The Beauty of Darkness
Sep 15th

Review of The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E Pearson

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Title: The Beauty of Darkness Author: Mary E. Pearson Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. Date Published: August 2, 2016 Where I got the book: Borrowed from the public library Want to buy the book? Here are our affiliates: AMAZON | Quail Ridge Books | Flyleaf Books Synopsis from Goodreads: Lia has survived Venda—but so has…

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The Beauty of Darkness
4 Star Rating

Title: The Beauty of Darkness
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Date Published: August 2, 2016
Where I got the book: Borrowed from the public library
Want to buy the book? Here are our affiliates: AMAZON | Quail Ridge Books | Flyleaf Books
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to The Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

I am conflicted about my feelings for this book. I am sad to see it all ending, but I am also unsatisfied with the ending. Not because it’s terrible, just because this selfish reader didn’t get what she wanted. Am I allowed to be selfish? I’m not sure, but I am feeling quite selfish right now. I loved The Kiss of Deception. I am a fan of love triangles and that twist in KoD was excellent. I’m not ashamed to say I totally had the boys mixed up. I am also unabashedly Team Kayden. I love that barbarian assassin with every little piece of my cold, dark, selfish heart. I wanted him with Lia. The Heart of Betrayal was also fabulous. I loved that we got more history of The Remnant and Venda in general. I loved Venda. The culture and people of Venda are so very fascinating! I was still pretty upset that Lia was hanging on to Rafe, the man who doesn’t value her strengths or give her space to do what she feels is right. Kayden is obviously the better man. He has always respected Lia as a strong woman capable of making her own decisions; he just valued the people of his country more. That is very understandable. I don’t really feel Rafe held her in the same respect nor had the same motives when it comes to Lia, but that is in the past I guess.

The thing I love most about The Beauty of Darkness is Lia. Lia is so fierce in this book. She doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do, she trusts her instincts, and she doesn’t take shit from anyone! She has grown from a frightened princess into a powerful monarch to be feared. I fist pumped the sky a few times when she made speeches and told people off. It was fabulous to watch her run the show in this book. I’m impressed with the amount of character growth in general. Rafe and Kayden have grown into slightly more respectable man-boys. I think it takes Rafe longer but that may be my bias talking. He does however start to trust her and let her make her own decisions. Kayden remains fiercely loyal to Lia and willing to do anything for her even though he understands she will never love him the way he loves her. It is a good man that can stay loyal to his feelings without constantly pushing for the romantic outcome he desires. Pauline has grown too. She is strong now, trusting herself and her decisions and willing to fight for Lia and those she loves.

The excellent world-building and writing continues in this book. It’s always nice seeing an author maintain quality all the way through a series; it is so easy to let things slip when you have a fan base. I applaud Mary Pearson for bringing her A game. I loved seeing more of the realm and hearing even more of the history of The Remnant. I think the only thing I can complain about, other than being Team Kayden, is the ending. It felt kind of rushed. I think I would have liked it if this book was actually split into two books. I wanted a longer final battle and more story about what happens after. It is still a good ending, I just personally wanted more. While things didn’t happen the way I wanted them to, I am still a little pleased with the resolution. There are believable endings for everyone and that is what matters. I’m sad to see this series end, and I sincerely hope to see more fantasy from Mary Pearson in the near future!

A Promise of Fire
Sep 14th

Review of A Promise of Fire

Posted in Reviews

Title: A Promise of Fire Author: Amanda Bouchet Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Date Published: August 2, 2016 Where I got the book: Received in July 2016 My World of Books Subscription Box. The July 2016 box was reviewed here. Purchase Your Copy on AMAZON | or one of our indie affiliates Quail Ridge Books | Flyleaf…

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A Promise of Fire
5 Star Rating

Title: A Promise of Fire
Author: Amanda Bouchet
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Published: August 2, 2016
Where I got the book: Received in July 2016 My World of Books Subscription Box. The July 2016 box was reviewed here.
Purchase Your Copy on AMAZON | or one of our indie affiliates Quail Ridge Books | Flyleaf Books
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.
What a wild ride! I have to admit, I received this book in a subscription box and I didn’t know anything about it. Even when I looked it up, I did not have high expectations. IT BLEW ME AWAY!! A Promise of Fire had absolutely everything I wanted! It had a slow burn romance, lots of witty banter, a strong female heroine, magic, and tons of action and adventure.

Cat is a fabulous main character. She is strong, funny, impetuous, and her inner thoughts are so realistic. This book is actually written in first person. I realized as I started reading it that I am not used to first person but I really liked it. I liked “being” Cat while I read this book. Griffin is an amazing foil for Cat. He is strong, but he is also careful and serious. Their interactions really drove the story and I was never bored, not even when the action slowed down. Flynn, Kato, and Carver are amazing! They are my favorite part of this book, romance aside. I love when a male character has real friends who truly care about him. Too often men in literature are solitary or have silly friends that don’t value them. I also love how protective and inclusive they were of Cat and how they treated her as a capable equal. The rest of Griffin’s family is really interesting and each one, no matter how small their part, really added something to the story. I also liked Cat’s circus family. They were really cool and I hope we see more of them in the next book. Cat’s mom didn’t play a huge part in this book, at least not in person, but I really liked her. She’s the kind of crazy, psycho bad guy that every good book needs. I hope we see her more in the next book as well, even though she creeps me out!

The writing was the most surprising. I know nothing about Amanda Bouchet or the publisher who did A Promise of Fire, but she did an amazing job and the publisher needs a cookie for picking this story out of the masses of submissions they receive! Everything was seamless. We went from action, to romance, to mystery, to magic all without issue or awkwardness. The banter was extremely well done, top notch. I literally laughed out loud at times. Other times I got this goofy smile on my face. How do I know? I caught a glimpse of it reflected on my glass door as I was heading outside to read alone, where no one could see my goofy smile. I’m serious, I read this book in about four hours, give or take, and it made me SO HAPPY!

I loved the story, even though it was slightly familiar. There are a lot of fantasy books out there that feature a heroine with special abilities but to be honest, I don’t care. I loved this story and I think I might go crazy waiting for the next book! The elements including the world, the culture, and the magic were all new and used in a completely different way. While it involves the Greek Pantheon, this is definitely not Greece or an alternate Greece that I can tell. I like that there was a little of the familiar but then a whole new landscape with interesting new places and customs to learn. Maybe Bouchet has started a trend and we will see more of this! Maybe the Book Gods will smile on me and someone will drop A Breath of Fireon my lap in the next few days. A girl can hope. And hope. And hope. If you love a good, fun, high action fantasy with a little romance thrown in, then you need to grab A Promise of Fire right now!

The Reader Sea of Ink and Gold
Sep 13th

Review of The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold #1) by Tracie Chee

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Title: The Reader Author: Tracie Chee Publisher: Putnam Date Published: September 13, 2016 Where I got the book: eARC from the Penguin First to Read program (this in no way affects my review) Purchase your copy at: AMAZON | FlyLeaf Books (Indie) | Quail Ridge Books (Indie) Synopsis from Goodreads: Sefia knows what it means…

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The Reader Sea of Ink and Gold
5 Star Rating

Title: The Reader
Author: Tracie Chee
Publisher: Putnam
Date Published: September 13, 2016
Where I got the book: eARC from the Penguin First to Read program (this in no way affects my review)
Purchase your copy at: AMAZON | FlyLeaf Books (Indie) | Quail Ridge Books (Indie)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

This is one of my favorite debut books of 2016. I was absolutely floored by Tracie Chee’s talent. The premise is so fascinating and original, especially for book lovers and avid readers. Can you imagine a place where books are power and very few people have access to them, let alone know how to read or what a book is? It sounds like the beginning of a bibliophile’s horror story! There are so many stories already out in the world, it is amazing to find a story this unique. To also find such talented, gorgeous writing in a debut novel makes The Reader a rare gem in the world of YA fantasy.

I absolutely loved Tracie Chee’s writing style. It was eloquent and lovely, without being overstated or flowery. There are so many quotable things in this book! It helped set the mood for the story and its diverse cast. The world-building was also excellent. I think it takes a rare talent to build a wholly unique world never before seen in literature to date. She adds so many layers to the story. We begin with Sefia and her journey to save Nin while protecting the book her parents left her, but slowly more characters and elements are added. First she adds in the people who are after Sefia and their point of view and magic. Then she adds the boy Sefia saves, who I love, my favorite character by far. At some point she adds in pirates, more magic, secret societies, and assassins and all I could think is “how is this all working so well”! The amount of time it must have taken to perfect each element and level of the story to make sure it fit, flowed, and wasn’t too much for the reader to follow or didn’t seem extraneous to the plot, must have been enormous. I truly admire the talent it took to write this beautiful novel.

It also takes talent to write a story with so many points of view that are completely different and not cause the reader to get lost. I was surprised at how easily I followed all the POVs and had no trouble switching back and forth. Each character’s POV had a distinct flavor; their thoughts and personality were different. This is probably the hardest part of writing multiple POV stories. It’s easy to change their names, appearances, genders, etc. It is not as easy to make them unique in how they think and act. I loved each storyline/POV in The Reader. I don’t want to spoil anything but all the storylines converge at the end and create something totally unexpected! By far the coolest part of the storyline was the fact that as Sefia is reading the book, we are also. It took me some time to figure out what was going on, but once I caught on it was really cool!

I think the pacing of the story was the only thing I had a slight issue with. While I did burn through this book quickly, I had to stop myself from skimming during some parts. The slower pace during Sefia’s journey where she would learn new things would sometimes take me a minute to get used to and my brain would want to skim through these parts because of the lack of action or character interaction. They were important parts and not boring at all, I think my mind wanted to skip ahead so everything would come together and all my questions could be answered!

I cannot stress enough how much this did not feel like a debut novel. The beauty of the writing reminded me of the Star Touched Queen, and I would never guess it was Tracie Chee’s first published novel. I am terribly eager to see where the story goes next after The Reader. I will definitely be continuing the Sea of Ink and Gold series. I will also be picking up anything else Tracie Chee writes; she’s an auto-buy from this moment on! If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to bump it to the top of your TBR; you don’t want to miss this!

TSR Banner
Sep 12th

The Swan Riders Blog Tour Presented by Irish Banana Tours

Posted in Reviews

Title: The Swan Riders Author: Erin Bow Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry books Date Published: September 20, 2016 Where I got the book: paperback arc from the publisher Available for purchase through these links: Amazon | B&N Synopsis from Goodreads: Greta Stuart had always known her future: die young. She was her country’s crown princess, and…

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5 Star Rating

Title: The Swan Riders
Author: Erin Bow
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry books
Date Published: September 20, 2016
Where I got the book: paperback arc from the publisher
Available for purchase through these links: Amazon | B&N
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Greta Stuart had always known her future: die young. She was her country’s crown princess, and also its hostage, destined to be the first casualty in an inevitable war. But when the war came it broke all the rules, and Greta forged a different path.

She is no longer princess. No longer hostage. No longer human. Greta Stuart has become an AI.

If she can survive the transition, Greta will earn a place alongside Talis, the AI who rules the world. Talis is a big believer in peace through superior firepower. But some problems are too personal to obliterate from orbit, and for those there are the Swan Riders: a small band of humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.

Now two of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion, and the dry grassland may hide insurgents who want to rescue her – or see her killed. Including Elian, the boy she saved—the boy who wants to change the world, with a knife if necessary. Even the infinitely loyal Swan Riders may not be everything they seem.

Greta’s fate—and the fate of her world—are balanced on the edge of a knife in this smart, sly, electrifying adventure.

Did you ever pick up a book you knew little about? Maybe it was on sale, or someone gave it to you. Then you read it and it was life changing and gorgeous and you didn’t understand why everyone wasn’t talking about it. That was The Scorpion Rules for me. I got it while it was on sale for Kindle and I devoured it in one day, only stopping to dry my tears and gush to my little brother about how perfect it was. When I heard there was a sequel, I was understandably worried. The Scorpion Rules had one of the most beautiful and perfect endings I ever read. I’ve spent the last 8 months scared of reading the sequel, afraid of what it would do to the perfection of its predecessor. I could not possibly be more surprised and content with The Swan Riders! I will never doubt Erin Bow or her talent again. This book was epic perfection on a whole new level. It took the beauty of The Scorpion Rules and turned it into something even better. It took that perfect ending and gave it new meaning. I don’t know how a book set in such an unrecognizable future and based on so much science can be filled with so much emotion or be so relatable. This is a book on what it means to be human, and in our current world filled with so much evil and hate, it is such a welcome and necessary book.

The Swan Riders takes the story in a very new direction. While The Scorpion Rules focused on Greta and the other children at the precepture, this book focused on the world itself, Talis, and the swan riders. From the first book, we already know what the human children experience and how they see the world, but now we get to see what the AIs and the swan riders experience, and how they view things. We learn more of the history of the world and how Talis and the swan riders come to exist. I had a lot of questions while I read the first book, and while I wasn’t terribly upset not to have them answered, it was a pleasant surprise to have them answered in this book. The story itself has always been enough to keep me reading, but knowing more about the swan riders and Talis really hooked me. Bow’s world-building is very interesting. She never gives more information than you need. It is an effective strategy that keeps you focused on the game and the players, not on the why until it really matters, and will have the biggest effect on you. It makes for some very emotional and pivotal moments in The Swan Riders. I absolutely ADORE when a science fiction writer can make a future world seem so real; I sit there waiting for it to become my reality. Erin Bow is a master at this. There are also major twists in this book that I can honestly say I did not expect at all! Bow is a master at building an interesting yet predictable story and then ripping it out from under you with amazing grace. At points I had to take a minute to absorb what just happened, it took me that much by surprise. The themes of morality and humanity were so prevalent, with science always lurking in the corners. The Prisoners of Peace series is a look into our possible future–and the cure to save it–or possibly prevent it.

Greta’s journey towards understanding who she is as a new AI, and her interaction with former friends and swan riders Sri and FX, brings a whole new spark of reality into the story. Greta’s inner thoughts and reactions are all so incredibly believable. I found myself nodding at times agreeing with something Greta said or thought. I felt a real connection to her as the main character. The war inside her was a fascinating thing to behold. Watching her decide who and what she is, coming to terms with the changes in her, made the story what it is. I got to know Talis so much better in this book and I love him. He is my favorite character by far. He vacillates between being this inhuman genius, with far too much knowledge and power, and acting like a teenage boy complete with sarcasm and dirty jokes. He brings a lighter side to Greta’s serious demeanor and weighty thoughts. I think FX, Sri, and the other swan riders provided valuable insight into this world and they were really compelling and mostly likeable characters. Elian popped back up in the story, much to my chagrin. I neither love him nor hate him. He serves a purpose, but I’m often cursing how impetuous and short sighted he can be. He is still a valuable character and the story wouldn’t be the same without him. The other AIs are very creepy, which I loved. Nothing makes a story more interesting than creepy AIs!! I think the only major player I really missed was Xie. She is not featured much in this book, but I can see why. Bow has her ducks in a row and the story must play out. I still missed her and the budding relationship between her and Greta. I honestly cannot wait to see where the next book takes us with all these characters.

This book is one of the few I would actually hazard to describe as perfect. The balance between witty banter and discussions of ethics is brilliant. The writing is superb and so very appropriate at all times. The language is flowery at the right times without ever being too much. Greta has poignant, emotional thoughts, while her dialogue is still snarky like a teenagers should be. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where I find so much of it to be absolutely just as it should be. There is science, but also emotion. There are motivational epic moments, but also silly ones. There are moments of great action and adventure, but also many descriptive scenes and inner monologues. There are characters of all types with all sorts of personalities. Erin Bow quite literally left nothing out. This book and this series have become my favorite of all time. I cannot wait to read more from this incredibly talented author!


Photo Courtesy of Jay Parson
© 2016 Jay Parson

Hi! My name is Erin Bow — physicist turned poet turned author of young adult novels that will make you cry on the bus. I’m a white girl, forty-something, feminist, geeky enough to do the Vulcan salute with both hands — in public. I live in Canada. I love to cook, hate to clean, and yes, I do own a cat.

In the beginning, I was a city girl from farm country—born in Des Moines and raised in Omaha—where I was fond of tromping through wood lots and reading books by flashlight. In high school I captained the debate team, founded the math club, and didn’t date much.

In university I studied particle physics, and worked briefly at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva, Switzerland. Physics was awesome, but graduate school kind of sucked, and at some point I remembered that I wanted to write books.

Books: I have six of them — three novels, and two volumes of poetry and a memoir (the poetry under my maiden name, Erin Noteboom). My poetry has won the CBC Canadian Literary Award, and several other awards. My two novels, Plain Kate and Sorrow’s Knot, also have a fistful of awards, including Canada’s top award for children’s literature, the TD. The third novel, The Scorpion Rules, still faces its award season. No one read the memoir.

Right now I’m looking forward to the publication of my fourth novel, a companion piece to The Scorpion Rules called The Swan Riders, which will be out September 20 from Simon & Schuster. I’m at work on an new an entirely different novel, and a book of poetry about science.

Did you notice I got to Canada in there somewhere? Yeah, that was true love. I’m married to a Canadian boy, James Bow, who also writes young adult novels. We have two small daughters, both of whom want to be scientists.

Get to know the author! Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

Want to win a finished copy of The Swan Riders? Enter to win below via the Rafflecopter!

Empire of Storms
Sep 9th

Five Star Review of Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

Posted in Reviews

Title: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass) Author: Sarah J. Maas Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Date Published: September 6, 2016 Where I got the book: Purchased from Amazon Synopsis from Goodreads: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and…

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Empire of Storms
5 Star Rating

Title: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Date Published: September 6, 2016
Where I got the book: Purchased from Amazon
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

This review might contain minor spoilers, things that won’t change how you read the novel and things you probably saw coming. You should not read this review if you haven’t read Queen of Shadows though.

The two hardest parts of reviewing are deciding where to begin, and how to keep it coherent when you really just want to “fangirl” all over the place. While I am a huge fan of this series, I have my issues with it. I am not one to shout out, “Maas is queen!” and “the Throne of Glass books are perfect.” Rather, I am a sceptic where this series is concerned. BUT, this book—this terrible, terrible book—makes me want to scream out, Maas is Queen! It made me cry. It made me bite my nails. It made my heart beat faster! I fist punched the air and quietly squealed so my husband wouldn’t laugh at me. This is an epic book, a true work of literary art. It is along the same lines as A Court of Mist and Fury and Heir of Fire; the quality being far greater than the majority of her work. It brings tons of action, lots of romance, friendship, loyalty, epic quotes, a sense of reality in a made up world. I bled with these characters; I cried with them and my heart broke with theirs. I forged the beginnings of a relationship with all of them in Heir of Fire and this book cemented that relationship; made it tangible.

Let me make my thoughts on the previous books clear before I begin to tell you how much and why I loved Empire of Storms. Throne of Glass introduced a beautiful world with a terribly annoying and selfish main character. It was poorly written in my opinion. Crown of Midnight was much better, the writing improving and the characters developing. Heir of Fire was my favorite book in this series until now. It showcased true emotions, a powerful message and journey, and character development of which I didn’t think Maas was capable. Queen of Shadows was disappointing. It was well written but the action and character development left something to be desired. It felt like a filler book. Empire of Storms blew all of her previous works out of the water.

There are many themes that get downplayed or sometimes outright forgotten in the fantasy genre. Some of these are loyalty, friendship, family, and emotional growth. These are themes you are most likely to find in contemporary fiction, but this book has them in spades. Aelin’s group remains loyal to her no matter what she does, even when she screws up. She stays loyal to all of her people, her friends, the people of Terrasen, the people of Adarlan, the entirety of Erilea. No matter what the people of this land have done to her, she still feels responsible for all of them, and puts herself at risk to keep them all safe. Aelin’s loyalty to her friends is impressive. She makes sure to take care of every one of them, even the ones who have hurt her in the past. I loved watching the friendships develop and strengthen. Seeing Aedion and Dorian, Rowan and Dorian, Elide and Manon, and Manon and Aelin; all of these unexpected friendships. These developing relationships drive the story. I hope you don’t find this to be a spoiler, but EVERYTHING I WANTED TO HAPPEN, HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK!! I cannot explain well enough how much this book was the culmination of so many dreams of mine. The closeness found between Aelin, Aedion, and Elide, even though they’ve spent so many years apart, is a beautiful thing. It highlights that family is what you make it. The reunion between Aelin and Elide had me in tears. Dorian’s POV chapters include parts about him missing Chaol, unable to really enjoy some things because his friend is gone, or needing to make decisions and wishing he had his closest friend there to advise him. This really hit home for me. This is how I feel when my very best friends are away from me and it made the characters and story feel so much more real. The emotions running wild between Rowan and the members of his cadre are also brilliant. He spent centuries with them and as such, it’s hard for them to let go of each other. I can’t congratulate Sarah enough on how well she did infusing this book with these very important themes and making it matter, making it feel real.

It’s time to talk character development. I began this series having major issues with a lot of the characters; I hated Celaena, Dorian, Chaol, and Rowan at first. Their character development is the main factor that caused me to change my mind. The most important part of that development is the emotional growth. As a YA book, I expect there to be some adolescent emotions. At this point in the series most of the characters are older though, and they deserve to be given the opportunity to grow emotionally. Heir of Fire began the emotional growth process for Aelin and Queen of Shadows showed Dorian growing into his crown and adulthood in general. It is Empire of Storms, however, that gives us the most emotional growth. Dorian behaves as a king, forgetting his own pride and grief in order to save his kingdom and Erilea as a whole. Aelin was the most surprising. We saw her react childishly, and in anger, in the past. In this book she behaves like a queen, putting her people first and sacrificing everything for the good of the realm. I have to say I am truly impressed with her growth and how real it has felt. I am also surprised at how much I love her as a character now. Aedion shows some major growth as well. While it took him much longer, he begins to forgive those he has held grudges against. He also learns to trust others more, letting go of his need to be in control and in the know. Lysandra has grown a lot. While she was once very self-serving and in possession of false bravado, she now has faith in her own strength and talents and sacrifices much in this novel to help Aelin with her plans. Her loyalty to Aelin is amazing, enough to bring me to tears. To be honest, Lysandra and Aelin top the list of most selfless and biggest sacrifices in Empire of Storms. Elide and Manon also show a new side of themselves in this book. Manon learns to trust, to soften, and to love. If you’re a Manon fan, you’re going to love this book! She steals the show! Elide learns to be strong and that she is worthy, no matter her past. I love that we got more time with her in this book; she’s such an interesting character with a lot to bring to the story. Rowan did not start out as a character I loved, but that slowly changed. The main reason I love him is the way he treats Aelin. She is considered less than him because she is not full fae, but he never treats her as such. Where Chaol sought to change and protect Celaena, Rowan serves Aelin. He allows her to be a queen, to take risks of her choosing, and he loves and accepts her as she is, dark parts and all. I think their romance in Empire of Storms is entirely believable and fun to read. There are so many emotional scenes between the two of them and the new developments in their story are both heartbreaking and exciting.

I have always loved the land of Erilea and the world-building in the Throne of Glass series, even though some of the books had less world-building than I’d like, or less interesting settings. However, I loved everything about the settings in this book. We get to see places we previously haven’t visited; we also get to return to some locations we haven’t seen in a while. Both of these provided Maas with an opportunity to show us her excelling skill as a world-builder. The missing history of the realm was better explained and the gods and the religion they practice were explained a little more. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but there were some long awaited places I expected to see in this book that I didn’t, but there were some plot twists involved and I was still pleased. There are jungles, islands, and seas to be explored in Empire of Storms and I really enjoyed picturing them in my mind.

As far as the actual story goes, I was highly impressed. There is just the right amount of action, drama, and romance to keep the story interesting. Each aspect was given just the right amount of attention without one taking precedence over the others. We finally get answers in this book! Motivations, history, religion; there’s so much more to the story that we are finally getting to hear in this book. I love the way Maas does romance. It’s present, there are lots of characters involved, but it still doesn’t seem to overpower the story. Do I need to stress how awesome the drama was?! Did I mention I cried, often? The drama was 1st class in this book; motivational speeches galore, moving expressions of love and friendship, heart-stopping action, and heartbreaking tragedy. Empire of Storms is a truly epic fantasy novel. If you are a Throne of Glass fan it will be everything you want and more. If you’ve continued the series but are still on the fence, it will change your mind and draw you back in. If you haven’t started the series, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE READ THIS! Seriously though, READ THIS BOOK NOW!!

Want to support an independent bookseller? Purchase Empire of Storms at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC