Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #12: Top Ten Favorite Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I'm so in love with this week's topic for TTT. I love reading about strong female characters. When I'm reading a book where the main character is too passive or too dependent on others - and most cases this tends to be a girl (I've never read a book where this has been an issue with a male protagonist) - chances are I get really frustrated with that character. But when a strong, independent heroine strolls across the pages, massive squeeing ensues. I know I don't actually have ten today but these are the ladies who win the title as my favorite heroines.

My Top Favorite Heroines

Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - Celaena is the newest addition to my top favorite heroines. She is the ultimate definition of a badass female character. She's the kingdom's greatest assassin but she's still a girl. A girl who loves food - chocolate cake! - pretty dresses, puppies, and books. Celaena also isn't without her flaws and fears but she faces all of those with confidence and strength. Also, I want to give a non-spoilery shout out to Nehemia because she's pretty awesome too in her own way.

Blue Sargent from The Raven Boys Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater - I just love Blue so so much. She is definitely not afraid to tell it like it is. She's comfortable in her own skin, a little strange, a lot smart, and she can juggle four very different Raven boys with confidence, sass, and humor.

Annabeth Chase from the Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series -Annabeth is nobody's sidekick. If you couldn't pick up on that just from her character arch, then she says so herself at one point. Being a daughter of Athena, she's smart but also extremely brave and strong. She's the absolute perfect match to Percy though she can definitely hold her own. I mean, she followed the the Mark of Athena to recover the Athena Parthenos and defeated Archne all with a broken ankle and all by herself.

Alanna of Tortall from The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce - What other little girl grew up knowing she wanted to be a knight regardless of the fact that girls weren't allowed but fought for it anyway? As we watch her grow up, we see that she's not afraid to love (though she was initially) but at the same time, her falling in love doesn't define who she is. She always remains true to herself even if it means she might die for what she believes in.

Daine Sarrasri from The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce - I almost lumped Alanna and Daine together since they're both from Tortall but quickly realized that wasn't fair to either of them. Daine lost everything she loved at a young age but grew up to be a powerful wild mage. What has always stood out to me about Daine's story is that there basically was no love interest until the last half of the last book. She rocked those books all on her own. By the way, Daine made archery cool way before Katniss.

Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien - That meme = enough said. Eowyn is basically the original female fantasy heroine.

Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - I haven't read The Scarlet Letter since high school but Hester Prynne but Hester has always stood out to me as a classic heroine. Though she's scorned by society she continues to live while the men in her life are consumed by their sins.

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling - This list seriously could not be complete if Hermione wasn't in it. She's the brains behind all of their adventures even when she's petrified. She's not afraid to throw punches (literally) or to fight for things that no one else believes in like freedom for house elves. She obliviated her parents memories of her to save their lives. Hermione is the brightest witch of her age and she's basically, the reason why Harry and Ron aren't dead - or worse expelled.

Did any of my favorites make it to your list? Did one of your favorites not make it to my list? Let me know! I love reading about awesome heroines!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #11: Top 10 Book Related Problems

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/meme created by The Broke and the Bookish

Oh my gosh I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in FOREVER!!! And I have no excuses as to why except for the fact that I'm rather forgetful about what day it is. I spent all of last week thinking it was Friday then continually being disappointed for six out the of seven days of the week. Yup... that's how my brain works sometimes. 

Top Ten Book Related Problems

1. Not having enough shelves to hold all of your books. 

2. Not being able to find the perfect comfy position while reading and then dealing with book pains afterwards.

 3. Not having an appropriate answer when someone asks you what your favorite book is or why you liked a book so much.

4. Discovering that sleep is a necessary part of life even though your book just got really good.

5. Having to find a way to politely divert conversations with people who obviously can't tell how involved you are in your book and simply must talk to you.

6. Finishing a book and realizing the next one doesn't come out for another year - or longer.

7. Having to figure out how to deal with book hangovers.

8. When you have no one to talk about a particular book with.

9. When non-readers just don't understand your love of books.

10. Not having enough reading time.

What are your bookish problems???

Monday, February 16, 2015

Heir of Fire Review

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Published:  September 2, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Warning: This review contains minor spoilers Heir of Fire. If you haven't read it yet, proceed with caution.

Heir of Fire... To be perfectly honest, it took me a while to really get into this one. After Crown of Midnight - which blew my mind into itsy bitsy pieces so much that I still just can't even a full week later - I was so ready to be blown away again by this third book. But I wasn't really, which makes me kind of sad. It's not that I didn't like the book because I did - a lot, it's just that so much happened, so many new characters were introduced, new plot lines, new places, etc. etc. There was a lot of just NEW that it resorted to info dumping at times. It didn't stop me from enjoying the book, there was just so much going on that I got lost a few times and forgot details of certain things and who people were that I spent a lot of time flipping back and forth to try to remember it all. 
Fireheart, why do you cry?
"Because I am lost," she whispered onto the earth. "And I do not know the way."
 - Evalin and Celaena, pg 281

One thing that separates this book from the other two is that it's separated into three storylines following Manon - witch of the Blackbeak Clan, Chaol and Dorian in Rifthold, and Celaena in Wendlyn. Just about every two chapters rotated between the storylines. I generally don't like when books are arranged this way. That's a personal preference though. It gives me anxiety (not really anxiety but I couldn't think of a better word) especially when you really start getting into one particular storyline then the chapter ends in a cliffhanger and you have to wait another four or five chapters to continue it.

Let's start with the Manon storyline. (I just found out her name is pronounced ma-NON. I was pronouncing it like Shannon - oops.) Manon is the heir of the Blackbeak Clan of Ironteen Witches. The three clans have gathered together at the Ferian Gap after accepting the king of Adarlan's offer to become his aerial troops and learn to fly on the wyverns he's been breeding. Manon's storyline doesn't intersect at all with the other two storylines. I feel like she was her own novella scattered within the book. At least the Rifthold plot and Celaena's plot were obviously connected. Though I liked her, her chapters were my least favorite just because they seemed so separate from the other two plots and I was more interested in those. I can definitely see the markings of how her story will fit into future books though. As for her as a character, her kick-ass-ery fits in well with the kick-ass-eriness of the rest of the characters up until now. She's like the polar opposite of Nehemia. Where Nehemia was all heart and sacrifice, Manon is darkness and literally doesn't have a heart - though that's subject to change.

My favorite part of Manon's storyline was getting to know Abraxos, her wyvern. He was always the underdog. He was initially a bait dragon and was never intended to be used in combat. I really want a wyvern now because of him. He's so cute what with liking flowers and protecting Manon from the cold. It's because of him and his bond to Manon that I think Manon's story will not end in her being a true villain. I really think that the king's idea to use witches is going to backfire entirely in his face. At least, with Manon as Wing Leader and her loyal Thirteen following her, they'll be a force to compete with just by themselves if they decide to rebel. I can't wait to discover the how and when her story will overlap with Celaenas's. I also hope we find out why the humans in the Ferian Gap tasted rotten. Maybe they were touched by the Vlag somehow?

The second storyline involved what Dorian and Chaol are up to while Celaena's in Wendlyn - which is basically two semi-separate plots because Chaol and Dorian are on the outs with each other. It's in here that we're introduced to Aedion Ashryver - the king's most esteemed general nicknamed Adarlan's Whore but also Celaena's cousin. It turns out that Aedion is not as loyal to the crown as he makes himself seem to be. He has basically taken over Archer's place as head of the rebels in Rifthold. I actually really liked Aedion. He started out as a complete ass but as the book progressed and we learned more about his character, we saw just how intensely loyal he is to Aelin and Terrasen. It's amazing that after all he's been through because of the king, he still has it in him to love Aelin and all she stands for as a symbol of hope for a better world. Although, what with all the flashbacks and stuff, I can't see Aelin/Aedion as a thing. I feel like they have too much of a brother-sister type of relationship.

Chaol quickly discovers what the rebels are up to when Aedion's parties begin to disrupt his guards' duty. *le sigh* Oh Chaol... let's talk about Chaol for a moment. Now, if you read my Crown of Midnight review, you'd know that I hardcore ship Celaena/Chaol. But - UGH - Chaol was soooooo frustrating in this book! Dorian was absolutely in the right when he told Chaol that he can't choose which parts of Celaena to love. Chaol kept flip-flopping between being loyal to the king and loyal to Celaena and obviously, he can't be both! It wasn't until the very end that he finally made a decision as to who's side he is on. It was without a doubt a beautiful moment for his friendship with Dorian when he finally declared a side but really, Chaol, dude, it shouldn't have been that difficult. Side with Dorian and the woman you love or continue to follow the orders of the crazy, psychotic, murdering king and the father who disowned you? I understand that his loyalty to the crown and his morals keep him where he is but he's seen so much that proves that the king is an awful, awful person but he still chose to turn a blind eye. I don't understand, Chaol. I still love you but I don't understand...
"As for Celaena," he said again, "you do not have the right to wish she were not what she is. The only thing you have a right to do is decide whether you are her enemy or her friend."
- Dorian, pg 344

Dorian on the other hand has always known where he stood in terms of his responsibilities as crown prince and his struggle to uphold those responsibilities as well as his own beliefs versus his father's. His storyline mainly involves his learning how to control his magic. As it's strongly attached to his emotions, his magic becomes unstable whenever he gets angry or scared and he knows his father won't hesitate to execute him if he discovers his son has magic. Solution: Sorscha - the healer who had been quietly attending to his, Celaena, and Chaol's wounds and keeping their activities secret. I wish we had more time with Sorcha. She was heading towards the path to becoming a major plot changing character. In a way, she was but we barely got to know her. I liked her for the fact that she made Dorian happy but we got so little time with her that I wasn't overly attached to her. I'm glad Dorian got a few moments of happiness before everything went to hell for him. I really need Dorian to be okay by the end of the next book. It just won't be cool with my feels if he's not.

Finally, we get to Celaena's storyline. When we meet Celaena again, she's basically honing her inner Jack Sparrow and wondering where the wine has gone while lounging in the sun on rooftops in Wendlyn. However, we quickly meet Rowan, a prince of the Fae, who takes her to Mistward to meet Maeve. Maeve is the Queen of the Fae and the only person who may know how to replace the Wyrdkeys on the gate. There is a catch though: Maeve will only give Celaena the answers she's looking for once she has proven that she can handle her powers and is deemed worthy enough to enter Doranelle.  And so training with Rowan begins.

It took me a long time to begin to like Rowan. If Aedion came off like an ass in the beginning, Rowan came off as an even bigger ass. What's worse is that he was an ass for the greater portion of the book. For the most part, he was mean and horrible towards Celaena and he almost got her killed twice during training because of things that he hadn't thought through. Really now, don't you think you should check for ancient giant monsters living under the ice in the dark cave before chaining an innocent boy in the middle and telling Celaena - who hadn't yet mastered her powers completely - to go save him? After centuries of living, you'd think that would be common sense by now. But Rowan redeems himself towards the end when he opens up to Celaena and they realize their past heartaches aren't so much different after all. Also, he kicks some major butt in the end.

As for Celaena, she went through so so much in this book and just adds to her overall amazing-ness. Not only did she meet all of Rowan's meanness with wonderful sarcasm and snark but she continually fought to prove to him that he was wrong about her. She began the book as so entirely broken over Nehemia's death and Chaol's betrayal that she could barely function. Over the course of the book, she battled against every death and heartbreak that kept her from accepting who she really is and conquered her fear of her power. She ended the book as this incredibly powerful, fire-wielding, half-Fae queen who's ready to reclaim her throne and fight against the King of Adarlan. Basically, she reaffirmed why she is basically the greatest heroine I've ever read. I will be a little mad at her though if she chooses Rowan over Chaol and it seems like it might head in that direction.

So even though this was my least favorite of the three books so far, I still enjoyed it and I seriously canNOT wait for Queen of Shadows this fall.
She was as much a queen as Maeve. She was the sovereign of a strong people and a mighty kingdom. 
She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to know one.
- about Aelin, pg 499

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I do believe in Fairies! I do, I do!

I'm kinda, sorta a month late in joining reading challenges (blame Throne of Glass for that one) but when I saw this one, I couldn't pass it up.

The Daily Prophecy 

I LOVE fairytale retellings!! I've loved fairytales ever since I could remember and retellings are just the BEST. I found the 2014 version of this challenge sometime around the end of December and obviously, I was too late to join in then. Then I forgot about it until now because I'm good like that. I'm now too late to join the initial 2015 linkup but, oh well. All procrastination comes with a price (but I'm still doing this challenge).

The Fairytale Retelling Challenge is hosted by Mel at The Daily Prophecy. It runs from January 1 to December 31, 2015. The goal of the challenge is to read fairytale retellings - simple as that. It can be anything from Middle Grade to YA to adult retellings and it's up to you what you count as a fairytale. Mel was nice enough to even create a list of suggestions on her Goodreads profile. I would also suggest the amazing chart that Epic Reads created for retellings. 


There are six levels to aim for while doing this challenge:
          -Prince Charming: 1 – 4 books.
          -Magic mirror: 5 - 9 books.
          -Big bad wolf: 10 – 15 books.
          -The wise princess: 16 – 20 books.
          -Wicked fairy Godmother: 21 – 25 books.
          -Bluebeard: you are killing it! 26+ books.

Personally, I'm aiming for The Wise Princess. There's a lot I want to read this year and a lot of them can be considered fairytale retellings including: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry, the Splintered series by A. G. Howard, Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, and The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan (not really a "fairytale" retelling but a mythology retelling but I'm going to fudge that a little and include it). There's a few others that I'm forgetting as well. Since rereads also count, I might also reread The Child Thief by Brom since it's been a very long time since I've read it and Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu because though I loved it when I read it last year, I didn't give it as much thought while reading as I would have liked and I also never reviewed it like I meant to.

If you want to join this challenge, please visit Mel's blog. Every month, she will be posting a new link up for all the retellings you've read. You can add your name to the link up and post your reviews there. So even though the big sign up is closed, anyone can still participate. And her February link up is already posted!

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