving away too many spoilers – Joy grew up not in a clueless village as everyone thinks, but in perhaps the greatest center for knowledge on the continent. While lacking some social skills, and city life experience, she knows enough to figure out the politics of the city, while still remaining innocent enough to not understand why the “Cits” – citizens or city dwellers – behave the  way they do.

“My Masters had explained to me in detail the difference between the way a solider thought, the way a Cit thought, and contrasted both with the way a Hunter thought. . . Cits – the city folk sort of Cits – they want victories. They want to win or cheer the winner. Soliders want things to end neatly, they want victories too, and win or lose, they want things ended. But up on the Mountain, we’re much more pragmatic. We know what seems to be an ending rarely is, that victories don’t last forever, and you take what you get and make the most of it for as long as you can.”


      She, however, catches on quickly, and is soon one of the best Hunters in the city.

       This book is a must-read for anyone tired of the classic clueless heroine dumped into a mess of political tangles cliche. Joy is a cool headed politically savvy heroine whom I loved.


I give this book 4.5 stars.