Kingdom of Ash: What I Loved/Disliked – with spoilers obvs

I recently did a review for Kingdom of Ash (KoA), which was non-spoilery. Today, I wanted to go over what I loved and what I didn’t like about the final book in the Throne of Glass series, and there are going to be many, many spoilers. So obviously don’t read this unless you either haven’t read it and/or don’t want it to be spoiled for you.

Loved

1. Manon

I seriously cannot rave about Manon enough. To me she is one of the most intriguing characters in this series, and definitely one of the only characters who *truly* is very grey. While the other characters in this series, like Aelin, talk about how they love killing and how horrible they are, you never really see them do anything to prove it. Manon on the other hand will gut you without thinking, but will also stand up for what is right. She remained true to herself and was an absolute badass. While there was a lot of Manon on KoA, I feel like there could have been more.

2. Yrene Towers

FUCK YES GIRL!!! What an amazing character Yrene turned out to be! Girl goes out and saves the world with her healing powers, which is actually fucking amazing. I haven’t seen many stories in fantasy where the person who saves the world is a healer, most stories usually rely on the hero to be someone who will go into fight with sword and dagger, so it was really lovely to see one of the most humblest characters make a massive difference.

3. Girl Power

Following on from Manon and Yrene, I absolutely LOVED that other than Dorian, the characters who saved the world were all female. The men (or males…pfft whatever), were the sidekicks. I love stories about girls saving the world (as you can probably tell from pretty much every book I read and review), and I was so, so happy that we got some really outstanding female characters as this series progressed.

4. SJM’s improved writing

Man I was absolutely thrilled to see that SJM’s writing had improved sooooo much since her last book (can’t remember which one that would be….Tower of Dawn or A Court of Wings & Ruin). Her wording flowed better, there were less ellipses (…), and she didn’t repeat her words as much. In saying that, there were still very noticeable repetitions of words such as “mate”, “male” and “thrice” (why “thrice”???? What’s wrong with “three”?????????), however they didn’t irk me as much as they have in the past.

5. The Rescue

Aelin’s rescue got my heart racing and my eyes sweating. It was so emotional and heartbreaking to see her so broken and terrified, I will never forget her clawing at her mask and screaming for her rescuers to get it off her. I loved that Aelin was still responsible for her escape and fought to get out, and that she wasn’t a damsel in distress.

6. Elide and Lorcan

I can’t believe how invested I was in this relationship. They compliment each other so well, and the fact that Lorcan would tie his life to hers is just so freaking sweet. I thought it was lovely to see a character who had hardened himself to the world and had become quite bitter, realise that he could love and be loved.

7. Aelin and Fenrys’ secret language

I absolutely loved that Fenrys created their own code so that they could communicate. He is seriously such a gorgeous character, and the amount of care he showed to Aelin was so lovely.

Disliked

1. Sex – or the lack of

Above I mentioned how invested I was in Elide and Lorcan’s relationship. So when things started to finally get moving….they just….stopped. I don’t like when there is meaningless sex every couple of pages, that shit doesn’t appeal to me. However, I want to see the first times or the sex that has meaning and impact. I was therefore soooooooo bummed that we didn’t get that with Elide and Lorcan, along with Lysandra and Aedion. I guess SJM didn’t just want to be writing sex scenes, afterall the ToG series isn’t romance like the ACOTAR series. But still, it would have been nice, especially when we got Manon and Dorian sex scenes which I give zero fucks about.

2. Manon and Dorian’s relationship

Like I said, I give zero fucks about their sex scenes or their relationship. In my head, Manon should have been with a female. Her pairing with Dorian was out of character and there really wasn’t chemistry between them. I have never liked these 2 being together, and never will.

3. The length

I have felt this way about SJM’s books since Empire of Storms. I feel that they are too long and often have too much filler. SJM will sometimes talk about things that we really don’t need to know about, and that is what makes an almost 1000 page book feel like a 1000 page book. That being said, this wasn’t a slow book by any means. I would just prefer if we didn’t get these bits of filler that are there solely for the purpose of a higher word count.

4. The deaths

Naturally, I didn’t like them. I was soooooo sad when the thirteen yielded so that Manon could live and get the witches back into their homeland. I absolutely loved Asterin, she was a beautiful character who stood by Manon regardless, and just thinking about what they did makes me so sad. Gavriel was another shocker, and what absolutely broke my heart was that him and Aedion never got to build a relationship. I was glad that Aedion got to know that Gavriel cared about him though, so his death still had a lot of meaning.

5. The Cameo

This is my BIGGEST gripe with KoA. I am sure soooooo many people loved that Feyre and Rhys made it into this book, and that Rhys actually contributed in a tiny way, towards Aelin’s survival. I, however, found this to be EXTREMELY corny. I absolutely fucking hated it. I don’t care if they are in the same universe or different universes or worlds or whatever. It wasn’t needed. But like I said, I acknowledge that there are a lot of fans who would have really loved and appreciated this.

6. Fae wolves…fae and wolves?

This was such a last minute addition to the story that I honestly didn’t see the point in it. It was used as this way to get back at Maeve….who didn’t even care because it didn’t affect her, but Erawan. And I don’t even remember learning anything about them in the books, so I was trying to remember who they fuck they were. And why bring them in just as the war is finishing? Like, people have been dying for days and weeks, but sure, bring them in in the last 5 minutes when there is nothing left for them to do. Meh….I really didn’t care for this part at all.

*****

I really had to think quite hard about the things that I didn’t like about this book. There were a few things that I obviously really didn’t like, but compared to my overall feelings of the book they are nothing. I absolutely loved KoA, like I said in my review, and I honestly can’t wait to reread it again.

Have you read KoA yet? What did you think? Do you agree/disagree with any of my likes/dislikes above? Let me know in the comments section below!

Steff xx

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Q & A with Poet Elisabet Salas

Back in August, I did a review of the Chaos inside Me by Elisabet Salas. I absolutely adored her poetry, and seeing as her book comes out THIS WEEK (8 November 2018), what better time than to do a Q & A!!

To purchase the Chaos inside Me from Amazon, click here.

the Chaos inside Me

the chaos inside me

the Chaos inside Me, is a journey of self discovery. It is a story about owning the emotions that live inside the heart and the head. It is the cathartic experience of pain and loss but also the bittersweet feelings of joy and the complexity of beauty.
Elisabet expresses the unraveling of herself and the complexity of emotions that stemmed from heartache, her own mental health and the struggles of growing up and into a world with no precedence for a first generation child. This is the accumulation of three years of tears and long nights figuring out that chaos isn’t always a bad thing.
  

 

Q & A

1. Firstly, tell us a little about yourself

This is always such a hard question to answer but I’m Elisabet and I’m a first generation Mexican-American, I’m the oldest of 3. I live and have lived in SoCal all my life. I’m also a US Army Veteran, I served 2yrs before I was discharged after a knee injury. I’m currently attending college. I have a husky named Bella. I’ve been actively writing for 4yrs now. I love to travel and am a fan of vintage/retro styles. i think that’s it. Wow who am I!?! Haha

2. I know you’re a big reader, what is your favourite genre?

I am willing to read most genres but the one nearest and dearest to my heart is Romance, it’s what started my reading addiction. I always go back to them, they make me feel so good! But I do also love Fantasy and Sci-fi.

3. What are you currently reading?

At the moment I’m currently reading Bright We Burn by Kiersten White and listening to Dracula- Very Spooky month appropriate. I’m also about to start the newest Tessa Dare book.

4. What is your favourite book of all time?

If you know me, you may already know the answer to this… but to no one’s surprise the Red Rising Saga by Pierce Brown, and if I had to choose one book specifically it would be the second book, Golden Son.

5. When did you first get into poetry?

Actively- after my first semester in college, so the fall of 2014. After my first English class( Thank you Professor Henry) it opened something inside me and words came. I think it made me realize that poetry wasn’t strict or that you had to follow rules and it allowed me to remove those restrictions.

6. Do you have a favourite poet? If so, who?

Favorite poet, hmmm I have a few but the original one is Charles Bukowski. After reading his work and learning about him, I was in. He’s someone I go back to a lot. But presently Gretchen Gomez, Yesika S. Rupi Kapur to name a few.

7. Do you have a favourite book of poetry? If so, what is it?

My favorite work is “You get so alone at times it just makes sense” by Charles Bukowski. I go back to it when I feel empty. I think it’s a nostalgic thing. It was the first poetry book I ever bought.

8. Who is your favourite book character of all time?

Ahhh another hard one. I love all my children but if I had to choose, Darrow from Red Rising, Elias from An Ember in the Ashes and Nina from Six of Crows.

9. What are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on a crime drama/historical fantasy (what a mouthful, try saying that 3x fast). As well as a second poetry collection (wiggles eyebrows suggestively)

10. What authors do you love to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on your writing?

I love so many authors, but Sabaa Tahir, Pierce Brown, Tahereh Mafi, the duo known as Kit Rocha are my super favorites. Books that have had a strong influence, Red Rising, AEITA, Shatter Me, Vicious, And I Darken. The world building and voices are epic. I want to write that well some day.

11. What inspired you to write the Chaos inside Me?

I guess I was inspired by my need to feel less alone. I get stuck in my head a lot and it makes me feel like I’m in a box, this book helped me feel less like that.

12. What made you decide to publish your poems? Was it an easy decision to make or did you have to think it over for a while?

Coming to the decision to self publish was difficult. It took me about a year to finally say, ‘ I have to do this.’ I decided to do it for me, and sometimes that’s the hardest reason too. I felt like I needed to, that it was something I wanted, but I did mull over it for a long time before deciding to go for it. Sometimes it still feels like a bad one.

13. How long did it take you to write the Chaos inside Me?

The book itself took about 6 months to put together completely ( getting the poems together, organizing them, editing them, rearranging, adding deleting things). But the poems themselves ranged from a few months ago to about 3 ½ yrs ago since I wrote them.

14. Did you have a process when writing your poems?

I don’t really have a process for poetry. Most poems come bursting out of me. Others start off as repeating phrases, that play on and on until I write them down. Some are just words that don’t quite make sense because I’m rambling and I have to go in and find them. So I guess they just happen, bad answer I know but it’s the truth.

15. What period of your life do you find you write about the most?

At the beginning I wrote a lot about my first heartbreak and the time after I came home from the Army. Everything seemed to be happening at once and seemed to be crumbling in on me and I had to figure out who I was so I wrote it all down. Mostly I write about how I feel at any given moment that feels impactful enough to me. Sometimes it’s happiness but mostly it’s when I feel overwhelmed with life or a situation or my own feelings about something.

16. What made you come up with the title?

The title was a series of fails. It took so long to have a title that fit. Mainly because the theme for the book was never a single one. Everything was messy and unorganized and just blah. I had just written ‘the beginning’ and the word chaos just kept repeating itself and I told my friend how Chaos lives inside me and ta da the title wrote itself.

17. What are the 3 poems in this book that you are the most proud of writing, and why?

Oh this one’s is hard! Hmmm ‘Mysteries and Galaxies’, ‘Hurled Bombs’ and ‘pedestals are for myths’ definitely. But there are so many that I’m so proud of because I was like damn that’s in my head. This book was a series of that!

18. What style of poetry do you prefer?

Freestyle or free verse 100%. I’m super bad at proper structure. It makes my work feel fake.

19. Did you have any goals when you wrote the Chaos inside Me?

My biggest goal originally was finishing it and being able to say I wrote a poetry collection. Now I just want it to reach people, I want to know that I’m not alone, that we aren’t alone. Aside from that, I don’t wanna get too ahead of myself. I just want the people in my life to know I did it!

20. Is there anything else you would like to mention about your book that we haven’t discussed above?

Just that I’m super proud and anxious and excited for it to be out in the world. It was such a labor of love it feels like it’s an actual baby. And I guess finally that this book is about pain and discovery and turmoil. It’s my truth and my reality, its a book about learning in a way, so I hope the world likes it even a little bit.

Further Info

Elisabet Salas

Elisabet Salas is a Mexican-American writer currently based out of Southern California, where she lives with her family and dog. When she’s not working on various novels and projects she’s up all night reading or marathoning a new tv show while consuming her weight in coffee and french fries.

For Goodreads profile click here.

To purchase the Chaos inside Me from Amazon click here.

 

 

five-stars

A Review: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

2 long years we waited, following the dramatic cliffhanger from Empire of Storms. So, did Kingdom of Ash disappoint? NOPE!!

Title: Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7)
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish date: 23 October 2018

Kingdom of ash

Aelin Galathynius has risked everything to save her people – but at a tremendous cost. Locked in an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must use all her fiery will to endure the torture inflicted upon her. If she yields to Maeve she will doom everyone she loves, but her resolve is beginning to unravel…

With Aelin imprisoned, her friends must go on without her. Some bonds will deepen, while others will be severed forever. But as destinies weave together at last, all must unite as Aelin fights to save herself – and the promise of a better world.

 

 

My Review

Over the last two years I have had mixed feelings about Kingdom of Ash (KoA), and this was based on a few factors. Firstly, KoA kept getting moved further and further into the future, which made me worried that SJM had either lost interest or didn’t even know where the final book was heading. We then had Tower of Dawn, a book about Chaol that I gave zero fucks about – although I actually ended up liking it, mostly because of Yrene. And finally, we got A Court of Wings and Ruin which was a hot mess with an endless array of problems, from the writing to the bi rep of one of the main characters, it was just one big disappointment. So yeah, by the time KoA came out I was excited but also really dreading it.

BUT….I have to say that I absolute LOVED it!!!!!!!!!

This book was emotional from the very start. I found some parts hard to read because of the bad things happening to Aelin, and everything just felt so….hopeless. It had me rushing through the pages to get to the point where there was some sort of resolution. It was dramatic, sad and absolutely heartbreaking watching what Aelin went through, I have never been so anxious from a book before.

“Once upon a time, in a land long since burned to ash, there lived a young princess who loved her kingdom…”

Once again however, Manon was my FAVOURITE character in this book and remains one of my favourite characters of all time. The amount of growth this character has had since Heir of Fire is absolutely astounding, and it feels weird to say this about a fictional character, but I’m just so PROUD of her. She is an amazing, complex character, and I would honestly totally love to read a book just about her and Abraxos.

Oh and Lysandra? She is such a fucking badass, she definitely doesn’t ever really seem to get the credit she deserves.

“She was done making herself appear nice for men who she had no interest in being nice to”.

I’m still NOT a fan of Manon and Dorian’s relationship. Like…..WHY?!?!? Manon DOES NOT need Dorian!!! I honestly feel like SJM put them together because she can’t handle characters not pairing up. It honestly would have felt more true to character if Manon ended up with another woman or even just on her own. Why does EVERYONE need to be in a couple???

I feel that SJM’s writing has improved ALOT since ACOWAR. While there are still things about her writing style that irk me, overall I didn’t feel as annoyed this time round. She still repeated words alot (i.e. Mate; thrice; males…) but because her writing was better they didn’t bother me as much.

At 980 pages, KoA was SJM’s biggest book so far. Did we need all 980 pages? Hmm no I don’t think so. Sometimes SJM gets stuck on some of the less important details that we really just don’t need to know or care about. The jumping between character PoV’s can also make things a bit chaotic, however I definitely appreciate these more after reading ACOWAR where we were stuck with just Feyre’s PoV and it really restricted the story.

I absolutely LOVE how it was the women in this series who ended up saving the day. They all played such important roles, and it didn’t all just fall on Aelin. It made me so ridiculously happy to see characters like Elide and Yrene making a difference. They are both such strong characters, they were just such a joy to read.

“Two women, in the end, who had bought them all this moment. This one shot at a future”.

Overall I adored this book. I am so glad that SJM ended up extending the release of KoA, because she was able to make this book something to be proud of. While I walked away from the ACOTAR series with a bitter taste in my mouth, I am walking away from ToG feeling happy and ecstatic that Aelin and her friends got the conclusion they deserved.

5/5

five-stars

 

 

 

Why I love female characters more than male characters

I have been told by quite a few people that I tend to like the same sort of main characters. They are pretty much always female, they are pretty much always stabby and they generally rise up out of the ashes like phoenixes. There is a reason why I tend to fall for these characters time and time again, and the answer is simple:

I fucking love women.

To me, women are amazing, strong, incredible beings. They don’t need to be a brute, have big muscles or be an alpha in order to show their strength. And when they are up against the odds, they are also up against men who don’t think they can do it, which is an added factor when they are against a foe.

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Here are a few things that I absolutely adore about women characters, and why I consider them to be my favourite:

They are strong

Every female is strong and in different ways. Even the most villainous of women exude strength in a way that men don’t. I use Cersei as an example. She is cunning, cruel and ruthless, but behind that is a woman who knows exactly what she wants and how she is going to get there. She has most men quaking in their boots because they know she will use them as collateral. And behind all of this is a mother bear who absolutely dotes on her children. She is one tough cookie and someone you don’t want to fuck with.

When I talk about strength I don’t just mean women like Cersei. There are female characters with a quiet strength, who lend that strength to other characters who need it. Look at Yrene Towers from the Throne of Glass series. She is a healer and has been through hell. She is quietly spoken, but stands up for herself and the people she loves.

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They are emotional

How many times have you heard people say that a woman can’t be a leader because she is “too emotional”? I know I have heard it too many times, and it makes me wonder how that can be something that is a bad thing. Putting emotions behind decisions obviously isn’t going to always be a good thing, but isn’t always going to be a bad thing either. Emotions are what make someone passionate, sad, scared, happy. Emotions aren’t a bad thing people. No emotions = Donald Trump.

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They are resistant

Women get back up time and time again, regardless of what is thrown at them. Like I said at the start, when women are up against a foe, that isn’t their only struggle. They are also up against people on their own side, doubting them because they are female. It is fucking exhausting, disheartening and anger-inducing, but women bear it, because they have to.

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They are beautiful

Every. Single. Woman. All beautiful. Regardless of skin colour, hair, eyes, mouth, body etc. they are each and every one of them beautiful and amazing.

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As I have said in previous posts, this isn’t a “hating on men” post. There are ALOT of male characters I love and for different reasons, but there is just something about female characters that makes me giddy. I will always pick up a book where it has a female lead, I am drawn to them. And it is for the reasons above that I will always, always, be in love with female characters.

Steff xx