**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

This adventure is a blend of old Western and just a hint of magic (or rather a super-human ability much like our beloved superheroes), but Rae Carson writes just as magnificently with a little element of fantasy as she did in a fully imagined fantasy world like The Girl of Fire and Thorns series. I love the references to local history, especially that of the gold rushes in Georgia and North Carolina, like the note that there once was a gold mint in Dahlonega, GA, (marked with the "D" that Denver now uses). Carson recreates the sense of rural Southern life with deep spirituality, the distrust yet charitable feeling given to strangers, the dangers of the culture especially for women and black folk, and the spirit of the wagon train traveling the Oregon Trail.

Leah/Lee is a wonderful character. She's fiercely independent as she's been providing for her ailing family, but she's also possessed of a strong-will and determination that gives her the fortitude to withstand her parents' murders, masquerade as a boy, and then in the face of hardship travel on her own with little resources all the way across the country. For much of the novel, Lee must rely on herself to get to safety. After she is robbed, she signs on to be a boat hand on a flatboat ferrying people down the Tennessee River through waterways all the way across to the Mississippi. The boat is hired by the Joyner family, and when they reach Missouri, Lee accompanies the Joyners a-ways but is cast out as being a runaway to make her own way to Independence. There, she sees a few familiar faces, and after a few days of not finding Jefferson, Mr. Joyner hires her to manage his wagon and cattle as he only has one other hand. Luckily for Lee, his hired hand is none other than the fellow she's been searching for, her best friend Jefferson McCauley. Together with their wagon train of families, a group of college men, and a group with a large number of livestock, they must travel through the wilderness to make it to California, fighting dangerous illness, mutiny, and other dangers.

I think you'll be surprised how things change for Lee and how, despite being a girl and the cultural attitude towards women, she shows courage, leadership, and responsibility beyond her years and the expectations of those around her. Truly, she's an inspiring role model of a heroine while still staying true to the historical detail. If you liked the Oregon Trail game and adventures, you'll like this book, and stay tuned for book two, Like a River Glorious, as more magic, adventure, and high stakes follow Lee and Jefferson in California.

To read the first three chapters, click here to go to EpicReads. Just for fun, you can also try the name generator for Walk on Earth a Stranger! (For kicks, mine is Jefferson "Crazy" Digger. What's yours?)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

There's been a lot of speculation whether Veronica Roth's new series would match or surpass her Divergent series. Personally, I really enjoyed this new book and although it's still early in the series, it's definitely on the right path. Roth created a rich new world that is out of this world, completely new and very bold. Her characters may be flawed, however, they have strong redeeming qualities that will captivate you.

In a galaxy where the current flows through everything and every living thing, people develop unique abilities once they reach a certain maturity. When this current-gift will develop, no one can predict, however some may say the oracles could certainly take a guess. Three oracles per planet exist, and their ability allows them to see possible futures. They also see fates, the eventual futures of a lucky few. Every citizen has a future, but only a select few are graced with a fate. These select few are considered special, for a reason I can't quite understand. Personally, I would find it restrictive, to live a life based on a certain and unwavering fact.

Cyra and Akos are two of these fate-marked young adults, however, their upbringing could not be more different. Cyra is the sister of a mad tyrant who controls the Shotet people through fear and divisiveness. Akos grew up in a peaceful and loving family. Part of his Thuvhe culture honours the oracles, and his mother just happens to be one. Their two societies couldn't be anymore different and it's from the lack of knowledge and understanding that their two societies have been at war for ages.

The Thuvhe are considered the rightful and controlling nation of the planet, so when the Shotet kidnap Akos and his brother, killing their father in the process, I'm kind of surprised nothing was done about it. For years, Akos was raised by the Shotet, separated from his brother, and the rest of his family, never to be rescued by his people. My only guess is that the Thuvhe are such peaceful race they have no clue how to infiltrate the Shotet to rescue a couple of their fate-marked. Now, as a young adult, Akos is given to Cyra to be her servant, in order to help her control her current-gift. The more time they spend together, the more they learn about each other's culture. Together, the form an unlikely alliance in hopes to overthrow Cyra's brother.

My first impression of Akos is that he's weak. To help and serve Cyra without question, isn't heroic, but I quickly realized that it was all part of a scheme. He's intelligent yet his downfall is that he cares too much. On the contrary, Cyra care about no one, especially her brother, Ryzek, who's taken advantage of her current-gift, ever since their father died. Her father wasn't a better leader, he was just less mad than Ryzek. Cyra's current gift makes her feel pain 24/7 while Akos neutralizes that pain with simply his touch. His gift for brewing tonics also helps control Cyra's constant pain. It seems that their gifts were made for one another, however, it just seems to good to be true.

Divergent fans will love this book because it does have some recurring themes. Carve the Mark isn't necessarily dystopian, but it does revolve around a broken leadership. The characters are in a dire situation yet they work together, and their hope for a better future brings them even closer together. Another similarity is Akos being taken away from his family and trained by another society to become a soldier (however, in this case it's involuntarily). Death, combat and rage are also other themes that mirror Divergent. It's hard not to compare, yet despite their similarities, trust me when I say they are two very distinct stories.

What makes this book so complete is definitely Akos and Cyra. Character building seems to be Veronica Roth's forte and she doesn't disappoint with these two main characters. The world building was also brilliant since she added so much detail to the world, the cultures and the different planets. It's really hard to mention everything, so instead, I urge you to discover it for yourself. Carve the Mark really deserves to be read slowly, since it does have a slow build-up, but it's so worth it in the end. The author was able to blend my two favourite genres, fantasy and science fiction, magnificently and even though it's still early in the year, there's a strong possibility it will end up at the top of my favourites of the year.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Stacking The Shelves [243]

Stacking the Shelves


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


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 Hello Book Lovers! A few new books for me this week, and actually I've already finished one and halfway through another. I'm so happy to be back in my reading groove! Hopefully that means I'll get back into my reviewing groove too.




Purchased


Windwitch by Susan Dennard


Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth


For Review


The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (Thank you Tor)


First Command by Alex Lidell (ebook)


Library


The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher


None of these authors are new to me, except Carrie Fisher. I normally don't read memoirs but because I'm a huge fan of Star Wars, and because of Fisher's recent passing, I thought I would give it a chance. And actually, it's very interesting, not at all what I was expecting.


Feel free to share what you added to your shelves recently. Have a lovely weekend!



[inlinkz_linkup id=693448]

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore

The Fall of Five is Lorien Legacies #4, so there may be spoilers for books #1-#3 in this review.

This is such a cool series!  Teens who are actually aliens who aren't evil and plotting world domination.  No stereotypes.  I like that they're unpredictable.  Since this is book #4, we already know the backstory and we know most of the characters pretty well, so the author is able to concentrate more on plot.  That's fun.

Six of the ten are united and hiding out together in a Chicago penthouse when the book opens.  They're busy working on their plot to fight and defeat the Mogadorians when they get a signal from Five.  Yay!  Finally!  Once they collect him, all living Loriens will be together!  However, things do not go as planned.

The whole "things don't go as planned" bit was actually a bit of a bummer for me.  I don't know if I'm jaded or if I'm just not a teen or if the writing was just a little off in this book, but I saw it coming a mile away.  Browsing some other reviews on Goodreads I see that I'm not alone.  I hate that such a big plot point ended up being too obvious and therefore rather anticlimactic.  I won't reveal what it is, just in case you're able to read The Fall of Five without guessing the outcome.

Five isn't the only character with a big reveal of a plot point!  Tiny, quiet Ten/Ella also plays a large role in The Fall of Five.  I'll admit, in the past I've gotten pretty frustrated with Ten.  She seemed like an overly weak character... almost borderline sexism on the part of the author.  But in The Fall of Five we get to see her strength.  It's a quiet strength, but it's there.  We get to see her struggle with and work through a kind of knotty situation.

While it's exciting to go along with the characters on their quest to save Earth, I also enjoy the quieter moments in these books, when the main characters act very much like everyday teens.  When they tentatively date or go on a joyride or make up silly games.  There are moments where I almost forget that they're aliens!

Overall, The Fall of Five is good but not excellent.  I really enjoyed it, because it's a continuation of a story that I've been enjoying through the first three books.  If you were picking it up without any context you might not like it at all.  I would certainly recommend it to someone who had read the first books.  I just hate that it wasn't very action-full.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking the Shelves


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


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Hey y'all!  The fam (including myself) have this horrible head cold.  The week started great, with the hubby's fraternity's annual reunion and then ended with this massive head cold.  Boo.  Now I'm going to be #SaturdayLibrarian and #SickLibrarian today.  Ugh.


Dream Dark Caster Chronicles Kami Garcia Margaret StohlNight of Cake & Puppets Dreams of Gods & Monsters Laini Taylor


I'm loving my new job and my new library branch.  Such excellent coworkers!  The commute's the same length, though, so I've continued to take advantage of my library's downloadable audiobooks.  This week I listened to Dream Dark by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and am in the middle of Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor.  Both great reads!  I'll review them for this blog later.


I also picked up two books about and by Saint Augustine, because they were recommended in Sunday School last week.


Dinner Made Simple RealSimple


And finally, I picked up this cookbook after seeing it in a Wowbray email.  Looks promising!


And you?  What did you bring hom this week?


[inlinkz_linkup id=692008]

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I'm loving this wonderful series set in a fictional small town in South Carolina! The magic is magical and the setting is comfortable and the characters are really likable. Beautiful Darkness is the second book in the Caster Chronicles series, so this review may contain a few spoilers. To read the review of the first book, Beautiful Creatures, click here.

I just about started this review with "this is the first series featuring witches/witchcraft that I've enjoyed!" and then remembered Harry Potter.  But aside from Harry Potter, this is the first series featuring this much magic that I've loved.  The setting grabbed me and pulled me in heart and soul.  The books are set in Gatlin, SC, a small fictional town just outside of Summerville, SC, which is near Charleston, SC.  I grew up in SC!  The authors do a great job representing the state.  I love hearing the descriptions of the food and the culture.  Lena even makes a comment at one point about all the different casseroles that show up on her doorstep when tragedy strikes.  So true!  If someone you loves dies in the South, you can totally expect an avalanche of casseroles to be delivered to your house.  This book happens to take place in June, so there's mention of the climate also.  Again- the authors nail it.  There's mention of the weighty, oppressive heat peppered into the story.  It's all very natural and unobtrusive.  Being a YA book, the action continually moves forward without any lengthy descriptive passages.  Still, the setting itself, with the heat and the culture and the traditional magic (like the Gullah magic that Amma works) almost act as a minor character.

The characters are awesome too.  First, the uniqueness of point of view:  the book is told by Ethan Waite, a non-magical male.  Seems like most of the magical/witchy books are told from the female perspective.  (At least in the YA realm.  I haven't tried any "grown up" witchy books.)  Ethan is such a good guy.  I want to be his friend, and also can't help but wonder if I'd be worthy of being his friend.  He's not perfect- he definitely has some moments- but overall he's so good.  So much better than many actual teenage boys I know.  You can really see the influence of his Amma in him.  I love reading about how much he cares for his family and friends.

Lena is almost a secondary character in this book.  The whole plot is driven by her; is about her; but yet she's not a truly active player in all of it.  Instead, Ethan and Linc spend a large portion of the book "chasing" her.  (I don't want to say too much and spoil anything!)  Just like how the first book was all about a build-up to Lena's sixteenth moon; this book is about her seventeenth moon.  Lena is just as communicative as ever... *insert sarcasm*  And of course you'll have to read the book to find out if she claims herself for light or dark!  It's not obvious:  you'll be on the metaphorical edge of your seat as you read this book.  Along the way, you'll experience lots of Caster magic and all the members of the Ravenwood family and lots of mystery.

I listened to Beautiful Darkness, and the narrator did a fantastic job.  He had a Southern accent that wasn't too overdone or anything.  His pacing and enunciation were spot on.  I would definitely recommend this audiobook.  There were also some sound effects scattered throughout too, which is rare!  They were really well done.  Not too many; not too few.  And each time the seventeen moons song came up, it was actually sung by a female, to music.  I think this is one of those rare cases where the audiobook may actually be slightly better than the physical book!

Overall, a great series and a great book.  Two thumbs up!

Trident's Forge by Patrick S. Tomlinson

**Book 1 spoilers included in this review**


Like the first book in the series, this sequel blew me away. I'm always afraid of the sequel slump, but in this case, there's nothing to worry about. It's as if the author introduced us to a completely different world, and in a way, he did. In the first book, The Ark, we travel along with the last of the human race on a large ship, headed for a new planet. In this sequel, the human race has begun colonizing a new planet and making first contact with the native sentient beings.

Trident's Forge is a novel about making first contact with a new species. The Atlantians, as humans are calling this native race, also known as the G'tel are strange amphibian-like beings that are relatively new from an evolutionary stand point. They live in small tribal-like communities with very little in terms of technology, and have developed a faith system that worships a trio of deities. This trinity is really important to them and is a recurring theme in the book.

Oddly enough, this race doesn't really have genders, but it actually takes three beings to procreate; a pair of mates and a breeder. I had a hard time understanding their concept of gender, or lack thereof. The Atlantians don't really have genders. Instead of saying he or she, they say ze. And instead of saying him or her, they say zer. It's very confusing at first, especially when reading from the alien point of view, but the more you read through it, the easier it is to follow. I thought it was a very original approach and I applaud the author for taking the risk.

The hero of the first book, Bryan Benson, is still the main character in this novel. However, instead of being police chief and detective, his official role is as the director of athletic preparedness and recreation. He's also a coach for the new football league, a sport that hasn't been played in over 200 years. However, because of his success in risky and deadly situations and his strong investigative skills, he gets volun-told to be a member of the group that will make first contact with the aliens.

When a welcoming ceremony between humans and atlantians is disrupted by an attack that leads to multiple deaths, blame and fear erases the newly develop trust between the races. Benson and Kexx, an atlantian, are committed to investigating this attack. Kexx, the truth-digger of his tribe is responsible for investigating or finding the truth about anything threatening his tribe. His (or I should really say zer) vast knowledge, and zer ability to stay neutral makes zer an important advisor to the elders and the chief of zer tribe. Benson, as a retired detective, feels like he's obligated to help find the culprits who would wish war between the two races.

Benson and Kexx are similar in many ways and they form an easy friendship. Their respect for one another only grows as they work and fight together. Kexx is envious but hesitant of all the new technology the human race brings. As for Benson, he gains a strong appreciation for the connection the aliens have with their land. This simple friendship is a symbol of a strong future.

I'm really happy Benson and Theresa are still together, and now married instead of having a secret relationship. I guess there was no need for secrecy anymore since Benson retired from the force. Oddly enough, they are separated for most of the book. While Benson is investigating the attack, Theresa, as chief constable, is trying to control the rising tension and protests in the human city after the death of some of their own in the alien attack.

I really enjoyed the way the author combined everything together. It's obviously a sci-fi novel, but it also has mystery, adventure, and action. The author is also very good at keeping things light with humour and camaraderie between characters. I highly recommend this book. Even if it can be read as a stand-alone, it would be a good idea to read the first book. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. Apparently, it will be set 15 years in the future and I really hope to read more about Benson, his wife Theresa and obviously his new atlantian friends.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stacking The Shelves [241]

Stacking the Shelves


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


——————


 Happy Saturday!  It's 2017, and I have not reformed my ways when it comes to books.... I'm still bringing home a TON of them!  I didn't even try to resolve to do better about that.  My only resolution was to try to make healthier eating choices.  How about you?  Did you make any resolutions or set any reading goals?  In 2016 I completed the PopSugar Reading Challenge, but only barely!  I have no set reading goals for 2017.  Here are the books that I've brought home since the last time I hosted Stacking the Shelves.  Join in the fun and leave your link below!


From My Aunt:  I have an awesome family, including an aunt who's just as bookish as me (if not more so).  She sent a whole package of books for me and the fam at Christmastime!  What a great start to the new year.  These are the grown-up ones:


Signing Their Lives Away Denise Kiernan


Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence by Denise Kiernan and Joseph d'Agnese


Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpugo


An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: Or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge by John O'Farrell


From the Book Sale at My Library:


Umney's Last Case Stephen King


Umney's Last Case by Stephen King.  The tiniest Stephen King book I've ever seen!  It's one of his short stories, bound alone.  You could put it in your pocket!


For School:  a new semester begins this upcoming week....


The Power of Reading Insights From the Research Stephen D. Krashen


The Power of Reading: Insights From the Research by Stephen D. Krashen


Reading Matters by Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Paulette M. Rothbauer


From My Sister-in-Law:  this is a series of books to be shared by the whole family during Advent.  Can't wait to pull these back out next year and read with the boy!


Cootie McKay's Nativity Todd Wilson


The Bishop's Dream by Todd Wilson


Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster! by Todd Wilson


Cootie McKay's Nativity by Todd Wilson


Gladys Remembers Christmas by Todd Wilson


Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest by Todd Wilson


The Stranger by Todd Wilson


From the Library:


V is for Vegetables Michael Anthony


V is for Vegetables: Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks From Artichokes to Zucchini by Michael Anthony.  This cookbook is HUGE but also GORGEOUS with tons of full-color photographs.  I turn into Pavlov's dog just looking through it!


The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands.  I heard this author speak at an event and was really impressed.  This is just his latest book; the hubby is currently reading (and LOVING) an earlier book of his about Reagan.


Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  I'm loving this older series!  They're set in a fictional SC town that sounds a lot like a small SC town I used to live in, but with the addition of witches/magic.


Devil Sent the Rain by Lisa Turner.  I recently heard her speak at an event too, and got my interest piqued in her book.


Don't forget to add your link below!



 



Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

This series is so good, y'all!  Just the other night I was gushing about it to my mom, and she hasn't even ever shown interest in anything paranormal/fantasy/fairy tale/YA!  I just want to spread the word about this series.  Am I just too late to the game?  Was everyone else gushing about this two years ago and I somehow missed it?  Or is this a sleeper series?  Anyway, The Wicked Will Rise is the second book in this series, so there will be spoilers for the first book in the review below.  To read the review of the first book, Dorothy Must Die, click here.  We also have reviews of the prequel novellas- just check the Review Archive (above) and search for Danielle Paige.

The Wicked Will Rise picks up almost exactly where Dorothy Must Die left off, so we don't miss a moment of the action.  Amy Gunn is still in Oz and Dorothy is still around somehow.  Definitely still wicked.  Amy is going around Oz with some now-wingless flying monkeys and somewhat-brainless Ozma, trying to get back the gifts that the "Wizard" gave to the the Tin Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow.  Sometimes when reading this series, I've kind of felt like they're building to a giant moral lesson... maybe.  Something about not letting power go to your head or to appreciate what you have or to count your blessings or the Golden Rule or something.  Not only is Dorothy evil, but the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow are all evil too!  Amy has to figure out what parts of those three characters represent their gift, and then remove it.

This book is not for the faint of heart.  She has to figure out what parts of those three characters represent their gift, and then remove it.  And carry it around.

I often get bored with books where the plot is predictable.  When an author spells out at the beginning of the book that the main character is going on a quest to accomplish X, Y, and Z, then walks us through it... I'm done.  But Danielle Paige throws in plenty of twists to the storyline to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged!  Every time I started to feel even the least bit comfortable, another unexpected thing happened.  Ozma provided quite a few of these unexpected moments with random bits of lucidity, and the queen of the flying monkeys definitely provided a humorous distraction for a moment.  I can't say much more without spoilers, so you'll just have to take my word for it:  this book is not formulaic.  Amy doesn't just set out on a pre-planned quest and accomplish it.  There are pitfalls and misdirections and successes all mixed together.

I feel like the character of Amy gets a lot more rounded out in this volume.  I loved loved loved her in the first book, with all of her snark!  I'm a huge fan of sarcasm in real life and in my literature.  In The Wicked Will Rise we lose a little bit of the snark (not completely; don't worry) but we really get to know Amy better.  She's complex!  There were a few moments where I totally didn't agree with a choice she makes, but that's real life.  No one is perfect, especially when under stress, like she is.  She makes some mistakes.  She gives in to temptations.  She develops and shows feelings for other characters (both friendly and romantic).  I can very much appreciate that.  It takes talent to write as much back story and personality into Amy as Paige does in these books.

Now, the ending:  another cliffhanger!!!  Paige certainly wants to make sure we all keep buying her books!  I can't wait to start in on book #3 (an advantage to picking up an older series: I get to binge-read) and find out if the W.I.C.K.E.D. really will rise and reclaim Oz!

 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Stacking The Shelves [240]

Stacking the Shelves


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


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 Happy weekend everyone! I'm in Naples, Florida this week, visiting my grandmother and parents during my much needed vacation. I like switching up genres while on vacation so I bought a mystery thriller to keep me busy.


Tomorrow, I'll be heading to Orlando to visit Disney World, but what I'm most excited about is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Of course, I'll be taking lots of photos!


Purchased



Marked for Life by Emelie Schepp


What's new on your shelves this week?



[inlinkz_linkup id=689169]

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas | Second Look

I recently read Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas.  I know, I know: I'm waaaay behind the game on this series!  I'm kicking myself for not trying them sooner; they're excellent.  On the plus side, I get to binge-read them now, since I waited until so many were released to start reading them!  This is a Second Look on Tynga's Reviews- Tynga herself reviewed this right after it was released in 2013.  You can read her excellent review here.

WOW.  I feel like I've just been on the most amazing roller coaster!  The book's official summary hints at a secret being revealed, but there's no way you could see this one coming.  It's a whammy.  It's going to be so hard to write this review and tell you about this amazing book without telling you the secret!  You will need to go read the book so that we can discuss in the comment section.  ;)

I wholeheartedly agree with Tynga's assessment that the characters really make this book great.  (And the first book, and the third, which I've just started reading.)  Celaena is the most kickbutt heroine I've ever read, I think.  Remember in the first book how hard she worked to overcome immense odds to get herself in shape to win the king's contest?  Now that she's the king's assassin Champion, she isn't slacking!  He has her killing people left and right.  She's dispatching them completely silently- no one in the whole kingdom has any idea how they're happening.  One thing is changing about Celaena, though: she's allowing herself to be slightly (very, very, very slightly) more open.  We readers definitely get to know a lot more about her; Chaol and Dorian get to know her better as well.  I think I mentioned in my first review, of Throne of Glass, that I love how "real" Celaena is.  She has hobbies (books!) and interests (warcraft and martial arts) and favorite foods (chocolate and candy!).  Often this type of book will have a main character with a goal/mission, and that's all they ever focus on.  Maybe they'll have a little romance on the side.  I can't remember ever before reading about how much a character enjoys unwinding with a good book!  I love that.

Chaol and Dorian continue to get rounded out as well.  Especially Dorian!  I think we got to know sweet, tough, chivalrous, smart Chaol in Throne of Glass.  By the end of Throne of Glass I was 100% "Team Chaol."  Even though the books have an almost medieval-type feel to them, I don't feel like Chaol ever looks down on women just for being women.  He might look down on someone who "simpered" or acted foolish, but he totally respects Celaena, and encourages her development.  To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure how to feel about Dorian by the end of Throne of Glass.  He was already showing signs of being quite a complicated person.  That's good- no one likes 1D characters- but it also complicated my feelings toward him.  In Crown of Midnight, however, Celaena isn't the only one with a secret:  we also learn a very interesting fact about Dorian in the second half of the book!

Throne of Glass wrapped up nicely.  Sarah J. Maas almost could've simply ended there.  (We'd all be clamoring for more, because she built an awesome world with an awesome main character, but the plot wrapped up for the most part.)  So there was a blank slate for Crown of Midnight.  I had no clue what to expect!  The opening was just a tiny bit slow, but once it picks up (about a third of the way in) it REALLY picks up!  If anyone were able to make this into a movie, it'd gross millions.  There's action and adventure and fighting and subterfuge oh my!  Then, at the very end, the much-anticipated huge reveal!  I cannot stress enough:  you need to read this book!  You'll be totally surprised by the secret!

I listened to Crown of Midnight as an audiobook, and it was great.  The reader spoke clearly and at a good, even, natural pace.  I love doing sci-fi/fantasy books as audiobooks so that I don't have to think about how to pronounce all the totally-foreign-to-me place and person names!

I definitely recommend this book!