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Coming Soon: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

queen of shadowsTitle: Queen of Shadows

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass #4

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: September 1, 2015

The Overview: Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . . She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return. Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Waiting on Wednesday
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Breaking the Spine

I realize I am probably the last person in the blogosphere to select Queen of Shadows for my WoW feature, but I’m kind of okay with that. Even though I enjoyed every book up to this point (and am intrigued where the story is headed – dragons!), it just has not been at the top of my radar compared to a handful of other titles coming out this fall that I’m DYING to read. Even so, I’ll probably pick this one up before the year is out, and look forward to listening to everyone around me geek out about it. If you haven’t read this series yet you are seriously behind the YA Fantasy times. ;)

If you can’t stand the wait until September 1st and need something to help hold you over, check out my Top Ten Books You Might Like If You Enjoyed Throne of Glass! list.

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

heir of midnightTitle: Heir of Fire

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love? 

The Mini Review:

Contrary to popular opinion, I did not think this book (or series) merited five stars… please don’t yell at me. I think this is a really fun series, and I always enjoy reading it, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as some other titles within the same genre (with the sole exception of Assassin’s Blade, the compilation of prequel novellas to this series – that was amazing). While I like Celaena and think she is a really interesting character, I don’t find a single thing about her relatable. I also think a lot of the decisions she makes don’t follow a logical thought process. I could say the same thing about the storyline. While I really like where it’s going, there were a couple of things leading up to this point that felt forced and inconsistent, especially regarding character. All of that said, I still enjoyed Heir of Fire – especially the villain POVs and the creative bits involving dragons… I’m looking forward to seeing where it’s headed. Overall, If by some chance you haven’t read it yet (but would like to), I would definitely recommend it, but only after you’ve read some of my other favorites…

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of midnightTitle: Crown of Midnight

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil. Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart. Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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The Review:

I’d like to start off by saying that I am especially glad I decided to read The Assassin’s Blade before picking up this book – the backstory seriously makes all the difference, giving Celaena some much-needed depth.

This review is going to be fairly short, as I imagine most people who want to read this series have probably already done so (I’m basing this strongly off of the massive geek-out for Heir of Fire that’s been flooding my social media for the past couple of weeks), and I’m likely not telling you anything you haven’t already heard. In any case, I’ve been stalling on reading Crown of Midnight for several months because I didn’t want to have to wait too long for the much-anticipated third book. I can tell you now, based on how this one ended, I will not be able to show the same restraint when the Heir of Fire comes out. :-)

While my final assessment of this book is a “really liked” rating, there were things about it that I really loved: the relationship developments – not just with the love interests, the conflict escalations – sh$t’s getting real on a broad scale now, and the many fascinating dynamics of the main character – just when I think her predictable, she surprises me… It made for an incredibly engaging book, one that took me on a wild ride from start to finish. It also pulled at my heartstrings, jerking my emotions all over the place – it was fantastic! 

With all of those good things said, I did think the end half of the book was a bit repetitive. Highly interesting, mind you, but repetitive. However, it made up for it at the very end, which left me oogling the pages with excitement… suffice to say I am incredibly eager for the next book.

Overall, Crown of Midnight was a lot of fun to read and an excellent champion for the teen fantasy genre. I do  have to admit my favorite in the genre is still The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but I’m probably in the minority. I think the difference is, while I love Celaena, I don’t find a single thing about her relatable. Elise, on the other hand, is my homegirl. In any case, they’re both so similar in their awesomeness that you really can’t go wrong if you’re trying to decide between them. I’d say read ’em both, then tell me which one you prefer! ;)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

heir of midnightTitle: Heir of Fire

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Release Date: September 2, 2014

The Overview: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love? 

heir of midnight 2

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

I kind of jumped the gun on this post by including the new cover for Heir of Fire in yesterday’s TTT (Top Ten Books You Might Like If You Enjoyed Throne of Glass). What can I say? I couldn’t help myself… it’s gorgeous.

 I think most people who like YA Fantasy are waiting on Heir of Fire, and it’s not hard to see why! This series is absorbing, heart-wrenching, and an absolute blast to read. If you haven’t picked it up yet, you are missing out on one of the most promising series I’ve read in ages (start with Assassin’s Blade… you won’t regret it)! You better believe I’m devouring Heir of Fire the day it comes out.

 What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Ten Books You Might Like If You Enjoyed Throne of Glass – Revamped!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Yup, I have finally jumped aboard the Sarah J. Maas fangirl train, and not a moment too soon! As high-fantasy YA novels are my favorite things EVER, I’m thrilled that Throne of Glass has had such an impact on the reading community. Most of the bloggers I follow have read it, the same holds for the many YA readers in my own community. After recommending it constantly to customers, I quickly realized that I needed to be prepared for when they came back with “Ooooooh! I loved it so much! What can I read next?” From that question was born this list:

Top Ten Eleven Books You Might Like If You Enjoyed Throne of Glass!

If you liked:

You might like:

girlBook Info: Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: setting, story, and genre – this is my favorite book from this list. While I love reading about Celaena and think she’s a cool character, I don’t find a single thing about her relatable. Elise, however, from Girl of Fire and Thorns is exactly the kind of heroine that makes me fall in love with a book. Her relatability is what allowed me to fully immerse myself in the story, whereas ToG always seem to keep me at arms-distance. I’m not saying you will also like this one more, but there’s definitely a good chance you will enjoy it.
                                                                                                                                                                    

Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers

Book Info: Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: story, romance, character – and assassins! Granted the main character is a lot more timid than Celaena, but progression of the story in the romance feels really similar to ToG. I haven’t read the second or third book in this series, so I can’t speak to its ongoing similarity, but I think ToG readers will definitely at least enjoy the first one.

                                                                                                                                                                     

The Midnight ThiefBook Info: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: character, atmosphere – this book offers another kick butt heroine who shows a lot of skill in her profession (thieving) right from the start. The city she lives in and the conflicts also remind me of ToG and I thought the general atmosphere both books were incredibly similar. This one definitely takes its own unique turn, but I felt it was just as entertaining along the way.
                                                                                                                                                                     

The winner's CurseBook Info: The Winner’s Curse

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: character, genre, setting– of all the female protagonists on this list, actually view the main one in The Winner’s Curse as the most similar to Celaena, yet I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why. She’s an interesting character with a lot of strong convictions, so that might be why she resonated with ToG for me. I am really confident about the recommendability of this one to ToG fans – everyone seems to be raving about it with the same enthusiasm.
                                                                                                                                                                      

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Book Info: Young Elites by Marie Lu

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: character, setting, and genre – the main character for this book reminds me a lot of Celaena, only she wears the scars of what she’s been through on the outside as well as the inside. There is also a real darkness to her character that mimicked some of the low points of Celaena’s journey. Add in a secret guild and magic-users and you’ve got yourself a fairly comparable novel. I really liked it.
                                                                                                                                                                      

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Book Info: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: all the things – okay, I realize how stupid it is to say “if you like this author, you should read more of this author” but not everybody takes the time to read prequels and novellas, so I have to tell you this book makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE! If you haven’t read it yet, drop everything and read it now – it turned to me from a casual admirer of the series to a ToG super fan overnight… possibly because it gave me the insight into Celaena’s character that I’d been needing.
                                                                                                                                                                       

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Book Info: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: genre, character, romance – this is the teen fantasy book that got me hooked on the genre. It has a wonderful adventure and a beautiful love story. I’m recommending it for ToG fans because I think they will like the main character and enjoy the journey. I don’t have any specific similarities between the two series, but chances are if you liked the genre in general you’ll enjoy this book. That being said, the third book, Bitterblue, has a TON of similarities…
                                                                                                                                                                      

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Book Info: Poison Study by Maria Snyder

Genre: Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: character, story, pretty much everything – this is the single most similar book to ToG on my list, down to the introduction of our heroine being led from her prison and being made an offer. From there, the love story, the setting, the conflicts, and the plot all resonate with the things I loved about ToG, which is why I am highly recommending this title. If you only choose one book from my list to try, I’m most confident about this one.
                                                                                                                                                                      

The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan

Book Info: Magician’s Guild by Trudi Canavan

Genre: Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: setting, atmosphere – this is another one of those titles that reminded me of ToG because of the general setting and atmosphere of the story. It takes place in a school for magicians, and the castle, city, and world all reminded me of where ToG took place. I also found a resonance with the magic system, particularly the dark magic. This wouldn’t be my first recommend on the list, but if you’ve read most of the others this one will definitely help hold you over.
                                                                                                                                                                         

Medalon by Jennifer Fallon

Book Info: Medalon by Jennifer Fallon

Genre: Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: story, setting, character – I’ll admit it has been a really long time since I’ve read this book, but the overall essence of what I remember reminds me a lot of what I like in ToG, especially as the series progresses. It’s one of the books I’ve been itching to go back and reread, and now might be a great time while I’m waiting for the next ToG book to come out…
                                                                                                                                                                        

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Book Info: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Genre: Fantasy

Reason for Recommending: setting, atmosphere – I’m including this book on my list because there are several parts within the story that evoked the same regal atmosphere as in ToG… And that’s kind of where the similarities end to be honest with you. This is one of my all-time favorite series, but it comes with several disclaimers – sexual content, violence, and slow pacing. Read it at your own risk…
                                                                                                                                                                        

I hope you find this list helpful and enjoy these titles as much as I did! I’ve added all of them to a shelf on my Goodreads page if you’d like to go read more about them. Happy reading! :-)

Have you read any good books similar to Throne of Glass?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

assassin's bladeTitle: The Assassin’s Blade

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass Novellas

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

Assassins Blade

The Review:

Wow. I really loved this book…

If you read my review of Throne of Glass, you might remember that I had a few… well, not issues exactly, but there were a few things that kept me from really feeling connected to Celaena, the heroine. After reading this compilation of prequel novels, I am happy to say that ALL of the concerns I had have been completely laid to rest!

For example, I could not figure out why Celaena didn’t seem to have any major emotional damage from having endured a salt mine prison camp for a full year. In Assassin’s Blade, it became clear that she had been through so much worse, so the mine kind of paled in comparison. Also, while growing up she had extensive training on enduring hardships, which would explain how well she managed to cope. It all makes so much sense now…

The most important element I was missing was Celaena’s connection to the other characters (specifically the male leads). She always seemed guarded, never following through on the feelings she obviously had for the two, and I could never see a compelling motive as to why that might be. Suffice to say, if I had gone through the things I read about in Assassin’s Blade, I would be pretty guarded too.

Anyway, you can see how much of a difference this book made with my enjoyment of the author. While each story was beautifully written  (and stood solidly on their own), it was really cool how well they built off of one another. It made me feel like I was reading a robust novel rather than a compilation of short stories. It was superb, and I almost wish I had read it first because now I want nothing more than to go back and reread Throne of Glass with my newfound perspective on this character and her world. Seriously, if you only mildly enjoyed the first novel, give these prequels a try – it will make all the difference!

So what now? I am eagerly trying to get my hands on a copy of Crown of Midnight so I can see what happens next! Assassin’s Blade has made me an UBER fan of this series, and I don’t think I’ve been this fan-girly for a teen series since Hunger Games. If you could take one thing from my experience, read the prequel first! You won’t regret it. :-)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes