Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Pages: 689
Song I Played While Reading: Left Behinds by Hardwell
Rating: 4 stars

Kingdoms will collide.

The long path to the throne of has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broke and bought, friendships have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.
With her heart storm to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become posted to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what- and who- to sacrifice if she's to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart. 

I'm going to warn you all right now: if you haven't read Empire of Storms, or any of the other Throne of Glass books, leave. I''m not even going to bother with the a spoiler-free opening, since this is the fifth book in a series that is, quite possibly, the biggest series on the market right now. (Remember the good old days when Throne of Glass was quietly enamoring us? Yeah. Good times. (I promise I'm not a snob, oh my god.))
I've come to realize that writing a review for any of these books is... difficult, to say the least. This is probably going to be long-winded and random and full of fangirl moments. I'm literally incapable of capping this review to a couple paragraphs. So that's another warning: this is going to be LONG. If anyone reads this entire thing, high fucking five for you and can we be friends??
We're going to start with something that has been plaguing me ever since I read Queen of Shadows, which was the identity crisis I went through as Aelin shed Celaena's skin and fully embraced her Fae heritage. I still have trouble figuring out how and why they're two completely different people, but they are. It broke my heart, to be honest with you. Throne of Glass used to be that series for me; the one I thought of everyday, the one I pushed on everyone to read, the one that I literally worshipped. It was my Harry Potter. I don't remember if I talked about this in my QoS review, since I was in denial and was forcing myself to think of all the good things. My rating went from 5 stars, to 4.5, and then finally to 3 as I realized the scope of my feelings.
To sum up my feelings: I'm only now just starting to come to terms with it. It's a slow and painful process, since there are moments (like last night when I was laying in bed and staring at my bookshelves) when I look at the first three books, cover proudly facing out, and think about how much they mean to me. And then I look at Queen of Shadows, and how I've stacked it normally, shoved in with the others on my favorites shelf, and I get sad. A little mad too, with some confusion thrown in there as well.
So, while I still greatly admire Aelin and all that she's gone through, and how strong, badass, and kind she is, I've moved my focus on to the other characters, who essentially saved this series for me. If we had only gotten Aelin's POV in these last three books, I don't know what I would have done. My ratings would've probably stuck around 3 stars or under, just because I've lost that connection with her. But god bless SJM for making this story revolve around more than just Aelin and her struggles. We've got Manon and her Thirteen, who I've loved from the moment we were introduced to them in Heir of Fire (I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WAS THAT LONG AGO). Then we've got Aedion and Rowan, two supportive, loyal, feral Fae who constantly knock the wind out of me with their devotion to Aelin and Terrasen. Lysandra was, and is, willing to impersonate Aelin for the rest of her life just to help Terrasen thrive again. Like, what??? WHAT???? Excuse me while I go fucking sob in a corner.
Elide, who I wasn't overly thrilled with in QoS, fucked me up. I ship her and Lorcan together so badly that I could scream. I know it's an overused, cliche plot, but I'm a romantic fool. Give me ALL the badass-Fae-warrior-falls-in-love-with-a-human tropes. It's my undoing.
And then finally... we have Dorian. Since Throne of Glass, I've been content in my like for him. He didn't stand out to me, but he was good, you know? He was struggling to find his place in his kingdom, didn't really know what he stood for, and was a lady's man. Cute, but nothing special. And even with that black collar around his throat, I only felt vaguely bad for him. I had more important people to think about, like how Aelin and Manon were going to meet for the first time, or how Lysandra was actually a fucking queen and deserved her own kingdom to rule.
We get Empire of Storms Dorian. A darker, sexier, more intense version of the Dorian we once knew, and I was hooked. I was donezo, from the moment he used his powers to slaughter those witches when they were attacking Rifthold. Sign me the FUCK up, because not only do I ship Manorian with an icy passion that rivals Elide and Lorcan (Elican? Loride?), but FLAWLESS CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. People are bitching about how SJM has ruined yet another character, but honestly, what did they expect? He had a Valg demon possessing his body for months. He watched the women he loved loose her head. If you don't think that won't fuck a guy up, and change him even a little bit, then you need to leave. So what if he falls for Manon mostly because she's a badass witch who definitely wouldn't loose her head as easily as Sorscha did? Let the guy fucking live and mend his broken heart. Not everyone can be pure and naive for their entire life, least of all Dorian.
Even with my complaints, Empire of Storms is a monumental feat. SJM's writing is out of this world, and she knows just how to keep you guessing, wondering what's going to happen, before flipping around and doing the opposite of what you expected. I loved seeing everyone coming together at the end. It broke me a little, knowing that if Galan and Ilias had come just a little bit sooner, everything could've been different. But knowing everything that we do, this final book is going to be explosive. I'm already getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

"I love you. There is no limit to what I can give to you, no time I need. Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will love you."

"The only sounds were the tapping waves, the whimpering of the injured, and the groan of the mighty bow as he knocked an arrow and drew back the string. Farther and farther. His arm strained, but he honed in on that dark speck flapping away.
"A gold coin says he misses," Fenrys rasped.
"Save your breath for healing," Aelin snapped.
"Make it two," Aedion said behind him. "I say he hits."
"You can all go to tell," Aelin snarled. But then added, "Make it five. Ten says he downs it with the first shot."
"Deal," Fenrys groaned, his voice thick with pain.
Rowan gritted his teeth. "Remind me why I bother with any of you."

"You will find, Rolfe, that one does not deal with Celaena Sardothien. One survives her."

"Maeve smiled slightly. "What a joy, to learn that your usual good spirits remain undimmed in such dark days."
"How could they not, when so many of your pretty males are in my company?"
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Overdrive by Dawn Ius review + giveaway!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Overdrive by Dawn Ius
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 13th, 2016
Pages: 320
Rating: 4 stars

Jules Parish has screwed up.
After three years of boosting cars, she got caught. She's too good to get caught, but she let her (ex)-boyfriend talk her into a questionable job. And now, her and her little sister, Emma, will be kicked out of their foster home, left to survive on the unforgivable streets of Las Vegas alone.
Eccentric, wealthy Roger Montgomery wants to open up his mansion to Jules and Emma. The only catch? Jules must steal seven of the rarest, most valuable muscle cars in the world -- in seven weeks. Even worse, she's forced to put her trust in three complete strangers to help her do it.
First, there's Chelsea, the gorgeous redhead with a sharp tongue and love for picking locks. Then there's Mat, who hasn't met a system he couldn't hack. And finally,
 there's the impossibly sexy car thief Nick, whose bad attitude and mysterious past drive Jules crazy.
With nothing in common and everything to lose, can Jules and her amateur crew pull off what could be the biggest car heist in history? Or will things spin out of control faster than a Nevada dust devil?

I've never read anything involving cars heists before. I've obviously seen some of the Fast & Furious movies, but they're virtually the same every time and I don't feel a particular pull towards the subject. But since I had never read a book about it (and apparently it's tooooootally different from watching the movie version), I decided to give Overdrive a shot, and was surprised by how easily I fell into the story.
The plot was fast-paced and transitioned smoothly, and I loved reading about how they planned and executed their heists. I'm a horrible planner, so reading about someone like Julia, who's nicknamed "The Ghost" because she steals cars so effortlessly and deceptively, was insane. I understood and respected her need to keep her sister safe and sheltered, and loved their family dynamic.
Ius crafted her characters with an amazing amount of depth, so everyone can find someone to root for in here, and you ended up caring about each and every one of them. I loved the banter between the four of them, and how they could go from being serious, to quickly throwing jabs and jokes at each.
The romance was slow-burning and sweet, which tempered out the intense scenes. Nick was absolutely adorable, and made me squeal multiple times.
Overall, this was an engaging, fast-paced read that I highly recommend to anyone!

About the author
Dawn Ius is a short story author, screenwriter, professional editor, and communications specialist. She is the cofounder and senior editor of the Vines Leaves Literary Journal; the assistant manager of The International Thriller Writers (ITW) Association e-zine, The Big Thrill; and the author of ten educational graphic noels. When she's not slaying fictional monsters, she can be found geeking out over things like fair tales, Jack Bauer, Halloween, sports cars, and all things that go bump in the night. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Jeff, and their giant English mastiff, Roarke.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Tumblr

Follow the tour!
Week 1
9/5: Polished Page-Turners - Spotlight
9/6: Latte Night Reviews - Review
9/7: Little Book Wyrm - Review
9/8: No BS Book Review - Makeup Inspirations
9/9: The Book Belles - Review

Week 2:
9/12: Swoony Boys Podcast - Character Interview
9/13: In Wonderland - Review
9/14: Here's to Happy Endings - Q&A
9/15: Vibin With Books - Review
9/16: Bibliobuli YA - Guest Post

3 finished copies of Overdrive (US only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monthly Wrap-up: August 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Waaaaah. It's the first day of September, and I'm actually distraught over the idea of not experiencing fall for the second year in a row. Fall is my favorite season! Why did I think I would love California so much? Unless I'm way up North, seasonal changes don't exist. I even miss the smell of fall. That chilly, intoxicating burnt smell that permeates the air. I would be grinning to myself like an idiot whenever I would walk outside and be taking the most ridiculous deep breaths every few feet. I MISS IT. (No one cares, Mariah, get over yourself.)

Books I read this month

And The Tree's Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich - 2 stars // Goodreads

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - 5 stars // Goodreads

Slammed by Colleen Hoover - 3 stars // Goodreads

Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover - 4 stars // Goodreads

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson - 4 stars // Goodreads

Cherry by Lindsey Rosin - 4 stars // Goodreads

My favorite was OBBBBBVIOUSLY It Ends With Us. It might even be my favorite book of the year. (We'll see by the end of September if Empire of Storms beats IEWU.)

On the blog
I didn't post much in the month of August because I was suuuuuuper busy. I moved the first week of August, spent all of the second week unpacking, then had to deal with some major anxiety issues when school started the third week. So I posted three-ish reviews (It Ends With Us, Slammed, and Point of Retreat all by my queen CoHo, and then Cherry), then asked you guys if you finished an average series/trilogy just to say you finished it, or gave up entirely to save money. 

Music I've been loving
Halsey's Badlands album (it comes and goes, but I'm literally ALWAYS in the mood to listen to that  beautiful fucking album) // Capsize by Frenship // Who Do You Think Of? by M.O // For Free by DJ Khaled // All Of Me by Big Gigantic // Blow Your Mind (Mwah) by Dua Lipa // Bikini Body by Dawin // i hate u, i love u - Robin Schultz remix by gnash // Wreak Havoc by Styler Grey // Bonbon by Era Istrefi // Purple Lamborghini by Skrillex

TV shows I've been watching
Can we TALK about Stranger Things for a second here?! The funny thing about these sort of TV shows (and even books) is that one day, they don't exist. Everything is all fine and dandy, and I'm puttering along, doing my thang. And then the next, the entire fucking book community has exploded over it. Naturally, I had to see what all the hype was about, and NATURALLY, became obsessed. A goal of mine this year is to watch more TV, which seems counterproductive, but I don't fucking watch TV. I'm pretty sure at one point in my life, I hadn't touched a remote control in weeks. But I always felt so left out when everyone was obsessed over a TV show, so I told myself that I needed to jump on the bandwagon and finally watch them. Before this year, the only TV show I had fully committed to was Teen Wolf. But now I can successful cross off Vikings, Jessica Jones, and Stranger Things on my to-watch list. (I'm impatiently waiting for the next season in each of these shows). My goals are to complete Gilmore Girls and season 5 of Teen Wolf by the end of this year.

Books I acquired 

I preordered It Ends With Us, and then bought Cherry on a whim a couple days ago. Bookcase club sent me another batch of YA goodies, these with a crime/mystery theme.

Life shenanigans 
Anxiety has reared its nasty head, so for the past two weeks, I've been all over the place. I was throwing up all Monday morning and had to miss my first class because I was so anxious and needed to sleep it off. I've never in my life had this severe of anxiety before, so I really don't know what's going on. I almost ran out of my speech class today, since we were picking our groups and I didn't know who to choose and thought I was going to pass out. Is this what anxiety does? Does it just lay dormant in some people, and then suddenly pop up and go "HEY! I think it's time I fuck up your life a little, yeah?" 0/10 would recommend. My thyroid is also throwing a party again, so I need to get that checked out as well. And I've also been moody as hell. And my english teacher, who I have for both of my english classes, expects us to be legitimate english scholars. So. I'm struggling.
But! Some good things: I love my apartment. Like, LOVE. My mom and I live in this adorable apartment complex smack in the middle of this bumpin' town, so I'm minutes away from everything. There's a pool, a gym, and FREE STARBUCKS BLACK COFFEE. Yeah. Free fucking coffee. IN MY APARTMENT COMPLEX. God bless, y'all. 

Okay, enough about me: WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO? What was your favorite and least favorite book? I don't even want to talk about It Ends With Us because tears. Everywhere.
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Elementals: The Hands of Time by Michelle Madow cover reveal!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Elementals: The Hands of Time by Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Publication Date: November 25th, 2016

Time is running out. War will be waged. Sacrifices will be made.

Months ago, Nicole Cassidy's life was tuned upside-down when she discovered that she was a witch descended from the Greek gods. She and four other witches gifted with elementals powers fought all over the world- and in other dimensions- to battle the supports of the Titans and fight for the people they love.
Now the Elementals must stop Typhon- the most dangerous monster in the world- from rising, and seal the portal to the dangerous prison world of Kerberos. But they won't be able to do that without facing their hardest decision yet... a sacrifice so great that it may be one they're not willing to make. 

Get ready for the stunning, action-packed conclusion to the bestselling Elementals series, with twists and turns that you'll never see coming! 

Amazon Link: mybook.to/Elementals5

Get Elementals 1 for FREE

Nicole Cassidy is a witch descended from the Greek gods… but she doesn’t know it until she moves to a new town and discovers a dangerous world of magic and monsters that she never knew existed.

Fill out the form to the right and then click the blue button to get your free book!

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Cherry by Lindsey Rosin

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: August 16th, 2016
Pages: 386
Song I Read While Reading: Dreamer by Mokita
Rating: 4 stars

To be honest, the sex pact wasn't always a part of the plan.
Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it were simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving to-do list. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is surprised, but once they all admit to wanting to lose their V-cards too, the embark on a quest to do the deed together... separately.

Layla's got it in the bag. Her serious boyfriend, Logan, has been asking months.
Alex has already done it. Or so she says.
Emma does know what the fuss is all about, but sure, she'll give it a shot.
And Zoe, well, Zoe can't even say the o word without bursting into giggles.

Will everything go according to plan? Probably not. But at least the girls have each other every hilarious, heartwarming, cringe-inducing step of the way. 

If I could pull an Oprah and throw this book at every single person I know and say "YOU NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE" and "YOU NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE", I would die happy. Scratch that, if I could calmly sit down with every closed-minded person on this entire earth who doesn't like this book because it features sex, whack them across the head, then proceed to explain in explicit detail why kids should be reading this, then I could die happy.
I can't even express how important this book was. Not only is there a kick ass girl squad in here, complete with weekly frozen yogurt trips, a hilarious group chat, and unbelievable amounts of open support for each other, but sex is depicted in here realistically and fun. I read this disgusting review on Goodreads from this guy who basically shat all over Cherry because the girls were "vain and shallow and vapid" and Rosin didn't correctly "portray the emotional and physical consequences of what happens afterwards, and, while were at it, at least one of them should have suffered an STD because they were screwing every guy they could find." I'm paraphrasing, but that's literally what he was getting at. I was, and still am, livid. Why should every girl suffer a bad sexual experience? I don't know about him, but I definitely read, and see, way more books that do talk about teen pregnancies and STD's and basically anything that relates badly to young adults having sex, over books that convey the healthier side: consensual, fun, and rewarding.
Why is this so taboo? Why do parents think "Hey, if I don't bring it up, my kid won't go through it." Why do guys find it so unbelievable for a woman to enjoy masturbating and sex? It's human nature. It's biology! I've gotten the "but they're too young!" statement so many times that I'm surprised my eyes haven't fallen out of my head from rolling them so hard. Kids today are literally having sex in middle school. Hell, a girl I knew in high school got pregnant her freshman year. Whether the parents like it or not, it happens. So wouldn't it be better to make them realize that not only is it normal to feel what they're feeling, but it's okay? Going through puberty is awkward enough as it is, so let the poor kid realize that having a boner or wanting to touch yourself is okay. 
As you can see, I get super worked up about this sort of stuff, I'M SORRY. Now here's my actual review:
Cherry was wonderful. It was honest and awkward and funny and basically makes you want to run to your friends and hug them. There was SO many moments when I teared up because these four girls truly loved and supported each other. There was no slut-shaming or judgements. Instead, the girls were curious and empowering, encouraging each other to embrace their explorations in themselves and in others. Whether that was sexually or mentally, Rosin pulled it off: the story flowed easily from chapter to chapter, effortlessly balancing this pact with the other aspects of their lives: school, sports, family dynamics, and the other contributing factors that can make being in the brain of a girl absolutely insane. They all felt real and relatable on some level, since I could picture myself in the place of any of the girls.
Endearing, diverse, thoughtful, and empowering, Cherry is a fast read that leaves a surprising impact.

"Is it just me or does it look like he's trying to swallow her entire head?" Savannah whispered, so as not disturb the horny couple.
"I guess this is unequivocal proof that two sexy people kissing is not an automatically sexy situation," Emma whispered back."

"My mom says that having a feeling of déjà vu means you're exactly where you're supposed to be."
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