Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlSeries: Standalone
Genre:  Young Adult
Published:  September, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo | Audible

CATH IS A SIMON SNOW FAN. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath that she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words…and she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5   I would give it a higher rating if that were humanly possible <3
Format:  Audiobook
Started:  August 22, 2016
Finished:  August 23, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 wine… all of the wine.

“You’ve read the books?”
“I’ve seen the movies.”
Cath rolled her eyes so hard, it hurt. (Actually.) (Maybe because she was still on the edge of tears. On the edge, period.) “So you haven’t read the books.”
“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me”


– Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Me before Fangirl: (except I was in a Eeyore onesie)

Me after Fangirl:

Well I know it’s been a while since I last posted on here – Katelynn’s been really keeping this afloat – & it’s not because I haven’t been reading, I think it’s just that I haven’t been inspired to write (that & some personal hard stuff etc.) But when I finished this book, I just couldn’t help but want to shout about it to everyone I could possibly reach – and the internet is perfect for that sort of thing.

It has been a long time since I last connected with a character on this level, maybe not even ever. Cath is emotional, panicky, obsessive, somewhat paranoid, anxious, and above all else – snarky, I cannot understate the snark, it was my favorite thing ever. Needless to say, I instantly loved her. It probably also helped that I could relate to pretty much all of her character flaws and hardships, I too will go extremely out of my way to avoid the human population due to my anxiety and stress levels, I’ve lived through the parent drama, I went through an obsessive fan fic phase and still to this day get emails from mibba (don’t judge me lol), I am way too dependent on my best friend/cousin who you all know & love so dearly, I get stuck in my head and rely on books to help me get out. Now that’s not all that Cath is, but I’ll leave it at that because you should really meet her for yourself (really – I insist). The rest of the characters too, by the way – I mean, there are so many amazing characters to choose from… I could literally gush forever.

“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”


– Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Fangirl was a fucking emotional roller coaster in the best kind of way, and Rowell’s writing made me feel like I was right next to Cath through all of the ups and downs. I felt everything she did, and I rooted for her the entire time <3

Right now – all I can think of is how I feel just like Cath did when she finally bought the eighth Simon Snow book – it’s all really over (there are literal tears in & falling from my eyes right now) <3 <3 <3

If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety issues, or you know, were a teenage girl at some point in your life, go read this right now! I hope you love it as much as I do! Now, if you would please excuse me I am going to go drink my feelings. Goodnight loves xo


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format: Hardcover
Started: December 24th, 2016
Finished: December 25th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 Red wine. In a big-ass glass. With a plate of cookies. Or cake.

“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”

Rainbow Rowell strikes again.

Actually, no – she slayed it. The only book I’ve read before Fangirl was Eleanor & Park which also left me reeling and infatuated, so Rowell is on my auto-buy list from now until forever. Luckily for me I have several of her books to catch on (including Carry On which I need absolutely right now) and if I haven’t recommended Rowell’s books to you before, I will from now on. Be prepared.

Fangirl is about Cath – the smaller twin entering first year of college with social anxiety and who spends as much time lost in her head as she can. The book is split into First Semester and Second Semester, and as we meet her twin sister Wren, her roommate Reagan, and her roommate’s boyfriend Levi if you don’t fall in love with all of them I think you need to read it again. Reading from Cath’s perspective was like stepping into a Febreeze commercial:

To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.

And if you didn’t connect with introverted and snarky Cath, there was the million-watt bulb Levi with floppy hair and God-like eyebrows:

Levi opened his smile up completely.
“Oh, put that away,” Cath said with distaste. “I don’t want you to get charm all over my sister-what if we can’t get it out?”

I can’t get enough of Cath. I can’t get enough of Levi. I want to dive into the world of Simon and Baz. I wish I could be blinded by Levi. I want to enroll in Fiction Writing. I’m having difficulties writing a review because I’ve been scrolling through page after page of quotes and can’t decide which ones I like more and which ones I want to print out and sew into my finger tips to keep forever. And even though I just finished, I already to want to open up to the first page and slowly feel myself falling in love with Cath and Levi and Reagan all over again, to feel the world change into poetry and beauty and sarcasm, and to feel the rest of the world blur and muddle as I sink down to the bottom of the ocean and read in peace with the biggest, most idiotic grin plastered to my face.

Rowell’s world building and narration are addictive. My hesitation to contemporary is redundant when it comes to a Rowell book because even though we follow regular teens and young adults (and there’s no elves or dragons on the cover), Rowell spins it into a mystical tale and makes mundane days seem magical. Her characters are rich and dynamic, and in Fangirl it felt like pieces of myself had been ripped apart and re-arranged into four magnificent characters. Each chapter gave me goosebumps and the ending was perfect and gentle and infinite.

“No,” Cath said, “Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”

There isn’t much I can go into without spoiling anything, and to be honest I’m still having difficulty finding the right words to express just how much I think Fangirl means to me. It’s beautiful and warm and the perfect hug-in-a-book, and deserves to be paraded around town and adored. It makes our real-life Febreeze-infested life seem just a little bit more refreshing and less cloud-of-chemical-haze.

Let Fangirl take away some of the toxic for a while.

You deserve it.

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

o'dell island of the blue dolphinsSeries: Island of the Blue Dolphins # 1
Genre: Fiction
Published: May, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK

In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.

This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: June 30th, 2016
Finished: June 30th, 2016
Drink Pairing: A nice cup of hot herbal tea, I think.

I have to say that my attachment to Island of the Blue Dolphins is mostly sentimental. This was one of the first books I really remember reading over and over again, along with Harry Potter. I’m not quite sure why ten-year-old me couldn’t get enough of reading about a girl getting stranded on an island all alone for 20 (+/-) years, but I must have read Island of the Blue Dolphins at least half a dozen times or more (trust me, as someone who doesn’t re-read books often, this is kind of huge). Now, over ten years later, even though I’m reeling in the rating from 5⭐️ to 3⭐️, I will still always hold this book dear to my heart (literally and figuratively).

Juana MariaKarana’s small tribe live on the Island of the Blue Dolphins just off the coast of Southern California. They live peacefully and quietly, content in their isolation and tradition. But with the arrival of the Aleuts (the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands and Shumagin Islands of Alaska, United States and Kamchatka Krai, Russia), history repeats itself and Karana’s tribe start planning to leave. When the chance comes, Karana dives overboard when she spots her younger brother still on the island.

The premise of this book is seemingly simple, yet as it takes place over 25 years in a mere 184 pages there is a lot more complexity just below the surface. And guess what.

This is based off of a true story.

Crazy, right? Though there’s only small pieces of information available – where she was found, when her tribe arrived in California and when she was, what she was found with – I think this is a beautiful interpretation of what could very well have happened. Beautifully written and wonderfully intriguing, I hope you’ll give Island of the Blue Dolphins a chance. It’s a beautiful book and a wonderful little piece of (unofficial) history.

Have you read anything from Scott O’Dell?
Would you make it alone on a deserted island for 18 years?

(assuming you had some sense of survival skills)

A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas

maas a court of mist and furySeries: A Court of Thorns and Roses # 2
Genre:  Fantasy
Published:  May, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format:  Hardcover
Started:  May 23rd, 2016
Finished:  May 24th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
  A deep rich Syrah or Shiraz!

THIS IS IT.

THIS IS THE MAAS THAT I WAS WAITING FOR.

Holy shit you guys, I’m so glad that I waited for the sequel to come out and read them both one after the other because A Court of Mist and Fury is just as good as the Throne of Glass Series (and anyone who knows me knows how much I fucking love Throne of Glass). All of the things I didn’t like about A Court of Thorns and Roses was explained and laid out bare and made everything so, so worth it.

The love, the world, the magic, the adventure – it’s all just Feyre. She grows and becomes her own person and she finds herself, and did I ever love reading about it. Each book is so singularly unique and solid on its own, but woven together the richness and artistic prowess Maas has is just…

And now, I join the masses that are writhing in pain over having to wait for the sequel.

Oh, how I feel your pain.. and this cathartic book hangover.

Let the wait, begin!

Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

jones howl's moving castleSeries:  Howl’s Moving Castle #1
Genre:  Fantasy, Children’s
Published:  January, 2009
Goodreads | Amazon | AudibleIndigo | Barnes & Noble

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5 – how can this not be an instant favourite?
Format:  Paperback
Started:  April 12th, 2016
Finished:  April 13th, 2016
Drink Pairing:
 A light moscato

Howl’s Moving Castle is my all-time favourite anime, and when Annika said I needed to read the book I had it in my hands the next Monday.

If you haven’t seen the anime (in which case YOU NEED TO ASAP), Sophie is the oldest of three sisters and is the only one to remain working at her step-mother’s Hat Shop.  Her talent with hats is unprecedented and she earns quite a reputation for herself.  Despite her talents she has little confidence in herself.  Being the first of three daughters is viewed as a misfortune in their town – you will be the first to fail, the least beautiful, and the most unlikely to succeed.  Using this as her crutch, Sophie tends to favour discussions with her hats instead of customers and their gossip, keeping to the shadows and avoiding confrontation.  When she takes a particularly bad attitude one day and offends the Witch of the Waste who comes to buy a hat, she is cursed to age sixty years and cannot tell anyone about her curse.  Without being able to explain her situation to her family, she sets off to find the Wizard Howl and his moving castle – the only wizard left strong enough to break her curse.

The anime follows the same premise of the novel but it changed some of the underlying plot to suit an anime style better.  These few changes compounded to give the same ending with a different theme.  Personally after reading the book I consider the anime to be separate (kind of like Full Metal Alchemist before Brotherhood).  Things are mostly the same up until the anime decided to change from the novel (or manga in FMA’s case) and it’s just different.  Not better, not worse – different.  I’m not giving away any spoilers either because it was so unexpected and wonderful and magnificent I was practically crying reading it.  Howl’s Moving Castle is two very different beasts depending on whether you watch or read it, and that just means I have more Howl and Sophie to love.

If you love a magical adventure with wizards and witches and castles, Sophie is a wonderful heroine that steals your heart as she learns she’s more than the unfortunate first of three sisters.  There is always more to a person, and you are never only what you’re told you are.

I’m sorry it’s short but Howl’s Moving Castle in both anime and book form come with the hightes of recommendations I can give that I have no idea what else to say.

Also, half way through I realized that Howl’s attitude in Jones’ book was incredibly similar to David Tennant’s representation of the Tenth Doctor:  he’s incredibly fussy over his hair, he’s always in blue and silver suits, and his tendency to ramble and give everyone nicknames that can flop between complimentary and complaining depending on his mood..!  See if you can un-see it, because I can’t.

ten

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the AshesSeries:  An Ember in the Ashes, #1
Genre:
  Young Adult
Published:  April, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon | AudibleIndigo

“Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  5/5 ♥
Format:  Audiobook & Hardcover
Started:  March 7, 2016
Finished:  March 8, 2016
Wine Pairing: 
Monster Vinyards – Skinny Dip Chardonnay <3

When I first woke up today, I thought – I’m going to read a few chapters of my book, and then I’ll go make myself some breakfast, maybe clean the house, or watch some more full house on Netflix (the addiction is real)…  I was only on the third chapter and now I can say, looking back – I was incredibly naive in believing that I would have the will power to put it down again. It is now 5:30 in the afternoon, and I still haven’t eaten today, in fact – I haven’t done anything today, except bury my face in the pages of An Ember in the Ashes. Now for those who know me, this pretty much goes unsaid, but I. Love. Food. Like a lot. There is not much that can come between my stomach and what it desires, but this book was so god damn good, that it literally made me forget everything except the anticipation that I felt each time I turned the page. Sabaa Tahir creates a world so captivating, and characters so real and relatable, I just couldn’t put it down. I’m pretty sure I’ve found my new favorite author (besides J.K. Rowling <3 long live the queen).

One of the most surprising aspects that I loved was the fact that the characters in this book are not always likeable. This doesn’t happen much in YA fiction, at least not intentionally. We usually meet our hero or heroine and they can do no wrong. They are also instantly brave and rise to the challenges that face them with nothing but their sheer determination and selflessness… Now I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy those types of novels, but there’s something about an imperfect character who is well aware of their flaws that is just so much more (not sure how else to describe it). When we meet Laia, her brother is imprisoned and she is literally his only hope of survival. When initially faced with this she runs and saves herself, the guilt and shame eat away at her. But she is given a chance at redemption, and even while she puts herself in a terrifying situation to save her brother, she still holds back because of her fears. She doesn’t take risks at every opportunity, even though she knows what’s at stake, and she hates herself more for it. She does not become brave overnight despite the fact that her brother’s life is dependent on it. Bravery is a constant struggle. It’s something that she works towards throughout the entire book, and when she finally finds her strength – it feels so real. I hate when YA authors write whiny/useless/daft female leads, usually they are then passed off as extremely selfless, beautiful and brave. It was amazing to watch Laia accept her flaws and move past them, to watch her step away from the scared little girl who just wanted to be rescued. I found her to be a truly inspirational character.

“He only wants to help me. Yet I take no comfort in what he said: I’ll find you in Silas. I’ll find a way to Darin. I’ll take care of everything. I promise.
Once, I’d have wanted that. I’d have wanted someone to tell me what to do, to fix everything. Once, I’d have wanted to be saved.
But what has that gotten me? Betrayal. Failure. It’s not enough to expect Keenan to have all the answers. Not when I think of Izzi, who even now might be suffering at the Commandant’s hands because she chose friendship over self-preservation. Not when I think of Elias, who gave up his own life for mine.
The shed is stifling suddenly, hot and close, and I’m across the floor and out the door. A plan forms in my head, tentative, outlandish, and mad enough that it just might work.”
– Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes (Laia)

Now, on the other hand we have our second lead character, Elias. A mask who hates what he is and what he has been trained to do. Elias lives under constant scrutiny, where even the smallest show of compassion is punished ruthlessly. His flaw comes from his desire to survive and be free. Because of this, he doesn’t always do the right thing, and even when he starts to – it’s not always consistent. He struggles That is until he draws the line. It takes him a while to get there, but he slowly learns that if he truly wants to be free, he can’t just turn away and ignore it all. If he wants to be more than a mask, more than the evil he has been raised to be, he has to take a stand.

Another huge plus for this novel – There was no instant love and the relationships weren’t the main focus of the story! Yay! Any romantic developments felt natural and realistic, there was no moment where their eyes met and the rest of the world fell away. Don’t get me wrong – there’s attraction, but it develops over time and it’s more complicated/less superficial. By the end of the book the characters don’t even know how they feel about each other, and that is conveyed perfectly to the reader. Nothing is cut and dry.

There is a slight love triangle – square(ish) thing – going on, which I’m not usually a fan of, but I find that I’m kind of enjoying sorting out these character’s feelings along with them. I think everyone can relate to Elias as he questions whether or not he returns the feelings of his best friend Helene. He’s a bit lost and he doesn’t know how to deal with how their relationship is progressing. Meanwhile, he can’t help that he feels drawn to Laia. And while Laia connects with Keenan over past pains they both share, she can’t deny what she begins to feel for Elias as she learns that he is much more than just a mask.

Overall – This book was meant to be cherished. An Ember in the Ashes was a perfect 5/5 to me. The world is well built and enthralling. Every piece of backstory drew me in further and I was never bored. I also never knew what would happen next, something that hasn’t happened to me in a good long while when it comes to YA fiction. So here I am, sitting on the edge of my seat and not sure what to do with myself now. All I want to do is jump back into that world, but alas, A Torch Against the Night will not be out until August 2016. Whyyyyyyy? </3

* (SIDE NOTE) – I would just like to mention that I had originally begun listening to the audiobook for An Ember in the Ashes on Audible, which I would highly recommend. The Narrators, Fiona Hardingham and Steve West were impeccable! Their performances instantly took my breath away and made the story so much more real. I was so drawn in that I rushed out and bought myself a hard copy of the book and crushed it in a day. Lack of self-control – 1, Kassandra – 0. If you’re interested and didn’t find the link at the top of this review, you can check it out here.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3.5 5
Format:  Audiobook & Hardcover
Started:  March 8th, 2016
Finished:  March 17th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 No wine… my hangover still hurts…

“She makes for the closest training building, and I take my time following, watching the way she moves: angry, favoring her right leg, must have bruised the left in practice, keeps clenching that right fist – probably because she wants to punch me with it.”
 – Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes came with praises sung high and low from Kassandra, who fell in absolute love with this book.  It’s been the discussion of our weekly adventures as I slowly picked my way through the 15 hour audiobook slowly.  I gave up today and borrowed the Hardcover so I could finish the book before I forgot what happened at the beginning.  Don’t get me wrong, the reading by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West is amazing – they are wonderful narrators and I love their accents and their voices should marry each other because they sound perfect together – but I find audiobooks are more suited to long drives with the windows down, or plane rides, or trains…  Not for when you’re mucking around the house or sitting in bed.  I feel absolutely useless.

…but I digress.

“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you.”
 – Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes

Split into three chapters (which serves no purpose as far as I can see?), An Ember in the Ashes follows Laia and Elias as they both live out two completely different lives within the walls of Blackcliff.  Huge on character building and development, the story sometimes seemed slow moving and my eyes would start to wander around the next page for something interesting.  However, Tahir’s use of continuous flipping between character perspectives is masterfully portrayed, managing time, building suspense, and filling in details indirectly was an absolute pleasure to read.  The characters themselves grow substantially, and it’s wonderful that Laia learns to stand on her own to feet and get over her fears that held her quivering where she stood as soon as she didn’t know how to respond.  Elias remains the selfish character that only wishes to be free of the life he never wanted, the same Mask that’s too different from his comrades, haunted by his dreams, but he does decide to stand up for what he believes in – and it’s not the Empire.  I think my favourite character is Cook and I wish we learned more about her, but other than her, I haven’t found myself overly attached to any of the characters.  My favourite part of the book was the world.  I love the setup – from the Scholars stuck under Empire rule, to the stifling black walls of Blackcliff, I had no problems imagining the world and the brutality of the Masks, the colours of the Tribes…  Tahir’s writing is smooth, simple, and has a great flow throughout the book and with both characters.

Overall, I think Tahir has a great idea.  I can see why there’s a growing hype with this book…  But I don’t really know what else to say.  Good story, cool concept, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”
 – Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes

Throne of Glass # 2 – 4, by Sarah J. Maas

crown of midnight throne of glass 2

 

Series:  Throne of Glass # 2 – 4
Genre:
  Young Adult, Fantasy
Published:  September, 2014

Crown of Midnight:  Goodreads | Amazon | Audible Indigo | Barnes & Noble
“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.
“‘It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.’
“From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
“Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
“Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.”

Heir of Fire:  Goodreads | Amazon | Audible Indigo | Barnes & Noble
     She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.
     “Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.
     “Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.
     “The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.”

Queen of Shadows:  Goodreads | Amazon | Audible Indigo | Barnes & Noble
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.”


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format:  Paperback (Crown of Midnight & Heir of Fire) & Hardcover (Queen of Shadows)
Started:  February 23rd, 2016
Finished:  March 2nd, 2016 
Wine Pairing:
  A crisp, delicious Riesling that tingles the senses and leaves you confused with an empty bottle.

“She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”
 – Sarah J. Maas, Heir of Fire

I had to combine my review for the rest of the Throne of Glass series, as I could neither restrain myself from picking up the next book before writing a review, nor could I actually find any better words to describe my absolute adoration for this series than what I said in my review of Throne of Glass #1.  Each sequel in this series just builds on the characters and the world and makes me fall more and more in love with everything.  I laughed, I cried (and I’m pretty sure I terrified a few people with a squeal of frustration once or twice) and couldn’t get enough of Celaena, Aelin, Rowan, and Manon – my favourites.

If you enjoyed Throne of Glass, I’m not sure how you could possibly be anything less than enthralled by these next three books (unless one of your ships didn’t happen, in which case I apologize but WE MUST GO ON!).  As you go further and further, we’re introduced to more and more characters that show us more of the world and of the different types of people and lifestyles.  While I sometimes felt that the world building was rushed, intricate details missing, and the culture building lacking, the plot continues and I found that I didn’t care as much as I read for the characters and their stories more than I did for the world.

I don’t think there’s any need to go into detail of each of the books, critiquing the plot and writing a bunch of spoilers.  Other than Celaena becoming ridiculously badass, Dorian remains the kicked puppy you just want to give a hug to, and Chaol is still the hard ass.  Grr.

“Behind them, across the hall, the dancers shattered their roses on the floor, and Aedion grinned at his queen as the entire world went to hell.”
– Sarah J. Maas, Queen of Shadows

But I need to say that finally, after finishing Heir of Fire, I think I’ve narrowed down why I love Aelin so much – why I have fallen in love with her character and don’t criticize her as much as I do some other protagonists in other books.  I think it’s because Maas has written a little bit of all of us into Aelin.  She is hard and strong when she decides to fight, she is soft and gentle when she opens her heart, she is intelligent and holds her ground on and off the battlefield, and deep down she is just another girl struggling to find herself and to collect every book she can get her hands on.  Even though most of us aren’t princesses and haven’t found ourselves the Queen of Assassins (no one wants me with a knife, that’s for sure), I think we all like to imagine being able to fend for ourselves and those we love as Aelin does – to be able to fight for what we believe in.

And to have money to buy lots and lots of books.

“…her dearest friends are characters in books.”
 – Sarah J. Maas, Heir of Fire

So with only six months (hopefully) until the release of book five, I’ve only got to worry about making it until Book Six..!  But is anyone else excited to re-read the series again after each new publishing?  .. or is it just me?

All in all, this series just makes me happy.  That’s all I need in a good book (or six!), so I’m keeping Celaena close and anticipate many re-reads.

As an added bonus, I was perusing through sakimichan’s Deviantart and found some prints that are exactly how I imagined the characters.  And I love her art so enjoy!

  • Celaena/Aelin  [ 1 ]  / [ 2 ]
  • Rowan  [ 1 ] – Disdainful stare / [ 2 ] – Warrior Mode (.. she’s making a NSFW edition .. swoon ..) / [ 3 ] – But really, this one ♥
  • Dorian [ 1 ] – Shirtless and all.
  • Chaol  [ 1 ] (funny that this one’s also called “Faithful!”)
  • Manon  [ 1 ]  / [ 2 ] – More for the armor and iron look
  • Aedion [ 1 ]

“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.”
 – Sarah J. Maas, Crown of Midnight

Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas

mass throne of glassSeries:  Throne of Glass #1
Genre:
  Young Adult, Fantasy
Published:  August, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

“In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

“The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.”

 


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  Solid 5 / 7 *
Format:  Paperback
Started:  February 21st, 2016 (at 4:30pm)
Finished:  February 22nd, 2016 (at 2am, I am astounded and floored and speechless.  Why are book stores not open this late?!  I need all the rest!!).
Wine Pairing:
  I don’t think just one kind of drink would work with this book becuase I was a roller-coaster of emotions.  I suspect only the experience of a Vegas bartender could keep up with this book.

Throne of Glass is worth every second of the hype.  It does not disappoint.

“My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me.”
– Sarah J. Mass, Throne of Glass

I was worried when I started reading Throne of Glass.  I was worried that this book would start the beginning of another series that I would have nothing but disappointment for.  But despite the bitterness I still had after reading Red Queen, I knew I had to give this a chance to try and curb my reading slump.

Picking up Throne of Glass was the best decision I’ve made all week.

Celaena Sardothien is a bad-ass, witty, confident, independent assassin that takes shit from no one.  Admittedly, she is everything I’ve always wanted to be (flaws and all), and grabbed my attention almost from the first page.  Surviving essentially a death camp with her sense of humor and same bad-assery in tact, and then to throw herself head-first into physically abusive training while still owning the stage in a corset dress and mask demands the respect of characters and readers alike.  For the sake of fanning the flames of my girl-crush, I shall end with saying she is one of my favourite female protagonists and I enjoyed picturing her as a little elfish beauty in heel who could snap your neck if she felt like it if you stood between her and chocolate cake.

“You could be great. You could rattle the stars. You could do anything if only you dared.”
– Sarah J. Mass, Throne of Glass

The writing style in Throne of Glass has an easy to read flow and recognizable character that changes with perspective.  With just the right amount of description to the environment and items of significance (but not enough to drone on relentlessly) the readers are given the perfect balance of insight into characters, plot, and the world of Erilea.  Personally, I had no issues connecting with Mass’ writing style.  The dry, sarcastic humour was prevalent throughout the novel, tearing laughs and giggles and squeals as I read, while still letting the personality of the narration change and morph with the alternating perspectives.

I also need to commend Sarah J. Mass for her wonderful male protagonists.  Though I’m still a little unsure how squishy a certain someone is, I do enjoy Celaena’s relationship with both Dorian and Chaol.  A tantalizing love triangle that entices and teases, but keeps you leaning closer and closer without falling by only being a whisper of a scandal instead of demanding the readers attention.  Throne of Glass breaks the reader in gently to the characters, their backgrounds, and the personalities.  She builds up trust, foreshadows, and suggests enough to tease, but also provides everything that you need in the first of the series to hook you into the rest.  Even if you can see the paths the next three books will go, I’m putting on my boots to track down all the sequels because there is no way I’m leaving this up to my imagination.  I need answers, I need Celaena, and I need more.

The Throne of Glass series is going to prove to be a favourite of mine, I’m sure.  I laughed, I cheered, I cried, and I devoured Throne of Glass in an afternoon well into the next morning.  With the next two books in the series fresh from the bookstore, I know what I’m doing with the rest of my week – do you?

“Names are not important. It’s what lies inside of you that matters.”
– Sarah J. Mass, Throne of Glass

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente & Illustrated by Ana Juan

the girl who circumnavigated fairylandSeries:  Fairyland #1
Genres:
  Fantasy, Young Adult
Published:  May, 2011
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

 


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 5
Format:  Paperback
Started:  December 21st, 2015
Finished:  January 7th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 Pinot Grigio and grapes and lilies.  ♥

This book needs to be savoured.

It needs to soak, lather, and distil in your mind.  Let it linger beside your bed at night, watching you drift in and out of your own Fairyland, waiting patiently to tell you everything wrong you’ve been doing.  Watch as it seems to glow and call to you when you need it, when you’re tired of adulting and need to take a break and disappear for a while.  And it needs to be loved, because this book is a huge bundle of love and warmth and storms and, most importantly, September.

Little September is a twelve-year-old girl from Omaha who is whisked away by the Green Wind and the Leopard of Little Breezes to Fairyland without waving goodbye to her parents.

“All children are heartless.  They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror.  Hearts weigh quite a lot.  That is why it takes so long to grow one.”
                               – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

Through fields of flowers, through forests of never-ending Autumn and Fall, and through Pandemonium and the oceans of the world, the little Ravished September keeps going forward and captures your heart each step of the way.

It’s not very often that I can pick up a book, read a few chapters, and then leave it for a day to simmer before picking it up again.  Reading it before bed is the perfect time as you find yourself involuntarily reading it in your mothers voice like she used to.  Some nights, she would have an English accent (because that is obviously required when conversing with A-Through-L), and some nights she would whisper with the wind, or laugh with the Marquess (most distressing).  And then when you reach the end, the suspense jumps and you fall together in a teary, sobbing mess with an aching heart and you suddenly feel naked sitting alone in pajamas.

” ‘Even if you’ve taken off every stitch of clothing, you still have your secrets, your history, your true name. It’s hard to be really naked. You have to work hard at it. Just getting into a bath isn’t being naked, not really. It’s just showing skin.’ ”
                               – Lye from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

Despite reaching the end we trudge on.  A little bit raw and (most likely) missing a shoe.  As I put this sweet, innocent little book back on the shelf, I will remember it when I have a child to read to or when I need to be read to.  Because now that I have found a little window to Fairyland, I’m not letting it go.

Thank you, Patrick Rothfuss, for the beautiful review that prompted me to buy this book.  I will shortly be off to search for all subsequent sequels to enjoy and reread because my poor bedside looks awful lonely without the memory of Fairyland to accompany her until her 100th Birthday, if only for a little while.

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

DivergentSeries:  Divergent #1
Genre:
  Young Adult
Published:  April, 2011
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

“In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.”


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  5/5
Format:  Hardcover
Started:  December 7, 2013
Finished:  December 8, 2013 (@ 4:30 am <3 I couldn’t put this book down, I literally read all night)
Wine Pairing: 
Kraken on the rocks

When I started this book, I was a little nervous. I had heard the rave reviews as well as many that made it out to be the downfall of dystopian fiction, that or just another version of the hunger games. But as I read, I learned all about a world where people gathered together trying to improve their situation, though their efforts were twisted into something ugly over time. A plain girl fights ferociously for her right to find her place in her family’s world as well as her own. Some reviews said that classifying people into characteristics as factions was shallow, but personally I don’t really think that they understood the concept, or maybe they did and they just simply thought that it was shallow. They way I understood it, the factions didn’t classify people into what they were, they represented the things that different groups of people felt were ultimately the downfall of society. Abnegation is not a group of selfless people – where that’s all that they are and it sums them up in that one word, it’s a group who aim to be selfless because they feel that selfishness is the greatest sin to be fought. Tris begins this story as a nervous timid girl who is desperately trying to fit in and do what is expected of her. But as her story develops we get to watch her shed the ideology that she feels she needs to fit into, and come to realize who she has been all along with confidence.

“I guess I am what I’ve always been. Not Dauntless, not Abnegation, not faction less. Divergent.”

If anyone out there cannot relate and find truth in this story I would be shocked. The characters are well developed and I absolutely loved to watch them grow from the beginning to the end. If it wasn’t 4:30 in the morning I’d be grabbing Insurgent off my bookshelf already 😛 I guess I can wait for tomorrow though.