January Wrap-Up

2018 is off to a pretty great start! I read seven books this month, which is CRAZY. 😃 I’m usually lucky if I read three or four. I’m glad I started the year strong, and this is definitely going to help me meet — or even exceed! — my reading goal.

Here are my ratings for this month’s reads:

  • The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Everless by Sara Holland   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

*I listened to the audiobook of Everless.
NOTE: I did not write reviews of The Princess Diarist or We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. My reviews for the rest of my January reads are linked above! 🙂

Did I read everything on my January TBR?
Nope. I didn’t end up listening to three of the audiobooks on my TBR — Days of Blood and Starlight, The Raven Boys, and An Ember in the Ashes — and I didn’t read Furyborn or The Hazel Wood. (I’m honestly not sure why I put The Hazel Wood on my January TBR, knowing that it wouldn’t arrive until the 30th and that I wouldn’t have enough time to read it before the end of the month… 🤔 But it will definitely be on my February TBR!)

Did I read anything not on my January TBR?
Yes! The Princess Diarist, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, The Bear in the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and Truly Devious. So… the majority of the books I read this month weren’t on my TBR. 😅 I’M SO BAD AT THIS.

What was my favorite read of the month?
This is hard, because I read so many good books this month. While I loved The Cruel Prince, I have to choose The Bear and the Nightingale, because that book ripped my heart out and won it over all at the same time. ❤️

What was my least favorite read of the month?
I hate to say this, but it has to be The Princess Diarist. I thoroughly enjoyed Carrie Fisher’s writing, and I will definitely be picking up some of her other books, including Wishful Drinking. But I found the subject matter to be surprisingly sad, and I could never seem to get into it.

What were some of your favorite January reads? Comment below and let me know! 😊

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

TDAs with many books I’ve read, I was drawn to Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious because of the cover. (Seriously, look at it. Can you really blame me? 😍) But then I was hooked by the synopsis, which appealed to both my love of stories about quirky high school kids and my combined interest in/fear of true crime. (Speaking of true crime, my co-worker recently recommended a podcast called And That’s Why We Drink, and it’s both a paranormal AND true crime podcast! I’ve been binging episodes on Spotify. 10/10, would recommend. Just don’t listen to it at night, in your empty house, right before you go to bed… Bad idea. 😱)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: Despite my fascination with true crime, I don’t actually read many mysteries. But I was especially intrigued by the setting of this one. I don’t know why, but I’m always fascinated by stories that take place at boarding schools, prep schools, or old, prestigious colleges. (Maybe it’s the stuffy academic in me. 🧐) Ellingham was one of the most interesting parts of this book, and while I enjoyed the descriptions of the Great House, Minerva, the Art Barn, and the various secret passageways, I wanted to see even more of the campus. Hopefully we’ll return to the school in the next book. (Although, considering the events of this one, I suppose that remains to be seen… 🤔)

I liked Stevie a lot, as well as Janelle, Nate, and Pix. I’m still not sure how I feel about David, but I do have a soft spot for characters with complicated backstories, and I’m curious to see what happens with him in the next book. I didn’t really like or dislike the other characters — they were sort of just there, and that’s actually fine with me. I think they worked well to keep the plot moving and establish a group of potential suspects. And I think Johnson handled the two separate timelines very well. In books with multiple timelines, I often feel drawn to one more so than the other(s), but I was equally interested in both.

What I Disliked: I knew going into this book that it had a cliffhanger ending, and that it was the first book in a series. But I almost feel like there are too many unanswered questions at the end of Truly Devious, and that — had this book been a little longer — some could have been addressed. 🙁 While a big part of me is looking forward to reading the next book… another part of me wishes that this had just been a standalone. And this is a small complaint in comparison, but there’s something that Stevie wonders if she actually saw, or if her sleepy brain merely conjured it, and I have to say, I wanted much more finality regarding that. (I’m being vague to avoid being spoiler-y. If you’ve read — or when you read — the book, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.) Was it really there? Was it not? I NEED TO KNOW. I absolutely think that’s one of the things that could have been firmly resolved in this book.

I finished this book in two days, so it’s clear that I enjoyed the mysteries enough to keep going! And like I said, I’m definitely interested in reading the second book when it comes out. But I’m hoping that it answers more questions than this one.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Maureen Johnson
More Books by This Author:
The Shades of London Series
The Scarlett Series
The Blue Envelope Series
The Key to the Golden Firebird
On the Count of Three
Girl at Sea
Devilish
Let It Snow (co-written with John Green and Lauren Myracle)
The Bane Chronicles (co-written with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan)

Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

TGITTIf you read my review of Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, you’ll know that I became 100% obsessed with it. So of course I had to jump right into the sequel, The Girl in the Tower. Spoiler: I LOVED THIS BOOK, TOO. ❤️ In recent months, I’ve found it more difficult to lose myself in stories. I blame it on my restless brain that’s always trying to focus on 10+ things at the same time. 😵 But this series has ended that slump, and waiting until August for the final book in the trilogy is going to take some serious willpower!

Even though I’ve tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, if you have not yet read The Girl in the Tower, there may still be some spoiler-y details ahead.

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: I’m happy that this book explored new places, like the Lavra and Moscow, and the descriptions were just as detailed and vivid as they were in The Bear and the Nightingale. We catch up with Sasha and Olga, having not seen them since their departure from Lesnaya Zemlya in the first book. And although both frustrated me at times, I think it’s clear that they often feel torn between societal expectations and their familial concern for Vasya, who is very much unconcerned with fitting in or being trapped in a life she despises. Every scene with Morozko was fantastic, but I’m probably biased… 😏 (See my review of The Bear and the Nightingale for more gushing.) I also appreciated the inclusion of a new — and unexpected — villain and the secrets he brings to light. Plot-wise, this installment in the series does a great deal of work, and it gives the reader just enough foreshadowing to leave them counting down the days until The Winter of the Witch is published. (Only 200 more to go until August 14th! 😁)

What I Disliked: As with the first book, I didn’t want this book to end. And I did that thing where I read the last few lines and turned the page to keep reading, only to find that it was over. 😞 That’s honestly the only thing I have to complain about. Oh, and the fact that this book left me EMOTIONALLY WRECKED. 😭 But I’m not too upset about that.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Katherine Arden
More Books by This Author:
The Bear and the Nightingale
The Winter of the Witch

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

TBATNI can’t tell you exactly how many people have recommended Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale to me, but it’s a lot. Having purchased the Kindle edition when it was on sale recently, I decided to finally give it a go.

I finished it in less than twenty-four hours, and I found myself wondering WHY DIDN’T I READ THIS SOONER?! 😭❤️ I knew I had to finish it quickly, because it was all I could think about. (And now I’m impatiently waiting for my next paycheck so I can buy the next book in the trilogy, The Girl in the Tower. JUST KIDDING. I was able to get it from the library! Also, THANK GOODNESS THE FINAL BOOK COMES OUT THIS YEAR, BECAUSE WAITING ANY LONGER WOULD BE TORTURE. 💀) I was going to say that you should read this book if you like fairy tales, but really, you should read this book no matter what, because it’s amazing. I finally understand the hype, and I am HERE FOR IT.

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: EVERYTHING, CLEARLY. But more specifically…

  • I was hooked from the first page. Arden’s writing is lush and lyrical, and the story is captivating and — of course — magical. I didn’t want to put this book down, and whenever I did, all I could think about was when I would be able to pick it up again.
  • Vasya is a strong, compelling character who refuses to settle for a life she can’t choose for herself. She makes her own choices, accepts the consequences, and above all, makes it clear that no man will bend or break her. 🙅🏻
  • MOROZKO. ❤️ That’s all. (But really, I have a serious weakness for characters who are neither good nor bad, but somewhere in between.)
  • Arden does an incredible job of setting each scene, whether it takes place in the village of Lesnaya Zemlya, or Moscow, or Morozko’s fir-grove. The small details make everything more vivid, and the wintry atmosphere lends itself to the folklore feel of this book.
  • IT’S JUST SO GOOD, OKAY?
  • Oh, and I really hope that a domovoi lives in my oven. Maybe I’ll leave some sewing out and see what happens… 😁

What I Disliked: THAT THIS BOOK HAD TO END, AND THAT I MUST NOW WAIT TO READ THE NEXT ONE. In all seriousness, though, there wasn’t anything I disliked. This book was delightful and intoxicating and surprising, and there was never a moment where I felt lost or removed from the story.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I want to buy a copy for everyone I know. It’s a perfect read for any time of the year, but before winter’s over, do yourself a favor and read this book. Make yourself a cup of tea, curl up under a blanket, and — if possible — watch the snow fall as you read. After all, it is part of the Winternight trilogy… ❄️

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Katherine Arden
More Books by This Author:
The Girl in the Tower
The Winter of the Witch
(This book won’t be published until August, but you can pre-order it now!)

Review: Everless by Sara Holland

EverlessHaving heard wonderful things about it, I was excited to jump into the world of Everless! 😃✨ Sara Holland’s debut novel introduces readers to a world where time is — quite literally — money, and those who don’t have it are at risk of losing everything, including their lives. The set-up is familiar: Jules, a teenage girl from a small village, tries to unravel a mystery — about the beautiful, dangerous city of Everless, as well as herself. But she has more power than she knows, and the game she thought she was playing might just turn out to be something else entirely…

NOTE: I decided to listen to the audiobook, and I liked it a lot! The narrator, Eileen Stevens, read passionately, and she did an amazing job of differentiating characters’ voices. (Although I could never take Roan or Liam all that seriously. Something about their voices kept pulling me out of the story… and there were times where Liam sounded British, but not all the time…? 🤔)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here. 🙂

What I Liked: I really liked the world of Sempera. The details were rich, vivid, and memorable, and I think I had an easier time picturing the different settings than I did the characters. The story is very compelling. I found myself listening to this audiobook whenever I could, because I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next! This was due, in part, to the mystery surrounding Jules and what really happened at Everless before she and her father fled. I can honestly say that the conclusion of this book surprised me. I wasn’t expecting that twist, but I think it works very well to establish what the rest of the series will focus on. Overall, this was definitely an engaging read, and the primary thing that hooked me was the world itself and how Holland described it.

What I Disliked: I didn’t feel too attached to any of the characters. While I cared about Jules and wanted her to find the truth about herself and what’s really going on at Everless, I found myself feeling frustrated whenever she made a foolish choice. I know she’s only seventeen, and mistakes are bound to be made. But I just couldn’t understand why she made some of the decisions she did, knowing what she knew at the time. 🙁 (I’d say more, but that would likely spoil a few big plot points.) I didn’t find myself rooting for her to end up with Roan, because I really didn’t know much about him. He seemed like a good enough guy, and it felt — at least for a while — like he was being set up to end his engagement to Ina and choose Jules instead… but I just didn’t care about him. Or even Liam! Do I hate him? Do I like him? Maybe I’m not even sure. 😐 (And Jules might be feeling the same way.) It felt like an attempt at a love triangle, but not quite…? I’m glad it wasn’t, at least not in the traditional sense. But I just felt a general detachment from the characters and their relationships with one another.

Overall, this book is a well-written fantasy with impressive world-building and a great deal of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Jules in the next book! Hopefully I’ll enjoy it a little more, now that I’m familiar with the world and the characters. Everless does an excellent job of setting things in motion, and I’d say it’s absolutely worth the read.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Sara Holland

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

TCPHolly Black’s The Cruel Prince was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, and wow, wow, wow… ❤️ It absolutely lived up to the hype. While I’ve heard of Black, I haven’t read any of her books until now. (I will admit, I did pick up Tithe in 2003 — fifteen years ago! 😲 — but it didn’t catch my interest at the time. If you’re a fan of that series, be sure to check out the Barnes and Noble special edition of The Cruel Prince for a bonus story that features two fan-favorite characters!) Many readers call her the “Faerie Queen,” and her characters and worlds are widely beloved. The Cruel Prince is the first book in a new trilogy, The Folk of the Air. It will be followed by The Wicked King (expected in 2019) and The Queen of Nothing (expected in 2020).

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here. 🙂

What I Liked: This is tough, because I feel like I could gush about this book for hours. Where do I even start? Black’s writing is stunning, and her dialogue is just superb. There were lines that stayed with me even after I had finished the book. The world of Faerie is enchanting and mesmerizing and terrifying. As a reader, you can practically feel Jude’s fear — that constant burden she buries within herself — leaping off the page at certain points. I love that Black establishes the status quo, the different relationships between her characters, and then reveals something you weren’t expecting. The story is ripe with lies, betrayals, secrets, and unforeseen consequences, and by the end, you’ll be begging for the next installment in the series. I know I was! 😃

Back to Jude really quick. I love her darkness, and her relentless devotion to finding her place in this world she never asked to inhabit. She’s sharp and gutsy and deliciously monstrous, and she will see things through until the bloody, bitter end. I like that a lot of the relationships in the book are complicated, and we struggle through those complexities and gray areas alongside Jude. The faerie magic was fun and vivid, and the political intrigue kept me on the edge of my seat. The ending was, without saying too much, phenomenal, and that last image we’re left with… WHEW. 😵 I know 2018 just began, but can we skip ahead to 2019 so I can get my hands on The Wicked King?

What I Disliked: This isn’t exactly something I disliked, but I noticed that Cardan, the titular cruel prince, didn’t appear in the story as frequently as I expected, which was surprising. But I didn’t necessarily dislike his absence, because this is ultimately Jude’s story. Without spoiling anything, I think Cardan’s role will be greater in the subsequent books, and hopefully we will learn more about him, especially considering how much changes in Faerie from the beginning of The Cruel Prince to the cliffhanger conclusion. Oh, and I wasn’t a big fan of Taryn, pretty much all the way through. I can appreciate the fact that she’s Jude’s “mirror” — her twin who shares her likeness and yet is completely unalike in nearly every way. But her whole story line… I didn’t find myself empathizing with her or even attempting to rationalize some of her actions. I just didn’t care. 🙁 It will still be interesting to see how her story plays out in the next two books, because I’m a huge fan of character growth, and I think there’s (purposefully) great potential for her.

This is my first five-star read of the year, and I honestly can’t recommend it enough!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Holly Black
More Books by This Author:
Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale
Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie
Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale
White Cat
Red Glove
Black Heart
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
The Darkest Part of the Forest

2017 Year-End Wrap-Up

I knew 2017 would be a busy year, but WOW! It was even busier — and more exciting — than I could have anticipated. 😃

In February, after discovering bookstagram, I started my own account, never thinking that I would end the year with 1.9K followers. 😱 In June, I married my wonderful husband, Matt, the love of my life and my delightfully-nerdy best friend. ❤️ That same month, I quit my two teaching jobs and began a new full-time job, which was terrifying, but the absolute right decision. In August, I started this blog, with no idea what I would do with it or whether anyone would actually read my reviews. (Those of you who do: THANK YOU! 🤗) In November, we moved out of our apartment and into a house! And now here we are at the end of December, in a totally different place (both literally and metaphorically) than we were a year ago. But that’s always how it seems to go, right? I can’t wait to see what happens in 2018, and I have some bookish and personal goals that I’m determined to achieve. (More on those in my next post. 😉)

I ended up reading a total of 31 books this year. Here’s a complete list, along with my ratings, and links to the reviews I’ve written!

Books Read in 2017
** = Audiobook

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Caraval by Stephanie Garber   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
**The Grownup by Gillian Flynn   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
**The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins   ⭐️⭐️
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Warcross by Marie Lu   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
**Yes Please by Amy Poehler   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

And this was tough, but I was finally able to narrow them down to my top ten reads of 2017. (I’m planning on reading waaaay more books next year, though, so I’m sure it will only get tougher… 😅)

My Top 10 Books of 2017

BestOf2017

(FYI: These are in no particular order, because THIS WAS HARD ENOUGH AS IT WAS. Also, you may notice that not all of my five-star reads made it onto this list. Some of them are four-star reads! Basically, I chose these ten books based on how much I enjoyed them and how much they stayed with me after I finished them. 😁)

  1. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
  2. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
  3. Warcross by Marie Lu
  4. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  5. The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
  6. Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović
  7. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  8. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
  9. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
  10. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

How many books did you read this year? What were some of your favorites? Let me know below! (Because as impossibly-long as my TBR is, I’m always happy to add to it! 😂)

December Wrap-Up

I wasn’t sure how many books I would read this month, what with the craziness of the holiday season. But I ended up reading five books! 😃🎄 Here are my ratings for this month’s reads:

*These are audiobooks I listened to this month. I reviewed The Last Namsara (click here to check it out!), but I did not review The Grownup or Yes Please. To see all of the books I’m currently reading/listening to, along with my massive TBR, follow me on Goodreads!

Did I read everything on my December TBR?
Nope. I didn’t read The Language of Thorns or Furyborn, so I’ll have to add those to my 2018 reading list.

Did I read anything not on my December TBR?
Yes! Both The Grownup and Yes Please were audiobooks that I borrowed from the library.

What was my favorite read of the month?
I think it’s a very close tie between Tower of Dawn and The Last Namsara.

What was my least favorite read of the month?
Probably The Grownup. I had a difficult time getting into the story, and I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending.

What was your favorite/least favorite read of December? Any recommendations for me? Comment below! 😊

Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

TLNIt seems appropriate that the last book I read this year was one of my most anticipated reads! After reading the synopsis for The Last Namsara, I was hooked: a fierce woman bound by duty to her father and her kingdom, dragons and those who seek to slay them, a mysterious destiny, and old, forbidden stories… Yes, please! ❤️ Instead of making the same mistake I made while reading Tower of Dawn — switching back and forth between the hardcover, the Kindle edition, and the audiobook 😵 — I decided to listen exclusively to the audiobook. Pearl Mackie is a fantastic narrator, and I think she captured each character’s distinct mannerisms and personality perfectly.

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: This book has one of my very favorite opening lines. It’s short, but it definitely draws the reader in: “Asha lured the dragon with a story.” I fell in love with the idea that dragons were drawn to stories, and that they could share their own stories in return. It’s a unique kind of magic with which anyone who loves books is familiar — the power of words, strung together to create something that can be passed on through generations. That detail, along with the world-building, helped to establish the setting and make the world seem more real to me. I really like that, initially, Asha isn’t a very likeable character. She’s terse, with a fiery temper and a stubborn independence that sets her apart from others. This comes with being the Iskari, the fated bringer of death, and in her case, the king’s personal dragon slayer. I enjoyed seeing her journey unfold and watching her change because of it. And of course I loved the dragons! 🐉 Since this is the first book in a trilogy, I’m hoping to see more of them in the second and third books. I’m particularly intrigued by the bonding that occurs between a rider and their dragon, and I’d be excited to learn more about different types. I also want to see more of the scrublands. Roa was one of my favorite characters (I mean, she has a hawk, guys 🤷🏻‍♀️), so it would be interesting to see the place she calls home.

What I Disliked: Something about the pacing felt slightly off, especially around the halfway point. Everything seemed purposeful and eventually helped to set the events at the end of the book in motion. But there were times when I felt my attention drifting away from the action of the story. 🙁 I personally could have done with less romance. It’s one of those situations where the protagonist is fated and/or determined to accomplish something huge and world-changing… and yet there’s still enough time to fall in love. (I’m not saying it can’t happen. But it’s a trope that I wouldn’t mind seeing less of.) And even though I realize that we’re meant to hate him, I hate Jarek SO MUCH. Having listened to the audiobook, I can say with confidence that Mackie does an amazing job of reading his dialogue in the most disdainful, rude, and downright slimy voice. I found myself scowling every time he showed up. 😒 I think he’s a necessary character in this book, but I did wish on more than one occasion that Kozu would just eat him and be done with it…

Overall, I think this is a unique and beautifully written story that reads like a myth made real. I’m excited to see where Ciccarelli takes Asha in the second book, because (without spoiling anything) by the end of this one, I have a few ideas, but there’s huge potential for brand new adventures, characters, and challenges!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Kristen Ciccarelli

I can’t believe it’s almost 2018! Are there any books you’re trying to finish before the new year? Any big New Year’s Eve plans? 😁 Be on the lookout for a few more blog posts from me over the next few days, including a December Wrap-Up, a 2017 Year-End Wrap-Up, 2018 Bookish Resolutions, and my January TBR! Happy New Year, and happy reading!

Review: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

TODAlthough Tower of Dawn was published in September, I knew that I needed to read Empire of Storms first, so I wasn’t sure when I would get around to it. And then, after I’d begun reading it, I was afraid that I would put it down for a while, fall into a reading slump, and not pick it up again for another few months. Thankfully, I’ve now finished it, and for those of you who have yet to read it, let me tell you… It’s a wild ride! Not quite as wild as Empire of Storms, but it’s full of new, compelling characters and plot points that will leave you gasping, or at least saying, “WHAAAAAAT?!” (At least that’s where I was at.)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: When this book was first announced, I think many readers were skeptical about a Chaol-centric installment in this series — especially considering the massive, heart-wrenching cliffhanger at the end of Empire of Storms. (I’M STILL NOT OVER IT.) But this book served multiple purposes. After the events of Queen of Shadows, Chaol considered himself broken — in more ways than one — and was sent by Dorian to seek guidance and healing at the Torre Cesme. On top of that, he and Nesryn — now Captain of the Guard — were charged with bringing an army from Antica to the northern continent in order to aid Aelin in the coming war against Morath. For fans of Chaol who were eager to see more of him, especially after his absence in Empire of Storms, this book delivers. And for fans who were looking for major plot developments and huge, game-changing reveals… this book definitely delivers. I don’t want to spoil anything, but HOLY SHIT. 😱 If you’re thinking about skipping this book, don’t. It’s a great story, but it also contains vital information that will become even more important in the final book.

I enjoyed that this book had some “whodunnit” vibes, and that not everything was as it seemed. Of course, there was some romance. (But, refreshingly, only one sex scene. Like I said in my review of Empire of Storms, don’t get me wrong — I enjoy a good sex scene! But it has to feel natural. Not forced into the story.) No spoilers, of course, but I might have two new favorite pairings… 😉 I loved exploring a new kingdom and familiarizing myself with a completely different power structure, culture, and environment. I wouldn’t be opposed to Maas writing a spin-off series that takes place on the southern continent, but this world is so massive that she could probably spend the rest of her life writing about it… Top-notch world-building, for sure. It took me a while to warm up to the Khagan’s family — and this is probably intentional, because Chaol is certainly wary to place his trust in any of them upon his arrival — but by the end of the book, I loved them. (Except for Arghun. I feel like there’s a reason “ARGH” is in his name… 🙄)

What I Disliked: It took me a while to read this, and aside from this book’s incredible length (672 pages!), some of the reasons why include getting ready for Christmas, cleaning and unpacking around the house (yes, still), and switching back and forth between the hardcover, the Kindle edition, and the audiobook. 😅 Do I think this book could have been shorter? Absolutely. There were some chapters that just didn’t interest me. And to be totally honest, it took me a while to really become invested in Nesryn’s story. I found myself more drawn to the scenes with Chaol and Yrene than anything else. I think the pace of this book increased towards the end, and by the conclusion, I was practically on the edge of my seat, eager to see what would happen next. But it had its slow parts.

Going into this book, I was concerned that any personal growth Chaol would experience over the course of the story would be tied too closely to his desire to walk again. In the beginning, he was in the mindset of, “This chair is a prison, and I’m no longer the man I used to be.” But as the book goes on… Well, things happen, and Chaol does change and grow as a person, but he thankfully begins to see things in a different light. And he comes to recognize the fact that being in a wheelchair doesn’t make him a different person — that’s entirely dependent upon him and how he approaches the world. So, I guess I disliked Chaol at the beginning of the book. He was very difficult to deal with (even as a reader), and rather angry and terse. And while I can understand those emotions, and I think the transformation that occurs necessitates that roughness in the beginning, I think it made it harder for me to get into the story.

Overall, this was a great read, and I think its differences from the other books are some of its biggest strengths. While we’re all eager to find out what happens to Aelin, this installment shed some much-needed light on other parts of the world and how they’ve been affected by what’s going on in and around Morath. And this book does contain huge details that will influence the events — and even the outcome — of the final book.

NOTE: If you didn’t read it prior to Empire of Storms, I would recommend reading The Assassin’s Blade before diving into Tower of Dawn. Several of the stories — one in particular that is closely tied to a character in this book — are mentioned, and it will leave you with less confusion.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (This isn’t really rating-related, but I highly recommend the audiobook, as the narrator, Elizabeth Evans, does a fantastic job from start to finish.)

About the Author: Sarah J. Maas
More Books by This Author:
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
Queen of Shadows
Empire of Storms
The Assassin’s Blade
A Court of Thorns and Roses
A Court of Mist and Fury
A Court of Wings and Ruin