Monthly Wrap-Ups

March Wrap-Up

What I read, watched and listened to in the month of March! Books, Music, Movies/TV…ya know, the important stuff

Read: I’ve been on a big YA fantasy kick lately and I just devoured the Throne of Glass Series. I loved this series. It’s started off a little slow in the first two books, but books 3, 4, 5 were just so much fun! I did also manage to get in one Historical Fiction novel this month. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin.

Click on the title to read my reviews for each:

Hire of Fire (ToG #3) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Queen of Shadows (ToG #4) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Empire of Storms (ToG #5) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The American Heiress ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

Listened To:

Matisyahu – I have loved Matisyahu since his first album, Youth. I love his inspirational, mellow vibe and his new album is just as amazing! My favorite song on the album is “Step out into the Light”

Greatest Showman Soundtrack: I have yet to see the film, but I can’t get enough of the soundtrack. It’s not a traditionally Broadway sound, it’s really a mixture of all genres of music. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Hamilton. My Favorite song on the album is, “The Other Side.”

I am also on Spotify and I love to create and share playlists. Click on my username below to find my Spotify profile.

Erin Rossi

Watched:

Movies: Call Me By Your Name, I-Tonya, and Murder on the Orient Express – All three of these movies were so well done.

Call me By Your Name was a gorgeous story that really shows how people come into your life and change you and shape you, even if they are not meant to stay in your life forever. The lush setting and relaxed feel of the movie were so beautiful. It made me want to jump on a plane to Italy.

I-Tonya: This was such a creative spin on a story that a lot of us saw unfold through the eyes of the media. But the movie does a great job of showing how this is really a story and a person that we don’t know at all. It did a great job of staying authentic to both the media’s version of the events and to Tonya as a person, and as an athlete.

Murder on the Orient Express: I read this book a while ago and I felt that the movie did a great job of capturing the story. A few details of the book were changed here and there, but it really stayed true to the story, the setting, and feel of this detective drama. The actors were amazing and the cinematography was beautiful. Even though I knew the end, I was still excited to see how it all unfolded in the film.

TV: The Alienist on TNT- This was really the only TV I watched this month, but that’s ok because it was amazing! I love the American Gilded Age and it was so interesting to think about the origins of psychiatry in solving crimes. I would highly recommend this show to everyone, especially those that enjoy period dramas and crime dramas.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on any and all of the above!

Here’s to a new month! Happy April!

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Review

Review: Empire of Storms ~ by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms ~ by Sarah J. Maas

Bloomsbury, 2016~ 693 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

“The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t. With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealt pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world. The only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear. Aelin will have to choose what – and who- to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.”

Although Empire of Storms didn’t wow me quite like Queen of Shadows, it was still so packed with action and tons of character development that I had to give it 5 stars. This novel took the saga to a whole new level!

Here’s what I loved:

The character development: In this book we really get to see these characters mature. The process of transformation that we started to see in Heir of Fire, of Aelin becoming a Queen, seemed to really come to fruition in this book. She is still sassy and arrogant as hell, (all the reasons we love her so much) but we definitely see her mature in this novel. She is so selfless and does so much to secure the future of her people that she finally seemed to be taking her crown and accepting her place as Queen of Terrasen.

Manon is another character that really changed as well. I really had a hard time loving Manon for a while. I just didn’t see a side to her that wasn’t bent on killing and eating humans (Obedience, Discipline, Brutality). But in EoS Manon has to face both her true lineage, the fact that she actually has a heart, and her place in this war. I started to fall in love with her in this novel. Both her and Aelin finally become the Queens they are meant to.

The Action: Just like QoS there is no shortage of action packed battle scenes in EoS. The action scenes in this book finally show the full power of Aelin’s magic. It was so great to see the beautiful, but dangerous depth of her fire and how she struggles to wield it. Another great aspect of the action scenes in EoS was the different character perspectives. Maas does a great job of showing every character’s perspective in each battle scene. What one character experiences is vastly different from the other’s, but together they created an amazing tapistry of the event.

The Romance: QoS definitely had plenty of romance and filtering, but in EoS we get to see Aelin and Rowan really become “mates.” It’s not just the sex scenes that solidify this, (although those never hurt) but we really get to see them support each other as they grow and change, and take on challenging new roles. I thought that this was a really touching element, but it also shows Aelin and Rowan as King and Queen. A bond so strong that together they can change their world and hopefully Aelin’s fate.

The Ending- Warning- Spoilers beyond this point

Ok, so the ending was brutal. First, we find out that Aelin is the actual the “lock” and her life is the cost for putting the keys, Erowan and the Gods back in their realm. Then, Maeve comes out of nowhere, whips her and shoves her in an iron box. I mean talk about heartbreaking! Ah, I was crushed. The moment in the mirror when Elena tells Aelin the truth, reminded of Harry’s moment when using the resurrection stone before walking into what he thinks is his death. Harry asks, “You’ll stay with me?” “until the very end,” said James.” “They won’t be able to see you?” asked Harry. “We are part of you,” said Sirius. “Invisible to anyone else.” Aelin echos this when she asks Elena, “will you come with me, so I will not be alone.” Elena replies, “I will be with you. Until the very end, every step of the way, I will be with you.”

Although Aelin doesn’t get her moment of self sacrifice like Harry, (at least not yet) I still felt the weight of her acceptance and her unwavering selflessness. She became a true hero in this moment. This was heartbreaking, but also hopeful, and it adds a whole new world of possibilities for the final book. It adds a lot of questions, but I am so excited to get answers. The final book is going to be epic!

If you have read it, or plan to, let me know! Happy reading ~XO

Come find me on Instagram and on Goodreads

For more information on Sarah J. Maas and her books, check her out on Goodreads: Sarah J. Maas

Review

Review: Queen of Shadows ~ by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows ~ by Sarah J. Maas

Bloomsbury, 2015~ 648 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description: “The queen has returned. Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire-for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…she has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight. She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.”

This book changes everything! I feel like the first three books were building to so many of the moments that we finally get in this novel. There is so much fast paced action, mystery, intrigue, and questions that are finally answered. Ah! It was so good. This was a 600+ page book and I felt like I blew threw it so quickly.

Here’s what I loved most:

Rowan and Aelin reunion and their subsequent filtations, mind reading (if that’s what we’re calling it) and their bickering over Aelin’s non-existent pajama bottoms was so much fun. It was so great watching them learn about each other and actually fall in love, rather than train, try to kill each other or try to kill someone else. My favorite scene is when they spend the day together in Rifthold and Aelin shows him all of her favorite places in the capital. They break into the Music Hall and Aelin plays the piano for him. This was a really sweet moment that broke up all of the action.

So that brings me to the action! Oh man, can Maas write a great action scene! Adeion’s rescue scene was amazing! As the reader, we know they have a plan, but we don’t know what that plan is. Watching it unfold is surprising, exhilarating, and terrifying at the same time, but also made you feel like you were there, witnessing this epic plot.

Manon and Celaena finally meet and it is seriously epic! Two crazy strong, arrogant, badass, females pulling out all the stops. I can’t wait to see how their relationships changes after this first meeting.

Lysandra and Aelin’s relationship- After such a heartbreaking past for both of these characters, it was great to see them finally be able to trust and rely on someone.

Arobynn Relationship- Ok, although I really hated Arobynn, I found Aelin’s complicated feelings towards him fascinating. Also, he was such a schemer that you felt constantly on your toes with him. Master and student were so evening matched that it made the intrigue between them so entertaining. I loved this element so much! This obviously made Aelin’s revenge on him even sweeter.

The Ending – Warning – Spoilers beyond this point

The hellfire, the shattering of the glass castle, Dorian fighting Aelin while she tries to remind him of who he is, the ending was amazing! The use “hellfire” reminded me of the moment that Cersei uses the “wildfire” to blow up the Great Sept in Game of Thrones to enact her revenge. Although Aelin is not heartless like Cersei, she does get a lot of Cersei-esque moments of revenge and maniacal smiling as her plans come together and she gets to rejoice in the shock on everyone’s faces.

My advice with this series is not to judge it on the first two books. The third was is good, but the fourth is great! If you have read it, or plan to, let me know!

Happy reading! ~ XO

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For more information of Sarah J. Maas and her books, check her out on Goodreads: Sarah J. Maas

Review

Review: Heir of Fire ~ by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire (ToG #3) ~ by Sarah J. Maas

Bloomsbury, 2014 ~ 565 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads description:

“Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak-but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life- and her future-forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed? Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this book will enthrall readers from start to finish.”

While I had reservations about book one and two, I really loved Heir of Fire. This book felt like a completely different series at times. We finally get to move on from the glass castle, the King’s Champion role, and weird love triangle between Celaena, Dorian and Chaol, and we start getting some answers. Not all the answers, but some.

Here’s what I loved most:

After the realization of who she really is at the end of Crown of Midnight, a whole new world opens up in this book and it’s amazing. Celaena is in a really dark place at the start of this book. She’s grieving, she’s betrayed, broken, and wants nothing to do with her true identity or her role as Queen. But she is a fighter, and the best thing about this book was getting to watch her fight tooth and nail back into the light.

Along with this, we see a whole new relationship form with Rowan. Their relationship grows from one of pure hatred and loathing, to a really sweet one of mutual respect and friendship. I loved that they were both broken and hurting when they met and had to help each other become whole again.

Celaena also has to come to terms with who she really is in this novel. The comfortable cover of being Celaena Sarthodien is ripped away and she is vulnerable. The loss of Nehemia pushes her to action, but it is really Rowan who helps her finally realize who she is and what she is capable of. The acceptance of her magic, her lineage, and her responsibilities, are all hard one, but taking this journey with Celaena/Aelin made me love her even more than I did before.

The Ending- Warning- Spoilers beyond this point

The ending was bittersweet. In Adarlan, Chaol and Dorian try to fight the King with devastating consequences. Sorscha is killed in front of Dorian, Dorina’s magic is revealed, and his father forces him into the Valg collar. Although this was sad, I feel like this is going to shape Dorian into the King that he will someday become. Both Dorian and Celaena are transforming into their roles as leaders and this is really promising for the next books.

At the end, Celaena must fight the Valg princes to survive and protect the people of Mistward. Although we have seen Celaena save people, this moment really shows her taking her role as protector of the innocent. She also must fight Maeve to protect the new bond she has formed with Rowan. Her sacrifice for her new friends, for Rowan, and her cunning manipulation of Maeve (at least, we think she’s manipulating her) all worked to solidify her as even more of a badass hero. While I hated Maeve, she is a seriously great villain and I am both excited and terrified to see what she does next.

If you have read this, or plan to, let me know! Happy reading! ~XO

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For more information of Sarah J. Maas and her books, check her out on Goodreads: Sarah J. Maas

Reviews

Review: Throne of Glass & Crown of Midnight (Books 1 & 2) ~ by Sarah J. Maas

 

 

Throne of Glass & Crown of Midnight ~ by Sarah J. Maas

Bloomsbury ~ 2012 & 2013

My Rating for both: 4/5 ⭐️s

Genre: YA Fantasy

Since I read both of these books so close together, I thought I would do one review for both books (1 & 2 in the series). Truthfully, I can’t seem to separate the two in my mind anyway. The Throne of Glass series is my daughter’s absolute favorite series and she’s been wanting me to read them before October so that we can read book six together. I have been reading some heavy books lately (The Heart’s Invisible Furies & The Immortalists), so it was really nice to break up some of the heavier subject matter with some fun YA fantasy. So here’s my breakdown:

Throne of Glass (Book 1):

What I liked:

Celeana~ In short, she is just awesome! She’s over the top arrogant, sassy, witty, and she kicks major butt. By the time we meet her, she has enduring many horrific events that have hardened her, but over the course of the novel, we start to see who she really is, behind all that sass. She is a compassionate, and a fiercely loyal friend. She proclaims throughout the novel that she is only doing this competition for her own freedom, but you get the sense that deep down she has the heart of a hero who cares more about others than herself. I loved how imperfectly perfect she was.

What I didn’t like:

The romantic element~ I really liked Dorian, and for the majority of the book so (it seemed) did Celeana. So it was a shock when she claims to be suddenly conflicted about the idea of dating the King’s son when she didn’t have a problem with it for the majority of the novel. This felt a little forced to me. It seemed like Maas changed her mind halfway through and was like “nope, she can’t end up with him, cue new love interest!” I liked Chaol, but he didn’t present the “forbidden love” plotline that might have been interesting.

The writing style~ Book 1 left some things to be desired as far as writing style went. One thing that stands out is repetition. Why does she continually refer to Celaena as “the assassin”? This was driving me crazy. It was not just a few times throughout the book, it was constant. Even at the end of the book when we are well aware of what she does and who she is, Maas states, “As the assassin laughed quietly to herself….” This may seem nitpicky, but it was so distracting. It seemed redundant and like Maas was trying to hit me over the head with the fact that she is the “Worlds Greatest Assassin,” which I got from like page 1! Other facts are constantly repeated and it just became so distracting.

Crown of Midnight (Book 2):

What I liked:

Religion vs. Magic~ Celaena states that the King saw magic as “an affront to the Devine” and this was his reasoning for outlawing all magic 10 years before our story beings. This moment seemed to bring in the element of religion vs. magic. The idea that magic and religion are one in the same and could potentially eclipse the other was really interesting to me. I hope this is explored more in the series.

The Wrydkeys~ I loved the mystery and dangerous legacy that surrounds these ancient objects. This made me think of Horcruxes from HP because of the connection to ancient magic and to a deadly tyrannical leader whose control is tied to these objects. Watching Celaena dig through riddles for more information about these mysterious objects was a really fun element in book 2. I’m excited to see where this plotline goes in the next books.

What I didn’t like:

The romantic element…yes, again: There were so much romantic tension and angst in book 2 that it took away from the overall plot. Dorian seems to be constantly spying on Chaol and Celaena. (He just happens to be standing on the balcony the moment Chaol asks Celaena to dance in the garden?) Then we have Chaol who is constantly denying to himself that anything is going on with him and Celaena, but yet they continue to get caught in these long romantic staring contests together. Then when something does finally happen between Chaol and Celaena, they go from 0-60 in one chapter! (cue whiplash) I’m really rooting for a better romantic plotline in the next books.

Overall take away: The first two books in the series seem to be setting up for an epic journey for Celaena and I can’t wait to read more. I have a feeling that she is going to be turning into even more of a badass. These books are super fun, YA high fantasy that any fan of Game of Throne would love. I kinda think of these books as Game of Thrones lite! The waring High Houses, Clans, the connection to family lineage, and religion vs magic, all seemed reminiscent of Game of Thrones to me (without as much death). I am so glad that I finally took my daughters advice, and I’m looking forward to the next three books. If you have read them or plan to, let me know!! Happy reading ~ XO

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