Top 5 Wednesday: Books Featuring Shapeshifters

Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday as hosted by the lovely Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes.

Here’s today’s topic:

October 18th: Books Featuring [paranormal creature of your choice]
–Here is the previously mentioned paranormal creature topic. This topic will revolve around one type of paranormal creature of your choice. So books featuring vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, demons, fae, zombies, etc.

This seems like a fun topic so let’s jump right into it! In no particular order:

5. Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews

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This series has so many paranormal, mythical, magical beings in it, it’s like seriously a free-for-all when it comes down to it. But the shapeshifters I was thinking of were the werecats and other people who can shift into different animals, like Curran who can transform into a lion. It’s a really good adult urban fantasy series so far so I definitely recommend it.

4. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

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Now I know there are shapeshifters in some of these books. I just can’t remember which books and characters haha! But either way, this series has a lot of different magical creatures so take your pick.

3. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

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There’s one character whom I really like that’s a shapeshifter and she kicks ass! She’s very fierce and I love how she really embraces her nature in later books.

2. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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Okay, I’m really only talking about Wolf here, but he’s still a shapeshifter sorta kinda, okay? Plus he’s awesome, so there’s that, too.

1. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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I remember there being one instance of a shapeshifter so far, but there are SO many mysteries in this series and I think there could be a lot more surprises ahead.

Let’s Chat! ^w^

What books do you recommend with shapeshifters in them? What are some of your favorite and least favorite paranormal creatures?

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Empire of Storms Book Review

empireofstormsTitle: Empire of Storms
Series: Book #5 in Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 689
Format: Purchased Hardcover

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

As this is the fifth book, there will most likely be spoilers in this review.

When I first started this book, I knew it was going to be intense. I just wasn’t expecting it to be as intense as it was.

There was so much going on, so much that happened, and my mind was reeling after reading it, trying to comprehend everything that happened, everything that is to come, and so much more. And to be quite frank: I absolutely enjoyed it.

I found that the plot followed a steady stream from where it left off in Queen of Shadows and took a lot more darker turns, a lot more sexual turns, and showed a lot more teamwork, friendship, and hardship. It was one that I found to be full of action – and a lot more devastating action than before. There were heartbreaks and upsets, but there was also hidden joys and bits of happiness that could also be found.

So let’s take a look into the characters, shall we?

Aelin continues to grow stronger in her magic in this book, which I highly appreciate given I wanted more after the last two books from when she really started to hone her skills into the Fire Wielder she is now. Holy crap, she’s powerful, and at times I felt like she was too powerful, but I was also glad to see that even her magic has limits, that even she is susceptible to burnouts, and that she needs to replenish her magic just like all of the others who have magic have to, too. I found Aelin to be more arrogant in this book, even if it was a front sometimes, but I also found her to be more unwilling to share any sort of plans with her comrades. I felt that that was where her downfall was, because then maybe some certain events could have been prevented more, but at the same time, probably not.

Despite having so much arrogance, it’s not that Aelin doesn’t trust her friends with things (she does tell Lysandra some things), but it’s that she feels that if her plans fail that her friends will hate her for it – again, another character flaw, but one that was well done, in my opinion, because her friends got that and understood it (even if they did get a bit mad afterward). She was such a strong, kickass version of herself in this installment, and I need to know what happens to her next because she just got into a lot of shit at the end there. Oh man.

Rowan was ever the protective Fae male warrior who definitely lusted after Aelin a lot, but as those scenes between then grew and grew until they practically burst, I found that I was growing to like it more and more. Even if it was a bit much sometimes. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy what went on between them, but I feel like we lost a bit of the warrior Rowan we saw in Heir of Fire in these last two books. I mean, he still kicks ass and he’s still fierce, and willing to take down a whole arming of ilking if the need arose, but I wanted more of that stern, snarky warrior we once had before.

Manon. Oh, my ever loving heart, Manon. She was phenomenal. She was still cool and calculating, ready to rip peoples’ throats out, but I saw that humanity in her, the one she thought didn’t exist, especially when it came to a brutal decision that was forced upon her and her Thirteen. When she stood up to her grandmother, you bet I was cheering for her. She’s powerful and strong, and cunning, and I love that even though she says she doesn’t need anyone, she really does. I don’t know if she’s truly realized that yet, but she’s definitely a powerful force to be reckoned with and I’m really interested to see how she goes about accepting her bloodline, what will happen next, and if there will be any resolve as a result of it.

ELIDE. FREAKING. LOCHAN. Where the hell were you hiding, girl!? Elide definitely grew on me in the last book, but in this one? Oh, she has my whole heart now, because she just showed so much growth and strength and heart, and I thought that she was just incredible in this book. Not only did she set out on her journey to find Aelin, to do what she could for her queen, but she also showed that she’s not this frail little thing, but she has a fighting spirit. I loved her time spent with Lorcan, strained though it was, and I thought that the two were two sides of the same coin in ways. We got to learn more about her, how she uses her cunning to get through many situations, and that she’s willing to risk a lot for those she cares about. I need more of her in my life. Now.

Speaking of Lorcan, I love him. And yes, I’m totally 100% shipping him and Elide together. Even though he was kind of a jerk at the end and all of that, I want them to be together. He was very hard to crack at the beginning, very serious and hellbent on completing whatever mission he had set out to complete, but as time progressed alongside Elide, I thought that he softened a bit and slowly came to realize that there is more to life than fighting and death and destruction. I think he’ll really try to atone for his mistakes in the next book for sure.

Dorian was so cool in this book (no pun intended). He really got a hold over his magic and I thought that he did really well in learning just what that magic held. He was still kind of a lost puppy at the beginning, but he still proved that he was worth something as the book progressed, and that he was still hurting when a certain scene happened that I feel didn’t really need to happen, but there it was because ohmygodthatsexualtension. Anyway, I thought that Dorian was strong in ways even he didn’t realize, and I really appreciated that.

Aedion and Lysandra just need to get together already. Both of them proved how strong they are in different ways and how far they’re both willing to go for their companions. I found that Aedion was just as protective and hot headed as ever, and that Lysandra was really a cool calm before the storm. They really mixed well and balance each other out nicely, that’s for sure. I love how much potential each of them holds and am anxious to see more of what they’ll have to show in the next book.

As for the rest that happened? Oh, where do I even begin? There was so much more added to the story, and bits and pieces of the story from before we even knew certain characters that was shown and unfurled as the plot progressed. I loved seeing a lot of it and felt that it wasn’t too much or overbearing, but just what the characters needed in that time.

Also, can we talk about Erawan and Maeve? I seriously feel like they’re conspiring together, but both of them are so good at hiding things from everyone around them, I can’t be sure that that’s actually true. And I really don’t like Maeve. At all.

ALSO, all of those characters that came back from the novellas!? I loved that! Seeing Rolfe, Ansel, and the others was just so, so awesome and I hope that they play a bigger role in the next book.

There were just a few things that nagged me and bugged me that happened in the book that is causing this to not be a full five star read for me, and that is the amount of sex scenes in the book. I mean, I’m all for a good sex scene and it being a positive experience for the characters and all that, but I felt like there was just too much of it going on amidst the chaos of the rest of the book. Maybe it was to break up the tension, but maybe it could have been done in different ways. Like, every other character pairing wanted to get into each other’s pants. Chill your hormones.

I’m very interested to see what happens in the last book *insert sobbing here* because there is going to be a LOT of action, a LOT of heartbreak, and I can already feel my heart sobbing in many different ways.

I rate this book 4.75/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’ve read the rest of the series.

Throne of Glass Readalong

IMG_3111I’m hosting my own readalong for next several months! I’ve actually been debating posting about it, but darn it, I’m going to. Also, sorry for the lateness of this post!

So, it’s no surprise that I love the Throne of Glass series. It’s my favorite series, actually, and I wanted to do something fun leading up to the release for the fifth book, Empire of Storms, so I thought I’d ask a few friends if they’d want to join in with me, and then they invited people, and those people invited some people, and now we’ve got a decent sized group doing this readalong! I’m actually pretty pumped because I didn’t think it would turn out to be like this, but hey! Here we are!

This readalong is pretty laid back as you have about three weeks to read each book, and there will be discussions on Twitter after each book.

Here’s the schedule:

June 5th – 25th: Throne of Glass [Discuss on 25th]
June 26th – July 16th: Crown of Midnight [Discuss on 16th]
July 17th – August 6th: Heir of Fire [Discuss on 6th]
August 7th – August 27th: Queen of Shadows [Discuss on 27th]

BONUS: Read one novella from The Assassin’s Blade per book read (so read the first novella along with ToG; the second novella with CoM, etc).

The discussion times will be determined on Twitter, so if you want to join in the group I can add you to the DM message (as long as you’re following me, because I think that’s how the DM system works), and you can also use #ToGReadalong throughout your time reading.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Do you plan on joining in on the readalong? What book are you most excited to read? If you want to join the Twitter group or have any questions, please let me know!

Genre: Fantasy

I love fantasy. I always have, really. Being able to read about another world with people who go through similar or more difficult trials than we do in real life is always fun, and reading about the creatures that are often placed into fantasy books always draws me in, as well.

Fantasy isn’t just constricted to high fantasy though, a term that means that it’s set in a whole other universe that there are few similarities to our world, and can include magic, mythical beings, sorcery, etc.

There is also low fantasy, which includes a tale written in our own world, but includes some form of magic or some other telling aspect that makes it fantasy.

There are more sub-genres of fantasy, but let me focus on those two for now.

High fantasy is my preferred story to read. Not only do I get to read about the characters in that setting, I get to imagine that world that the author created and built from the ground up in their minds. It’s incredible to think about. Imagine having to come up with your own system of magic, landscape, society, culture, etc. It’s mind blowing and it makes me feel kind of giddy inside.

Some books that I would recommend that involve high fantasy are:

  • The “Throne of Glass” series by Sarah J Maas. This is a six book YA fantasy series in which the first three books are out. It involves a kickass female assassin named Celaena Sardothian, an evil king, the king’s son, a royal guard, and lot of forbidden elements that fit into this world of no magic. “What? No magic?” It was banished by the king and as you read you find out why it was banished and how. It’s my favorite series to date, so why would I mention it?
  • The Ice Dragon” & “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin. As very popular books, it only fits to mention this series and a companion novel. Set in a world of royals, peasants, kings, and lots of blood and sex, this series is definitely high fantasy. Not only does it include swords, political intrigue, lots of fighting, etc, it includes creatures that are only seen in nightmares, and dragons. Can’t forget the dragons. It’s a very long series, but it’s engaging. I haven’t finished it yet as I’m still working on the first book. I have read and done a review on “The Ice Dragon.”
  • The Lord of the Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien. As a modern classic this trilogy is an epic fantasy adventure with hobbits, wizards, elves, dwarves, ogres, men, etc. Though I haven’t read the books in their entirety yet, I do plan to this year. I have seen the movies, though, so yay for references!

There are plenty more series I could list, but those give just an example of what high fantasy can be considered as.

Now for low fantasy, I personally think more of these exist than high fantasy, especially in YA. There are plenty of adult high fantasy novels, but there are also low fantasy ones. A few examples are:

  • The Iron Fey” series by Julie Kagawa. Though the setting mostly takes place in faerie, parts of the story take place in the real world, especially when it gets to the second and third book. It’s a story about faeries, a girl who discovers the truth about herself, love, danger, and more.
  • The “Firelight” trilogy by Sophie Jordan. This is a trilogy about dragons and love and the dangers of being a dragon in our world. With the magical aspect of dragons that can change into humans, but are being hunted by humans, it makes for a great low fantasy trilogy to read.
  • The “Vampire Academy” series by Richelle Mead. This series is about vampires (duh) that live in our world, but their society is set apart from ours. There are different classifications of vampires and humans and it includes romance, action, and danger. I haven’t finished this whole series, but I figured I’d still list it.

So those are a few examples of low fantasy books, but there are obviously many more books that include many different situations and everything other than what I’ve listed above.

Now I didn’t include sci-fi in this list because I believe that it deserves its own post, which will be coming soon!

I also didn’t include graphic novels or manga in these lists because there are so many different kinds that I wouldn’t know where to begin… Well, except with some of my favorites, but that’s for another post.

Fantasy is one of those genres that I believe will always flourish because there seems to be a need to escape the real world and reach out to ones that don’t (or might) exist.

What are some of your favorite fantasy books? Do you prefer high fantasy or low fantasy? Series, standalones, trilogies? Let me know in the comments!

Heir of Fire Book Review

heiroffire

Title: Heir of Fire
Author:
Sarah J Maas
Series: Book #3 in the Throne of Glass series
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Genres: Young/New Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 562
Format: Purchased Hardcover

“Heir of Fire” is the third book in the “Throne of Glass” series by Sarah J. Maas, and it is by far, in my opinion, the best book in the series thus far. This book has so much going on in it that not only develops the characters that were already known further, but it introduces and develops new characters, builds on the world, and sets the course for other plot lines that will take place in the series.

It’s hard to not give away spoilers considering this is the third book, but I do want to do my best without doing so (if you want spoilers and for me to talk a little bit about what happens, you can view my video here).

Celaena doesn’t start out as the typical badass that we have seen her be in the past two books, but rather a broken-hearted person after a loss. This actually got to be pretty annoying as it dragged on through the book, but I could see where she was coming from and why she was so upset for so long.

The undercurrents here, though, helped her to fuel her magic and to help her really take control of not just others around her in battle or danger, but also of herself. It was very enthralling to read about, that’s for sure.

Other characters in the book, such as Dorian, Chaol, and new characters, developed throughout the book as well.

Dorian has a secret he must keep from his father in order to survive, as well as try to not hurt or alarm anyone around him.

Chaol is having difficulty picking sides between loyalty from one person to the other. It’s actually quite disheartening how much of a struggle he has.

New characters introduced, such as Rowan, Manon, and Aedion, are all crucial parts to the story and I believe they will each play intricate, and possibly heartbreaking, rolls in the story later on.

Rowan is a Fey warrior who has been given the task of training Celaena in her magic and making her stronger before bringing her to a capitol magic city. He’s stoic and hard to crack, but does open up as time progresses.

Manon is a witch with no heart or soul – or so she’s been told since childhood. She is disciplined and ruthless, but when her eyes set upon something massive, something in her seems to shift, though she doesn’t realize it.

Aedion is, at first, portrayed as an antagonist, but as we learn more about him, he’s definitely fiercely loyal – to the right person. He also has a back story with Celaena that will make you want to go “aww.”

Though that’s really all I can give without spoiling much else, I do recommend this book and if you’re reading the series, definitely continue with it.

I rate this book 5/5 stars.

Accompanying video: Heir of Fire Book Review