The Dish: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas

The Dish: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. MaasCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Published: August 27th 2013
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul 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.

dish

 

Andi: I’m not sure how to even start this chat. I mean what can you really say about Crown of Midnight other than it was amazingly fantastic??!! It broke my heart and made me cry in public, but I LOVED it. What is your initial reaction?

Michelle: Oh man, what part made you cry?  Then again, you probably can’t say without spoiling.  My initial reaction was that this book had a much darker vibe. Even though we saw Celaena in the labor camps and fighting to be the King’s Champion in the first her assassinations and the progression of the King’s desire for world domination was quite a bit of doom and gloom. I thought the magic aspects were infused pretty well though, not too over the top.  What did you think?

A: Yah, I’m not ruining the story for everyone. I’ll tell you on the side what made me cry. HA

I’m not going to lie, the magic part through me off a little bit as I wasn’t 100% expecting it. In the first book it was more contemporary fantasy so when magic was brought it making it even more fantasy I took pause. But I didn’t hate it. I think it worked well for what Maas was trying to do to the story, how she was trying to further the plot. After I got over my initial shock, it worked for me. And made me understand some of Celaena more.

And you are right, it was a darker book. There was a lot more darker themes, but it worked. I think it played a nice juxtaposition to the stronger bound of Celaena and Chaol. A nice mix of the dark and the light, kind of like Celaena herself.

How did you feel about Celaena being somewhat darker in Crown? And her relationships with both Dorian and Chaol? It was quite the shift from the first book in my opinion.

M: Being dark was more of a necessity than anything else. She had so much to hide about herself and her job that lying, cheating and stealing were the only ways to navigate her circumstances. I liked, however, that she wasn’t a victim in this book.  She was far more dominant than in the previous book in the series and didn’t take a bunch of crap from anyone.  The counterpoint to that was the softer side she was able to enjoy in her relationships with Chaol, Dorian and Nehemia. Their interactions were much more softer in tone and gave the book a nice balance. The relationships also did a great job of creating conflict.

Speaking of, which conflict did you find to be the most interesting?

A: 100% all Celaena and Chaol interactions were the top bill for me in terms of conflict. There were a lot of levels to their relationship where it was romantic or not. On the surface they are completely different people that have stood for completely different things their whole lives. It was so interesting to see that relationship have its ups and downs and I think it added a level to the story that was missing in Throne of Glass. It added some depth. Plus it doesn’t hurt that Chaol is one of my favorite characters in the series. HA. But seriously I love how they never backed down from one another and got in each other’s face.

What about you?

M: I agree !One of the best dynamics in the story is the internal battle Choal had related to loyalty. He was constantly in flux between his loyalties to the King and Celaena and was desperate to find a way to be true to both. I’m interested to see how that dynamic progresses in the Heir of Fire; I imagine there will be a great deal given how this book ended.  Though I suspect there will be a real shift in roles for everyone in that installment.

Let’s talk Dorian shall we? I kinda felt like he was wallpaper through most of this book.  He pined for Celaena a lot but only had a few really pertinent moments when he felt like a strong character in his own right. I have to say there was a real missed opportunity with he and Nehemia from the romantic and political perspectives.  Without giving anything away I was sorry to see that potential fizzle out over the course of the book.  How did you find his role?  Satisfying or just meh?

A: He was super meh for me. As I’ve said in my review of Throne of Glass and many times on Twitter I compared Dorian, Chaol and Celaena to Dawson, Pacey and Joey in Dawson’s Creek. There was one season of the show that Dawson was just background and that is how Dorian was in Crown of Midnight. I understood some of it to a degree as Celaena is the focus of the book, but he was written to be more than that in the other book. I know a lot of how he was written was to lead into stuff in Heir of Fire (not to give anything away) but I still would have liked more depth from him. And like you, I would have liked to see something with he and Nehemia.

But really what I liked most in Crown of Midnight was the interwoven relationships and what it all meant to the story. Dorian and Chaol, Celaena and Chaol, Celaena and Dorian, Nehemia and Celaena; each relationship has a purpose to further the story, to add tension, but it wasn’t tension for tension sake. It worked and was one of my favorite parts.

M: Yes! I agree 100% on how the development of the differing relationships contributed to the larger dynamic of the plot.  I didn’t feel as though anything was superfluous or distracting to the story. It all revolved around Celaena and the progression of her story in a way that didn’t take away from it or make the plot so confusing that it was difficult to follow.  Maas did a fantastic job with weaving it all together and creating a really dynamic cast of characters that each played a significant role in a larger story as opposed to smaller roles in their own individual sub-plot.

A: All I know is that I’m excited to see just where this story is going to take us and just how these relationships will survive.

otherbooks
assassinsthrone1heir

reread5

 

Continue Reading

Review: One Past Midnight – Jessica Shirvington

onepast

Title: One Past Midnight [Amazon]
Author: Jessica Shirvington [website]
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Parallel Life
Source/Type: Publisher/Paperback ARC
Stars: 4 of 5

Publisher Description:
Name of overseas edition of Between The Lives.
Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole.

Until now, that is…

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted… But just what – and who – is she really risking?

My Thoughts:
I’m a parallel life book junkie. I want to read them all. So when a friend suggested One Past Midnight and I found out it takes place in my city/state, I was sold. And then I read the description and I was intrigued. Then I read it and I was pleased, very pleased because um hello…PARALELL LIFE STORY.

One Past Midnight is about Sabine, a girl living a parallel life. Every 24 hours she goes from one world in Roxbury, MA to her other world in Wellesley, MA basically forcing her to live each day twice. Sabine has been like this her whole life and has hidden it from everyone that loves her in both worlds. Then something changes. Sabine breaks her arm while in her Roxbury life and it doesn’t carry over to her Wellesley life which has never happened. Now left with the question of whether it was a glitch or things changed, Sabine embarks on a series of tests that will alter her and both worlds forever. The question that remains is if given the choice which world would she pick.

I liked Sabine a lot right away. There was something about her that was just easy to relate to even though she was going through this crazy thing. She was so alone in both worlds but she did the best she could to fit in and not really stand out. However you could tell it was hard for her being two different people with two completely different realities. She had a harder life in one world than in the other and that weighed on her as the story progressed. She also could never truly be herself since she was constantly split in two. My heart went out to her. All she wanted was one life and the broken wrist was her chance at that. But it wasn’t so clean cut which life was better as things in both worlds spiraled out of control and she started to feel ties to someone she didn’t expect. It complicated things in Sabine’s already complicated life.

I also really liked how the author went about the parallel life aspect of the book. Usually people are living their lives simultaneously in these kinds of books, but Shirvington decided to have Sabine live everyday twice and I liked that tweak. It worked for this story and didn’t make it hard to follow. It also helped that she used too completely different areas of Massachusetts for both of Sabine’s lives. They are close enough location wise, but completely different in terms of demographics. That was also something that really worked.

I will say that the end of the story did take away from making this book awesome. Some of the stuff at the end was a little too plot point driven and didn’t seem to fit with everything that had gone on up until that point. I understand what the author was trying to do, but it felt off for me. I didn’t hate it but I do feel it took away from some of the good in the first 85% of the story.

But really all in all I enjoyed my experience with One Past Midnight. It had a great romance (which I didn’t talk much about as I didn’t want to give anything away), good characters, strong writing and a great storyline. It kept me interested and was a pretty quick read. Definitely a book to check out if you are a parallel life book lover.

Continue Reading

Review: Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

Review: Throne of Glass – Sarah J. MaasThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Published: May 7th 2013
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

I’m not really sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already be said. I’m admittedly late to the party on this series and almost missed it entirely. You see, I’m not a huge fantasy reader so I skimmed by this one. That was until I was told over and over again how good it is and even non-fantasy readers have loved it. I decided to take the plunge and the book was just fantastic. The story, the characters, the writing; it was all there.

Throne of Glass is about Celaena, an 18-year-old assassin that has been a prisoner in the salt mines. One day the Crown Prince, Dorian, and the Captain of the Guard, Chaol, make her an offer. If she fights to become the King’s Champion and wins Dorian will give her her freedom after 4 years. If she loses she will return to the mines where her death will likely be met. With little choice, Celaena agrees and heads to the castle. With only thoughts of freedom, Celaena does what she has to to survive the competition. But that isn’t her only problem in the castle. When the champions start dying violently and a mystery is brought forth Celaena needs to figure out what is going on and fast before she is next. Add that to the fact that Princess Nehemia has befriended her and she has unexplained feelings for both Chaol and Dorian, freedom isn’t the only thing Celaena finds herself focused on.

The hard part of reviewing this book is getting out what I really loved about it. The story reminded me of The Hunger Games meets The Selection meets Divergent meets Dawson’s Creek. And I’m sure you are now looking at me like I’m crazy. Let me explain. Throne of Glass had elements of all of these books/show. It had the strong female lead like both Divergent and The Hunger Games, had the competition of Divergent and The Selection, and had the best friend with one girl feel from Dawson’s Creek (more in that). Basically, it took my favorite elements and put them all into one book making awesomeness. See, I make sense.

What I truly liked about the book most was the characters. Celaena was awesome. She had an edge to her but she was still a teenager with past demons. She was strong and did what she had to but she still felt things deeply no matter what people thought about her based on the fact that she was an assassin. I also really liked how easy her friendship with Nehemia was. Two girls from totally different backgrounds and standings just fit together like a lot of good friendships do. And Celaena’s interactions with both Dorian and Chaol were AMAZING. She had major chemistry with both, that’s for sure. Where it will go I don’t know, but I thank Maas for making it not really matter because both boys are awesome in their own right (not so secretly I’m a Chaol fan for life!).

Oh, those two boys. What to say about Dorian and Chaol. I’ll start with my Dawson’s Creek reference. Chaol is Pacey Witter to Dorian’s Dawson Leery. There was one scene that I read and I saw almost all of Dawson’s Creek playing in my head. These two guys were best friends, had been for years. Only Chaol would never live up to Dorian in his mind no matter what he tried. Dorian was a Prince and just not something Chaol could compete with. You could feel the disappointment in himself that fell off of Chaol in waves feeling like he was never enough. It was actually one of my favorite themes I found when reading. It wasn’t like Dorian was an awful tyrant that you hate. So not the case. It was more like I like a good underdog and that what Chaol is (and Pacey too for that matter). Either way, though I really liked their friendship and how they respected each other.

Like I said I’m not a huge fantasy reader. I’ve been trying to read more and more to broaden my reading and some have worked and some not so much. Throne of Glass…it worked and then some. It has gotten a lot of hype and Sarah J. Maas has gotten a lot of love and I can now say I get it. I 100% understand as this book should get that and more. Can’t wait to read the rest of the journey these characters embark on.

Continue Reading

Summer Promo for Open Road Summer {CLOSED}

open1

 

You’ve heard me say it probably a million times. Most likely have read my review (If not you can find it HERE.). You have seen me fangirling on the internet. And have probably seen the bookmarks that I made. Basically Open Road Summer is one of my favorite reads of 2014. It may even be right up there with my love for Anna and the French Kiss and you all know how much I love that book.

Well now it is your turn to be able to read and love it as much as I do.

The nice people at Bloomsbury had given me the opportunity to send them the name and address of 3 people I think will love Open Road Summer. I already know 2 people that I am going to “sign-up” but I have one more spot and that is where you come in. If you are interested in this chance please fill out the form below by Friday June 6th at 11:59am EST. I will randomly select one person that will be able to take part in this awesome summer promo that really doesn’t involve more than reading a book, sending a postcard back with the feels and getting a special prize in return. All I ask is that you be serious about reading the book and sending the postcard back, have not read the book yet and that you are from the US or Canada. Pretty sweet if you ask me. And who doesn’t like a free book that is amazing and you will devour in a sitting??!! Right…NOBODY!

 

Continue Reading

Review: The Chapel Wars – Lindsey Leavitt

Review: The Chapel Wars – Lindsey LeavittThe Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Published: May 6th 2014
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
three-stars

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

thoughts1

The thing I like about Lindsey Leavitt is her ability to write a cute story but to layer it with something serious. She did it with Sean Griswold’s Head, Going Vintage, and once again with The Chapel Wars. Don’t get me wrong, the story isn’t filled with fluff or made to be over the top serious. Leavitt makes it balance in a way that makes her writing enjoyable and a good experience. And although I loved the first 60% of The Chapel Wars more than the last 40%, she definitely delivered in what I have come to expect from her books.

The Chapel Wars is a story that takes place in Las Vegas and involves two feuding wedding chapels and a Romeo and Juliette style romance. It’s told from the point of view of Holly, a 17 year old girl grieving after the loss of her grandfather and her inheritance of his financially challenged wedding chapel. Holly loves to work at finding solutions to problems and right now she has a huge problem. She needs money and she needs it fast. But bringing in new clients isn’t so easy when you are sharing a parking lot with your family’s long standing enemy and fellow wedding chapel owner. But when Holly is forced to interact with the enemy’s grandson and a spark ignites Holly may just find herself in a situation you can’t fix leaving the chapel the least of her problems.

I really loved the whole Romeo and Juliette aspect of this story. I know it has been done a hundred times over, but there is something about the forbidden that appeals to me. Holly and Dax were kind of perfect for this kind of relationship. Dax with his southern charm and good looks and Holly with her closed off emotions and her controlling nature. Something about these two characters just clicked and sparked right off the bat and I loved it. I didn’t love Holly so much on her own, but with Dax she was interesting and unsure and let go of her control which was nice. And Dax was just too adorable to not like. At the end of the book things got wonky and forced, but I’m holding on to that beginning because it made me smile.

What I really didn’t like about the ending part of the book was all that went on with Holly’s family and Dax’s family that was just pushed under the rug. There were a lot of small things mentioned that I just didn’t think got any closure or much explanation and that kind of bugged me. I could have been reading into things that weren’t there, but I was dissatisfied with some pay off I was hoping for in some of the side stories. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Holly’s family. They bugged me a lot and showed not much support which bugged me even more.

All in all this was a quick read that entertained me and kept me reading late so I could finish. It was written well and had some interesting characters that sparked my liking. It wasn’t as good as Sean Griswold’s Head, but it just another way to showcase Leavitt’s talent and I’m happy I read it.

otherbooks
seangriswold  goingvintage

reread2

 

Continue Reading