Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Children’s 

Genre: YA High Fantasy

Series: Throne of Glass

Pages: 420, Hardcover

Release Date: August 27th, 2013

Rating: 071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png 

Summary from Goodreads:

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

__________________________________

coffee to goCoffee To Go: CoM most definitely does not fall into the second book slump. The world gets much more mysterious and the stakes get higher. Maas’ writing is beautiful and captures her characters’ emotions perfectly. I feel like I love this book so much that all of its perfect aspects blend together. If you liked Throne of Glass, you will most definitely be hooked on Crown of Midnight.

 Characters—

Celaena: She goes through some serious trials in CoM and grows quite a bit. I got to see much more depth in her. I liked her in Throne of Glass, but she seemed very similar to other fantasy female protagonists. In CoM, she veers off onto her own path. You’ll get to see so many different sides of her, some good, some…not so good. If Celaena was real, I know that I would want to be her friend!

Chaol: Torn between his feelings for Celaena and his duty to the King, this guy has a lot on his hands. He makes some mistakes in CoM, but those mistakes only make me love him even more because they make him human. Basically, all I can say about Chaol is… *sigh*

Dorian: At the beginning of CoM, he was kind of just…there. I wondered why Maas continued to keep him as a main character, but she has her reasons, and let me tell you: they are good! He’s still kind of a pansy, but I admire his growth and budding bravery.

Nehemia: So pretty much she’s awesome. Her web of secrets gets bigger and bigger and, well, you shall have to find out the rest by reading! No spoilers!

The World—

Maas continues to unveil new surprises and plot twists that relate to the mysterious events of Throne of Glass. Maas describes the narrator’s actions so capably that the reader gets a clear mental image of the narrator’s surroundings. I loved getting to finally see more of Rifthold too! Maas is just really talented at world-building. In high fantasy, worlds have to be fantastical (of course), but also believable. If a world is completely ridiculous, people aren’t going to care about it or its people. Maas accomplishes both crazy fantasy elements and highly believable elements.

Final Thoughts—

If I could get you to read ONE sentence from my review, it’s this: Maas’ prose is absolutely beautiful. The depth of emotion she creates with words astounds me. Without spoiling anything, I will say that you will get your heart broken if you care about these characters. I experienced moments of swooning and moments of eye-rolling and moments of clutching the book to my chest. Get lost in this beautiful and deadly world! Oh, and don’t forget about the triple POVs. Maas uses third person and switches primarily between Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian. It definitely adds to the story.

Memorable Quotes—

“She did not have a beautiful voice. And many of the words sounded like half-sobs, the vowels stretched by the pangs of sorrow, the consonants hardened by anger. She beat her breast in time, so full of savage grace, so at odds with the black gown and veil she wore….the lament poured from her mouth, unearthly and foreign, a song of grief so old…”

“’Why are you crying?’ ‘Because,’ she whispered, her voice shaking, “you remind me of what the world ought to be. What the world can be.’”

***A HUGE thank you to Literary Lushes for allowing me to be a part of their ARC tour! Go check them out! :)***

Book Review: Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: The Grisha Trilogy

Pages: 356

Release Date: June 5, 2012

Rating: 5/5

Summary from GoodReads:

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

__________

Keftas, Unseas and Darklings?

Characters—

   Alina: I think it’s important to make sure you understand her childhood background before you can fully understand why she is insecure and impressionable. I like that Alina is unremarkable at the beginning of the novel—not once has someone told her that she has great things ahead. Until she demonstrates her power and ends up in a palace, that is. She’s not one of the strongest female protagonists, but the reader gets to see her go from cowering and wistful to standing up for herself and making her own choices. LOVE IT!

   Mal: Swoon-worthy, to say the least. He is the “sun” of the story; he seems to light up everything around him. Honest, caring, and imperfectly perfect. And guess what…we get to see transformation in him too!

   The Darkling: Um, hello SMOKING HOT bad boy. If Mal is swoon-worthy, then the Darkling makes you want to give in to all of your temptations. He’s the latest epitome of “tall, dark and handsome.” Bardugo keeps him shrouded in mystery the entire time and he is such a complex character, I find myself constantly wanting to know more about him. (Siege and Storm can’t come soon enough)

   Genya: She is the model girl best friend and confidante. She has Alina’s back many times and really drives home the idea that beauty isn’t everything. She is wickedly cunning and has mastered her Grisha ability.

The World—

As one completely in love with Russian culture, I thought the world was very intriguing. A kingdom with an ignorant king, an elite crew of magic users and an established chasm between nobility and peasantry? Yes please! Not to mention a deadly magical Shadow Fold of impenetrable darkness that hides creepy vulture-like things that attack anyone who attempts passage through their territory. This fantastical world removes me completely from my suburban town.

The Themes—

   Controlling vs. freely given love

   Power, the struggle for it, and how to handle it

   Taking life vs. appreciating life

   Misplaced idealism

Final Thoughts—

I read this book in about a day. I only put it down to take care of life’s absolute necessities. Bardugo’s beautiful plot and complex characters will have you pining for Siege and Storm, which releases June 4th in the U.S.

Memorable Quotes—

“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”

“…then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me.”

“I wasn’t nervous or frightened. I wasn’t anything anymore.”

You can buy this book on Amazon or get more info at Goodreads! Thanks for reading!

Book Review: “The Girl of Fire and Thorns” by Rae Carson

the girl of fire and thorns

Publisher: Greenwillow

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

Series: Fire and Thorns

Pages: 423

Release Date: September 20, 2011

Rating: 4/5

Summary from GoodReads:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

__________

Let’s just say that this book definitely has its strengths and its flaws.

Characters

   Elisa:

I absolutely love that Carson steps out of the formulaic female protagonist! Don’t get me wrong, I love them as much as anybody else, but not everyone is perfectly fit, petite, and attractive. Elisa, on the other hand, begins the story with food as her only friend. Moreover, I could see a gradual change in her throughout the book. She liked some of it while also admitting that she did not like her evolving self sometimes. Carson does a very good job of showing the reader how Elisa makes decisions. Elisa’s thought processes are more than simply stream-of-consciousness.

The Men:

Alejandro, Elisa’s husband, shows the reader just how little looks matter sometimes. He is gorgeous, yet weak. He cannot seem to make a single strong decision throughout the novel and his insensitivity proves to be very irritating. That said, he becomes the perfect foil character to both Humberto and Hector. Both men are deep, chivalrous, kind, protective, etc etc. They’re almost too perfect. Nobody wants a male protagonist without flaws, right? Moreover, the two men are nearly the same person.

   Ximena:

I loved this lady! She is a very static character, but that serves as a complete bonus in this case. When things get crazy in the novel, Ximena is the constant nugget of solidarity. Who doesn’t want a complete badass lady in waiting who can hem a perfect gown while serving as your fierce guardian?

Overall, I thought that Carson could have done a more thorough job with characterization. I had a hard time feeling any attachment to many of the characters. When Elisa has conversations with other characters, I feel like I am seeing them through a veil because they weren’t quite real to me.

The World—

The novel takes place in a mostly desert climate where God dropped the characters’ ancestors—literally with his “righteous right hand”—many generations ago after the First World ended. The country of Joya, where Elisa spends 99% of the novel, is a vast desert with a small hilly region along one border and a coast/oasis, where the capital city lies. Elisa’s home country seems to be less dry and the enemy territory seems much woodsier, but there is no kind of map to which I can compare the settings. The Godstone concept is SUPER interesting and different from normal protagonist distinctions, although I feel like having a stone, no matter how alive it may be, lodged in your bellybutton would be uncomfortable. My only complaint is that the God seems under-formed. I know that this God is a supreme, all-knowing being, but as the religious elements lean heavily toward Christianity, I feel like the God should be more personal and have more of a dynamic voice. I just don’t understand how Elisa feeling the Godstone “pulse” and “warm to the idea” is communication with God. That said, I LOVED the faith Carson incorporated! I’ve read many reviews where the writer did not like the amount of religion Carson uses, but it’s really refreshing for me.

The Themes—

Self-sacrifice

   Extraordinary from ordinary

   Having faith in yourself

Final Thoughts—

   Read it! This book has some room for improvement, but the things you will take away from it are valuable, not to mention a good read! It’s entertaining, inspiring, and real—er, well, it’s still fantasy…You get my drift. Elisa is a witty protagonist who doesn’t sugarcoat her feelings. When she’s embarrassed, you’ll feel embarrassed with her. When she’s feeling snarky, you know she has a good reason. When she’s grieving, you’ll feel her pain as well.

I really hope this review helped you! It’s my first one, so I am open to suggestions on other books and ways to improve!

               

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