Sunday, April 8, 2018

#HobonichiBookClubPH - Week 1 of Turtles All the Way Down

So, I am making this a thing. John Green's Turtles All the Way Down (TATWD) was selected as book of the month of our Hobonichi Book Club PH... and being the nerd that I am (and since I'm feeling a little bit extra), here I am making a whole post out of it. (Partly to keep this blog running, and partly because YEY I am trying out a different medium after a long while.)

If you haven't heard about this book before, click HERE for the blurb. As I've read, this is John's most personal book to date mostly because this book was partly inspired by his own experiences dealing with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Aza, the book's main protagonist, also suffers from such.

John has always been a treat to read. With all the metaphors, witty and/or nerdy characters, straight-forward-but-damn-right statements, and the introspective and real look at how a teenager's mind works. I'm always caught up with how uniquely he expresses these characters. Like they matter - because they do.

Anyway, enough John Green love.

Here's my entry for Week 1 of TATWD (Chapter 1 to 6).
Prompt: a drawing or a painting of turtles on your Hobonichi.

As I am still a beginner in watercolor painting, I used AhmadArt's tutorial for this underwater scene.
I used one particular quote by Davis which really captured my attention:
At the end, when walking was work, we sat on a bench looking down at the river, which was running low, and she told me that beauty was mostly a matter of attention."The river is beautiful because you are looking at it," she said.
Note: I unconsciously wrote "was" instead of "is". (Pardon.) πŸ˜‚

I read this book last year but still was not able to post a review-of-sorts. I figured this is the perfect opportunity to look back and formally record my thoughts on it. This is the first time I explored using post-it commentaries instead of live-tweeting my reactions for this book so the spur-of-the-moment thoughts and memories are still well- preserved in my copy. 

Quick thoughts on Chapters 1 to 6:
  • "You're not anxious?" I am amazed at Aza's support system. Her mother. Her bestfriend, Daisy. They always make it a point to check on Aza: any change in behavior, or if she's feeling anxious. They make it a point to be sensitive about her condition. If all, or even half, of the people who have person/s with mental health condition/s in their circle are this sensitive AND supportive, how beautiful a place our world would be?
  • Aza's father's penchant to take picture of "leafless branches dividing up the sky." There's something beautiful in looking at "split-apart skies". I also tend to take pictures of this kind when I have the chance.
  • "I still can't believe he left us." This particular scene when her mother said this and she thought: "She said it like it was a decision, like he'd been mowing the lawn that day and thought, I think I'll fall down dead now." THIS. This is one of the things I like about John's writing. The way it rips you up in the most simplest ways and in the most unexpected of moments. Statements that are not very dramatic, but clear and simple enough you can't deny the pain. This angst-y line, for some reason, hurt me like hell. 
  • "Welcome to the future, Holmesy." Ah, the sweet bliss of social media stalking. I was laughing while I was reading about how Aza and Daisy find and track things in the internet. This TOTALLY reflects how people can dig up dirt in the modern world. Talk about research skills. πŸ˜‚
  • Davis' blog! Davis' entries are my favorite -- because they are sensitive and lyrical and emotional. That's also the reason why I used it in my drawing. This totally brings back memories. I used to own a Tumblr back in the days where I would just pour out every little emotional things: poems, prose, quotes, reblogged relateable illustrations and screencaps. That one hell hole where no one knows you and no one gives a damn. It's just you and your creations, your emotions. Ah, the good old days.

Materials used: (1) Hobonichi Weeks (2) Prang Oval-8 Watercolor Palette (3) Tombow Fudenusoke Hard Tip (4) Uni Pin Fine Line 0.3 (5) Monami Essenti Soft Highlighter in Grey (6) Sakura Gelly Roll Pen in White

Any way, that was quite fun. Looking forward to Week 2 for this book. 

#Bookworm 2018

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017: My Year in Books

Hurray for my busiest reading year EVER!

Can you believe I actually read that much? I've always prided being a bookworm but honestly speaking... speed (and, thus, quantity) was never my strong suite. I am a very slow reader so this particular number surprised me, 18 being my maximum (last year). But yeah, I did that - and this actually inspired me to aim more and stop underestimating how I could incorporate this in my daily routine (like what I have been doing these past few years). I've always aimed low because I was too afraid of not actually making the cut (which is a sucky attitude, I know) - and this year got me thinking that maybe I need to rethink this attitude not just for my reading habits for other of my endeavors, too.

Queen of Shadows | Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda | The Assassin's Blade | Turtles All The Way Down | Warcross | The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue | When Dimple Met Rishi | Rich People Problems | Throne of Glass | China Rich Girlfriend | Heir of Fire | Shatter Me | Want | The Epic Crush of Genie Lo | Crown of Midnight | Inside Out and Back Again | The Forbidden Wish | Crazy Rich Asians | Always and Forever, Lara Jean | A Court of Wings and Ruin | Artermis Fowl: The Arctic Incident | Artermis Fowl | The One | The Elite | The Selection | A Court of Mist and Fury | Thirteen Reasons Why | A Court of Thorns and Roses | The Little Knife | The Demon in the Woods | The Too-Clever Fox  | The Tailor | Ruin and Rising | Siege and Storm | Shadow and BoneThe Witch of Duva | King's Cage | Everything, Everything | 1Q84 (Part 1) | By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept | The Alchemist | Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

So there's your run-down. Out of all the 42 I've read this year, 6 are novellas (mainly from the Grisha trilogy) and 36 are novels (mostly, if not all, are YA). And as far as I can remember, this is the year to which I've written the most reviews! I've read some great writing this year, and despite the number, I felt like I haven't written enough and I intend to add some to this. (hopefully!)

Continuing on with my Six of Crows obsession from 2016, I decided to explore the original Grisha world to which the said duology also took place. SoC would always have a special place in my heart (it got me through one of my worst reading slumps ever, y'all!) but boy is the Grisha Trilogy on another level. Leigh Bardugo is a master of words and world-building, and it showed! I developed an unhealthy obsession with the Darkling (and the Alarkling ship, yeah yeah), for heaven's sake. This is definitely a world I would always go back to. What a memorable read!

Another series that captivated me during this exciting year was the A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) Saga. It started with the 4.70+ accumulated Goodreads rating for ACOMAF that piqued my interest so much I decided to finally ride the bandwagon. But whatever, I knew now that I chanced upon a gold mine! By the time I finished book 2, I was obsessed and even managed to break years of my hardback-fasting because I can't wait for the softbound copy to know what happened next. I spent the better part of the rest of the year too engrossed with its world - from the fan arts, to the fanfics, to everything. This also lead me to start reading the Throne of Glass series, also by S.J. Maas. Haven't finished all the published books under the series right now, but I gotta tell you: A+ story, characterization, world-building. S.J. Maas is a master of foreshadowing, as she proved time and time again for both series, that I think I developed a bit of a paranoia to the littlest details because of her type of storytelling. LOL. But anyway, I am really looking forward to so much from this author on 2018!

Another dark horse: Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series! Honestly speaking, I never thought I would enjoy this series so much. I came across the first book a few years back and it took so long for me to warm up to it. It was the light-hearted, funny book series I never knew I needed. Plus the movie is coming out soon, so a bonus for Read it 1st.

Also this year, I participated in not one, but TWO, reading challenges (not counting the overall 2017 RC): the Asian Lit Bingo and the Reading Quest. This is the first year I actually got to finish one, and it was soooo rewarding. Particularly with the Asian Lit Bingo - which allowed me to explore new things than what I always dwell on. I explored other authors that I may not have been able to read if not for this, not because I don't like them but mainly because they haven't been given enough spotlight. I particularly liked Jessica Khoury's The Forbidden Wish - a retelling of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp. Also, I discovered a new author with Filipino descent (!!!), albeit half: Roshani Chokshi. It was a surreal and unique experience reading The Star Maiden, but it was definitely wonderful. I never really mind the lack of Filipino cultural representation in the books that I read, maybe mainly because of force of habit given the amount of foreign material I am digesting on a regular basis, but being caught off-guard by something like this is a bit of a wake up call. Seeing my culture reflected towards me, for the first time in a very long while, was magical and I vow to continue searching for that feeling in the coming years - Roshani is a start.

Book Twitter also introduced me to several authors and books that formed part of my 2017 highlights: how Mackenzi Lee's The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue made me double over with Monty's fabulousness; the way I can't stop laughing over F.C. Yee's hilarious and enjoyable The Epic Crush of Genie Lo; how I was left awestruck with the ending of Marie Lu's Warcross (god, that book!); and how I discovered a new favorite in the form of Cindy Pon's Want.

Honestly, there's too much to mention. This year gave me too many good reads to count and explain, and another rounds of too-good-to-pass-up series to look forward to in the years to come. I don't think I'll ever have enough.

My year in book pages.
In terms of stats, apparently I've read a total of 14,217 pages (!!!) per Goodreads' count. What a number! I was finally able to surpass my 2012 count (a.k.a. the year I marathon-ed the GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire series). That's a significant jump, and I couldn't be any happier.

Top 10 of 2017

But of course, this won't ever be complete without me listing my top books. Instead of doing the usual top 5, I am doing a top 10 because I would lose my mind trying to narrow down 42 to 5. Here goes:
  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah. J. Maas
  2. Ruin and Rising by  Leigh Bardugo
  3. King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
  4. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
  5. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  6. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  7. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
  8. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
  9. Want by Cindy Pon
  10. Warcross by Marie Lu
So that's it. I am just really thankful of this productive and wonderful year of reading. If I am gonna be honest with myself, part of the reason why  my reading activity drastically increased so much was because too much is going on in my personal and professional life that I tend to escape to the fiction world more often than not. It helped, and as it does time and time again, reading saved me. I can't put it to words enough but I am really grateful that I get to have this piece of magic I can tap into whenever I need it.

Here's to more years of reading and feeling the magic! xoxo

Want to read about my reading adventures through the years? Click away! 
2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011


Friday, December 29, 2017

#AllTheBooksOf2017 Book Challenge

Another book challenge to add up here. This is supposed to be a Twitter Challenge but I am posting it here to document. 

This is #AllTheBooksOf2017 by @annreads
I am limiting the selection to all the books I've read in 2017 (which, I think, is the intention).

1. First Read of the Year: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SΓ‘enz
2. Shortest Book you Read: The Witch of Duva (Grisha, #0.5) by Leigh Bardugo
3. Best Sequel you Read: A Court of Mist ad Fury (ACOTAR, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
4. Favorite Book Cover of 2017: Want by Cindy Pon
5. New to-you Favorite Authors: Sarah J. Maas
6. Beautifully Written Book: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
7. New Favorite Characters: The Inner Circle! (from Sarah J. Maas' ACOTAR Saga)
8. Books you Reread: A Court of Mist fna Fury (ACOTAR, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
9. Book with a Magical Setting: ACOTAR Saga, Throne of Glass Series and Grisha Trilogy
10. Longest Book you Read: A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR, #3) by Sarah J. Maas (clocking at 699 pages)
11. Book you Finally Read this Year: The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
12. Best Conclusion to a Series: A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR, #3) by Sarah J. Maas
13. Most Read Genre: Fantasy YA
14. Last Read of the Year: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas
15. Favorite Reads of 2017: Too many to mention so just see my year in books!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Novella: Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1 - #0.5) by Sarah J. Maas

So this post evidences my continued existence as a S.J. Maas trash. I previously finished Heir of Fire earlier but still hasn't gotten around my head to review it. I figured I need to let my thoughts out regarding The Assassin's Blade right here, right now because I am about to start Queen of Shadows in a few hours and I might drown in it again. So yeah, here are my useless ramblings at 3 in the morning about this book that totally broke me in a span of less than 500 pages.

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out. (via Goodreads)
The Assassin's Blade is a collection of the five published Throne of Glass novellas that served as the prequel of the Book 1 of this amazing series, Throne of Glass. This was Celaena Sardothien - At the height of her career, when she was still dubbed as Adarlan's Assassin. Before Endovier. Before her downfall. When I read Throne of Glass, there was this nagging feeling that something is missing - some missing puzzle piece for me to fully comprehend Celaena. Too much was left to the imagination, too much was left unexplained. But when I finally finished The Assassin's Blade, I understood. This broke my heart into a thousand pieces, particularly the last novella: The Assassin and the Empire. While it was no news that, yes, Sam Cortland is indeed dead -- nothing prepared me for the emotional punch it delivered. It made Throne of Glass ten times more heartbreaking than it already is. I decided to buy and read this on a whim because I felt that I needed to answer some very pressing questions before I start Queen of Shadows -- and I was right. The motivations, how deep the need for revenge is, the pain - it was all clearly etched by the time I closed the last page of this collection.

Sarah managed to inject such character history to Celaena in a span of five novellas -- sides and angles we won't see if not for these stories, a big chunk of her that was repaired and destroyed and will be rebuilt again and again in the subsequent books in this series.

If I have to rank the novellas, it would be:

  1. The Assassin and the Empire, #0.5 (Need I say more? The build up to this ending was insane and heart-wrenching. I am in a puddle of my own making. And it hurt. It physically hurt.)
  2. The Assassin and the Healer, #0.2 (I cried several times, for some reason. Yrene!!!)
  3. The Assassin and the Underworld, #0.4  (Re-introduction of Arobynn Hamel. And that confession scene!)
  4. The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, #0.1 (This is the first and a very bad-ass introduction, that is. Celaena was slightly different here. More arrogant, more spoiled.) 
  5. The Assassin and the Desert, #0.3 (This was generally good, but I just felt a bit detached during some moments in the narrative.)
Honestly, at this point, I am just amazed at how fleshed out Celaena's character is. Yes, she is the kickass beautiful heroine that basically has every hot guy under her mercy -- but she is so much more. She is imperfect and I love how these imperfections are explored and examined, unflinchingly putting each of them under focus. These stories just add up to the epicness that is injected in the series. The amount of references in the subsequent titles from these novellas are insane -- establishing a different sort of continuity and solidity to its narrative. YA writing master class, if you'll ask me. 

As usual, definitely recommended! The whole series, that is. 

(And now, every time I read "I will not be afraid," I think I'll die a little inside. This demands a re-read of Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, because Sam. 😭)


My ratings:

0.1 The Assassin and the Pirate Lord - ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)
0.2 The Assassin and the Healer - ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)
0.3 The Assassin and the Desert - ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)
0.4 The Assassin and the Underworld - ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5, 0.5 of which is mainly because of Sam Cortland!!!)
0.5 The Assassin and the Empire - ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 out of 5)

Quotable Quotes:

"Let me give you a bit of advice, [...] from one working girl to another: Life isn't easy, no matter where you are. You'll make choices you think are right, and then suffer for them. [...] So if you're going to be miserable, you might as well go to Antica and be miserable in the shadow of the Torre Cesme."

"If you want something, then take it."

"Tomorrow will be better. It might be only a foot more than today, but it will be a foot longer than you can run."

"Everything has a price..."

"If you can learn to endure pain, you can survive anything."

Sunday, September 10, 2017

#TheReadingQuest Wrap-Up Post

It's been a good month! And I am so glad that I managed to finish this quest by a hair -- with me finishing the last book in my quest just THIS AFTERNOON. Whew!

I entered this quest as a MAGE, pledging to take on the FIRST DOWN path. As a recap, the following are the books I've read int his challenge (in no particular  order) with corresponding linked reviews:
  1. The First Book in a Series - Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1) by Tahereh Mafi*
  2. A Book Set in a Different World - Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
  3. A Book Based on Mythology - The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee
  4. A Book That Contains Magic - Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, #2) by Eoin Colfer
  5. A Book With a One Word Title - Want (Want, #1) by Cindy Pon*
* review/s to follow

Outside the regular struggle of trying to keep up with work, this was really an enjoyable activity. The books I've read in this path are really in my TBR in the first place - it was really a match made in heaven.

Crown of Midnight emerged on top -- because, let's be honest, IT IS A S. J. MAAS BOOK so what would you expect, right? The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was really hilarious and was a joy to read. On the other hand, Want was a revelation. I didn't expect to like it that much, but I did. I liked Arctic Incident better than the first book, and it was really a breeze to read. Maybe if I gotta choose a let down in this group, it would be Shatter Me -- and it was relatively good in the first place, which is saying something.

The First Book in a Series Shatter Me
A Book Set in a Different World Crown of Midnight
A Book Based on Mythology The Epic Crush of Genie Lo*
A Book That Contains Magic The Arctic Incident
A Book With a One Word Title Want*

* double EXP for books written by marginalized authors

Coming across this reading challenge is a happy accident and I'm glad I get to enter and participate. It was fun -- probably the most fun I had not considering my annual challenges. I highly recommend y'guys to participate in these kinds of events -- it was worth it, it was fun + it brings me out of my reading slumps. 😊

Friday, September 1, 2017

Book: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

She annihilates standardized tests and the bad guys. 
Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code. 
But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches. 
Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance. (via Goodreads)
It was hard to read The Epic Crush of Genie Lo without cracking up. I mean - the wit and sarcasm that F.C. Yee injected in his writing is beyond! That choice of words, I can't even~ πŸ˜‚ I remember reading this in my usual commute to work and I was fighting a huge grin just to not make me look like a fool sitting there in the jeepney with too many people to notice. This is what it felt like reading this -- THIS BOOK that took my Twitter timeline by storm (God, Book Twitter is the absolute ~best~!). My Twitter friends are freakin' right hyping this book up!
"I've recently discovered that what I am into is having skills," I said. "Skills that no one can deny or take away from me. People can always say I don't look impressive enough, but they can't argue over how strong I am once I punch them in the face."
Genie Lo is ruthless. She is cold, calculating.... but more caring and sensitive than she lets on. Witty and sarcastic -- and funny. Just how I like my female heroines to be. The journey that she made in this book (personal-wise) really hit the nail on the head for me. She is a driven and overachieving young lady -- and the pressure to deliver, the need to remove herself from her sleepy town, the refusal to be told where her place is -- it spoke to me on a very personal level. She must've been striving to get to that college that would make her dreams come true, but I am struggling to maintain my ground and find a place in the corporate world I am insistent on being a part of -- and somehow, one mirrors the other. So yeah, I was really dodging arrows that strike right to heart of the matter because IT WAS SO DAMN RELATABLE. With the current wave of YA lit, Genie's character - the sarcastic, smartass, driven one -- is the kind that I get to frequently read in the books these days, but as a guy. So imagine how groundbreaking it is for me to, finally, have it be a girl standing on that pedestal, and not just any girl -- but an ASIAN GIRL. So yeah, I am really thrilled even for just that.

On the other hand, can I tell you about the ROMANCE? I can talk about Quentin Sun -- how hot and desirable he is, or just how attractive he is despite him being a bit irritating with that cute arrogance and -- but his character won't work if not paired with Genie on the scene. Their characters - like their aura - harmonized for some reason I can't quite point out. The banters were freakin' awesome, the romance not forced and definitely not sappy and cheesy, but instead communicated in the most hilarious of ways. I love these two to bits when they're together.

Plus there's the interesting interpretation of the bodhisattva, Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Trust me. Characters-wise, this book was awesome.


Honestly, I am not really into the demon-y genre of  YA fantasy. People seem to be very overpowered, all the time, in these stories -- and for me, most often than not, that makes it so far removed to reality which I don't like. (My SFF choices are weird, I know.) But what the heck! Genie Lo took me by storm. It was based on Chinese mythology, which I am not really that familiar though -- but it just made the story more awesome I guess, because I am looking at it from fresh eyes. It's plot was action-packed and hilarious at all the right places. It even managed to invoke a tear or two from me -- and that is a feat. My throat bobbed at the most inopportune moments, at most inappropriate ones, and that's when I knew that this book elicited such strong emotions from me. And the laughing -- yeah, NONSTOP. Okay, right, I can't even count how many times I used this word to describe freakin' anything in this book, but I give in: IT WAS HILARIOUS.

This was a light book, and an enjoyable one. And if you ever need a pick-me-up for some reason, you can absolutely pick this one up and let it do what it does best. Honestly, I didn't even realize how frequently I highlighted passages from this book until I quickly revisited it for this review. It was that good.

The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger (in a very good way) - but I am hoping for a sequel. That would be a lot of fun, I bet. Recommended! 

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5) 

Quotable Quotes:

"Spiritual power isn't just or merciful. It's fair. That's what makes it so dangerous."

"It's maddening to see those you care about get hurt, even if it's their fault."

There's nothing worse than just enough success.

"You have to pick and choose your battles. Fight too much and you'll wear yourself out."

"One should never feel ashamed about their true self."

"Don't let the setbacks mess with your overall progress."

"Focus on becoming stronger, which you can control, over the possible failures, which you can't always."

"What I'm trying to say is that the people we care about make the grind worthwhile. "

Sometimes you just had to accept that you might never change as much as you want to.

AND THIS QUOTE! I cried reading this. Thanks for the reminder, F.C. Yee. πŸ’‹

This is the THIRD book I finished for #TheReadingQuest reading challenge, for "A Book Based on Mythology".

Oh hey! I leveled up! This is a book written by a marginalised author so this gave me twice EXP than normal. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas

I've yet to make my Throne of Glass (ToG) post so posting about the second book of the series, Crown of Midnight (CoM), may be a bit weird -- but I think I need to do this now or risk making the same mistake I did with the ACOTAR saga (finishing it without posting a single review *shame*). So here it is: my thoughts on Book 2 of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.

"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 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.
(via Goodreads)

Celeana Sardothien // source
ToG ended with Celaena Sardothien winning the royal competition and ultimately becoming the King's Champion. As such, CoM began with our protagonist fulfilling her duties to the crown. I've read a couple of books and series from the time I closed ToG so it took a bit of time adjusting to it.  However, I can't pry The Selection series off my mind while I read the first few parts - maybe it's the castle setting, the court, and how for some reason Maxon kept popping in my head whenever Dorian is on page. But once, I finished the first few chapters, the magic immediately returned.

What can I say about this book? Nothing but love, I guess. This was divided into two parts. The first half mostly tackled the fulfillment of her duty to the King. What followed was a series of manipulations and deceit that had Celaena walking in a tight rope around the leash the King had put on her. We get to see a different Celaena than what we've witnessed in ToG. Here, we see her doing what she does best: killing people, action, fighting, becoming every inch the King's Champion and proving that she became Adarlan's assassin for a reason.

In this part we also get to witness how a friendship formed in the most unlikeliest of circumstances developed into understanding and, not unexpectedly, love. I am not sure if I am spoiling things but I am saying it: Chaolaena is my ship. During ToG, it was always about Dorian with all the outright, romantic scenes... but on the side, brewing, forming in the most natural way... is Chaol's feelings for Celaena. The whole thing felt... natural. Like something inevitable. And when the moment came, when that admission came, God that scene! It was sincere, slow -- welcome. It made my heart soar. It's just too bad it didn't last long. And it broke my heart -- chapter after chapter of ripping my heart to shreds.
Chaol Westfall and Dorian Havilliard // via Tumblr
And then, there's Dorian. Sacrifice is one trope I will never get tired of loving. And gaaaah, Dorian, during the first parts of the book really broke my heart. He can't do anything because it's Celaena's choice and all he can do - all he did do - was watch on the sidelines while the two fall in love. He loved her enough to have someone give her the freedom she so desperately wants. He loves Chaol enough to give him something that, for once, he wants for himself. And he knows that he deserve someone who could love him wholeheartedly. 
The Trio // source
Honestly speaking, this is one of the best love triangles I've read in a while. Most times, it's always the girl that's the common denominator -- but this time around, the two guys involved are best friends, and respect their relationship with each other enough not to make rash decisions that may hurt the other and not immediately grab what they want just because they want it. It was heartbreaking, but certainly one of the more realistic, wonderful parts of this book. For a book that deals so much with magic and the supernatural, human emotions served as the tether to keep this story grounded.

Too much, for my heart.

Anyway, that was what Part 1 gave me. The action picked up, however, when the book crossed it's second half. Everything went fast-paced and things are happening one after the other -- it was insane. Looking back at my tweets, I didn't even get to stop to make a decent commentary because it was just THAT awesome. I might've spoiled myself more than necessary even before reading the first book of this series... but STILL! NO WORDS! Sarah J. Maas is the QUEEN of foreshadowing I can't even fathom how she put everything together, place every detail at the most unexpected places. Honestly, it was a good thing I had ToG near me when I read this because I kept on flipping back just to make sure, and confirm what I missed and how exactly I missed it. As with the case of A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J. Maas managed to beat the second-book syndrome that most YA series nowadays suffer from. The last few chapters were anything but boring. And that final revelation! oh, of course I was spoiled enough to know it before hand, the way it was revealed -- IT WAS GLORIOUS.. This book was soooooo worth losing my sleep over. I am just so excited for Heir of Fire. No one writes high fantasy YA like The Queen, Sarah J. Maas.

I can see now how this acquired such a passionate following and an active fandom. The storytelling, the characters, the world building: ONE OF THE BEST. This is not a quick read, oh no -- it won't leave your mind for days. But if you want something engaging, something new, other-wordly awesome: then this is for you. Plus the romance, guys, A++. Nothing but love.

My Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)

If you follow me on Twitter, here's my Crown of Midnight Reaction/Quotes Thread: CLICK HERE.

Quotable Quotes:

The best lies were always mixed with the truth.

"You must learn to ask the right questions before you can receive the right answers."

"Want and need are different things."


This is the second book I finished for #TheReadingQuest reading challenge, for "A Book Set in a Different World".

Current Standing:


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