Review: Dark Age (Red Rising Saga #5) by Pierce Brown

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place?

Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile, has returned to the Core. Determined to bring peace back to mankind at the edge of his sword, he must overcome or unite the treacherous Gold families of the Core and face down Darrow over the skies of war-torn Mercury.

But theirs are not the only fates hanging in the balance.

On Luna, Mustang, Sovereign of the Republic, campaigns to unite the Republic behind her husband. Beset by political and criminal enemies, can she outwit her opponents in time to save him?

Once a Red refugee, young Lyria now stands accused of treason, and her only hope is a desperate escape with unlikely new allies.

Abducted by a new threat to the Republic, Pax and Electra, the children of Darrow and Sevro, must trust in Ephraim, a thief, for their salvation—and Ephraim must look to them for his chance at redemption.

As alliances shift, break, and re-form—and power is seized, lost, and reclaimed—every player is at risk in a game of conquest that could turn the Rising into a new Dark Age.

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Morning Star returns to the Red Rising universe with the thrilling sequel to Iron Gold.

You all know that the Red Rising series is one of my all-time favorites. Dark Age was easily my most anticipated book of 2019. The publishing date got pushed back twice, to almost a year after it was originally set, which just stoked the anticipation. It was definitely worth the wait.

-This book is long. It’s well over 700 pages and took me a week to read. There were a few plotlines that didn’t seem all that necessary and could’ve been cut to make the length a little less intimidating. However, once I reached the end of the book I really wished that there was more! I’m feeling a little adrift now that it’s over and am thinking about re-reading the other books so I don’t have to leave this world.

-In the previous book I had some issues with the multiple POVs. After three books of just Darrow, I wasn’t thrilled whenever the POV shifted away from him. I’m happy to say that I did not mind it near as much in this installment. While I’ll always want as much Darrow as possible, I enjoyed most of the other points of view, as well. I still didn’t love Lyria (or some of the weird stuff that went on with her), but I really liked Ephraim this time around. I enjoyed his chapters and loved seeing him interact with Darrow’s son, Pax. I really adored Pax, though I thought he was a little too mature for an eleven year old (I guess maybe that’s to be expected from a Gold, though?). I was a little wary of the inclusion of Virginia’s POV, but I ended up appreciating it.

-Another complaint I had with the last book was that it was a lot more world building than I expected or wanted. Thankfully, this book really picked up the action. Part 1 of the book was crazy intense and brutal. It honestly felt like it could have been it’s own book.

-This book was much darker than the others were. The series has always been violent, but this one seemed even more so. There’s also a lot of mention of rape (though no actual scenes of it).

-There was not nearly enough Sevro! He doesn’t show up until we’re more than 200 pages in and he doesn’t get a lot of page time. I am hoping for some amazing things with him in the next book to make up for it.

-There are some very disheartening character deaths. I know I should expect it in these books, as Pierce Brown has broken my heart on many occasions, but there were still two I took very hard, as well as several others that just added salt to the wounds.

-There was a resurgence of more than one past character that we were supposed to believe were long gone. I loved both of these developments, even though I saw one coming since the last book.

Overall, Dark Age was another great installment of the Red Rising series. Pierce Brown is a bloodydamn maniac that takes us on quite an adventure and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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WWW Wednesday: August 7, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

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Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown. I’m happy to be back in the Red Rising world. There is so much going on and it’s a little overwhelming at times, but I’m enjoying it. It’s a much longer book than I normally read, but who am I to say “I need less of you” to Pierce Brown. I’m not about that kind of life.

What did you recently finish reading?

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The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda. This wasn’t as good as I had hoped for, but I did enjoy it for the most part.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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 Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline. My hold for this finally came in.

What are you reading?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019.

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1. Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo. Publishing July 16, 2019.

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2. Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown. Publishing July 30, 2019.

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3. Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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4. The Killing Tide (Coastal Guardians #1) by Dani Pettrey. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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5. The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter. Publishing August 20, 2019.

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6. Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. Publishing September 17, 2019.

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7. Where Do I Begin? by Elvis Duran. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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8. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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9. The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Publishing October 8, 2019.

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10. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Publishing November 5, 2019.

What are your most anticipated releases?

2018 End of Year Survey

This annual survey was developed by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner.

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**2018 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 147
Number of Re-Reads: 8
Genre You Read The Most From: Mystery/Thriller and Romance/Contemporary
**These are the stats as of 12/26/18, it’s likely to go up by one or two before the end of the year

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1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

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I can’t pick one, so here are the three that I gave 4.5 Stars in 2018: Close to Home by Cara Hunter, Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

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My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies. I absolutely adored My Lady Jane and I expected to love this one just as much, but it was probably my biggest disappointment of the year.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

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I mean come on, does Let’s Get Textual by Tegan Hunter look like a book I would enjoy? But I totally did enjoy it. I read it in a day and laughed all the way through it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

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So I don’t actually feel like I pushed many books on people this year. I will say that I told my mother about Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas and then when I started sharing some quotes with her she said she wanted to read it so I bought it for her for Christmas.

 5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

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Started: Beartown by Fredrik Backman, Sequel:  What You want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka, Ender On Magnolia Lane (Blue Ridge #3) by Denise Hunter.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Cara Hunter and Fredrik Backman

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. I don’t read a lot of horror and while I had my issues with this one, I mostly enjoyed it.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

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I can’t really think of any books that were really action-packed, so I’m going with one of my re-reads for this year, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown.

 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

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Beartown

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

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The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond

11. Most memorable character of 2018?

Benji from Beartown

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

I mean, not to sound like a broken record, but Beartown. 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

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There were a lot of good lessons in the The Faithful devotional.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. Brandie bought me a copy for my birthday in 2017 and it was almost a year later before I read it and I really enjoyed it.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

“When we decide that boundaries are needed, they can be hard to set – and maintain – if we doubt ourselves and our assessment of the situation. Survivors often wonder if they are overreacting or being too sensitive…Another reason setting boundaries is difficult to do? We internally worry that we are withholding forgiveness and staying resentful. Boundaries have nothing to do with forgiveness or resentment. They have everything to do with the quality of our interactions with the people in our lives.” – Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

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Shortest: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

Longest: Oblivion by JLA (this was a re-read!)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

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The subtle twist at the end of Our House by Louise Candlish is probably my favorite shock of the year.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

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Bellarke forever!!! This is more about the show than the book, but I’m counting it.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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The group of friends in My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Have to go with Beartown again. I wouldn’t have ever picked it up if Brandie hadn’t lent it to me.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

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Chase from One Small Thing by Erin Watt.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

Close to Home by Cara Hunter.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

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Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Let’s Get Textual by Tegan Hunter.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

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Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Beartown and Us Against You

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

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Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi. I was so excited for this series to continue, but the majority of this book was just the characters taking major steps back and rehashing old drama. It seemed like really lazy writing and it made me mad because I expect more from this author.

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1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

I always feel too bad to answer these questions. Add to that I always forget how long I’ve been following someone, so I’m going to skip this question. I love you all, though!

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018:?

This beautiful book-themed cake my former co-worker made me for my goodbye party.

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

This year I went to events for Linda Castillo, Karin Slaughter, and Linwood Barclay and they were all fun.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

I hit over 1,000 blog posts and reached over 1,000 followers.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Due to real life, I ended up taking two month-long (or almost month-long) hiatuses.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

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My review of Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I mean, honestly, all of them.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I don’t really feel like I made a bookish discovery this year?

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did the Good Reads reading challenge with a goal of 105 books and I surpassed that (147 at the time of writing this, but it will probably go up before the end of the year).

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

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I don’t think it will be my number one priority, but I really wanted to read Archenemies by Marissa Meyer. I got it from the library, but my hold came in at a bad time and it expired before I got to it.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

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The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

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Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

Review more books. It feels like I only properly review ARCS and a few select other books and I want to get back into reviewing the majority of what I read again.

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing and I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Reviewing the Unrevewied: February 2018

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon. February 16-17. 4 Stars. 

Love. Love. Love.  Amy Harmon writes beautiful books.

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My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris. Read February 17-18. 3 Stars. 

love this concept! I read through the book several times choosing different scenarios and feel like I only scratched the surface on the possibilities. Full review to come.

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Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell. Read February 18-19. 4 Stars. 

Lisa Jewell does it again. I was so consumed by this story that I finished it in under 24 hours. Full review to come.

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Honeysuckle Dreams (Blue Ridge Romance #2) by Denise Hunter. Read February 19-21. 3.5 Stars. 

I enjoyed this, though the added drama at the end did bring it down a bit for me. I liked the characters for the most part and the Marriage-of-Convenience theme. I look forward to continuing the series. Full review to come.

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Runaway Groom (I Do, I Don’t #2) by Lauren Layne. Read February 21-23. 4 Stars. 

Such a fun book. I really liked both Ellie and Gage. I enjoyed the “The Bachelor” type setting, too, though I thought it could have been played up a bit more. I’m really looking forward to the next one.

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What You Want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka. Read February 24-25. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was well-paced and well-written, with a really interesting mystery. I also love that this book is set in Columbus, OH and I recognized a lot of the areas mentioned. I definitely recommend this series to Mystery fans and am looking forward to reading more from Lepionka in the future. Full review to come.

********Re-Reads********

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After finishing Iron Gold I fell into a book slump and decided to re-read the original trilogy, which I failed to do prior to reading Iron Gold. I still loved them all the second time around (third time for Red Rising). I had forgotten how completely epic Morning Star really is.

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Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks #1) by Miranda Kenneally. This was recently free on Kindle. I pretty much have all the same issues with this book as I did the first time I read it. However, I think I may have enjoyed it slightly more this time around. It’s a pretty quick read.

********Back on the TBR********

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Books from the library that I never started before they expiredFragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda, A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis, and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

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Books from the library that I started and couldn’t get into: Fake Wife by Stacey Lynn, Moonlight Sins by Jennifer Armentrout, Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. I usually love a good fake relationship story, but I read several chapters of Fake Wife and just couldn’t get into it. I think I want to try it again someday, though. I read about a chapter and a half of Moonlight Sins and again, just couldn’t get into it. I used to love everything by JLA, but all but one of her last several books have been ones I didn’t like or didn’t finish. I’m not sure if I’ll ever give this one a chance again. Truly Devious seems promising, but I was in a mood when I started it and then I realized it was the first book in a series and not a standalone, so I think I’ll wait until more books are published before I read it.

Review: Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second 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 everything 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, and 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.

*This review may contain some mild spoilers from Books 1-3 of the series. No spoilers for Iron Gold.*

Other books in the series:

Red Rising

Golden Son

Morning Star

So, Stephanie, you just finished your most anticipated book of the year (of ever, really). Now how about you write a halfway coherent review? Yeah, right. I really wish I could do that, but my thoughts are everywhere on this, so I’m going the list route.

The Writing. Pierce Brown is just a beautiful writer. His style, pacing, imagery, emotion. Even the violent scenes. Even the sometimes adolescent humor among the Howlers. Even the small, seemingly insignificant moments. If Pierce Brown writes it, I want to read it.

World building. Who knew there would be so much more world building to do in the 4th book of a series!? The story begins about 10 years after the last book ends (side note: I really should’ve done my series re-read before starting this. I was thinking Darrow was late 20s when Morning Star ended, not early 20s) and it is a whole new world. There was no Happily Ever After when Darrow and company “won.” The fight was not over and the government is far from stable. While I appreciate the need for the world building, it did slow things down a bit, plot-wise, when I was itching to just get going

POVs. Unlike the original trilogy, which was told completely in Darrow’s 1st person POV, Iron Gold is told through multiple 1st person POV. Besides Darrow, there are chapters from Lysander, all grown up and as Gold-arrogant as ever, Lyria, a Red who has lost most of her family and gets the opportunity to move to Luna and cross paths with those in charge, and Ephraim, who is connected to a character that had a small, but vital, role in Darrow’s history. It pains me to say that I didn’t love all the POVs. I think the problem lies with Darrow still being a major player. If this was a true companion series then it would make sense for Darrow to have more of a cameo role while new characters take the lead. But since this is more a continuation to the series, Darrow still has a big part to play and all I wanted was him. I was disappointed every time the POV changed away from him. I could not make myself really care that much about Lyria or Ephraim. I was ok with Lysander’s POV, but mostly because he was with Cassius. I also thought what was happening in his chapters are really important to the future books, whereas Lyria or Ephraim could have had much smaller roles and still had the same impact to the overall plot. So, Darrow’s POV was by far my favorite, but including it kind of made the rest feel a little lacking.

The Characters. Sevro, my little Goblin! How I have missed you! I loved seeing him and Darrow together again so much! And they’re fathers now! They’re relationship did hit some rough spots throughout the book, but they’ve been there before and I know they will get through it. I also enjoyed seeing Victra, Mustang, the Telemanuses, Cassius, and some of the original Howlers again. As for the new characters, I liked Lorn’s grandson, Alexander, “Tongueless” a new Obsidian Darrow and Sevro befriend, and Volga, Ephraim’s partner in crime, but I could take or leave the rest. Again, I think I may have liked the new characters more if there were not so much of the original ones. But I will never be upset about getting more of the original characters. 

Darrow. I’ve read several reviews where people were pretty annoyed with Darrow in this book. While I can see their point, I don’t think it’s really a valid argument. Listening to other people’s opinions/orders and then doing whatever he bloodydamn wants is kind of his thing. To be fair, that often works out in his favor. I say let Darrow be Darrow. Plus, he has two books to grow his character. A perfect Darrow this early in the game would make for a boring continuation of the series.

Plot Development. I’m not going to rehash the whole plot, because ya’ll can read the synopsis. I feel like the plot development was very similar to the first book in the series. A lot of set up and character development. Unlike the previous books, though, there weren’t many of the small twists and surprises that I have come to expect. While it’s not super predictable, I did not find myself really surprised by anything that happened. I will say there is one death that I did not think would happen, but I am not 100% convinced that the character is really dead. *Crossing my fingers the character reappears in book 5.* From other reviews I skimmed before reading this I was expecting a big cliffhanger ending and I guess there kind of was in a couple of the POVs (it was not until writing this sentence that I even remembered there were, which tells you that I did not find them very impactful). The last chapter in Darrow’s POV did not have one. However, I absolutely loved the last sentence of the book. It made me so excited for what’s to come!

Overall, I enjoyed Iron Gold. I have been waiting for this book for so long and am so glad I finally got to read it. While it was maybe not all that I hoped it would be, it was a well written continuation of the series and I am counting down the days to Dark Age.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR. I’ve been an extremely moody reader lately, so I may not stick to these, but they’re all ones I’m hoping to read.

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1. Roomies by Christina Lauren – publishing 12/5/17. I loved the last book I read by this author duo, Dating You/Hating You, and I have high hopes for this one.

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2. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills – publishing 12/5/17. I absolutely adore her other books and I can’t wait for this one!

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3. Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West – publishing 12/26/17. I love Kasie West books.

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4. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown – publishing 1/16/18. I am so excited for this!!! I probably should add the first three books to this list because I feel like I need a re-read before going into this so I can fully appreciate it.

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5. Runaway Groom (I Do, I Don’t #2) by Lauren Layne – publishing 1/30/18. I really enjoyed the first book in this series. Lauren Layne has become one of my favorite Contemporary Romance authors.

6. The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon – publishing 2/13/18. No cover yet, but that doesn’t matter. If it’s by Amy Harmon, I want to read it!

7. The Comfort Zone by Sally Thorne – publishing 2/20/18. No cover yet for this either. I adored The Hating Game and have been eagerly anticipating Thorne’s next book ever since.

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8. Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi – publishing 3/6/18. Though re-reads have made me lower my original very high opinion of these books, I am still very excited for this series to continue. I will never be sad about getting more Warner!

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9. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover -published 10/3/17. Brandie from Running on Words and Wine gifted me a copy of this for my birthday! I am not a huge CoHo fan, but Brandie said this one was a little different than her normal books and thought I would like it. Thanks again Brandie!

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10. Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer – publishing 1/23/18. I got a physical ARC of this from the author so I really want to get this read soon. I’ve been such a moody reader lately that I’ve mostly avoided all my ARCs because I’m afraid my bad mood will negatively impact any book I read and I want to be as fair as possible with ARCs.

What books are you looking forward to reading this Winter?