Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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In this sequel to the Throne of Glass, Celaena adjusts to her new life as King’s Champion. Though life at the palace is filled with food, new clothes, and time with her best friend, Nehemia, Celaena bristles at being forced to assassinate those who stand against the tyrant king. What’s more, though she declared herself interested only in own freedom, Celaena finds herself yet again called to duty by Queen Elena. This time, she must solve the dark mystery behind the evil king’s power before he uses it to destroy the world. In this second novel, even Celaena’s expert skills are tested as she battles otherworldly forces, the secrets of her past, and the desires of her own heart.

This second book was AMAZING! I had some issues with the first book, but this one was excellent right from the start. Get ready for a ton of action — lots of Celaena’s crazy ninja moves, secrets being spilled, insane plot twists, and, of course, romance. I am definitely excited to see where this series is going (especially after the bomb that gets dropped at the end of this book!), and am already reaching for the third book. If you’re a fan of Throne of Glass, don’t miss this one! If you haven’t read it yet, definitely start with the first.

Rating: 5/5 

*YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2014 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Challenger Deep Full Analysis

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Caden has an average teenage life — parents, a sister, friends, sports, school. Though everything appears normal for Caden, behaviors usually dismissed as personality quirks begin to take over his life. He quits the track team to take secret walks for hours, can no longer focus on his daily activities, and is convinced that bad things are about to happen. In his mind, Caden is a crew member serving an unpredictable, vicious captain set to turn Caden into his slave. With each passing day, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred, sending Caden further into his abyss of mental illness.

This book was just wow. I honestly don’t think I’ve read anything like it. Shusterman uses incredible style to illustrate Caden’s mental illness, including symbolism echoed in both Caden’s real life and in the world he believes is real. Though it can be tough to understand at times, this book talks about a very important issue that many would prefer is kept quiet. As Caden says in the book, “Dead kids are put on pedestals; mentally ill kids are swept under the rug”. It’s time to stop ignoring or shaming others because of circumstances beyond their control. The more we talk about this issue, the better it gets. I fully expect Shusterman to win all the awards for this!

Rating: 5/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

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The conclusion of the Ruby Red trilogy finds Gwen struggling, as ever, with discovering the secret of the Circle of Twelve and her love for her time-travelling companion, Gideon. In the final installment, Gwen must attempt to secretly discover the count’s plans, after finding out that Gideon had been manipulating her from the beginning. But as Gwen draws closer to the truth, nothing in her life turns out to be as it seems and it appears that closing the circle will only be the beginning of Gwen’s true journey.

So I was pretty disappointed in the second book of the trilogy, Sapphire Blue, but this one makes up for it. So. Many. Twists. I consider myself a pro when it comes to predicting plot twists in YA novels, but some of these really surprised me. Aside from that, I loved seeing more of Xermius, and imagining myself in Gwen’s dresses. As with the second book, I didn’t like how helpless Gwen was or how much she depended on Gideon. I miss the Gwen from the first book — the one who made her own decisions and took action! Other than that, this book was a solid finish to the series and I recommend them all!

Rating: 4/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Imprisoned in a death camp for her crimes as an assassin, Celaena Sardothien is given a chance at a new life when the Crown Prince of the realm requests her services. If she can beat other contestants in combat, emerging as the King’s Champion, she can be free — after she serves as the king’s personal assassin for four years. Desperate for freedom, Celaena takes the bargain. However, though she excels in all deadly skills, the competition is more than Celaena originally believed, and she soon finds herself immersed in secrets, deceptions, and emotions she doesn’t have time for. The only way out is to kill.

So I’m a little late on the TOG bandwagon, but this book is SO good. It does have a bit of a slow beginning and, to be honest, I can tell in some places that this book started out as a sixteen-year-old’s fanfic. BUT, it IS really good and really entertaining to read. I loved watching Celaena figure out the mystery behind the competition, as well as getting to read the competition itself. If you don’t know by now, I LOVE strong female characters. Celaena is certainly one of them. If you’re a fan of action, adventure or the Grisha series (Leigh Bardugo), give this one a try! I’ll be on to the second book soon!

Rating: 4.5

*YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2013

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

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The second installment in the Precious Stones trilogy finds Gwen attempting to juggle her new life as a time traveler, her impossible crush on Gideon, and her ability to talk to the dead — all while keeping up with school work. This new chapter of the series has some hilarious new characters, and, of course, new twists in the time-travel saga. Most importantly, Gwen must begin to realize who around her she can really trust, and whether or not the Circle of Twelve should really be closed.

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the second book. I really loved Ruby Red and had high hopes for this one, but it just wasn’t as good. Mostly it was just Gwen wearing pretty dresses and following Gideon around. I did, however, enjoy Xermius’ presence and Leslie is always fun. I’m not giving up on the series, but this one was only so-so. And, of course, I want all of the dresses.

Rating: 3.5

*VOYA Perfect Ten, 2012

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.