Tower of Dawn | Spoiler Talk

[WARNING: Do not read if you haven’t read Queen of Shadows (QoS)Empire of Storms (EoS) or are planning to read Tower of Dawn (ToD).]

After I finished reading ToD last month, I realized that I personally would have been fine having skipped that book and just spoiling myself in preparation for the final installment of the Throne of Glass series. Although, I think it is skippable, I do not know how important Chaol, Nesryn, or any of the new characters will be in the final book, which is why I attempted to pull out the most important tidbits from ToD and share them in this post.

There a few reasons why I don’t think ToD was worth the time or money that I will detail below before I jump into the spoilers.

  1. Before jumping into this book, I already despised Chaol and was indifferent to Nesryn, and nothing about this book changed my opinions on them. If you like these characters, you might find this book a worth while read and in which case I recommend not continuing to read this post!
  2. This book was just too damned long. It took forever for me to read because there was just so little happening in the first part especially. Most of the time with SJM books, I have found the pay off in the end worth continuing on. But in this book, I’m not sure any of the revelations justify the time wasted trying to finish the book, unless you’re a die-hard Chaol fan.
  3. Finally, I don’t think that this book illustrates how far SJM has come as a author. I’ve read almost every book she’s written at this point (I still see no reason to pick up The Assassin’s Blade). I know this is an unpopular opinion but Throne of Glass was horrible. It was so derivative of other popular YA novels and Celaena was one of the worst Mary Sue’s I’ve ever seen disguised as an assassin. But I’ve kept reading. And since Heir of Fire and A Court of Mist and Fury, I’ve had complete faith in her ability to churn out great rollercoaster books.

That being said, I have no doubt that ToD was just filler book. She’s been publishing two books per year and this year it caught up with her and she had to publish something this fall. I don’t fault her for it and I don’t fully regret reading this book. I just feel like writing this post will make have made the experience worth it.

Quick Recap

I’m not going to summarize the entire book; that would take forever. I just want to set up the novel before I jump into the spoilers I think will be important to know/remember to ready for the final book.

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Set during the events of EoS, ToD opens with Chaol & Nesryn having reached the Southern Continent at Antica where they travelled to in order to find someone who could heal Chaol after his accident at the end of QoS which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Antica is known the world around for their healers, second only, perhaps, to the Fae healers of Wendlyn.

They were also charged to act as diplomats and convince the khagan to join Adarlan and Terrasen in their war against Duke Perrington (aka Erawan)’s forces in Morath. Unfortunately for them, the khagan recently suffered the death of one of his children and the family is in mourning that renders any war negotiation inappropriate. Therefore, Chaol & Nesryn must cosy up to his remaining children who are nearly all vying to become the heir to the khaganate.

Now that we’re all caught up, I’ll proceed with all the spoilers you’ll find necessary if you plan to read the seventh and final book in the Throne of Glass series, which still does currently not have a title and is tentatively slated for a Fall 2018 release.

Spoilers

#1 Chaol and Nesryn, who are friends with benefits at the beginning of the novel, find new lovers.

Chaol falls in love with his healer, Yrene, who is the unofficial heir to the position of Healer on High. She is eager to leave Antica in order to help her homeland of Fenharrow in the war. She also hates Chaol as the former Captain of the Guard to the Adarlan king who slaughtered and enslaved her people. So naturally she falls in love with him while he’s all broody about his disability and his wavering loyalty to Nesryn.

Nesryn, meanwhile, grows close to Prince Sartaq who commands their country’s army of ruk riders. The ruk is an enormous eagle-like bird that just might stand a chance against the witch’s wyverns. In ToD Nesryn joins Sartaq as he investigates who is abducting ruk eggs. In a moment of fear that he might die, he reveals he loves her and the book ends with Sartaq as the presumed heir to the khaganate, even after he’s revealed his feelings for Nesryn.

#2 Magical healers may hold the key to saving people whose bodies have been invested by the Valg.

Yrene discovers by healing the dark magic that lingered in Chaol’s back preventing him from being able to walk how her own healing power may be used to combat people who have been completely taken over. Her suspicion is tested and proven at the climax ToD when they discover a Valg has been impersonating khagan’s pregnant daughter Duva.

Yrene and Chaol also suspect that Maeve and Valg are aware of the strength of this power, which explains why the Valg hunt Yrene throughout the novel as she tries to learn the root of the dark magic lingering in Chaol and why Maeve has kept the Fae healers (and secret source of the healing power in the Southern Continent) so close to her.

#3 Aelin’s evil Fae aunt Maeve is not really her aunt but a freakin’ Valg princess.

That’s right. Maeve is a Valg princess who is the reason the Valg princes turned their sights on this world. She ran away from them and they came looking for her, which is the cause of the first great war. And because of her powers, she was able to trick the most powerful Fae in this world Mab & Mora that she was their sister.

This all is revealed by a chatty stygian spider while she holds Nesryn and Sartaq prisoner. These spiders, which (according to the Throne of Glass wikia) were introduced in Heir of Fire, are revealed to be Valg handmaidens to Maeve, guarding the portal to the other world from which they came. (If you remembered these spider things, props to you! I certainly did not. I laughed out loud when they were introduced at a pretty serious moment.)

End Note

If you’ve read this book yourself and think I have neglected to note any important spoilers feel free to let me know & I might add them to my list along with a link to your blog in thanks! Also feel free to let me know if I got anything wrong or if  you think that ToD was worth reading. Although I wouldn’t have minded skipping this one, I still rated it three stars on Goodreads because it was enjoyable at times. But I do also wish I had used my time to read books I know will be so much better.

Thank you for reading!
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October ’17 TBR + Goals

I was hesitant to make this post, especially considering how busy I’ve been and how I’d like to use as much as possible of my time working on writing this month. Nevertheless, October is my favorite month, and there are a bunch of books that I think would be perfect reads for this time of year!

For this month’s TBR I have a list of books from which I will most likely pull my reads, but I by no means hope to attempt to read all of them! That would be madness, and highly unadvisable if I want to get anything else done this month. I’m hoping to read at least three

 

[In no particular order]

  1. It by Stephen King
  2. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales & Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
  3. White Cat by Holly Black
  4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  5. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  6. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Goals

#1 Prioritize the blog each week. Last month I let the blog slide as I got busier with work and wanted to spend more time reading to finally catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, which I did manage to finally do after months of being behind!

#2 Get my grad school application materials organized. Last month I decided I definitely still wanted to return to grad school for my doctorate. I want to be prepared well in advance of my deadlines so that I’m not in a panic when everything’s due (likely around December). This will entail asking for my letters of recommendation, tidying up writing samples, and likely writing some personal statements.

#3 Be ready to kick NaNoWriMo 2017’s butt. It’s been three years since I won, and I want this year to end my losing streak!

End Note

I’m hoping to have a writing-related post up this week on Wednesday. I Skyped with my writing buddy last night and her excitement for her story revived my own so I’d like to start dedicated more time to it after work. Fortunately my next full day off work is Wednesday so I’m hoping to get a lot done then, including some blog posts. So hopefully I will see you then with my next post!

Thank you for reading!
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September ’17 Wrap Up

I’m in a bit of a hurry as I write this post, but I wanted to make sure I start it before I go to work for the day so it’s not hard to finish up tonight! I must say, I’m really proud of myself as I read a lot this month and have finally caught up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge! I’ve now read 26 of the 36 book challenge I set for myself at the beginning of the year. Now I just need to keep it up!

I’m also really excited to wrap up this past month because it’s one of the first times that I ever stuck entirely to the TBR list I set for the month! I read four of the five books I listed in my September ’17 TBR + Goals post.

  1. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (★★★)
  2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (★★★) – Reviewed!
  3. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (★★★★★)
  4. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (★★★)

My favorite read this month was without a doubt The House of the Scorpion. I first read this book in middle school, probably in 6th or 7th grade, which was a while ago for me. I remembered it being one of the most powerful books I ever read at the time and I was happy to find that it holds up; it’s fantastic. It was also great that I didn’t remember much beyond the premise, so I was at the edge of my seat (metaphorically speaking) for most of the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone no matter your age. It gives you a lot to think about.

My least favorite read was definitely Tower of Dawn. I didn’t enter this book expecting too much and moderately enjoyed it. I had never much liked Chaol, or Nesryn for that matter who always seemed like such a “filler” character. And despite all the reviews I’ve read saying this book ruined Chaol for readers who had loved him, it is pretty much still the same guy in opinion. I’ve already found him broody and stupidly loyal without anything driving him to make him interesting.

Despite my dislike of Chaol and Nesryn going into this book, it wasn’t a horrible read. Nesryn’s storyline was actually pretty cool and I would’ve loved a lot more of her adventure and less of Chaol’s healing drama. The book just went on too long and had very little pay off by the end for me. There are a few reveals that make this book worth reading if you plan to finish off the Throne of Glass series as I do, but I think it’d be sufficient to just spoil yourself if you don’t want to waste time reading this installment.

If I have the time and energy later this week, I might do a spoilers post for anyone who’s interested (and for myself so I remember everything by time the last book rolls out)!

End Note

Tomorrow I hope to have my TBR + Goals for the month of October, but we’ll see. I don’t want my emphasis to be on reading this month, so I’ll likely not push myself to read much more than the three books I need to stay on track with my 2017 goal. Other than that, I’m not sure what else you can expect. My next full day off is Wednesday so I’m looking forward to getting a lot more done then.

Thank you for reading!
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Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

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Released: August 29, 2017
Pages: 384 pages (hardcover)
Theme(s): Friendship, diversity, humanity, good vs. evil, loyalty, honor, war
Genre(s): YA / Comics
Age Group: 10+

★★

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

My Thoughts

In this book we meet Diana, the daughter of clay who longs for glory and to be an equal to her sisters, the famous female warriors throughout history who called out to a deity before their death and were deemed worthy to enter the utopia of Themyscira. As she is racing to prove her capabilities to her sisters she hears a call for help at sea and, despite her better judgement, answers it.

After finding that Alia, the girl she saves, is not just poisoning her land (for no mortal may step foot on Themyscira) but also the next warbringer who is descended from Helen of Troy herself. Thirsting for glory, Diana decides to go on a quest to cleanse Alia of her curse and keep the world from spiraling into chaos.

What I Liked

I loved the mythology of this book! I don’t know how much of it existed before or how much of it was Bardugo’s contribution, but it makes a lot more sense to me than that presented in the recent Wonder Woman (2017) movie staring Gal Gadot. That the women came from all over the world by the grace of so many deities made it inclusive in a way that made me so happy.

I also loved that Bardugo took advantage of the opportunity to make this book so celebratory of diversity and diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Alia is half-Greek/half-black and super smart. As we get to know her, we see how her parents raised her to aware of how people may treat her because of her brown skin but also to be proud. Bardugo also avoids tokenism by including a cast of diverse friends in form of Theo and Nim, characters who brought so much humor and heart to the story.

On the subject of friends, I loved how this book celebrated the power of friendship and choosing your tribe. While many YA novels these days make romantic relationships integral to the protagonist’s storyline, this one has friendship at the heart. Yes, there’s some romance in it; but more important is the bond between friends that Diana forms with Alia and her friends. In this book, it’s because of friends that Diana sees the good worth saving in humanity.

What I Disliked

I can’t really fault this book at all. The onus is on me; this kind of book just isn’t really my style. It wouldn’t have been something I picked up if it wasn’t written by Leigh Bardugo who is one of my favorite authors. I also wasn’t the biggest Wonder Woman fan beforehand. While I do love Bardugo’s Diana tremendously, I’m not sure I’d like her written by anyone else.

While I can appreciate what Bardugo has accomplished in this book, it doesn’t really change the fact that I’m not a big fan of stories where the protagonist and antagonistic forces are so disconnected. Saving the world for the sake of saving humanity is the such a basic and boring plot to me. There were some surprises though!

Have you read Wonder Woman: Warbringer? What did you think?

Thank you for reading!
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September ’17 TBR + Goals

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If August was the month of rereads, September is going to be the month of new releases, or new purchases! At least for the most part. I do not expect that I will want to burn through all my new books super quickly, especially as I want to get back into the process of spending time recording my thoughts on the books I read. So I will try to intersperse older books that I should have read a long time ago too.

I also want to make sure I’m doing other things this month too, so I’ve spent some time thinking about other goals I have that like to get done this month beyond reading so that I can share them with you, for accountability purposes. ^_^

TBR

I’d be happy if I read just six books this month, especially if the rest of my free time is spent writing and blogging. But today I want to share the books that are at the top of my TBR for this month.

 

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen (which I wanted to read for #MakeMeRead in August)
  2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (which is a new release by my fav author)
  3. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (which is the latest installment in the Throne of Glass series)
  4. The House of the Scorpions by Nancy Farmer (which is technically a reread but it’s been over 10 years since I read it)
  5. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (which is one of my latest purchases that I ended up deciding I wanted to have after reading Maus I last month)

Yes, I’m only listing five books above. But that’s because I want to keep my TBR open for whatever books I may not know I will want to read this month. I have a few other books that have been on my mind for a few months now, but they’re ones I want to save for the right time. Ya know?

Goals

Last month in By the first day of fall… I shared three goals that I wanted to accomplish by September 22nd, the first day of fall. Those goals still stand, and I believe I’m currently making good progress on all of them. But I have some other things I want to do this month that I also thought I’d include here.

#1 Publish one book review per week. I’ve long wished to make Thursday a day reserved for book reviews. I’m really going to start prioritizing these posts after this weekend so that they begin rolling out each Thursday. The reviews will include a summary, notes on the format, my thoughts on the story, a list of similar or somehow related books, and my recommendations for who I think would enjoy reading it. I will include what I gained from a writer’s perspective, as I read because I want to write.

My promise to you and, more importantly, to myself is that I will only review books I think are worthy of the time I will put into them and that I think should be shared. So I hope you will enjoy these posts! I know book reviews are not the most popular posts so I hope that anyone who by chance clicks upon one of them will be enchanted by my spin on them.

#2 Write at least 2k words every day I do not have work. I get about 2-3 days off each week, though, they are not the same days each week. In an effort to begin giving myself some structure, I want to start mandating a word count goal that will whip me into shape for NaNoWriMo. I’ve begun to slack on writing with my efforts to catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, and while that’s been valuable, it’s time to switch gears and gain more balance. So hopefully 2k words is a challenge that is achievable. I want to write these words even if I feel like they’re crap and will never be included in the first draft. It’s just exercise.

#3 Research doctorate programs in which I am interested. I’ve been debating my original idea to apply to doctorate programs for the next academic year. I still would love for that to be my next big move, but I want to make sure I’m choosing the right program that will get me where I want to end up. So I want to investigate my options, even the most wild ones. That way I will have plenty of time to work on my application by December, which I think is the time most schools open for submission.

#4 Apply for five jobs. Yes, I have a job. But it’s not one that was ever meant to be long-term. It’s nice to have so that I’m not doing nothing and have a little money coming in, but it’s not going to help me get rid of my debt. It’s a job that will help me survive, but not thrive. So I want to apply for at least five jobs more befitting my academic background and skill set. I’m not in the biggest hurry to leave my parents house, but if I can get a good job that isn’t here, I’m prepared to take it. I feel like I’m in limbo right now.

#5 Finalize a theme for Betwined Reads. Last week I created a fun collage to use as my blog logo, but I still want to create something completely of my own mind and creativity. I love playing around with the design and theme of the blog, but I’m hoping by the end of September I will have something set to use for the rest of fall all the very least.

End Note

All right! I’m feeling pumped for the month. How about you?! The next posts you can expect to see here are my next installment of my revived writing feature Novel Progress (see first post here) on Wednesday & a book review for Vassa in the Night on Thursday. From then on, we will see!

Thank you for reading!
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August ’17 Wrap Up

I cannot believe how much I accomplished this month, especially as August is typically such a blah month. This month I was able to almost catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge by reading a grand total of EIGHT books! I’m not sure the last time I’ve read so much, but I’m still two books behind schedule. I’m less stressed out about it and am confident I’ll be completely caught up by the end of September.

I think I have definitely gotten my reading mojo back. I did a lot of rereading this August, but I think it’s good to reread. You pick up more than you might’ve upon the first read a book, and I think each time I return to an old favorite I’m a slightly different person. So even if I know what’s going to happen in a book, I am thinking about how my thoughts have changed between readings. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any drastic ones this time around!

What I Read

  1. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (★★★½)
  2. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi (★★★)
  3. Maus I by Art Spiegelman (★★★½)
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (reread) (★★★★)
  5. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (★★★★★)
  6. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (reread) (★★★★★)
  7. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (reread)(★★★★★)
  8. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (★★★★★)

It’s hard to choose a favorite book that I’ve read this month, as I read somewhat diversely and was more than pleasantly surprised at quite a few of my reads this month. I already knew I loved We Were Liars, and that did not change; I was as supremely moved as I was the first time I read it. I think I have to go with Vassa in the Night. I haven’t had a chance to put my thoughts into words, but it was so strange and so beautiful. I really loved the updating of a Russian fairytale to urban Brooklyn and all the diverse characters. I plan to write a book review of this book as soon as possible.

This month I also acquired a lot of books! You can see a full list on my post A Book Haul of eBooks and Fairytales, which went up earlier this week. Vassa in the Night was one of my new purchases, and some of my upcoming reads will no doubt be pulled from this list.

End Note

In the past, my monthly wrap ups included a bit more on my writing and the things I’ve watched, but I chose to keep it simple because I want to focus more on the gorgeous books I’ve read. I have a September TBR in the works that you will hopefully see tomorrow night. It will include a short list of goals I have for the month of September as well with regards to my writing habits and possibly creative projects.

Thank you for reading!
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Beginning Again, Goals, and Re-Introducing My WIP | Novel Progress #1

Yes, I am back! I will resume blogging about writing here on Betwined Reads. I feel like I’m finally in a good place where I can talk about my novel writing progress as I have both the time and the excitement to do so. To show that I am serious about it (or rather super excited about it), I’ve created a new page in my navigation bar where you can easily access all the Novel Progress posts I create on my writing journey.

In this introductory post, I will talk about what you can expect from these new weekly Wednesday posts, my current writing goals, and hear more about the novel I’m currently writing.

The Format

In each post, I generally start out with a general update about how my novel is progressing. I will likely try to highlight the most noteworthy things I’ve realized or accomplished. Then I will share some tips or advice I have found that related to whatever I’m currently working on, including links to resources I’ve found valuable. And finally I will end with some self-prescribed “homework” goals I hope to complete by the next time I write.

These posts will go up every Wednesday, unless there is an unforeseen circumstance. In October, I think I will try to organize more formal posts related to NaNoWriMo preparation, which will hopefully be useful to anyone who has not participated in the month-long writing event before or who needs the extra push to join in the frenzy!

Writing Goals

As I stated in By the first day of fall…, I hope to be already writing by September 22, 2017. This goal still stands, but I do not intend for this to mean that I’m writing everyday. Rather, I’d like to be writing specific scenes every now and then so that I may hone the craft, if you will. It’s been so long since I dedicated time to actually writing and I want to be practicing regularly each week on any scene that I feel inspired to write at the time.

If I’m doing that regularly, I think I will be in a good place to participate confidently in NaNoWriMo in November. I want to the most prepared I’ve ever been before by the start of November 1st so that 50,000 words is a breeze and I’m happy with the quality of my words.

My WIP

I’m currently writing a novel I’m calling The Log when I talk about it online. It’s not about a log, although, each time I think about it I feel like I should find a way to include one…It’s a YA novel with a young (~15 y/o) female protagonist set in a fantasy world which is like a steam punk version of the early 20th century. I’m not heavily basing her world on any one country, but in my head I am kind of referencing early U.S. history of the founding and expansion as I world-build. There’s magical creatures, adventure, mysteries, secrets, all that fun stuff!

End Note

I hope you’re as excited about these posts as I am! I think that many book bloggers out there are also aspiring authors or even just writing enthusiasts, so hopefully there’s a little something for everyone in these upcoming posts. I love reading and hearing about people’s writing progress as they tend to inspire me when I’m feeling low and also make me feel less crazy about pursuing this crazy project.

Thank you for reading!
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