Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Heir of FireFrom 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?

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This novel, like the others in the series, in indeed very, very good, but it’s also extremely long. Even with series that I absolutely adore, there sometimes comes a time when reading that I tend to zone out a bit, and I’m sorry to say that that did happen with Maas’ third novel, Heir of Fire. Whereas the other novels tend to be a bit more action packed and, let’s face it, shorter, this novel is nearly 600 pages and there is a bit more down time than I personally can handle in a 600 pager. Don’t get me wrong, the novel is fantastic, but there were a few points in the middle where I personally felt like it was just dragging along. Thankfully, Maas would come in a spruce it up a bit with a fight scene or some other tidbit that would throw me right back into the pages with a vengeance, so the downtime was few and far between, but enough that it sticks out in my mind.

Heir of Fire follows four different stories at the same time, all including a new cast of characters to love, which was tons of fun. We are given an indepth look at events in both Adarlan and Wendlyn, following Chaol and newcomer Aiedan as they placate the King of Adarlan, Dorian and newcomer Sorcha as they work together to protect Dorian’s secret, Celaena and newcomer Rowan as he teaches Celaena how to harness her powers, and newcomer Mannon Blackbeak, an iron witch intent on fulfilling her duties to the King of Adarlan before retaking her homeland. I have to say, that out of all of them, Manon’s story was the most interesting to me. It is with Manon that we are introduced to the Wyvern, beasts I liken to a dragonish creature, similar to the black fell beast—sometimes known as a Hell-Hawk or Nazgûl-bird—we see the Witch-King of Angmar and his comrades ride in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As the witch covens fight to tame the Wyverns, Manon seeks to win the games with her coven of 13 in order to lead the vast witch army—a group of cutthroat women who despise the other covens. Though I will admit that some of Manon’s story did feel like it could be cut out—I certainly didn’t need all the background information that was provided—readers will walk away knowing Manon and the Iron Witches quite well, and I am extremely interested to see what happens when Manon meets Celaena as some foreshadowing is at play that has me wondering just where Manon’s loyalties will lie.

Celaena’s story paints her in a much weaker light throughout this novel. In fact, all the characters are painted as weak as this novel unfolds. Chaol is not the same, unable to speak his mind to his best friend Dorian, and even Dorian seeks solace in the most surprising of places. I guess that at some point the strong characters must be portrayed as weak in order for growth to happen, as well as for the plot to thicken, but I found myself losing patience with them as the story unfolded as they continually backed down throughout the novel.

The end, however, was a wake-up slap to the face, and suddenly everyone we love, and I do mean everyone, is in danger, leaving me on pins and needles for the next installment, though I see that right now this series is slated for six novels, and we’ll only be at number four with the next—I do hope Maas picks up the pace in the next segment. Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This title releases today.

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17406847From Goodreads: A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

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If you’re a fan of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series and/or Mulan, then you will definitely enjoy this novel. There are many similarities to both–magic, a sexy prince, an evil empire, the best fighter in all the land is female (unbeknownst to many), and I’m sure the list goes on. Some may say there are too many similarities, and yes, it crossed my mind as I was reading, however, it is vastly different as well, and I just love the idea behind it. It’s very well written; you can’t help but fall in love with the characters and their plight, and the story itself is intriguing. So, even if you’re a little worried that it will be too similar to Sarah J. Maas, I suggest you read it anyway, because it’s epic.

Alexa, or Alex, as it were, is my favorite.  She’s a strong female lead stuck perpetrating a male in an empire that would otherwise cast her to the breeding house.  Forced to hide her identity in order to survive, she has become the top fighter on the prince’s guard.  Those loath to protect the empire that took everything from her, her fierce loyalty to her twin brother and those she’s friended on the guard make her a fierce defender of the crown, if nothing more than to protect her friends and family in protecting the prince.

As the story unfolds, we learn much about Alexa and her life in the guard, but the novel really takes off when the resistance comes to capture the prince.  Captured and taken far from their country, it quickly becomes seen that not all is what it seems, and Alexa is not the only one with a secret.

There is a bit of a love triangle in this novel, but this one is not overbearing, for which I was very thankful.  While I was afraid it would take over the novel, it’s more on the sidelines as Alexa, Ryland, and Damien attempt to figure out how much they can trust one another and those who have kidnapped them.  Truthfully, I thought the characterization was superb, and the story itself was action packed, keeping me glued to the pages.  There were many fight sequences that helped spur the reader on, but just enough romance to also keep it interesting.  I really enjoy this novel, and can’t wait for the sequel. Five stars.

5 stars

Scholastic Press has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel prior to its release on January 7, 2014.

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17167166From Goodreads: An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

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I am always a little bit wary when reading a sequel to a novel I absolutely adored because I have a fear that it just might not be as epic as the first, and I don’t want a novel to fall short of my expectations.  Fortunately, Maas’ second novel in the Throne of Glass series is just an enticing and kick butt as the first!

This is, truthfully, a fantastic book, and Celaena is once again full of surprises.  And, although the synopsis tells us time and time again that Celaena is an assassin, I guess the nature of her job didn’t really hit me until this novel when we actually see Celaena begin to fulfill her duty and go after people who don’t necessarily deserve to die.  The first time she brought a body part to the king for his inspection, I actually was quite mad at Celaena, but rest assured, there is a rhyme and a reason behind what Celaena is doing, and you won’t be shocked or mad at her for long once she lets you in on her secret.  Readers beware, though, a beloved friend dies in this novel, sparking a darker side of Celaena that we haven’t seen before.  It, too, shocked me just a bit, but I found myself rooting for her the entire way, especially as she uncovers a plot far more sinister then she, or the kingdom, even thought possible. And so it goes, surprise after surprise as you read, and I loved every minute of it.  Especially when Celaena does go after the truly bad guys, showing her advanced training and ruthless nature when appropriate.

There is, of course, a little tiny love triangle, but Prince Dorian is more or less by the wayside, giving Chaol more of a chance to shine in this novel.  But both pine for Celaena, and I loved their many interactions.  It always pleases me to see the softer side of Chaol when he’s with Celeana, and they really are the perfect match.  However, I do love Dorian, too… making this a difficult triangle for me to navigate.  But, when all’s said and done, I think I’m cheering for Chaol, but then again, book three might just make me switch sides.

Full of fantasy of epic proportions, readers learn a lot more in terms of Celaena’s background and birthright, and it’s an exhilarating rollercoaster ride as everything unfolds, clearing up one mystery only to shroud the reader in another. This is definitely one to pick up in the bookstore first thing tomorrow!   Five stars!

5 stars

Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release tomorrow.


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