Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

ThroneOfGlass
Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
(Throne of Glass #1)
Published: 8-2-2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

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Art – Alessandro Taini    

I love this illustration of Celaena because it’s clear that she’s deadly and more than willing to kill. The rest of the cover is so dark that I wish it were a bit brighter. I like the title font and the little swirlies around the word ‘of.’

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Throne of Glass was a bit of a strange read for me. I was expecting to be blown away, based on all the buzz I’ve seen for this series online. And I just wasn’t all that impressed. I’ve read similar books that I liked better and many aspects of this book merely reminded me of those other books. So, basically, Throne of Glass didn’t really do anything to stand out in my mind, but was still a good read.

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  • Chaol – The young captain of the Guard is by far the most mysterious character and I found him to be the most interesting as well. While he is good friends with Dorian, Chaol has many immediate responsibilities and the prince just seems to be doing nothing while he waits to become important. The two are an interesting study in contrasts. Chaol is stoic, he doesn’t often voice his thoughts, yet he’s a steady presence in Celaena’s new life. Prince Dorian wears his heart on his sleeve and flits in and out of Celaena’s everyday, leaving her doubting his intentions. Chaol is my pick.
  • Celaena – Celaena is a strong character and a deadly assassin, but her flaws are still shown. She’s a young woman who knows countless ways to kill or maim someone and has survived the harshness of the salt mines. On the other hand, Celaena has never had the chance to have someone romantically interested in her or be interested in someone else. She’s thrown by the attention of Prince Dorian and Chaol, and is immediately suspicious of new people. Celaena also tends to jump to conclusions and put herself in danger.
  • Nehemia – Nehemia is a princess from a land that the king is currently trying to conquer. Her reasons for being at the castle are vague, and her history is mysterious. She proves to be a good friend to Celaena, who treats her with respect and is interested in learning about her people. Nehemia is smart and somewhat sneaky, loyal and strong.

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  • love triangle – This is a book about an assassin, so why must there still be a love triangle? Also, why are these guys so willing to trust this girl known as the deadliest assassin around? Does there really have to be a love triangle? Why can’t something else compelling happen between these characters?
  • competitors being killed – A major part of the plot revolves around the mysterious deaths of some of the competitors. What bothered me is that no one really seemed to care. Sure, most of the castle’s inhabitants didn’t know about the grisly murders, or the dangerous people competing. The general feeling is that no one’s going to miss a thief or assassin, but some of the chosen champions were soldiers. What’s strange is that none of the remaining champions seem all that concerned that they could be next. I can’t remember Dorian ever saying anything about it, and while Chaol is investigating, all of that takes place off-page.
  • lackluster – This book has all the ingredients of a blow-your-mind story. Female assassin, deadly competition, supernatural element, third person narration, two very different young men. But all of these things just didn’t capture my attention in an exciting way. It may have been my high expectations for this book, but I just wasn’t captivated. The supernatural element was what pushed the story, but I found it confusing and less interesting than if Celaena had no mystical force on her side, especially since she saw most of the challenges as jokes and not true tests.

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He was kind – unnaturally kind, for someone of his upbringing. He had a heart, she realized, and a conscience. He was different from the others. Timidly, almost clumsily, the assassin strode over to the Crown Prince and kissed him on the cheek. His skin was surprisingly hot, and she wondered if she’d kissed him properly as she pulled away and found his eyes bright and wide.

– pg. 276

Her doorknob clicked and her heart leapt into her throat. Was it time to finally sign her contract with the king? But it wasn’t Dorian or Nehemia, not even a page. The world stopped when Chaol entered instead.

– pg. 391

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3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Maggie Stiefvater

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Maggie Stiefvater
(The Raven Cycle #3)
Published: 10-21-2014 by Scholastic Press
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

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Design – Christopher Stengel       Art – Adam S. Doyle

I continue to adore the eerie paintings by Adam S. Doyle used on these covers. I like that these covers are printed on a satiny paper, giving them a bit of shine. This cover just feels a bit too buys, just like the first two, but I love the colors of this one.

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These books are addicting and engrossing, which made this one seem so short even though it’s just under 400 pages. Each book in this series is amazing, but Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the one I enjoyed the least so far. Everything’s escalating, but it’s quiet at the same time. There’s less searching and more danger, and everything is strange.

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  • Ronan + Adam – Ronan’s character development continues to be awesome. He’s so angry and volatile that it really means something whenever Ronan does something selfless or kind. He’s somewhat conflicted about his dreaming and what’s necessary in their quest for Glendower. Adam is finally beginning to put aside his pride sometimes and accept the kindness of his friends. He’s continuing to deal with learning how to communicate with Cabeswater and the fallout of his father’s arrest. Ronan and Adam are the ones who have changed the most, and they seem to be developing a closer relationship, possibly a romantic one. I love the small ways Ronan supports Adam, especially because Ronan has a difficult time showing affection of any kind, and Adam has trouble accepting affection. I really like the two of them hanging out together and plotting things.
  • Gansey – Gansey’s up to something at the school that he hasn’t let anyone else in on, which is worrying. His fear of wasps is resurfacing and he’s no longer the clear leader of the group. Overall, Gansey is more and more human, less hero. He’s getting closer and closer to finding Glendower, but what happens when he does? What favor does he request? What does he do when his lifelong quest is over? And what kills him and will anyone tell him he’s fated to die?
  • Blue – I love Blue. She’s a short, pink pocket knife carrying spitfire. She does what she has to in order to help Gansey and the guys, and in order to find her missing mother. Blue is her own person and she makes sure everyone knows it. Something’s happening with Blue being an energy source and not appearing between the mirrors in the attic, but we have no idea what yet. The way Blue interacts with her family, with the Grey Man, and with the guys is always entertaining.
  • Blue + Gansey – Both Blue and Gansey are practicing a great deal of restraint when it comes to their mutual attraction. Obviously, they can’t kiss due to the prophecy of Blue killing her true love, but they’re also trying to deny their feelings for each other. I love how they spend time together constantly, but they only focus on finding Glendower. It’s only late at night, when they’re alone and lonely, that they ever reach out to each other. The fourth and final books is sure to be a heartbreaker.

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  • Greenmantle + Piper – While I do like that Piper seems to be the more important of these two, their presence is annoying. Much like the Gray Man in the second book (who I like in this book), it’s hard to pull your thoughts away from Blue and the Raven Boys to focus on new characters. Much of the time, Greenmantle and Piper are simply arguing with each other, which isn’t exactly interesting.
  • slow – While the first two books certainly established a dreamy and fantastic atmosphere, this book just seems slower. There’s more planning and thinking, and less action involved this time. The group knows they’re getting dangerously close to finding Glendower, but there’s more hesitation now, as well as more people looking for the sleeping king. To me, this book was just less exciting than the first two.

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She wished she could still evoke that Blue who despised him. She wished she knew if Adam would feel terrible about this. She wished she knew if fighting this feeling would make Gansey’s foretold end destroy her any less.

– pg. 67

Ducking his head, he pulled off his ghost light and hung it over her shoulder. She didn’t bother to say, ‘But you’ll be waiting in darkness.’ Nor did she say, ‘If I vanish immediately into the lake, you’ll have to find your way out of here sightless.’ Because he’d already known both these things when he’d given it to her.

– Ronan + Blue  pg. 367

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought

The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

DreamThieves
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
(The Raven Cycle #2)
Published: 9-5-2013 by Scholastic Press
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

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Art – Adam S. Doyle

I love the art on these covers. Adam S. Doyle’s style is perfect for these stories. But there’s just something about the cover that I don’t like. I’m not sure what it is though. I think it might be that it just feels very crowded to me. I think the illustration needs more room. I like the placement of the title, but it bothers me that it changes color. I just don’t know what’s off about it.

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Aah, this book! The Dream Thieves is absolutely wondrous. The writing is beautiful, the story has so many layers, everything is so atmospheric, and the characters are all deep and multi-faceted. The Raven Cycle is an addicting series that is hard to put down. If you haven’t started reading it, I can’t recommend it enough.

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  • Ronan – Ronan’s main characteristics are angry and loyal, but his story is the backbone of this sequel and we get to see that there is much more to him. The secret about Ronan’s father is revealed, as is the full extent to which that secret has shaped Ronan’s life. Ronan is angry over what he’s lost, kicking himself for not seeing the truth sooner, and dangerously desperate to get everything back. The fine line that Ronan walks with Kavinsky is interesting for a few reasons. Kavinsky is a threatening guy but his time spent with Ronan shows that he’s just looking for something fulfilling. Kavinsky’s constant jokes and suggestions about Ronan being gay are annoying, but what’s interesting is the way Ronan doesn’t refute them, only says his relationship with Gansey isn’t like that. I really liked seeing deeper into Ronan’s head. Seeing the differences between how Kavinsky did things and how Ronan did things, and Ronan coming face to face with his nightmares really showed a different side to him.
  • Blue – I still really like Blue. She’s really the only one of the group that seems to have no ability or anything special related to their quest for Glendower, as well as the only non-psychic in her house. Blue loves the boys and is happy that they’ve fully accepted her into their group and their quest, but she’s still wary to be seen with any “Raven boys.” Blue is ever-aware of the whole kissing=death prediction, something she’s only told Gansey. This further strains her fledgling relationship with Adam, even as she realizes that she might like Gansey after all. But Blue is wonderful and fiercely individual, never mooning over any of the guys when she can be taking action in the search for Glendower. Blue is very clear that she is not something to be owned and she does not suffer any mere suggestion that she belongs to anyone.
  • Gansey – Oh, Gansey, our tragic hero. Gansey relies on his public image mask less and less as things in the search for Glendower get farther along but also more complicated. There are many more people who are somehow connected to their search than they originally imagined, and they aren’t exactly offering to work together. Gansey likes to be in control, but it’s increasingly clear to him that he can’t control much in the group’s quest. Noah’s practically gone, Adam is more and more distant since Cabeswater, Ronan is suddenly fending off his nightmares during his waking hours, and Blue is off-limits.
  • plot – The plot of this book, and the whole series really, is so complex and layered, and so are the characters. Gansey still has no idea that he’s fated to die within the year and Blue is tortured with the knowledge of his impending death as she grows closer to him and all the guys. The members of Blue’s family are becoming more integral to the search for Glendower, and the search itself is something involving death and dreams, timeloops and questionable psychic rituals.

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  • Adam – Adam feels like much more of a main character here than he did in the 1st book, probably because there was no need to pretend Noah was human. I have mixed feelings about Adam. His journey is great, but I’m not sure I like him as a character. I’m glad Adam has moved out of his parents’ place, but it seems like he likes to maintain a buffer between himself and the others by living alone, even if I can kinda understand his pride. Adam’s method of dealing with things, whether it’s his sacrifice to Cabeswater, his relationship with Blue, or his friendships with the guys, is just to avoid everything. I want Adam to stand up for himself more.
  • the Grey Man – It’s always difficult for me to get into a new character’s POV, especially when it’s not immediately clear how they relate to the plot. The Grey Man is an outsider, and while I don’t know how else the threat of others searching for the Greywaren could’ve been handled, I found the Grey Man’s chapters to be boring. His perspective just took so long to matter to the main plot and I thought there could’ve easily been less time devoted to his POV.

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“What care is it of yours,” Gansey asked, “what I think of Orla?”

This felt dangerous, for some reason. He possibly shouldn’t have asked it. In retrospect, it wasn’t the question itself at fault. It was the way that he’d asked it. His thoughts had been far away, and he hadn’t been minding how he looked on the outside, and now, too late, he heard the dip of his own words. How the inflection seemed to contain a dare.

Come on Gansey, he thought. Don’t ruin things.

Blue held his gaze, unflinchingly. Crisp, she replied, “None at all.”

And it was a lie.

It should not have been, but it was, and Gansey, who prized honesty above nearly every other thing, knew it when he heard it. Blue Sargent cared whether or not he was interested in Orla. She cared a lot. As she whirled toward the truck with a dismissive shake of her head, he felt a dirty sort of thrill.       – Gansey + Blue   pg. 195

“He’s not alone when he leaves the car behind.”

There was something chilling about the phrase ‘Leaves behind.’ It could have just meant ‘parked the car.’ But it didn’t sound like that when Calla said it. It sounded like a synonym for abandon the Pig.

“When does it happen?”

“It already has,” Calla replied. Her eyes opened and fixed on Blue. “And it hasn’t yet.”     – Calla + Blue    pg. 340

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5 Robots

Acquired: bought

The Glass Magician

The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
(Paper Magician #2)
Published: 11-4-2014 by 47North
Get the book: AmazonThe Book Depository

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

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Design – Ryan Hobson       Rating – 4/5

This is a lovely cover. It fits perfectly with the first book’s cover, but has its own unique color and symbols. I don’t care for the glass texture in the background, although it’s difficult to show glass having any sort of texture. I also wish that the circles and lines were in different positions from the first book’s cover, and that they were labeled as figures again. Otherwise, the style of these covers is beautifully simple.

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I enjoyed this book a bit more than The Paper Magician. Ceony is as headstrong as ever as her relationship with Thane progresses and they find themselves in grave danger. She’s smart in the face of possible death. This sequel was great because Ceony learns a lot about paper magic, and magic in general, gets a friend her own age to hang out with, and manages to find her way into crazy situations.

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  • Ceony – Ceony is not content to sit at home while Emery handles things with the evil magicians of the world. She’s headstrong, confident, and determined. Although she still doesn’t know much about paper magic, Ceony can’t stand waiting around, especially when Emery hasn’t told her the full extent of what he’s doing. While rushing into dangerous situations and facing one of the most notorious dark magicians alone is foolish, Ceony manages to hold her own due to her intelligent planning.
  • glass magic + Delilah – I really like that Ceony got a female friend of her own age in this book because there really aren’t many characters that she interacts with. Delilah is enthusiastic about magic, and even though she has reservations about Ceony’s plans, she is eager to help her. She also serves as a way for Ceony to learn about glass magic, the kind of magic the villain, Grath Cobalt, possesses. Glass magic turns out to be very useful, especially since mirrors can serve as travel and communication devices. the revelation about magic in general was also cool, and even better because it was unexpected. 

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  • sexism – There was a part where Ceony was presented with an apron that signifies that she’s an apprentice. The women wear aprons and the guys wear vests. I hate this. Aprons signify much more of a subservient position, while vests are just another piece of clothing. Also, both vests and aprons are unisex items, so there was no need for the genders to have different clothing items. It’s a little thing, but it places a magnifying glass over other issues, like how Ceony feels the need to cook and clean for Emery for no extra pay.
  • Emery + Ceony – I still fail to see any romantic connection between Ceony and her much older mentor. Emery is so withdrawn and serious much of the time that it almost seems like he dislikes Ceony being there. I just don’t feel anything between these characters. It just seems like the author is forcing it simply because they are of opposite genders. 

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Emery’s eyes sparkled with amusement. Had she done something funny?

“I’ve determined that I will teach you to cheat at cards for the day’s first lesson,” Emery announced.

Ceony dropped her scissors. “I knew you were cheating!”      – Emery + Ceony   Loc. 155

Ceony scrambled across the seat and grabbed the door latch, kicking the door open. She jumped outside, blinking the bright morning from her eyes.

Then she shouted, “If you’re going to get yourself killed, you could at least kiss me first!”

Emery paused, as did two other men heading for the train. He turned around and looked to her, the sun pouring around him like a halo.      – Loc. 2379

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3 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)

The Paper Magician

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
(Paper Magician trilogy #1)
Published: 9-1-2014 by 47North
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

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Design – Ryan Hobson      Rating – 5/5

This is a beautiful cover. It’s graphic and simple. Everything about it is blowing my mind. The wrinkled paper background, the color scheme, the way the dress frames the title and runs off the page. I love the simplicity of the font and the way the title is spiced up with the shadows and cursive ‘the.’ I also really like the heart and plane made of paper, and how they are labeled as figures like a scientific diagram. I wish there were more covers like this out there.

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The Paper Magician follows 19-year-old Ceony in her new apprenticeship as a paper magician. Ceony had her heart set on being a metal magician, but due to a shortage of Folders is assigned to be Emery Thane’s apprentice. Thane is a loner but teaches Ceony to appreciate paper before being attacked, forcing Ceony to go on a literal journey through Thane’s heart to save him. I enjoyed it but was not expecting the literal and also strangely figurative trip into Thane’s heart and it threw me off.

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  • Ceony – It’s easy to feel sorry for Ceony because she’s so upset over the unfair situation that has led to her bonding for life to paper magic rather than metal magic. I like that Ceony didn’t dwell on it. She got on with her life. She finds joy in cooking meals for herself and Thane and is appreciative of the things that he is teaching her about paper magic. I found Ceony’s complete willingness to risk her own life in order to rescue her new teacher impressive. She doesn’t hold it against him that she couldn’t bond to metal and she tries to understand and befriend Thane.
  • Thane + Ceony’s scholarship – The story of Ceony’s scholarship being canceled and then mysteriously reinstated is highly amusing. I’m glad that Ceony reacted as she did to the situation at hand, even though her reaction lead to the cancellation. I love that Thane witnessed it and decided to donate a scholarship to this girl he’d never met. It shows how kind and thoughtful Thane is and how little he values money.
  • paper magic – Paper magic, also known as Folding, does seem pretty useless and dull at first. Despite attending a prestigious magic school, Ceony really has no idea what the possibilities of paper magic are until she meets Thane. But the things that Thane shows Ceony are amazing. He can use paper to make snowflakes that feel cold, can use it to build a dog that actually acts like a dog, and use it to defend himself. Really the entire world Ceony and Thane inhabit has really imaginative uses for the materials the magicians use.

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  • Thane’s heart – I found the trip through Thane’s heart confusing. Ceony encounters different versions of Thane, as well as many of his most important memories. Each chamber of Thane’s heart is a different emotion (I guess emotion is the best way to put it). One is everything happy, one is angry, and I can’t really describe the others. So, Ceony must deal with Thane’s lifetime of emotions while being pursued by evil magician Lira. Ceony is also somehow physically inside Thane’s heart, squeezing her way through to each new chamber. It was a bit difficult to keep up with where Ceony was and where Lira was in relation to Ceony.
  • Lira’s insults – Clearly, Lira is the villain of this story. That’s hard to miss due to her attack on Thane and her being a blood magician that kills people to use her magic. My main issue with Lira is her insults to Ceony, all of which are based on Lira’s perception that Ceony loves Thane. Lira is Thane’s ex and calls Ceony stupid, taunting her that Thane doesn’t love her. The most objectionable, for me, is when Lira calls Ceony Thane’s whore. I mean, slow down a second. Thane and Lira’s failed relationship is, at least from what we’re shown, all Lira’s fault. Ceony had no choice as to which magician she was assigned to apprentice with. She barely knows Thane. I feel like maybe the world these characters live in promotes Lira’s behavior to some degree, as it is clearly stated that apprenticeships are ideally same-gendered as if no one is expected to behave themselves.
  • Thane’s age – Ceony is 19, almost 20, and I believe Thane is around 30. Maybe it’s just me and my preference for books about teens and young adults, but I had a hard time finding Thane attractive, mainly due to his age. If he’d been maybe 5 years older than Ceony it would be easier for me to see her attraction to him. Also, his purple coat made him sound a bit like a slightly creepy guy who wears a trench coat daily no matter the weather. I do understand that Thane is a very caring man who wants Ceony to be happy despite her disappointment with becoming a paper magician.

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Part of her still held the disappointment of becoming a Folder, but another part felt strange sitting before Mg. Thane now, knowing what he had done for her and not knowing any of the reasons. Knowing that letter she had drafted and redrafted four times to her donor had actually gone to him. No etiquette class or textbook had ever explained to her how to handle a situation like this.      – Ceony   Loc. 303

“I’m going to teach you something I really shouldn’t be teaching you.”

“But given the circumstances,” she urged.

He nodded. His lip quirked. “Given the circumstances. Just pretend to forget it once this is over…if either of us makes it past this.”      – Emery + Ceony     Loc. 2528

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3 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
(His Fair Assassin #1)
Published: 4-3-2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Get the book: AmazonThe Book Depository

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

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Design – Scott Magoon     Photo – Richard Jenkins      Rating – 3/5

That crossbow. We need more girls with weapons and usually it’s a sword but I love that this girl is holding a crossbow and not just standing there in a pretty dress. I like the stormy sky and the way the girl’s hair makes it look like she just turned her head toward some sort of threat. I also like the deep red and the giant no-nonsense title. The castle background is whatever. I wish there was something more interesting in the background.

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I have a lot of feelings about Grave Mercy. This is the ‘assassin nun’ book, as it’s come to be known in the blogosphere. Ismae is fierce and deadly, but she’s also questioning her beliefs and everything she’s been taught about her mission. Ismae has never trusted men, but is teamed up with a guy named Gavriel in order to prevent a war. There’s action, treachery, and a slow burning romance – with a little bit of religious undertones.

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  • Gavriel – Gavriel Duval is one of those wonderful, honorable no matter what heroes. He will stop at nothing to protect Anne from the vile people plotting to either kill or manipulate here in order to gain access to the throne. Gavriel is, very reluctantly, assigned to escort Ismae to the castle and help her be accepted by the court. He constantly questions Ismae’s orders, making her rethink the way that St. Mortain works and the way that the convent serves him. Gavriel visits Ismae’s room each night to keep up the rumor that they are lovers, but never tries to take advantage or make a move on her.
  • the poisoning – When Gavriel gets poisoned, he refuses to leave Anne and takes to hiding in secret tunnels inside the castle’s walls. Ismae discovers that she knows many ways to kill a man, but has never been taught how to heal anyone. Luckily, she slowly figures out that physical contact with Gavriel is curing his poisoning. While I love that Gavriel pushes through to help Anne, I didn’t care for how he is finally cured by sex. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell if sex actually took place in a YA book. Although, I suppose it’s nice that Ismae is using something that the convent taught for the purpose of destruction in a way that’s healing. 
  • Ismae – I loved Ismae from the very beginning of the book, when she’s being horribly abused. Ismae is young and without any allies, but she’s intelligent and mentally strong. She quickly learns how to defend herself, and never hesitates to use her skills to defend others. Ismae grows a lot during this book and in many ways. At the start, Ismae has never met a man worthy of her trust, but she comes to trust Gavriel as they get to know and understand each other. She also begins by unquestioningly following the convent’s orders. Through Gavriel’s curiosity and critiques about her way of life, as well as her own realizations and growing understanding about St. Mortain and herself, Ismae learns to rely on her own judgment rather than those of the abbey. Ismae is disgusted by the behavior of those at court, especially since Anne is such a young girl. In many ways, Ismae has been very sheltered from the world and has never even known why she was killing her targets besides that she was told to. Anne gives her someone to protect and a reason to use her deadly skills for good. She also struggles with wanting to kill certain people whom Mortain has not marked for death. Overall, I really love how much Ismae grew as a person in her journey.
  • religious realizations – Ismae’s training at the convent was almost like brainwashing. They taught the girls to do anything, including have sex, to gain info or lure their targets to their doom. They’re meant to do with without questioning their orders and without having any info about who the person is that they are killing and what they’ve done to deserve death. Ismae has many realizations about the nature of her faith in Mortain during her mission with Gavriel. Ismae is told by the convent to suspect everyone, including Gavriel, the only man who has ever treated her with respect. She comes to realize that the convent can’t possibly know everything, that their word cannot be taken as law, especially when she feels that her orders conflict with her faith and values. I really appreciate the way that Gavriel questions Ismae about her killing orders. He is never rude about it, he simply asks questions and gently prods Ismae toward forming her own opinions. My favorite things having to do with religion are Ismae’s struggle to refrain from killing someone who Mortain hasn’t marked, and her revelations about mercy when someone’s mark disappears.

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  • the convent – While I appreciate that the story began before Ismae was trained in weaponry, I didn’t like the section of the book taking place at the convent. Ismae’s quality of life certainly improved when she arrived there, but the nuns struck me as manipulative and secretive – taking advantage of these girls in bad situations. Ismae’s life at the convent wasn’t very interesting to me. Throughout the book, the convent makes some harsh judgments and horrible decisions, assuming that they know more about the situation Ismae’s in the midst of, even though they are shut up in a convent hundreds of miles away. It sucks that they expect these young women to carry out these death sentences, yet don’t trust them to make their own decisions.
  • god of death – I’m still not entirely sure how Ismae has been chosen by St. Mortain, the god of death. I think all the assassins’ moms slept with this god of death somehow so they’re his daughters? Anyway, Ismae can see the mark of Mortain on people that she’s supposed to kill. There’s a little bit of a faith thing going on as Ismae starts to question things, which I liked. I just found it confusing that there’s this god of death, but it’s not the devil – St. Mortain is a god who somehow has human children.
  • politics is confusing – There are so many different people who are scheming to have influence over the throne, which makes keeping characters straight difficult. The author makes a note that each councilor of Anne’s, save one fictional character, were based on real people who actually betrayed the real Anne. And while the politics and alliances are complex, she also mentions that she simplified it for the book. That’s a lot of politics! Mainly, I found it hard to keep names straight. Someone would be mentioned and I’d have to try and remember which person they were and what they were trying to do.  

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I feel as if we are on a vessel moving inexorably toward some unseen destination. There is no one steering or tending the sails; only the dark tides and currents carry us to their preordained destination.     – Loc. 3440

‘Not too late, not too late’ beats in my breast and pounds through my veins. I do not know if it is a prayer or a plea or a demand.    – Loc. 4804

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4 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)

Timepiece

Timepiece by Myra McEntire
(Hourglass #2)
Published: 6-12-2012 by Egmont USA
Get the book: AmazonThe Book Depository

Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples – cracks in time. Are his powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before he can find out, Jonathan landers, the man who tried to murder is father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want?

In the wake of Landers’ return, the Hourglass organization is given an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he’s stolen on the people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered – with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough…

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Design – Alison Chamberlain     Photo – Lissy Laricchia      Rating – 5/5

I love this cover. The colors are beautiful and I love how the shadows are coming in from both the top and the bottom. These photos are amazing and the perfect choice for this book series.

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So I was surprised that Timepiece was from Kaleb’s POV and not Emerson’s, but I liked Kaleb in the 1st book and it was cool to see inside his head. Things get crazy and complicated really quickly in this book. I mean, there’s a murder in Chapter 2! I found Kaleb to be a surprisingly wonderful narrator and I adore this series.

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  • Lily – It’s so great that Lily got to be more of a main character instead of just being shoved into the best friend role. Lily is smart and sassy. She doesn’t hold back with anyone. She and Kaleb butt heads often because they are both pretty forthcoming with their opinions, but I enjoyed reading about the two of them getting to know each other and getting closer.
  • Kaleb – In Hourglass, we only see a bit of Kaleb, while he’s drinking and crushing on Emerson. Now we get to see what’s going on in Kaleb’s head since his dad’s back from the dead (and so is Michael) and Emerson’s life is spiraling out of control. Kaleb’s power is sensing the emotions of others, but he’s got more than enough going on in his own life. Kaleb starts out drunk and hitting on a stranger while being moody about Emerson being with his best friend Michael. But Kaleb reveals himself to be a deeply caring person, especially in his interactions with Lily and Emerson.
  • twists – The timeline is completely screwed up ever since the events of Hourglass, and Kaleb and his friends are trying to figure out how to fix it. Everyone with the time travel gene, including Kaleb, is seeing ripples from the past now, and they aren’t just a person anymore – they’re entire scenes from the past now. Jack Landers is playing with time and taunting the group. Kaleb doesn’t need provoking since Jack killed his dad, and now there’s the mysterious and deadly Poe who gets on Kaleb’s bad side really early on. The stakes are intense in this book. 

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  • other characters – While Ava had a pretty large part in the 1st book, I feel like Nate and Dune have done nothing important in either book. I don’t remember what their powers are or really anything about them. This is worrying for me because the final book is narrated by Dune. Kaleb had an important part in the 1st book before becoming the narrator of this book, but I don’t have much interest in dune and I’m not sure if he can carry the epic conclusion of this trilogy. 

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“Stay here and stay down. Don’t take any chances. He can’t see you from the stage.”

“He has a gun,” she said from behind me, her voice choked with terror. I could feel it coursing through my fingertips to my brain. “Have you lost your mind?”

“A long time ago.”             – Kaleb + Lily   Loc. 204

We entered the building and approached the science department. I took Em’s arm. “Walk behind me.”

“Kaleb Ballard. That hurts me in my feminism.”

“It has nothing to do with feminism, and everything to do with the fact that a girl is sitting behind the counter,” I whispered, reaching for the doorknob.       – Kaleb + Emerson  Loc. 1609

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5 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)