Monday, September 19, 2016

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

Summary: 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?

Pages: 689

Release Date: September 6th, 2016

Rating: 5/5 Stars


Empire of Storms was a roller coaster of emotions. I laughed, I cried, and I am pretty sure my heart died. I was not initially connected to the story; however, after a few chapters I was sold on every character's point of view. I have always had mixed emotions about the multiple points of view used throughout the series because I have always favored some characters over others. However, within the first 100 pages I loved every character's journey and I could not wait for everyone's upcoming chapter(s).

I have very little to say that is not a spoiler so I will be keeping this non-spoiler section rather brief. I thoroughly loved Empire of Storms. I could not have asked for a more epic fifth book in this phenomenal series. If you had yet to start the Throne of Glass series or catch up to Empire of Storms, I highly recommend waiting for the sixth book in the series to be released before reading onward. While Empire of Storms was a fantastic addition to the series, the ending was rather brutal and I would recommend reading it when you are able to read the sixth book immediately afterwards. It is hard coming to terms with how it ended and how to survive until the release of the sixth and final book in the series. If you do take my advice and wait until the release of the sixth book, I wish you good luck on avoiding spoilers. I just finished the book two days ago, thankfully without getting spoiled, and when I woke up the following morning, my twitter feed was full of spoilers.

If you would like to read my reviews of the other books in the series, I have a review of The Assassin's Blade, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnightand Heir of Fire

Empire of Storms, and the series as a whole, has the perfect combination of romance, action, and adventure that calls to any fantasy reader. It also contains enough heartbreak and devastation that leaves its fans emotionally drained and depressed. Empire of Storms also brings back some familiar faces that leave you fangirling. I apologize for this review being a hot mess. Like I mentioned previously, I only finished Empire of Storms two days ago, so my emotions and thoughts are jumbled. Nonetheless, I absolutely loved Empire of Storms and I am so glad I am able to add it to my continuously growing Sarah J. Maas collection. 

For those of you who have yet to buy your copy of Empire of Storms, I recommend buying the Target Special Edition. It has a beautiful poster of Rowan and Celaena on the back of the dust jacket and the bonus story is a deleted scene from Heir of Fire following Rowan and Celaena. As a huge Rowan and Celaena shipper, the extra $17 I spent on it was totally worth it. I preordered the Barnes and Noble Special Edition, which is now only available in select stores and it has sold out online. While I did enjoy the fan art and short story, my heart belongs to the Target Edition. I will forever ship Rowan and Celaena. 

I have no idea where to even begin with this review. The ending has forever shattered my poor little heart. I would like to refrain from beginning this review with the most devastating part of the end, so lets talk about Lorcan and Elide instead. I had never expected either of them to ever meet. While I might have imagined them meeting when Lorcan finally confronted Aelin about giving him the fake amulet and Wyrdstone, I never imagined them to be thrown together. While Rowan and Aelin will forever be my favorite relationship of the series, Lorcan and Elide are quickly moving up the list. I fell in love with their relationship and when Elide wrote him off at the end, the remaining pieces of my heart shattered. All Lorcan wanted to do was protect Elide and he ended up loosing her instead. From what I have heard on Twitter and Tumblr, his actions at the end have caused a divide in the fandom. Many people dislike him because he led Maeve to them. While I cannot argue with their logic, I disagree that it was completely his fault. Aelin knew that he sent out a wave of power to summon Maeve and she never confronted him about it. In addition, Aelin's arrogance was what caused Lorcan to send out his signal for help in the first place. If Aelin had simply told her court and the rest of them that the armada was hers, he would have never sent out his surge of power. It is rather ironic that when Aelin arrived at Skull's Bay as Celaena and talked to Rolfe, he mentions how her arrogance led to her enslavement in the mines. Then, later in the book, her arrogance leads her to be enslaved by Maeve.

Even if Aelin had told them about the armada being on their side, the ending still could have been the same. Maeve knew their general location; however, Lorcan allowed her to precisely pin-point them. Maeve could have found them in a matter of days with or without Lorcan's help. The ending could have potentially ended the same either way. Or, the gang could have easily gotten away. Whether the ending was avoidable or not, Lorcan is not entirely to blame for the Aelin's capture. She is also at fault for her capture.

I think it is rather odd that Aelin assumed that her court would simply leave her with Maeve and move on. I understand that she might have wanted to believe that they would leave her due to the risks they would have to take to free her. She could have also been concerned about them not concentrating all their efforts on the war. However, she should have known Rowan would at least come after her. He is her mate and I am pretty sure that even the worst mate in the entire world could not abandon their mate. It goes against the DNA of the Fae. Aelin always mentions about how territorial Fae males are. I do not understand why she would think either Rowan or Aedion would leave her. It goes against who they are and the love they share for her. She should know by now that they would follow her anywhere in either life or death. The reveal of Rowan and Aelin being mates was expected; however, when she discovered they were mates was rather unexpected. Not only did that scene in Queen of Shadows warmed and broke my heart, the fact that she realized they were mates then made the moment even more special. The fact that they got secretly married was totally unexpected. It made her capture even more heartbreaking. I appreciate that she wanted to secure the safety of her kingdom by making Rowan king. It breaks my heart that he does not seem himself as a king though. He simply sees himself as her consort, when he is her mate, husband, king, and the love of her life.

"Timeshe was grateful Elena had given her that stolen time. 
Grateful she had met them all, that she had seen some small part of the world, had heard such lovely music, had danced and laughed and known true friendship. 
Grateful that she had found Rowan. 
She was grateful" 
(Page 665).

Returning to Lorcan and Elide, I loved the progression of their relationship. I was feeling so many different emotions when she told him that he would always have a home with her in Perranth, no matter the time or reason. It broke my heart when he shrugged the idea off because, while the ability for it to actually happen was impossible, the fact she offered it was so moving. When Elide jumped in front of Lorcan to save him, my heart broke. As she bled out and Lorcan told her that he had wanted to go to Perranth with her, my heart continued to break. The interactions throughout their journey left me feeling countless emotions. I am excited to eventually re-read Empire of Storms because I want to relive their happy moments. I am so thankful that they are both physically fine, but the remaining shred of my heart broke when she Elide wrote Lorcan off for causing Aelin's capture. I am interested to see how Lorcan and Elide's relationship develops in the next book since they will be working together to get Aelin back. I hope they can get over the past and look towards the future. They both deserve a happy ending.

I am still curious about what Maeve meant when she said that Lorcan claimed Elide. It is understandable why both Manon and Aelin would have claimed her; however, Lorcan's claim surprised me. I know he has feelings for her, but the term "claim", when referring to Fae males, typically refer to mates. I am curious to see if they are mates because it would explain why they were both drawn to each other. However, Manon had referred to Rowan and Aelin as one another's mate before Aelin revealed that they were. So, I am assuming Manon would have referred to Elide or Lorcan as one another's mate if they truly were. But, Manon could have simply been referring to Aelin and Rowan as mates as a generic term, not as actual mates.

I would like to note that on Tumblr, a theory has been going around that Lorcan might sacrifice himself in the next book. His last name literally translates to "save Earth." While the world in the Throne of Glass series is not considered Earth, I have read enough Sarah J. Maas books to understand that nothing is a coincidence. I do not know how he would sacrifice himself since Dorian and Aelin seem like the only options, but I am curious to see if this prediction is right. 

Another broken relationship is Aedion and Lysandra. While they have not technically become a couple, it was oblivious that they would eventually become one. I hate that Aedion is holding Aelin's plan against Lysandra. She was willing to throw away her remaining life and happiness to pretend to be Aelin to save Terrasen. I can understand that Aedion would be angry for being in the dark; however, he needs to get over it. I know that he would have done the exact same thing if Aelin had asked him to do it. Not only that, but they are currently at war. With the others on the hunt for Aelin or the other Wyrdkey, Aedion and Lysandra cannot be divided. They are the only ones who know exactly what is going on. They must be a united front. He cannot be mad at Lysandra for carrying out his queen's wishes. Like Lorcan and Elide, I hope they can get past their differences and finally get together. Since I also love reliving painful moments, I would also love to mention when Aedion said he wanted to marry Lysandra. She was struggling to stay human and heal after the attack on Skull's Bay and those words were a punch in my heart. It was such an adorable and heartbreaking moment. All of my favorite scenes from Empire of Storms caused me both pain and happiness. What has Sarah done to me?

I love the fact that Manon and Dorian's relationship is the only "relationship" that is still currently together. Although you could argue about them actually being in a relationship, they are the only pair that is in the same location and do not hate each other. When the possibility of Manon and Dorian getting together arose in Queen of Shadows, I was somewhat skeptical of their potential relationship. That was mainly due to the fact that I kind of liked Elide and Manon together; however, I jumped off that ship when Lorcan came around. Manon and Dorian's relationship is probably the most toxic relationship out of the main characters; however, I do like them together. I have nothing against them, but I find it depressing that they could both find strength in one another, yet they just used each other to forget their past. Nonetheless, I am excited to see how their relationship develops in the next book. 

Before the release of the sixth and final book in the series, I am planning on dedicating the entire month prior of its release to re-reading the entire series. While I loved the arrival of characters from The Assassins Blade, I could not remember everything about them and their relationship with Aelin since I read the book over two years ago. I also was not as emotionally impacted when they were on Skull's Bay and Aelin would remember her and Sam being there. In order to have proper closure on the series and its characters, I want to take the time to re-read all of the books. One thing that I was anticipating in Empire of Storms was the arrival of Nox, one of Aelin's opponents in Throne of Glass. I was under the impression from an interview with Sarah that he was returning in book five. I do not know if I confused that with book six or somehow made it up or simply missed his arrival (the ending was rather crazy). Please comment below if you know anything about his possible return, I would love to know!

While Aelin's capture was rather insane, the arrival of everyone that she called in favors from was insane as well. Not only did they just miss the possibility of saving her, but there were just so many armies and navies rallied to fight. As the different people began arriving, I was assuming Chaol would also arrive with help from the southern continent. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I actually enjoyed his absence from Empire of Storms. I have never been the biggest fan of Chaol and after his attitude change towards Aelin in the beginning of Queen of Shadows, I was happy for his absence. While I did grow slightly fonder of him as Queen of Shadows progressed, his absence was appreciated. However, I am excited for his return and what assistance he will bring. I am also glad he was absent because it allowed Dorian to grow on his own. Dorian suffered a lot in Queen of Shadows and while he deserved to have friends to show him the way back into the light, he was able to find his own way back. I understand that Dorian and Chaol are supposed to be best friends, but he has relied on Chaol too much. Chaol is not a magic user and did not have a Valg inside him. If anyone, Manon is better for Dorian to have around because she has been around the Valg and understands magic more then Chaol does.

One of the questions I still have is whether or not Rowan and Lyria were mates. Maeve said that she manipulated them together in order to break Rowan enough to get him to accept her blood oath. But she broke him enough that he was unable to register Aelin as his mate. After re-reading the passage, I am still under the assumption that Rowan and Lyria were never actually mates. No matter the case, Maeve is such a horrible person. Rowan was not even there to hear her entire story of manipulation. I pity that he suffered for so long because Maeve wanted Aelin. He did not live the life he should have. In addition, Lyria did not deserve the life and death she got either. I hope they are able to give Maeve what she deserves when they finally rescue Aelin.

If I am not mistaken, in Heir of Fire, Aelin showed Maeve a clip from the future that showed Aelin as the Queen of Terrasen in front of a crowd of her subjects and Rowan was among her court. If I am remembering that correctly and it stands true, they must make it out alive. I do not want Dorian to sacrifice himself to revive the lock, but I do not want Aelin to do it either. I am assuming she will be the one to do it, but she will manage to survive. Throughout the series, it is mentioned that immortal Fae frequently bind their immortality to their human/mortal mates. We learned in Maeve's speech that Aelin would turn immortal in about five years and she would live for at least a thousand more. Since Aelin's Settling has yet to take place, she is still technically mortal. Although she is not a human, I wonder if Aelin could sacrifice herself and Rowan could bind his immortality to her currently mortal self and save her. I have no idea if binding his immortality could revive her/not kill her, but it seems like it could work since he is giving up however many years he would have left as an immortal. His remaining lifespan would exceed a typical human one, therefore giving her life and allowing them to live out their remaining mortal lives together. Comment below your predictions or what you think of mine. I am interested to read what you guys think.

Every character has struggled and grown so much throughout the course of the Throne of Glass series. While I know that some of the characters will more than likely die in the final book, I hope the deaths will be of the lesser known characters. None of the characters truly deserve to die, but I really want to see the main characters live their remaining life spans in peace. I would love to see other books written about these characters, but I would not want to read them. I want my babies to be safe and out of harms way. More books following them would only lead them into more danger. However, I would love to read a spin-off series following new characters that would feature the original Throne of Glass characters, but not put them in harms way. All good things must come to an end and while I am sad for this series to come to an end next year, I am very excited to finally learn their fates.

(Sarah J. Maas and Me at San Diego Comic-Con 2016)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Blog Tour: The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill + Cat Video

Summary: Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution!

At least that’s the plan.

It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.

Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks

At its core, The Cat King of Havana is a novel that follows a teenage boy who is discovering his heritage and his mother's past in Cuba. He just so happens to be a computer wizard that posts popular cat videos. The Cat King of Havana had so many layers to its story and I highly recommend reading it (You can enter to win a copy at the bottom of this post). Its inclusion of Cuban heritage and Cuba itself was extremely fascinating. In the United States we acknowledge Cuba; however, with our rocky relations, it seems rather taboo. This really opened my eyes to Cuba and its current state. You can read my full length review of The Cat King of Havana here.

For my contribution to The Cat King of Havana blog tour, I have created a cat video. By no means is my cat video the same quality or content as one featured in The Cat King of Havana; however, my household of seven cats inspired me to finally capture at least of one their odd habits on film. Featured in the video is my cat, Holly, playing fetch with her favorite toy in the world: a sugar packet. I know, she is a rather strange cat; however, as my favorite cat, (Shhh, do not tell my other cats that I said that...) I will defend her until the end. I hope you enjoy video and comment below if you have any cats and their weird habits. Also, do not forget to check out the other amazing posts that are a part of this blog tour! You can find the other tour stops listed at the end of this post.

3 Finished Copies of The Cat King of Havana (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tom Crosshill's fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award (thrice) as well as the Latvian Annual Literature Award. His stories have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed. In 2009, he won the Writers of the Future contest. After some years spent in Oregon and New York, he currently lives in his native Latvia. In the past, he has operated a nuclear reactor, translated books and worked in a zinc mine, among other things. 

Tom's young adult novel "The Cat King of Havana" is forthcoming from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins) in 2016.

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:

Week 2:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

ARC Review: The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill

Summary: Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution!

At least that’s the plan.

It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.

Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges (Via

Pages: 368

Release Date: September 6th, 2016

Rating: 4/5 Stars


Aside from the fact that the main character ran a successful website full of cat videos, I had no idea what The Cat King of Havana was about. I was a part of The Cat King of Havana Blog Tour, so I was given an eARC to read and review. If you would like to read my post for the blog tour you can read it here. It touches on a number of deep topics, such as heritage and international relations. In the United States, Cuba seems like such a taboo place because of our rocky relations. It was not only refreshing to visit a different country, it was refreshing to visit a country that I know so little about. The setting of Cuba was both the same and different from New York. The Cuba described in The Cat King of Havana may have seen more poverty and government issues than other countries that are explored in YA novels, but it had so many similarities to our home countries.

I loved Crosshill's voice in The Cat King of Havana. It is hard to say writing style instead of voice because I felt as though I was being read The Cat King of Havana. His style and tone perfectly fits the personality and thoughts of any teenager. I found myself constantly laughing at off-handed comments he would say. Not only was his writing extremely hysterical, it was also relatable. As a sixteen year old I am the same age as the main characters and a majority of the time I felt as though I was narrating the story. Crosshill completely embodied the struggles and tribulations faced by every single teenager.

While I loved Crosshill's writing, the story dragged on at points. Due to the lengthy period of time the story takes place, it was hard to see the end of the story. In the middle of The Cat King of Havana, I began to suffer a reading slump because all I wanted to read was Sarah J. Maas' Empire of Storms. I would have probably enjoyed the novel more if I had not been anxiously awaiting news on the arrival of my copy of Empire of Storms, which has still not arrived. The pace of The Cat King of Havana was great and I became attached to the characters; however, I was still left with a few questions. The book shifted in a different direction about halfway through and it was a territory in which I was not comfortable approaching. It had nothing to do with sexual assault or anything, it dealt with the government and I had myself questioning how realistic it was. 

The Cat King of Havana was a quick and refreshing read that I really enjoyed. The writing and characters were excellent and I found myself relating to both aspects throughout the course of the story. More than likely, I will never visit Cuba so this journey was a great taste of the country, its people, and their culture. I may never walk down the streets of Cuba; however, I felt as though I was walking down the streets of Cuba along side Rick and Ana. I am interested to see what Tom Crosshill writes in the future, his writing is rather addicting. The Cat King of Havana mixes a taboo culture, cat videos, and a love-struck teen in an unforgettable novel that will have leave you questioning your morals. How far are you willing to go to seek justice?