A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas • Magan Reviews

book cover for A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas [twitter • website]
First Book in the Series
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Pages: 416
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: Faeries, Magic, Fantasy, Beauty and the Beast Retelling
Reading Challenge: Flights of Fantasy with Alexa + Rachel

Summary: After Feyre unknowingly breaks the treaty between humans and Faeries, she’s faced with the choice of living in Prythian away from her family for the rest of her life with the Faeries or dying to pay penance for the wolf she killed. She doesn’t know that her choice will lead her to love, luxury, danger, and longing.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

Gardens. Woods. Masks. Meadow. Danger.

This is what Sarah J. Maas’ work does to me: It makes my imagination burst and absolutely come alive. My goal was to find a few images that would maybe scratch the surface of what types of scenes were cinematically running through my mind, but Sarah’s writing is just so, so much more. There’s depth and detail and emotion and clarity. But best and most of all, there’s passion that courses through Sarah’s writing. It’s obvious she doesn’t rush a story for publication purposes; she mulls over all the details and intricacies until everything is so beautifully, wonderfully balanced.

I have a confession though. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t love A Court of Thorns and Roses as much as I love her Throne of Glass series. Well, false. The way this Beauty and the Beast retelling made my inner child resurface and blossom into something new and amazing as an adult (because let’s be honest, the connection between Feyre and Tamlin is …phew, steamy) was incredible. It gave me so much to relate to, even as a person who doesn’t read a ton of fantasy and often has a hard time getting absorbed in the world.

Feyre is a poor, young impoverished woman. Since her family’s fortune disappeared and her mother passed away, Feyre’s been solely responsible for making sure her disabled father and two heads-in-the-clouds sisters have food to eat and clothes on their back. She daily puts herself in danger’s way, but is extremely under-appreciated and often overlooked. One day as she’s hunting in the woods, freezing and exhausted, she has to make the decision to kill a wolf that’s threatening to hunt the deer she’s had her eye on. She’s hunted down by another giant beast because she’s broken a treaty between the humans and the Faeries. Her choice is either to live with the beast in Prythian on the other side of the wall that will forever separate her from her family, or die. She chooses to go.

In Prythian she takes up residence with Tamlin, the beast who claimed her from her home. He’s a shape-shifter, but mostly lives in his Faerie form, not all that unlike humans, but with curved ears, and a very attractive physique. Tamlin’s home (i.e. mansion) is a luxurious, spacious, and peaceful haven from the life Feyre knows back home. She’s torn between leaving her family behind (How will they survive?) and embracing the luxury of Prythian’s Spring Court.

Tamlin is frequently protecting the land, easily disturbed by Feyre’s abrasive attitude, and is extraordinarily giving even though he doesn’t have to be (and often, Feyre doesn’t seem to deserve his generosity). Lucien is Tamlin’s right hand man with a lot of gumption, a hot temper, a crazy sense of humor, and is very protective of Tamlin, leaving him very cautious around Feyre.

Feyre and Tamlin are essentially enemies. They’ve been brought up to hate one another. For nearly 500 years, it’s been Faeries versus humans.

Sarah J. Maas made me love everything about this childhood fairy tale all over again. I loved Feyre’s story — the escape from her depravity and meeting Tamlin, who pulls her out of her miserable fate to something so much more. Knowing what to expect, but with added elements of the scenery, haunting Attor and other creatures, and the brutal separation that leads the two lovebirds back together really gave A Court of Thorns and Roses its own identity.

And plus, how much more fun is it to read a grownup Beauty and the Beast retelling with super hot, steamy, sexy scenes? Sign me up for more of Tamlin and Feyre’s story, please.

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An early copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Why in 5: Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan

Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan

Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan (twitter | website)
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Pages: 272
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: best friends growing apart, life of an actress, filming a TV series
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Emma loves acting and knows there’s nothing else she’d rather do, but she wishes that people could look beyond her celebrity status to see the real her. Even her best friend, Rachel, seems wrapped up in her fame. When Emma begins filming Coyote Hills, she has an instant connection with Jake, her co-star, but she tries to maintain a friends-only relationship with him.

  1. Maturity. The characters are college-aged and Emma, the main character, is particularly thoughtful and mindful of how her actions will affect other people. I loved that she tried to think things through before acting on impulse, but there were times she still found herself in uncomfortable situations.
  2. Friendships. Two points here — Emma’s best friend, Rachel, revels in Emma’s success; she’s jealous and very passive aggressive. It’s clear, even to Emma, that their friendship isn’t working anymore. It’s never easy to make the decision to move on, but I think that was handled really well here. Rachel is also “in love” with Jake based on the modeling photographs she’s seen of him; Emma feels like he’s off-limits to her (though their connection is so strong) because she wants Rachel to have something since her own acting career isn’t working out. What this leads to is Emma and Jake forming this awesome friendship; yes, there’s amazing tension and yes, we see Rachel is terrible so we root for Emma just to GO FOR IT, but as I mentioned in bullet point #1, they’re mature.
  3. A not-so-cheesy look into an actress’s life. I admit that I’ve read a few books about celebrities and actors. And many of them have felt a little too inauthentic. They skimmed the surface, but didn’t dive into the details. Not in the Script shows how Emma battles with her mom-turned-manager, how misleading the gossip magazines can be, and how everyone is looking out for themselves. Emma seems like the most NORMAL girl who happens to be a celebrity. She’s good at what she does, but it doesn’t define who she is. (Except that this is how most people see her, as a celebrity, and she wants people to look beyond that.)
  4. Great secondary cast. Kimmi, Brett, and Jake are Emma’s other co-stars in the television show they’re filming, Coyote Hills. McGregor is their director who reads people extremely well, doesn’t handle drama well, and keeps them all in check. Kimmi appears to be the biggest drama queen, seems to maybe be the cause for paparazzi showing up in unexpected places, but often gives Emma solid advice. Brett chases Emma, but doesn’t pick up on the clues that she’s not reciprocating the love-fest. Perhaps best of all is Jake’s mom, who suffered from a stroke, and connects well with Emma. She doesn’t see Emma as a Big Celebrity.
  5. Perfect balance. Not in the Script isn’t a light and fluffy read, but it’s not crazy heavy and overwhelming either. One thing is guaranteed, you’ll be drawn to keep reading to see if Emma and Jake finally give into the feelings they both so strongly have for each other. You’ll want to know what happens with Rachel, and you’ll want to smack Brett because the poor guy just can’t take a hint. (PS — don’t judge this book by the cover, which I interpreted to be a lot fluffier than the book actually was.)

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Thirteen Days of Ash and Fire: Heir of Fire (Arrows + Decor)

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Shhh. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I haven’t always, always been a wedding photographer. I technically went to college for Interior Design. Though I’m not working in that industry anymore, I still have a strong pull to good design and my heart sure does pitter patter pretty rapidly when I’m inspired by something. In today’s instance, that’s Heir of Fire, Sarah J. Maas’s latest installment in the Throne of Glass series.

HeirOfFireHC_US

Heir of Fire (#3) by Sarah J. Maas [website | twitter]
Previously Reviewed: Throne of Glass (#1) | Crown of Midnight (#2)
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 565
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: Assassin, Queen, Magic, High Fantasy
Format read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

I’m participating in the Thirteen Days of Ash and Fire: Heir of Fire blog tour and really wanted to do something that would just say more than HEY THIS BOOK IS AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD READ IT. (But I mean, you should. You absolutely should.) I’m going to highlight a few bullet points (spoiler free, of course)about Heir of Fire and then we’re going to talk design and arrows. Two of my most favorite things.

+ Heir of Fire picks right up where Crown of Midnight left off. This is amazing because you won’t feel like, “Blah, blah, blah, backstory, blah.” However, if you’re like me and your schedule is so intense you need a little refresher and can’t pick up the previous to books for a much-needed re-read, you should check out the Recaptains recap for Crown of Midnight and Throne of Glass. (Beware, this will spoil everything if you haven’t read the books yet.)

+ The point of view switches between so many characters — Chaol (!!), Celaena, Dorian, etc. My point is, you constantly know what’s happening with all of the characters and get vague ideas of what’s about to go down if you can fit the puzzle pieces together. But sure enough, there were MULTIPLE times I was left so incredibly shocked. (Come on, the ending? Yeah. Killed me.)

+ It’s one thing to go into a third book already loving the main character, Celaena, like whoa, but another entirely to adore her tenfold after this book. Her transformation! Holy smokes, y’all. Expect lots of growth from her. She struggles and she hurts and things aren’t always easy for her (wait, um, have they ever been?!), but you’ll want to embrace her even more.

+ There’s more layering and character development and the whole world blossoms. Up until this point, I have had a pretty vague idea (but great picture) of the whole world. Maas really zoomed out and introduced even more to really give us the complex details of what’s happening. I was imagining new characters in my head and really felt like my imagination was on fire. (ha, an Heir of Fire book pun).

I’m going to stop here before I ruin anything about this book for you. Just… PLEASE READ IT. ASAP.

I’m well aware that Celaena doesn’t use a lot of arrows personally, but they do have their significance in this story. I have a major obsession with arrows and feel like someone could dedicate an entire room (or, ahem, their whole house) to Heir of Fire inspiration. Let’s take a peek at a few of my favorite things:

heir of fire bedroom decor inspiration and arrows

Anthropologie Arrow Wall: I walked into my local store shortly after meeting my daughter, whose room has many arrow-releated decorations, and just knew I needed to figure out how to make these for our home. I’m actually thinking if I hung one vertically it could be a growth chart in her room over the coming years, but OMG I LOVE THIS.

- Country Living Wallpaper: I found this via Pinterest. It looks like someone just scanned this image in from the magazine, but how badly do you want to track this wallpaper down and plaster it all over your walls? SO PRETTY.

- Handpainted Arrows (from etsy): Good golly, Miss Molly, I adore these. I would like a set of three, and very particularly would like the one with the golden arrow.

DIY Wooden Arrow Display: My mom sent me the link to this on Pinterest after I visited Anthropologie that day. It doesn’t have the same eye-catching affect, but it’s still pretty solid. I love that it seems so simple and easy to accomplish too. (Especially impactful if installed like this.)

A Bundle of Arrows: K, so let’s be honest. I don’t exactly know where to purchase or find arrows, but if I did, I would have one of these (very out of reach for the little lady) somewhere in our home. I love the the little pop of color they provide!

- Mint Stripes and Arrows Duvet: And how much do we love this color combination PLUS the hint of arrows? Goodness. I think this was designed specifically for me. I want!

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Oh, and guess what? You can enter to win a copies of Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, The Assassin’s Blade, a signed print of Crown of Midnight, and a Throne of Glass tote! Open internationally. Good luck!

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Magan: The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

book cover for The Chapel Wars by Lindsey LeavittThe Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt (twitter | website)
Previously Reviewed: Sean Griswold’s Head // Going Vintage
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Pages: 304
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: family rivalries, loss of a grandparent, secret romance
Format Read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thank you!)

Summary: Not only does Holly inherit her grandfather’s wedding chapel in Las Vegas when he passes away, but she continues the rivalry with the chapel across the parking lot and becomes responsible for saving the chapel when she realizes how much debt they’re in.

 

So you know when you think something is a really awesome concept, but then there’s just a little bit of spark that’s lacking to make it perfect? Essentially, that’s what I walked away from The Chapel Wars feeling. Set in Las Vegas, Holly’s grandfather passes away and she inherits his the wedding chapel he’s lovingly owned and operated. While others (particularly the one across the parking lot) have sold out to commercialize weddings and take theatrics to the extreme, Holly’s grandfather stayed true to his vision of weddings by trying to appeal to the elegant Las Vegas bride. What Holly and her family didn’t realize was the debt her grandfather was in and the race Holly must enter to keep them afloat, all while secretly falling in love with the competition’s grandson and facing an imminent deadline.

The chapel is passed down to Holly because she’s a go-getter who is obsessed with numbers. She’s a problem solver; if anyone’s going to save the chapel, it will be her. Her father is a little spacey and her mother lacks the passion. Holly really struggles with everyone taking her seriously and finding a balance between modernizing the chapel and falling into the money-trap that is Vegas by offering themed weddings and Elvis. The owner of the chapel across the parking lot had a long-withstanding war with her grandfather, and he’d like nothing more than to see Holly’s chapel crash and burn. But his grandson, Dax, enters the picture right around the time of Holly’s grandpa’s funeral. And Holly has a letter she’s been instructed to give him.

Dax and Holly have an instant attraction, but she feels like she’s cheating on her family if she pursues a relationship with him. Thus begins this whirlwind courtship that involves lots of sneaking around, secret dates, and stolen kisses between the chapels. As much as I enjoy seeing characters overcome obstacles, the relationship with Dax and Holly often felt rushed and a little forced. Coupled with the pacing feeling a little off and and an imbalance between the focus on the relationship, chapel, and Holly’s family problems, I always felt intrigued by what the outcome might be, but I didn’t feel invested. (I felt so distanced from Holly that at times I even felt myself not remembering her name.)

I applaud Leavitt for trying to give us more than just a slice of the pie by including multiple aspects of Holly’s life, but some details felt like nibbles when I really wanted to dissect the entire slice. Holly felt distant and difficult to connect to; she’s a very unemotional character who had a lot of barriers that, while intended to keep Dax at a distance, negatively impacted how attached I was to her. When Holly finally begins to loosen up and release some of her tension, her quick judgments felt out-of-character and that really made me feel like her actions were being manipulated for the intention of moving the story along.

If you’re looking to read your first book by Leavitt, I definitely recommend you begin with Sean Griswold’s Head; both Estelle and I have nothing but good things to say for it!

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joint book review of Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Book Report: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Hello, friends! It’s been a long, long while (over a year!) since we’ve done a joint review (aka: book report around here) together. How this works is we each read the same book and have a nice, long chat about it. We really try not to be spoilery, and if we think something might be, we’ll let ya know. This time we’re discussing Trish Doller’s new release Where the Stars Still Shine.

joint book review of Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerWhere the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: kidnapping, Greek family, reunification with family
Format read: ARCs from the publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Callie and her mother have been on the run for over ten years. After her mother’s arrest, Callie is reunited with her large Greek family and biological father, from whom her mom kidnapped Callie. She’s torn between making a new life with him and being loyal to her mother.

We’re changing up the formatting a little bit for this review. You can keep track of who said what by our little photographs. Just in case you’re not familiar with what we look like, here ya go:

Magan Blasig Magan

Estelle Hallick Estelle

Magan Blasig Where the Stars Still Shine is Trish Doller’s second book. We both loved Something Like Normal. After finishing WtSSS, how do you feel about Doller’s writing?

Estelle Hallick Something Like Normal was fantastic and I think my only disappointment was the length. I wanted more! So as far as that goes, I think Trish really nailed it in her new book. It felt developed in a different way and gave us a longer amount of time to spend with these characters.

Magan Blasig I completely agree. I really felt time passing in this book and connected so deeply to the situation. From the very first chapters, I felt invested. We have Callie, a girl who was kidnapped from her father by her mother as a result of their divorce. She and her mother have lived in countless cities and assumed as many identities. The situation made me feel such a tightness in my chest. I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe sometimes, especially as we learned more and more about Callie’s life growing up.

Estelle HallickSame here. I really felt for her. She had such love for her mom, even though she was pretty much absent and all of these terrible things were happening. When you read about a situation like that, you can’t help but think JUST HOW LONG CAN THIS GO ON? It made me think a lot about labels, and having affection for people because they are in this authoritative position. Like of course I love her because she’s my mom but she is not a stand up person. Does that make sense?

Magan BlasigYES! It really hurt because Callie knew right from wrong, but every time her mother re-entered her life, all logic went out the window. It made me realize how blind we can be. It’s no secret (per the book’s summary) that Callie is reunited with her biological father after her mother is arrested. I really, really felt for her dad. I admired his character so very much.

Estelle HallickME TOO. Wasn’t he the best guy? He could have so easily made Callie’s mom out to be this enemy but he didn’t.

 

Magan BlasigYou’re so right! He never bashed her or said negative things. Even though their marriage ended, it was clear that he would have tried to make it work. I think dads are so often absent in YA books, and I applaud Doller for how involved she made Greg. And really, her entire extended family. How much did you love her BFF/cousin, Kat?

Estelle HallickLike you, I loved loved all the supporting characters. Loved seeing a Greek family. I don’t remember seeing that in any other YA book. But Kat was awesome. So many times girls are feuding in books or being bitches and Kat was so open and warm and wonderful. It was interesting to watch Callie’s reactions to that.

Magan BlasigYES! I could visualize Kat and Callie’s family so well. One of my college friends got married last year and they had a big Greek wedding. I felt like Doller really nailed everything about this aspect. And I couldn’t agree more about Kat. She just inserted herself into Callie’s life — Callie had never had a friend, much less a best friend. I admired how they worked through the tense situations that came up, especially pertaining to Alex.

Estelle HallickYes. Alex. Did you not fear for the worst?

 

Magan BlasigIt really took some time for me to trust him. Their relationship was SO HOT from the very beginning and I just knew bad things were looming.

Estelle HallickWasn’t it?? Hearing about Callie’s relationship with sex was like… not what I was expecting.

 

Magan BlasigTotally. Doller was, to me, very bold with how she handled sex in WtSSS. She was very careful about how she described passionate scenes, not taking things too far, but at the same time, I felt like she pushed the limits, too. Does that even make sense? HAHA!

Estelle HallickTotally. I loved it.

 

Magan BlasigSo Callie has some… ghosts in her closet. She has some pretty serious issues to deal with. I personally struggled a lot with these revelations. I wanted to punch things, skip the scenes, and protect her all at the same time. Do you have reactions like this to these kinds of things in books?

Estelle HallickOf course, I felt terrible for her and I wanted her to be able to move forward from this. But sometimes I feel like these books are the most effective. (Like Live Through This.) Trish didn’t let this become “an issue” book because, just like in real life, when something nightmarish like this is occurring real life keeps rolling on.

Magan BlasigI’m really glad you brought up Live Through This. This book and WtSSS are the two books that stand out, in my mind, as being really effective at discussing the mental and emotional turmoil people suffer through. I found both of these to be a little difficult for me to read, but equally addicting. And I agree with you about WtSSS not becoming an issue book. I was pleased to see Callie learning to trust people and letting herself open up about certain things when the timing was right. Ideally, I hope this is what someone would do in real life.

Estelle HallickMe too! I really do. So what was your favorite scene and what do you think could have been improved?

 

Magan BlasigOh my goodness. TOUGH QUESTIONS. As much as I would love to say that my favorite was the scene where Alex and Callie go snorkeling, I think I have to say when Greg takes Callie to see a house that’s under construction. I felt that was a major breakthrough for them. (Actually, both scenes really were.) And I don’t really have anything that I feel super needs to be improved, but I think in the future, I would like to see Doller explore a family that has their shit together. In Something Like Normal, there were some pretty messed up dynamics, and there definitely were here as well. I would love to see her create a family that’s well-balanced and see where she goes from there. What would the major drama be there? I’m sure she could come up with something excellent. Now, right back atcha. What do you think?

Estelle HallickOh, I love everything you just said. The snorkeling scene was amazing and made me want to snorkel again. The exhilaration Callie feels? Amazing and so true to life. I also did love any scene with Callie and her Dad, like the one you mentioned. BUT I also loved how much books meant to Callie. I do think so many readers are going to love how connected she felt to them, and how much they meant to her.

Magan BlasigOh, gosh, yes! THE BOOKSTORE!

 

Estelle HallickWasn’t that the best? I wanted to go there!

 

Magan BlasigYES! Me too! Soooo, what about improvement?

 

Estelle HallickI think there could have been a little more at the end? Another scene with the family? The pacing was great and the story felt whole but I could have used a few more scenes to get it going. Also I would love to see a companion novel about Kat.

Magan BlasigOH! That’s an awesome idea! I really did love Kat. She was such a standout character. I cannot say that enough. And yes, I can see how the ending felt a little unsatisfactory. I have to admit that I was a little bit shocked by how things ended, but I wasn’t unhappy.

Estelle HallickMe neither. So maybe it’s just a selfish desire to want more, as we do with really good books.

 

Magan BlasigAbsolutely. Well put! Any final thoughts about Where the Stars Still Shine?

 

Estelle HallickI think this is one of the most solid reads of the year for me. Trish does a great job of balancing a lot of different plotlines and personalities and her writing is just top notch. It’s definitely on the serious side but I think that makes the joyous, sweeter moments pop more.

Magan BlasigI completely, completely agree with you. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it and planning out the next time I could! I really, really want everyone to read this book. And I’m such a fan of Doller’s. You described it best: solid.

Estelle HallickAny final notes? Should we say something more about Alex?

 

Magan BlasigI’m not sure. I kind of liked the mystery surrounding him.

 

Estelle Hallick Me too. Haha!

 

Magan BlasigI will say that I think readers should set aside plenty of time to read this all at once. I hated that I had to read it over a few days.

Estelle HallickI agree. I rarely read books all in one sitting but it was nice to have airplane time to dive into this story. (Esp. when I was so sad to leave you!)

Magan BlasigAww, sad day!

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Book Cover for Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Magan: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for Throne of Glass. Proceed with caution.

Book Cover for Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass (My review.)
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 432
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: female assassin, magic, young adult fantasy, high fantasy
Format read: ARC received via NetGalley. (Thank you!)

Summary: After being crowned the King’s Champion, Celaena is sent on secret missions to destroy people the King doesn’t find favor with. Meanwhile, she’s falling in love with Chaol and one of her secret missions stirs up more chaos than it should.

Remember when I gushed and fangirled about Throne of Glass last year? Just in case you didn’t read that review, ToG pretty much rocked my world and sent me into a deep book slump because I was so taken with Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol. Waiting a year for Crown of Midnight has felt like such torture!

But let me tell you friends, it’s well, well worth the wait! What an awesome follow-up to Throne of Glass. Let’s begin with our favorite assassin heroine, Celaena. She’s working through her feelings for Chaol. Oh, yes. Chaol. (Hubba, hubba.) Meanwhile, he’s trying to decide if she’s worth losing everything for, especially if the King finds out. Dorian is a lovesick puppy who feels dejected and a little lost because he can clearly see something is happening between these two, but he’s still harboring major feelings for Celaena. What a conundrum! While it may sound like there’s this crazy love triangle happening, it didn’t feel like that as much to me in Crown of Midnight as it did in ToG. The relationship between Chaol and Celaena felt like this beautiful dance, as if they were balancing on this tight rope of survival.

Of course things get a little bit complicated though. Crown of Midnight is packed with tons of secrecy. Celaena is being sent on missions as the King’s Champion, but she isn’t quite fulfilling his requests exactly as he hoped. This knowledge could cost her life and put anyone who finds out about it in a very terrible position. She’s set herself up for danger. Nehemiah also has a lot going on — she’s missing from her room when people go searching for her, there’s a threat against her life, and she’s not giving full disclosure to Celaena as they each promised they would. Chaol feels the need to protect Celaena, but his silence may cause more drama than his honesty would. (Isn’t that pretty much always the case?) I do believe Dorian’s secrets shocked me the most though; he seemed to be a secondary character when Celaena and Chaol’s relationship was developing, but out of nowhere comes this huge unveiling that really made me excited.

The beauty of Crown of Midnight is how so many aspects felt like they were clicking into place, but how I constantly felt jolted or surprised by revelations, too. I absolutely loved seeing where the story was headed, even if I feel like my heart suffered a bit as some pretty awful things went down. You know those moments when you want to smack a character upside their head? There were a couple of those times where Chaol and Celaena really needed to bypass their own egos and agendas to resolve issues, but they just couldn’t do it. These were the times I noticed a few lulls in the story as Celaena really had to work through a lot of emotions. While the story may have slowed down in tempo a bit, I feel this was necessary and intentional on behalf of Maas because it really allowed me to see a completely different side of our leading lady. I saw her not just as a person who is incredibly awesome at murdering someone, but as a very emotional woman who tries to distance herself from people because she’s suffered from so much loss.

Speaking of loss, what will I do for the next year while I wait to find out what happens next? Ay yi yi.

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