The Goal (Off-Campus #4) by Elle Kennedy

We are thrust (hehe) back into the world that is Briar University. This book is about events going on behind the scenes of The Score until about the half way point. Therefore, we already knew the “big surprise” which I think really took away from the reading experience.

The boys’ hockey team isn’t doing so well on the ice, but all the girls continue to throw themselves at the players, regardless. All of the hockey stars we’ve read about in the previous three books have partnered up, and now it’s Tucker’s turn.

I’m not going to lie; Tucker was never a favorite side-character of mine, so I wasn’t ecstatic to learn he would get his own book. I actually hoped it would be Hunter, but what can you do? His love interest, Sabrina, has a difficult past with Dean, but the more I read about her, the more I really liked her.

And If I have to give this book one compliment it would be that this book really embraces female sexuality. There is no slut-shaming in this book, and it portrays girls having/wanting sex accurately and healthily. I wish every new-adult book shared this basic concept that I pray will be embraced more.

Okay, that’s really all I have to say that won’t have spoilers. You already know, from my rating, that I didn’t enjoy this book, but I feel like I can’t express why I found this book problematic without giving pretty heavy spoilers. Please do not continue if you haven’t read this book or the predecessors.

Okay, we all knew the big twist was that Tucker got Dean’s arch-nemesis pregnant. In the blurb, I read how the arch-nemesis, Sabrina, was a successful college student who aspired to go to Harvard Law. I mean, that all sounds promising, and I was excited to see a girl not give up her dreams for a man just because they got pregnant.

Unfortunately, Tucker had stalker-like actions for the majority of this book, and Sabrina chose to put an innocent baby in a high-danger situation. It felt bad, man. It felt really bad.

Also, there is a lot of “men’s roles” and “women’s roles” in this book, and that, too, felt extremely bad. Yeah, Sabrina never gave up on her dreams, and that’s amazing, but there was a weird emphasis on her life being better/easier once she relied on Tucker to be the “bread winner.” There were also stereotypes about how the man always pays, and things of that nature.

As I said above, I actually really like Sabrina, and probably connected to her more than any of the female love interests from the previous books, but why couldn’t she just move in with her supportive and loving friends who constantly gave her support and offered more? That would have made for such a better story.

Actually, Tucker and Sabrina’s “love” reminded me a lot of Hopeless, because even though I find it problematic and very creepy, I can see others thinking Tucker’s “determination” is endearing. But girls, please, if some guy follows you home to “make sure you got there safely” after you’ve already told him no, and then gets your class schedule to find you, because you’re not texting back, even though you told him a onetime hook up was all you wanted, please run in the other fucking direction. Please, do not let books like this romanticize men undermining women and their wants.

I also feel like Elle Kennedy wasn’t sure if she wanted to paint the Grandma in a negative or positive light. Maybe she was going for neutral, but her characterization felt bad and I was in a constant state of anxiety when Sabrina would leave the baby with her, regardless of the ignorant choice because of the step-dad alone.

Plus, there was a huge disconnect from some of the topics Elle Kennedy tried to write about. Maybe it’s an age difference, or just not being familiar with people in their young to mid-twenties, but these disconnects were very present and would draw me out of the story each and every time:

– How Fitzy had to go to a “gaming store” because he wanted a role-playing game that he can’t find online. So, one of two things is happening here: 1.) He means an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games – I mean, Legion did just come out) which is so laughable because not only are these played on PC, no one I know has bought a MMO disc, in person, in years! Or 2) He means a table top D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) game, which literally anything can be bought on Wizards of the Coast’s website. I mean, in general, anything can be found online in 2016. Regardless, the author seems clueless about the gaming genre, and if Fitzy is going to be a part of her spin-off series, I hope she does a lot of research.

– How Sabrina posted on her Instagram account a picture of an upholstered glider that she wanted. Like, that’s not how you use Instagram, Mrs. Kennedy. I mean, you could, but Pintrest would have been a much better choice. Hell, even Facebook.

– There is a line from a middle-aged woman about how a girl is “far too beautiful” to be gay. Yes, Tucker does state that “beautiful girls can be lesbians,” but the banter was still pretty gross. She, then, goes on the question that “maybe she’s bi” instead of accepting that the girl is a lesbian. Also, tucker has to preface he ran into an old high school friend with “She’s an L” you know, because guys and girls can’t just hang out without one of them being gay, and the slang “L” for lesbian is totally a thing, right?

Listen, I’ve praised this series from day one. I got my mom and all her friends to read this series, because I wouldn’t shut up about The Deal, but I’m not going to let my love for the other books sway my rating with this book. I’m just going to pretend like this book never happened, and patiently wait for what Elle Kennedy has in store for us next, which will probably be Dean’s troublemaker sister, Summer.

Saint’s Blood (The Greatcoats, #3) by Sebastien de Castell

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Rage won’t help you understand death, nor sorrow, and if there’s one thing the dead deserve, it is for their true story to be told.”

I’m actually at a loss for words, because this book, and series, is so close to perfection in my eyes. But, Lord, help me; I’m going to try to review this book anyways.

So, you guys probably like Hamilton, like me, right? Okay, you know in “Burn” how Eliza sings “You and your words flooded my senses. Your sentences left me defenseless. You built me palaces out of paragraphs…”? Well, that’s what Sebastien de Castell does with this book. He literally built his readers a fantasy novel that surpasses any expectations they could have ever had for a fantasy novel. He wrote a series that I will cherish for the rest of my life. He strings together these words that have, somehow, gotten under my skin, and I can’t forget them. Sebastien de Castell has built something that I have no words for, and, like, you know I have to be pretty obsessed to be making Hamilton comparisons.

This third installment really solidified that this series will be one of my favorite series of all time. In fact, Greatcoats is my third favorite series of all time. I can also say, with very little doubt, that Saint’s Blood will be the best book, that I’ve read, that was published in 2016.

Like, I never really recommend books to people. I normally just gush about books with others when we’ve both read the same book, or I will just give them my personal opinion on a book and hope they might pick it up. But, for all that is good in this world, please give this series a shot. This series deserves as much praise as The Kingkiller Chronicle, ASOIAF, Mistborn, and every other popular high fantasy book out there.

Have I gushed enough? Probably not, but let’s try to move on anyway.

“Deato mendea valus febletta. The Gods give every man a weakness.”

This particular installment surrounds Falcio, Kest, and Brasti, while they are still trying to save Tristia, a country that doesn’t know how to be saved. This time a new threat is poised at the gang and they have no idea where to even begin searching for clues to solve this impending disaster, because even Saint’s are dying.

This book heavily touches on the evil that is in this world, and the terrible things that people do when they think no one is watching. Sometimes, it’s really hard to think of reasons for the world to be saved when such horrible and cruel things happen. But as much darkness that is in the world, there is always more light and, more importantly, more humans who are willing to do what’s right. I feel like there is a 2016 election, for us Americans, parallel in here.

Religion can be such a beautiful thing, and such an ugly thing. So many wars are started because of religion. People can do horrible things in the name of their God(s). But with faith comes hope, and with hope we can always right the wrongs that happen in this world. Hope is more valuable than all the gold in the world.

“But no man is all one thing; none of us are pure in our beliefs or our devotions. We are all bound by the frailties of our humanity, some of which feed our hatred, some of which, very occasionally, make us want to be something better.”

Falcio and the gang have to see a lot of horrible things in this book, and have to overcome even more horrible things. I love watching the Greatcoats’ journey, and seeing them grow and love in the face of many evils. The cast of character in this series is truly a tier above any other characters, and their empathy never stops astonishing me, their banter never stops making me laugh, and their courage never stops rendering me speechless.

“Nothing lasts for ever, Falcio. Not people, not castles, not even Gods.”

This book broke me. This book killed me. This book, then, resurrected me and gave me life. Then, I read the bonus content and this book ripped my fucking heart out, and now is going to make me wait a year to maybe get it back.

“When you read it, you will know that I loved you even before I was a man, and that you were my Queen even before you wore a crown. You will know that I have spent every day since I first met you trying to become a man worthy of your esteem, and if after finishing this letter you look up at me and smile, it will all have been worth it.”

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews

“So far I had the god of evil and the god of terror on my side. My good-guy image was taking a serious beating. Maybe I should recruit some unicorns or kittens with rainbow powers to even us out.”

Being back in this world felt so wonderful! Oh how I missed Kate, her crew, and this amazing take on Atlanta. Yet, when you take away all the nostalgia factors, one thing remains true: this book felt like the ultimate filler book.

I won’t lie, I felt disheartened with this book ending. This book’s sole purpose felt like it was to prep you and make you excited for the next, and maybe final, book. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading about all these characters I’ve grown to love over the years, but turning that last page, with a “cliffhanger” that was rubbed in our face for the entirety of this book, just felt bad.

All the rest of this book in this series feel like they have a purpose; where this book, I can’t believe I’m saying this, felt pointless. Kate is still Kate, which means it would be almost impossible not to love her, so I didn’t have any problems with her; it was that her “missions” fell a little short, if that makes sense. Her personality, passion, and banter is always amazing, and she will always have a little piece of my heart.

“Great. Kate Daniels, tracker of old ladies with a biting fetish. And me without my armor.”

I even loved the oracle aspect. I mean, I was a child that grew up with Harry Potter, obviously prophecies are my cup of tea, and Kate trying desperately to change her future was endearing and I really thought I was going to love the outcome. Unfortunately, this build-up didn’t end up being the mind-blowing explosion of a story I’ve come to expect from IA’s book conclusions, but instead I barely got a spark that could light a candle.

The next part of this review will have minor SPOILERS for the previous books in this series! Please do not continue on if you are not up to date with this series!

Basically, this book is leading up to Kate and Curran’s wedding. Kate is let in on a prophecy that can result one of two ways, and both ways are freaking devastating. Kate decides to take matters in her own hands and change the future so neither outcome happens. She pieces together a few important clues, rallies some amazing troops, and is willing to do anything it takes to finally defeat her father.

That doesn’t sound so bad, right? I mean, it wasn’t a bad read, it was just anticlimactic and, in my opinion, the worst in the series. That’s not to say I’m not going to devour the next installment on day one with a smile on my face, but I was disappointed with this book, and especially with Jim. I’m not supposed to hate the new Beast Lord, right?

“Every time I use my magic, everybody gets so concerned. I defend them, I bleed for them, and the moment the immediate danger passes, they let me know how much they disapprove. As if their fucking disapproval matters. As if I should ask their permission, like a servant, to do what is in my power.”

Yet, to juxtapose, I freakin’ loved Roman so, so much! He’s a Chernogob, the God of evil, priest, who is going to officiate Kate and Curran’s wedding. He also has a very unique family dynamic that I would totally read an entire book about.

Also, there were a lot of religious themes in this book that I wasn’t expecting. We see a lot more Gods, and learn a lot more about ancient lands and their biblical meanings. It was pretty cool and I enjoyed reading about it and trying to keep all the names straight.

I also loved the love building between Christopher and Barabas. IA has always been wonderful as having amazing representation and diversity in their books, and this series is not different. Like, I need Christopher and Barabas fan-fiction now, because I can’t wait for the book.

Also, just Christopher’s character in general is such a wonderful story-arc. Like, I can’t even form words to describe his character development. This is the mind-blowing explosion I’ve always came to expect with IA books. Seriously, absolute perfection.

The other perfect story-arc in this book was Erra’s. Be still, my heart, I did not see that coming in a million years.

And honestly, as horrible as he is, I really like Kate’s relationship with Roland. I love trying to figure out his mind and all the confusion that is him. I, also, I loved his cameo at the end, and I hope to have a better climax with him for the next installment.

I also wanted much more Julie and Derek angst, especially after reading Magic Stars. Like, at this point it feels almost certain that Julie will be getting her own spin-off, especially with her origins being discovered a bit more in this book, but, dammit, I want some angst now!

Ghastek makes many appearances in this book, and each one made me extremely happy. I don’t know why, but that Master of the Dead has always been one of my favorite characters in this world and I will never complain about seeing more of him!

I, also, just wanted to state that I am now Kate’s age, twenty-eight, and this makes me extremely happy, yet, feel like the laziest bum in the entire world! Seriously, I can’t even function in the morning without drinking my weight in caffeine.

Overall, I did enjoy being back in this world, but I didn’t love this book. Actually, it’s probably my least favorite in the series, but it’s an IA book – it’s still good. Honestly, this whole series, and everything else IA touches, is a tier above anything else in urban fantasy. I have very high hopes for the next book, and I pray that it does not disappoint or feel like a filler book, like this one did.

Also, I don’t think this will be the last time we hear of Curran’s little snack, or the impact of it, especially taking into account the last line of this book.

Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

This was sixty pages that were packed full of amazing. This was my first Kat Daniels novella and I was not disappointed. This little book probably will make me go back and read all the other novellas that I’ve neglected.

This book stars Derek (The Grey Wolf) and Julie, who has appointed herself with the title of Kate’s Herald. You know, like how Hugh was Roland’s Herald. Many connections between those two concepts were made. We also find out that Julie knows way more than Kat thinks she does. It becomes very apparent that Julie knows many secrets thanks to Roland.

Derek and Julie go on a mission to avenge a family that was killed for a mysterious rock. The duo comes across many obstacles and villains along the way, but my personal favorite (because I’m an extreme Odyssey fangirl) was the letavista, which essentially is a siren that lures men to their deaths. Yet when Derek gets lured in by the beautiful enchantress, something very unexpected happens She tells him “You belong to someone else.”, so he was able to defeat her. This is the moment my fangirl heart exploded and made me say a prayer that IA continues on with this Grey Wolf series.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but for me: I love Julie and Derek together and I will ship that shit until the day IA stops writing.

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

#readASOIAF Read-Along – Hosted by Riley from Riley Marie, Elizabeth from Liz Loves Literature, and Kayla from BOOKadoodles. ♥

“In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you’ve planned for them.”

A Feast for Crows is my least favorite in this series, but this prologue and ending chapter give me life, I swear. GRRM is such a genius and if you have twenty minutes, I can’t recommend this video, by Alt Shift X, enough. Seriously, these two plot points, that don’t even seem to make sense, are going to play such a HUGE part in this world, and I’m still in awe over the genius.

I kept debating if I wanted to give this book four or five stars, but this plot point brings me so much joy that I couldn’t resist and ended up just giving this five stars, too.

“I don’t want to have a dozen sons,” she had told him, appalled. “I want to have adventures”

I, also, absolutely loved all the feministic themes in this book. I know GRRM gets hate for all the violence against women in his books, but he writes some really empowering women, who I love to root for and read about:

-Asha’s whole story line, with her right to rule, but a bunch of men are telling her she can’t solely because she is a girl.
-Cersei finally ruling and acknowledging that everyone in her life has treated her like a piece of meat, only worthy of being married off to reproduce royal children, because she was born a woman, while seeing the male version of her (Jaime) thrive and live his dreams.
-Brienne smashing the patriarchy and gender roles left and right, all while making me her biggest fan.

Like, all of these themes make ASOIAF an even more enjoyable story to read. These are important themes that are very predominant in A Feast for Crows, and GRRM gives them the light they deserve. ASOIAF is truly an epic fantasy series above the rest.

I love this book, I love being a part of this reread, and I really love being back in this world. ASOIAF is such an immersive and all-encompassing experience, I can’t really put it into words. I will always recommend this series to anyone who will listen.

The rest of this review will have spoilers from all the previous books and also spoilers for this book! If you have not read the first four books in this series, and do not want to get spoiled, please do not read this portion of my review!

At this point in the story, so much is happening, I think I’m just going to break down the major plot lines and how I, personally, feel about them:

Arya and the Many-Faced God – Again, I can’t emphasize enough how amazing Alt Shift X’s video is, and how informative it was for me during this reread. Arya has been through so much so far in this series. My heart always breaks for Arya. In A Feast for Crows, she finally finds a path with the God of Death’s religion, where they literally take the faces of other people to kill others for their clients.

Sansa/Alayne, Robert, and Littlefinger – This whole story line is just so creepy; Littlefinger is the epitome of gross. Robert was weak before his mother’s death, and now even weaker. I’m just waiting for his death to come, at this point. Sansa pretending to be Littlefinger’s daughter, Alayne, is pretty heartbreaking to read. Sansa has, also, lost so much and watching her get stronger and stronger is really rewarding.

Asha, Euron, and Victarion – As much as I love Asha and watching her not back down over her right to the Iron Throne, Euron is probably the character I hate the most in this world. The juxtaposition is actually insane. The scene in Oakenshield Castle, with Euron, was very hard for me to read.

Even though Euron wins the kingsmoot against Asha and Victarion, Victarion still agrees to bring Dany Euron’s marriage proposal, yet, he has an ulterior motive that we will see in A Dance with Dragons.

Cersei, Margaery, and Maggy the Frog – Let me preface this portion by saying: I think Cersei is one of the best villains I’ve ever read. All of her actions make sense, and you can’t help but somewhat root for her. She is constantly being plagued by a vision a witch gave her at a young age, in which she predicted Cersei to become Queen, have three children that will all die, be overthrown by a younger and more beautiful girl, and to eventually die at the hands of her younger brother (who she thinks is 100% Tyrion, but I 100% think it will be Jaime – especially if books take the show’s route).

“Men have scars, women mysteries.”

Cersei thinks, by getting Margaery (who is now Queen, married to Tommen) out of the picture, she will ensure that Maggy the Frog’s prophecy doesn’t come true. You know, because she has no idea what Daenerys Targaryen is up to. Which brings us to…

The High Sparrow – …who is heavily foreshadowed to be an evil bastard from the start. Not only does he agree to doing to Gods’ work with Margaery, but he then takes it upon himself to do it with Cersei, as well! I know most of us know how the show’s version of this story-arc went down, but I cannot wait to actually read GRRM’s book version, that will have major differences (like Loras Tyrell’s storyline.)

Jaime – The last thing Jaime does in this book, is receives the letter from Cersei letting him know all the shit that is going down in King’s Landing. You know, because she sent him away for reasons. Oh, Jaime, you try so very hard to do what is right, but it always falls apart anyways. He is also harboring the secret of being the one that actually released Tyrion in A Storm of Swords, while being haunted with Tyrion’s information of who is warming Cersei’s bed. If I could ask for one happy ending for any of the characters in ASOIAF, I would ask for it to be Jaime’s. His story-line is seriously one of the most compelling things I’ve ever read, and I have so much empathy for him.

Brienne – Oh, and of course I ship Jaime with Brienne! Is it just me, or is their sexual tension out of this freakin’ world? Like, I need this; I need this to happen very badly. Brienne is one of my favorite characters, and such an honorable soul, how could you not love her? She is still in search of Sansa, with Podrick Payne, Tyrion’s old squire, in tow. On this journey she is constantly belittled for being a woman that is a knight, but never loses focus on her promise to Cat.

Lady Stoneheart – AKA: Resurrected Cat, is on a killing spree for vengeance. Even though she can’t really speak, because she died getting her throat slit, she and her group are seeking retribution for the Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords. In this book, she gives Brienne an ultimatum to either kill Jaime or die herself, and Brienne, being all that is right in this world, chooses death, but on a cliffhanger, of course!

Sam, Gilly, the babe, and Maester Aemon – I’m not going to lie, Sam’s chapters were a little unbearable for me. He, Gilly, the babe and Maester Aemon are on their way to the Citadel, where Sam is going to try to find something that will help them win the impending war that is looming with the White Walkers.

My heart breaks for Gilly, because (unlike the show) it is stated that her and King-Beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder, switched children, because Melisandre wants to sacrifice a child of royal blood. I mean, this might be the saddest thing in this book. I can’t even imagine Gilly’s pain, and my empathy is off the charts for her.

“There is no shame in loving. If your septons say there is, your seven gods must be demons. In the isles we know better. Our gods gave us legs to run with, noses to smell with, hands to touch and feel. What mad cruel god would give a man eyes and tell him he must forever keep them shut, and never look at all the beauty in the world? Only a monster god, a demon of the darkness.”

Aemon accompanies them on this journey to the Citadel, because Jon, too, thinks that Melisandre would want to sacrifice him for his royal Targaryen blood, so he sends him away, as well. Sadly, he is dying as their boat makes it to Braavos, but not before realizing that Dany and her dragons are going to change the world.

This series is so very close to my heart and I can’t express enough how much I truly love it. I could triple my word count by gushing and fangirling about theories, but I’ll save that for my A Dance with Dragons review!

“One more book, he had told himself, then I’ll stop. One more folio, just one more. One more page, then I’ll go up and rest and get a bite to eat. But there was always another page after that one, and another after that, and another book waiting underneath the pile. I’ll just take a quick peek to see what this one is about, he’d think, and before he knew he would be halfway through it.”

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I have to give a big thank you to Emma from emmmabooks, for making an amazing video of this Books of Wonder signing! I was able to screenshot Sarah signing my actual book, and it means so very much to me. Thank you! ♥

#0.1) The Assassin and the Pirate Lord ★★★
#0.2) The Assassin and the Healer ★★
#0.3) The Assassin and the Desert ★★★★
#0.4) The Assassin and the Underworld ★★★★★
#0.5) The Assassin and the Empire ★★★
#1.) Throne of Glass ★★★
#2.) Crown of Midnight ★★★★
#3.) Heir of Fire ★★
#4.) Queen of Shadows ★★

This book was actually a lot better than I was expecting it to be (thanks, fake spoilers on Twitter). It wasn’t without its flaws, they were there, mostly surrounding Aelin as a character, but I was overall happy with this installment and I’m super excited for the next book!

In preparation for Empire of Storms, I read The Assassin’s Blade and I cannot stress enough how important it would be to read this novella bind-up before reading this book! Two characters from the novellas make very important cameos in Empire of Storms.

This book seems to be pretty polarized so far; everyone either loves it or hates it, but I feel like I completely fell in the middle. I did go into this book with pretty low expectations, because I was very disappointed with Queen of Shadows, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Manon is six stars on her own. Seriously, she is everything I could ever want from a main character, and more. Sadly, she is only about 33% of this book, but, man, did I devour that 33% with a smile on my face.

Overall, I really liked this book, but it felt too long with not enough content to keep me completely entertained. Yes, some really big things happened and some really big questions got answered, but there was still a lot of downtime. SJM is amazing at building worlds that completely draw you in, but sometimes her characters, and their actions, and the things they say, completely draw you out of that world.

This review is going to have spoilers throughout. I would recommend you not to read this portion of the review unless you have read Empire of Storms and all the previous installments in this series!

I’m just going to start this review off with the biggest dark cloud of this book: Chaol, and his lack of everything in this book. Yes, it is true, Chaol is not in this book whatsoever, which is very upsetting, but it’s not even the main issue. The main issue is that he is not in this book because he is now disabled, unable to walk, so instead of SJM doing something really awesome to represent a non able-bodied person, she deemed him not worthy of this book, and sent him off to get healed, so he can come back for the conclusion abled-body. Like, if that doesn’t put a terrible taste in your mouth, I don’t really know what to tell you.

Yes, you can go back and read my previous reviews and see how Chaol was my favorite character. Obviously I shipped him with Aelin. Yes, I think Rowan is abusive and even though he wasn’t problematic in this book doesn’t make his actions in previous books okay. Obviously I know Chaol and Aelin’s ship burned to a crisp in Queen of Shadows, but all of these things have no impact on me thinking SJM really missed an opportunity to have diversity and representation in this book.

Also, the only thing I ship in this world now is me with Manon. ♥

Another thing SJM likes to do that is somewhat upsetting is that she pairs everyone together, in all her books. Don’t get me wrong, some of the pairings are completely amazing and believable (be still, my Manon and Dorian heart), but it’s unrealistic that in this world, on the verge of destruction, everyone pairs up and falls in love with someone. Like, can’t people just be friends? Can’t people want to see more than just one person? I noticed this in A Court of Mist and Fury (which I still gave five stars to, because close to perfection reasons), but I felt like I was being hit over the head with it in this book!

The star pair is obviously Aelin and Rowan, which weren’t as annoying as they were in Queen of Shadows. Rowan proves he loves her more than anything, and Aelin tells him she loves him while trying to be a strong, independent woman.

Their sex scene was laugh-out-fucking-loud-able. Like, it was so good she…. combusts into flames? Like, please, Lord, I do not have time for this.

You know whose sex scene was amazing? MANON AND DORIAN!!!!! I pretty much only lived those three days while reading this book for that sex scene. Everything, it was everything.

Where Aelin and Rowan’s first sex scene was overhyped and unrealistic for young girls who are waiting for “the perfect time”, Manon and Dorian’s sex scene was so much more realistic and so much more sexy! Seriously, I’ve always liked Dorian, but he went up like ten top favorite character slots after seeing this side of him.

My friend, Gelisvb, said in her review, “Dorian suffers from bipolarism: when he interacts with Manon he becomes Jericho Barrons” and her analogy is actually perfect.

Thank you, SJM, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, senpai .

Like in Queen of Shadows, Manon and Abraxos were my favorite, hands down. Manon’s story-arc is so good! If SJM is really expanding this universe – give Manon the spinoff series! If I were just rating this book off Manon’s chapters, this would be a six star book. I cannot wait to see how Manon and the Thirteen are going to fit into Rowan’s armies. I foresee lots of amazing things.

The other chapters that surprised me were Elide and Lorcan’s! When the first chapter was in Elide’s perspective, I was so surprised, but fell in love so fast! Yes, this is another pairing, but this one was a joy to read about, and I found myself disappointed every time a chapter started with Aelin or Rowan’s point of view, and not Elide or Lorcan’s.

Redemption stories are always the best stories, and Lorcan was no exception to this. Seeing Elide find his worth and helping him see it was pretty emotional. I wonder how Lorcan is going to handle his new life and, hopefully, it will not annoy me.

This book had so, so much more going on than just these characters and their evolution; so many questions got answered about the Dark Lord and why Aelin has the powers that she does.

Was I the only one that was getting major Harry and Neville vibes from Aelin and Dorian? Like, please Aelin, girl, go bleed on that lock and leave my little cinnamon roll, Dorian, alone.

There is, also, some heavy foreshadowing in this book about conceiving an heir. I, like Rowan, thought Aelin was pregnant every other chapter. I definitely think there will be an heir before this series is over.

I will say that this marriage sure didn’t pack the same kind of punch it did for A Court of Mist and Fury. I actually really disliked how those two endings seemed similar, sort of. I understand it was “necessary”, but that didn’t save it from feeling bad.

I know this book ended on such a freakin’ cliffhanger, but we officially have an end goal, no clear path on how to get to it, but we have a conclusion in our sights.

Also, Maeve just forgetting about the keys was so unbelievable. I’m happy it worked out that way, but it was unbelievable.

Lysandra is going to play a very powerful role in the the next book, and I’m very curious how it’s going to pan out. Aedion was pretty annoying at the end of this book and just generally throughout it, so, hopefully he fixes his shit, because I didn’t care for this pairing at all, solely because of him.

Overall, I just don’t think I like this series as much as A Court of Thorns and Roses. I wish I did, but I just have too much of a personal disconnect with Aelin. Manon is everything, but I’m constantly reminded that Aelin is the true star in this book, so she doesn’t redeem it for me. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it, and a lot could have been cut out of this. A seven-hundred page book was really unnecessary, and it felt very unnecessary at parts.

The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5) by Sarah J. Maas

I really wanted to read this novella bind-up in preparation for Empire of Storms! These five individual stories actually line up chronologically and tell a pretty fluent big story. I wasn’t expecting that, so I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of five completely different and random stories, you get five different stories that build up together for one event that ends up being the start of Throne of Glass.

Overall, I really did enjoy this bind-up, but I enjoyed some stories much, much more than others. Some of the stories felt perfectly synced with this world, and others seemed a little pointless and forced.

I will break down each short story, with links to their individual reviews on Goodreads.

#0.1) The Assassin and the Pirate Lord ★★★
This first novella had so much potential. I would have given the premise of this story a solid five stars. I mean, Sam and Celaena working with pirates to discover what happened to three of their fellow assassins? What more could I ask for? Sadly, the pirate lord, Rolfe, and their mission fell a little short for me.

I did love being reintroduced to Celaena, and just remembering how far she has came from this scared and arrogant sixteen year old. Sam was wonderful; I loved him from first glance and his back-story still breaks my heart. It was weird being actually introduced to Sam, because his memory has played such a big part in the series, it has just felt like I’ve always known him. Oh, and seeing Arobynn again made me feel a vast array of emotions, too.

#0.2) The Assassin and the Healer ★★
This was the novella that felt a little pointless to me. Because of Celaena’s actions in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, she is sent away on a punishment mission. While waiting for a boat to take her to her punishment, she is staying at the White Pig Inn, where she meets a very unique and kindhearted girl named Yrene.

I really liked Yrene, and the little bit of her back-story that we received, but this novella just completely felt like filler for me. Maybe we will see Yrene in this series eventually, and then this story will be a lot more meaningful, but as it stands, this story felt the weakest in this bind-up.

#0.3) The Assassin and the Desert ★★★★
This novella follows Celaena on her punishment mission with the Silent Assassins. I really liked this story, and it actually is pretty thought provoking on the subject of abuse. Even though we are watching Celaena try to get a letter of recommendation for the Mute Master, we also get to see her inner struggle dealing with her own abusive master. Celaena is now seventeen and realizing all the abusive things that have happened in her life are not normal or okay.

Celaena also befriends a young girl named Ansel, and I absolutely devoured her story-arc. Ansel is another character that I pray we get to see in this series eventually. Because of Ansel’s story-line we get to see an Ironteeth witch and spider silk, both of which play a huge role in the newer installments of this series!

#0.4) The Assassin and the Underworld ★★★★★
Be still, my heart. This novella was everything I wanted from this bind-up and more! Celaena is finally back in Rifthold after her three month journey away. Celaena and Sam discover how much they missed each other, and after a few high sexual tension scenes, they realize how much they like each other. Celaena is able to buy both of their freedom, and they want nothing more than to spend the rest of their life together. Rowan who, again?

And freakin’ Lysandra is in this story! Her and Celaena are just starting to hate each other, but, oh my gosh, it was so amazing to see these girls at seventeen, knowing how their paths will eventually twists together into something beautiful. Also, Arobynn is such a gross man!

#0.5) The Assassin and the Empire ★★★
I love all the scenes in Celaena and Sam’s apartment. Oh, how I wish things in this story could have gone differently. We get to see all the filth that goes on in the Vaults, and, unfortunately, Sam is making money fighting there.

Sam wants to leave Rifthold very badly, and even though Celaena is unsure, she agrees. They pay Arobynn a huge sum of money to leave his assassin’s guild, but Sam wants to finish one last mission on Rifthold before they leave the whole continent.

We’ve all read Throne of Glass, so we all know how this turns out. That doesn’t make the events that take place any less heartbreaking.

That white stag though.

I gave this novella bind-up 3 stars overall, because out of a possible 25 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 5 stories) this bind-up accumulated 17 stars (68%).