The Assassin & The Healer

The story of The Assassin and the Healer is set almost immediately after The Assassin and the Pirate Lord. After having returned to Arobynn and revealed that she freed 200 slaves, a beaten and bruised Celaena has been banished to train with The Mute Master in the Red Desert. On her way there, she stops in a hellish hovel of a town called Innish where she meets an interesting young healer.

I liked this story a lot more than the previous one. Sure, Celaena is still miserable so there is nothing new in that regard, but Yrene Towers is a darling. I liked her character and her sense of doing what’s right even if she isn’t happy with the outcome of her life so far. I especially enjoyed Celaena taking time to teach the other girl how to defend herself around the aggressive drunks and hooligans of Innish so she knows how to get out of trouble should someone attack her.

I honestly don’t think Celaena has enough female friends, and the lack of a lot of female characters in general is disappointing, so I really liked this story showing two gals being pals, even if it was just brief.

I give this one four out of five stars.


Today’s photo prompt was FIRST AID. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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The next prompt is VAST as we move into the third story The Assassin and the Desert!

The Assassin & The Pirate Lord

The story of The Assassin and the Pirate Lord follows Celaena and her companion, Sam, in a moment set before the series begins. Sent away after the death of some of Arobynn’s best, Celaena and Sam are charged with doing business with Pirate Lord, Captain Rolfe, and end up in a situation neither of them particularly likes… The slave trade.

While I enjoyed the story and it’s nice to see that even when she was being ruthless, Celaena cared for people in need, I was annoyed with a lot of it too. Celaena feels spoiled and brattish in this story and her rivalry with Sam feels unnecessary to her character as she literally fights with every boy she’s ever met in the same way. She picked fights like this with Chaol, with Rowan, and also was constantly calling Dorian out for things. It feels boring and repetitive to be entirely honest.

I want to like Sam, knowing how much he comes to mean to Celaena, but as of right now, he’s honestly falling flatter than Chaol. Which is saying a lot coming from me… I hope I get to learn a little bit more about him in the next story so I can care more.

Overall I give this a 3 out of 5. I dig pirates and while she annoyed me, it was nice to see Celaena actually doing things instead of complaining about the things she needed to do (like how she was in Heir of Fire).


Today’s photo prompt was PIRATES so I went to the local boating club and grabbed a few shots of the boats down there. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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Tomorrow’s prompt is FIRST AID as we move into the next story The Assassin and the Healer!

Assassin’s Blade Read-a-Long

I meant to post this a few days ago but life has been getting in my way more than a little bit.

For this coming week, I’m returning to the Throne of Glass read-a-long brought to you by A.K. Lee! For this month, we’re doing the novella/short story collection, Assassin’s Blade. Because this is a collection rather than a full novel, the schedule is one story a week with a daily photo prompt to line up with each of the stories.

The Schedule & The Prompts

Below is the graphic (please feel free to share!) of the reading schedule as well as the photo prompts.

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Don’t forget to use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown on Twitter and Instagram and be sure to follow me (@WelshLucien / @lucieninthestars) as well as my co-host in this read-a-long A.K. Lee (@aklee_writes)!

 

A Penguin Extravaganza

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Penguin staff Sylvia, Sam, Vikki, and Evan (photo from @penguinteenca on Instagram)

This past Thursday night, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Penguin Teen Social party hosted at the offices of Penguin Random House Canada. I have been blogging about books for almost three years but have only recently been trying to make a serious mark through my blog as well as my Instagram. Still being considerably new to the scene, I had never been to one of these events before and wow was I in for a serious treat.

I spent a lot of the night making some incredible new friends as well as chatting with the lovely publicity agents I’ve been chatting with via email for the last few months. With wine and pizza, I was a very happy camper to just talk about books for once. On a personal note, I don’t have many off-line friends who read like I do and therefore I don’t get much of a chance to really get into things. It was so much fun to talk to other bloggers and book sellers about new releases and old releases and upcoming hype train books. Even laughing and chatting with the Penguin staff was a total blast and the chance to put a face to an email signature.

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Photo thanks to Mallory! (And Jeff, of course!)

But the most magical moment of the night – which my Instagram followers already know about – was the chance to meet Jeff Zentner. Being a party, everyone was mingling and I genuinely feel bad about not interacting with the other authors, but as I’ve said in both my reviews for The Serpent King and Rayne & Delilah’s Midnight Matinee, Jeff has changed my life in so many ways that I can’t even begin to express. It was a spark that reminded me of why books are so special and why writing books is so special. After having been through so much in my personal life lately, it was such a reward to have the time to really talk to him (and get a million pictures with him thanks to Mallory of @readwithmallory on Instagram).

I’m still over the moon – two days later – and so incredibly thankful to everyone at Penguin. Especially staff members, Sam and Evan for tolerating all of my emails, haha! I can’t wait for next year and really hope for the chance to attend more events like this.


The book haul!

As seen in the header image, I got a ton of books from the event so here’s just a quick little list of them all:

  • We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra
  • Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
  • Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya
  • Life Sucks by Michael I. Bennett and Sarah Bennett
  • Viral: the fight against AIDS in america by Ann Bausum
  • Samplers for The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh and Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
  • A finished copy of Rayne & Delilah’s Midnight Matinee

An X-Wing Series Binge Read

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH US THIS GLORIOUS MAY!

I love the month of May. It’s my mum’s birthday (which we always have fun on – this year, we’re going to see Michelle Obama!), Star Wars Day, as well as just a general sci-fi themed time in my household because of my great love for Star Wars.

So for this May, I wanted to do something really fun.

I mentioned yesterday that I’m taking a break from the Throne of Glass read-a-long to do a huge binge read of the 10-book X-Wing Series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston over the course of the month. I’ve been itching to get to this series since I found the first eight books in one of my favourite used bookstores and then my amazing friend, Reggie, found the ninth book for me in the classic mass-market edition! I debated on picking up the final book due to mixed reviews I saw, but then figured, what the hell, let’s do all ten books to keep it rounded out and picked up the Legends reprint edition.

While this is not a read-a-long, I figured – for the sake of other Star Wars fans – I’d still post my reading schedule if anyone wants to binge read with me.

The Book Order

  • Rogue Squadron – Michael A. Stackpole
  • Wedge’s Gamble – Michael A. Stackpole
  • The Kryptos Trap – Michael A. Stackpole
  • The Bacta War – Michael A. Stackpole
  • Wraith Squadron – Aaron Allston
  • Iron Fist – Aaron Allston
  • Solo Command – Aaron Allston
  • Isard’s Revenge – Michael A. Stackpole
  • Starfighters of Adumar – Aaron Allston
  • Mercy Kill – Aaron Allston

The Calendar

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Be sure to let me know what you think of the series if you read along and/or if you’ve already read it! I can’t wait to dive in and get behind Wedge Antilles himself!

Heir of Fire Endgame

After a hectic month of personal-life turmoil and this general vibe of this book taking forever to get through, we have finally reached the end of Heir of Fire. And boy howdy what a trip that was.

I’m going to start with what I liked about this book. And just the nice parts for right now.

I really got a kick out of all of the new faces, especially Rowan (finally) and Manon is definitely a raging bitch after my own heart. Even Aedion, who was introduced as a traitor, grew on me (it probably helped that he beat up Chaol, ha ha.) It’s nice to have a few more major players that are on Team Aelin even without knowing Celaena. Despite the pacing, I liked getting to know the real Aelin more as well. Hearing about her childhood and her trauma – that honestly reads very well in terms of her PTSD – was fascinating and help flesh her out a lot more. She’s felt really flat as a character but this book did help round her out in a more relatable and interesting way.

But let’s get to the issues I had with this book. Heir of Fire is an intermission in the story. It’s a learning point where the characters need to buck up and learn what it is that they’re really up against. Typically these intermission books are not 500 pages. Heir of Fire is 562 pages.

The pacing of this instalment is awful. There are so many POVs in it that the changing back and forth becomes dull and the changes don’t even seem to be in strategic points. I was bored with Chaol (ignoring the fact that I don’t like him anyway), Dorian and Sorscha’s plot line started out really cute but got dull quickly, Celaena’s training took waaaaay too long… The issues go on. Even Manon’s final chapters were boring because stuff had finally started happening to everyone else and made her seem boring by comparison. I was honestly ready to call it quits on this book several times over. But I’m glad I didn’t.

It’s time to talk about those last twenty pages that can be summed up in three, all-caps, foul-mouthed words

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

[MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD]

Aedion, Chaol, Dorian and Sorscha are all brought into the King’s throne room and the whole vibe gave me chills even though I knew what was coming. I cheated out of boredom and knew who was going to die but a quick peak at “…killed by the King” on a wiki page didn’t prepare me for the bone-chillingly horrifying moment that was Dorian screaming as he held Sorscha’s severed head “as if he could put it back. As if he could piece her together.”

As a huge fan of intense drama brought on by horrific violence, this moment was utterly flawless. It was take notes worthy flawless.

As a huge fan of Dorian Havillard I am horrified, heartbroken, and irrationally angry for his loss.

I don’t know where things are going to go from here. I’m terrified for Dorian and just want Aelin to be able to swoop in and save him. He needs a mom friend. Aelin needs to be that mom friend for him because let’s be real, his safety matters so much more than Chaol’s.

That’s really all I have to say about this book. It dragged on and on for 500 pages and yet it still managed to impress me in the end. I’m giving it a 3 out of 5.


There will be no read-a-long for Throne of Glass in May as I am doing a binge read of the X-Wing Series for Star Wars Month. However this read-a-long will continue come June with Assassin’s Blade. Stay tuned for more details.

The Beauty of the Moment Blog Tour

Thank to Penguin Teen Canada for providing me with a finished copy of the book.


Susan and her family have just moved from Saudi Arabia to the Mississauga region of Ontario, Canada. Malcolm, resident bad boy of the school, is fighting for his life to get out. The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena follows both Susan and Malcolm as they navigate through their messy lives together and not in this coming of age story about family, love, hardships, and culture.

For my stop on the blog tour for The Beauty of the Moment, I decided to come up with a list of similar books, specifically my top 5 books about fitting in and finding your place in the world.

5. The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

Pressured to find a husband by her traditional grandmother, Raina finally gives in to giving her “list” a shot. But dating is hard when the blind-picked bachelors are a disaster. Okay, so this one isn’t exactly YA but it is still a really fun romcom about cultural identity as much as it is about finding oneself. (You can also read my interview with the author here)

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Maybe it’s a touch cliche to include this one in the list, but it’s relevant. Cath is a freshman in college, separated from her twin sister for the first time ever and trying to not only cope with her anxiety but with being her own person too. This is a book about creative drive and being yourself and it’s definitely one of my favourites.

3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

And oldie that never gets old, The Outsiders is all about finding a spot in the world outside of classist upbringing and the fights that that brings. It’s a book about living with mistakes and doing what is right over what is easy. If you didn’t read this one in school, I implore you to read it now.

2. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

A heavy read, but one of my favourite books of all time ever. Dill is a high school senior living in the shadow of his father’s horrible crimes. He is struggling with handling his family responsibilities as much as he is trying to figure out what it is that he wants from the world. As he struggles with the fact he is allowed to want more, his whole life is flipped upside-down.

1. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Penny leaves her whole world 100 miles away when she choses to go to college to study becoming a writer. Sam has hit a dead end working in a cafe while he struggles to save the money to get back into film school. When the two meet, they become each other’s anchor and help push each other towards their goals. This was my favourite book of 2018 and I have honestly bought so many copies to give to friends it’s not even funny. A definite must-read.


Now, normally I would have a much longer list for a blog tour, but I’ve got something even better for you readers. A giveaway!

I was provided with a beautiful finished copy of The Beauty of the Moment and would love to pass it on to a good home. Follow me on Instagram (@lucieninthestars) for all the details in my most recent post! And note that this giveaway will only be open to residents in Canada and the United States for shipping purposes.


Check out the other bloggers over the rest of the week for some more amazing posts!IMG_2143

Heir of Fire: First Checkpoint

I apologize once again for a delayed checkpoint, but here is the first one for the #TWOTOGCountdown read-a-long of Heir of Fire! By now I hope that everyone participating has had the time to get up to the end of Chapter 17!


Wow! So a lot has happened so far and it’s only the first quarter of the book!

It was a bit of a slow start with Celaena moping on the rooftops of the Wendlyn capital, but I kinda get it after what she’s been through. However, she very quickly got on my nerves with her drunken nonsense so when Rowan (*insert some kind of party gif here*) finally showed up, I was pretty happy. But more on Rowan in a moment.

We got some quick glances of Dorian and Chaol now that they are without Celaena. I’ve gotta say that by book three we should be done with this love triangle and — despite my love for Dorian — it needs to stop before I strangle both of them myself. At least we have Aedion, Celaena’s douchey cousin, to spice things up a little bit. I have been told by the friend my real-time updates go to that Aedion is a good boy to be respected but after he shoved Dorian into a bush and his super sneaky shenanigans at the moment, I think he’ll need to earn his trust.

Another new character I’ve become fond of is Sorscha, the nameless healer from the previous books, rather quickly. It’s nice to have a little sprinkle of innocence in the mix and her little crush on Dorian is adorable and while it’s been hinted to me that her fate isn’t great, I still like her and root for her survival. I mean, we’re basically half-way through the series if you don’t include Assassin’s Blade (which we will be reading next month!), so I’m expecting a body count of main characters to increase as we meet them.

But let’s get to His Royal Highness, Prince Rowan of Doranelle!

This dull grumpy pants very quickly earned my love by decking Celaena right in the face (especially since she 10000000% deserved it for half a dozen reasons). He is rude and snarky and cut-throat and I am so happy to have someone who is just done with Celaena and not also struggling with “””feelings””” like someone we know (*cough* Chaol *cough*). Obviously I know the outcome of his role in this series (and will not spoil it for those who have successfully avoided major plot points from this series) but for the time being I am really loving his no-nonsense attitude and look forward to him finally being the one to get through to Celaena.

And lastly, the best character to be introduced in this book: Manon! With a rather gruesome introduction to the witches of this world in Crown of Midnight, we finally get to meet the rest of them! Manon is introduced when she murders three farmers out to get her but she obviously gets to them first. She is violent, dangerous, and most importantly: ambitious. I’ve been itching for a character like this who isn’t super watered down and I’m so happy to have Manon in my roster of badass female characters because she’s honestly so cool. I seriously look forward to more of her now that the King’s dragon breeding plant (honestly, how cool is that?) has been revealed and the witches will be the ones riding them into battle, I just know it’ll be intense!

I do feel bad about all that’s going on with Celaena but considering who she is, I was hoping she’d be just a little bit more right now. Super excited to see where all of this goes. I predict her magic reacting very nicely with the presence of the dragons.


Next up we’re reading until chapter 34, but don’t worry you have until April 14th to get there! As for the photo challenge this month, it’s only for fun and the theme of WILD CARD can be taken however you please!

 

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Heir of Fire Read-a-Long

Happy April, everyone! And welcome back to my #TWOTOGCountdown read-a-long! This month we’ll be reading book three, Heir of Fire, and once again have a weekly checkpoint.

I will again be changing it up as I don’t believe my current following is large enough to get the participation I was hoping for and therefore there will not be any giveaway prizes. However, please feel free to read along and to take part in posting Heir of Fire related photos!

The Schedule & The Prompts

Below is the graphic (please feel free to share!) of the reading schedule as well as the photo prompts.

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Schedule Prompts
March 1st – 9th:

Beginning – Chapter 14
March 10th – 16th:Chapter 15 – 28
March 17th – 23rd:Chapter 29 – 42
March 24th – 30th:

Chapter 43 – End

Wild Card – meaning do what you want to!

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown on Twitter and Instagram and be sure to follow me (@WelshLucien / @lucieninthestars) as well as my co-host in this read-a-long A.K. Lee (@aklee_writes)!

Crown of Midnight Endgame

At last we have come to the conclusion of Crown of Midnight! If you haven’t finished the book yet, beware of the spoilers below!


Given my thoughts on Throne of Glass, the main thing that struck me with this sequel is that writing. Compared to book one, Crown of Midnight is significantly better in terms of world building and even character building. I felt that those in the background had a little more weight to them and I felt like I got to know some of them a bit better than the background characters in the previous book.

I really liked Celaena being a cut-throat monster and get some real bloodshed from the Adarlan’s Assassin. I also enjoyed the magic of this book and the mystery of what’s going on. While Throne of Glass had a “bad guy” (Cain) to be defeated, there wasn’t really a main big bad in this book. Sure, Archer was totally not cool and obviously the King needs to be killed, but we knew these things from the get-go. Having more mystery about Dorian’s power and Celaena’s family origins really made this for me and provided a strong reason to continue with the series.

Points were taken from this book for the love triangle attempt and for Chaol in general (sorry to his fans). As we have learned from the last two checkpoints (here and here for those who skipped ahead), I can’t stand Chaol. I want to punch him in his stupid face and take up where Celaena left off and rip the whole thing away. His actions were just so unwarrented and considering how an assassin is technically part of his team when he does security at parties, it would make sense to tell Celaena of any threats to literally anyone in the castle, let alone Nehemia. This was a fictional death that I won’t soon get over because of how easily it could have been prevented by these morons.

And then the love triangle thing with Dorian and Chaol being constantly jealous and/or mad at each other just got tedious. I get it, don’t get me wrong, but I just felt that this time could have been spent elsewhere and honestly Dorian being magical would have been a stronger reason to keep these two separate rather than just fighting over a girl. If anything, all of this nonsense only goes to show how untrustworthy Chaol is.

But enough complaining from me.

Over all I give this a solid and well earned four out of five and I’m more interested in continuing the series now that we’re set to meet some of the Fae (and thank the gods it’s finally out that Celaena is Aelin) and we’re out of Rifthold. A change of scenery is definitely needed as well as a split in the party. Celaena needs better friends, Dorian needs to take a breather, and Chaol needs to smarten the hell up.


Don’t forget to follow @lucieninthestars on Instagram and participate in the photo challenge! There will be prizes! And stay tuned for the Heir of Fire schedule coming tomorrow!

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