Miles Away From You – Review

NOTE: I won this ARC in a charity auction and was unaware of the views the novel promoted at the time. I apologize for any harm or discomfort I may have caused because of this. I will still be reviewing the novel honestly, and without bias.

Hey everyone!

As you can tell from the picture and title of this post, it’s time for another review! Unfortunately, it’s not going to be an easy one.

Before I get started, I wanted to say how sorry I am for my promotion of this novel. Initially when I won the ARC, I was very excited and thought it sounded interesting, but after reading it I feel it has the potential to be harmful to some readers and for that I apologize. I had not yet read the book when I listed it on my March Releases (it has since been removed from the list with a note explaining why).

Now that I’ve said this, let me get into my reasoning for saying so. First, as always, the description. From Amazon:

From debut voice A.B. Rutledge comes a quirky and completely fresh story of young love, loss, and the drastic distances we sometimes have to travel in order to move on, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Jandy Nelson. Explores gender identity and the spectrum of sexual preference in an authentic way.

Also, from Goodreads (it explains a little more):

It’s been three years since Miles fell for Vivian, a talented and dazzling transgender girl. Eighteen months since a suicide attempt left Vivian on life support. Now Miles isn’t sure who he is without her, but knows it’s time to figure out how to say goodbye.

He books a solo trip to Iceland but then has a hard time leaving the refuge of his hotel room. After a little push from Oskar, a local who is equal parts endearing and aloof, Miles decides to honor Vivian’s life by photographing her treasured Doc Martens standing empty against the surreal landscapes. With each step he takes, Miles finds his heart healing–even as he must accept that Vivian, still in a coma, will never recover.

Told through a series of instant messages to Vivian, this quirky and completely fresh novel explores love, loss, and the drastic distances we sometimes have to travel in order to move on.

So, before I get into all of the reasons why this book put me off, let me start by saying there were actually some good things about it. Almost the entire cast of characters is LGBTQ+.  The main character, Miles, is pansexual. A pansexual main character is not super common in YA, so that was a plus for me.

Some of the characters were written beautifully and painted in such a complex light, too. I know that Oskar is a favorite among others from reviews I’ve seen, and I can see why. He’s one of the few characters in the novel I actually liked.

The story being told through emails was fun as well. I love novels that don’t follow traditional novel form, though I don’t get to read many of them. The writing was entirely accurate to a teenage boy mind as well. That, combined with the pop-culture references being almost perfect for Miles’ age felt right to me, as far as the writing goes.

That’s about it on the “good” front from me. Here’s why I didn’t like the novel.

So, the premise is that a guy’s black, trans girlfriend, Vivian, tries to commit suicide and ends up in a coma. He’s struggling with it, so his moms (one is bisexual so that’s a woo) send him on a trip to Iceland so he can try to move on. From there we see his interactions and adventures as he tries to find himself after his relationship with Vivian, and even gets close with Oskar, a local boy.

Okay. So. I’m a white, cis woman, so I can’t speak to the experiences of transwomen or black women, but I can say that the descriptions weren’t done well. There were at least a few instances where misgendering occurred, and Vivian’s family is the only PoC family in the entire novel. Not to mention, they are painted in the light of negativity, with her parents entirely unsupportive of their daughter and insisting that she’s not a woman. Meanwhile, Miles’ white moms are painted as the doting, loving parents who take Vivian in when she needs a place to stay. She’s absorbed into their family.

Look, I’m all for people helping people out, but really? The only black family in the entire novel and it’s going to show them as the bad guys? That’s problematic, to say the least.

Vivian herself is not meant to be liked either. She’s viewed as sort of selfish (even though Miles is the one who’s really selfish, but whatever) and secretive and this bad person because she tries to kill herself. There are other reasons, but that’s the gist of what I got out of it anyway.

The rep is not looking good right now my friends. It did not get better either.

Miles himself is also . . . annoying is too mild. He’s a teenage boy. While he’s very accurately written for a teenage boy, it’s also grossly played up. As is his obsession with sex. Seriously, this guy basically only talks and thinks about sex, when he’s not bemoaning the fact that his girlfriend is in a coma. Because, of course, let’s make it all about Miles! Everything is about Miles in this book. Yes, I know it’s a book about Miles. But, come on, the guy is so selfish and gross. He doesn’t seem like he actually cares about her, just the fact that now he’s without her. This is not romantic. It’s more like he’s trying to find a way to make an attempted suicide all about him. And did I mention he’s obsessed with sex? It’s excessive. Sadly, that’s the most interesting thing about him. He’s a basic hipster white boy other than that.

There were moments in this novel that I actually enjoyed, but they were far outnumbered by the rest of the time. It was probably an 85/15 split, with the majority being Not Good. Not the writing itself. If you look at it purely from a craft perspective it’s actually put together pretty well. Yeah, everything definitely feels very neat, and I don’t buy into things falling into place like that, but it’s not badly written in the strictest sense. The content is just not there. I genuinely feel bad about promoting this book so much here before, knowing what I do now about the content of it.

I do not recommend this book and I gave it a 2/5 stars on Goodreads. I can’t stop you from picking it up yourself, and maybe you’ll find something totally different than what I did, but I’m not going to tell you to read it. There are better books to read, and I suggest picking those up. If you’re looking for releases from PoC this month Children of Blood and Bone and Tyler Johnson Was Here are out and Aru Shah and the End of Time comes out on March 27th. I’ve heard only good things, and plan to dive into them myself once I get through my ARCs. I suggest those over Miles.

I think this is my first really negative review on here. I’ve posted only positive reviews thus far, because I genuinely enjoyed the books and thought they were worth reading. I feel like this book, had it been written differently, could have been good. But it wasn’t for me.

I hope you found this review helpful. If you’ve read this and want to share your opinions on it, feel free to comment below! I’m open to discussing the novel, or any others you may want to talk about. I’ll see everyone soon!

Kailey

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Sightwitch – Review

Hi people. I hope everyone is doing well.

It’s been a somewhat busy month. At least, it’s been an annoying one for sure. I’m currently dealing with some personal stuff that has been stressing me out all month. Plus a bunch of writing for my creative writing seminar. Which is also stressing me out. But that’s a whole other situation that has unfortunately led to me not getting any real work done on my current WIP. (I’ve had to move my self-imposed deadline back . . . twice. Cue the self-disappointment and frustration).

HOWEVER I’ve made time for reading this month–a lot of it. It’s been my saving grace (not to mention my mental health). Aaaaaaaaaaand in my stolen reading time, I managed to finish Sightwitch!

I adored this book for many reasons (which, duh, I’ll list here)(well, the spoiler-free stuff anyway). But before I get into why everyone should read the amazing Susan Dennard’s latest work, let me tell you what the book is about.

From Amazon:

Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch…

Before Merik returned from the dead…

Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight—and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.

giphy1

Are you excited yet? I’m going to pretend you’re nodding. I know I was excited. It was a good story and here’s why I think you should read it seventeen times.

The drawings create another layer to an already detailed story. For being a novella there’s a lot going on. I can’t really say much about specific artwork without getting a little spoiler-y (I mean mostly)(but this is also something that you really need to see for yourself). The drawings and diagrams add more depth to the different storylines. Plus they’re done very well.

In addition to the artwork, one of the main reasons I loved Sightwitch was the POVs. Where Ryber’s story is not as prominent in the other Witchlands novels, the whole point of this prequel is to learn about her, and what’s really going on in the Witchlands. Not only is it cool to hear from Ryber’s POV, but we hear a little from Kullen’s–whose introduction was hilarious, brilliant, and one of my favorite parts of the entire novella–and a few other characters who I can’t name (but who are definitely going to be important later on I think).

In line with those people I can’t tell you too much about (I know, I suck, but I have a bad habit of giving stuff away and I want you to read it too) I can tell you Ryber’s story is mirrored nicely to theirs. The parallels drawn to fill in the holes in the readers’ minds are beautifully done and one of my favorite structural parts of the novella.

While I will rave to anyone who will listen about Sightwitch and the other Witchlands books, I do have one bone to pick about it: IT WAS ONLY A NOVELLA.

Okay, that’s not a real bone to pick I guess. Truthfully it’s just me being selfish. I know Susan’s been working her butt off to get us this story, and next Bloodwitch, and to get them as perfect as she can. There were a few points I would’ve liked to know more, though. Some stuff was just a little ambiguous and (while it totally sucked me in deep) I wanted MORE! It’s the only real issue I had with the book, and it’s a pretty small and silly one considering we’re getting Bloodwitch next year where hopefully my questions will be answered. The length was probably perfect for the story itself, I just always want more when it comes to a Witchlands story. (I adore the Witchlands world you guys so much).

 

tangled-read-a-book

I’m very curious, knowing what I do now, about how these stories play out in the Witchlands series. I want to know if what we learn here has as far an impact as I think it will. I do think some of the questions left unanswered was a little frustrating, but not nearly enough to diminish my impressive love for Ryber’s story. Overall Sightwitch very much so stood up to the standard I hold Susan’s books to (and the drawings made it even better). I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

So finally, this isn’t a part of my review, but I’m going to leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes from the novella:

“‘But maybe the marked path isn’t the right one. Maybe . . . there isn’t one set path at all.'” (159)

“You’ll understand once you’re Summoned? Well, is Summoned myself, and now I did understand: paths do not come to you. You have to find them for yourself, and sometimes, you have to carve new ones entirely.” (230)

And with that I say goodbye. I’m off to give more notes on my classmates’ work. I hope you enjoyed my (kind of scattered sorry) review and found it helpful! If so, leave me a comment or talk to me on Twitter. Bye!!

Kailey

Batman: Nightwalker – Review

Hello my beautiful people! I hope you’re all having a good January. Mine has been more organized than usual (I’ve started bullet journaling and let me tell you, this might have saved my life). As a result, I’ve been reading and writing a ton already. I’ve already finished three books this month! And I’m currently reading two (The Belles and Killer Instinct, in case y’all were wondering).

One of the awesome books I’ve been able to read is Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu. The day this came out I put a hold on it at my library, not really expecting to get it before I headed back to school, but hopeful that I might. A couple hours later I got an email from my library that my hold was ready for pickup. I all but ran there to grab it.

Look how cool it is!

(Yes, I own a Batman beanie. No I didn’t wear it while I read. Not the entire time at least.)

So, obviously this cover is not the only thing I’m going to talk about. I mean, I could. But I don’t think you guys would be too appreciative if I spent the whole review going “LOOK AT THE COVER! LOOK AT THE COVER!” (But, for real, look at the cover!)

Okay, cover love over. There’s actual content to discuss here. It took me a little while to get through this, both because I am actually sticking to a writing schedule for once (I’m on a self-imposed deadline) and because I was reading two other books at the same time. I didn’t mind reading this one slowly, though. It was nice to take breaks in between chapters, set the book down and come back to it. It’s not the kind of book where that’s entirely necessary, unlike several heavier books, but it is helpful to work through some of the different theories you might have. I had multiple theories about who did what and what was going on as I read, so I enjoyed waiting between every few chapters.

Before I get into my theories (as much as a no spoiler review will allow) let’s get the book description in here. From Amazon:

“Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
The city’s elites are being taken out one by one as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is about to become eighteen and inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Industries and all the tech gadgetry that he loves. But on the way home from his birthday party, he makes an impulsive choice and is sentenced to community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most nefarious criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.
The most intriguing inmate in Arkham is Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. A girl who will only speak to Bruce. She is the mystery he must unravel, but is he convincing her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees?

In this second DC Icons book–following Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer–Bruce Wayne is proof that you don’t need superpowers to be a super hero, but can he survive this game of tense intrigue, pulse-pounding action, and masterful deception?”

First thing’s first: I loved the characterization of young Bruce Wayne. I felt that he was accurate to what a young Batman would be like. His behaviors, thought process, and actions all rang true as something teenage Bruce Wayne would do.

His friends were intriguing, though not really focused on too much. Without giving anything away, I will say that young Harvey Dent made want to cry and protect him. But both he and their friend Dianne Garcia were purely background characters in this story. I thought both characters could have had bigger roles, but it wasn’t a major point in the novel.

Madeleine Wallace kept me guessing until the very end. Even now, twelve hours after I finished the book, I still don’t know how I really felt about her. She’s incredibly complex, and a great character in play opposite to Bruce. I wouldn’t exactly call her a foil . . . it could be argued, for sure. But I don’t feel comfortable saying that, based on my reading. Maybe you’ll think differently (if you do, tell me in the comments).

I can’t say who the biggest villain ended up being, but I will tell you that I was genuinely surprised. I was looking elsewhere and ended up being blindsided by who The Big Bad Villain turned out to be. (Or maybe I’m just saying all this to throw you off)(I’m not). I think you’ll be surprised as well when you read this. Or maybe you won’t be. But I think it’s a testament to Lu’s writing that you can suspect anyone and no one and still end up being wrong about who Bruce can and can’t trust. (Is that spoiler-y? I don’t think so.)(If that’s spoiler-y I’m sorry.)

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I definitely think it’s better than a lot of books I’ve read in the past. It’s better than one of the books I’ve read already this year. There were parts that kept me guessing, moments of true insight into the characters, and a story that left just enough wiggle room for more of the Bruce Wayne we know and love. The only thing that made this a 4 star review instead of 5 was a personal dislike for how Madeleine’s storyline ended. However, it was still a fantastic read and I would (and already have) recommend it to anyone looking for a good YA.

If you’ve read this, or want to read it, or just want to talk about books, tell me in the comments! Or talk to me on Twitter (I’m pretty much always on Twitter you guys). I’m leaving to get my hair cut and drop this back off at the library. Writing time when I get back. I hope this review was helpful!

Kailey

One Dark Throne – Review

Hello all!

I hope everyone is having a good holiday season. I got some great new books (and a brand new Kindle!!) and I’m very excited to dive in.

Before I can dive into these, I’ve got to whittle down my TBR a little. I’ve started doing that, with the hope of finishing ten books by the end of the year. So far I’ve read four and am starting the fifth today. I am DETERMINED to do this. (I probably won’t but, you know, determination is good.)

The books I’ve read recently include Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, 27 Hours by Tristina Wright, Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, and One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake. Obviously, I’ve chosen to review One Dark Throne for this post (you know, because the title wasn’t a dead giveaway at all).

As always, the Amazon summary for you beautiful people:

“With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off.

Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.”

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Okay, now that you have been properly warned I’m just going to dive right in.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Three Dark Crowns, quite a bit. There was a lot of darkness to the characters, and some were very morally ambiguous. Naturally, I loved this. When I first opened TDC I thought I would choose a favorite character. By the end of One Dark Throne, I knew I had. And she was one of the most questionable in terms of . . . most anything really. Morals. Strength. Ability. Mental fitness. Queen Katharine was, and is, my favorite character of the series so far. She’s layered, sympathetic, painted as someone you should hate, but love because she is a child fighting for her life.

Of course, Blake does well for her sisters in this respect as well. Mirabella and Arsinoe are both well-written, complex characters. I would argue they’re less complicated than Katharine, but this doesn’t take away from their likability. Whereas Katharine is painted as unlikable in many ways because she is willing to kill for her crown, her sisters are brought together in avoidance of their fate. They are determined to love one another, and flee the island in the end, deliberately being shown as working together multiple times to escape their fates.

I liked that these sisters are given the opportunity to work together, but I personally didn’t care for the idea of Katharine as a villain for them to unite against. I don’t know if this is what Blake intended, or even if this is how most people see her, but it read a lot like Katharine was being set up as a villain to her sisters’ goodness to me. However, she’s highly layered, as I already said. You can see where she’s good and where she’s struggling and where she is a cruel and evil human. So, maybe this is my own bias shining through in my reading.

The majority of my feelings on this book centered around Katharine. She’s one of many strong female characters, and one of many strong characters in general. Blake clearly doesn’t lack in characterization in her novels. And I’m a massive fan of that.

One thing I didn’t love was the start of the novel. To me, the story took a while to get started. It was so slow. But, I will say, when the action started, it went and did not stop.

There was, sadly, a lot of ambiguity surrounding Katharine’s abilities. Is she a naturalist? She was switched with Arsinoe as a baby to be raised as a poisoner. This would then lead to the idea that she is a naturalist. However a naturalist would be able to tell that her snake is dead and this is a new one, were Sweetheart (the snake from book one that died) really her familiar. Maybe it wasn’t her familiar? I don’t know. Maybe Katharine isn’t a naturalist, but possesses the War gift? She’s certainly violent enough. Could she be ungifted? Who knows?

The ending did not resolve this at all, and I was raging over it. Everything other than that felt complete. We had a solid resolution to just about every plot line. Naturally, Blake left room for another book, and enough hooks to lay the foundation for it. But Katharine–Queen Crowned Katharine who is obviously going to stay a major character–has the reader still in the dark about this HUGE part of her life.

For this, I had to knock a star off my Goodreads review. It would’ve been a damn near perfect book, were it not for these two problems.

I gave One Dark Throne 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads. I still recommend reading the series, but keep in mind not everything is resolved. Book three is coming September of 2018 and hopefully we’ll get some answers then.

I hope this was helpful! And not too harsh. I really did enjoy both of the books in the series, and despite my issues with ODT, I would read it again. If my library ever gets another copy (it’s always gone you guys. I was super lucky to grab it one of the few times it’s on shelf there). I’ll probably reread as a refresher before book three comes out.

If you’ve read the series already please let me know your thoughts! I’m curious to see what other people thought of the book.

I’m off to read another book. And maybe write a couple thousand words before the night is over. It’s gonna be a good night y’all.

Happy holidays! And happy reading!

Kailey

The Uncrossing – Review

Greetings all!

I hope everyone is enjoy this beautiful month. Or, surviving at least. This might end up being my last blog post if Net Neutrality gets repealed tomorrow. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. (Side note: I know this isn’t book-related but call your reps. Please. This is ridiculously important.)

Anyway. Onto my review.

So I really enjoyed reading The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake. I originally decided to read this as a comparison text for the Rapunzel tale type & my paper in my fairy tales and sexuality class. (It wasn’t as cool as it sounds but it was pretty cool.) I’m glad I chose this book to read.

A brief summary from Amazon:

“Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can’t break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn’t be falling for.

Jeremy’s been in love with cocky, talented Luke since they were kids. But from their first kiss, something’s missing. Jeremy’s family keeps generations of deadly secrets, forcing him to choose between love and loyalty. As Luke fights to break the curse, a magical, citywide war starts crackling, and it’s tied to Jeremy.

This might be the one curse Luke can’t uncross. If true love’s kiss fails, what’s left for him and Jeremy?”

I thought the premise of the novel extremely intriguing. Male Rapunzel? Curses? Two lovable characters trying to make it work against the odds??? Give me ALL of this please. In spades.

I’m a sucker for this stuff, okay? I will not be ashamed.

The characters really made the story worth reading. This setting was good, the dialogue was decent, but the characters! They made the novel. Jeremy, in particular, was relatable and loving. He was layered in a way characters in retellings can sometimes . . . not be. He wasn’t always likable, and I really enjoyed that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the guy. I related a lot to his emotions and his reactions. But authors can shy away from making their main characters truly unlikable in key moments.

I did have a couple of things I that disappointed me in the novel. First, I would’ve LOVED more from Luke’s sister, Camille. Camille was badass. She wasn’t a main character, so it makes sense that she wasn’t the focus. Still, I think we could’ve benefited a little bit more from more Camille. Second, there was quite a bit of ambiguity in places. Some moments weren’t explained very well, and there were certain world-building elements that I felt could’ve been laid out better.

Overall though, I had very few issues with the novel. I certainly enjoyed it quite a bit, and will no doubt end up re-reading it in the future. It was a really good read. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

I’d definitely recommend this one!

I’m off to read some more books. My goal to is to read another ten books before the year is over. Good thing I’m on winter break. Wish me luck!

Kailey

Island Of Exiles

HI WORLD HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Did you guys appreciate my excitement and all caps? You really should have. Excitement is a beautiful thing.

So it’s currently 10:57 as I type this I am on spring break and life is good but here’s the thing: I DON’T CARE BECAUSE I FINISHED ISLAND OF EXILES AND IT WAS BLOODY BRILLIANT! (I hope that’s a thing people say)(I’m sorry I’m such a dork).

I’m going to get right into this because I have so much to say about this book. It was truly fantastic.

SO. Island Of Exiles.

First off, let me just say that Erica Cameron is one talented writer. I had the opportunity to read the first few chapters on Wattpad before I could get my hands on the book itself. This was good, as it kept me happy until I was actually able to get to a bookstore (thanks mom).

WOW. Writing = phenomenal. Plot = fantastic. Premise = brand new.

Basically, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. Now that I have, and have attacked it with the appropriate amount of gusto (aka I read it in one sitting last weekend and only came up for air to hang with my dad for an hour because it was his birthday) I am SO ready to give you my review.

Obviously I hated it. Oh, wait, I spelled “loved” wrong. (I know, my jokes are bad. You’re still here though aren’t you?)

Getting down to the review portion of this post now. For real this time.

In my Windwitch review I mentioned how I loved that romantic love was not the focus. Yeah, Island is much the same way. Romance has a presence, but it is small and not nearly as important as the other relationships. Family carries a lot of weight for Khya and I loved seeing that in a genre that tends to dismiss familial reltionships at times. Khya’s reltionship with her brother Yorri was at the core of the novel and it shaped the story around it beautifullly.

While love might not be the most important thing, I saw a little bit of it here and there. Tessen, who is my new favorite character in the entire world, is the male love interest for Khya, but that doesn’t mean he’s got her running after him. Truly the opposite. The dynamic between these two is intense and left me wanting more more MORE of them on the page. But, even then, it is not romance that holds them together. It’s a complicated, electric dynamic that filled in the peripheral and central stories.

The landscape was also a character in itself. It had a very Australia feel, from what I know of the continent. I couldn’t picture this story set anywhere else, otherwise it would have been a very different plot altogether.

One more thing that fits into the world in a different, but just as important, way: LGBTQIA+ representation is spilling off the page. In Island, bisexuality is the norm and asexuality is accepted without blinking an eye. There are three genders, male, female and ebet. I don’t want to mess up an explanation about ebets so I’ll leave the explaining to Erica Cameron. But, simply put, ebets are intersex.

See what I mean about representation? And, trust me, it is necessary to the overall story. Cameron weaved this into her world-building seamlessly and made it essential to her story.

The way this book was written hooked me in. I love when language is put to use in a detailed and deliberate way. Overall this read quickly and I had trouble putting it down to do my actual, class-required reading.(plot twist: I didn’t. I finished the book first, then did my work. Don’t tell my profs guys). 110% recommend.

Sorry for getting this review up so late. It seems like a theme with my posts lately, sadly. I’m working on it.

Okay, I’m off to enjoy my spring break with-surprise-a book! Bye!!

Kailey

Empire of Storms

Hey all! So I know it’s been a while but school and life have been mega crazy lately.

So recently I finished the new Sarah J Maas novel Empire of Storms and I’m. In. Love. 

A bit of background on this for me: I’ve been reading Sarah’s books for about a year now but I read everything that she had published in a little over a month. Her writing is fabulous and her world building makes me swoon. So do her characters.

EOS was no different. This isn’t a review per say but I do want to talk a little bit about it (no spoilers don’t worry!). 

First of all I want to talk about the perfection of details that SJM puts in her books. She brought back things that I hadn’t thought about in a very long time. Her reintroduction of these small (but significant) bits of information was done near flawlessly. Something minor we dismissed in say Queen of Shadows turned out to be instrumental to EOS. I’d love to go into a gushing tangent about her skill in this regard (reminded me a lot of Cassandra Clare’s talent with it to tell you the truth) but if I did that it would be a very, very long post and I don’t think I want to do that to anyone who might be awesome enough to read this. So I’ll leave it at that and move on.

Next I want to discuss the storyline. Holy plot twists Batman. Did I see that coming? Nope, never, not at all. But that’s the mark of a talented writer. The mark of an even better one is when they pull it off seamlessly. Without spoilers it’s hard to talk about the plot in more than vague terms but I’ll give it a shot. 

Essentially the story picked up a short time after Queen of Shadows left off. Not much time had passed but enough that we weren’t in the exact same moment. Days to weeks at most between times. I thought this was well done because books that pick up at the exact moment the previous one ended for me always feel rushed. Giving the characters time to react and digest the previous ending always makes for a more interesting beginning. But that’s just my opinion.

We do pick up the story in Terrasen but one thing I will tell you all is we don’t get to see much of this beloved country. The story follows Aelin and her court closest obviously but we see quite a bit on Manon Elide as well. Their stories are just as essential as our court’s even if they are all in different places (or are they . . .).

So I guess that’s a good segue into characters! We saw a lot of semi-familiar faces throughout the book and they all served their purpose to further the story. I don’t think there was a single person in this story who I felt could’ve been left out. Each person’s story was intertwined well with the overall plot. We got a little bit of Lysandra’s POV but that’s one thing I wish we could’ve seen more of. We got some great Aedion moments and I won’t spoil anything but Aedion is now a character with a very special place in my heart.

So now that I’ve given a bunch of vague teasers and gushed my way through the basics, let’s get down to the fun parts.

Things I loved about EOS:

  • The language! I am a super picky reader. Not to say I don’t have about 7 billion books I love but there’s a difference between loving a book for the plot and loving a book because it grips your soul. For me all soul-gripping books have fabulous language. And EOS did not disappoint in that regard. SJM is one author who knows how to wield words like the weapons they are. I could feel how each and every word was chosen carefully in order to reach the novel’s full potential. Now there were a few points where I thought the phrasing could have been done better but they were few and far between and overall didn’t detract from the beauty of the story in any way. 10/10 on the language she used.
  • The settings! Okay so I told you before we don’t get to see a lot of Terrasen BUT we do get a few fabulous new places to see. I loved the introduction of new settings into this story. She built these places strongly and vividly. One thing I was disappointed on here though was that at one point we see ruins, and these ruins are supposed to be this creepy, chilling place. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that when I read about them. I felt a little too much distance. But I know other people HAVE felt that creeped out feeling when they were reading that part, so I’m going to chalk this one up to personal issues and leave it be. Plus she makes up for that (in my opinion at least) when she writes about other places Aelin and her court visit. It felt like I was there with them nearly every step of the way. That was how good the settings were done. I give it a 9/10 on this aspect of the novel.
  • The plot twists! I said it earlier and I’ll say it again–HOLY PLOT TWISTS BATMAN! Now these weren’t as shocking as say a “you’re brother and sister” kind of thing (any Cassie Clare fans out there? Any at all? Please?) but they were substantial enough that they warrant talking about. For example, Aelin will always be Aelin. We can see how she’s growing and learning but she will always have something up her sleeve that we did not see coming. That’s part of the fun I think. Knowing that she’s got to have some trick up her sleeve and wondering what it is or when she’s going to reveal it. But she’s not the only one. Lets just say we didn’t see the last of Maeve in Wendlyn. Which is really just too bad. We get more than a few confirmations of things we’ve all been waiting for as well. Plus a few bombs dropped we probably would have rather not found out. So many twists and turns to this novel. Gods and monsters and plots, oh my! 10/10 on this (but really more like 50000/10 because wow). 

Things I didn’t like as much:

  • The sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes in EOS. I was little surprised when I came across the first one (I hadn’t read any spoilers or hints at all about this book before diving in). I don’t think they detract from the book in any way. In fact they show significant moments and give us a lot of insight to what’s really happening in the characters’ heads. They were done very well and not at all overly long or cringe worthy. This is just a personal preference I have that I don’t much like sex scenes. That, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t expecting them, made me not as much a fan of seeing them there. But looking at it from SJM’s point of view I can understand why she added them in there. 
  • The way some characters were introduced. So I haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade yet. I discovered that I probably should have while reading EOS. A lot of characters who come into play throughout the story aren’t fully introduced because they had their own short stories with Aelin in The Assassin’s Blade. Well, if you haven’t read it yet (or you’re like me and didn’t know to read it beforehand) that can be a little annoying. I was able to fill in the gaps by clues and context, but I would have preferred to know full back stories. Moral here: read The Assassin’s Blade before EOS if you can.
  • The distribution of POVs. GIVE ME MORE LYSANDRA! I WANT MORE LYSANDRA! It was all fairly even distribution between characters except for her. So that was sort of disappointing. Personally I’d rather have had less Lorcan and more Lysandra. And more Aedion too if possible.

I know a lot of people took issue with the fact that Chaol wasn’t in this book but I think it makes perfect sense not to include him. Let him heal in the south and bring him back in the final novel. Overall not many things in this book that were problems. The issues I did have aren’t all big things and they didn’t take away at all from how much I loved this book. I would have devoured it in a day if I could have but I’ve been so busy with school and other things that I’ve barely had time to read. 

I highly recommend this or any Sarah J Maas book to anyone and everyone. She’s a fantastic writer and one of my favorites. It’s no secret that I want to be her when I grow up (no I’m not a grown up I’m just a college student shhh that doesn’t make me a grown up). One thing I will warn you about: you will cry. There is no way around it. Accept your fate. Tears will be shed because holy hell this book is emotionally stacked. That’s all the warnings I’m going to give though.

So I hope this made sense and wasn’t too bad of a review/reaction. Now I’m going to go crank out another 2k words on my WIP (almost halfway done!) so I’ll talk to you soon! 

GO READ EMPIRE OF STORMS!

Kailey