Tag Archives: house of earth and blood

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: First Impressions

I was super excited to get an email from Netgalley a couple days ago with an invitation to read a five-chapter excerpt of SJM’s new series. I’ve been a fan of SJM since she was posting the first draft of the Throne of Glass series on Fictionpress circa 2004ish, so of course I was interested in this new series.

The first chapter was rough for me, I’ll admit. While I was reading, I was having visions of writing some clickbaitey title for this post: I read an excerpt of SJM’s new series and it was… okay… Here’s the thing: Maas tends to write in a very samey way. A lot of readers won’t notice it, but she loves characters that “swagger” or “stalk” into a room, and she loves discussing the sharp “tang” of blood. (I could give lots more examples, but these three are the ones that really spring to mind, and all of these pop up in the excerpt.) I think that tendency in her writing isn’t so apparent in SJM’s earlier books, perhaps because she had more time to write them, but I suspect that the book-a-year trend, combined with the long length of her books, makes it so that her most recent books blur together for me prose- and tone-wise.

But I also don’t think this is just a SJM thing, but a me thing. As a writer myself, I’ve been actively developing and honing my craft for the past five years, and my tastes have changed. I’m not huge on pages of snarky dialogue anymore, which SJM tends to sprinkle liberally throughout her books. I also have pretty strong opinions on adjective, adverb, and dialogue tag use, opinions that I do now find at odds with SJM’s writing–but just because another author writes differently than I do, it doesn’t mean their work sucks. So I think part of what had me raising my eyebrows while reading the first chapter of House of Earth and Blood was due to me being a different reader than I used to be.

I liked the later chapters, though. I do anticipate I’ll pick up this book and finish it, though perhaps I’ll wait until I’ve finished up the Throne of Glass series. (I still have the last one to get through.) The book has some really interesting worldbuilding: a modern, urban fantasy-like feel set in another universe with angels, fae, witches, and everything in between. It’s three stars for me at the outset, and I’m curious to see how the rest of the book turns out.

I’m also curious to hear your thoughts on whether you like your favorite authors’ books to feel “samey.” Do you mind if an author’s books all feel very similar to each other? Do you notice when an author uses the same words and phrases frequently throughout their work, and does that bother you? Let me know what you think!

Top Ten 2020 Releases I’m Looking Forward To!

Like everyone else, I’m in that kind of confounded state right now with the realization that I have to start writing 2020 everywhere. I’ve done my time already with my 2019 look-back post; now let’s get excited with some sparkling new books! Most (but not all) of these are by authors whose work I’m familiar with. I might not get to every single one in 2020, but I’ll certainly give it my best. 2019 was the year I went from devoted reader to a certified whale reader, so there is no logical excuse I can’t get to all of these!!!!!!!

10. One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus

So McManus’s last book, Two Can Keep a Secret, was an unfortunate disappointment to me last year, but I’m hoping that this sequel to her first book will be a return to form. One of Us Is Lying was one of my favorite books of 2018, so this book has a lot to live up to!

9. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

I’m so incredibly curious to read this new series by SJM. I’ve been reading her books since middle school and I still have a printed copy of the Fictionpress first draft that later became her Throne of Glass series, so I’m what you could call a devoted fan, lol. I’m looking forward to all the stalking around, the tang of blood in people’s mouths, and probably the MC finding their “mate.” SJM is nothing if not predictable.

8. Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

I loved last year’s Wilder Girls, and it was such a unique and raw story that I’m curious to see what other stories this author has to tell. I’d estimate that Rory Power is going to become a real force in the YA market.

7. A Royal Kiss and Tell by Julia London (A Royal Wedding #2)

Still waiting for a cover reveal on this one! The first in this series was so much fun, and I’m dying to read more by London. Most of the historical romance I read in 2019 focused on earls and dukes, so it’s fun to go full daydream and fantasize about falling in love with royalty.

6. Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

I didn’t hear about this one until real recently when it was part of a blog tour, and it is so up my alley! I love the Chinese focus, and the cover is speaking to me. Happily, this is one I won’t have to wait for too long because it releases in just a couple days. 🙂

5. Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

I was pretty disappointed by the two YA “alien” books I read in 2019 (alien in quotes, since neither one actually contained any aliens at all). I’m hoping that Daniel Kraus will prove that third time’s the charm; his version of The Shape of Water was fantastic. I’m also very curious to see how his style adapts to a YA audience, since Water was quite literary. Hoping that my ARC request gets granted!

4. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

I remember hearing about the makings of this book yeeeeeeeears ago on an interview with the author on Sarah Enni’s First Draft podcast. I’ve only read the one book by Marie Lu, Warcross, which seems very different from this book. Also, get a load of that cover. I think it must be in the running for prettiest cover ever.

3. A Crimson Truth by Kelsey Quick (Vampires in Avignon #2)

Also waiting for a cover reveal on this one! I was a big fan of Quick’s A Violet Fire, and I’m really curious to see how the next book will develop. I hear there will be Zein POV sections, which is super exciting.

2. The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

The conclusion to Truly, Devious is almost here! It’s been a few long years since the start of this series, and I’m dying to know who the culprit is. This also reminds me I have to catch up on all of Johnson’s other series–I’m in the middle of two more of them. How in the world do these things happen? :/

1. The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

I’ve been mega-excited for this book ever since I saw the gorgeous cover. It sounds like a spiritual successor to The Selection, which I looooooooved. If they are anything alike, then this book and I are going to get along fabulously. February 4th can’t get here soon enough!

Secret, other #1: Beauty and the Beast and Aliens

So maybe this is cringy, but I’m really looking forward to getting the draft of my new book done so that I know what the story’s all about! I’m the kind of writer who only has a vague sense of where each story is going to go, so I’m psyched to get the story sorted and start editing. It’s at around the fifty percent mark right now, and I’m aiming to have the first draft done by sometime in February, with a summer release. Stay tuned!