Review: Kingdom of Ash (#7) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to assassin to queen reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world…
She has risked everything to save her people – but at a tremendous cost. Locked in an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will to endure the months of torture inflicted upon her. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unravelling with each passing day…
With Aelin imprisoned, Aedion and Lysandra are the last line of defence keeping Terrasen from utter destruction. But even the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save the kingdom.
Scattered throughout the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian must forge their own paths to meet their destinies. And across the sea Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen – before she is lost to him. Some bonds will deepen and others be severed forever, but as the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight if they are to find salvation – and a better world.

Wow. Leaving this series behind after 8 books following this glorious cast of characters is going to be hard and leave a hole in my heart for a while. I can’t imagine not reading about them anymore!

This book has daunted me since it came out. In fact, I think it trumps Queen of Air and Darkness in being the longest book I’ve ever read. But it’s saying something that I really didn’t feel the length of this book at all, I never got bored and I left the book feeling like everything I needed answering had been answered. The pacing was just perfect for me. Reading this series with Alex has really helped me keep on top of reading them, but even when I fell behind in our schedule towards the end after a busy few days, I had no problem reading around 200 pages in a day to catch up with the schedule!

‘There are no gods left to watch, I’m afraid. And there are no gods left to help you now, Aelin Galathynius.’

I love the cast of characters we have followed over this series, and it was so satisfying to see them all reach different ends to their stories. Even though in some of the books I was more fixated on some characters than others, by the time we got to Kingdom of Ash, I just wanted to know about all of them. I never got bored or wanted to skip certain characters chapters, I wanted to know it all. I fell in love with all of them for their own reasons, and I truly felt like I was part of Aelin’s court myself and I never wanted to leave.

Despite this book being so long, I could definitely read more about these lovely characters if it was available to me, and I would totally lap up a novella like A Court of Frost and Starlight but for these characters. The only slight complaint I have that tainted the story for me was that everything felt a little too perfect. I just wish one or more of the characters could have been happy and badass on their own, and didn’t need to get married or have children in their future to be happy. Not that I didn’t ship everyone of course, it just made me almost roll my eyes sometimes!

Aelin smiled, and Goldryn burned brighter. ‘I am a god.’

I always said A Court of Thorns and Roses was my Sarah J Maas series, but you know, this one is up there. I can’t believe how much I adored this series and these characters and this world, and the battle scenes were immense. Thank you for another wonderful fantasy series, Sarah J Maas. Now I can’t wait for the next one!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Tower of Dawn (#6) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.
After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.

This book was exactly what I’ve been waiting for throughout this entire series. It was everything I wanted and more. Ever since Crown of Midnight, I’d felt disappointed that every single Throne of Glass book since just didn’t capture my love for the world and characters like that one did. I didn’t expect Tower of Dawn to be that book, but I’m ever so glad it was.

Ever since knowing Tower of Dawn was set on a different continent in a parallel timeline to Empire of Storms, I was unsure what to think. But while reading the fifth book and beginning to guess who it would be following, I knew I was going to like it, I just never guessed how much.

I will cherish it always.
No matter what may befall the world.

Tower of Dawn feels like the calm before the storm. It was much calmer and slower than the previous books, instead becoming much more character based, which I adored. It felt like such a breath of fresh air, a new look at the world with different eyes. Following Chaol, who is struggling with being in a wheelchair following an accident, Maas begins to tackle disability. I really enjoyed reading about Chaol’s inner battle with his new situation, it felt authentic and real, and it didn’t shy away from the embarrassment he felt.

A new setting and new characters also meant new cultures, which I loved. Maas does an absolutely wonderful job at creating lush and beautiful cities, in fact I think it’s one of the things she does best, and Tower of Dawn was no different. I relished the scenes that would give me more views of the city, the torre, the palace and the world around. It was breathtaking.

No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way.

The characters we come across are vibrant and wonderful. Yrene is a delightful edition, a young woman you may remember from The Assassin’s Blade, with a temper and strength I admire greatly. I loved Nesryn, even though her and Chaol’s relationship was frustrating at points. The side characters, such as the royals, healers and Nesryn’s family, all held their own roles and added to the story.

Overall, I can see why this book isn’t for some readers. But it was definitely for me. The study of characters, the focus on the relationships and inner battles, was exactly what I enjoy reading about. I felt close to the world and characters because of it. It was beautiful, and my favourite so far in the Throne of Glass series!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Empire of Storms (#5) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.
With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Wow, Throne of Glass just seems to step up and up with each book. I’ve been enjoying the emotional rollercoaster, but this one was on a whole other level. Alien and her court are back together, travelling across the beautiful land. It was so cool to see more of the land and other wider characters in this book.

Talking of, this seemed to be the one where more of the storylines begin to intertwine and I loved it. Although I appreciated Manon’s strength and female power, her story bored me a little up until the past book or two. I slowly became more and more invested in it for it to lead to the events of Empire of Storms, and it was worth it. This book made me appreciate all of the storylines that came before, if only to see the group together and love the Court together and as individuals.

I love you. There is no limit to what I can give to you, no time I need.

This book also felt more readable than the previous – it felt like the pacing had improved. I enjoyed the slow scenes between the characters, which rounded and built them perfectly. And I enjoyed the fast paced action scenes they led up to, especially the incredible ending.

I missed a certain character and I am looking forward to Tower of Dawn for that reason. But the edition of new characters and certain storylines really improved the story. Instead of feeling like I have before, which is wanting to get through certain chapters to reach others, I was really invested in all of the characters for a change!

Even when this world is forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will love you.

Overall, Empire of Storms was really enjoyable but still doesn’t quite match up to how much I loved Crown of Midnight – I’m at the point of not knowing whether it can be beaten, but I’m looking forward to finding out!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Queen of Shadows (#4) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Celaena Sardothien is cloaked in her assassin’s hood once more. She is back in Rifthold, but this time she is no one’s slave. She must delve into her most painful memories and fight for her survival, while resisting a smouldering passion that might very well consume her heart. And she will face her former master, the King of Assassins, again – to wreak revenge for a decade of pain… 

This book was everything Heir of Fire was missing. I wanted everybody all together again, to be back in Rifthold and for Celena to be around Dorian and Chaol. I was so torn by Heir of Fire and how Celena was in a completely different part of the world. Although it was interesting to read about her, err, relationship with Rowan, I missed having everybody together.

The female strength that shines through in this book blows me away. I love having such strong and beautiful female heroines, and these books are full of them. Not only do we have Celena, but I really grew to like Manon in this book. Her story intrigued me in Heir of Fire, but I liked it a lot in this one.

She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers.

Celena has really matured throughout these books, and I love the cast of characters. My heart ached for Dorian, and seeing how he developed throughout this story was so intense. I really missed some interactions with Chaol and I feel like he wasn’t a major part of the story at all which was disappointing. I really liked Rowan and Celena’s relationship, but something about it just didn’t sit quite right with me. I’m not sure how distant their relationship is, but I swear they are cousins! I kept remembering this whenever I read…certain scenes, and I just couldn’t shake the thought from my mind.

The writing was beautiful as usual, and just gets better with each book. The action scenes are amazing, and I was so absorbed into the story, reading my daily pages first thing for the final few days because I just wanted to know what happened. Magic is written with such beautiful language, and I adored it. The writing made for an absolutely wild ride, and I was shook at the end of some chapters, even gasping out loud.

As usual, I also loved the settings so much. Seeing more of the world always intrigues me, and the last twenty pages or so were probably my favourites of the whole book simply to be able to see a little more of the world.

She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.

Overall, this was probably my second favourite Throne of Glass book so far. It didn’t quite beat Crown of Midnight, but I will be very happy if this series continues to get better – I can really see it happening!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Heir of Fire (#3) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back…
The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king – for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

After I loved Crown of Midnight so much, I had pretty high expectations for Heir of Fire. And I have to admit, this book did not quite live up to those high expectations. I didn’t feel as invested in this book, I found some of it quite predictable, some slow, and some I just couldn’t bring myself to be interested in at all.

I think a lot of my difficulties stemmed from the fact Celena was suddenly away from the castle and with new characters for new reasons. I missed the connections and conversations between her, Dorian and Chaol. Rowan made for a good substitute in some ways, even though I found him and Celena’s…friendship a little strange and uncomfortable at times.

“Because I am lost,” she whispered onto the earth.

I enjoyed Celena’s chapters quite a lot and I was still intrigued by her journey. The side characters were enjoyable to read about too, and I had a soft spot for those she worked with in the kitchen. I enjoyed the chapters back in the castle too, even though they felt like they were missing something without Celena. Sorscha was sweet and I liked the introduction of her character. Manon’s chapters was where I hit a real problem. I was confused by what was happening and I never had enough time to really sympathise with her at all.

Maas’ writing has definitely improved during these books and the world building is incredible. The pacing was pretty consistent and the fast-paced, action-packed scenes got me pretty invested in the story. The ending was especially brilliant, and made me remember how amazing these books can be.

“And I do not know the way.”

Overall, this was unfortunately my least favourite of the series so far, even though I did enjoy it, it was still disappointing compared to how much I adored Crown of Midnight.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan’s deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies’ blood – but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.
Torn between her two protectors – a captain and a prince – and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom…

If Throne of Glass was good, Crown of Midnight was something different. Something new. Something quite magical. It had everything that Throne of Glass was missing. I wonder how much of this was due to the fact me and Alex decided to read The Assassin’s Blade before jumping into the second book, and I definitely felt a difference going into the book with the knowledge I had gained from reading the short story prequel collection.

I definitely had a new found respect for Celena having learned everything she went through before the events that occurred in Throne of Glass. I felt closer to her and more understanding of the decisions she makes throughout the book, and sympathetic towards her.

“You’ll figure it out. And when you do…” She shook her head, knowing she shouldn’t say it, but doing it anyway. 

Again, the castle and city were both beautiful, and some of the scenes in the library made me so happy, I love how integral the library is to the story. I cannot describe how Sarah J Maas approaches places, but I adore the way she does. I felt towards these places the way Feyre feels towards these places, they felt close to my heart, her bedroom, the castle, the library, the city, the grounds. I felt intertwined with it all.

The characters were brilliant and the romance surprised me, especially how much I adored reading about it so soon after reading The Assassin’s Blade. The brief part of this book that felt happy, felt like a pause and reset before we continued with the wild ride. And my, what a rollercoaster it was. I knew this series would be a complete series of ups and downs, and it really starts here. I never want to put it down, and the last few days I really wanted to pick it back up in the morning.

“When you do, I want you to remember that it wouldn’t have made any difference to me. It’s never made any difference to me when it came to you. I’d still pick you. I’ll always pick you.”

Overall, this book was such a ride and I loved it, definitely my favourite Throne of Glass book so far and it’s made me supremely excited for the rest of the series!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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. 

Alex and I were really unsure about when to read this collection and eventually decided on after Throne of Glass and before Crown of Midnight and I was really happy with reading it here! I think if we had gone into it before the first book I would have been confused and daunted by the world, but I’m happy to go into the rest of the books with the background knowledge that comes with The Assassin’s Blade.

This was a brilliant short story collection. Some were better/more enjoyable than others, but the flow between them all was really well put together. Having all of the stories in order of the time in which they actually happened allowed for the flow to be natural.

She was fire, she was darkness,

The writing was definitely better in this book too, Maas has grown as an author and grew past the first story too, really grasping my attention with the second. The emotion came through, I felt more connected to the characters, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series with a new found connection to Celena herself.

I did have a few questions about Celena while reading the first book and these stories pretty much answered them all. It gave me a better understanding of what she had gone through to get to the point of where Throne of Glass begins and I know I will sympathise with her much more now when she mentions certain characters!

she was dust and blood and shadow

I find short stories can be hit and miss and a few of these I genuinely do not remember much about merely days after reading them. However, The Assassin and the Desert and The Assassin and the Underworld were both favourites of mine and I became utterly enthralled with the stories.

Honestly, if this is what to expect from the Throne of Glass world, I’m really excited by what’s to come! And I feel like I will want to re-read a few of these stories when I get further into the series itself.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Throne of Glass (#1) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted? 

It’s been a while since I read A Court of Thorns and Roses and absolutely adored it! I’ve been looking forward to reading Throne of Glass ever since but also daunted by the size of the, and the worry I wouldn’t enjoy them quite as much as the other series. I’ve heard so many people say either one Sarah J Maas series or the other is your series, but I think they just offer different things.

I realised quite early on in this book how different it is to A Court of Thorns and Roses. It just feels different in so many ways, and one of those was definitely the writing. I could tell this was Maas’ debut in the writing style, and it didn’t quite live up to the level of writing I became used to in the ACOTAR series. However, I actually found it made the book easier to get used to and become involved in.

“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. 

It was lovely to feel an early easiness with this book, and I found it helped me with not feeling daunted for the rest of this long series. I kind of needed the writing to be slightly less complex for me to easily slide into this series and get used to the world.

Although I felt a slight lack of richness to the description of the surroundings and world, I could still picture the castle and tests well and really enjoyed reading about them. I also think there is a slight lack of development in the characters, but I think the foundations have been laid for me to get to know them better in future books. I already have a soft spot for Celena which is the main thing and I know I’m going to enjoy reading about her as a protagonist!

“You could do anything, if only you dared.”

Overall, this was a really positive start to a series I’ve been daunted by for a while. I’m so excited to carry on and see what Sarah J Maas has to throw at me throughout Throne of Glass! Shoutout to Alex for buddy reading these with me, I’m loving reading them together.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #8

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi all! It’s been a super weird week here in England as I’m sure it has been for most of you. I’m up and down with everything that’s going on, but I really want to share some more posts with you guys to keep us all busy and entertained!

It may have been a strange few weeks, but it’s been a good month for books. Here’s a few I’m really excited about!

House of Earth and Blood: Exclusive Edition - Crescent City 1 (Hardback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. Every night is a party and Bryce is going to savour all the pleasures Lunathion – also known as Crescent City – has to offer. But then a brutal murder shakes the very foundations of the city, and brings Bryce’s world crashing down.
Two years later, Bryce still haunts the city’s most notorious nightclubs – but seeking only oblivion now. Then the murderer attacks again. And when an infamous Fallen angel, Hunt Athalar, is assigned to watch her every footstep, Bryce knows she can’t forget any longer.
As Bryce and Hunt fight to unravel the mystery, and their own dark pasts, the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the deepest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir …

I picked up the Waterstones exclusive as soon as it came out. It’s gorgeous and has red sprayed edges. They ship internationally if you’d like to order one!

Secret Title (Hardback)

I also managed to grab a copy of the UK tour edition, as I was a ticket holder before the tour was cancelled. It’s so, so pretty!

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

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Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Amazon

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

Can I please just take a second to mention soapgate? Because even though there is so much wrong with it (*cough* fanfic for profit *cough*), it has amused me highly and could not be more appropriate to this review.

I’m so glad that I’m leaving this book with tears in my eyes and love in my heart. Because I was daunted. Tiny letters and 700 pages and bad pacing? I doubted whether I would get through it at all, let alone as quickly. But Sarah J Maas has done it again, she took my heart and ripped it to shreds, but still made me fall in love.

“I would have waited five hundred more years for you.”

As mentioned above, let’s start with the bad pacing. My only downside of this book would have to be the slow pacing at the start. I spent so long having to push through the dreadfully slow parts before hitting the turn-paging last bits of the book. But I have to say, it was worth it to get to the good, turn-paging parts.

Also, the characters! I found it great having Feyre’s sisters in the family and I loved all of their different personalities. So many deeply personal scenes (shoutout to Mor and that scene between Feyre and her in the camp which I loved!), had me rooting for each and every character.

“A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have… the wait was worth it.”

There is no other way to describe it, but everything in these books feels so alive. The characters, the land, the politics, the love…everything is vivid and real and crammed with emotion. The only thing I have to say is that I don’t know if I quite need another 3 books. I’m happy about the novella, but I’m also happy where this book left off. Although I loved them so much that I’m sure I’ll continue reading when the time comes, so who am I to complain?

Also, I cried.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

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