The Raven Boys Book Review

Ah, The Raven Cycle, a series I’ve visited quite a few times. To date, I’ve never been able to finish this pesky series, and I’ve never really known why. In an effort to find out, let’s take a look back to the very first time I picked up Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

This is one of those series that delivered itself, in a neatly wrapped package topped with a bow, to the top of my TBR list, courtesy of social media and stellar reviews. I was starting to feel that in order to keep my reputation of being a bibliophile intact, I had to read this series.

Around a year ago, I started to read the Raven Cycle series. This first book did not disappoint, and I have never once faltered in this opinion during my re-read. However, the second book posed more of a challenge. I could not get into it for the life of me and over time, I gradually came to except that it was never going to happen. We were syrup and waffles, reader and book. Two things many firmly believe ought to be together, but I just couldn’t stomach.

Time passed, and somehow, the mysterious and mystic Raven Cycle series was yet again in my hands, waiting to be read. I gritted my teeth, this time determined to finish this series and know, once and for all, if it really was worth all the hype. This time, fueled by determination and, I’ll admit, more than a little love for Maggie Stiefvater’s writing, I made it through the first two books. Unfortunately, this is where I came to a halting stop; I was unable to get into the third book. The last half of the second had taken too much energy and I was ready to go back to a more enjoyable read. I’m hoping this isn’t where it ends for me, halfway through the adventure that encompasses the raven boys. I loved the first book so much, a part of me sincerely hopes the Raven Boys will prevail. Here’s to just about the longest intro ever, so without further ado, my review on book #1 in the Raven Cycle Series.

First off, the descriptions in this book blew me away. I actually started looking for elite boarding schools I could join, or googling pictures of  Henrietta, Virginia just to see if I could experience even a crumb of its beauty through the computer screen. Maggie Stiefvater picked me up and took me to a world I never wanted to leave. It was full of magic and mystery, freedom and friends. Her world building was phenomenal and intricate, more tightly woven than… whatever the weaver wove from all her human hair.

It wasn’t an all-at-once information dump, but instead falling into Stiefvater’s version of Henrietta was slow and sweet, filled with excellently timed elements she used to introduce her characters.  My love for the cast was strong and determined from the beginning. The raven boys were simply irresistible with their unorthodox spirits and character arcs. Gansey is the embodiment of every teenage dream: smooth, sweet, and swoon-worthy. Blue is the true essence of confidence in oneself and following one’s intuition. Adam is a workaholic with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Ronan is, well, sharp. Noah is a pumpkin, sweet, but not always around. These characters make up the heart and soul of the book. Their character development is so exquisitely detailed, it’s hard not to fall in love with them all. The only character who I feel needs more representation in this department is Noah. Out of the entire group of friends I felt like I knew Noah the least. Additionally, I felt like the pages were lacking some quality Orla time as well. Even though she is only a supporting character, she should have a  more solid foundation than a paper thin (haha) personality and background. The POV switches were done tastefully and were artfully incorporated into the overall plot, adding depth to the story instead of length to the page count. The book was, by the way, a very enjoyable length, an easy read for a few days.

What differentiates this book from most YA novels, in my opinion, is the romance. It doesn’t strangle the plot but instead adds a realistic flare as Blue negotiates the rollercoaster most teenagers face in their adolescence. Her relationship is not overpowering in a way that deters the course of the book or portrays young girls as desperate and obsessive. Instead, we see her enter and exit a myriad of emotions as she juggles her pre-held accusations, surprising desires, and the fear that comes with her own giddy innocence. not to mention the prophecy that predicts her lover’s death, all while withholding her own values and goals. It’s truly an impressively balanced book, romance-wise. With that said, I would’ve liked to have seen a deeper emotional understanding of the relationship. The events that Blue and her troupe faced were monumental and very intense for such young characters. In response, it would’ve been more realistic if we had seen how these actions and decisions truly affected the thought processes of them. Every action has an effect, no matter how small, and I would’ve loved to have seen how that played into the decisions and anxiety Blue feels later on.

One thing I did find unrealistic, however, was the amount of freedom the main characters had to tramps around with. Adult supervision is almost nonexistent, which may be appropriate in some cases due to the fact that Gansey, Ronan, and Noah live on their own. Still, the overall lack of guidance is extremely underdone.

All in all, TheRaven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is a thrilling, mystical tale with a wise and witty tone behind it. I definitely recommend giving the series a try! And if you’ve already read the book… does anyone else really want to know a real-life Persephone, too? She seems like such a neat and eccentric person I’d love to have a conversation with! Nope? Just me? Okay. Anywho, 5 out of  5 stars!!

Stereotypes I simply CANNOT read any more

Readers have spoken. Here’s what it seems just about everyone is sick of reading.

-The parents of a villain being evil or dead

It would be interesting to have a villain who was raised without hardships and is just evil for the fun of it. Not everyone evil was once nice, yes a killer (quite literally) backstory makes for a riveting read. Albeit, overall a unique character is what will keep me reading the story. I’d like to clarify that many characters have interesting backgrounds WITH nice, perfectly sane parents that are still alive. It is definitely possible.

-Love triangles

I hear a lot of people grieve and gripe about these, so I’ve given them their fair slot on this list. I personally don’t mind a well written, realistic love triangle every now and then. Unfortunately, the number of times they are unrealistic and thrown into the story for the heck of it, is ever increasing. Whenever an author gets into the funk of writing a book they think their readers want to read vs what they want to write, quirky things like random unexplained love triangles always get put into the mix. It’s a shame this trope has earned itself such a dicey reputation.

-Gender Stereotypes

Valley girls, rich girls, nerds, geeks, jocks, etc. This is a list that could go on for miles. I go to school with human beings, so the people in these YA books I’m reading must be aliens. They are so far out and different compared to reality. Authors have a bottomless pit of characteristics to pick and choose, mix together, but they stop after one. A person is not only a jock. A person is not only their money or ability to do makeup. I know there are many books out there that have fallen prey to this, but I’m sure there are even more that haven’t.

-City girl meets country boy

I think this was a cute idea when it was first introduced, but the amount of books its now monopolized makes reading somewhat monotonous.

-Forbidden love

Oui with the poodles already! (if you can tell me what this is from let’s just say I’ll be highly impressed). This is only iconic when it’s found in classics such as Romeo and Juliet. Its become overwritten to the point of exhaustion. I’d like a new outlook on forbidden love, a story that’s unique and NOT told in a hundred different only slightly varying books (if you have suggestions, I’m in dire need).

-Dark broody men with no redeeming qualities other than being handsome

Been there, done that, like 1,000 times. It’s media like this that makes girls think it’s okay to date a douche as long as he’s sexy. WRONG. This even ties in with the gender stereotypes just a wee bit. Men do not have to be brooding, handsome, mysterious, etc. to be deemed desirable in another’s eyes.

-Skinny girls with unrealistic love lives

Talk about toxic media. I’d like to see all body types without any special spotlights going to a character just because of their body type. Being skinny doesn’t guarantee anyone a date (or a rom-com worthy romance).

-Emotionally distant heroines

Personally, I need to be able to step into the heroine’s shoes. They need to be relatable and riveting to keep me turning pages. Humans are not emotionless. They have feelings, thoughts, and the ability to form opinions. Therefore the characters in the books I’m reading (who are not robots) should too. (Except in Cinder but she’s only 36% cyborg hehe).

I tried to incorporate everyone’s answer that I received, but there were just so many! Here are a few that I completely agree with! Comment your opinions, I’d love to know!

The Fountain by Suzy Vadori

Over the holidays, my aunt (if she’s reading this, hi Auntie Linda!) got me two books in a series, both signed by the author. I read the first one, called The Fountain by Suzy Vadori. Sadly, I was not very impressed.

The story follows a girl named Ava Marshall, who moves across the country to go to the same boarding school her parents went to: St. Augustus. Almost immediately she is bullied by a senator’s daughter named Courtney. Courtney’s antics are evil, and she hates Ava for absolutely no reason. Ava doesn’t know what to do, and she feels helpless. So, when she stumbles upon an ancient-looking fountain in the forbidden West Woods on her way to her Gran’s, she makes a wish. This wish makes Courtney disappear, and her family with her. Which means that Ava’s aunt never got into college.

Ava spends the rest of the book trying to fix her mistake, along with her new best friend, Ethan. She must compete with her English teacher, Ms. Krick, who wants to wish for endless youth, to get to the fountain. She has to unravel a mystery and dodge her boyfriend from back home, Lucas. She is caught in a fight to reverse her wish as quick as she can so that her father can live his life like normal.

Alright, onto the good stuff.

Storyline: This story is a teenaged love-story drama with a hint of fantasy and magic. Not usually my style, but I enjoyed the book nonetheless. It begins at St. Augustus, where Ava makes her wish at a magic fountain in the woods. Then, as Ava slowly figures out that Courtney had disappeared, her new best friend Ethan joins the hunt for answers. From then on, it’s just plot twist after plot twist. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I must say that the plot twists are overkill. There are way too many. It almost seems like Vadori ran out of ideas. I get it, though. I’ve been there. I just feel like things could have been done differently. There honestly isn’t much else to say.

Storytelling: The storytelling of this book is decent. The first chapter showed a glimpse into the future, and chapter two bounced back to the beginning, which followed Ava’s first day at St. Augustus. I liked that a lot. In fact, there was a lot of jumping around the timeline, which I found intriguing (in a good way). I rarely read books like that anymore. However, even though there are flashbacks, in certain places it seems as though the author is trying to cram as much context into the book in as little time as possible. Don’t be afraid to leave things unsaid! Nevertheless, even if you decide to give a ton of context, you should explain the importance of this context, which Vadori didn’t seem to do. Due to this… stuffage of context, certain details are unclear or are hard to remember. Additionally, the context Vadori did give was not exactly what I felt was needed―she gave the wrong context at the incorrect times. A lot of the time I was thinking, Why do I need to know this? This added a lot of annoying mystery to the book. The wrong things were left unsaid, and it made me somewhat confused.

Now onto the subcategory of detail. When Suzy was writing about people or outfits or anything similar, her description was amazing. Like, 9/10 amazing. On the other hand, she didn’t really describe events in the book. Her amazing description was left in the unnecessary details. I don’t want to know what Ava looks like while she’s staring at herself in the mirror. I want to know how she feels when she’s breaking the rules by running into the West Woods. I want to know the thoughts running through her head when Courtney sabotages her. I want to know how her body moves under the water when she swims. Yes, I know she’s an amazing swimmer, but how does that look? How far behind her are her opponents? Also, how does the West Woods look when you’re in the dark and risking expulsion? Sure, a little bit of detailed description about a dress is great every once in a while, but I really don’t want or need to hear about Ava’s sand-colored hair in the second chapter.

Characters: Ava Marshall starts off as relatable. She’s anxious for her first day at school. She’s scared that she’ll get a crappy roommate, she misses her boyfriend, and she’s homesick. She ends up getting a good roommate named Jules, who I’ll get to later, and seems to forget entirely about her boyfriend after she meets a new boy named Ethan. I’ll get to that later as well. Anywho, first, I must say that Ava is an astonishingly flat character. She shows almost no feeling and seems incredibly unintelligent. She has no visible flaws. She only has basic characteristics that everyone has. Later in the story, I ended up yelling at the book because so many things are so obvious, and she just doesn’t seem to get anything. In order for me to truly relate to her, I must be able to see her thought process, and why she does what she does, and I can’t see that. Onto her relationship with Ethan. When Ava meets Ethan, it’s like she completely forgets about Lucas, her boyfriend from San Francisco. She even goes on a date with Ethan. The author only even mentions Lucas when he calls or texts Ava, and of course when he visits her for homecoming. Why is she being unloyal to her man? When Ethan kisses her in front of Lucas, how did she not see it coming? Again with the unintelligence. Overall, Ava is rather annoying. I’d enjoy the book more if she had any development whatsoever.

Now onto Ethan. He’s attractive and he plays basketball. He can easily sneak around the school after hours. He’s a major flirt. That is really all I see in him. He is also quite stupid, and vulnerable and hopeful for instantly believing Ava when she tells him about her wish. I’d at least ask a few questions before going along with the whole magic thing. The author tries to make him more likable by making him interested in books. Cute, but can you show us how, or why? I’d also love to see more feeling out of him. The only time I really see anything except sly smirks from him is when he’s drunk and trying to win Ava over. I can feel his sadness. Barely, that is, but at least it’s a start. My advice to the author is to think about emotion.

All in all, Vadori could greatly improve on her characters. What is Gran’s importance? I could ask the same thing about Coach Laurel. Is Jules only there for fashion advice? Is Lucas only there for drama? I need less plain archetypes. I need the author to really know her characters. It seems like many of them are just there to be there, to fill space.

Voice and Point of View: I would describe this piece as mostly written in an informal voice. A big part of voice is vocabulary, and the author’s vocabulary varies. As does the omniscience of the third person point of view. Sometimes, we see Ava’s thoughts. A lot of the time, however, we do not. I personally love a very omniscient third person, so my advice to the author is to add more thought and emotion into her writing. Don’t be afraid to use italics to emphasize.

Dialogue: I am the least impressed with the dialogue in this book. Not to sound harsh, but it was kind of difficult to read. Yes, it conveyed normal teen emotions, but who uses “Uuuuuuh” in writing? Why the extra letters? Generally, the dialogue was incredibly flat and short. Don’t be afraid to rant. I know that it’s hard to put yourself into the mind of another person, and that can result in flat dialogue. I say practice, and get to know your character. Put your character into a certain situation. What would they say at that moment? If one of the characters from WIP, Solaris, were, say, being charged by a rhinoceros, she would say, “Oh, for f***’s sake.” If her little brother, Lux, were in the same situation, he would say, “Crap!” And if their mentor, Echo, were there, she’d just stare down the thing and scare it with her glare. If you are a writer, get to know your characters! It will definitely help you in the long run.
Alrighty, friends. That’s enough ranting for today. I may have been a little bit harsh in my critiquing today, but in total, The Fountain was a decent read. It was nice to have a break from the heavy writing of Sarah J. Maas and read something a normal girl my age would read with no problem. I rate it a ⅗ stars. Thanks for reading, and I will see you next week!

New Years Resolutions

To start off the new year, I’ve decided to document some of the goals I have in relation to the blog, reading, writing, and photography. Having a clear, specific list of my goals will hopefully serve as motivation as 2019 goes on.

Since our blog is self-hosted, there is lots to learn. Specifically, in the department of aesthetics, I’d like to be able to navigate the theme and work with code in the back end of the site. I’d like for our blog to be customized outside of the norms of the theme, in an effort to match aesthetics with the style of our writing.

In regards to the timing in which we post, I’d like to keep a regular schedule. My hope is that we will post once a week, every weekend. Between both Livia and I, I’m sure this is going to be doable. We’ve already started formulating plans for an organization system that will ensure this goal is met, without any last minute BS posts.

Since I mentioned BS posts, allow me to elaborate. We want our content to be written to the best of our abilities, every single time. The integrity of our writing is something we will be shining a spotlight on this year. Not to say that we haven’t been up to date, but there have been a few instances where we ended up writing a post the day before and didn’t allow sufficient editing time.

For me, I’ve set a personal goal to just read. I’m trying not to set a specific number for myself for two reasons. First, I’ll never remember to log all the books I read anyways, 2018 taught me I’m a bit of a forgetful lass. Second, reading isn’t homework for me, but nstead a chosen activity I enjoy doing. The moment I attach numbers and due dates to how and when I read, it’ll start to stray from a beloved hobby to a dreaded chore. I don’t want this to happen. I want to read because I enjoy it, no ulterior motives needed. Even having said this, I do want to read more. In 2019 my goal is to cut down on useless Netflix bingeing and focus my time on something more worthy.

Speaking of spending my time on something more worthy, I’d like to put more of my time into my WIP. I WILL finish the first draft of my manuscript this year. It’s a dream, not to mention a passion of mine to write. I’m going to try to set mini, non-specific goals in hopes it helps me power through and finish the dang thing. I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo that setting word count goals brings more feelings of disappointment than happiness, at least in my case. Stay tuned to be updated as I try to find a system that works uniquely with me. Livia plans on finishing a first draft of a manuscript by July first, as mentioned in a previous post. She will most definitely let you know when her manuscript is finished as well.

I’ve been borrowing my father’s camera to take photos for the blog and bookstgram, seeing as I don’t have my own. He doesn’t use it much, so I’ve pretty much adopted it as my own. I’ve been functioning on an archaically basic knowledge of how to use the pesky thing for the past year. 2019 is the year to change that. I will either take a photography class or scour the internet to learn all the capabilities of my Nikon D2300. Editing goes along with this hand in hand. I’ve already started to learn basic editing tips and tricks, and now it’s all about applying them and learning more. Livia plans on getting a camera for herself, adding more variety to the scenery of our photos due to the fact that she now lives in the forest. She wants to take some pictures in the snow with her fellow bibliophiles. She cannot wait to contribute to the photography scene of our blog!

Let us know some of your new year resolutions! Keep us updated on how they are going; we’d love to chat about books, WIPs, or photography and as you can probably tell, we are always in need of tips and feedback! From Liv and I both, we thank you so much for taking the time to read what we have to write and we wish you a wonderful new year!

Most Anticipated Reads of 2019 Continued

Happy New Years Eve! To celebrate the last day of the year, I’m posting the second half of my most anticipated book releases for the new year! Wishing you all a joyous year and followed through resolutions!

  1. This book was found only by my relentless GoodReads surfing. I believe I found it on a list dedicated to books readers are most excited for in 2019. The Girl King by Mimi Yu sounds amazing in its uniqueness, and I promise this is the only book I found off another most anticipated releases list. I have high hopes for this book, based on the synopsis, to squander many stereotypes and writing cliques, and to truly ascend to have a distinctive perspective. This book is set to be published January 8th, 2019.
  2. Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller first caught my eye simply by its lovely cover. After that, I ventured to read the synopsis and that too made me want to read this book. I’m hoping for this book to be similar to Sky in the Deep in its captivating plot and cast of warriors. When I did more research about Levenseller, the author, I discovered she has also written another book that has been on my TBR shelf for a long time. I’m looking forward to February 26th, 2019 when it’s published.
  3. Cassandra Clare is who really got me into fantasy, albeit it was modern fantasy. I love the creativity of her stories and the incorporation of fantastical creatures. On the other hand, I must say that I am slightly overwhelmed by her continuing the same story forever. Nevertheless, I am still ecstatic for her next installment in the Shadowhunters universe—Chain of Gold, coming out on November 29th.
  4. Six of Crows made me laugh, cry, throw the book across the room; the works. That pesky duology (to one day become a trilogy) and its colorful characters stole my breath and my heart. After the emotional whirlwind Leigh Bardugo put me threw with those books, the only book hangover cure where other books by the same author. So then came the roller coaster that was the reading of the Shadow and Bone trilogy. After reading pretty much everything Leigh Bardugo had written, I was sure that this gal was one of my favorite authors. The twists that hit you like a brick wall, stark out of nowhere. Not the mention the characters I will forever wish upon a star that they could be real, instead of works of fiction. Set to be released on January 29th, 2019 is King of Scars, written by the gifted Leigh Bardugo, and taking place in the magical world that is forever my favorite place to go to escape reality.
  5. Academy of Assasins by Stacey Brutger was a very fulfilling read for me (feel free to check out my full review on the book). The next book in the series, Heart of the Assassins, was equally good in its caliber. I’m very excited to see what Brutger does with the development of the characters and their intermittent relationships. I have high hopes to see growth in her choice of words and writing style in Claimed by the Assasins, which is set to be released sometime in 2019.

2018 Recap

2018 is coming to a close. For a girl with an infinite to-do list, this ever-moving timeline can be somewhat daunting. The beckoning new year brings my time—or lack of which—sharply into perspective. To keep myself in bright spirits I’ve decided to reflect/recap some of the things Livia and I were able to accomplish this year pertaining to not only our blog, but also our writing, and our place amongst the bookstagram community. At the beginning of summer 2018, Livia and I started Book Bosomed Buddies, our first blog. We were able to post somewhat regularly for the majority of summer and all was well. School hit us harder than an anvil in a cartoon, and we needed a break. I personally just wasn’t organized enough at the time to pull off everything that had to get done, and my lofty ideas soon became a hindrance to keeping a manageable schedule. Around mid-August, I decided we were not only going to switch domain names, but also the platform in which we hosted our website. My mind was set in stone that we needed a self-hosted website, no matter that neither Livia nor I knew how to manage a self-hosted website. It’s something we’re still working to learn to this day (Livia and I are still very confused, but we are working on it). Looking back at where we started and compared to where we are now… I’m astonished and proud, yet even more ready to work even harder in 2019 to really improve not only the visual aspects of our website but also the integrity of our reviews and posts.  Yes, this transition caused us to go into a sort of hibernation, but it gave me the time to gather my wits and come up with an organized schedule for writing, posting, and picture taking. For the past month or so, Liv and I have been meeting our goal of posting every week around 80% of the time. Taking the time to reflect back on that percentage opens up roads to improve that percentage until it reaches 100%.

Onto writing. Blogging aside, both Liv and I have a passion for writing. This year for me, was a big milestone in my development as a writer. For the first time ever, I participated in NaNoWriMo. I felt confident enough to do this because I had finally stumbled upon a book idea I loved. It wasn’t like my past ideas, where I’d write nonstop for all of a week, then slowly putter out. No, this one felt right. I’d often find my mind disappearing into this fictional world I’d created, I knew my characters, could hear them conversing in my head. The plot was exhilarating to write, idea after idea flowing out, and all working together in an exciting way. This is the book I want to be published someday, this is a book I want to read so badly there is no option but to finish. While NaNoWriMo didn’t turn out as successfully as I had planned on it being, it gave me invaluable insight into my story. Writing on a schedule doesn’t really work for, as I discovered throughout November, but I have lofty goals for my manuscript for 2019. Livia is rather swamped with school, but she tries to write as much as she can while still having time for other things. However, she may need to cut down her Netflix binge-watching schedule. She has had a similar experience to mine and is currently experimenting with writing in third-person. She’s a few chapters into a new project that she is really looking forward too. Livia is also contemplating going back to her longest book that she wrote in the summer to incorporate some things she’s learned in her creative writing class (thanks Ms. Pohl!). She and I have set a goal. If she doesn’t finish a manuscript by July first, she must buy me at least one book! (completely her idea, by the way). Either way, I get a new thing to read in July! We both hope to make a ton of progress this year, and we hope our fellow authors reading this do too!

When moving onto the subject of reading, there isn’t much to go into depth on. This is unfortunately due to my poor ability to keep track of what I’ve read. At the beginning of the year, I had set a very high goal on GoodReads, but I lacked the follow through to now be able to reflect on my progress towards completing that goal. I have noted, however, that the amount of books I’ve read on a daily basis has slowly declined, the further we’ve moved into 2018. Livia feels the same, but she is hoping to get back into reading again. She just finished Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, and she must say: Wow. We both hope to read as much as we write, for what is a writer who can’t appreciate other writers’ work?

Also in 2018, I started a bookstagram account to serve as a platform for our blog. I’ve never been very good at the upkeep involved in social media so there were many times this year where we did not keep a regular posting schedule. Despite this, I was able to interact with other bibliophiles with the same fervor for reading and become somewhat immersed in the community feel of bookstagram. In addition, running this account pushed me towards photography (we kind of needed photos to post!) so I was really creatively pushed to come up with original photos and unique angles in which to take them. Throughout this process, my knowledge of the inner workings of photography grew. Livia hopes to get a camera so that she can join the effort. We will see!

Overall, 2018 was a fast-paced year. One where both Livia and I decided to jump head first into a whole world we knew practically nothing about. I, for one, was definitely throw for a loop, and both of us went through a huge learning curve. This blog has helped us stay close as friends and coming into 2019, I hope it helps us build more relationships with other bibliophiles around the world. We hope you have an amazing year!

Most Anticipated Reads of 2019

Hello bookish darlings and welcome! This week’s post is a bit special in celebration of the New Year! This is part one of two posts, highlighting some of my most anticipated book releases of the new year! Stay tuned tomorrow for the second half of this mini countdown of sorts for 2019!

  1. My most anticipated read for 2019, one that stands above all the rest, is a book currently being written by my all-time favorite author: Sarah J Maas. I’ve simply adored every other book she’s had published, so I’m very excited to get my hands on anything she writes. Including her newest work in progress,  Crescent City. Its set to be released in 2019.
  2. This year I bowed to the whims of my heart and opened the book Cruel Prince by Holly  Black. It was positively amazing, but I should’ve listened to my brain, who had warned me not to start it until the rest of the series was published. Predictably, its ending left me needing the next book, The Wicked King. It’s set to be released by January 8th, 2019.
  3. My love for the Witchlands series stemmed from chance. I had originally traveled to a book signing to meet Alexandra Bracken, I didn’t know there were to be other authors there. But boy am I glad there was. Susan Dennard, one of the coolest chicks I’ve ever met, was also at this signing. Her charm convinced me to give her first two books a try and, well, I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting ever since for Bloodwitch, set to come out on February 12th, 2019.
  4. Years ago, the voice behind the Unwind series captured my curiosity and my heart. I eased through the entire series and a few months ago I found Scythe on my local bookstore’s selves. Upon seeing the author, Neal Shusterman, I knew I had to read it. As soon as I was done with Scythe, I moved on to Thunderhead, and the ending nearly killed me. Ever since I have been eagerly awaiting The Toll, the third and final installment in the series. It’s being released sometime in 2019.   
  5. For me, this series is like wine. It gets better with time. The first time I read the Shatter Me series, it was somewhat slow going, and just a semi-okay read. Maybe a year down the line, something prompted me to re-read the whole series and… WOW. It was significantly better for me the second time around, and I’m not sure why. It may just have had something to do with the genres I was into at both points into time, or maybe not. I guess we’ll never know. Anywho, after finishing Ignite Me, I was disappointed to hear that Tahereh Mafi was going to end the series like that. So when I found out she actually had plans to continue the series, I was pleasantly surprised and infinitely excited. All within good reason, because Restore Me shattered me (hehe). Since then, I’ve been awaiting Defy Me, in hopes it will bring my frenzied emotions to rest. I’m afraid that quite the opposite will end up happening though. The next installment, Restore Me, is set to release in April of 2019.

Kingdom of Ash Thoughts and Opinions

It’s been less than 5 minutes since I’ve finished Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas and I’m still crying. My mind is just in awe, or maybe shock. Since I don’t know many others who have read this, throughout the book I’ve had to keep my thoughts to myself. So here is where I will ramble in hopes to ease the weight this book has put on my thoughts. THERE WILL BE MANY SPOILERS. So beware.

Spoilers ahead.

I’m not kidding.

You better not keep reading if you’ve never read the book.

Anyways, I needed more. There were so many lovely characters, unique and just overall brilliant. Aelin had a lot of intricate relationships and I felt like there was too much fill in the blank. I wish there was more dialogue and interactions with her and all of her court, in particular, Elide, Fenrys, Lorcan, and Ren. She doesn’t really get one on one time with these people and it made it harder to get to know the real dynamic behind their relationships.

This book brought forth in me a love for Fenrys I didn’t know existed. I didn’t understand how, after months of torture together, Aelin and Fenrys didn’t have more of a highlight in their interactions. I had hoped, because of the shared trauma, they would’ve been inseparable for at least a while after she escaped. Another thought of mine: Aelin recovered awfully fast for having been tortured for three months, I personally wish Maas would’ve gone deeper into detail with Aelin’s mindset and her thoughts; putting more of a spotlight on her recovery.

I’m also not sure how much of a fan I am of Rowan and Aelin being all lovey dovey. Yes, I know they’re mates. I love them as mates, they might just be my favorite to people, ever.  But I was head over heels for Empire of Storms, how Aelin was cunning and crafty, hiding truths and revealing big surprises. Granted, I didn’t want Kingdom of Ash to be just like Empire of Storms, my point is only that I wish Aelin hadn’t gotten so mushy and soft when it came to Rowan, and that she still kept things from him, on a larger scale than what happened in the book.

On another note,  I find it upsetting Aelin’s scars just disappeared. I’ve actually heard this opinion a few times, I believe. Her scars were symbolic, they meant a lot, and they were just washed away. I’m not sure how I feel about that, or the lack of her near depth less magic. I know I shouldn’t love a person just because of their magical abilities, but I think fire was a big part of Aelin and taking most of it away broke my heart. I understand why it happened, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m happy about it. In fact, it even makes perfect sense, ar cannot be won without sacrifice.

After contemplation and proper time to wrap my mind around the entire book, I realized something. This isn’t necessarily bad, nor did I notice it right away but, there are many similarities between the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and this one. The first one being that both Rhysand and Aelin knew that they had mates but they refrained from telling them, out of their unselfish and unconditional love for them.Not only this, but in general I felt like Aelin and Rhysand had very similar personalities. In particular, they were both burdened by the weight of having to save everyone, their responsibilities as leaders and they were both willing to sacrifice everything. They also both spent long years imprisoned, going through considerable mental trauma and torture. Another similarity is how Aelin and Rowan got married in secret as did Rhysand and Feyre, and it’s revealed when both Aelin and Feyre are in enemy hands. Och, having them both reveal they were married was just about the cutest darn thing I’ve ever read, so fear not, this is not a complaint. Just pointing out facts.

Okay I believe my rant is over. I’ve finally stopped crying now, and for that I’m glad. It feels as if a long time friend of mine has just left me, disappeared from my life. I will never be able to read this book for the first time again, but I have high hopes that they’ll create a time machine in the future, enabling me to travel back and reread this whole series again for the first time. Fingers crossed. Sorry you had to read my disgustedly informal rant. The comment are open. I’d LOVE to discuss any part of this series with you!

Readers Relate

  1. Do you ever find yourself counting down the days until that final book in the series is released? I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer to that question is yes. But then after pre-ordering the book, making sure you receive it the day it comes out, it just sits on your shelf. Waiting for the day when you will muster up the courage to say goodbye to the world that has long since been your safe haven. The characters that encompass your thoughts every waking hour while you’re reading the series. The quotes you spend hours reading on Pinterest, the character art you can’t seem to find enough of.
  2. Do you bawl your eyes out at the end of a book simply because you can never read it for the first time again?
  3. Are you ever reading in public then something outrageous happens and your jaw drops and all you can do is lift your gaze towards the distance, mouth still open, reliving the moment in your head over and over again? Thinking about it from every possible angle? Then, once your senses are returned, you can’t help but wonder what everyone around you must be thinking of the girl lost in her own world of paper and ink.
  4. Do you ever hold off on reading the first book in a series, because you know there is no chance you’ll be able to wait for the next one?
  5. Or, after months of keeping your foot down, those 5-star reviews and gushing bookstagram posts snag you at last and your guilty hands eager to buy the book finally get their way? And then you finally sit down to start reading this wondrous story, with the crafty cover you can’t seem to look away from, and the characters you can’t help but cry over? You near the end, and you know it’ll leave your heart in pieces, so you just stop. Stop but two, maybe 4 chapters from the end, right before things have a chance to pick up again? So you can live in peace until the next book comes out when you’ll reread the first one anyways. Plenty of books don’t have endings where this works, but for everyone that doesn’t, there’s at least a few that do. This recently happened to me with Cruel Prince by Holly Black. I got soooo close to the end, but I just couldn’t do it, make myself wait a year, dying to know what would happen next.
  6. After reading for hours on end, does anyone else just have to look up and refocus their eyes and their mind? Akin to the process of how ginger is used to clean a pallet. You gotta clear your mind for a second, make sure your eyes are ready to continue reading?
  7. You need the next book. Now, now, now, now, NOW. Soon isn’t soon enough. Right now isn’t fast enough. You’d sell your soul to the devil to get that book in your hands.
  8. You’ve got it. That precious next book in the series. You live and breath that story, that world. You are a character in the tale, those are your friends, family, and loved ones you’re reading about. Ordinary life around you ceases to exist. You don’t sleep, and homework, once an annoying child hogging all your time, now dimmed into silence. Your phone? Nothing but a forgotten heap of metal (unless, of course, you’re reading off your phone. In that case, it never leaves your hand). You’ve finally finished, devoured the last words there were to read. The only emotion you’re left with is guilt, guilt for not having savored one of the best stories in your life. Too fast, this amazing thing has ended.
  9. There are no books left in the world. None. At least none that could compare to the one you just read. You are lost, floating, waiting for a book that might make you forget the grandeur of the last. You’ve lost hope of this ever happening. This, my friends, is a book hangover.
  10. Or maybe, there’s too many. So many books, you could never possibly read them all, but boy do you want to. The thought of this, the weight of your TBR pile, casts a daunting shadow over your thoughts.

Throne of Glass

Hey guys! I thought I’d make my magical reappearance today, which just happens to be the day after my birthday! I’m sorry for the absence, I’ve just been settling into a new town, a new school, and a new home. I hope you all are well!

Recently I read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas for the first time. I know, I know. You may be thinking: “How have you not read that yet?” Well, the answer is simple: I don’t know. Months ago, Ky and I were in a bookstore in Phoenix and she made me buy this book. It took me forever to get to it. I was going down my list of unread books and, since that was beginning another series, I waited a while. Then, since my creative writing teacher makes us read a book every month and my friends kept screaming at me, I finally started the book about a month ago. Sadly, due to my busy schedule and my recent reading slump, I only finished it the day before my book review was due. Honestly, I wish I had more time to enjoy it.

As most Sarah J. Maas books are, Throne of Glass was absolutely amazing. It follows a girl named Calaena Sardothien, a trained assassin who has spent the last year in a prison camp called Endovier. One day, the Crown Prince, Dorian, sends for her to compete to be the King’s Champion. She accepts the offer and heads to the palace to go up against other famous criminals, all looking for freedom after serving the King for four years. However, shortly after she arrives, her competitors slowly begin to die off, being found half-eaten by a mysterious animal. Now she must not only compete to become Champion, but also avoid being killed by this odd creature she knows nothing about.

Now, let’s get started.

Storyline: I love this book because of how creative it is. It is obvious that Sarah likes faeries, which is something I’ve dabbled in writing myself. She is way better at it than I am, by the way. Anyway. The whole point of being an assassin seemed kind of mainstream to me, but adding in the whole King-of-assassins thing was a very good move. The small peeks into Calaena’s backstory showed enough to explain some things, but were still reserved enough to maintain a sense of mystery. I’m excited to learn more about my favorite assassin’s past.

Characters: These characters are easy to fall in love with, but they still have many flaws.. Let’s start with Dorian. His snarky attitude and scandalous reputation are pretty basic, I’ll be honest. But Maas definitely made it work. The young prince of Adalarn is charming, feisty, and flirtatious, all qualities you’d think would lead to his character falling under the basic bad-boy archetype; but fear not, there is more depth to our beloved Dorian. I think that watching him fall in love made me look past his stereotypical rebellious outside and into his sweet and kind-hearted inside. But I must say, when he gives Celaena a puppy, that is very cliche and annoying.

Now, onto Chaol. The Captain of the Guard is seemingly rock-hard and emotionless at first glance. Yet when you get to know him better, he is really just a softie who gives pretty girls rings in the middle of the night while trying not to blush. He’s embarrassingly adorable. He’s protective and smart and encouraging, all things I look for in a partner of my own. But he’s missing one critical detail: a sense of humor. I hear that he gets better later in the series, but in this book, he doesn’t even laugh. It’s almost like he’s inhuman. I don’t know why, but I just find his lack of happiness and closed-mindedness unrealistic.

Alright, now it’s time for our lead lady: Celaena. She’s hot, she’s closed off, she’s badass. Yeah. The stereotypical female protagonist. She’s got the tragic backstory. She’s got the strict yet caring mentor. She’s got the near-death experiences. Okay, what else? Well, I’ll tell you what else: she is basically inhuman. How in the world does anyone go from a year in a legit death camp to happily bouncing around, adorned in frivolous gowns, not a mental scar to show? What the heck? Are you emotionless? Have you blocked out every memory of getting whipped? I’m pretty sure I’d be traumatized for at least a month after that. It might just be me, but that transition was unnatural. That was nagging at me the whole time I read the book. Frankly, her motivations were kind of annoying. Would you not want revenge against the person who put you through all of this pain? I would, but Celaena’s motivation is to work for him. Yes, I understand the freedom-after-four-years thing, but still: to work for your enemy. To kill his enemies, who may be on her side. The King is a cruel man, and I wouldn’t want anything to do with him, even if I did get free after a few years. Celaena is hard to relate to, but I’m sure her decisions will make sense in the end.

Storytelling: Sarah J. Maas has a way with words. I admire her thorough descriptions; it’s almost like I’m witnessing everything the characters are. Her imagery is incredible. When she explained the palace, I was in love. I was somewhat thrown off by the gaps in the time frame, like between tests, but it really wasn’t a big deal. I would’ve enjoyed more suspense and foreshadowing, but all in all, she had a lot of literary elements that I love.

Voice and Point of View: Sarah J. Maas uses what I describe as a formal voice. She is not conversing with her readers, nor does she use a more casual language. That is my favorite voice to both read and write, and it really worked well with this story. Also, her way of writing in the third person is astonishing. I’m writing my first third-person story currently, and I will definitely be taking a few tips from her. I adore how even though we aren’t seeing the story from the characters’ eyes, we can still understand them and know what they are thinking. Her style changes with each character, and to do that is impressive.
Alright, my friends. I suppose that’s all I have to say, for now. In total, this book is a great read and I can’t wait to get the rest of the series. I give Throne of Glass four out of five stars. Have a great day!