1.07.2016

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #4)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: ebook
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, YA
Publication Date: 1 September 2015
The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

“What if we go on,” he said, “only to more pain and despair? What if we go on, only to find a horrible end waiting for us?” 
Aelin looked northward, as if she could see all the way to Terrasen. “Then it is not the end.” 
-Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

*Caution: slight spoilers for the previous books in the series.*

When I began this series I had no idea what amazing characterizations I was in for. While I enjoyed the first book, I must admit that I didn't give the author as much credit as she deserved for the characters she introduces us to--especially Celaena. From that first book to now it has been such a pleasure to watch each and every character grow and develop.  In this story each character is tested and stretched, ultimately growing right along with the MC. Even Chaol's arc, though annoying at times, is completely true to his character as he is forced to take a side for the first time in his life. His internal struggle becomes vitrolic, and he has to figure out what he stands for before being able to move forward.

Celaena herself has one of the strongest character arcs I have come across in all my reading. And you know what? I love her. I utterly admire the woman. In this story we find the post-breakdown Celaena; the woman who emerged from her own personal struggle in Heir of Fire. She remains the sassy and cunningly lethal Celaena that we all know and love, yet she no longer feels like she has to defend her past or her current choices. She has come to terms with who she is, and is now working to join that with the many facets of her past. She has always been the one who is able to make the hard decisions, but now she understands the ramifications of those decisions. In this book we see her begin to grow into her role as a queen, until she becomes one who is terrifyingly strong and wise, yet merciful and kind. She's come a long way from the traumatized and vicious girl she once was.

Just as in the last book, Maas continues her story with 3-dimensional, well-written villains; their nefarious arcs joining with many others to create a story that I literally could not put down until I had finished. Give me a good villain and I'll show you a good book. Maas has that here in Queen of Shadows.

I cried at parts; I cheered or gasped out loud at others. This world and these characters were alive for me as I read each and every agonizing detail of their lives. I debated whether or not I should read this one so close to having read Heir of Fire, as I had really enjoyed that one. I'm glad I picked it up, though, because I adored every moment.

When I began reading the first book in the series I didn't expect to become so enmeshed in the lives of these characters. Yet here I am four books in, and I find the story absolutely satisfying in every regard, even when it's tearing my heart open.


Read this if:
...you enjoy fantasy, strong characters, and having the odds stacked against you.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Typical battle scene and fighting gore (not a lot of detail), mentions of cruel punishments such as dead men hanging from a gate, kissing, non-descriptive talk of sex, and a few swear words.}



Other Books in the Series:

Purchase Queen of Shadows:
Sarah J. Maas:
Website  /  Twitter  /  Instagram  /  Blog

9.17.2015

Movie Night Invite: Mockingjay Part 2!

Utah peeps: 
It's time to take down the Capitol and I want YOU to join the fight!


Join us as we watch the revolution in action. Bring your family and friends and watch Mockingjay part 2 with us! This is fourth and final movie, meaning this is the fourth and final year for this tradition. It has been so fun! I would love to see all of my fellow HG fans once again. But really, no matter who you are, I would love to have you join us. Book bloggers, book lovers, HG lovers, anyone reading this--you're invited!

Here's the plan:
Dinner at Iggy's
  • This is optional, and will be right before the movie. The restaurant is right by the theater.
  • There will be games, prizes, and drawings!
  • Even if you aren't eating, come talk and have fun with us! We would love to meet you.

Movie
  • Mockingjay part 2 premiers Thursday, November 19, 2015 (These are special early showings of the movie). The movie will be anywhere from 7pm - 10pm, depending on which times are available and how fast I am at getting the tickets (it's always a fight as soon as they go on sale).
  • The theater we are going to is the Cinemark theater at the University Mall, in Orem.
  • We'll be going to the earliest showing possible, but I won't pick a showing earlier than 7 pm or later than 10 pm. 
    • The movie actually opens on the 20th, but these advance screenings are something that the theater has offered every year prior. However, because things sometimes change, they may not offer these showings, and I may not be able to find out until the day they go on sale. Because of this, I will plan to purchase tickets for the night of the 20th around 7 or 8 pm IF advance screenings are not available. If you cannot make it that night please let me know when you pay and I will refund your money instead of purchasing tickets for you in the event that there are no screenings before 10 pm on the 19th.
  • I'll purchase a block of the best seats possible, so we can all sit together. It's reserved seating, so no lines! :)
  • Tickets are $9.50/person. (I make no money off of these. It all goes towards the tickets.)

Tickets go on sale October 1st!

If you'd like to join us, purchase your movie ticket(s) by sending $9.50 per ticket via Paypal to:

penelopelolohea(AT)gmail(DOT)com

The last day to purchase tickets is September 28th at 11:59 PM MST.
(I had a fancy button for this, but couldn't get it to work. Go figure.)

Super Important information: 
  • Please enter the following information in the comments section of the checkout screen:
    • Your email address - so I can email you updates, or contact you if there is a problem. 
    • Whether you would like me to mail you your ticket(s) or give them to you the day of. If you want me to mail them, please include your mailing address.
    • If you are NOT able to make it on Friday please let me know and I will refund your money in the event that tickets are not available on Thursday.
  • The $9.50 charge is for your ticket for the movie alone. I am purchasing all of the tickets at once, so that we can all sit together. It's a race to get tickets each year, and I wait up extra late (or extra early--the time they go on sale seems to change each year) just to get the best seats possible. There is no tax or anything for the tickets.
  • By purchasing a ticket, you agree that any showtime from 7 pm - to 10 pm Nov. 19th is acceptable (see above for an explanation). I will let you know the time as soon as the tickets have been purchased.

I want to be as transparent as possible in this, so if you have ANY questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at readingfever@gmail.com. Hope to see you there!

4.27.2015

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows | Book Review

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (The Orphan Queen #1)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover (courtesy of HarperCollins)
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
Publication Date: 10 March, 2015
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.
We'd left our disguises outside to accumulate mud and grime ... Melanie and I hadn't bathed since our last trip to Skyvale, either.
     Authenticity was the key to deception.
     Sometimes authenticity was disgusting.
-The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows, p. 39
I got a wonderful package in the mail last week that included this book. Looking through the contents, I immediately knew which book I would read first, as I'm a sucker for fantasy. I was not disappointed.

The Orphan Queen opens with Wil and her Ospreys, a group of teenagers who witnessed the slaughter of their parents, and the ruin of their country. That was when they were kids. Now, as teenagers, they steal to survive, live in an abandoned castle, and are plotting to take back the kingdom of Aecor and place Wil--the lost heir--on the throne. Enter Black Knife: the rogue vigilante who might be able to foil all of their careful plans.

The Orphan Queen has some great fantastical elements including some outrageous but fun monsters that make the perfect adversaries. Magic is banned because of the damage its use has done to the world...which makes things hard for our heroine, who happens to be one of those with powers. Regardless, there is a dangerous magical element growing that threatens to wipe out everything in its path. Wil is determined to stop it, even if it means putting a hold on getting her throne back.

I love so many things about this book. What makes it a five-star book for me is the combination of a few things: there is consistency in character traits an abilities, with even the supporting characters having complex personalities. I appreciate the many grey areas the characters come across which help define them and their motives. Not everything is black-and-white, which makes for some interesting twists in story. The characters don't always do what I think they will do. Wil is also a great heroine. As she grows throughout the story we see the effect those grey areas have on her, and also the change in some of her core beliefs. She grows stronger and smarter, and better able to fulfill the role of queen that she works so hard to reclaim.

As far as downsides, there are a few areas that I felt were a bit odd. The story takes place over many weeks, but much of that time is skipped over in favor of focusing on a few interesting days here and there. While the need for skipping so much time is understandable, it does create the feeling that the story takes place over only a week or so, instead of many weeks.

There are also a few things that seem out of place in this medieval-like world, such as a train that is mentioned, or glass mirrors. Magic is used to explain the existence of some of these things (except the mirrors), but it is always mentioned in passing, so we never get a good idea of the exact parameters of the world's advancements and inventions.

I also think it is worth mentioning that one of the biggest secrets of the book is easily guessed in the first chapter alone. However, I still had such a fun time trying to figure out when the truth would come out in the story, and feel that it added somewhat to the already great tension.

Overall, this is a fantastic story. It got this in-a-two-year-reading-rut girl to fall in love with a story and its characters once again. I don't think there's a better recommendation than that.

Temp. Guide
Read this if:
...you like guessing games, espionage, broken characters, and realistic heroines.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Sword and knife fighting, a few quick descriptions of wounds, and some details of how a few people are murdered. Oh, and kissing. :)}



Similar Books (for various reasons):

Purchase The Orphan Queen:
Jodi Meadows:
Website  /  Twitter  /  Facebook

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