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Melanie Parker

Las Vegas, Nevada
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  • Station Eleven

  • By: Emily St. John Mandel
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6,880
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,221
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6,226

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An Alternative Dystopian Viewpoint

  • By CScott on 12-20-16

5/5

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-12-17

I gifted this book to many of my loved ones for Christmas, because this book instills so much hope in the reader, and let's be honest, after 2016 we could all use a little more hope inside of us. While writing little notes to all my friends and family about the magic of this book, I couldn't help but feel compelled to reread it myself.

I was born and raised in Michigan, so this book hits me and my feels so very much. Even though I lived in Flint for the majority of my life, all of the Michigan cities that I have visited so many times make this book even more important to me. And the airport Clark is in? I couldn't help but picture this as the airport I've flown out of over 100 times in my life. This story hits so close to home for me, literally, and it makes Station Eleven always a favorite for me to read. I will always carry this book and its message in my heart.

This book is another post-apocalyptic book, but it is truly a tier above the rest. Twenty years after the pandemic starts in this book, we follow a traveling symphony reenacting Shakespeare. They travel from civilization to civilization, trying to bring joy and happiness into this world that is just trying to survive.

Our main protagonist in the symphony is Kirsten, and she was very young when the flu that killed all but 1% of the population, and started the apocalypse, broke out. We are able to see her journey through it all and all of the threads that tie so many different people in her past, present, and future together.

Kirsten isn't the only point of view, there are actually very many. You will see relationships form before your eyes, and be in shock when you see how some of these people have connecting roots from their pasts. The reader will be constantly taken back and forth between post and pre apocalypse, but Emily St. John Mandel's transitions are so smooth, and she weaves together the time frames so well, that you will be completely captivated.

Saying this book is addicting is an understatement of the very word. The lyrical prose of this novel is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read and the characters and their actions constantly left me speechless. And so many of the reveals in this book shook me to my very core.

This book is truly haunting, and will stick with the reader for some time. For me, this book helped me be more thankful for everything I have, and it reminded me that nothing is ever promised. The message of what can happen when certain paths, which are beyond all of our control, cross is unforgettable. But in its bones, this book is all about hope and the importance of instilling that hope in future generations.

No matter what happens in 2017, try to have hope. Try to believe that we can come together and do amazing things that are filled with love instead of hate. Believe that you and your voice matter, and you are always worth being heard. Stand strong and be extra loud for the less privileged individuals, because their voices need to be heard even more so. Never give up, and always hold on to that hope, because sometimes it might feel like it is the only thing we have left.

  • The Last Wish

  • By: Andrzej Sapkowski
  • Narrated by: Peter Kenny
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,057
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,278
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,248

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil, and not everything fair is good...and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic! I feel lucky to have found this book.

  • By KS on 02-14-16

5/5

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-12-17

This book was translated from Polish to English. It contains seven short stories, and introduces our main protagonist in both games and books, Geralt.

“People”—Geralt turned his head—“like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves.”

The events in these seven stories take place before Sword of Destiny, which is another short story collection, and before Blood of Elves, the first actual full length novel in this series.

Just like the video-games, The Witcher world is so magical, whimsical, full of twists, and it never disappoints. Two of these stories are so very important in understanding why Geralt feels the way he does about two very predominant characters that are talked about in much greater detail later in this world. And seeing Geralt and Yen's origin story gave me all the feels (sorry Triss fans, but gtfo.)

I'm going to break down each story with my personal feelings and beliefs. There will be SPOILERS ahead! So, please be cautious while reading, if you have not read this short story collection and do not wish to be spoiled on the events that lead up to the main story and video-games!

“In order to become a witcher, you have to be born in the shadow of destiny, and very few are born like that. That's why there are so few of us. We're growing old, dying, without anyone to pass our knowledge, our gifts, on to. We lack successors. And this world is full of Evil which waits for the day none of us are left.”

1.) The Voice of Reason
This story starts out in true Witcher fashion: with Geralt having sexy time with a random girl! We are also introduced to Geralt's notorious sidekick, Dandelion the Bard. Geralt starts to speak up about how hard it is to be a witcher and make a living off of it. When upon leaving, a man approaches Geralt and pretty much forces Geralt to fight without being able to touch his opponent. Geralt quickly proves how smart and cunning he truly is, and why he makes this series so addictive to read and learn about.

2.) The Witcher
Geralt goes to a new town, where a king has gotten his sister pregnant seven years ago. Sadly, the sister and the child died in birth, but the child is now awake, and seems to be a werewolf, and is causing chaos in the town. Geralt is sent to kill her, but someone gives him a tip that if he prevents the werewolf from going back to its coffin for three days, she will turn into an ordinary girl. He is also bribed to run away, but Geralt, being the outstanding and honorable man he is, uses the briber as bait instead! Geralt is able to hide in the girls coffin for three nights, and she turns into the regular girl on the third morning!

3.) A Grain of Truth
The imagery of this story really is a tier above what fantasy normally gives us nowadays. Geralt is traveling once again, and finds two bodies that appear to have come from an abandoned mansion. Upon further inspection, a cursed man named Nivellen owns the house. He was cursed by a priest to become a beast, but the house obeys his every wish. Traveling merchants even come from all around and trade their daughters to him for a period of time for currency. Nivellen has tried everything, and the curse is never broken! But when his newest girl, who ends up not being all of what she seems and who was responsible of the two bodies Geralt originally found, starts a fight with Geralt, Nivellen is forced to help him, and the curse is broken. Yes, this is legitimately a wrapped version of Beauty and the Beast.

4.) The Lesser Evil
Again in a new city, Geralt killed a monster and is looking for compensation. He goes to see a mage that he knew from before, and he asks Geralt to kill "a monster" for him. The monster ends up being a young girl, and when Geralt talks to her he realizes she is seeking vengeance for what the mage did to her. After her and Geralt "get to know each other", she promises to back down because nothing good will come of it. Geralt awakens in the morning and realizes that she lied. He knows where she will be, so he meets her and ends up having to fight her. He wins, and she must die, but Geralt faces the question of what is truly evil, and refuses to let the mage to take her body.

“Only Evil and Greater Evil exist and beyond them, in the shadows, lurks True Evil. True Evil, Geralt, is something you can barely imagine, even if you believe nothing can still surprise you. And sometimes True Evil seizes you by the throat and demands that you choose between it and another, slightly lesser, Evil.”

5.) A Question of Price
This story completely blew my mind, and probably has the biggest life changing event for Geralt in it. Again, Geralt is traveling and meets with Queen Calanthe, and she tells him what she truly thinks of witchers. During the party where this meeting is taking place, a knight comes and demands Queen Calanthe's daughter, the princess, which he has earned. Sadly, this knight is also cursed, but Geralt is able to lift the curse. The knight is then able to marry the princess, but Geralt knows they have been seeing each other for some time, because the princess is pregnant. They ask Geralt what he would like for payment, and he gives a very veiled response, and says that he will be back in six years time to see if he is lucky. (view spoiler) Knowing what I know from the games, this story was oh so special to my heart.

6.) The Edge of the World
Geralt and Dandelion have stopped and are looking for work. A local tells them about a devil who is up to no good. Side note, I listened to this on audio book and the devil's voice made me want to murder someone. Good Lord, please, never do this if you are a voice actor. Anyway, the devil, named Torque, likes to play games and Geralt and Dandelion end up being captured. When they awaken, they find themselves among elves, still tied up, and hear all about how the elves want revenge on humans. The Queen of the Fields comes and saves them, and tells Geralt that he is destined for greatness and that they will meet again.

7.) The Last Wish
Be still, my heart - this chapter was everything I never knew I wanted in my life. Again, Geralt and Dandelion are together and decided to fish up breakfast. Dandelion ends up fishing up a djinn, or genie, in a magical vase. It ends up hurting Dandelion, and Geralt says what he thinks is an exorcism to make it stop. Dandelion takes a turn for the worst, and Geralt knows he has to act fast. He rushes Dandelion to a town, where he is informed that his best chance at survival will be a sorceress named Yennefer. Yes, this is their origin story, and it ends up being everything I ever wished it to be. Yennefer is able to heal Dandelion, but she has an alternative motive; she wants to harness the genie's power for herself. She also demands payment from Geralt, which she receives by possessing him to publicly punish men who have wronged her. He wakes up in jail, where he tells a mean guard to blow up, in which he does. Geralt doesn't have any time to think about this, because Yennefer comes to town with the genie, which is destroying everything. Geralt is able to save the townsfolk, but while trying to save Yennefer herself, she refuses, and it looks like she would rather die trying to take the genie's powers. Geralt then realizes the reason Yennefer couldn't possess the power was because the genie is viewing Geralt as its master, and he has accidentally made two of his three wishes. Yennefer urges Geralt to make a third and final wish so she can try, but Geralt knows that the genie will kill her once the request leaves his lips. Geralt then makes his last wish, which none of us know what it truly is, only that it binds him and Yennefer together forever.

We knew Geralt fell in love with Yennefer as soon as he laid eyes upon her. There are so many theories of what he wished for, but I do not think we will ever get a confirmation. He could have wished for Yen to love him, but that is so un-Geralt, I can't believe he would ever do that. He could have wished for them to have a baby, and since witchers are sterile that could be why Ciri comes into their lives, and would have still protected Yennefer from the genie. Hell, it could seriously be as simple and binding their lives together forever, which is why, throughout the games, it feels like the go through the same things together, even when they are not physically together. We will never know, but I sort of think that's beautiful all in itself.

“Love and blood. They both possess a mighty power. Wizards and learned men have been racking their brains over this for years...”

This world, these characters, these adventures, all of it is truly above all the expectations I set before reading any fantasy novel. This is something special, that I can't form the perfect combinations for words to be able to praise this enough. Please, give this world a try, whether it be the games or the novels, because this kind of perfection is beyond words.

Oh, and this book totally ends with Geralt and Yen having crazy "oh my God, we are alive still" sex, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Also, Dandelion is such an innocent little cinnamon roll, I can't deal.

  • A Dance with Dragons

  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5
  • By: George R. R. Martin
  • Narrated by: Roy Dotrice
  • Length: 48 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44,318
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39,516
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39,476

Dubbed the American Tolkien by Time magazine, George R. R. Martin has earned international acclaim for his monumental cycle of epic fantasy. Now the number-one New York Times best-selling author delivers the fifth book in his spellbinding landmark series - as both familiar faces and surprising new forces vie for a foothold in a fragmented empire.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A tale of two publishers:

  • By J. Cano on 07-31-11

5/5

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-20-16

A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons cover the same period of time, but split the characters and their points of view up. I've always chosen to read them back to back, but maybe people enjoy reading them simultaneously. If you would like to read them combined, here is the reading order: Link!

“Not all men were meant to dance with dragons.”

At this point in the series, five books in, it would be almost impossible to talk about this book without heavy spoilers, so please do not read any further if you have not read this book or its predecessors.

Okay, so on this reread, the prologue actually blew my mind. First, we learn it's a major no-no among wargs to skin change into other humans. You know, like what Bran has been doing to Hodor. Then, we find out the character in this prologue survives his human death by warging into his wolf. This is completely foreshadowing of Jon's fate at the end of this book.

I mean, Melisandre tried to warn Jon of daggers in the dark, also, but like all Starks, he doesn't listen too well. Melisandre and her past is always hard for me to read. People always view her as this sex symbol from the show, but she has such a deeper, and sadder, past in the books. One of the things I look most forward to in this series is seeing her development and what she makes of her trauma. Oh, and seeing if she ends up resurrecting Jon, like in the show. I can't wait to see how important Ghost's role really was with bringing Jon back.

“The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother's milk. Darkness will make you strong.”

Even though Melisandre is marching with Stannis and his men to see if they can defeat the Boltons so he will be one step closer to winning the throne, my favorite points of view were from Asha Greyjoy. Like, besides the fact she is a super strong woman, she represents how unfairly some people are treated just because of what gender they were born. Again, I know a lot of people read this series and deem it sexiest, but there are so many feminist themes throughout, and Asha is such a wonderful example that I can't help but root for.

And Asha's conversations with Alysane Mormont, while marching with Stannis' army, just further proves the theory from A Storm of Swords, that Tormund is the father of Lyanna Mormont!

Meanwhile, on the Bolton side, Ramsey is really trying to out-do Euron for my most hated ASOIAF villain. The chapters inside of Reek/ Theon's head were some of the most disturbing things I've ever read. I know Reek/Theon did some terrible things, but no one deserves the karma he has been dealt at the hand of Ramsey.

“When you have known the kiss of a flaying knife, a laugh loses all its power to hurt you.”

Also, if I were Jeyne Poole, Sansa's old friend, I would have been singing at the top of my lungs that I wasn't Arya, even if that meant my death, because Ramsey is that much of a sick fuck.

Cersei's chapters were my favorite. Unlike Ramsey, her "villainous ways" make so much sense to me. Most mothers will do anything for their children, and Cersei will literally do anything. All her actions, both filled with hate or filled with love, are all because of what she thinks is best for them. There is something pretty endearing about that, and her chapters were honestly the best in this book.

“I am Cersei of House Lannister, a lion of the Rock, the rightful queen of these Seven Kingdoms, trueborn daughter of Tywin Lannister. And hair grows back.”

My favorite part of this whole book was when Cersei was reflecting upon the events that have happened recently, and was so remorseful thinking about how differently everything would have been if only Joffrey didn't kill Ned in A Game of Thrones. It is crazy to think about how one terrible and thoughtless act can ruin so many lives. It is actually pretty heartbreaking.

I very much loved rereading Tyrion's point of view, again! Oh, how I missed him! I completely forgot about Penny, but re- fell in love with her, too! Penny, Tyrion, and Jorah's journey in this book sure wasn't an easy one. Especially for Jorah, even though I low-key hate book Jorah.

Dany's point of view starts with her being unable to control her dragons, but ends by leaving lot of mystery to where she will end up. I know that we have an unfair advantage with the show maybe being book-cannon, but I'm really looking forward to her meeting with Tyrion in The Winds of Winter. Like, I'm really, really, really looking forward to it.

And I obviously want a Stark meet-up more than anything. Bran is learning so much from the three-eyed crow, and him being a greenseer. I have always loved the children of the forest, and it was a joy reading about them again. Especially Leaf <3.

  • A Feast for Crows

  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4
  • By: George R. R. Martin
  • Narrated by: Roy Dotrice
  • Length: 33 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40,709
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36,806
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36,802

Few books have captivated the imagination and won the devotion and praise of readers and critics everywhere as has George R. R. Martin’s monumental epic cycle of high fantasy that began with A Game of Thrones. Now, in A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth book of his landmark series, as a kingdom torn asunder finds itself at last on the brink of peace . . . only to be launched on an even more terrifying course of destruction.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Jarring change in Dotrice's performance

  • By Pi on 06-21-12

5/5

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-20-16

“In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you've planned for them.”

A Feast for Crows is my least favorite in this series, but this prologue and ending chapter give me life, I swear. GRRM is such a genius and if you have twenty minutes, I can't recommend this video, by Alt Shift X, enough. Seriously, these two plot points, that don't even seem to make sense, are going to play such a HUGE part in this world, and I'm still in awe over the genius.

I kept debating if I wanted to give this book four or five stars, but this plot point brings me so much joy that I couldn't resist and ended up just giving this five stars, too.

“I don't want to have a dozen sons," she had told him, appalled. "I want to have adventures”

I, also, absolutely loved all the feministic themes in this book. I know GRRM gets hate for all the violence against women in his books, but he writes some really empowering women, who I love to root for and read about:

-Asha's whole story line, with her right to rule, but a bunch of men are telling her she can't solely because she is a girl.
-Cersei finally ruling and acknowledging that everyone in her life has treated her like a piece of meat, only worthy of being married off to reproduce royal children, because she was born a woman, while seeing the male version of her (Jaime) thrive and live his dreams.
-Brienne smashing the patriarchy and gender roles left and right, all while making me her biggest fan.

Like, all of these themes make ASOIAF an even more enjoyable story to read. These are important themes that are very predominant in A Feast for Crows, and GRRM gives them the light they deserve. ASOIAF is truly an epic fantasy series above the rest.

I love this book, I love being a part of this reread, and I really love being back in this world. ASOIAF is such an immersive and all-encompassing experience, I can't really put it into words. I will always recommend this series to anyone who will listen.

The rest of this review will have spoilers from all the previous books and also spoilers for this book! If you have not read the first four books in this series, and do not want to get spoiled, please do not read this portion of my review!

At this point in the story, so much is happening, I think I'm just going to break down the major plot lines and how I, personally, feel about them:

Arya and the Many-Faced God - Again, I can't emphasize enough how amazing Alt Shift X's video is, and how informative it was for me during this reread. Arya has been through so much so far in this series. My heart always breaks for Arya. In A Feast for Crows, she finally finds a path with the God of Death's religion, where they literally take the faces of other people to kill others for their clients.

Sansa/Alayne, Robert, and Littlefinger - This whole story line is just so creepy; Littlefinger is the epitome of gross. Robert was weak before his mother's death, and now even weaker. I'm just waiting for his death to come, at this point. Sansa pretending to be Littlefinger's daughter, Alayne, is pretty heartbreaking to read. Sansa has, also, lost so much and watching her get stronger and stronger is really rewarding.

Asha, Euron, and Victarion - As much as I love Asha and watching her not back down over her right to the Iron Throne, Euron is probably the character I hate the most in this world. The juxtaposition is actually insane. The scene in Oakenshield Castle, with Euron, was very hard for me to read.

Even though Euron wins the kingsmoot against Asha and Victarion, Victarion still agrees to bring Dany Euron's marriage proposal, yet, he has an ulterior motive that we will see in A Dance with Dragons.

Cersei, Margaery, and Maggy the Frog - Let me preface this portion by saying: I think Cersei is one of the best villains I've ever read. All of her actions make sense, and you can't help but somewhat root for her. She is constantly being plagued by a vision a witch gave her at a young age, in which she predicted Cersei to become Queen, have three children that will all die, be overthrown by a younger and more beautiful girl, and to eventually die at the hands of her younger brother (who she thinks is 100% Tyrion, but I 100% think it will be Jaime - especially if books take the show's route).

“Men have scars, women mysteries.”

Cersei thinks, by getting Margaery (who is now Queen, married to Tommen) out of the picture, she will ensure that Maggy the Frog's prophecy doesn't come true. You know, because she has no idea what Daenerys Targaryen is up to. Which brings us to...

The High Sparrow - ...who is heavily foreshadowed to be an evil bastard from the start. Not only does he agree to doing to Gods' work with Margaery, but he then takes it upon himself to do it with Cersei, as well! I know most of us know how the show's version of this story-arc went down, but I cannot wait to actually read GRRM's book version, that will have major differences (like Loras Tyrell's storyline.)

Jaime - The last thing Jaime does in this book, is receives the letter from Cersei letting him know all the shit that is going down in King's Landing. You know, because she sent him away for reasons. Oh, Jaime, you try so very hard to do what is right, but it always falls apart anyways. He is also harboring the secret of being the one that actually released Tyrion in A Storm of Swords, while being haunted with Tyrion's information of who is warming Cersei's bed. If I could ask for one happy ending for any of the characters in ASOIAF, I would ask for it to be Jaime's. His story-line is seriously one of the most compelling things I've ever read, and I have so much empathy for him.

Brienne - Oh, and of course I ship Jaime with Brienne! Is it just me, or is their sexual tension out of this freakin' world? Like, I need this; I need this to happen very badly. Brienne is one of my favorite characters, and such an honorable soul, how could you not love her? She is still in search of Sansa, with Podrick Payne, Tyrion's old squire, in tow. On this journey she is constantly belittled for being a woman that is a knight, but never loses focus on her promise to Cat.

Lady Stoneheart - AKA: Resurrected Cat, is on a killing spree for vengeance. Even though she can't really speak, because she died getting her throat slit, she and her group are seeking retribution for the Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords. In this book, she gives Brienne an ultimatum to either kill Jaime or die herself, and Brienne, being all that is right in this world, chooses death, but on a cliffhanger, of course!

Sam, Gilly, the babe, and Maester Aemon - I'm not going to lie, Sam's chapters were a little unbearable for me. He, Gilly, the babe and Maester Aemon are on their way to the Citadel, where Sam is going to try to find something that will help them win the impending war that is looming with the White Walkers.

My heart breaks for Gilly, because (unlike the show) it is stated that her and King-Beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder, switched children, because Melisandre wants to sacrifice a child of royal blood. I mean, this might be the saddest thing in this book. I can't even imagine Gilly's pain, and my empathy is off the charts for her.

“There is no shame in loving. If your septons say there is, your seven gods must be demons. In the isles we know better. Our gods gave us legs to run with, noses to smell with, hands to touch and feel. What mad cruel god would give a man eyes and tell him he must forever keep them shut, and never look at all the beauty in the world? Only a monster god, a demon of the darkness.”

Aemon accompanies them on this journey to the Citadel, because Jon, too, thinks that Melisandre would want to sacrifice him for his royal Targaryen blood, so he sends him away, as well. Sadly, he is dying as their boat makes it to Braavos, but not before realizing that Dany and her dragons are going to change the world.

This series is so very close to my heart and I can't express enough how much I truly love it. I could triple my word count by gushing and fangirling about theories, but I'll save that for my A Dance with Dragons review!

“One more book, he had told himself, then I'll stop. One more folio, just one more. One more page, then I'll go up and rest and get a bite to eat. But there was always another page after that one, and another after that, and another book waiting underneath the pile. I'll just take a quick peek to see what this one is about, he'd think, and before he knew he would be halfway through it.”

  • A Storm of Swords

  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3
  • By: George R. R. Martin
  • Narrated by: Roy Dotrice
  • Length: 47 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 55,198
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47,671
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 47,630

As opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others, a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow.

  • By Magikarp Salad on 12-22-07

5/5

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-26-16

This book is heart-wrenching, and not just because this book contains the Red Wedding, but because this book leaves you with a sense of hopelessness. Many of these characters with good hearts and souls have such terrible things happen to them, while liars and killers prosper. Sometimes having a heavy pocketbook is more important than being a good person. *insert thought provoking parallel about how this mirrors our world and makes it even sadder*

As always, I want to state a disclaimer, like with all of the books in this series, that there are many very graphic rape and gang-rape scenes. I couldn't even list all of the triggers for sexual abuse in this book, so please use caution when reading. As scary as the sexual violence is to me, I think it is very believable in this world and helps to show people that the real monsters aren't just beyond the wall; they are human beings capable of very evil things.

"To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil," GRRM even says (perfectly) himself, via The Guardian.

I am loving this reread, and I'm loving being able to piece together theories that I completely missed in prior readings. Game of Thrones truly is the best show on television, and these books are truly a tier above the rest of high fantasy out there. I know they can be intimidating and a little dark, but they are so worth it. I can't recommend this series enough. GRRM is honestly a genius, and I'm still not sure if I'm worthy enough to read his words.

The rest of this review will have spoilers from A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and also mild spoilers for this book, A Storm of Swords! If you have not read the first three books in this series, and do not want to get spoiled, please do not read this portion of my review!

My favorite story-arc in A Storm of Swords is, hands down, no question, Jaime's. Jaime's story of redemption is honestly one of the best I've ever read. His actions truly are all "for love", he just starts learning what unconditional love is a little late in life. In this book, Brienne is on a mission, from Catelyn, to return Jaime to the Lannisters in hopes of getting her daughters back. Jaime's change is so apparent on this trip with Brienne. I think Jaime is also, probably, the most complex character in this world. I can't see him having a happy ending, but I hope his redemption story leads him to it, rather than death.

“I've lost a hand, a father, a son, a sister, and a lover, and soon enough I will lose a brother. And yet they keep telling me House Lannister won this war.”

Tyrion is the other Lannister that gives me a lot of feelings. Tyrion is such an amazing metaphor on how the society we live in today treats people that look "differently." His father will never accept him, his sister will never love him, and no one in the kingdom will take him seriously even though the kingdom is only standing because of him in A Clash of Kings. What a terrible hand he is constantly being dealt, and all because of his physical appearance that he has no control over. I want, so badly, for Tyrion to win the game of thrones.

“The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them.”

And thanks to Tyrion, we get to see more of a new and beloved character - Oberyn Martell. His pain and revenge mission was really inspiring and heartfelt. I wish we could have seen more of him, and Dorne (don't get me started on show Dorne, please), because he really was an amazing character, who deserved his revenge. Also, he had one of the best duel scenes I've ever read in my entire life. Again, GRRM is a god among men.

“Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died.”

My favorite character, Davos, and his points of view were a little painful this reread. Stannis is so out of his mind because of his need for power. He is legitimately upset because Robert was King, Renly ruled their home, and Ned got to be hand of the king. None of his actions are because he wants what is best for the realm. Seeing him being hurtful to Davos really upset me. The weird thing is, I like Melisandre and I think she is a great anti-hero, but Stannis just enrages me. I never understood the fan following he has. But that's okay, because Davos is my little cinnamon roll and I pray no harm ever comes of him. Especially because of all he has lost and endured in this book.

Oh, poor Catelyn. I guess we can talk about her and how her story-line is, by far, the saddest in this book. Don't get me wrong, Catelyn has upset me very much with her treatment of Jon and her naive thinking in other books, but in this book I can't help but have an immense about of empathy for her. I am not sure I've ever reading anything like the Red Wedding. You can feel Catelyn's helplessness in a way I can't even put into words. Her desperation and her defeat are so palpable. I've never been a fan of Cat or her chapters, but this piece of literature breaks me every time.

“All these kings would do a deal better if they would put down their swords and listen to their mothers.”

If only Robb would have just listened to his mother. If only he would have been able to keep it in his pants for a night, or to not feel guilt afterwards. If only Robb would have stayed in Winterfell. I mean, I can play the "if only" game with Robb all day, but that doesn't make the results of what happened any different. Robb left Winterfell to avenge his father. Robb trusted himself over his mother. Robb is a grown man that wanted to have sex, and felt obliged to marry a girl after he took her virginity. I mean, it's not like he did terrible, unthinkable things, he did things that a young boy would do. It doesn't ease the pain, or make me less upset, but he actions are somewhat understandable.

“He won the war on the battlefield and lost it in a bedchamber, poor fool”

And since the Red Wedding is much different from the show, is this going to be the last mention of Jeyne Westerling? I'm not saying consenting adults can't have sex, but she seemed a little manipulative, and so did her father and uncle (who Greywind didn't like). I'm excited to see if anything comes from the Westerling family down the road in this series.

Sansa Stark is just getting passed around from one person to the next. I think she really embodies what it is like to be a high-born lady in this world. All she wants is her prince charming, because she has been fed promises of him her whole life, but all she receives is disappointment after disappointment, while counting her ever growing list of dead family members. Also, Littlefinger is gross.

Arya, my favorite Stark, is still doing everything in her power to hide that she is a high-born lady in this world. Sometimes, I truly forget her age, but when I remember my heart bleeds all over again. She has endured so many things that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemies, but she overcomes them all. Arya is super inspiring and motivating, to me. I hope her journey with The Hound isn't over, and the end result turns out like it did in the show.

Rickon is nonexistent and Bran is, sadly, forgettable in A Storm of Swords.

I'll be honest with you; Dany's story-line in this book is a little boring for me. All of my feelings just manifest to hate for Kraznys mo Nakloz, the slave trader Dany tries to bargain with. Seriously, he makes Joffrey, Cersei, and The Mountain look like saints! Any leftover feelings I had went to being creeped out about Jorah, and how he is such an old pervert. Like, I always thought the show portraying his love for Dany was so wrong. I know it's mostly because Emilia Clarke doesn't look thirteen, but still, Jorah is such a creep. Unfortunately, these two very dark clouds loomed over Dany's story, and made her chapters not as enjoyable as some of the other main protagonists in this book.

“I am the blood of the dragon. I must be strong. I must have fire in my eyes when I face them, not tears.”

Sam had the other lackluster chapters, for me. Sam is one of the few characters I like on the show much more than reading about in the books. I know GRRM loves him, and I know his love for books will obviously play a bigger role in this story, but as far as A Storm of Swords goes, Sam was boring as hell. I mean, he's literally killing white walkers and still, somehow, being boring as hell doing it. I don't even understand. But, he did put Jon's name in the running for Lord Commander, so I can't dislike his character or anything.

Lord Commander Snow. Oh, how my heart breaks for Jon over and over again, too. He's constantly trying to prove his worth to people who refuse to see it. I loved how he was able to actually experience happiness with Ingrid, even for just a short while. Also, I remembered them having sex, but I completely forgot how much sex him and Ingrid had. Holy shit, I so didn't remember reading that. Oh, Jon Snow.

THINGS I MISSED IN MY PREVIOUS REREAD(S):

Mance Rayder is Able, inspired by Bael the Bard, in A Game of Thrones -
There is a story that Bael the Bard snuck into Winterfell and had sex with a Stark woman and impregnated her. Mance was inspired by this tale, and in A Game of Thrones a man named Able and a washer woman were very interested in Theon and Arya at the feast that Robert Baratheon attended when he finally made it to Winterfell. Well, this was because it was Mance and the spear wives/wildings in disguise, spying on what was going on in Winterfell!

Maege Mormont and Tormund Giantbane are totally in love -
I will come back to this in my review of A Dance with Dragons, but this book still hints at the fact that Tormund likes to "sleep with a she-bear", and Maege Mormont not only fits the description, but House Mormont's symbol is a bear. Tormund even has the title "Husband of Bears." Tormund has wildlings sons, but they have no mother north of the wall, this could be because Tormund keeps the sons, so they will not be considered bastards. Maege could keeps all the girls, which, by the way, none of them have fathers, and Maege can still marry them off to live good lives under House Mormont. Also, this means Lyanna Mormont, who won everyone's hearts in S6, is one of their love children!

Dreams are way more important than what they seem -
Alt Shift X just made an amazing video about some of Dany's dreams and how important their foreshadowing will be, but he has also made an Arya video a while back that really stuck with me this reread. Arya dreams and wargs in this book constantly, and her fascination with warging into Nymeria is such a big part of this book's story. Bran also wargs into Summer, missing how it feels to move on his own, but Arya's dreams really stuck with me and I think will play a much bigger role in her character's development. Also, Alt Shift X is amazing. Please, spam all his videos. If you're a ASOIAF fan, you will not regret it.

I'm sorry if this review seems all over the place. I get so passionate about this series, and while writing I have like fifty different trains of thought going! I loved this reread, and I'm learning so much information I had previously missed. I always loved A Storm of Swords, because it seemed so action packed, while giving us this surprise ending that introduces one of the main themes that the show has chosen not to do - Lady Stoneheart.

  • A Clash of Kings

  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2
  • By: George R. R. Martin
  • Narrated by: Roy Dotrice
  • Length: 37 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 63,894
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55,146
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 55,075

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I'm hooked, but narration...

  • By Peter on 04-02-13

5/5

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-26-16

Well, no one said this title was misleading. When GRRM named this A Clash of Kings he couldn't have been more right. This review will contain SPOILERS! Please refrain from reading if you have not read this book or its predecessor, A Game of Thrones.

So, we have the king sitting on the Iron Throne, Joffrey. We have Theon's father crowing himself King of the Iron Islands. We have both of brothers of the late King Robert, Stannis and Renly, calling themselves kings and proving they will do anything to keep their titles. We have Robb Stark, the young wolf himself, proclaiming he is King of the North. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we have the lovely Daenerys trying to throw her hat crown in the ring, while trying to find a fleet of ships to take her to Westeros.

“The contents of a man's letters are more valuable than the contents of his purse.”

I absolutely am in love with the start of this book. Each chapter is a new POV with a new character within the Seven Kingdoms seeing Daenerys' red comet for the first time. We, as readers, know that the comet is because of the birth of her three dragons at the end of A Game of Thrones, but each character tells their own interpretation of what omen they think the falling comet brings with it.

“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it's served up.”

We finally meet my favorite character in the ASOIAF world; Davos. I always loved Davos in the books, and then Liam Cunningham playing him on the show, just completely sealed the deal for me. I don't have high hopes for him living throughout the entirety of this series, but I completely live for his chapters in these five books that are out. My heart bleeds for him at Battle of the Blackwater. Actually, my heart just continues to bleed for Davos. He always does the right thing, not the selfish right thing that other characters in this world trick themselves into thinking is the right thing, but the actual right thing. Please, GRRM, leave my precious little cinnamon roll alone!

Seeing Stannis act like a jealous twelve-year-old girl, because Robert's BFF was Ned and that he gave Renly Storm's End, is always hilarious. I know many, many people want/wanted him to be the true king, but that theory never, ever resonated with me. Stannis always seemed so childish, the only redeeming quality he ever has going for him is his daughter, Shireen.

Catelyn's chapters where much more bearable for me than they were in A Game of Thrones. I actually could feel her pain and regret, and she really impacted me much differently this time around. She actually made some pretty strong decisions, and this whole story would have gone much differently if Robb would have taken some of her advice.

Robb was actually the Stark I couldn't stand in A Clash of Kings. He was so heartless about even attempting to get his sisters back. Then, he made stupid decision after stupid decision. I feel like maybe he has to be a bastard, too, because I cannot believe this is the son of Ned Stark with his actions. I know people who were upset that Robb never got any chapters, but during this reread I was extremely thankful for that.

Another one of my favorite characters is introduced in this book, which is Brienne of Tarth. You know, I've been on the fence about if Brienne actually killed Stannis in S5E10, but after rereading her love for Renly, I completely believe she did in the TV show. Regardless, Catelyn made her first good decisive choice, in my eyes, by rescuing Brienne from a very unfair situation. And we all know Brienne goes forth to repay that debt tenfold.

Speaking of the TV show, one thing that the TV doesn't show is all the foreshadowing the book does about Arya's wolf, Nymeria. There are so many passages hinting about this new wolf pack leader that is ruling the Riverlands, and scaring the hell out of a lot of people.

Poor Arya, she might have the worst deal of them all in this book. After having to witness the public execution of her father, she is forced into hiding by Yoren, who helps smuggle her out with a group of boys and wishes to take her to Castle Black to be with Jon. She ends up making friends, Gendry (Robert's bastard) and Hot Pie, but after even more unfortunate events in her life, Yoren winds up dead and the group captured. She then ends up being Roose Bolton's cupbearer, but the whole situation seems kind of weird for me. Arya did not know the Bolton's already were traitors against Robb, I imagine she would still think they were one of the Stark's banner men, no? And if she thought this, like I imagine I would, I would bet she would tell him who she really is! I mean, in hindsight we know she made the much, much, much better choice keeping her identity a secret, but the situation felt a little strange for me this read-through.

Regardless, Arya also meets, and we are introduced to, Jaqen H'ghar in this book. They have a few very intense moments, and he leaves her with his coin and explains to her that if she ever needs to find him to give the coin to anyone in Braavos.

"valar morghulis"

Roose Bolton isn't the only Bolton that is in Clash of Kings; his bastard son, Ramsey, is as well. Okay, now I know Ramsey goes down on the TV show as the most evil villain ever, but that's why I freakin' love him! Actually, ASOIAF is so good because GRRM really does write the best villains, and you can see where every one of them is coming from! Ramsey will do anything, and I mean anything, to prove to his rather that he should have the last name Bolton.

“In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining.”

Theon, another character that can be seen as a villain that is willing to do anything to please his father, has betrayed Robb and decided to take Winterfell for himself. If only Rob acutally listened to his mother this time. Unfortunately Robb didn't listen and unfortunately Theon will never be as cunning as Ramsey, who is posing under the guise of Reek, even though the real Reek died after having sex with a dead body of a girl that Ramsey had just raped and killed, who is now a prisoner in Winterfell. It is so genius, and so well executed by GRRM I will applaud him until the day I die. Twists and storylines like this is why this series is a step above the rest and completely deserves all the praise it receives.

I guess I should always state a disclaimer, like with all of the books in this series, that there are many very graphic rape and gang-rape scenes. I couldn't even list all of the triggers for sexual abuse in this book, so please use caution when reading if this is something that concerns you. As scary as the sexual violence is to me, I think it is very believable in this world and helps to show people that the real monsters aren't just beyond the wall; they are human beings capable of very evil things.

"To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil," GRRM even says (perfectly) himself, via The Guardian.

I feel like this book doesn't have enough Jon POVs, but every chapter we got a POV of him was phenomenal. I have always liked Ygritte more in the books, and this reread proves no different. We get to see Jon kill his first wildling, and then see something in Ygritte he hasn't been able to see in another living soul. I get teary-eyed just thinking about this sub-plot. Jon obviously doesn't kill Ygritte either time he is "supposed" to, while being north of the wall looking for his uncle, Benjen, and I cannot wait to start my reread of A Storm of Swordsjust for Ygritte and Jon alone.

And speaking of crows north of the wall, can we just talk about how Jeor Mormont is the real MVP? Like, not only has he completely taken Jon under his wing (hehehe) and is guiding him like a father should, I'm kind of thinking his raven is more important that what we are lead to believe in this book. With what we know from the TV show, which will probably be canon for the book as well, we have this raven saying "king" and all these other questionable word choices.

Who are my other personal MVPs of this book? Howland Reed and his kids, Meera and Jojen. Not only was Howland maybe the most loyal man to Ned Stark, but now his two children have run away with Bran, after Winterfell is under siege, to help him on a much bigger journey ahead. I mean, where the hell would the Starks be without the Reeds? I mean, besides dead. I know Howland has never had a POV in this series, yet, but I can't help but dream of the day he will. Hopefully it will be in The Winds of Winter.

Lastly, in Westeros, we have King's Landing. Thanks to Tyrion and wildfire, they have defeated Stannis' army at Battle of the Blackwater. Sadly, this had also driven the Hound away, because he is scared of fire and it breaks my little black heart every time. Joffrey is still the crowned king after the victory, but many people are opposing it. Cersei is trying to guide him as best she can, while also giving Sansa some pretty sound life advice about women in this world and what they need to do to protect themselves. Sansa is also somewhat saved, considering her father is now seen as a traitor to the crown, who has no money or men willing to fight because Robb has them, so her marriage proposal to Joffrey isn't looking as good to the Lannisters. House Tyrell on the other hand, has lots of money and fifty-thousand swords they are willing to bring with a marriage proposal. After this marriage proposal is deemed more worthy, Margaery is sent for, because Renly, her now late husband, was killed by Stannis.

It is pretty crazy how intricate this story is, and how everything works out. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, George RR Martin truly is a genius and words cannot express how much I love this world he has created. I mean, I sure in the hell wouldn't memorize all these names for just any old author.

  • A Game of Thrones

  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1
  • By: George R. R. Martin
  • Narrated by: Roy Dotrice
  • Length: 33 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102,352
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88,655
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 88,574

Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King's Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert's name. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse - unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season. Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Review of First 5 Books

  • By DCinMI on 09-12-13

My love for A Song of Ice and Fire knows no bounds

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-16-16

“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.”

It’s been so long since I actually read A Game of Thrones and I feel like the TV show has taken over most of my memory by now. Luckily, I thought with this reread it would be the perfect time to actually give this series a proper review. This review may have a few mild spoilers laced throughout, so please use caution while reading.

I was much more emotional than I thought I would be. I mean, I’ve read this before, I’ve seen most of this played out before my eyes, but my heart still wasn’t prepared. If anything I think it made it worse or me even more emotional, because I know the outcome of most these characters I’ve came to love.

“The things we love destroy us every time, lad. Remember that.”

Ned, my too honorable Ned. I completely forget he was only thirty-five years old. I mean, I know that’s considered old in this world, but rereading this series in my late twenties makes me appreciate his age even more. If only he listened to Renly. Hell, if only he listened to Little Finger things would have been different. There wouldn’t even be a game of thrones; the Starks would have just won.

All my empathy must have ran out with Ned and his children, because this reread really made me very upset at Catelyn. I used to think that Catelyn’s motives were because of House Tully’s motto: “Family, Duty, Honor”, AKA: family is greater than everything, but she’s actually pretty selfish or at least shows an incredible amount of partiality towards certain children of hers. As much as her actions and words towards Jon made me sick, my heart bled the most for poor Rickon. He was only three years old when his mother completely neglected him for weeks, only to then leave him completely. Then, when she has the opportunity to go back to Winterfell, when she meets up with Rob, she decided to stay and help guide him, instead of going back to her cripple child and toddler who both desperately need their mother while all of their family has abandoned them. I mean, I can only imagine the abandonment issues that Rickon is going to developed when we finally find out what he has been up to.

Bran is the character I feel like I gained the most knowledge about while rereading this book. I was a little blown away when I realized the first chapter was in his point of view. I feel like that has substantial meaning in and of itself. I’m not sure if George R.R. Martin has ever said before, but I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe Bran is one of his favorite characters. I also wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Bran makes it to the very end and maybe even have the last chapter in his point of view.

My feelings on Sansa remained the same: annoyed. Yet, I know it’s not her fault, well, I mean, it is, but it’s her age and her hormones, too. She grew up dreaming of fairytales and wanted more than anything to one day be living one. Then, all of a sudden, she has a handsome prince dangled before her, with dreams of being queen one day. I completely can understand why Sansa does and says the things she does, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them or that I’m immune to being annoyed by them.

My feelings for Arya, also, remained the same: in awe. Arya will always be my favorite Stark. I hope if I have a daughter one day that she is strong, brave, and not afraid to be different like Arya. Her chapters may not be my favorite, but Arya has always felt like the character I care the most about. Like, I care more about her safety than all the rest. In contrast, Rob is the character I care the least about in this book, because he is just so damn boring. It’s no wonder why he doesn’t get his own points of view.

Jon’s way more angsty than I remember and dramatically more angsty than the show ever portrayed him. I mean, I understand he’s only fourteen in the book, I had just forgotten I suppose. And, my goodness, the R+L=J theory is thrown in your face left and right during this book. I am not sure how George R.R. Martin will be able to not have that be end game, because of all the foreshadowing in this book. I could fill this whole review with just me gushing over Jon, but I’ll save you and your eyes and just say I have a lot of love for this bastard.

“And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.”

If you would have asked me who my favorite character was in A Game of Thrones before this reread I would have probably said Jon. If not Jon, I would have picked Daenerys or Arya. But no, my favorite character in A Game of Thrones is without a doubt, hands down, no questions asked, Tyrion. Maybe this is also where my dislike for Catelyn comes in, because she acts pretty rash and treats him pretty badly, too. Tyrion is so kind, and his struggle to not be like his father is so admirable. His story line is so rich and rewarding, yet so heartbreaking. I found myself craving his chapters, becoming absolutely addicted to everything he said, all while using my highlighter like a crazy person because he has the best quotes, too.

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

I love Drogo and Daenerys’ relationship and being able to see them overcome language barriers, cultural differences, hierarchy shifts, and fall in love is maybe the best thing in this book. I know a lot of people probably won’t romanticize their relationship, but I always found it heartwarming and endearing. Similar to my problems with Catelyn, I did find myself disliking Daenerys a little. I’m not going to say Mirri Maz Duur is innocent, she ends up doing some terrible things, but after this reread I totally think Drogo’s fate was his own fault, not Mirri’s. She made him a poultice, and he took it off to pack his cut with mud, which totally led to his infection. Then, when Mirri is pretty much given the options “heal Drogo or die” she forewarns Daenerys that she is going to use blood magic and a sacrifice must be made, and Daenerys gave her a confirmation without a lot of questions asked. Looking at it from her perspective, she was going to die if she didn’t try something. I don’t know, maybe I’m just older and more empathetic now, but that whole blame-game didn’t sit well with me this read-through. Yet, that didn’t stop me from crying like a baby at Daenerys and Drogo’s ending in this book.

The other thing I kept being unable to not notice with Daenerys was her constantly referral to home being that red door in Dragonstone. I know she could rule the seven kingdoms from Dragonstone instead of King’s Landing, but maybe she would also find peace and solace bringing honor to the House Targaryen and becoming Lady of Dragonstone until the end of her days. I mean, I’m probably thinking way too much into this and I know it’s a huge stretch, but would George R.R. Martin really make it as simple as Daenerys winning the game of thrones? I feel like the entirety of the series is set up for that, and George R.R. Martin likes twists far too much for that. In before Varys.

I loved the cameos from some overlooked characters that I tend to forget about. I loved seeing Osha being brought into the story, especially since George R.R. Martin does such a wonderful job hiding how important she will end up being. I enjoyed reading about Beric immensely. I mean, his fire sword is incredibly badass, and knowing his completely different story arc on the TV show makes me enjoy reading about how vastly different his path will leads in the book. Jeor was also a very enjoyable side character, and I loved seeing angsty Jon attempting to be his personal steward.

I know this book can seem overwhelming just from the size alone. I also know reading it is a little less appealing because of the HBO’s genius of making it the best TV show on air as of now. Yet, I have to advocate that you will gain a lot of missing information from actually reading this book. Honestly, this book never felt like 800 pages for me. The multiple perspectives are amazing, and I love being in certain protagonist’s heads, while seeing how another protagonist feels as an outsider looking in on the situation. George R.R. Martin is a wonderful story teller, and this world he has created is unlike anything else. This book does have some pretty dark themes, so please use caution if you are uncomfortable reading about rape, highly explicit sex scenes, and just overall a lot of violence.

Overall, I’m so happy I did this reread. I’m so sorry if I’m theory crafting too much, I blame my love for it on Reddit completely. I feel very satisfied with picking up themes I feel like I didn’t see before. As I said before, I think I’m a much more empathetic reader now and I think that is the reason I changed my views on many characters. I’m so excited to see what else I find, and figure out how else I feel, while rereading the rest of these books. This reread also reinforced that my love for A Song of Ice and Fire knows no bounds.

“We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

  • The Wrath and the Dawn

  • By: Renee Ahdieh
  • Narrated by: Ariana Delawari
  • Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 684
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 623
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 625

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the 18-year-old caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when 16-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful Story, Passable Narrator

  • By Shelby Ence on 10-24-15

4/5

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-05-16

I enjoyed this book, but it did a horrible job keeping my attention for the first half. Maybe it was because I chose the audio-book as the medium to read this on. Regardless, the first half of this book was really hard for me in general, mostly because of Shahrzad.

This is actually a wonderful One Thousand and One Nights retelling. In case your memory is hazy, One Thousand and One Nights is a beautiful story about a man who takes a new bride each night, but they lose their life by the next day. One woman tells such a beautiful tale to this man that he keeps her alive the next day, then the next day, then the next day, and so on and so forth because he is so enthralled by her story. She lives for 1,001 nights, telling this tale, but he chooses not to kill her when it has ended, because by that point he is in love with her.

Well, The Wrath & the Dawn retelling is actually very similar. The twist this story has on One Thousand and One Nights is that Shahrzad, the girl telling the tale, is on a revenge mission because her best friend was taken and killed the following morning. But that sounds like a pretty cool twist, right? Right! That is, until Shahrzad starts falling in love with the man, Khalid, Caliph of Khorasan, two days after meeting him, for literally no reason other than him being good-looking.

“I will live to see tomorrow's sunset. Make no mistake. I swear. I will live to see as many sunsets as it takes. And I will kill you. With my bare hands.”

Like I said, only the first half was somewhat disappointing for me, because after that I started to see behind the scenes and see Khalid's worth. But Shahrzad went into this mission thirsty for blood, and it was too unbelievable for me to imagine she would jeopardize her mission because her best friend's killer is handsome with a nice smile.

That being said, after that first fifty-percent, I became complete Khalid trash, too. Be still, my heart. I seriously fell in love, and some of the things that came out of his mouth made me melt into a puddle on my bed. Yet, then I couldn't help but question why he was so interested in Shahrzad. Why was she so different than all the others? I understand she was telling him a story, and that reminded him of his mother, but he seemed to instantly fall in love with her before she even opened her mouth to begin her plan.

“It's inevitable. When you meet the one who makes you smile as you've never smiled before, cry as you've never cried before... there is nothing to do but fall.”

Oh, but heads up, there is a love triangle. Well, for me, personally, there was never any competition on who I would pick, but I feel it's worth noting for people who hate that type of angst.

The imagery in this book was close to perfection. I've seen this said before, but the statement holds true: this book makes you feel like you can taste the food they are eating, hear the music they are listening to, completely picture the palace they are in, see the clothes they are wearing in great detail. Renee Ahdieh really does a phenomenal job doing this, and you will feel completely immersed in this world she created.

The final twenty-five perfect of this book was, also, perfection. I actually even cried, not just for Khalid, but for Shahrzad, too. Hell, I even cried for Jalal and Despina! Then my heart started breaking a little for Tariq! I was a blubbering mess, but it's totally because this story is told so magnificently that it was impossible for me not to feel everything imaginable that these characters were feeling.

I could also probably highlight this whole book, because it is that beautifully written. I had so many quotes highlighted by the time I was done with this book, and many of them I will keep with me forever.

“I love you, a thousand times over. And I will never apologize for it.”

  • Shadow and Bone

  • By: Leigh Bardugo
  • Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,023
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,711
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,721

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • disappointed

  • By Whovian on 08-31-18

Completely Mesmerizing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-01-16

Earlier this year I read Six of Crows and didn't expect to like it as much as I did. I was so impressed with the writing and world building that I knew I was going to eventually read Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy. My only regret is that I didn't read this sooner, because it actually blew me away.

First off, I read this in one sitting. Like, I moved from a chair to my bed, and that was the only task I did while reading this book. I just couldn't stop reading, and that's a feeling I haven't had with a first book of a series for a while.

Next, the Darkling. Do I really need to say more? Hello, perfect antihero. Seriously, morally grey villains are my weakness. I fell in love with him after chapter six, and stayed in love with him after he started pulling some shady stuff.

“Fine, make me your villain.”

Also, can we talk about how Leigh Bardugo writes some of the most powerful one-liners I've read in my life? I was blown away with a few in Six of Crows, but this book surpassed even those!

“The problem with wanting," he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, "is that it makes us weak.”

Goose bumps. Literally goose bumps everywhere. Leigh Bardugo is so much more talented than some of these over-hyped YA authors today. It just doesn't feel like she gets the credit she deserves, because her writing is seriously on another level. I can't tell you how much I regret not giving her books a try earlier, because this is a low-key masterpiece.

So enough of my fangirling, and let me tell you what this book is actually about. This story follows a map maker, Alina, who is in the King's first army. She has been an orphan all her life, but has grown up, and fallen in love, with her best friend, Mal, who is also in the King's first army. Everyone in this world is scared of the Fold, which was created a long time ago and is filled with darkness. Inside the Fold, there are winged beasts called Volcra, that will show no mercy to anyone. When Alina has no other option, she miraculously shows that she isn't an ordinary girl, but a Grisha, and saves Mal's life from a light she is able to produce to eliminate the darkness. The Darkling, and many others, take notice of this talent and whisk Alina away for proper Grisha training so she can be in the King's second army, which is comprised only of Grishas and lead by the Darkling himself.

Even though the Darkling is on a whole other level, the rest of the characters are phenomenal as well.

Alina is another strong female that I'm proud to read about. She does have the "I'm just an orphan, I didn't know I'm the most powerful girl in the world" trope, but it actually didn't bother me because she had such a good heart and witty personality. Her loneliness also struck a chord with me that was rather reminiscent, so, regardless of her shortcomings, it would have been hard for me not to like her.

Mal is also a fantastic, and selfless, character that I feel like I should love. Unfortunately, my heart has no room for anyone but the Darkling.

This book is unlike anything I've ever read. I absolutely loved it. And when Alina put on that freakin' black kefta it provoked so much unexpected emotional from me! Now, please excuse me while I binge read this entire series.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Raven King

  • The Raven Cycle, Book 4
  • By: Maggie Stiefvater
  • Narrated by: Will Patton
  • Length: 11 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,408
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,238
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,236

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Once in a Lifetime Series

  • By Melanie Parker on 04-28-16

Once in a Lifetime Series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-28-16

“He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn't want it to be over.”

This is truly a once in a lifetime series. If Harry Potter was my childhood, The Raven Cycle was my 20's. This series was perfect for me, and I don't think anyone could break the spell that this series and these characters have cast upon me.

“They were both hungry animals, but Adam had been starving for far longer.”

“Depending on where you began the story, it was about..." unconditional love and the power it can evoke. This book is the type of book that makes me want to be a better person. It makes me want to be more appreciative of my friends and family. It makes me so thankful that I have a love for reading and that it was instilled in me from a young age. It makes me feel so blessed that I'm able to read and able to read books like this. I'm eternally grateful to Maggie Stiefvater and her words that somehow penetrated my heart and built this perfect story.

I'm writing this review in actual tears, because this story is so beautiful and means so much to me. I probably sound really incoherent and this review is ending up just like my Shiver review, where I'm just fangirling, but sometimes while reading this series I felt like Maggie Stiefvater was writing this solely for me. Like she somehow got inside my heart and wrote my soul down on paper. I really don't have any words that I can string together to do a review for The Raven King justice; I'll just say that it changed me forever, I'm eternally grateful to have had this reading experience, and that I'll never forget it. Thank you, Maggie Stiefvater.

Blue, Gansey, Adam, and Ronan all have a piece of my heart that I will never get back. In return, they will stay with me forever.

“He closed his eyes and he began to dream.”

19 of 19 people found this review helpful