September Summary

I was on vacation for 2 weeks in September, so I’m pretty satisfied with what I read this month. My monthly challenge was to start re-reading the Throne of Glass series in anticipation of the series finale coming out at the end of October. My monthly summary is:

Books read: 8
Pages read: 3,312
Main genres: Fantasy
Favourite book: Wuthering Heights
Favourite Re-read: Crown of Midnight

Like I said, I started off the month with the first 3 books in the Throne of Glass series: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire. I’ve been dying to re-read this series for a while now, but I made myself wait until closer to the release of the last book so that it would all be fresh in my mind. Throne of Glass was one of my first major fantasy series, so I was curious if I’d like it as much the second time around, and I absolutely did! I’d forgotten just how epic Crown of Midnight was and I even upped my rating of Heir of Fire from 3 stars to 4 stars the second time around. I enjoyed it a lot more this time.

I read two audiobooks this month as well. I bought a copy of Wuthering Heights on Audible on impulse when they had it on sale for $5. I listened to Emma earlier this year and was keen to try out another classic. What I was not expecting was how much I absolutely adored Wuthering Heights! I know it’s a polarizing book and I know a lot of people who hate it. I kind of anticipated I wouldn’t like it as I don’t love a lot of classics, but I was so very wrong. I won’t go into detail what I loved about it though as I wrote a very detailed review about my thoughts.

The second audiobook was Neverworld Wake, a young adult/sci-fi/mystery thriller novel about a group of teenagers forced to live the same day over and over again. It had an interesting enough plot, but I didn’t love it because I thought it could have been better executed.

I also read two ARC’s this month, although I was a bit late reading the first one as it’s already been published. I read The Lost Queen, which is the first book in a new historical trilogy about 6th century Scotland, and Girls of Paper and Fire, a new YA fantasy book that I’d been hearing lots of good things about. The Lost Queen fell into the trap I’ve been having with a lot of my books lately in that I liked it at the end (appreciated the story), but found it kind of boring to read. In contrast, Girls of Paper and Fire was wonderful and kept me on the edge of my seat with the most wonderful queer relationship at the center of the story.

Finally, I read a short graphic novel/web series that’s set in Vancouver called Always Raining Here. This one was a quick read to boost my numbers, but I keep seeing it at my local bookstore and was intrigued about it. It’s about two gay high school students and the pressures of succeeding in high school and the struggles of being a gay teenager. I had mixed feelings because I liked parts of the story, but found other parts extremely problematic.

Anyways, I read some pretty large books this month, several were over 500 pages, so I’m quite happy with what I read and thrilled to be heading into October and November, which are easily my favourite reading months!

Heir of Fire

Rating: 
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: Sep. 2014 (first read June 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass Book #3

I flew through this 600 page book in a whopping 3 days! I remembered Heir of Fire as my least favourite Throne of Glass book, but it was sooo much better the second time around. I remembered this being so slow moving, and it was for about the first 100 pages, but I was so much more enthralled in the characters.

The first time I read this I gave it 3 stars, I think I was disappointed that our 3 main characters were no longer together and I struggled to get invested in Manon’s storyline and I wasn’t really interested in Rowan. But since I already know these characters now and I know that Celaena is going to be in Wendlyn for the whole book, it was easier to settle in and just enjoy the story.

I loved Rowan at the beginning of this book for being so mean and not taking any of Celaena’s shit. She makes some of the stupidest decisions and no one ever calls her out on it, so I loved Rowan for not coddling her. But I also loved how their relationship changed and it even made me appreciate Celaena a little more. She is so broken in this book. She has always been broken in this series, but Nehemia’s death really did a number on her and she can only see herself now as a coward and nothing else. She never makes any excuses for herself when training with Rowan, but when Rowan realizes how shitty he’s been to Celaena and why some of the things he said to her may have triggered her, I felt empathy for her in a new way. This book has a very different pacing from it’s predecessors, but I feel like we got some more depth to Celaena’s character. It’s easy to be mad at her for running from her birthright, but when you get her full backstory towards the end of the book, it helped me to understand her character a little more. Plus I loved FINALLY seeing her embrace who she is and actively make a decision to do something good.

With each passing novel I love Dorian more and more, and I was sooo dreading the ending of the book throughout the entire thing. Dorian finally moves on from Celaena with one of the castle healers, Sorsha, and while I didn’t really care for Sorsha – I found her personality pretty lacking – I loved watching Dorian become a man and a king. Chaol is so caught up by the notion of honour that it’s almost paralyzing for him. He has no idea what side of the war he is on and his opinions of honour and duty prevent him from listening to his heart. I love how simple it is for Dorian though and I love when he called Chaol out on touting his love for both Dorian and Celaena, but not really being able to accept either of them. Dorian knows what his father is doing is wrong. He values his friendship with Celaena and accepts her for who she is because they were friends and that is what friends do. He is not threatened by her power or the ‘what if’ of the future. He believes in the love that Celaena had for him and that they will work things out between them when the time comes. Dorian is absolutely the king that Adarlan needs and it has been so wonderful to watch him become that person.

Poor Chaol is just trapped in this novel. My love for Chaol diminished with each book in my first read through because I was so enamoured with him in the first two books that I thought Sarah J Maas had forgotten who his character really was. But on the second read through, I think it was really me who didn’t see Chaol for who he is. Chaol wants the world to be simple. He wants to just be able to live his life serving the King and Dorian, he doesn’t want to have to deal with all the blurred lines of right and wrong, duty and honour. He made an oath to protect the King, which he wants to honour, but he struggles to realize that honour isn’t always about keeping promises. If you made a promise to serve a bad person, sometimes the honour comes from recognizing that mistake and taking action to make things better. He knows the King is a monster, but he can’t admit it to himself because then what does that make him. He keeps making decisions based on what he thinks is best for other people, and never on what is best for himself. I would say that one of his flaws is in that selflessness. Was it a good thing that Celaena went to Wendlyn? Yes, but I would be pissed if I was her and Chaol had made that decision for me. Chaol has a need to always be in control and that just keeps getting harder and harder for him.

I was definitely more into Manon’s storyline this time around, but it’s still probably my least favourite of the book. I was super invested in Celaena’s storyline in this book and I got frustrated whenever it would switch. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about the witches. There are some interesting dynamics with the different covens; I liked Asterin and I’m interested to see what happens between the Blackbeak and Yellowlegs covens (I honestly don’t remember). But I really didn’t care for the extended scenes about wyvern training. I personally didn’t care about all the drama with Manon and Abraxos, but I guess it serves to help us get to know Manon’s character. Everything that happens to the witches in this book is really just about setting the scene for the next book.

Overall there are so many new characters in this book. Honestly I’m even more excited for Queen of Shadows when the cast will grow further. I liked getting introduced to Aedion and getting to understand his character, but I am so excited for Arobynn to finally re-enter the story in the next book. It never really bothered me in my first read through that he’s not in any of the books, because he’s only every mentioned in relation to Celaena’s history, but now that I’ve read The Assassin’s Blade, I’ve been dying for him to re-enter the story. He and Celaena have so much unfinished business and it’s been killing me to read 3 whole books with no resolution on how they left things at the end of TAB. I’m also dying for Lysandra to enter the story again for all the DRAMA.

We get a brief intro to Rowan’s cadre in this book and we meet Maeve for the first time, who we all know is freaking Undesirable No. 1. Maeve is like the Umbridge of this series. She’s not the main villain and she’s not as classically evil as the main villain, but you hate her SO MUCH MORE. She’s barely even in this book and she still made me feel so much rage at the end.

So in conclusion, I am definitely knocking my 3 star rating up to at least 4 stars. My main criticisms would be that it was too slow at the beginning and that overall, a lot of what happened with the witches just wasn’t really that important to the rest of the story. But I know there are some pretty die-hard witch fans out there, so many this storyline was a highlight for other people, it just didn’t really do it for me.

I did not find this book boring this time and I was totally on the edge of my seat for the last 200 pages. It’s crazy that I’m 4 books in and yet, I feel like this story is just about to get started. I can’t wait for Celaena to get back to Adarlan and wreak all kind of havoc! I’m heading on vacation now in a few days though for the rest of the month, so I’m going to have to wait a few weeks before I read the last 3 books. I’m debating reading QoS, followed by ToD, and then EoS… anyone have opinions on this order? It’s not the publishing order, but since ToD and EoS take place simultaneously, I kind of want to finish with that killer cliffhanger from Empire of Storms. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Crown of Midnight

Rating: 
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: Aug. 2013 (first read May 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass Book #2

OMG, I knew Crown of Midnight was my favourite book, but this was even better than I remembered! There is so much action in this book and I was totally hooked from start to finish!

This was everything that was good about the first few books, multiplied by 10! The stakes are higher, relationships grow closer, and more secrets are uncovered. What mysterious evil is hiding in the depths of the castle? What is this new secret society? What is going on with Dorian? Will Chaol ever realize his feelings for Celaena? How did the King conquer the continent so quickly? What secrets is Celaena hiding about her past?

Crown of Midnight is just so juicy and dark! We get the sense from the start (of the series) that Celaena is running from something, keeping her secrets close to her chest, only looking out for herself and reluctant to be anyone’s hero. In this book she is forced to address some of her demons and finally make a stand for something. She secretly acts against the King in her own way, but Nehemia, Elena, and the rebels keep pushing her to be something more. When her whole world is torn apart in the middle of the book, she is forced to finally take an active role in discovering what the King has really been up to in the last 10 years.

While there’s still many unknowns about this world, we finally start getting some answers in this book about wyrdmarks, wyrdkeys, and wyrdgates. We get a glimpse into another type of magic and learn that magic may not be totally wiped from the continent after all. I loved the mystery element of this book and I thought it was a lot more compelling than the mystery of the first book, and frankly downright creepy (all those winding hallways, iron doors, and disembodied eyes give me the shivers).

I love the relationships in this book. I loved watching Celaena and Chaol’s relationship grow, and later Celaena and Dorian’s relationship. Plus I loved the friendship that grew between Celaena and Nehemia. I love that Celaena’s most important relationship is a friendship, I just wished both women were able to be more honest with one another. They both held their secrets so close to their chests. Although that said, I think Nehemia wanted to confide in Celaena, she just knew that Celaena wasn’t ready yet. Celaena does drive me a little bit bonkers sometimes though in that she makes some of the stupidest decisions (what she does at the climax of the novel is the biggest facepalm ever), but she was also grieving her friend and probably having PTSD flashbacks to what happened with Sam, so I guess it’s somewhat excusable.

I alluded to this in my review of the Throne of Glass, but I’m shocked to discover that my re-read has turned me into a Dorian lover! I never spared Dorian a thought in my first read of this series, but I actually love him in my re-read! Even more than Chaol, who I always loved before – I’m shocked! Granted Dorian is pretty mopey in the first part of this book, but omg he is such a good friend to Celaena, I can’t help but love him! I think I used to see him as a threat to Celaena and Chaol, but now I just see him for the caring prince that he is. We’ll see if this love carries through in the next book, but I am 100% aboard the Dorian fan-train! Side note though, can we talk about the fact that Celaena and Chaol are only actually together for 1 WEEK in this book?! I thought it was way longer than that, how tragic.

I am lamenting that I’m now finished the first 3 books (including prequel). I know that the series is going to change a lot going into Heir of Fire and that it becomes very different from what we experienced in the first few books. Heir of Fire is my least favourite book of the series. I remember it being so slow and just not caring about Manon at all. But now that I know where the series is going and actually like Manon, I’m interested to see what I think of this on the re-read. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was my least favourite Harry Potter book for many years, but when I re-read it later after finishing the series, I actually appreciated it a lot more, so I’m hoping that happens with HoF. Fingers crossed!

Throne of Glass

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: Aug. 2012 (first read May 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass Book #1

I am so into this series! I wondered if time might diminish my enjoyment, but Maas has totally sucked me right back into Erilea. I’m already 100 pages into Crown of Midnight and I can now confirm that these books make so much more sense having read The Assassin’s Blade first.

I can’t believe this first book was ever passed off as a Cinderella retelling. I didn’t know it was a loose Cinderella retelling when I first read it and upon the second reading I can say it had a ball that Celaena was forbidden to go to and went to anyways, and that’s about where the parallels end. But no matter because in my opinion this is classic YA fantasy. It’s an overdone trope, but I love that there’s a competition in the first book that poses as the main thread to the story, but is really only a introduction to the world building. It is obvious that there is something way more sinister at work in the castle than just the King’s Champion competition and I loved the mystery element of Celaena trying to uncover the truth.

Celaena bugged me a bit in my first read of Throne of Glass because she’s so obsessed with both her beauty and the beauty of others, but I’ve kind of accepted now that beauty is important to Celaena and that’s okay too, so I was able to let go of that hang up in my re-read. I struggled with how quickly she became interested in Dorian and Chaol though. After the traumatic ending of TAB, I thought she would be a little more hung up on Sam and I was sad to see that none of the drama from TAB was addressed in this book. (fortunately it seems it’s going to be addressed in Crown of Midnight though, so that’s good).

Celaena’s ego has always bothered me. We’re constantly told she’s the best at literally everything, yet it doesn’t really seem that way the number of times she’s gotten herself into scrapes. Now though, I kind of see how her ego is really her major character flaw. I appreciated the final showdown between her and Cain when she finally had to rely on other people – Elena, Nehemia, Chaol – to get her through the duel.

What I like most of Throne of Glass is that you can tell the story is just getting started and that there’s so much more to this world than what is presented in the first book. I love books with scope and depth and I think that’s one of the reasons why this series stands out among other YA fantasy series.

I also love the secondary characters. Nehemia, Dorian, and Chaol are all fantastic secondary characters and I love the depth that Maas brings to their characters. I was totally surprised by my second read through of this book though because I used to be a huge Chaol fan in the first few books and always kind of dismissed Dorian as a wealthy, spoiled, womanizer. But I loved Dorian in this re-read! He has been raised by a crazy, brutal, tyrant, yet he has so much empathy and kindness. He genuinely loves his kingdom and wants to work with other nations rather than rule them like his father.

It was a bit slow getting back into this book, but I totally flew through the second half and I know I am going to devour Crown of Midnight in a few days!

August Summary

Okay, August was the best! Well, for books anyways. The wildfires in BC are totally out of control and the air quality was atrocious, so I didn’t do quite as much outdoor stuff, which is one of the reasons it was a great month for books! But also, my August monthly challenge just totally re-vitalized me and got me out of my reading slump!

I was getting a bit hung up with my monthly challenges and the pressure to read specific books, so in August I just set myself the challenge to read pretty much whatever I wanted by trying to read as many of my existing books as possible. I have a lot of un-read books, so it left me with lots of selection to choose from and I finally read some books that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Here’s my summary:

Books read: 11
Pages read: 4,208
Main genres: Young Adult
Favourite book: Nevermoor and Women Talking!

I started off the month with Leah on the Offbeat, Becky Albertalli’s newest book. I’ve heard really great things about this one and I’ve been meaning to get to it for a while, but unfortunately I didn’t love it. I’m really hit or miss with Albertalli’s books and I’m finding myself counter to popular opinion on her books. I liked but didn’t love Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda (but I LOVED the movie) and I really liked The Upside of Unrequited, which I would say is her least popular book. But I didn’t like this one either. Leah kind of rubbed with the wrong way and while I still loved all the diversity in this book, I found parts of it problematic.

After that, I decided to participate in the 25infive readathon, which challenges people to read for 25 hours over the span of 5 days. I didn’t quite finish the challenge (I read 23 hours over 4 days), but I read 4.5 books, so I was super pleased with myself. I started with Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. I totally flew through both books and I am not slightly obsessed with Nevermoor. Nevermoor is totally Middle Grade fantasy at it’s best and I confirm that the comparison’s to Harry Potter are valid and that everyone should read this book because it is just so much fun! I also loved Radio Silence, which is about the struggles of senior year and the pressure to go to University, and I will definitely be reading more of Alice Oseman.

I followed up those with Ten by Gretchen McNeil and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I pretty much hated Ten and found it problematic and kind of offensive, but I thought To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was really cute. I was only inspired to pick this one up because the new Netflix movie looked really cute (can now confirm – it is cute). Lara Jean seemed like the type of YA book that I gave up long ago, but I loved that this was more a story about sisters than it was about boys and I thought it was really cute. I also read the sequel this month though, P.S. I Still Love You, and unfortunately I thought it was no where near as strong as the first book and basically unnecessary.

While I did read P.S. I Still Love You in August, it wasn’t part of my 25infive reading challenge. The last book I tried to squeeze into the challenge was Uprooted (I got halfway through during the challenge). Uprooted was a challenge for me. It’s a well written, traditional fairytale type story, but I found it so slow moving that it was really hard for me to get into it.

I interspersed my reading of Uprooted with The Last Time I Lied, which was definitely the opposite in terms of pace. This was my first Riley Sager book and it wasn’t quite as scary as I was anticipating, but I really enjoyed it. It was a solid mystery thriller book about a girl name Emma whose 3 friends disappeared at summer camp when she was 13. She’s returned to the camp as an adult and 3 more girls disappear, forcing her into a race against time to figure out what really happened 15 years ago. I was convinced that I had the mystery figured out and I was thrilled to find out I got it totally wrong and didn’t see the twist coming at the end at all.

I had one book that I had to read in August, which was for my book club, was Circe by Madeline Miller, the new fantasy book that came out this year and has super good reviews. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this one, similar to Uprooted. I thought the story was really good, but it was a slow read for me and the reading experience overall wasn’t great, even though I did like the story.

I read Women Talking by Miriam Toews towards the end of this month and it was definitely one of the best books I read this year! It’s a fictional account of the true story of a community of Bolivian, Mennonite women who were attacked and raped in their sleep over the course of 4 years. After the crime is discovered, the women meet to discuss what to do about it and the whole book is basically a group of them talking about whether they should leave the community or stay and fight. The writing in this book is wonderful and the content is so thoughtful. I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone.

Finally, I finished the month with a re-read of The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas, which is the prequel to the Throne of Glass series. I am a bit obsessed with this series and with the final book coming out in October, I’ve decided to re-read the whole series! The Assassin’s Blade was just as good as I remembered and I can’t wait to jump into the rest of the books in September!