Stars Above by Marissa Meyer Review

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Stars above is a collection of stories set in the Lunar Chronicles world and featuring some of the Lunar Chronicles characters. As a whole I would give this book 5 stars and I see it as an essential part of the series as a whole and would recommend it to anyone who has finished Winter and is craving more Lunar Chronicles. However my opinions on the stories did vary so here is a broken down review.

The keeper (3/5):

This one centred around Michelle Benoit (Scarlet’s Grandmother) and gave some much needed background to how Cinder was cared for before she moved in with her adoptive family. While I didn’t love learning about Michelle’s past and the romantic aspect fell a bit flat for me, I did enjoy learning a little bit more about Scarlet’s relationship with her dad.

Glitches (4/5):

This story told us the tale of how Cinder met her adoptive family and became the Cinderella style character she is. I love Peony so it was really nice to see how she and Cinder’s relationship differed from Cinder’s relationship with Pearl.

The Queen’s army (5/5):

So long story short, I am a huge Wolf fan, he was in fact my favourite of all the guys in this series. Therefore I loved this one. This was all about how Wolf became part of Levana’s army and how he ended up becoming Alpha. While there was a lot of fight scenes (too many maybe) and I would have liked to see more conversations between him and his brother, I did enjoy the insight on exactly what Levana created and I liked seeing it from Wolf’s perspective.

Carswell’s guide to being lucky (4/5):

Another long story short: I am not the biggest Thorne fan (shock, horror) so I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It was a nice relief from all the seriousness of the other stories before it and I have to admit I did laugh once or twice. This one was centred around Thorne when he was younger and how he helped a girl called Kate Fallows. It was interesting to find out about his background even if he did annoy me a little at times.

After sunshine passes by (3/5):

This one is about how Cress ended up on the ship alone and why she ended up there. While it did drag a little, I did like Cress more afterward. When you see her as a child and see what her aims were, it’s more difficult to find her annoying.

The princess and the guard (5/5):

So I love, love, love Winter and Jacin (almost as much as I love Scarlet and Wolf) so I enjoyed this one very much. This was the backstory as to why Winter stopped using her gift. And it was actually quite thought provoking and approached the topic of freewill and freedom of choice in a really difficult scenario. We saw more of how Jacin and Winter’s relationship has changed over the years which is always good.

The little android (3/5):

This was a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen but with an android rather than a mermaid. I actually didn’t like this one very much. It didn’t really have any relevant characters, instead it was trying to compare androids (with glitches that have effectively made them into artificial intelligence) with humans and it made me weirdly uncomfortable. In my opinion at least, this one didn’t really grasp what it is to be human, the transformation from android to ‘human’ was just a more realistic looking body. On top of all this, the main character had random violent thoughts and the crush she had was rather disturbing and I just found the whole thing kind of creepy.

The mechanic (4/5):

This was pretty much just Cinder and Kai being Cinder and Kai. It was their first meeting told from Kai’s perspective and while it was just a conversation, I really enjoyed it.

Something old, something new (5/5):

This was the ending to the Lunar Chronicles I had wanted at the end of Winter. It wasn’t dramatic, instead it was wonderfully mundane, just a long reunion and wedding scene. I had really wanted to see all the characters together again and where they are now and reading the interactions between them all was just perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to the series.

Queen Of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas Review

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*Spoilers ahead, you have been warned*

‘Then she smiled with every last shred of courage, of desperation, of hope for the glimmer of that glorious future. “Let’s go rattle the stars.”’

I loved this book. It was probably my favourite in the series so far, yet it has taken me an entire year to read it. I picked it up when it came out, then again in February until I finally got into it two weeks ago. So why did it take me so long? I think it was because it felt like the characters and their relationships with each other had really changed from the previous books, so much so that it really threw me off to begin with. We start off with Chaol and Aelin flat out hating each other, Dorian as a demon prince, Rowan not even there what so ever and Aedion just being Aedion. Funnily enough the character change that sucked me in the most was Lysandra, for the first couple hundred she was what kept me reading and by the end she was one of my favourite characters.

One of the many things Sarah J Maas can do really well is write balanced, realistic characters. She doesn’t have any character that is all good, just the same as she doesn’t have any character who is entirely evil. Aelin herself is a brilliant example of this. While Aelin is the main protagonist, we are still given things to dislike about her and the other characters are given space to dislike certain things about her too. For example, there is a point when she has to go back to being Celeana and even Rowan was worried because you see just how horrible she used to be and how she has grown from the beginning of the series. This character progression is key as what she’s been through would change her and to make her character a lot more believable we need to witness that change. The change in relationships is also essential as it shows that yes, not every relationship lasts forever but that doesn’t have to lead to full on hatred. Long ago, in the first book, there was a romance between Dorian and Aelin and we hear nothing of that now, they are now best friends instead and that’s fine. Just the same as Chaol and Aelin don’t get along very well anymore; having the main character always have the exact same opinion on everyone the whole way through the series would be rather boring.

Even though at the time I hated the slow start, I understand now why it was there. We needed to see the change and get to grips with all the points of view and the new characters added like Elide and Nesryn. Elide and Nesryn, winners of most boring characters in this book. I found them both to be completely two dimensional, especially Elide. Despite having read all of her chapters, I still can’t picture or care for her much at all, the same goes for Nesryn. I understand that we needed Nesryn to try and bring some of the old Chaol back but Elide seems to have no purpose as of yet other than to help us like Manon. Manon is another character I had a problem with as she felt far too much like Aelin in parts. Her friend Asterin however is absolutely wonderful so I’ll tolerate my issues with Manon because Sarah J Maas created Asterin.

For all my moaning, the other 3 quarters of this book was amazing. I loved the action scenes and she had the perfect balance of dialogue and plot. The conversations between the characters are always my favourite parts, particularly Aedion and just about anyone. The relationship between Rowan and Aelin was absolutely adorable and it provided the relief from all the (needed) doom and gloom in this book. The humour came through in these parts and Sarah J Maas can definitely make me laugh. On top of all of that good stuff, at no point was I confused. Sarah J Maas has made a complicated plot and a complicated world but it is all explained so well that she doesn’t leave the reader confused. The use of multiple perspectives is executed perfectly and I understood exactly whose perspective it was and what was happening.

How could I review a Sarah J Maas book without raving about her beautiful writing style? Every sentence is crafted so brilliantly and she uses certain phrases to pack such a punch and put across so much emotion. The line at the top of this review honestly gives me goose bumps every time I read it and there are so many beautiful sentences like that throughout. You can always feel the personalities of her characters coming out through the narrative and I will forever be in awe of her.

The best part of this entire book was its conclusion. The characters shone and the plot came together beautifully. I was up at two in the morning sat reading the last 100 pages because you honestly can’t put it down. The conclusion quite honestly had the best few action scenes I have ever read. This is coming out in a jumbled mess because I honestly have no words to describe how I felt about those last 100 pages. All that is left to say is that the second that 5th instalment comes out, I will be running to the bookstore and I’ll be the first one to buy it.