Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas *2AM Book Review*

When I first got done with Queen of Shadows about a week ago, it was very early in the morning and I had a lot of thoughts that I just dumped into my Notes app before knocking out for the night.

I never ended up refining those notes before I moved onto Tower of Dawn and Empire of Storms, and seeing as I’ve just finished both of those today and have MORE thoughts, I figured I would just post that 2AM rant here. So please enjoy my semi-coherent reaction to Book 4 of the Throne of Glass series by our YA Overlord, Sarah J. Maas.

Oh… and Spoiler Alert.**

From Liv’s Notes App @2:13AM EST:

Queen of Shadows is much slower than Heir of Fire which is understandable since it’s setting so much up for the next few books (I’m assuming). I’m not sure I would’ve been so invested from the beginning without Manon’s chapters since Aelin’s plotline doesn’t really get moving until nearly after the halfway point.

Speaking of characters, they are definitely both SJM’s strongest and weakest links depending on which one we’re talking about. I love Aelin of course, she’s badass and it’s been awesome to watch her grow into herself after knowing her as Celaena for so long. Lysandra and Elide are also fantastic characters that we got to know in this installment. I particularly enjoy how uplifting their arcs are since one is a former sex worker (treated poorly by everyone) and the other is essentially an abused slave to her pervy uncle. I’m glad to see the slut shaming that plagued the first book got corrected at least in this sense. And Asterin??? What an interesting side character! She has one of the darkest arcs in this book and I gobbled it up. I hope the rest of the Thirteen get some of that development too in later books.

Dorian is interesting but he literally doesn’t have a lot of agency for most of the book. That being said, his ✨trauma✨ is compelling. I sure hope he receives therapy after this book. He is Daddy Issues™ incarnate.

Chaol is super boring, as he has been since the end of CoM and I really think this would be fixed if only IF ONLY SJM would grow a pair and actually put a LGBTQ+ relationship in the main cast (considering the fact that EVERYONE gets paired up with someone or multiple someone’s, why are they all so freaking hetero). Chaol x Dorian would not only make sense, it would add some much needed flavor and nuance. No I will not be accepting criticism on this point. Basically my expectations for Tower of Dawn are low but I have heard it’s the book that redeems him as a character, so we’ll see.

Can we talk for a second about how Rowan went from being the most interesting character in HoF and then immediately became a piece of cardboard with abs? With the amount of times Aelin and Aedion (who are cousins btw) have low-key flirtatious interactions, I’m convinced that he and Rowan are the same person in two bodies but only one of those bodies can be romantically involved with Aelin without things getting too weird. I know I’ve been asking for spice, but that’s not what I meant. (I never thought I’d miss Rhysand but here we are. Like at least he kind of has a personality.)

Now for the reason this book is 4 stars and not 3: Manon Blackbeak. What can I say, I’m a sucker for morally grey women that are insanely violent but have just enough heart buried in there to make me want to see how they evolve. Manon carries a solid 85% of this book on her back and I adore her. SJMs world building and plot regarding the witches and their whole deal at Morath is the greatest thing to come from TOG thus far. I can already see that she and Dorian are being pushed together and I’m already so disappointed and over it. I really don’t think Manon needs a love interest, and if SJM truly insists on it, then put her with Asterin since there’s chemistry built in there. Literally, why are you so afraid of making one of your main couples not heterosexual. I don’t understand.

I think I sound madder about this than I really am. I stand by the fact that this book earns it’s 4 stars since it’s so ambitious, complex (plot wise), and generally enjoyable. Plus that final climax was INSANELY good. (Go off, Kaltain, omfg!!) And I’m being extra generous because again, I adore Manon more than anyone else here.

That being said, I still have issues as I’ve mentioned and SJM’s writing, mechanically, is flawed. The fae behavior is super repetitive and cringe-inducing at times. I feel uncomfy every time someone is referred to as a territorial male, every time something that isn’t a dog barks, every time someone makes a vulgar gesture, and every time one of the Fae “scents” something. It comes across like a kink the author has and I feel like I’m intruding on something I’m not supposed to be hearing about.

I know it’s a common meme for people to make the “SJM Drinking Game” joke but I actually think I would die if I took a drink every time I came across one of those occurrences I mentioned.

I sound mad again, don’t I? I’m sorry, I’m really not, and I do like this series a lot so far. I just think it’s fair to humble it a little since it’s touted as one of the greatest YA/NA fantasy/romance series ever by its stans (and there’s an army of them), maybe paling only to ACOTAR which is another series by SJM and also has a lot of the same problems but that’s an essay for another time.

If you actually read all of this, thank you and I’m sorry.

So as I’ve stated I’ve since finished both Tower of Dawn and Empire of Storms so you can expect a tandem review for those soon. I didn’t love them.

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January Reading Wrap-Up

2021 has been off to good start in only one way– I’ve read some really awesome books! When I can’t bear to catch up with current events (constantly) or personal stressors get to be too much (often) at least there’s the written word to get lost in.

So here are the books I’ve read and, mostly, loved this past month.

The Five-Star Reads:

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

I don’t know if I’m really ready to talk about Addie yet. I feel like I’m still absorbing all of it. What I can tell you is this: it’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

The concept of a girl who just wants to live a fulfilling life being blessed with immortality and simultaneously cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets is terribly tragic. This is a very slow book with minimal “plot” so lovers of character driven narratives will appreciate the detail that went into Schwab’s crafting of Ms. LaRue’s inner monologue. The story ruminates on the following question: what is your life worth if you can’t leave a meaningful impression on the world? And for me, as someone who doesn’t have soaring aspirations and would be more than content to live a Hobbit-esque lifestyle, just being cozy finding happiness however I can, I think the message within Invisible Life is comforting and hopeful.

Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

What can I say, Alex and Henry are adorable. I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary novels and U.S. politics have been nothing short of exhausting lately, but I didn’t find either of those aspects hindering here. I’m new to the steamy adult romance scene (I think my formal introduction was From Blood and Ash back in November 2020) and I was really pleased with how this one played out! The relationship is wholesome and steamy in the right moments and I think the ending was delightfully uplifting.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

If you like poignant writing and true crime documentaries, you should look no further than Sadie. This is a hard hitting novel about a murdered girl and her sister who goes missing shortly thereafter. I loved that we got to see how the community is affected by an event like this, and how people all have their own takes on how things went down.

World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

This was a collection of essays inspired by the author’s experience as an immigrant in America and the beauty of nature around us all. I read this book while spending an afternoon in the E.R. and it really helped me to put a positive spin on things. It’s very easy to focus on the ugly and painful parts of our world, but there is so much beauty to reach out and touch if only you choose to seek it out.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire

I covered my thoughts on the first 3 books of the Wayward Children series already. To me, this book was far and away the best.

The Four-Star Reads:

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (From Blood and Ash #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I had my doubts about this one. The first 200 or so pages move like molasses. I stuck around because I do find the dynamics between Poppy, Casteel, and Kieran interesting but I was very glad when things finally got moving again. I can’t say much that won’t spoil anything but, well, I’m very excited for the third book’s release in April this year.

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

I have a lot of thoughts about this book that I will be putting into a proper review soon. In traditional Maas fashion, there are issues with the writing and some of the characterization. I wish there was more diversity in her writing. For someone with so many characters and romantic relationships she’s having us follow, there’s a lot of white heterosexual people. That being said, I can understand and respect this epic fantasy she is crafting. There are parts I find super impressive and I find myself engaged in what’s happening. Also, Manon Blackbeak is hands down, the best character she has ever created.

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

More witches! I really liked this one! My biggest gripe has to do with the lackluster writing style which is something I personally put a lot of stock into. Conceptually and character-wise, I think it was brilliantly done. You check out my full review of it here.

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire

Very sweet. Literally.

The Three-Star Reads:

Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

I don’t read a lot of middle grade unless it’s something particularly special and/or nostalgic. I never read the Warrior Cats books as a kid but I know how much hype there is around them. So no, as a 23 year old, I’m not blown away by it, but I can totally understand why so many kids have been.

Remina by Junji Ito

I’m still chasing the highs I got from Uzumaki, Tomie, and Fragments of Horror and at this point I’m just not sure it’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I still really love the Ito-ness of these last few books of his I’ve read. But it’s become very clear that his characters are not complex, and his plots go everywhere without feeling grounded in anything. Stuff just happens, so much, all the time. I’m still on board for the art style and the concepts but I’m really craving something punchy and concise like Amigara Fault, or effectively cosmic like Uzumaki.

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire

It’s not often that the first book in a series is the most lackluster one, but here we are. I give thanks for the fact that it got me into the sequels!

I hope you all have had a safe and happy start to 2021. I know there’s a lot going on in the world right now, but don’t forget to look inward once in a while and check on yourself. Be well! ❤

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21 Books On My 2021 TBR

While I’m trying to keep my goals to a minimum this year I do want to try and knock some books off of my TBR, especially the ones that have been there for a while already.

So here are 21 books that I want to finish in 2021!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  1. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  2. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  3. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  4. The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
  5. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  6. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
  7. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
  8. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
  9. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
  10. Kill the Farm Boy by Kevin Hearne and Delilah Dawson
  11. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
  12. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  13. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  14. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  15. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  16. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  17. Confessions by Kanae Minato
  18. Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda
  19. You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno
  20. Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
  21. Crier’s War by Nina Varela

And just for funsies, here’s a stretch goal for some series I’d like to finish this year:

  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (I’ve read 4/8 books)
  • Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba (I’ve read 1/6 Black Edition volumes)
  • Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida (I’ve read 1/14 volumes)
  • Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire (I’ve read 3/6 published books *series still ongoing*)
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (I’ve read 1/2 books)
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (I’ve read 0/3 books)

I’d love to hear what you’re planning to read this year!

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