Tower of Dawn

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

The first quarter of the book took me awhile to get through. I had some other books to read for my bookclubs and then I was busy and didn’t want to get caught up in the obsessive page-turning that often happens when I read a Maas book. I needed all the sleep I could get to deal with my busy schedule.

I was finally able to devote time to Tower of Dawn when I left for Colorado for Christmas. I got out of the doldrums of the first quarter and by the middle of the book, the novel had hit its stride and I was hooked. I ended up staying up late and finishing it on Christmas Day.

Here’s my verdict: while not as action-packed as other entries in the Throne of Glass series, Tower of Dawn was interesting and I’m glad we have it. We did get some new details that will be crucial to the resolution of the plot. And I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building of the Southern Continent and am glad we got to travel there. I am hoping there may be spin-off series set on the Southern Continent in the future.

Of course, I’m now very eagerly awaiting Throne of Glass #7 which won’t be out until next fall. I am hoping this really is the final book because I don’t think my heart can take anymore. I just need everyone to be happy and Erilea to be saved. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

The Books I’m Most Excited to Buy in 2018

Okay so the book situation at my house is a little out of control. I say a little, because really, I do have it under control. It’s not a hoarders situation, there’s just twenty, maybe thirty, okay, fifty, books that don’t fit on any of my bookshelves. But it’s fine. I’ve totally got this.

So while I’m once again technically on a book-buying moratorium (moment of silence here, please), there are a few books I’m irrationally excited to purchase in 2018. Therefore, I will be buying them despite the ban on adding to my collection. Because I just can’t not read them!

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard


Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all . . . starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolish everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power . . . for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Slave King, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the war-torn planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-third of his life.
A decade ago Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk all he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?
And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever: 
A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp, and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.
An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.
And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the Sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe. Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

What begins as a manhunt for the missing daughter of a wealthy tech billionaire becomes something altogether different when the young woman’s body is discovered in an abandoned warehouse in Kew Gardens, Queens, the head nowhere to be found. It appears there may be two killers on the loose–one responsible for the young woman’s death, another responsible for the mutilation. A pair of such dastardly killers requires a team of equally talented investigators. Luckily, both Vincent D’Agosta and Special Agent Pendergast are back in town.

D’Agosta hopes that working a case back on his home turf for the first time in years will reinvigorate the FBI Special Agent and give him an opportunity to flex his investigative might. But neither is prepared to face a killer–or killers–as diabolical as this. It will take all of Pendergast and D’Agosta’s intelligence and strength simply to match wits–let alone stay alive.


The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin

Just putting it out there that GRRM is going to pull a Beyonce and just drop the next Game of Thrones book at our feet in 2018 with no warning.

Throne of Glass #7 by Sarah J. Maas

The conclusion to the Throne of Glass series, the title, cover, and description haven’t been revealed yet. This book is slated for release in Fall 2018.

Which book are you most excited to buy (and read!) in 2018? Tell me in the comments below!

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose. 

This was a novel I knew I would love even before I read it. Not because of the hype, but because the people who suggested it to me never steer me wrong.

As I was reading this lovely book, it struck me that A Gentleman in Moscow is the type of book most writing instructors caution you against writing. It’s dense, it’s verbose, it has a lot of characters (and those characters have lots of names in true Russian fashion!), it makes numerous allusions to things the reader has probably never read/watched/heard, but doesn’t explain them, and it’s ambitious in scope yet the author forcibly put limitations in place on the setting. Yet it works and it is masterfully done. Bravo!

My love for 19th century Russian authors has not been accounted for on Isle of Books. I think I read all of those novels in high school and the early part of college before I started my blog. I am a particular fan of Dostoyevsky, having read The Idiot, Crime and Punishment, and The Brothers KaramazovCrime and Punishment is a novel I think about rereading often. I still have yet to do it and my copy has gone who knows where so if someone wants to gift me a copy, I’d be much obliged! I also would like to reread The Idiot at some point. I’ve read Tolstoy’s War and Peace (though I joke that I only read the Peace parts) and Anna Karenina which I absolutely loved and need to reread. I’ve also read Chekhov’s major plays and short stories. All that is to say that A Gentleman in Moscow in many ways felt like diving back into one of my beloved 19th century Russian novels. The atmosphere was so spot on, it’s hard to believe that Towles is neither Russian nor did he live through the 19th century.

I enjoyed this novel’s frequent meditation on the collision of the past and present and the inexorable march towards progress and the future. Even though this story is set half a century ago and in another country, these issues still resonate in our country today as we struggle to move toward clean energy and leave behind those industries that don’t support that future. As we struggle to support larger population clusters around our major cities while maintaining our open space areas and the charm and lifestyle that current residents enjoy.

I don’t think there are many novels that deal with Russian in the decades after WW-II. I’m somewhat familiar with the history of this time so it was nice to see the novel do a great job of balancing the facts with fiction to educate. Some reviewers felt this book maybe trivialized this period in a history, but I saw it as offering a different perspective, more of the perspective of the average to upper class person in the cities. The rural communities disproportionately suffered the most during the years of Stalin and Khrushchev, but that is not where the novel takes place and it does not claim to tell their story.

Lastly, I was stunned to learn The Metropol Hotel was and is a real hotel in Russia. My friend sent me the link to their website where you can see photographs of the inside and recognize many of the spaces The Count and his friends occupy. Another reason I take my hat off to Amor Towles…he not only set a novel of this scope inside one tiny setting, he chose a real hotel whose history and layout he had to abide by! Not easily done!

9 Books on My 2017 Holiday Wishlist

For those of you who don’t know, my birthday falls less than month after Christmas, on January 17th. Every year I make a combo Christmas/Birthday list in case anyone wants to get me anything. If you actually asked me what I wanted, I would probably stare at you like a deer in the headlights. It’s the same sort of syndrome that motivated me to start this blog. People would ask me to recommend books and I could never remember what I’d read and I kept recommending the same 2-3 books, while never feeling very confident that I actually liked them.


I thought it might be fun to put up the short list of books that made it to my 2017-2018 Christmas/Birthday List. Some of these are just books I’m dying to read and some of these are either the conclusion to series I’m reading or helping me move along to the conclusion!

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood

In this final volume of the internationally celebrated MaddAddam trilogy, the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of the population. Toby is part of a small band of survivors, along with the Children of Crake: the gentle, bioengineered quasi-human species who will inherit this new earth.

As Toby explains their origins to the curious Crakers, her tales cohere into a luminous oral history that sets down humanity’s past—and points toward its future. Blending action, humor, romance, and an imagination at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Atwood—a moving and dramatic conclusion to her epic work of speculative fiction.

Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis

Under Wildwood is the second book in the New York Times bestselling adventure series the Wildwood Chronicles from Colin Meloy, lead singer of the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, the acclaimed illustrator of The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Ever since Prue McKeel returned home from the Impassable Wilderness after rescuing her brother from the malevolent Dowager Governess, life has been pretty dull. School holds no interest for her, and her new science teacher keeps getting on her case about her dismal test scores and daydreaming in class. Her mind is constantly returning to the verdant groves and sky-tall trees of Wildwood, where her friend Curtis still remains as a bandit-in-training.

But all is not well in that world. Dark assassins with mysterious motives conspire to settle the scores of an unknown client. A titan of industry employs inmates from his orphanage to work his machine shop, all the while obsessing over the exploitation of the Impassable Wilderness. And, in what will be their greatest challenge yet, Prue and Curtis are thrown together again to save themselves and the lives of their friends, and to bring unity to a divided country. But in order to do that, they must go under Wildwood.

The White Mirror by Elsa Hart

In The White Mirror, the follow-up to Elsa Hart’s critically acclaimed debut, Jade Dragon Mountain, Li Du, an imperial librarian and former exile in 18th century China, is now an independent traveler. He is journeying with a trade caravan bound for Lhasa when a detour brings them to a valley hidden between mountain passes. On the icy planks of a wooden bridge, a monk sits in contemplation. Closer inspection reveals that the monk is dead, apparently of a self-inflicted wound. His robes are rent, revealing a strange symbol painted on his chest.

When the rain turns to snow, the caravan is forced to seek hospitality from the local lord while they wait for the storm to pass. The dead monk, Li Du soon learns, was a reclusive painter. According to the family, his bizarre suicide is not surprising, given his obsession with the demon world. But Li Du is convinced that all is not as it seems. Why did the caravan leader detour to this particular valley? Why does the lord’s heir sleep in the barn like a servant? And who is the mysterious woman traveling through the mountain wilds?

Trapped in the snow, surrounded by secrets and an unexplained grief that haunts the manor, Li Du cannot distract himself from memories he’s tried to leave behind. As he discovers irrefutable evidence of the painter’s murder and pieces together the dark circumstances of his death, Li Du must face the reason he will not go home and, ultimately, the reason why he must.

Prodigy by Marie Lu

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

A new threat haunts the streets of London…
Rory Deveaux has changed in ways she never could have imagined since moving to London and beginning a new life at boarding school. As if her newfound ability to see ghosts hadn’t complicated her life enough, Rory’s recent brush with the Jack the Ripper copycat has left her with an even more unusual and intense power. Now, a new string of inexplicable deaths is threatening London, and Rory has evidence that they are no coincidence. Something sinister is going on, and it is up to her to convince the city’s secret ghost-policing squad to listen before it’s too late.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.


What books are you hoping Santa leaves under the tree for you? Leave me a comment below!

The Namesake

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name. 

Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves.

This book has been on my TBR list for what feels like forever. In an effort to not start another series (and thus buy more books so I could finish it), I finally picked this up.

Maybe because it was finally turning cold when I started this book and I read it in bed, to describe this book I keep returning to the sensation of being wrapped in a blanket. Picking up the book night after night was a comfort. It’s a good, steady story, almost melancholic in tone, but it doesn’t mess with your feelings. You can depend on it to give you a reliable reading experience.

The Namesake is a superbly written book that I (as a white, non first-generation American) feel really digs into the immigrant experience and the often conflicted sense of identity. From what I know via my own experience and the stories I’ve heard from friends about their families,  if any one book could possibly encapsulate the Indian-American experience, this is it.

The Namesake would be a fantastic choice for a bookclub, so if you’re looking for a great read that will probably be a crowd-pleaser, this is it! Also, a move was made based on the book (which I haven’t seen) so you could even screen sections of it at the bookclub as well.


Empire of Storms

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

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 fealty 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.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

Oh boy. This book broke my heart six ways to Sunday. It took me forever to finish it, but that was because I couldn’t stop reading it when I picked it up. Not ideal for someone who primarily reads before bed. Luckily I was traveling a lot this month and was able to knock out this monster on a couple of plane rides.

I’m glad I waited to read this book until the paperback came out. I’m also glad I haven’t been waiting as long as everyone else for Tower of Dawn.

Empire of Storms is decidedly more grown-up than earlier books in the Throne of Glass series. A lot more sex, a lot more graphic sex in particular, a lot more romance, and even more violence. Though I have to say Empire of Storms has some epic battle sequences. I believe I read somewhere there’s a show in the works for the Throne of Glass series. Though unless HBO is doing it, I can’t help, but feel that it might be a disappointment.

I think every character who’s not Aelin is my favorite. I do find her (as do most of the other characters in the book) more than a little insufferable. But she is balanced by her more redeeming qualities. My favorites are Rowan, Manon, Elide, and Lysandra.

Which makes me impatient to read the conclusion to this series! On Maas’ website, the seventh book is expected out on May 1st, 2018 and Goodreads reports that it will be the final book in the series. I hope so – I don’t think my heart can take any more cliffhangers only to wait months for the next book!


Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Neil Gaiman is the undisputed king of creepy, yet comedic dark fantasy and Neverwhere is no exception.

Richard Mayhew himself is a bit dull, but the book would lose something if Richard weren’t playing the straight man to the unfolding craziness of London Below and the people and creatures that live there. Richard serves as a proxy for our own feelings and makes Neverwhere so much the better for it. He is rounded out by Door, an unflappable girl with the power to open any door.

Neverwhere is even creepier than I remember American Gods or Anansi Boys being. Croup and Vandemar are two truly dark individuals and Gaiman seems to draw no lines when it comes to describing the full extent of their evilness.

I’ve had Neverwhere on my shelf for awhile and always thought it was a newer book, but I see it was actually published in the 90’s. Which makes the recent news that there will be a sequel to Neverwhere that much more interesting. The ending of the book and the mysteries unearthed in its pages make it seem that a sequel was inevitable. Yet twenty years have gone by and there is only the whisper of another book in the works. According to Goodreads, Gaiman is at work on The Seven Sisters, with no publication date set.