Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Crown of Midnight Review

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Published:  August 27, 2013
Synopsis from Goodreads: Celaena Sardothien is the king's Champion—yet she is far from loyal to the crown, for the man she serves is bent on evil. But working against her master in secret is no easy task. As Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, she can trust no one, not even her supposed allies Crown Prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and foreign princess Nehemia.

Then, an unspeakable tragedy shatters Celaena's world. She must decide once and for all where her loyalties lie . . . and whom she will fight for.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars but can 10 out of 5 stars and option?

This book Broke. My. Feels.
ALL of them. The good feels, the bad feels, the WTF just happened kind of feels.

Let's start from the beginning shall we? Crown of Midnight picks up right where Throne of Glass ends. Celaena has won the title of King's Champion and is now slave to the King's wishes. However, she is nowhere near as loyal as she pretends to be. And so begins a 418 page journey of heart wrenching, nonstop adventure complete with blood, love, magic, death, plot twists, and so much more. 

In my review for Throne of Glass, I said that saying I immensely enjoyed it was an understatement. This time around though, when I say that Crown of Midnight BLEW Throne of Glass out of the water, that is a massive understatement. The first book was a really good beginning that perfectly set the stage for what was a crazy epic second book. Sarah J. Maas certainly did not fall prey to the second book lull that some authors do where their sequels are just standard in-between happenings between one book and the next. No, Ms. Maas created an amazing adventure that put her first book almost to shame (not really though because the first book is still amazing.)

One thing I forgot to talk about in my first review is how well Maas uses the third person point of view. Sometimes third person makes me feel disconnected with the characters especially when the author jumps around from talking from one character's perspective to the next. However, Maas uses third person so flawlessly that hopping from one character to the next (sometimes mid-scene) only enhanced the imagery and broke my feels even more. Did I mention yet that my feels are broken? Because they are - shattered. 

Another thing I forgot to mention is the WORDS. Not since reading Harry Potter have I found an author whose words are so important. A major lesson I learned while reading Crown of Midnight was to pay attention to the particular words that Sarah J. Maas chooses because she is the queen of the absolute most subtlest form of foreshadowing. You don't even realize that she's using foreshadowing until an epic plot twist happens and all the words fall into place and you find yourself flipping back through book one just to make sure you're remembering everything correctly.*

*Just as I was writing this, it happened again. I just remembered a scene from practically the third chapter of Throne of Glass that makes so much sense now that I just finished Crown of Midnight.**

And so concludes the spoiler free portion of this review. If you haven't yet read Crown of Midnight, run away now because spoilers in the minor and major sense are coming. 

Spoilers in 

You were warned.

CELAENA AND CHAOL!!!!! My OTP of this series finally became cannon!! Okay so things left off rocky for them in the end but UGH they were so adorable together in the first half!! Maybe adorable isn't the right word for them but I just love them together! I can't imagine them not working out eventually. They need to - it must happen. Why? Because he will always care what happens to her. Because she feels safest when she's with him. Because he knows when she needs chocolate cake. Because she threw him a perfect birthday party with all his favorite food. Because he would disappear with her. Because she took out an entire room of armed men to save her Chaol. Because he jumped into a demon portal to save her puppy. Because she signed everything she owns to him in her will. Celaena and Chaol forever!!

“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.”
- Chaol and Celaena, pg 187

I will say that one thing that I didn't like about them was how easily they fell apart over a misunderstanding. I mean really, she knew that he was loyal to the crown and that his position as captain and serving his country meant everything to him. It was part of what made her love him so much - that he had it in him to be so loyal. Somewhere, she must have known that if the king gave him an order, he'd follow it. Granted, he should also have known that to not tell Celaena that Nehemia was in danger was pretty stupid. He should have known that she above anyone else would keep her safe. I don't blame him for sending her away to Wendlyn. He was trying to protect her the only way he knew how. At the same time, Nehemia lied to her too - a lot actually. THat princess had a lot of secrets and Celaena didn't blow up about that. I thought the whole misunderstanding thing was just strange all together from every angle but the end still gives me hope that all will be okay with them. 

There were two things that I really didn't see coming at all. The first of which was Dorian has magic. That revelation just blew my mind. It was just not at all something that I was expecting to happen. If there was foreshadowing for it at all, I definitely missed it and I can't remember anything that would have even hinted at that being a possibility. Also, Nehemia!!! That hurt. A lot. I loved her character! And I was actually sort of hoping that she and Dorian might become a thing eventually. But... that one hurt. And Fleetfoot still waits for her which made it hurt even more. 

One thing that I really, really loved was seeing Celaena's assassin side. My favorite scenes were when she burst through the window to save Chaol and when she crashed a council meeting to deliver Grave's head to the king. When she said that dramatic entrances were her art form, she wasn't kidding. There was just so much epicness.

** I won't spell it out exactly here just in case someone isn't listening to my spoiler warning. But reread Chapter 5 in Throne of Glass. I had forgotten all about that scene. But that's some seriously random scene disguising massive foreshadowing there for you. It's just so impressive how well thought out these books are and I've only read two of them. Same thing goes for when Nehemia renamed Celaena. The way she said it, I have a feeling she knew. 

I'm pretty sure this is the longest review I've ever written and every time I think I've said everything I meant to say, there's something else. I literally think that I can sit and flail about this book for hours. But I won't because Heir of Fire is sitting on my desk demanding to be read and when a book makes such demands, one must listen. 

If you've read Crown of Midnight, do let me know what you thought of it. Did you like more than the first? Most importantly, do you think Chaol and Celaena will be okay?? Because they need to be. For the sake of my feels. 

But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.
 - pg 241

Monday, January 26, 2015

Throne of Glass Review

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Published:  January 1, 2012
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Okay. I'm halfway through Crown of Midnight  right now and - Shit. Just. Went. Down. I'm pretty sure I won't be able to coherently write this review if I continue reading anymore. Holy crap beans though...

To say that I immensely enjoyed Throne of Glass would be a massive understatement. It's like a fantasy Hunger Games shmooshed together with Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Quartet. There are a lot of elements in Throne of Glass that were really reminiscent of both book series. Normally this would have bothered me a lot but Sarah J. Maas put enough of her own spin to the storyline that it just wasn't a big deal at all. Admittedly though, I had a bit of trouble getting into the story in the beginning but I'm pretty sure that's just because I wasn't giving myself enough reading time. Reading only on my half hour lunch breaks is no way to start a book but once I actually sat down long enough to read properly, it was pretty hard to stop.

Sarah J. Maas created a wonderfully elaborate fantasy world of Erilea. I haven't read a high fantasy book in a while and this book just reminded me of how much I truly love it when it's done right. It's easy to make a fantasy world sound boring  and cliche but there was just so much detail in Maas' world that it never even came close to that. Her world building is simply amazing. Not only do we get bits about the history of Adarlan - the country where the story takes place - but we get pieces of history of the world itself. We learn about Terrasen and Ellywe and the ancient Fae and how magic was banned but once flourished. Every character gets a full back story on top of the history of their home country. Even the other champions, most of whom were minor characters, got back stories. There was talk of politics and religion. There was just so much depth to everything without ever resorting to massive info-dumps. The only thing I had a problem with was I kept forgetting what characters looked like for some reason but that was probably just me.

Let's talk about Celaena. At only eighteen years old, she's become Adarlan's most feared assassin - a great feat considering her age and the fact the she's a girl. She's the only girl in the competition to become the King's Champion and because of that, most of the competitors brushed her off at first. She also survived a year in Endovier - a death camp created by the King of Adarlan where the average life expectancy is only a month. She's endured love and heartbreak and betrayal. But on top of all of that, she kept her sense of humor and her ability to laugh. She can best anyone with swords or with wit. She plays the piano beautifully and emotionally. She reads like a true book nerd. She loves food and eats candy (and chocolate!!) with the happiness of a child. And PUPPIES - double points for loving puppies! In short, she's the epitome of a kick ass female character.

There is a love triangle here but it's the kind of love triangle that I'm okay with - more than okay actually because of how well written it is. Dorian Havilliard is the crown price of Adarlan - son of the ruthless tyrant king who basically destroyed all that was good in the world. But despite all of that, he's intelligent and kind and can easily match Celaena's wit. He's no where near the spoiled brat prince you'd expect. His ten year old brother is apparently but we don't meet him in this book. However, even though Dorian is great, I found myself really, really hoping Celaena would choose Chaol. Chaol Westfall is the Captain of the Royal Guard and Dorian's best and oldest friend. He's loyal, kind, honorable, and really sweet even though he puts on a good tough guy act at first. He takes his job as protector of the royal family seriously. He somewhat reluctantly becomes friends with Celaena over the course of the book but eventually it becomes pretty clear that the feelings go deeper than that. His sense of morals is so strong though that he is willing to step aside to allow his best friend to be happy instead. Both characters are extremely well written and it's obviously why Celaena has feelings for both but  - I'm Team Chaol all the way - most definitely.

[Side note: One thing I'm particularly glad of in my copy of the book is the pronunciation guide in the back. For a while, I could not for the life of me figure out how to pronounce Chaol. I went from CHA-oll to Chaowl to something that sounded way too much like Kal-El. Chaol is not Superman obviously because Batman is cooler. I think I was almost halfway into the book before I realized there was a pronunciation guide which like a blessing in itself.]

There were so many other amazing characters as well. Nehemia is a kickass female character all by herself and she's a princess. Nox was bascially the Finnick of the competitors and I loved him - and I'm hoping to see more of him in later books too, maybe? Duke Perrington and the king were each wonderfully horribly despicable in their own ways as was Lady Kaltain but specifically in a I-really-want-to-slap you kind of way.

If you haven't read this book, you need to. Like you needed to yesterday but now that's it's today you really, really, REALLY need to. If you loved Tamora Pierce when you were ten like I did, then you'll definitely like this but regardless, I'd recommend this to anyone who loves a good fantasy filled with endless adventure. But just be prepared for massive feels and nonstop reading. When I say nonstop I mean this book made me find creative ways to keep reading while multitasking.

But seriously - you HAVE to read this. It's necessary.

If you have read this and the rest of this series, tell me how you liked it! And also, after Crown of Midnight should I go directly to Heir of Fire or should I read Assassin's Blade first?

"You could rattle the stars," she whispered. "You could do anything, if you only dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That's what scares you most."

- Elena, pg 399 

[ February 2, 2015 edit - I'm counting this towards my 2015 Fairytale Retelling Challenge. I joined the challenge after I read the book and wrote this review but considering both the author and the publisher consider this a retelling of Cinderella, I'm making it count. =) ]

Friday, January 9, 2015

So I have a problem and it's name is MAGGIE STIEFVATER

As usual, December is a super busy time of year for me. It's my mom's birthday, my birthday, and, of course, Christmas. But this year, despite all the craziness the holidays bring, everything had to come to a screeching halt when I discovered the wonderful freaking fantastic glory that is...

I spent a good portion of my December not thinking about what I'd get people for Christmas but rather sitting in my warm fluffy bed reading the Raven Boys whenever I could.

All I knew going into starting The Raven Boys, was that it was about a group of four boys who were best friends and went to a prep school and supernatural somethings were involved somehow. That said, I thought it was going to be something like the movie, The Covenant. I'm really glad it wasn't though because that wasn't really a very good movie though I did like it for what it was. Initially, I wanted to read it because I read so few things about guy main characters that I figured this would be a nice change of pace.

To be honest, the reading it was slow going at first. I couldn't really get a feel for what was actually happening at the start of Raven Boys because the POV changed almost every chapter. Still, how can I DNF a book when the opening line is as amazing as this one:

As far as opening lines of books go, this one is rather high on my favorites list. By the way, can we talk for a second about the chapter designs? Aesthetically, I think I love them more than one normally should. I attribute this strange love to my aforementioned Maggie Stiefvater obsession problem - one which I'm totally okay with. 

Reasons Why Maggie Stiefvater is Amazing
A list of flails in no particular because while I enjoy lists, list-y items don't come to me in orderly fashions.

1. The way she describes things:
She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, happiness that was sometimes so big it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.
- Blue, Raven Boys, pg 223
That's only one example. I'd quote each book if I could but that would be difficult. That is just such a beautifully written description of pure happiness and it's so true. 

2. She has a thing with eyebrows. I've never read a book where an author describes characters' eyebrows as if they were characters themselves. And she does this a lot not just once or twice. But then again, eyebrows are fairly expressive aren't they?
- Raven Boys, pg 168

3. She has an ethical understanding of helicopters:
- Adam and Blue, Raven Boys, pg 189
This is one of many hilariously perfect dialogues between characters that Ms. Stiefvater has created. Maura and Blue also have a lot of good ones but this one is one of my favorites. 

4. And an understanding of the importance of pie:
- Persephone and Adam, Dream Thieves, pg 350
Professor Lupin has his chocolate and Persephone has her pie. Life changing moments require the therapeutic effects of dessert items. 

5. She knows the difference between want and need and how they're sometimes the same thing. (Subsequently, also her interesting use of the word "eaten.")
     What do you want, Adam? What do you need, Adam? Want and need were words that got eaten smaller and smaller: freedom, autonomy, a perennial bank account, a stainless steel condo in a dustless city, a cell phone, a bed, to kiss Blue just once, a blisterless heel, bacon for breakfast, to hold Blue's hand, one hour of sleep, toilet paper, deodorant, a soda, a minute to close his eyes.
     What do you want, Adam?
     To feel awake when my eyes are open.
- Dream Thieves, pg 58

There are so many more reasons why Maggie Stiefvater is amazing. Let's talk for a moment about her characters. Now, I've only read what's published in The Raven Boys Cycle so far but she writes such diverse characters. I mean, each one of them, whether they're main characters or minor, is fully developed and they each have such distinct personalities that there's no way that you can get them mixed up. And I love them all so much!!! I did get slightly confused about just how many people were living in 300 Fox Way but then, so did Gansey at one point so I don't feel so bad about it. 

Speaking of Gansey, I agree with Blue; I think I'm in love with him. At first, I was really Team Adam. I have a bit of a soft spot for characters like Adam though. I just want all the nice things for him. Also, Adam really needs a hug. So does Ronan sometimes, but Ronan has Matthew so he's okay. Actually, Noah does too but for different reasons and I really hope he gets fixed in the next book. (Can I just Mary Poppins my way into the books to give all the boys hugs? That should be allowed.) But Gansey... he has this amazing sense of wonderment about him but he's totally grounded and logical at the same time. He's also intense, dedicated, loyal, fierce, and caring even if he wears Top-Siders. (I had to look up what Top-Siders were. I had a pretty good guess but I have such a woeful knowledge of fashion that I wasn't sure.) Though Gansey isn't allowed to die. He's just not, like just - no. Noah isn't allowed either. He's too cute to stay dead. He needs to stay alive to play with Blue's hair and watch all the snow globe glitter and throw things out windows with Ronan.

I won't go into how much I love Blue. She's like a little ball of awesome dressed in ripped and stitched back together clothes. I love her and I really, really, need the next book. All I can find is that it comes out this year. I definitely cannot wait. In the mean time, even though I ju5st got like 25 books in December, I have bought myself The Scorpio Trials to fill all my Maggie Steifvater needs for the time being.

- Dream Thieves, pg 11


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hooray for My One Year Blogoversary + Giveaway!

That's right, one year ago today I sat down and decided "Hey, I'm going to start a blog." Actually there was heck of a lot more of a decision making process going on behind it but let's skip all that and get to celebrating!

One year ago today, my first blog post was posted. Looking back, apparently, I had very high expectations of myself. It's lovely to say I want to do things but then forget the fact that life has an annoying way to get in the way of things. So after a year of blogging, I have:

43 blog posts (including this one)
17 book reviews
24 followers by GFC
31 followers on Bloglovin'
2 Liebster Awards

Personally, I don't think that's too bad considering, I kinda sorta failed at posting twice every week and I cut back my initial book challenge from 100 books to 52 (which I didn't make anyway because again - LIFE) and Blogger failed on my web browser for a while and I couldn't figure out how to fix it.

For this next year of blogging, I promise to post more - I won't give myself a set number per week but just more regularly than I have been - and I challenge myself to read at least 52 books in 2015. I was fairly certain that I could do 100 books in a year but I like to savor books as I'm reading them. I reread my favorite parts, flip back and forth trying to put together plot clues, fawn over favorite characters, squee a bit now and then sometimes in public, etc. etc. I just want to give myself time to do all that without feeling pressured to keep up with a huge reading challenge. I also want to post more reviews. I read a lot but I'm really lazy when it comes to writing reviews because honestly, I just want to start reading my next book!

Fun new things to come in 2015:
Finally get a new layout
More reviews (books, movies, and maybe even TV shows)
More consistency with Top Ten Tuesdays (my favorite meme)
More random bookish posts
Potentially my own weekly meme

And now for the part you've all been waiting for: The Giveaway! So for anyone, who's been keeping up with my posts, you might remember I mentioned that I work in my local Barnes and Noble. Well, this past Black Friday, the company did this cool thing where we sold limited amounts of copies of certain books signed by their authors. I have two of those books just waiting for a lovely new home on one of your book shelves! 
Sorry to any international readers who might be following me but this giveaway is United States only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck on the giveaway! Thanks for sticking with me for a year and here's to another awesome year of reading and blogging ahead! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!! Let's begin with an Epic Book Haul

Happy New Year everyone!! Cheers to a great year ahead filled with amazing books worthy of all the fangirling!

I won't start the year with a New Year's Resolution for two reasons: firstly, that I'm rather bad at keeping them then feel bad later that they weren't kept and secondly, because my one year blogoversary is coming up in two days and I'll talk about my plans for this blog then. So instead I have a book haul of EPIC proportions. 

Why is it epic you might wonder? Three reasons: 
1 - Employee appreciation days and I work at a bookstore. Of course I had to buy all the books.
2 - My birthday and I asked for books.
3 - Christmas and again: I asked for books. 

Let's begin shall we? Books I bought for myself

Books Box sets that I got for my birthday:

Note: That Hobbit and LOTR box set is leather bound, pocket sized, and completely adorable.

Books that I got for Christmas:


I'm so excited to read them all! Technically, I read Fangirl and TFIOS already and the Hobbit and LOTR but they're due for a reread/finish. Problem is I have no idea where to start.

So, have you read any of these? Which is your favorite?
 Where should I begin?!
By the way, I also got Supernatural socks and am currently wearing ones that say "Keep calm and carry salt."
They make me happy.

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