Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

I love retellings of classic stories. The ways fairy tales, myths and historical events are crafted into new stories with fresh perspectives are unique and super interesting to read. One of the most popular retellings are of Greek myths. My all-time favourite heroic fantasy are David Gemmell's "Troy" series, and it actually amazes me how such a classic tale could be woven into something totally new. Rick Riordan's famous "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" series is another retelling of the Greek myths, and luckily it led to a sequel series called "The Heroes of Olympus"! "The Mark of Athena" is its third installment, and was released last week. Don't read the synopsis in the next paragraph if you're new to the series! I don't want to spoil anything for you.

The war against Gaea and her minions is drawing closer. Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo, Hazel and Frank are the chosen seven demigods, both Greek and Roman, to embark on a quest to defeat Gaea. No biggie, right? Things get a little more complicated when Annabeth has her own quest to fulfill, on her own: to follow the Mark of Athena and avenge her mother. Both quests ultimately lead to the Doors of Death, but the real question is: will the seven demigods reach the Doors alive, or as the next spirits of the Underworld?

As always, Mr. Riordan's masterful storytelling sucks you in and spits you out smack-dab in the middle of a crazy whirlwind of a quest. I love how each and every book, even though they're part of the series, has its own set of quests and trials, and they never bore you. The plot never dropped enough to make the reader lose interest, and there was always so many 'somethings' happening at the same time even though the present narrator was someone who wasn't there. I know that sounds really complicated, but it's not! And that's the magic of it. Everything is presented simply, so that readers don't get confused with what's going on and who's where and what's happening.

Another vital element that makes the books engaging is the characters. Every one of the demigods has their own quirk and distinct personality. For example, you have the laidback yet strong-willed Percy; the serious and thoughtful Annabeth; the stoic yet gentle Jason... and so on. The ways each demigod, as well as the gods and goddesses themselves, embody marked traits are extremely well thought-out and enhance each character. What I particularly love about Mr. Riordan's wit that's present in his characters--I've snorted and giggled at some of the immature humour. And hey, who doesn't need a good dose of childish laughter once in a while?

Overall, "The Mark of Athena" is not to be missed. It's full of crazy, dangerous quests, funny and wonderful characters--and not to mention a cliffhanger that drops your jaw! If you haven't read any of Mr. Riordan's books, definitely check out "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" so you'll be on board with what's happened so far. A must for adventure-lovers and myth-devourers.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

I remember when I was posting my review for "Angel Burn", I said something along the lines of, 'angels seem to be the new vampires'. There's been an influx of angels, fallen angels, nephilim, and so on. "Hush, Hush" by Becca Fitzpatrick was probably one of the very first paranormal angel YA books I read, way, way back in time in 2009. It's been a long ride with Patch and Nora, and it's a little sad that the series has now come to an end with "Finale". I really like the title--it fits with the nature of the story and the end of the series! Since this is the last book, however, you may want to skip over the synopsis in the next paragraph in case of spoilers for the first three books (don't worry, though, this entire review is spoiler-free for "Finale"!).

Now that Nora has to lead her father's Nephilim army, it's safe to say that things have changed. A public relationship with Patch, a notorious fallen angel, is definitely off the tables, and on top of that she has to deal with the impending war between Nephilim and the fallen angels before Cheshvan. The stakes are even higher than before. In the face of enemies, lies and betrayal, it's only a matter of time before Nora and Patch's relationship is put to the ultimate test of faith and an unbreakable love.

I'll kick off with one of the most important elements of any novel: the narrative voice. All of the books in the "Hush, Hush" series are told from Nora's point of view. I don't know whether I've noticed this before, and I really don't like saying it, but Nora is kind of boring. Yeah. I found her to be a pretty flat character, with no spark or anything particularly special about her. She also got pretty annoying when she was so over-the-top about her jealousy of Dabria. Whininess is one thing that is a major turn-off for a female narrator to me. Nora's likability wasn't really helped by the fact that Ms. Fitzpatrick made her seem like someone too attractive. There was one sentence that went something like: I knew I was attractive, but that didn't mean I couldn't be intimated by Patch's jaw-dropping, god-like hotness. (Okay, maybe not that last part.) But it just made Nora seem a little too perfect. Every good, interesting heroine should have a flaw or a quirk, like being kick-ass or having overly bushy eyebrows that need to be plucked every morning or something. I don't know, Nora just didn't cut it for me.

As for the other characters, I found Patch disappointingly a little flat, as well. The only things going for him are his love for Nora and his bad-ass overprotectiveness of her. It probably has to do with the fact that Patch's character has been developed over the previous three books, and the main focus in "Finale" isn't on their relationship but on the war between the Nephilim and the fallen angels. The other characters, though, were still engaging. Vee's sassiness is a good foil to Nora's more conservative nature, and Scott is the perfect, goofy childhood friend/boy-next-door figure. Dante is...well, Dante (you'll see what I mean if you read the novel!), while Marcie is that rich snob with a vulnerable side that readers have seen previously, and love to hate!

The plot of "Finale" was pretty interesting, but it was pretty anti-climactic. Maybe it was the boring narrative voice that pulled it down a little, but I just felt like the pace was pretty slow throughout, and the climax wasn't intense enough. Don't get me wrong, it's still a pretty good book, but as the show-stopping finale of a series, it just didn't reach that point of 'daaaaaaamn'.

Overall, "Finale" was sort of a disappointing end to an otherwise decent series. It could be that Ms. Fitzpatrick ran out of juice for Nora and Patch's intense relationship, and both the story and the narrative voice fell flat along with it. If you've read the previous books, I'd say it's worth a go to wrap up the series. Otherwise, I'd probably give it a miss.

Rating: 2.5/5

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Some books out there capture the tales of swashbuckling heroes and princesses and glass castles. There are some that are chock-filled with humourous anecdotes about a talking dog. And some, unsurprisingly, follow vampires and immortals and angels as they live, unseen, among humans in our world today. Then, there are books, simple, short and sweet, about life. Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is one of those books.

Charlie is a fifteen-year old boy. He's had a pretty normal life--his parents are caring, his older brother and sister constantly bicker--until his friend Michael commits suicide. Things have never been quite as normal after that. When Charlie befriends two seniors, Patrick and his sister Sam, he is exposed to parties, drugs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. More importantly, however, he soon experiences love and friendship--and discovers what life is really about.

As with any coming-of-age story, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is told by a compellingly personal narrative voice. Charlie is a thoughtfully naive boy, and his voice is extremely present throughout the entire novel. What makes this even more so is the epistolary form of the book. It really seems as if he is speaking to you, despite the fact that the letters are addressed simply as "Dear Friend". However, one thing that caught me off guard was the fact that Charlie sounded much younger than he really is. The way he wrote, such as through simple sentences, and the things he said made him seem like he was nine-years old instead of fifteen. Maybe this is part of his naivete and innocence, as well as part of the unique way he filters things and thinks about them, but it was just a little strange to me. That being said, I was able to get a good sense of Charlie's character, something that is quintessentially 'Charlie-esque', which lends itself nicely with the coming-of-age element of the novel.

The events told by Charlie in his letters, though nothing extraordinary, didn't get boring. Through Charlie's observations and thoughts, I learned more about the nuances in the relationships between characters. Can I just say here that I really like Patrick? All of the characters are intensely 'real', but Patrick was even more three-dimensional than the rest, in the way that he didn't fall under a 'stock coming-of-age character'. For example, you have the girl that the protagonist is interested in, and is ultimately the one who reveals, in one way or another, the 'lesson' of the book. You also have the sibling who is going through some problems, and who the protagonist reaches out to. Patrick, however, wasn't like any of the other characters in other books of the same genre. He's definitely one to look out for if you decide to read the book.

Overall, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is a short and sweet coming-of-age story, with a uniquely lovable narrator and a cast of interesting, realistic characters. It's not 'oh sweet baby Jesus', drop-dead amazing, but there's a reason it's this critically acclaimed. I'd say it's worth a read in one point in your life.

Rating: 4/5 (though I was wavering between a 3 and a 4--probably because I'm not a huge lover of coming-of-age stories)

The trailer for the movie seems pretty good though! A nice way of seeing the characters come to life. Plus, I think Mr. Chbosky wrote the screenplay, as well, which is a nice touch.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Let me just warn you now: this book is guaranteed to give you the heebie jeebies. Seriously. I was lying in bed last night in the dark and had to force myself to think of other, less creepy things. I usually don't ever watch scary movies, and though reading scary books isn't as visual, it definitely leaves more to the imagination. "The Diviners" by Libba Bray was released last month, but I'm almost glad that I saved it until now, since it definitely set the mood for Halloween next week. I guess I shoulda known, especially after I read the "Gemma Doyle" trilogy by Ms. Bray a couple years back. But after I skimmed through the blurb, I didn't even think that this book would be that scary--and hooey, was I wrong.

Seventeen-year old Evie O'Neill has always been more than a little wild. So when she's shipped off to New York City to stay with her uncle Will from her boring home at Ohio, she is posi-tute-ly thrilled. The city is the place of speakeasies, shopping, parties, theaters--every glamorous thing that Evie could ever think of. However, the bright lights of the bustling city mask an unspeakable danger. When a string of gruesome occult-based murders comes to light, Evie finds herself pulled into the thick of the mystery. What the others don't know is that Evie is hiding her own secret: a power that could help find the murderer--if he doesn't catch her first.

The language in "The Diviners" is just beautiful. I remember reading the opening chapter and being moved by the words and sentences. I could really picture the setting and could feel the buzzing excitement of the inhabitants of the 'golden city of the future'. I loved the early 1900's lingo used; it gave me a vivid sense of the times, and I really felt like I was in New York then and there with Evie and her pals. It's the cat's meow! At times, though, the descriptions were a little excessive--I found myself glossing over the wordy sentences to get to the dialogue and the action. I get that Ms. Bray's hold over language is really, really great, but scaling it down in some parts might have helped the already high-strung plot.

Speaking of plot, "The Diviners" is definitely one book that sucks you in and won't spit you back out. My heart literally raced as I flipped through the pages. I particularly devoured every word of the parts about Naughty John, the established bad guy (not a spoiler, so don't worry!), as he staked out and murdered his victims, as gruesome as that sounds. You get that tight feeling in your heart as you think "no no no no no no", right up to the point when it happens. And then you stare at the page at the end of the chapter and replay the horrible scene in your mind. Yup, it's that compelling. Even better (yes, there's more!) are the twists and turns that Ms. Bray uses to masterfully manipulate her readers. I remember getting to a twist and thinking, "Oh my, she's done it again!" It really lends to an incredibly heart-stopping roller coaster ride, trust me.

I really liked the diverse range of characters as well. You had the bubbly, attention-loving Evie; meek, gentle Mabel; coy, wolfish Sam; reserved, stoic Jericho; seductive, troubled Theta; charming, likable Memphis... and so many more! I loved being in each of their heads--they were all intriguing and believable. On the other hand, there seemed to be so many jumping around in between different people's perspectives that it got a little jarring. Of course, the main focus stayed on Evie, but I think there was a little too much focus on Memphis in the beginning and I just feel like some aspects of the story, such as the romance between Memphis and Theta, would be a lot more realistic if we'd seen more of them in that portion of the book. Despite this, however, I really enjoyed being with this cast of characters--very, very fun to be with.

I highly, highly recommend "The Diviners", even to those who usually don't enjoy getting the bajeesus scared out of them. It's incredibly well-written, with diverse, amazing characters and a heart-racing plot that made it extremely difficult to put the book down. True, it's a little long, but it's an enjoyable ride the whole way.

Rating: 5/5

Also, check out the trailer! I found it while I was somewhere toward the beginning/middle of the book, and it really gave me the chills. Evie also looks just the way I thought she would!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review: Legend by David Gemmell

Fantasy novels hardly ever let you down. The rich, expansive world woven from the strands of the author's imagination, the super sophisticated manner of speech (almost like Yoda but far less cryptic), and the larger-than-life yet still relatable characters with names you can't really pronounce, these all are what I consider the key elements of any great fantasy series. David Gemmell was a genius in this field, brandishing his pen--or keyboard, what have you--in all its heroic glory. After falling in love with the magical storytelling in his "Troy" series, I knew my experiences reading Mr. Gemmell's works weren't over. Last week, I was feeling in the mood for some full-blown fantasy, complete with heroes and wars and such, and picked up "Legend"--and boy, I sure wasn't disappointed!

Dros Delnoch is preparing for a siege, and every single soldier doesn't have any illusions of the outcome: the walls will fall. It's only a matter of how long they can hold out against the rapidly approaching Nadir army. Only one man can boost the spirits of the defenders and show the attackers that they're facing a force to reckon with: Druss, a true hero who has become a legend with his bravery and mighty fighting prowess. Now, though, he is old and tired, but is determined to die with his axe Snaga in his hand. With him stands Regnak, a romantic coward who finds himself going to Dros Delnoch for his love of Virae, the Earl of Delnoch's ferocious daughter. Together, they will fight against overwhelming odds, even in the face of death, sorrow and loss.

As always, Mr. Gemmell's characters pretty much make the story. Each and every one of the characters, no matter how minor they are, add to the heroism that is so central to "Legend". For example, Gan Orrin, who lacked his own men's respect, showcases his bravery by joining in on the soldiers' vigorous training, and, though he is hardly physically up to par with the others, perseveres until the very end. Through characters like Orrin and Rek (which is short for Regnak), Mr. Gemmell shows that the most ordinary of men can become legendary heroes.

I actually found that pretty much all the characters were in some way likable, even Ulric, the warleader of the Nadir, who was meant to be the antagonist of the novel. I particularly liked Bowman, whose wit and humour that came with being an outlaw was masterfully coupled with the sense of honour he possessed. Mr. Gemmell presents his reader with a wide range of characters--from the Yoda-like Vintar (toldja the flowery language came from somewhere!) to the seductive yet troubled Caessa--all of whom make readers invested and create the world we see in "Legend".

And this is where one of my not-so-good points come in. One of the other key elements in any fantasy novel is the world. In "Legend", however, readers are pretty much confined for the most part to Dos Delnoch, which, to my imagination, is comprised of walls and walls and more walls. I think I would've felt the Drenai nationalistic pride more if I'd actually seen more of the people and the places they lived in. I also wish I'd seen more than just walls. There's great potential for a fantastic, huge world that really pulls in the reader and makes him imagine that he's really there, but unfortunately it just wasn't exploited enough.

Plot-wise, the action of the battles and the temporary peace-times were well-balanced. I was really able to see the development of different relationships amongst the characters during the latter, and see the sword-singing, blood-roaring heat of the fighting. This is probably just me, since I'm sort of a romantic, but I just wish there'd been a little more focus on the romance in the story rather than fights, wars and battles, and then more fights, wars and battles. I think the "Troy" series did a really good job in this aspect--I still swoon over the crazy but incredibly beautiful romance between Helikaon and Andromache! But I digress. Maybe I'll write a separate review for "Lord of the Silver Bow". It's that amazing!

Since "Legend" was Mr. Gemmell's first novel, the storytelling is not as smooth and flowing, but is still effective in presenting to the readers the great characters and the events of the story. Trust me, it only gets better from here!

Overall, I enjoyed "Legend", and it really is a great heroic fantasy novel. What made it all the more interesting was when I was reading about David Gemmell, and learned that he wrote this novel when he was being diagnosed with cancer. Though I can't say whether the battle between the Drenai and the Nadir was a metaphorical for his fight with cancer, the knowledge of this made it all the more poignant. I would definitely check out Mr. Gemmell's other works--it will stay with you for years.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review: I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis

I'm sure every single person on this planet has had moments in his or her life where things just don't work out the way they want them to. Maybe you're hungry but there's no more milk left to suck out of the bottle. Maybe you got caught in a sudden downpour and your socks are squelching and gross. Maybe you just broke up with someone you really love. Maybe you got fired from work and now you don't know what to do. These are the moments when you feel hurt or angry or listless or sad. But sometimes, there are little things that end up brightening your day, even if its by the smallest of degrees. This book is one of those little things.

"I Wrote This For You" is a collection of nearly 200 of the most beautiful and meaningful entries about life, love, loss, beginnings, ending, and, above all, hope. Each of the four distinct chapters--Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain--explores the different facets of these themes of our lives and, in the process, brings readers to an understanding of themselves.

The photographs, the chapter titles, and the entries themselves all work together beautifully to really tug at your heart strings. What struck me was how personal each and every entry was. Being a hopeless romantic myself, I could relate to or at least imagine the emotions and images behind the simply-worded sentences. I can't help but to connect my own personal experiences to what's written on the page--which is precisely what the author had intended. Here's one of my favourite entries:

I don't know if you felt that or not. 
But it felt like two people kissing after hours of thinking about it. 
It felt like two people talking after nights of silence. 
It felt like two people touching after weeks of being numb. 
It felt like two people facing each other after months of looking away.
It felt like two people in love after years of being alone. 
And it felt like two people meeting each other, after an entire lifetime of not meeting each other.

It's so beautiful. The emotions wrought in the words really call out to you, almost to the point where they're palpable. You feel the relief, the breathtaking moment when you finally do that something or meet that someone. You become both the 'me' and the 'you'. There's a sweet sadness behind it, but, at the same time, there's hope, too. The simplicity of the language really reminds me that life is just that--it's not some grand movie or drama on a stage. Instead, life is life and nothing more. We smile, laugh, cry, yell, have good moments and bad moments, and, in the end, it comes down to us living through each and every day.

This short, sweet book is really a story of your own life. It really touches something inside of you, and I even went on the blog that the entries were originally from to read more. The words linger, and that's truly the most important gift a book can ever give you. I highly recommend picking up a copy--it will stay with you for days, if not years.

Rating: 5/5

Also, check out the blog for a taste of what "I Wrote This For You" is like! You won't regret it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review: Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly

It seems that angels are the new vampires. There was "Halo" by Alexandra Adornetto, the "Fallen" series by Lauren Kate, the "Hush, Hush" series by Becca Fitzpatrick, and "Sweet Evil" by Wendy Higgins, just to name a few. I'm pretty sure there are a buttload more out there in the literary world. The one thing that never disappoints me is the cover. Angel books never fail to have beautiful, breathtaking covers that grab your attention from the get-go. "Angel Burn" by L.A. Weatherly, the first book of the "Angel" trilogy, was certainly no exception. It makes me wish I had golden hair that shone in the sunlight and floated in some gust of ethereal wind. Putting aesthetics aside--they do say "don't judge a book by its cover"!--I loved the new take on angels. But I'll get back to that in just one second.

Alex Kylar is an Angel Killer, or AK for short. He's been trained ever since he was young to track, fight and kill. In a world where angels are not benign celestial creatures but fierce hunters who feed off humans, the AKs are the only thing standing between angels and humans. And then there's Willow. Sixteen-year old Willow Fields has never fit into school. Some things about her just don't make fitting in easy. Her mom is lost in her own world, her dad left before she was born, and her aunt constantly complains about having to provide for the two. On top of all that, she's a psychic, though she doesn't know where such a power comes from. When Alex is sent to assassinate his next target, he has no idea that he's about to discover that nothing is as it seems.

As I was saying before, Ms. Weatherly's spin on angels was fresh and made for an interesting, unique story. The entire idea of having angels as malicious leeches who sucked away human life forces was something I hadn't encountered in a book before, and I liked the Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-esque romantic tension between Alex the Angel Killer and Willow the Clairvoyant. The intricacy of the battle between AKs and these heavenly beings also allowed for great background stories behind the two protagonists.

Speaking of which, I found Willow to be a fairly likable character who's a genuinely sweet girl with a slightly tough edge to her. I liked the quirk of her interest in engines and mechanics, though I felt like it was kind of thrown in there to make her seem more special. The more tomboy/eclectic side of Willow could have been developed and exploited a little further so that she became even more likable and realistic. She just seemed a little too perfect to me. The same goes for Alex. He did have a more dynamic character, with a caring, vulnerable side on one hand and the bad-ass assassin on the other, but he just seemed a bit too idealized. Don't get me wrong, I love the concept of a perfect, attractive, truly kind boy, but what about his flaws? That being said, if the 'flaw' was being a jerk who's actually sweet on the inside, I think that would've made him a little too much of a stock character, but it'd be interesting to see what kind of human shortcomings each of these protagonists had.

The relationship between Willow and Alex seemed a tad too 'struck-by-lightning-I-love-his-eyes-and-I'm-being-sucked-into-his-soul' from the very beginning, but it really developed into something sweet and believable. I went "awwww" as I imagined the two together in some scenes! Though I do have to admit that I cringed when Alex called her "baby" at one point.

"Angel Burn" is one of those YA novels that brings you on an easy, enjoyable ride. It's definitely worth checking out when things are too stressful at school or in life in general, and I'll be sure to check out the sequel "Angel Fire", which, thankfully, is already out! Check back sometime for that review.

Rating: 4/5

P.S. I couldn't resist--isn't the cover amazing? Interested to see how it turns out!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

When I first learned that Maggie Stiefvater was coming out with another book, I immediately marked it down on my handy dandy calendar. "Shiver", the first book of the "The Wolves of Mercy Falls" series, had me entranced by her beautiful language and her realistic and likable characters. And I fell in love with the relationship between Sam and Grace, which left me wistfully longing for a love just like theirs--mutual, respectful and enduring love, one that Ms. Stiefvater assured her readers was absolutely real in her author's note in "Forever", the final book of the trilogy. I also devoured the "Books of Faerie" series, and was a little disappointed by "The Scorpio Races", but I've long been an avid reader of Ms. Stiefvater's novels. With such expectations, I eagerly opened to the first page of "The Raven Boys", which was recently released a couple weeks ago.

Blue Sargent lives in a house full of psychics in Henrietta, Virginia, and every psychic she's met has told her one thing: if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. So she's given herself two rules not to kiss a boy, and stay away from the boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there--the raven boys--are stuck up and can only mean trouble. The charming Gansey and his raven boy friends have been on the search for Glendower, a vanished Welsh king. When they enlist the psychic's daughter to help them, Blue finds herself on an adventure filled with mystery, romance and the supernatural.

As always, the language of Ms. Stiefvater wove its magic around me as I read "The Raven Boys". Her ability to control the pace and the tone of words works perfectly with the actual events of the story, especially when she describes nature. It's incredibly beautiful, the way she can paint a vivid image of colours that are given life within the trees and the forest. The descriptions aren't overpowering either by distracting the reader from the plot, which is what tends to happen with books with powerful, strong language.

Having said this, I was a little disappointed by the characters. One of Ms. Stiefvater's trademarks is that she creates wonderfully realistic characters that don't fall into any classic fictional stereotypes, such as the dark, mysterious, brooding hottie or the headstrong, witty female protagonist. They're anything but stock characters. However, there wasn't much that made them particularly lovable. They were likable, but I wasn't really dying to meet any one of them. Blue was alright, really, nothing particularly outstanding about her character. And Gansey, oh, charming, rich Gansey, wasn't that charming at all. Instead, he seemed too serious and way too confident to be truly likable as a character. He didn't seem stuck-up or anything; his more humble, passionate 'other side' didn't really come through. Maybe it's too come in the sequels. Adam was quite an okay character, but his constant indignant responses about money got a little annoying after a while. One character that I did like was Ronan. He kind of did fall a little into a stock character: the troubled bad-ass who has a hidden vulnerable side to him. I really liked that about him, though--maybe that's why these stereotypes exist? But I digress.

The plot of the novel started off pretty slow in the first half of the book, but it did pick up in the second half. The twists in the mystery regarding a murder (no spoilers!) really helped to pick up things up, and the climax toward the end was pretty up there too. Overall, a pretty decent storyline in terms of tension and plot-pace.

"The Raven Boys" is an alright book--I really, really wish it'd been as beautiful and thrilling as Maggie Stiefvater's other books! I do think I'll still check out the sequel, because I feel like there's definitely a lot of potential in terms of character development and the storyline.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

When I first saw "Throne of Glass" when I was looking for books to read, I knew right away that I just found myself a kick-ass heroine. If you guys have read my previous reviews, you'd know that I love stories with strong female protagonists, and find whiny, save-me-I'm-helpless-and-I-love-you-so-much girls just plain annoying. And Celaena sure didn't let me down!

Eighteen-year old Celaena Sardothien has spent the past year in the mines of Endovier, serving a life sentence for her assassinations. Her only mistake: being caught. When the Crown Prince of Adarlan offers her a deal--her freedom for winning a deadly tournament--Celaena can't refuse. Brought to the gleaming glass palace at Rifthold, the infamous assassin has to best the most gifted criminals to become the King's Champion--his personal killer. But things bigger than anything she's known are brewing, and Celaena is plunged into a world of mystery, murder and even love.

Since I've already dipped into it earlier in this review, I'll start with the characters! Celaena was a really fun, believable character to be with throughout the novel. Haughty yet compassionate, confident but still only a teenager, Celaena is an incredibly likable, witty heroine who really knows how to kick some serious butt.

It was also interesting, though, to see things from some other characters' perspectives as well. The love triangle (come on, you knew it was bound to happen!) between Celaena, Prince Dorian and Captain Chaol Westfall wasn't overpowering at all; in fact, it was firmly more of a subplot instead. Usually, I'd complain, but I didn't think this would bode well with the personality of our protagonist or with the intense plot itself. Seeing things from Dorian and Chaol's points of view upped the "aww" factor, but also rendered the subtle love triangle more realistic. For example, I was a little skeptical about Dorian's feelings for Celaena, since I kept seeing him as a typical flirty playboy type, but through his point of view, I got to see the sincerity of his emotions. As for Chaol, you really wouldn't have noticed his romantic feelings so much if Ms. Maas had only told the story from Celaena's point of view. So subtly woven in--I loved it! In the end, I had no idea who to root for, and this is pretty huge since I almost always side with one guy. So eager to see how things develop in the sequel!

I would probably talk on and on about the characters, but I feel like I'm rambling, so I'll sum it up super quick: So many villains you love to hate. Heartwarming friendships, especially with Nehemia. Broad range of characters with different, unique personalities.

Now moving on to plot. "Throne of Glass" was amazing in that it started off with a pretty straightforward storyline, but began to get more and more complex with the added complications and plot twists and subplots. I swear I got chills at one point from how spooky it got! I loved how the climax was really a climax, and not one of those three-page scenes that aren't even that intense. My heart was literally pounding as I rapidly flipped through the pages. Ms. Maas has definitely done an incredible job with the plot--I really couldn't put it down!

To wrap things up with a nice, shiny bow, I enjoyed "Throne of Glass" immensely. The characters were believable and their relationships realistic, and the storyline never dipped enough to prompt me to take a little break after a chapter. This is a book that lingers in your mind after you've set it down, and is a perfect refuge from boring, mundane, routine life. I highly, highly encourage you to pick up a copy--you're in for an exciting adventure.

Rating: 5/5

Here's a fun fact: "Throne of Glass" started off as an online story that Ms. Maas wrote when she was only sixteen-years old! After ten years of editing and rewriting--and more writing!--it ended up as the published novel that we know it as today. So inspiring!

Also, check out the book trailer here, since it might give you a more pithy and easier to understand description of what it's about!