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Book Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) 

Rating: 4 stars

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Like Throne of Glass, I found that I enjoyed reading this book. I found the story to be captivating, wanting to find out what Celaena would do after the competition. She is exactly the same character I remember from this book’s predecessor, except she does go through some development of her own whenever an unfortunate event occurs with one of her dearest friends in the castle. Her development was a shift I never saw coming and made me appreciate her character even more.  

One element of Crown of Midnight I enjoyed was the emotional pull I felt as events unraveled. A lot of things happened in this book. While I sometimes had a hard time keeping track of everything, I felt like there was a lot more deeper emotions in this one than I experienced in Throne of Glass. I think part of it is because as Celaena continues to stay at the castle, she starts becoming closer to the people around her. To the point when something happens to them, she does everything in her power to protect those who she holds dear. 

I also enjoyed seeing the politics at play in this series. Celaena is conflicted throughout about her actions and that the king will find out what she’s done. She’s stuck between making a lot of serious choices, resulting in consequences occurring that shake up her character. In this book, we finally see an emotional side to Celaena that we haven’t experienced before. She feels pain, regret and anger at some of the choices she’s made, but ends up continuing to do everything in her power to fix her wrongs. To the point where some of her serious relationships falter due to the hurt and pain she’s experiencing. 

Another favorite part of this book for me was seeing Dorian’s character continue to grow. He’s the king’s son, yet he’s completely different from his father altogether. The way his development progressed surprised me because Maas changed him in ways I didn’t see coming. But they are changes that made sense to me in the overall story. 

Like with Throne of Glass, so much happens in this book, which I see as both a good and bad thing. It’s good because the story is progressing in ways I didn’t see coming. But it’s bad because it can sometimes make it hard to continue reading, due to the overwhelming amount of information presented. 

I also found myself wondering what the king’s perspective is of everything going on. Yes, I get he’s not heavily involved with some of these events, but they do impact him too. Especially the magical elements that are included in the story. I know he’s technically the villain so he’s not going to have a bigger role in the story arch until things really start rolling, but I think it would’ve been nice to see what his perspective is of what’s going on in his castle. It’s his kingdom so I feel like he’d definitely have some clue as to what’s going on at some point in the story. 

However, Crown of Midnight  was still a fantastic read. I enjoyed all of the fantasy elements in the story and I feel like the characters are continuing to make me invested in what’s going to happen next. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series to see where Celaena’s journey takes her.  

Book Review: Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2)

                                                                

                                               Rating: 3 stars

The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dream world to save the city?

Lair of Dreams was a great read for me because the story and characters made me want to find out more. I enjoyed this book because the story centered around the ability for Diviners to walk through dreams. In particular, it centered around my favorite character’s friend Henry and introduced us to Ling, both whom can walk through dreams. I found this part of the story to be interesting because readers found out more about Henry and also learned how the dream world played a role in the events that followed. I also find dreams to be a fascinating subject, which allowed me to enjoy this book even more. Especially when Ling discovered a new ability she could harness in the dream world. I liked learning Henry could walk through dreams because it’s a nice tidbit of information that Libba Bray didn’t include in The Diviners. It also allowed me to learn more about his character before he and Theta had become friends. I also liked learning more about Theta and how she plays an important role in the story. 

I also enjoyed this story because the dream world felt so real. Bray really did a good job of making dreams so powerful that nobody would want to wake up from them. She really made the place Henry and Ling went to feel so real as if I was there myself. But she also did well at showing the dark side of dreaming and how it can affect the mind. This can be seen through Henry who starts visiting the dream world more frequently because the love of his life is there. He then starts staying in the dream world for longer periods of time to the point where it affects his everyday life. You as the reader also see this through the sleeping sickness. This sickness is the main root of our character’s problems as the sickness spreads and affects one of their own. It’s up to them to stop the cause before the sickness can spread through the whole city. 

I also enjoy the mystery of the series surrounding Project Buffalo and Blind Bill. Bray gives us little details about Project Buffalo that make us continue to be invested in the series. I also like the way Blind Bill’s character is portrayed and can’t wait to find out what his main role will be in the rest of the series. 

While I don’t particularly like the ending of Lair of Dreams, it has many more flaws that’ve caught my attention. One of my biggest criticisms of this book is Evie’s character. In The Diviners, I really didn’t mind her character too much. However, I feel like she’s devolved since then. She’s now famous because of her powers and goes on the radio to show off her ability to read objects. She also no longer wants anything to do with her uncle and starts going to parties almost every night because of her celeb status. I feel like all of these things made me like her character less because she becomes shallow, vain and selfish and allows her fame to get to her head. While I understand why she’s doing all of these things, I just had a hard time sympathizing with her and wanting to read her role in this book. She becomes so caught up in city life she fails to realize how much danger she and the people she loves are in, causing her not to play as much of a vital role in the story. 

I also disliked the role Will’s character plays in the story. I hate it because Bray doesn’t really tell us where he’s gone off to and the only time we see his character after he leaves causes the reader quite a bit of confusion. I find this to be a serious flaw in the story because it leaves me with a lot of questions that don’t get answered by the end of the book. It would’ve been nice to have some answers instead of feeling more confused than when I started. 

While I very much enjoyed reading Lair of  Dreams, there were so many issues I had with it that I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I’d hoped. 

Book Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

throne-of-glass-book-cover

Rating: 4 stars

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 four 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.

I remember the first time I read this book. My sister had come home to visit from college and gave me a copy, telling me a friend of hers from school thought I’d enjoy it. I remember reading it, feeling completely mesmerized by the story within its pages, wanting to find out what happened next to Celaena. Reading Throne of Glass again, I still remember those feelings, which have returned just as deeply.

The first book in a series I have yet to continue reading, Throne of Glass made me wonder what it would be like living as an assassin. An assassin well-known for her abilities, Celaena is more than she appears, which is why I enjoy her character so much. She’s very headstrong, good with any weapon in existence, and knowledgeable about the world she lives in. Even though she’s an assassin, she cares very much about protecting the people around her, despite the circumstances she’s currently dealing with. While at times I could find the way she talked to certain characters annoying, I overall enjoyed seeing such a strong character that I can’t wait to see how she continues to develop in the rest of the series.

I also enjoyed seeing this book from Dorian and Chaol’s point of view. Having their points of view allowed the reader to better understand their characters and how they both changed as the competition continued. While both Dorian and Chaol’s loyalty belongs to the kingdom, it gets tested when Celaena’s life is at stake during the final moments of the competition. I also loved their perspectives because you could see how conflicted both characters could be. As prince of the kingdom, Dorian knew he shouldn’t trust Celaena, but at the same time you could see the relationship he had with his father was pretty rough. This resulted in him being conflicted between doing what was right for the kingdom versus his own happiness, which I believe will continue to play an important role in the series as it continues.

I enjoyed reading this book too because of the competition and how magic came to play in the story with the competitor’s mysterious deaths. Sarah J. Maas did a wonderful job at weaving both these elements together to create a unique story that keeps the reader wondering what happens next. However, I did sometimes find these elements could be a little too much because I felt like there was already a lot going on in the story. But at the same time, Maas does a good job of connecting these two things together in order to allow more possibilities to exist in the world Celaena lives in.

I overall enjoy Throne of Glass because it kept me coming back for more. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series to find out what Celaena does next.

Book Review: The Sight (The Sight #1)

the-sight-book-cover

Rating: 4 stars

In the shadow of an abandoned castle, a wolf pack seeks shelter. The she-wolf’s pups will not be able to survive the harsh Transylvanian winter. And they are being stalked by a lone wolf, Morgra, possessed of a mysterious and terrifying power known as the Sight. Morgra knows that one of the pups born beneath the castle holds a key to power even stronger than her own power that could give her control of this world and the next. But the pack she hunts will do anything to protect their own, even if it means setting in motion a battle that will involve all of nature, including the creature the wolves fear the most: Man.

I remember the first time I read this novel I was in middle school. I don’t remember how I came upon it. What I do know is that the cover intrigued me and made me interested in reading the story between its pages. And so I did, several times throughout middle school and high school. It’s a story I loved reading back in those days that I felt the need to revisit.

Even though I’ve read The Sight before, I found my love for it is still there. The story is just as beautiful and enchanting as when I last read it. It’s rich in detail about wolves, making it clear David Clement-Davies did his research on the wolf pack hierarchy. As someone who finds wolves to be fascinating and beautiful creatures, the story in this book’s pages whispers to me and reminds me of why I love stories with high elements of fantasy.

I love this book too because of those fantasy elements. The story centers around this mysterious power known as the Sight. This power is rare, wolves are born with it and it allows them the ability to do things like see the future through the water’s reflection or seeing things through a bird’s eyes. This power adds a unique element to this story that intrigues the reader into wanting to find out how this ability plays out in this novel. It’s at the center of the whole universe these characters live in and makes me view wolves in a completely different way.

The storytelling in The Sight is very rich in detail and the characters are deeply developed in their own unique ways. My favorite character development in this story can be seen with Larka’s brother Fell who plays a very important role in this novel and the sequel that follows it. He’s the complete opposite of Larka, both in physical appearance and mentality. While Larka’s fur in color is white, he’s completely black. While Larka is the light of this novel, Fell’s character takes a drastic turn you don’t see coming. But in the end, he’s saved by Larka’s love for him when she realizes who he’s become. He plays an important role in the story that causes his character to shift in unexpected ways but that makes changes in his life for the better, leading up to him being in charge of his own destiny.

In this novel however, there were two things I didn’t like about it. I wasn’t particularly pleased that Clement-Davies had different names for the animals in the story, like the Omega wolves in a pack also being known as Silka. While I understand the author’s need to add some uniqueness to the story, I found that having these names without any real explanation to their origins can cause some confusion to readers like me, but also reduce his research credibility. These names also didn’t add anything to the story so I wasn’t able to really see why they had to be included.

I also have a love-hate relationship with the ending. While I understand why Larka’s sacrifice is necessary to keeping everyone free, it makes it feel like what she did was all for nothing. But at the same time, I understand that it was her destiny and she did what she felt was necessary for the sake of everyone else. It still didn’t make it easier for me though to accept, despite how many times I’ve read this story. It’s the one aspect of the novel I sometimes wish was different, but am also grateful because we wouldn’t have the sequel without it.

Despite these two things, The Sight is a beautifully crafted story, rich in folklore and fantasy that I find myself reading over and over again. It’s one of my favorite stories and I highly recommend it to any fantasy and wolf lover.

Book Review: The Diviners

the-diviners-book-cover

Rating: 4 stars

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I forgot how much I enjoyed reading this book for Young Adult Literature class. Reading it again now years later, I find myself feeling reminded of why I enjoyed reading this book so much.

For one, The Diviners is a mixed genre. It’s supernatural, fantasy and young adult literature all mixed into one beautiful package. There’s also some elements of mystery and horror because of all the murders and the way they are described to the reader. But the way these genres are blended together make for a beautiful story waiting to be told. They all work together in a way that makes the reader enjoy these elements of each genre without being overwhelmed by them.

I also enjoy this story because of the time period. Normally whenever I read a story, I don’t pay attention to the time period because it’s not always an important aspect of the story. However, in this book, the time period helps shape the characters. It explains the way the characters respond to certain situations, and gives the reader a better understanding of what’s going on. It helps the reader understand the world they find themselves in and allows them to imagine the character’s part in it. I find myself better able to picture the world around them as the story unfolds.

The Diviners is such a good read because it knows how to enthrall the reader. Rich in detail on every page, this book keeps me coming back for more, wanting to know what’s going to happen to the characters next. I can’t put this book down because I enjoy reading it until the very end.

This book is also a good read because of the characters. I find when I read this book that Bray did a good job of character creation and development. Each character has their own set of quirks and a personality that makes you interested in learning more about them even when there’s nothing more to tell. Each character plays an important role in the story even if that role is yet revealed to the reader.

The one thing I didn’t like with this story is that it ended too fast for me. I enjoyed the story so much I didn’t want it to end. But I also felt like the climax of the story was over before it could really begin. And that bothered me because I wanted there to be a huge struggle with the protagonist and antagonist, but it just felt too simple to me.

Other than that though, The Diviners is a beautifully crafted story that I never seem to get enough of. I can’t wait to read Lair of Dreams because I know it’ll be just as good.

 

Book Review: Seeker

Seeker Book Cover

Rating: 2 stars

The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.

As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.

And she’ll be with the boy she loves—who’s also her best friend.
But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes. Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought. And now it’s too late to walk away.

I read Seeker in May and posted my thoughts about it on Goodreads. However, I want to go more in-depth about why I didn’t enjoy reading this book as much as I was hoping. But before I go into all of that, I’d first like to talk about what I liked about Seeker.

I really enjoyed how the author switched the points of view between different characters. This gave the reader a unique experience that you don’t see very often when reading books. Especially fantasy books like this one. The different points of view gave the reader a better understanding of what was really going on in the story because not only did the reader hear the story from the perspective of the main character Quin, but also from other characters in their world who played a pivotal role in maintaining the balance between good and evil, such as Maud. I also enjoyed hearing the story from John’s perspective. Though John is one of the main antagonists of Seeker, I felt as if I could understand what he was doing. I also enjoyed learning more about the technology and the setting in the world surrounding the characters in this book, such as learning about their different weaponry for fighting.

However, I found that I was displeased reading Seeker more than anything else. While the plot of the book kept me interested in wanting to read more, the execution of the plot was overall disappointing and not very clearly organized. The reader discovers that Seekers are not the knights in shining armor that protect the good like Quin thought they were. But the reader never gets an explanation of what all exactly they do.

I also was disappointed in the character development of Quin and her cousin Shinobu. When they end up traveling to Hong Kong, I felt myself becoming disoriented at the sequence of events that happened while they were there. Both Quin and Shinobu almost seemed like different characters in Seeker, trying to escape their past instead of doing everything in their power to stop John from getting an athame. I also thought that the relationship between Quin and Shinobu came out of nowhere. The reader knew in the beginning of the book that Shinobu had strong feelings for Quin, but I felt as if Quin’s feelings for her cousin came out of thin air and that they weren’t real. While I’m not particularly a fan of incest in books I read, if the relationship of love between the two characters is clear to see and the writing is well-written, I don’t mind it as much. But Quin and Shinobu’s relationship just happens with no explanation.

The only reason I kept reading was out of the hope that Seeker would get better for me. Instead, this book fell flat and really left me disappointed. I don’t recommend Seeker as a book to read because it didn’t fulfill my hopes for what I thought it was going to be and the plot was under developed.

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