Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Roald Dahl 100 Celebratroy Blog Tour + Giveaway

Hi everyone!  As I'm sure many of you know, today is a special day, because if Roald Dahl were alive today, he would be 100 years old.  Working in the children's room of a public library, I get the joy of constantly introducing new readers to Roald Dahl's work. I've talked about this before, but Matilda is my all time favorite book. It's the book that got me interested in reading as a young child. Today, I'm lucky enough to share the passage that made Matilda my all time favorite book.

The Reader of Books
It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.
            Some parents go further. They become so blinded by adoration they manage to convince themselves their child has qualities of genius.
            Well, there is nothing very wrong with all this. It’s the way of the world. It is only when the parents begin telling us about the brilliance of their own revolting offspring, that we start shouting, “Bring us a basin! We’re going to be sick!”
            School teachers suffer a good deal from having to listen to this sort of twaddle from proud parents, but they usually get their own back when the time comes to write the end-of-term reports. If I were a teacher I would cook up some real scorchers for the children of doting parents. “Your son Maximilian,” I would write, “is a total wash-out. I hope you have a family business you can push him into when he leaves school because he sure as heck won’t get a job anywhere else.” Or if I were feeling lyrical that day, I might write, “It is a curious truth that grasshoppers have their hearing-organs in the sides of the abdomen. Your daughter Vanessa, judging by what she’s learnt this term, has no hearing organs at all.”
            I might even delve deeper into natural history and say, “The periodical cicada spends six years as a grub underground, and no more than six days as a free creature of sunlight and air. Your son Wilfred has spent six years as a grub in this school and we are still waiting for him to emerge from the chrysalis.” A particularly poisonous little girl might sting me into saying, “Fiona has the same glacial beauty as an iceberg, but unlike the iceberg, she has absolutely nothing below the surface.” I think I might enjoy writing end-of-term reports for the stinkers in my class. But enough of that. We have to get on.
            Occassionally one comes across parents who take the opposite line, who show no interest at all in their children, and these of course are far worse than the doting ones. Mr and Mrs Wormwood were two such parents. They had a son called Michael and a daughter called Matilda, and the parents looked upon Matilda in particular as nothing more than a scab. A scab is something you have to put up with until the time comes when you can pick it off and flick it away. Mr and Mrs Wormwood looked forward enormously to the time when they could pick their little daughter off and flick her away, preferably into the next county or even further than that.
            It is bad enough when parents treat ordinary children as though they were scabs and bunions, but it becomes somehow a lot worse when the child in question is extraordinary, and by that I mean sensitive and brilliant. Matilda was both of these things, but above all she was brilliant. Her mind was so nimble and she was so quick to learn that her ability should have been obvious even to the most half-witted of parents. But Mr and Mrs Wormwood were both so gormless and so wrapped up in their own silly little lives that they failed to notice anything unusual about their daughter. To tell the truth, I doubt they would have noticed had she crawled into the house with a broken leg.
            Matilda’s brother Michael was a perfectly normal boy, but the sister, as I said, was something to make your eyes pop. By the age of one and a half her speech was perfect and she knew as many words as most grown-ups.  The parents, instead of applauding her, called her a noisy chatterbox and told her sharply that small girls should be seen and not heard.
            By the time she was three, Matilda had taught herself to read by studying newspapers and magazines that lay around the house. At the age of four, she could read fast and well and she naturally began hankering after books. The only book in the whole of this enlightened household was something called Easy Cooking belonging to her mother, and when she had read this from cover to cover and had learnt all the recipes by heart, she decided she wanted something more interesting.
“Daddy,” she said, “do you think you could buy me a book?”
“A book?” he said. “What d’you want a flaming book for?”
“To read, Daddy.”
“What’s wrong with the telly, for heaven’s sake? We’ve got a lovely telly with a twelve-inch screen and now you come asking for a book! You’re getting spoiled, my girl!”
Nearly every weekday afternoon Matilda was left alone in the house. Her brother (five years older than her) went to school. Her father went to work and her mother went out playing bingo in a town eight miles away. Mrs Wormwood was hooked on bingo and played it five afternoons a week. On the afternoon of the day when her father had refused to buy her a book, Matilda set out all by herself to walk to the public library in the village. When she arrived, she introduced herself to the librarian, Mrs Phelps. She asked if she might sit awhile and read a book. Mrs Phelps, slightly taken aback at the arrival of such a tiny girl unaccompanied by a parent, nevertheless told her she was very welcome.
“Where are the children’s books, please?” Matilda asked.
            “They’re over there on those lower shelves,” Mrs Phelps told her. “Would you like me to help you find a nice one with lots of pictures in it?”
            No, thank you,” Matilda said. “I’m sure I can manage.”
            From then on, every afternoon, as soon as her mother had left for bingo, Matilda would toddle down to the library. The walk took only ten minutes and this allowed her two glorious hours sitting quietly by herself in a cosy corner devouring one book after another. When she had read every single children’s book in the place, she started wandering round in search of something else.
            Mrs Phelps, who had been watching her with fascination for the past few weeks, now got up from her desk and went over to her. “Can I help you, Matilda?”
            “I’m wondering what to read next,” Matilda said. “I’ve finished all the children’s books.”
            “You mean you’ve looked at all the pictures?”
            “Yes, but I’ve read the books as well.”
            Mrs Phelps looked down at Matilda from her great height and Matilda looked right back up at her.
            “I thought some were very poor,” Matilda said, “but others were lovely. I liked The Secret Garden best of all. It was full of mystery. The mystery of the room behind the closed door and the mystery of the garden behind the big wall.”
            Mrs Phelps was stunned. “Exactly how old are you, Matilda?” she asked.
            “Four years and three months,” Matilda said.
            Mrs Phelps was more stunned than ever, but she had the sense not to show it. “What sort of a book would you like to read next?” she asked.
            Matilda said, “I would like a really good one that grown-ups read. A famous one. I don’t know any names.”
            Mrs Phelps looked along the shelves, taking her time, She didn’t quite know what to bring out. How, she asked herself, does one choose a famous grown-up book for a four-year-old girl? Her first thought was to pick a young teenager’s romance of the kind that is written for fifteen-year-old school girls, but for some reason she found herself instinctively walking past that particular shelf.
            “Try this,” she said at last. “It’s very famous and very good. If it’s too long for you, just let me know and I’ll find something shorter and a bit easier.”
            Great Expectations,” Matilda read, “by Charles Dickens. I’d love to try it.”
            I must be mad, Mrs Phelps told herself, but to Matilda she said, “Of course you may try it.”
            Over the next few afternoons Mrs Phelps could hardly take her eyes from the small girl sitting for hour after hour in the big armchair at the far end of the room with the book on her lap. It was necessary to rest it on the lap because it was too heavy for her to hold up, which meant she had to sit leaning forward in order to read. And a strange sight it was, this tiny dark-haired person sitting there with her feet nowhere near touching the floor, totally absorbed in the wonderful adventures of Pip and old Miss Havisham and her cobwebbed house and by the spell of magic that Dickens the great story-teller had woven with his words. The only movement from the reader was the lifting of the hand every now and then to turn over a page, and Mrs. Phelps always felt sad when the time came for her to cross the floor and say, “It’s ten to five, Matilda.”
            During the first week of Matilda’s visits Mrs Phelps had said to her, “Does your mother walk you down here every day and then take you home?”
            “My mother goes to Aylesbury every afternoon to play bingo,” Matilda had said. “She doesn’t know I come here.”
            “But that’s surely not right,” Mrs Phelps said. “I think you’d better ask her.”
            “I’d rather not,” Matilda said. “She doesn’t encourage reading books. Nor does my father.”
            “But what do they expect you to do every afternoon in an empty house?”
            “Just mooch around and watch the telly.”
            “I see.”
            “She doesn’t really care what I do,” Matilda said a little sadly.
            Mrs Phelps was concerned about the child’s safety on the walk through the fairly busy village High Street and the crossing of the road, but she decided not to interfere.
            Within a week, Matilda had finished Great Expectations which in that edition contained four hundred and eleven pages. “I loved it,” she said to Mrs Phelps. “Has Mr Dickens written any others?”
            “A great number,” said the astounded Mrs Phelps. “Shall I choose you another?”
            Over the next six months, under Mrs Phelps’s watchful and compassionate eye, Matilda read the following books:
            Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
            Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
            Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
            Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
            Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
            Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
            Kim by Rudyard Kipling
            The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
            The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
            The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
            The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
            The Good Companions by J.B. Priestley
            Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
            Animal Farm by George Orwell
            It was a formidable list and by now Mrs Phelps was filled with wonder and excitement, but it was probably a good thing that she did not allow herself to be completely carried away by it all. Almost anyone else witnessing the achievements of this small child would have been tempted to make a great fuss and shout the news all over the village and beyond, but not so Mrs Phelps. She was someone who minded her own business and had long since discovered it was seldom worth while to interfere with other people’s children.
            “Mr Hemingway says a lot of things I don’t understand,” Matilda said to her. “Especially about men and women. But I loved it all the same. The way he tells it I feel I am right there on the spot watching it all happen.”
            “A fine writer will always make you feel that,” Mrs Phelps said. “And don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.”
            “I will, I will.”
            “Did you know,” Mrs Phelps said, “That public libraries like this allow you to borrow books and take them home?”
            “I didn’t know that,” Matilda said. “Could I do it?”
            “Of course,” Mrs Phelps said. “When you have chosen the book you want, bring it to me so I can make a note of it and it’s yours for two weeks. You can take more than one if you wish.”
            From then on, Matilda would visit the library only once a week in order to take out new books and return the old ones. Her own small bedroom now became her reading-room and there she would sit and read most afternoons, often with a mug of hot chocolate beside her. She was not quite tall enough to reach things around the kitchen, but she kept a small box in the outhouse which she brought in and stood on in order to get whatever she wanted. Mostly it was hot chocolate she made, warming the milk in a saucepan on the stove before mixing it. Occasionally she made Bovril or Ovaltine. It was pleasant to take a hot drink up to her room and have it beside her as she sat in her silent room reading in the empty house in the afternoons. The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English Village.
***

Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and beloved storytellers. He was born in Wales of Norwegian parents and spent much of his childhood in England. After establishing himself as a writer for adults with short story collections such as Kiss Kiss and Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl began writing children's stories in 1960 while living with his family in both the U.S. and in England. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.
Roald Dahl’s first children’s story, The Gremlins, was a story about little creatures that were responsible for the various mechanical failures on airplanes. The Gremlins came to the attention of both First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who loved to read the story to her grandchildren, and Walt Disney, with whom Roald Dahl had discussions about the production of a movie.
Roald Dahl was inspired by American culture and by many of the most quintessential American landmarks to write some of his most memorable passages, such as the thrilling final scenes in James and the Giant Peach - when the peach lands on the Empire State Building! Upon the publication of James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl began work on the story that would later be published as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and today, Roald Dahl’s stories are available in 58 languages and, by a conservative estimate, have sold more than 200 million copies.
Roald Dahl also enjoyed great success for the screenplays he wrote for both the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967 and for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, released one year later, which went on to become a beloved family film.  Roald Dahl’s popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans. 
Two charities have been founded in Roald Dahl’s memory: the first charity, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, created in 1991, focuses on making life better for seriously ill children through the funding of specialist nurses, innovative medical training, hospitals, and individual families across the UK.
The second charity, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – a unique cultural, literary and education hub – opened in June 2005 in Great Missenden where Roald Dahl lived and wrote many of his best-loved works. 10% of income from Roald Dahl books and adaptations are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities.
On September 13, 2006, the first national Roald Dahl Day was celebrated, on what would have been the author’s 90th birthday. The event proved such a success that Roald Dahl Day is now marked annually all over the world. September 13, 2016 is Roald Dahl 100, marking 100 years since the birth of the world’s number one storyteller. There will be celebrations for Roald Dahl 100 throughout 2016, delivering a year packed with gloriumptious treats and surprises for everyone.
*Excerpted from NPR’s November 14, 2013 interview with Lucy Dahl, “Roald Dahl Wanted His Magical Matilda To Keep Books Alive”
Lucy: “I remember waking up in the night and going to the bathroom and seeing the glow of the light in the little [writing] hut while it was still dark outside.
“His hut was a sacred place. ... We were all allowed to go in there, but we only disturbed him when we absolutely needed to because he used to say that his hut was his nest. You would walk in and the smells were so familiar — that very old paper from filing cabinets. And he sat in his mother's old armchair and then put his feet up on an old leather trunk, and then on top of that he would get into an old down sleeping bag that he would put his legs into to keep him warm.
“He then had a board that he made that he would rest on the arms of the armchair as a desk table and on top of that he had cut some billiard felt that was glued on top of it, and it was slightly carved out for where his tummy was. When he sat down ... the first thing he did was get a brush and brush the felt on his lap desk so it was all clean.
“He always had six pencils with an electric sharpener that he would sharpen at the beginning of each session. His work sessions were very strict — he worked from 10 until 12 every day and then again from 3 until 5 every day. And that was it. Even if there was nothing to write he would still, as he would say, ‘put his bottom on the chair.’"
For further information on the wonderful world of Roald Dahl please visit www.roalddahl.com

***


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review of I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson


I'll Give You the Sun A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.


(Summary from GoodReads)




Jandy Nelson is a YA author who people absolutely worship, and I understand why.  I read The Sky Is Everywhere in March of this 2014 and love love LOVED it.  When I was approved to read an e-galley of I’ll Give You the Sun, I was pumped. Although I almost wound up DNFing it about 100 pages in, I was very impressed with how this book was plotted, and was ultimately glad that I read it.

I absolutely loved the poetic language and the literal poems that filled The Sky Is Everywhere.  Jandy Nelson's writing is beautiful, but here there are times to me here when it felt overwrought. Some of the metaphors and imagery were too much for me.  To me it felt like a somewhat experimental writing style, though that may not be the right word.

There is a lot going on in this book. It takes readers a while to get into this one, and I think it’s because we’re reading from two different perspectives and timelines. Noah and Jude, are twins, but Noah’s perspective comes from age 13, and Jude’s comes from age 16.  Noah discovering his sexuality and Jude is struggling with art school and life in general.  Much like with Nelson’s debut, family is one of the most important components of this story, and that is ultimately what made it so strong.  Nelson has an astounding knack for showing how interconnected people are.

Although I had some issues with I’ll Give You the Sun when I first read it, I still think that overall, this is a stunning novel.  I wonder if this book would be a good fit for me over audiobook, I could imagine the story and the metaphors flowing well when spoken out loud.  Seeing what Nelson has done for I’ll Give You the Sun makes me very curious as to what future novels from her will look like.

Disclosure: I received an electronic galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review, and later purchased a hardcover. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review and Giveaway of Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard

Lucky Strikes Set in Depression-era Virginia, this is the story of orphaned Amelia and her struggle to keep her siblings together.

With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, fourteen-year-old Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister, and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father, and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till she comes of age?


(Summary from GoodReads)


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I went into Lucky Strikes with few expectations and was immediately surprised by how distinct the voice is.  Lucky Strikes toes the fine line between middle grade and young adult—if I had to recommend it to a specific age range, I think this book would particularly appeal to sixth through eighth graders.  Although Bayard’s novel had a few plotpoints where things started to feel infeasible, it’s character driven story, and by the end of the novel I cared about what happened to every last character.


Melia is unlike any heroine I’ve read before. She’s extremely smart and a hard worker who has a pretty good idea of what she wants to do with her life.  She also acts as a mother figure for her little siblings Earle and Janey, and never tries to hide the truth from them, going so far as to swear regularly in front of them.  Throughout the novel Melia is telling her life story, but you don’t find out who she’s giving this narrative to until the ending. It would’ve been easy to write Melia as a stubborn character who refused to change, and although she definitely is stubborn, Bayard gave her and her siblings much more nuance than that.  Melia is empathetic and constantly learning how to see those around her in a new light.

As the summary says, this novel is set in depression-era Virginia, and in a lot of ways is about societal expectations.  It’s about creating your own family and finding acceptance within a community, and it’s also about being different when faced with pressure to assimilate.  While there are a few moments that felt either predictable or infeasible, I was genuinely surprised with how it turned out. There are some minor threads get tied up and that feels appropriate.  A lot of readers will also find themselves debating whether or not what happened to Melia is what’s best for her, which would make this a great book club pick.

Lucky Strikes is definitely one of the more unique historical novels that I’ve read.   It feels true to the era that’ it’s in, but it also explores how complex finding one’s place in the world can be.  Readers who want a character driven historical fiction novel with a distinctive voice will love Lucky Strikes.
 
I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review, and they've also been kind enough to offer one copy up for a giveaway!  Check out the rules below and fill out the rafflecopter form if you're interested.

*One winner will receive a hardcover copy of Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard.
*Must be 13 years of age or older to enter.
*Open to U.S. readers only.
*Giveaway will close on August 29th at 11:59 p.m.
 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review of Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Complicit Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.

Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.


(Summary from GoodReads) 



Oh my gosh, you guys, Complicit.  This is the only Stephanie Kuehn book I’ve ever read, and it varies a lot from what I typically read.  While I find this to be a more plot-driven story, I got really attached to the characters as I made my way through this one.  Complicit is the type of book that is smart and will keep readers turning the pages late into the night.

Kuehn knows what she is writing about.  It’s clear that a lot of careful research went into this story.  Given the way this story pans out, it would have been easy to bog the reader down in a lot of small details, but that never happens.  Readers learn what’s going on yet the ending of this story still carries a lot of impact.

The ending of this story is one thing that continues to sit with me, only because it feels a bit manipulative.  Kuehn gives her story an ending that is meant to pack a major punch, but it also feels realistic.  I’m torn, but I think it mostly works, because it fits with the atmosphere of the book, which is nicely drawn throughout the entire story. I also loved what fully fleshed characters Jamie and Cate are.

If you want a quick read that will leave you feeling shocked and opinionated, ready to discuss, definitely pick up Complicit.  This would be a fantastic pick for any book club.  I’m curious to try out Kuehn’s other stories to see if they have this same kind of feeling. 

Disclosure: I read a digital ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


(Summary from GoodReads)


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Throne of Glass is one of the most hyped up series in YA literature right now.  I’ve been excited about this book since ALA several years ago and only just recently got around to reading it.  I love fantasy, so I knew I was going to have to pick this one up.  It’s intended to be a Cinderella retelling and the plot of this story feels a bit like The Hunger Games, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a rip off.  Throne of Glass is a story of a badass girl and the world of political intrigue she finds herself caught up in.

Going into this book having already read The Assassin’s Blade made a huge difference in my reading experience, because it gave me such a big understanding of who Celaena was.  If you haven’t picked up that book, do it now.  Celaena is a total badass, like I said, and she’s confident, but we also see her moments of insecurity, and we learn what really drives her.  We also see her struggle over her feelings for Dorian and Chaol.

Throne of Glass was pitched as a Cinderella retelling when it first came out.  There are definitely traces of that, but this may not be the book for you if you want a more exact retelling of Cinderella.  The plot moves quickly, and the book is filled with intrigue all throughout. I loved that Maas gave the reader some characters that we would clearly love to hate.  The ending wasn’t necessarily astounding, but there were some good twists in the last scene.

Maas’s debut is a solid start to this fantasy series. Given what I’ve heard about the other books in the series and my experience with The Assassin’s Blade, I imagine it will only get better from here.  Pick this one up if you want fast paced adventure, court intrigue, and an amazing heroine.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book at a conference, but have since purchased a hardcover of that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review of The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom's most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin's Guild, Celaena yields to no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.

When Celaena's scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes—and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she makes friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn's orders, Celaena risks unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn's clutches—and if they fail, they'll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives...

A prequel to Throne of Glass, this collection of five novellas offers listeners a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling—and deadly—world.


(Summary from GoodReads)



I was told by Alexa, who may the biggest Throne of Glass fan that I know, that reading The Assassin’s Blade before reading Throne of Glass was a good idea.   Binding up novellas that fall between books has been a trend in the YA industry.  The Assassin’s Blade struck me as a bit different because while each story can stand on its own, together they all form one story arc that introduces Celaena, tells us about her past, and sets up the premise for Throne of Glass. I absolutely loved that about this set of novellas.  I also loved the world that Maas has built, and the thread of adventure that rain throughout these stories. With that said, I wanted to briefly address each of the individual novellas.

“The Assassin and the Pirate Lord”
If you don’t know this about me already, I love pirates.  They are fantastic.  This story had some great intrigue and had a fast pace.  It also served as a great introduction to Celaena’s moral conscience.

“The Assassin and the Healer”
The second novel reminded me a little bit of The Name of the Wind, which is one of my all time favorite books.  In this particular story Maas’s gorgeous writing especially popped out to me.  This one was predictable at times, but still excellent overall.

“The Assassin and the Red Desert”
Horses! Subterfuge! Twists! What more could I want?  Oh right, a beautiful, perfect ending. 

“The Assassin and the Underworld”
This story is full of passion, and it’s so well written.  This story is full of twists and swoons.

“The Assassin and the Empire”
This is where things get really twisty and also kind of gut-wrenching.  I was definitely extremely full of emotions as I read this one.

So there you have my thoughts on The Assassin’s Blade.  This was a fantastic collection of prequel novellas that is a must read for any Throne of Glass fan.

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