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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series review for The Ruby Oliver Series by E Lockhart

Magan: The Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart

series review for The Ruby Oliver Series by E Lockhart

The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver
The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them
The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver
Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren’t Complicated, I Wouldn’t Be Ruby Oliver

The Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart
Publication Dates
: 9/26/2006 | 4/22/2008 | 7/28/2009 | 12/28/2010
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 229 | 208 | 248 | 225
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: high school, friendship drama, seeing a therapist, dating relationships
Format read: First three borrowed from my library, the fourth purchased for my kindle.
Summary: Ruby Oliver is just a normal girl with two best friends — until she begins having panic attacks and has to see a therapist because her boy life is out of control and her best friends are no longer speaking to her.

Things I Know About Ruby Oliver and Why You Should Read This Series:

  1. Ruby is a little bit (okay, maybe a lot) crazy. She is boy crazy. She doesn’t interact with people well because she is so self-conscious and feels like she’s doing and saying the wrong things all the time. She blurts out whatever comes to mind and doesn’t think before she speaks. (This makes for some great laugh out loud moments while reading.)
  2. Ruby just doesn’t understand boys. She wants to date them, but is pretty judgey and particular about them. She gets herself in awkward situations and The Boyfriend List portrays how it seems like she’s had lots of crushes on boys and really gotten around, but that’s just not the truth. When she finally does get a boyfriend (hello, Jackson!) — things are anything but easy. Especially when…
  3. Ruby’s best friends aren’t super trustworthy. Her BFF Kim? Yeah, she kind of gets in the way and steals Ruby’s boyfriend. And you know what? She turns things around and makes Ruby seem like the bad person. So what happens to poor Ruby? She has panic attacks because school starts to suck so bad when all of her friends turn on her. And that leads to…
  4. Ruby begins to see a therapist. She doesn’t really know what to talk about and she’s a bit ADD in her thought process, jumping (leaping) from one topic to the next, but her therapy sessions are quite entertaining (especially as she begins to understand herself a bit more and doesn’t want to listen to what she knows needs to happen). She begins to realize that she’s got way more than just boy issues. For instance…
  5. Ruby’s parents are also crazy. Her mom is extremely self-involved and is always experimenting with some new diet. She dapples in Ruby’s life in the worst possible ways, and while she thinks she’s being helpful, she’s really not. Her dad is really into plants and has a greenhouse and Ruby’s just not into that, but does connect with him more. (It’s really easier if Ruby just avoids her mom because their relationship is just… complicated.)
  6. Ruby’s seclusion leads her to make a new friend. Or two. Noah and Megan are two people Ruby doesn’t ever socialize with much, but while she’s got no one else to talk to because her life is crap, she is kind of forced to get to know these two better. Turns out Noah’s got a lot of attractive qualities and Megan’s not the person Ruby pegged her to be (funny how that happens, right?).
  7. Ruby is relateable, funny, sarcastic, self-depricating, pure, and original. There’s really been no other character for me that has rivaled Ruby Oliver. I could have breezed through all four books in one day because I just ate them up. After waiting (months) for the last book from my library, I finally broke down and purchased it for my kindle because I just had to know how Ruby’s story ended. Each book dictates a year of Ruby’s high school life, beginning freshman year.
  8. You’ll only grow to love Ruby more throughout the series. Sure when Rub is a freshman and she’s going through all the stupid things she’s done, you might shake your head and say, “SILLY GIRL!” But, she grows up, she gets wiser, and becomes more comfortable in her own skin. She becomes a bit more daring and bold. (If that’s possible — she has some guts, I tell ya.) The more I read, the more I wanted to continue to read.

If you want a fun series that you’ll breeze through quickly and laugh out loud multiple times while reading, Ruby Oliver is your girl. These books made me remember all those times when I didn’t know what I said wrong that made my friends upset with me. It made me laugh at how naive I was when it came to boys, and how monumental every emotion seemed to be back in high school. You’ll remember what those times were like for you, but from Ruby Oliver’s  humorous perspective.

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The Boyfriend List (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Boy Book (Goodreads | Amazon)
Treasure Map of Boys (Goodreads | Amazon)
Real Live Boyfriends (Goodreads | Amazon)

book reviews of Destroy Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Double Review: Destroy Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Beware of spoilers below for Shatter Me!

book reviews of Destroy Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Destroy Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Website | Twitter
Publication Date
: October 2, 2012 / February 5, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 103 / 465
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: dystopia, powers and abilities, broken government
Format read: ARC from HarperCollins (Thank you!)

Summaries: Told from Warner’s perspective, Destroy Me begins after Juliette, Adam, and Kenji make their escape from Warner; he finds Juliette’s journal and we’re given more information about who he is and what his true motives are. In Unravel Me, we reconnect with Juliette after her arrival at Omega Point where she learns that war against The Reestablishment is imminent.

» » » Destroy Me » » »

Guys. Remember back when I had cute bangs and brown hair and I called Warner detestable in my vlog review of Shatter Me? I was super hesitant to read Destroy Me because, really, why would I want to know about a character that I disliked so much? There had never been a villain that made my stomach churn as much as Warner. But I did it. I read it anyway.

Here’s what I wrote in my notes:

– Want to dislike Warner.
– Don’t want him to end up with Juliette.
– He’s twisted as a result of how he grew up. (But yes, I do see he has a heart underneath all the evil.)

So there I was … realizing that Warner had a messed up childhood and not wanting him to say all the lovely things he did about Juliette or understand how he connected to her as he read her journal that she wrote while she was locked away in the asylum. I was perplexed, but still very Team Adam. I wanted to fight for the Good Boy (and I am not very good at being wrong) so I very diligently tweeted about how I would see this journey through with Adam.

Aside from the confusing realizations I came to about Warner, I felt like I got to know even more about Juliette through her journal entries. It was great to connect with her even though she wasn’t an active character in Destroy Me. My biggest piece of advice to you as readers is to read Destroy Me before you move on to Unravel Me. It helped me get back into Tahereh’s writing style with so much ease and while reading Unravel Me, helped me understand all the Warner complexities that arose. This is a short novella, so remember that while you’re reading — you’re not going to receive a huge plot reveal, but you’re reading for character development.

Goodreads | Amazon

» » » Unravel Me » » »

I’ve discovered that I have Aversion to Middle Book Syndrome. I get really antsy, anxious, and nervous for the sequels to be released, but then I just. can’t. do it. It takes tons and tons of willpower for me to pick up the book and carry on. With Unravel Me, I just knew there was going to be something that made my heart stop which would then transform into anger at having to wait so long for another book.

What I didn’t expect was that this Huge, Big Thing was going to be abandoning Adam in the midst of tons of grief and running to Warner with wide open arms. (Yes, I know. That makes me sound like a terrible person.)

Before jumping into the million reasons why I cannot stop thinking about and love Warner, let’s reflect on Juliette. I found her character to be so unique and refreshing in Shatter Me, but this time around I was a bit thrown off by her. Mafi does an incredible job molding her into a girl that I completely understand – I get why she doesn’t trust people , why she feels so isolated, and why things never seem to go easily for her. But I reached a point where I just wanted to say, “ENOUGH! Accept this and move on.” I wanted her to fight for herself and to not be the small, fragile girl she had been molded into. Thankfully, Kenji was around to balance out my frustrations, put Juliette in her place, and provide humor by referring to himself as sexy all the time.

Omega Point is where Juliette should have been learning more about her ability and meshing with people who have powers like hers. Time passes by quickly as Juliette is struggling to gain control of her life and make friends there, but despite the good things she has going for her, she remains isolated. I felt a bit like Juliette was a psychological study – lock a girl in isolation and see how she deals in the world when she’s released (and furthermore – immerse her in a world that’s underground and see how she handles it).

Part of the complication is Adam. He and Juliette hit a crossroad. It’s one of those things where you throw your hands in the air and wonder why. There are so many revelations (with Adam and Warner, specifically) that will have you icing your jaw because it’s dropped so many times.

Speaking of the whole Adam v. Warner debate… let this be my two cents: For all that I am supposed to love Adam, I feel I am not fully convinced Warner isn’t better. I no longer feel like I know Adam’s character – I didn’t see enough of him and there are just so many complications. I was constantly frustrated with the tension and how on-edge Juliette always was. I hope so badly that I am not wrong about Warner. I feel like I’m being lured in to love him and quite possibly, something will happen to him or he’s going to prove me wrong and leave me weeping in a dark corner.

This fear of Warner proving me wrong? The not being able to know what happens for a whole year? That, friends, is why I have Aversion to Middle Book Syndrome.

(Goodreads | Amazon)

Just in case you want to see how hard I’ve fallen for Warner, check out this twitter-convo with Makeshift Bookmark’s Jen and Tahereh Mafi and for your amusement, I’m including a few spoiler-free texts between Elena (of Novel Sounds — which is also where you should listen to her Unravel Me soundtrack) and myself while I was reading:

falling in love with warner in unravel me by tahereh magi

(The next two images are my texts to her and then her reply to me.)

unravel me by tahereh mafi review

(And yes, I did intentionally cut off the screenshot so you couldn’t tell what chapter we were referring to — I couldn’t ruin that delicious surprise for you. ;))

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Book Cover for Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Magan: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Book Cover for Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 464
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: dystopia, fairy tale retelling, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood
Format read: ARC from Macmillan at ALA Annual (Thank you!)
Previously Reviewed: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Summary: Cinder needs to figure out how to break out of prison after causing a scene at Prince Kai’s ball. Halfway around the world, Scarlet’s grandmother disappears and she’s introduced to Wolf — the only person who says he can help her.

[Please note there will be spoilers for Cinder. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t read beyond this point!]

Cinder was classified as A Book Magan Should Have Read Sooner. Much sooner. Thankfully upon finishing, I was able to dive right in to Scarlet. (Recommendation: Reading these back-to-back was flawless so if it’s been a while for you, do a refresher so you can remember all the details).

We meet Scarlet right away — her grandmother is missing. Law enforcement doesn’t believe she’s been kidnapped. They close her case because they want to believe that her grandmother chose to leave. They allude to suicide, but Scarlet knows better. Things seem super sketchy, right?

If you’re nervous about what happens to your favorite Cinder characters and you need answers + more Prince Kai, never fear. Cinder is still locked in prison and she’s just found out she’s Princess Selene. She desperately needs to escape before she’s taken back to Luna. The only way out is to ask another prisoner, Thorne, for help. Unbeknownst to Cinder, Thorne becomes her sidekick. He is comical, quirky, and despite being a nuisance 99% of the time, he proves he’s quite useful when he needs to be.

Ultimately, Cinder and Scarlet’s stories begin to interweave and this is where Marissa Meyer blows your mind. At times, the pacing seemed a bit slower than Cinder was, but I was still very engaged as a reader. I wanted to how/when/where Scarlet and Cinder’s stories would intersect. Kai was more of a peripheral character for me (I always, always want more Kai); he’s confused about Cinder. Did she use her glamour to persuade him to trust her? Did she manipulate him? He’s frustrated that Queen Levana has forced him to make abrupt decisions. Ay, yi, yi — Queen Levana — detestable woman!

What remains to be one of Meyer’s most striking storytelling tactics is how she alludes to details and lets her readers in on secrets before the characters have fully come to realize them. She continues to give clues that we can use to figure out what’s going to happen next, but I must say… Wolf confused the heck outta me. Scarlet is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling so naturally, I refreshed my memory because I wanted to know what to expect of Wolf. I didn’t want to fall in love with a character I was only supposed to hate! But oh, no! Meyer took my heart on a roller coaster ride and while I had a few suspicions about him from the very beginning, I still didn’t know whether or not to love him. He was dark and mysterious, carrying around lots of baggage. (If you like brooding boys, brace yourselves, girls!)

Scarlet was very much a — Who do I trust? / What’s happening in this world? / How does this piece together? / Where do things go from here? book. I feel like I have a grasp of what Meyer intends to do in the grand scheme of things, but I cannot wait to see what she does with the characters we’ll be introduced to. Believe me, guys, Scarlet is awesome. Remember how you felt about Cinder? Multiply that awesomeness by a million.

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book review and book cover Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Magan: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

book review and book cover Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight (Book #2) by Laini Taylor [twitter | website]
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Review
Publication Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 528
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: angels, book series, animal humans, war, forbidden love
Format read: e-book received from Little, Brown (Thank you!)

Summary: Akiva has burned portals and caused much of the Chimaera population to die. Karou went in search of her family via a remaining portal. The Chimaera and Seraphim are in the midst of a destructive war.

Oh, friends. I’m trying so hard to gather my thoughts and compose myself (and my words) after finishing Days of Blood and Starlight. What a beautiful, wonderful, incredible book by Laini Taylor. I’m going to try to be as spoiler-free for this book, but I will mention a few things from Daughter of Smoke and Bone because I just don’t see a way to properly write this review without doing so.

Laini’s writing is so different, so unique; though her story isn’t at all like Harry Potter, I do feel her character development and world building feels much like what we’ve read and loved by J.K. Rowling. For this very reason, when I first began reading Days of Blood and Starlight I realized I would need to go back and refresh my memory on the final details of book one in the series. I re-read approximately the last third of the book and I’m so glad I did. Here are a few refreshers for you if you need them:

SKIP THE BULLET POINTS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE!

  • Karou puts the pieces together and realizes she is the resurrected, human version of Madrigal. Madrigal was a Chimaera that fell in love with a Seraphim, Akiva. Seraphim and Chimaera are enemies and are at war with one another. Madrigal was publicly beheaded for her relations with Akiva.
  • Brimstone, the resurrectionist, gave Madrigal life in the human world as Karou.
  • Karou learns that Akiva is responsible for burning hand prints on portals and for killing Chimaera (we’re uncertain if this includes Brimstone, Issa, and Yasri at the end of book one).
  • Though Karou and Akiva were falling in love again, once she knows the truth about his mission, she leaves him in search of another portal.
  • (Here’s a really cool resource for finding out more about Daughter of Smoke and Bone.)

There are a lot of unknowns going into Days of Blood and Starlight. We mostly see Akiva’s perspective in the beginning because he’s unsure of Karou’s whereabouts and if she’s even alive. He’s brokenhearted and helpless. The nature of this book is heavier and more melancholy because our lovers are separated and their world is in the midst of a devastating war. My hopeless romantic self had a hard time processing how Karou and Akiva’s relationship could ever be rekindled, if at all.

While most of book one took place in the human world, our setting fluctuates a lot between there and the Seraphim/Chimaera world. Laini blew my mind by continuing to develop the story further by so incredibly crafting the details of the war. While still told from third person, expect to fluctuate a lot between characters: Akiva, Ziri (a Chimaera who long ago crushed on Madrigal), Jael (the Seraphim Emperor’s cousin with a nasty face scar), Silverswords (guards that protect the Emporor), etc. Very minor characters are given their moment and the impact of this was great. I found myself reeling from the gamut of emotions because of some of these unexpected scenes. The changing point of view only added to the well-roundedness of the story and enhanced my reading experience.

For whatever reason, I was not able to read through Laini’s work at breakneck speed (though not for lack of wanting to). With both books, I felt the need to tread slowly and really take in all the details. This allowed me to wallow in some of the events so much so that I felt like if I walked outside, I might be stepping into their world.

It’s not often that I feel a middle book in a series is as fulfilling as (or even better than) the first book. Friends, I am here to declare that I feel even more dedicated to Laini and her beautiful story. Expect to have your heart broken a few times, to fall in love with characters that were only on the perimeter in the first book, to be in awe of Laini’s imagination, and to feel empowered by the time you read the final words of Days of  Blood and Starlight.

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Book cover for Good For You by Tammara Webber

Magan: Good for You by Tammara Webber

Book cover for Good For You by Tammara WebberGood for You (Between the Lines #3) by Tammara Webber
Publication Date: December 15, 2011
Pages: 271
Target audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: celebrities, Habitat for Humanity, volunteering, faith, alcoholism
Format read: Purchased for my Kindle.
Review for Where You Are (Between the Lines #2) 

Summary: Reid is court ordered to work 30 days rebuilding a home for the family he’s displaced after he crashes his car into their home as a result of a full night of drinking and driving. Dori is assigned to be his overseer while he works on the house.

I’m sure you guys are familiar with the lovely Anna from Anna Reads. She does this series called Things I Like in Books and she recently did a post about how she loves when characters bicker before they fall for each other. That is exactly what I wrote down in my very first line of my notes for Good for You, the third book in the Between the Lines series by Tammara Webber. In fact, I compared Reid and Dori, our two main characters, to Pacey and Joey in season three of Dawson’s Creek. (Yes, I’m still re-watching and have recently moved on to season 4.)

Reid and Dori want each other. They don’t want to want each other. The chemistry is there, but they use their words as a defense against their feelings.

These two are about as different as red and blue. Good for You shines when we see that red and blue have something in common: together they make something new entirely, purple. Reid and Dori have polar opposite beliefs and live in completely different social spheres. Reid is an A-list celebrity who could have any girl he wants in a split second. Dori’s father is a pastor and she’s grown up living life between the lines (ha – an unintentional pun!), always striving to be better and to help others.

I assumed that Good for You would be about our good Christian girl, Dori, transforming bad boy Reid. I’m not sure why I doubted the complexity of Webber’s writing because the story was much deeper than I anticipated, resulting in a much less predictable love story. (Yippie!)

Reid certainly undergoes his share of transformations, and oh, thank goodness. After reading the first two books in the series, I have to admit I wasn’t Team Reid because this playboy had made one too many bad decisions for my taste. He had a long way to go to even become a likable character. He was a major d-bag in the beginning: a sex-crazed, conceited, spoiled brat of a 19-year-old. After he wrecks his car into a low-income family’s home, he is court ordered to work on a Habitat for Humanity site rebuilding a home for the family he’s displaced.

Enter Dori.

Dori is one of the head volunteers at Habitat. She’s a seasoned volunteer and is assigned to oversee Reid and his duties. Reid can tell Dori is a do-gooder and he easily gets under her skin, remarking on things that make her uncomfortable, forcing her to have thoughts of him outside of their Habitat interactions. Dori doesn’t want to fall for Reid; his reputation precedes him so she tries to guard her heart.

Dori’s parents don’t approve of her interactions with Reid. Meanwhile, Dori’s trying to figure out what she wants for her life – she’s examining and testing the boundaries laid out by her parents. Reid’s mother is on the brink of another breakdown and her drinking increases daily. He’s never had to prove himself worthy of anyone’s love before and Dori won’t accept that he’s just another pretty face; she wants to know about him and doesn’t fall for the celebrity facade.

The pacing of Good for You kept me engaged and anxious for the next piece of the story. I liked that Dori and Reid’s relationship was complicated and not cookie-cutter perfect. I didn’t always understand the decisions Dori was making or why she needed to so perfectly abide by her parent’s wishes, but realistically, the timing made a lot of sense to me. There were a few circumstances where I felt I could have used more closure. I don’t feel like Reid and Dori specifically ever discussed her faith and his lack thereof. This probably could have altered the story, but in real life, I think that conversation probably would have happened.

Overall, Good for You stands out as my favorite book of the Between the Lines series so far. I was extremely impressed by the growth and development of Reid, a character I strongly disliked (hence why I put off reading this third installment for so long). I’ve just confirmed via a tweet from Tammara that she is, indeed, writing Brooke’s story for the fourth and final book of the series. Oh, the anticipation!

Goodreads | Amazon ($3.99 for the kindle!)