Empire of Storms – Sarah J. Maas

#book-reviewer #book-review #bookish

Synopsis
Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe and fans will be left breathless as kingdoms collide in this instalment of the epic New York Times bestselling series.
The long path to the throne has just begun for Aelin Galathynius. 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. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

My review

This is my third book this month in the Throne of Glass series. Empire of Storms took me a lot longer to enjoy than the other novels. Part One includes a lot of battle scenes and I am not a fan of too many of these scenes.

On the otherhand, when I came to the end of part one I couldn’t put the book down. The romance and intimacy are heightened and there were some steamy passages. As cheesy as it may sound, the characters’ are connected in such a way that it feels that they are truly meant to be. Part two became even more interesting as Aelin and Elide are heading in the same direction. The ending of this book has left me wondering and ready to read the next installment.

Another good installment from Sarah J.Maas.

Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas

#book-review #book-reviewer #tog #throneofglass #sarahjmaas

Synopsis

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. Now she returns to the empire – to confront the shadows of her past . . .
The fourth instalment in the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series.

Bloodthirsty for revenge on the two men responsible for destroying her life, and desperate to find out if the prince and his captain are safe, Celaena returns to Rifthold, the seat of so much evil. She has accepted her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, there are dark truths to learn and debts to be paid. Aelin must stay hidden beneath her assassin’s hood and draw on her mortal strength as Celaena to prevent the King of Adarlan from tearing her world apart. Only then can she fight for her people.

My review

I have been told that the series ‘just gets better and better’. This is very true. Queen of Shadows did not disappoint. The romance, action, magic and adventure were all equally fantastic.

Celaena’s return to Rifthold was very different to when she was last there. Her reasons for returning included revenge and to come to terms with her past. Having just read The Assassin’s Blade I felt that I had a greater understanding of Celaena’s (or should I say Aelin’s?!) past and how she came to be who she was.

Her connection with Rowan is very strong and the romance is innocent, yet intense. As a reader, I could see how attractive Rowan is and his character is explored further, as we learn more about him. I assume we will learn even more in the novels to come.

I am in awe of the way in which Sarah J. Maas portrays her characters, as they change and grow in each novel. Celaena’s friendships are built on their devotion and connection with one another.

The end scene of this novel is truly epic. I can’t imagine reading another novel just yet. I am going to read Empire of Storms NOW.

The Assassin’s Blade – Sarah J. Maas

Synopsis
Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom’s most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin’s Guild, Celaena yields to no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.
When Celaena’s scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes-and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she makes friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn’s orders, Celaena risks unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn’s clutches-and if they fail, they’ll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives . . .
A prequel to Throne of Glass, this collection of five novellas offers readers a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling-and deadly-world.
Included in this volume:
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
The Assassin and the Healer
The Assassin and the Desert
The Assassin and the Underworld
The Assassin and the Empire

My review

What a way to start the month! The Assassin’s Blade was a quick and fast paced read that has changed my mind about prequels. I have often overlooked them. Thanks to a TOG fan and friend on instagram, I decided to make sure to read this one. It is a must! It is possibly my favourite in the series. Yes, I felt that about Heir of Fire too. I love this series.

When should it be read? I like the idea of reading books in the order they are published, so ideally after Crown of Midnight. I startes reading Heir of Fire before I realised, which was fine. It would have given me further insight into some characters though if I read the prequel first.

The Assassin’s Blade delves into Celeana’s past and reveals more about her time before she was sent to the salt mines of Endovier. I enjoyed the structure of the book, being broken up into sections. Each section appears to have great significance to the other books. My favourites were The Assassin and the Healer and The Assassin and the Desert. As characters are introduced in this book I wondered whether I would soon be reading more about them in Queen of Shadows. Other characters I have already met were given a further backstory. The way in which they were described allowed me to connect well with them.

The romance in this novel is beautiful and the bond between Celaena and Sam is very strong. It was a joy to read of Celaena and her vulnerability as she opened her heart for the first time.

This is the first time I have really cried in this series. This book has everything – adventure, romance, fantasy. It was an emotional and entertaining read that I would highly recommend.

The Currency Lass – Tea Cooper

Synopsis

She can run but she can’t hide…

As her father’s only heir, Catherine Cottingham expects to inherit their sprawling property in the Hunter Valley. What she doesn’t understand is why her father is trying to push her into a marriage to the pompous and repulsive Sydney businessman Henry W. Bartholomew.

When the will is read it becomes clear money, or the lack of it, lay behind her father’s plans. Catherine is mortified — as a married woman all her possessions will pass to her husband, the overbearing Bartholomew. Her only alternative is to wait until her twenty-first birthday and inherit the property in her own right, but can she elude such a determined man until then?

A chance encounter with a travelling circus and its fiery lead performer, Sergey Petrov, offers the perfect solution and Catherine escapes to the goldfields. But there is more to the circus than spangles and sawdust and Catherine finds herself drawn into a far-reaching web of fraud and forgery…

My Review

I am fast becoming a Tea Cooper fan. I loved The Currency Lass, just as much as I loved The Girl in the Green Dress. What a captivating story of love, loss, expectation and courage.

I love historical fiction and particularly enjoyed where this book was set. It is set where I live, in Newcastle/The Hunter Region. I felt the peace and quiet of the Cottingham property and the rural areas, which are now filled with homes, shops and businesses. The descriptions of the landscape and Australian goldfields took me to Catherine’s world in an instant.

I loved the characters, teh romance and enjoyed reading about another strong female protagonist. Catherine is determined to hold on to the family property. On the otherhand, she is faced with her marriage arranged by her father before his death, to a man she believes will sell the property once he marries her. Sergey provides Catherine with an opportunity to truly experience the wonders of the circus and use her horseriding skills. I loved the circus performances and wanted to be in the front row seat.

What a novel! From the city of Sydney to a rural property in The Hunter to a travelling circus. The Currency Lass had me hooked from the beginning and I would recommend it to any readers who enjoy historical fiction and/or romance. Tea Cooper is one talented Australian author!

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon

Synopsis

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon” is a fascinating, detailed account of Japanese court life in the eleventh century. Written by a lady of the court at the height of Heian culture, this book enthralls with its lively gossip, witty observations, and subtle impressions.

Lady Shonagon was an erstwhile rival of Lady Murasaki, whose novel, “The Tale of Genji,” fictionalized the elite world Lady Shonagon so eloquently relates. Featuring reflections on royal and religious ceremonies, nature, conversation, poetry, and many other subjects, “The Pillow Book” is an intimate look at the experiences and outlook of the Heian upper class, further enriched by Ivan Morris’s extensive notes and critical contextualization.

My review

Now this is a classic! I was reading the diary of Japanese lady of the Court, Sei Shonagon, who was born around a thousand years ago. I felt like I was reading a Heian period blog as I read her notes on life. The words were written as they came to mind. Her comments on life as she knows it are honest and insightful.

Sei Shonagon’s poetry throughout and beautiful descriptions of nature are my favourite parts of her book. I love that poetry was used as a form of communication and I fell in love with some of the ways of the Heian period.

Did I love Sei Shonagon as a person? She was vain, judgmental, yet observant of the natural world. Just like all of us, she had traits that I valued and traits that were lacking.

I learnt a lot from the sections detailing the Court and I particularly enjoyed reading about the Buddhist rituals that would occur. Little has changed in some respects with certain traditions.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading a ‘classic blog’. What an honest portrait and historical account from a woman of the Court in the Heian period.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Love Lie Repeat – Catherine Greer

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Synopsis

Three girls, loyal to each other – that never happens. All the groups of three implode eventually. Two in, one out. Change. Betrayal. Again. And again.

But not us. I make sure of it. I make Ash and Ruby see that our power is in our three-ness. We can do what no other trio can.

Together, we’re strong.

Thick, thin, boys, mothers, divorce, other girls, secrets, lies, all of it.

I’ll keep us together.

Watch me.

Intoxicating and intense, lush and chilling, LOVE LIE REPEAT is the unmissable debut novel from Catherine Greer.

My Review

Love, Lie, Repeat was a compelling, intriguing and powerful read. It didn’t take me long to read, as I was captivated by the plot. From the beginning, I questioned and felt empathy for the narrator, 16 year old Annie. She considers the bond with her friends to be unbreakable and insists that she has the power to keep her friends together no matter what they go through. The girls experience love, feelings of abandonment from family members, struggles with mental health and finding out who they truly are. Many issues raised in the novel would be close to home for many teenagers, whether experienced by a friend or themselves.

There are sections of the novel that explore very personal teenage issues. As a teacher, this book was an emotional read in parts, as I considered the grief, neglect, anxiety and depression felt by the characters. This could be any one of my students. In my profession, I hope to provide life lessons and help students at school whenever they need someone to listen to them.

I also saw this book from the perspective of a parent and at times did not connect well with the narrator due to the lack of consideration she had for her mother.

Overall, this was a great young adult suspense thriller that I couldn’t put down. What a debut novel!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bridge of Clay – Markus Zusak

Synopsis

The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance.

At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle.

The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome?

My review

Markus Zusak’s writing is poetic with a unique style. I was drawn into the life of the Dunbar boys within the first few pages. The suspense and mystery intrigued me from the beginning. Zusak’s choice of vocabulary often intrigued me too, encouraging me to read on.

The structure of the book is almost random, yet is clever in execution. Bridge of Clay is structured in a way that provides clues and important information for the reader to gain an insight into the lives of Penny, Michael and their sons. Penny’s past before having children is very interesting. Her and Michael both experienced vastly different lives prior to their story, however, they are brought together when Penny’s piano lands at his door. The story revolves around their sons, the Dunbar boys, who have emotional scars due to feelings of grief and abandonment.

Music is a huge part of the Dunbar family’s lives, thanks to Penny and her piano. Penny’s story kept me on the edge of my seat, in particular, her days in which she was referred to as the Mistake Maker. Her relationship with her father was that of true selfless love, as he sent her away to a better life.

Zusak’s raw portrayal of the emotions and feelings of the characters allowed me to connect with each character. I love the honest characterisation and descriptions of this particular family. Penny, in a house full of boys soon takes on their rough and tumble ways as they grow up, whilst they are influenced by her love of music and books.

The only reason I chose to give this book 4·5 stars was that at times I felt that the story was quite slow. I loved that the narrator, Matthew describes his and his brothers’ everyday lives. The novel made me reflect on how we can all find joy and rediscover ourselves through the simplest of moments. There was a lot to learn from this novel and I gained a further appreciation for life as I read the tragedy, courage and strength of the Dunbars.

Did you enjoy The Book Thief? I loved it as I did this novel. They are very different, yet Markus Zusak seems to have drawn me in each time.