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?

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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! :)***

Review: Inhuman by Kat Falls

Publisher:  Scholastic, Inc.

Genre: YA, futuristic, post-apocalyptic

Series: Fetch

Pages: 384, Hardcover

Release Date: September 24th, 2013

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

 Summary from Netgalley:

Beauty versus beasts.

In the wake of a devastating biological disaster, the United States east of the Mississippi River has been abandoned. Now called the Feral Zone, a reference to the virus that turned millions of people into bloodthirsty savages, the entire area is off-limits. The punishment for violating the border is death.

Lane McEvoy can’t imagine why anyone would risk it. She’s grown up in the shadow of the great wall separating east from west, and she’s naturally curious about what’s on the other side – but she’s not that curious. Life in the west is safe, comfortable . . . sterile. Which is just how she likes it.

But Lane gets the shock of her life when she learns that someone close to her has crossed into the Feral Zone. And she has little choice but to follow. Lane travels east, risking life and limb and her very DNA, completely unprepared for what she finds in the ruins of civilization . . . and afraid to learn whether her humanity will prove her greatest strength or a fatal weakness.

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coffee to goCoffee To Go: I absolutely LOVED this book. It’s original, it has a hint of didacticism, and it will keep your eyes glued to its pages. I highly recommend that you go buy it—and soon! If you’ve read another young adult book like this one, let me know. The plagued world in which Lane lives is none like I’ve ever read. And I’ve read quite a few books.

Characters—

Lane: She’s a bit of a germaphobe. It adds some serious comic relief to the story, which is good. I like that she doesn’t just take everything people say to her with a grain of salt and she looks for the best in people. Lane realky believes in humanity and I find that super inspiring. I liked her as a protagonist a lot. She’s quick on her feet, too.

Rafe: He starts the novel as a HUGE jerk. I’m not saying he ends the novel as a deep, tortured, beautiful soul or anything, but the reader does get to see a huge change in his demeanor. I really cared about him by the end. He’s pretty precious. Besides the fact that, like I said, he’s a huge jerk. Sometimes, I was like, “Rafe, are we in a post-apocalyptic type world or are we in junior high?” But…*sigh*…the story wouldn’t be the same without him.

Everson: He’s pretty much perfect at everything. And he’s good. A perfect foil for Rafe. I know it sounds crazy, but I felt safe around him…and I’m just the reader! I absolutely loved him!

The World—

So basically the entire United States winds up on the West side of an enormous wall that splits the entire country in half and keeps out feral, a horrible disease that mutates humans into animals. Oh, and it mutates people at different rates, so you never know when the disease will overtake someone’s brain, stripping them of their self-control. Talk about blurring the lines of humanity. If you’ve read Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, you know about the Wilds. I feel like this story is about all of legends about the Wilds coming true. Kat Falls creates a savage, survival of the fittest, is-this-even-possible, type of world. I can’t say much else for fear of spilling a spoiler, but just WAIT until you get to Chicago! It gets crazy!

The Themes—

Definition of humanity/Moral dilemmas

Friendship/Family

Definition of civilization

Final Thoughts—

Hmm…Rafe is hot. Ever is dreamy. Both of them can kick serious butt. Yes, there’s a love triangle. No, it does not take away from the story. I’m so thankful that Lane isn’t the type of girl to get caught up in that mess. She’s pretty busy trying to save her father (No spoilers here; you find out in the first chapter or two). Inhuman is filled with action, dramatic irony, a crazy plot twist or two, and, best of all, it made me think! Not deep, existential questions, but questions about right and wrong, good and evil. I can’t wait to see how Kat Falls continues Lane’s story in Fetch #2!

Memorable Quotes—

“Safe and happy don’t always go together.”

“It’s the beast that kills. When I’m human again, the beast’s sins will not be mine.”

 

***This review was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

On the topic of “growing up” in literature.

black espresso

Recently, I’ve started to hear more and more about writers of adult fiction asking writers of YA fiction when they will grow up. The problem? Readers experience the same phenomenon. I can’t tell you how many times someone who chooses to read the classics or someone who chooses to read endless strings of adult crime thriller novels, tells me that I should grow up and stop reading my “silly teenage fantasy romances.”

UM, EXCUSE ME?

My main issue with this does not lie in their obvious literary snobbery or even the fact that they don’t know what they’re talking about, since they don’t read YA fiction. My problem lies in the fact that they’re looking down on a genre that actually gets kids and teenagers to read. I can’t tell you how many of my friends growing up seriously disliked reading because of its association with school, and therefore things like “work” and “bad” and “for smart people only.” Yet when I begged them on my figurative hands and knees to read something (usually Harry Potter), they would inevitably give in and appease me. By doing so, they would fall in love with reading all over again and discern things about the world around them and the world within them that they’d never even glimpsed at before.

Here’s the thing: I don’t care if 99.9% of the books I read center around teenagers who discover a hidden magical/mythical world within their own while finding first love in the process, defy a totalitarian government against all odds, or find out that they are, in some way, very different than most people. Because all of these crazy plots are inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on the formulaic crime mystery. As a kid, I would constantly sneak into the study to read Catherine Coulter, Iris Johansen, etc. until the wee hours in the morning. Are these novels bad? No. Are they the only good ones? Definitely not. Are they the most inspiring? Depends on who you are. But in a world where teenagers would rather watch endless hours of TV, waste time reading the same tweets and Instagram photos over and over, and use SparkNotes on every English exam, books that intrigue teenagers are important.

Take Harry Potter, for instance. A scrawny eleven year old with a lightning bolt-shaped scar who, rather than choosing defeat, fights the most feared wizard in magical history and wins. What about Katniss? A half-starving girl from an unimportant district firmly under a horrific government’s control finds herself the face of a revolution. Tris—a small girl from an unassuming faction who chooses to be Dauntless in more ways than one, who begins to understand bravery, selflessness, and facing one’s fears, both in everyday life and in epic battles, and who glimpses her mother’s hidden strength. And Lena? The girl who follows all of the rules, who is perhaps the most afraid of love, who later becomes one of its biggest advocates, and who takes down her society’s walls built upon years of fear of the unknown. Don’t forget Meghan, the girl who risks everything to save her little brother, who finds herself at the center of the faery universe, and who changes from a self-conscious farm girl into a catalyst who changes the very fabric of the faery existence.

All of these stories, and much, much more, tell of teenagers who step up and change something. They find love and they lose it. They figure out what’s important to them in life and fight for it. They aren’t okay with being a part of the status quo. Now, I know that all of the stories I referred to were dystopian or fantasy, but the same goes for much of young adult literature. These authors are so full of imagination that these stories become more than words on a page. These characters are no longer caricatures; they take on a life of their own. Whether young adult fiction tells of transformation of an entire world or of transformation in a single person’s life, it makes a difference.

Camus’ The Stranger, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Shakespeare’s plays, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Jane Austen’s works, Catherine Coulter’s FBI Thriller series, etc. are all GOOD. The classics, the moderns, the fantastical, the realistic, the sci-fi, the paranormal, the romance (well, not Erotica, sorry), and many more are all GOOD.

My point is, just because something is written for a young adult, a middle grade, or a children’s literature-based audience doesn’t make it childish.

So, THANK YOU to every single young adult author, reader, blogger, or publisher who refuses to “grow up.”

 

Okay guys, what do you think about growing up in literature? I’d really love your feedback! 🙂

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Source: Bought Kindle Edition

Genre: High Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Series: Throne of Glass

Pages: 404 (Hardcover)

Release Date: August 7th, 2012

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

 

Summary from Good Reads:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

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Coffee To Go: Loved it! Go read it and you won’t regret it, I promise. The world is both glamorous and dark. Celaena is complex and the emerging plot is even more so. This story will keep you guessing until the end and doesn’t spell out all the answers for you. It leaves you excited for its sequel (Crown of Midnight) and doesn’t even have a cliffhanger. I’m excited for more of the action, mystery, and romance that dominate Maas’ writing!

Characters—

Celaena: Don’t get on her bad side. She’s ruthless, has a dark past, and has seen more at eighteen years old than most see in a lifetime.  I love a heroine who can truly take care of herself. You will see character transformation in her, although it’s very subtle. She’s a survivor, through and through. I love that she can still appreciate the romance of a ball and the beauty of a gown even in the face of multiple enemies, both seen and unseen. However, her assassin skills (or lack of) confused me. First she’s perfect with every weapon and then she’s vomiting while training? Hmm. I do admire her perseverance; she knows what she’s capable of and won’t stop until she gets there.

Prince Dorian: He’s a playboy with a sensitive side. He’s a prince willing to speak out against his dictator dad for what’s right, he loves to read, and wants to marry for love in a world where royal marriages are nothing more than tools for political advancement. All of that to point out his naïve idealism. He seemed shallow to me, still more a boy than a man. I liked him alright, but I couldn’t love him.

Captain Westfall: *double sigh* Built, brooding, and handsome. He’s all duty and restraint which causes others to constantly misunderstand him. I know we love those misunderstood guys! He is my favorite character in Throne of Glass. He understands Celaena more than either of them realizes which makes their relationship really beautiful and strained. I got to see him grow oh, so much as a person over the course of the novel. The more I found out about him, the more I admired him. Here’s the thing: he’s not swoon-worthy. Dare I say that he’s more than that? I wish I could explain why, but that’s for you to find out when you read the book. He’s different from most YA heroes and I like that about him.

Nehemia: Can someone say coolest BFF ever? Say hello to the inventor of feminine power. Maas uses Nehemia as a catalyst for multiple events and characters within the story. She’s as strong, if not stronger, of a protagonist than Celaena.

The World—

Adarlan, the kingdom in which the novel is set, has a medieval feel to it. Most of the story takes place in the castle, most of which is glass. The story is full of secret passageways, court politics, and banned magic.

The Themes—

Freedom

Honor

Survival

Final Thoughts—

This author knows how to write a good quote! I constantly found myself highlighting something because she got her point across so well. This book is definitely worth the read. While some plot elements seemed too perfectly wrapped up, its plot is well paced and it’s great for someone looking for an entertaining fantasy read.

Memorable Quotes—

“Libraries were full of ideas—perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”

“We each survive in our own way.”

“The giant glass building was full of shadows and light.”

“There was strength in his face that she found to be achingly beautiful.”

Book Review: Minutes Before Sunset – Shannon A. Thompson

Publisher: AEC Stellar
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Series: Timely Death #1
Pages: 294
Release Date: May 1, 2013 (via GoodReads)
Rating: 4/5

Summary from GoodReads:
She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.
_________________________
Wait…the Light is evil?

Characters—

Eric: What a breath of fresh air. The ability to come from a guy’s perspective and make it actually sound like a guy is one that I feel is pretty hard to come by nowadays. Thompson captures Eric’s voice so well! He’s not perfect—far from it—he’s full of churning emotions and teenage angst, which is only magnified by the fact that he has his whole world on his shoulders. How would you like to come home to “Son, are you ready to fight an epic battle to save all of your kind?” rather than a simple “How was your day?” Maybe all of that is why I love him. His attitude is a façade that conceals his caring and honorable side. Not to mention that he is not only HOT, but super sweet. Like, if I lived in Hayworth (the town in which the novel takes place), I would be sending him googly eyes all day, every day. Lastly and most importantly, he grows and transforms immensely as he finds out more about himself. That’s probably what I loved most about the entire novel. Eric at the end is a completely different person than Eric at the beginning. Well, that, and his hilarious sarcasm.

Jessica: I like her. I don’t love her and I don’t relate to her very much, but maybe that’s a personal problem. I snagged a few glimpses into her emotions and her life throughout the book, but I didn’t really hear her voice really speak out until the end. There were many moments in which I felt like she was two completely different people. Certain events in her life don’t seem to affect other parts of her life like they do Eric. I did, however, LOVE her backbone. When people are rude to her, she doesn’t take it. This girl has her self-respect and self-confidence in control! Many female protagonists nowadays, although beautiful, constantly bring up their insecurities. It’s good, because, let’s face it, high school/college girls can relate, but I loved seeing Jessica’s comfort in her own skin.
The World—

WHAT? The guys that come out at night are the good ones? Mind. Blown. I do hope she elaborates more on the Light/Dark history in Seconds Before Sunrise, as there are some unanswered questions on how the Lights/Darks came into being, why their clans hate one another, etc. I cannot express how much I love Thompson’s explanations as to how these supernatural creatures live side-by-side with humans. They shift into two different forms? You’ll have to read the book in order to find out more, but I will say that Thompson’s world of “shades,” “Lights,” powers, hierarchy, shape-shifting, and foretold epic battles has its coolness factor down.

Final Thoughts—(READ ME)

Housekeeping: multiple small grammar/spelling mistakes. While they bothered me, they didn’t take away from the story, so if you’re not a grammar Nazi like I am, you’re good!
Thompson’s reversal of the Light/Dark archetypes is really interesting and wonderfully unnerving and seeing the two extremes come face to face during intense battle scenes only highlighted the genius of this role reversal. HOLY DRAMATIC IRONY. For the majority of the novel, my mind was screaming “OMG listen to me! I know stuff you don’t!” and it was oh, so good. Thompson’s use of dramatic irony kept me on my toes, just waiting to see when the characters would figure out things. Also, Thompson sketches in her foreshadowing beautifully. I cannot wait to find out what’s in store for Eric and Jessica in Seconds Before Sunrise. The romance is genuine and did not have raging teenage hormones; instead, it shows that…(ahh, best part. You’ll have to read it!)

Memorable Quotes—

“You’re either very brave or very foolish.” “What’s the difference?”
“She reminded me of what it was like to believe in something.”
“He was beyond intimidating. He was overwhelming.”

The author provided me a free eBook in exchange for an honest review.

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