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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Two Sequels Down...

Before I get going, I want to announce the four winners of the YA Superlatives Blogfest giveaway. (Pay no attention to how long it took to pick the winners. La la la...)

Rachel at Beauty and the Bookshelf

Lovely winners, please email Katy Upperman ( to pick your choice of any 2013 book. Congrats!

Moving on...

Most of the time I like to think of New Year’s resolutions as a list I make at the beginning of January then promptly forget for the rest of the year. This is a momentous occasion, then, because not only have I not forgotten about my 2014 resolutions, but I’m making decent headway with one of them.

Not too long ago I wrote about my trouble finishing bookseries, and this year I made it my mission to read sequels to books I loved. (It was that or resolve to exercise daily and you know that’s just a recipe for self-loathing.) Two down and … well, best not to think about how many I have left to go.

I read the first book in the Unearthly series at a time when I was mostly sick of angel stories and definitely tired of love triangles. It’s a wonder I even picked it up, but the good reviews swayed me, and I’m thankful for it. The plot is refreshing, the angels unlike the same old characters I’ve read in a dozen other YA paranormal books, and the love triangle one that actually makes sense. (Which is why I awarded it Best Use of a Love Triangle during the 2011 YA Superlative Blogfest.)

I was nervous to read Boundless, though. I loved the first two novels and didn’t want the final book in the series to ruin the story. Thankfully, the final book was as satisfying as Unearthly and Hallowed. Hand’s characters, which were wholly realized even in the first book, are like old friends here, and yet many are given new depth in this installment—most notably Samjeeza. His interactions with Clara are touching despite the fact that his character is still menacing. In fact, there were so many moments, small little scenes—not just between Clara and Samjeeza—that I wanted to hold onto and reread before the series ended.

This, at times, was a heartbreaking story. I won’t go into too much detail for those of you who haven’t read the first two books, but the love between Clara and her family—and the struggles she has surrounding them—is at times sweet and heartbreaking, especially those involving her brother.

And, of course, there was the romance, which if you’ve read the previous two books you know is more than the typical “I love him, but I also love him” sort of love triangle. I won’t say how the relationships in the book end, but that I was fully satisfied with the very final scene.

I can’t think of an angel series I’ve enjoyed more. And this is definitely at the top of favorite paranormal romance reads. Even if you’re not a paranormal YA fan, and even if you’d rather watch the Bella-is-depressed scene in Twilight on repeat than read another paranormal romance, I’m confident you’ll like the Unearthly series.

Before this book came out, I was antsy to get my hands on it, checking the publication date nonstop in the hopes that maybe I’d misremembered and it was already out. Then, when it came out, I stalled. I loved Throne of Glass. It was one of my favorite books of the year, and yet I worried Crown of Midnight wouldn’t live up to high expectations I’d set.

I have no idea how Maas managed to outdo her first novel. I loved Celaena in Throne of Glass, but she’s grown since. Dorian and Chaol are richer characters in this book, too. And, well, my heart breaks for Dorian. I loved him and Celaena in Throne of Glass and hoped that, maybe, he’d be with Celaena again by the end of the series. Of course, I knew going into this book that the romance in Crown of Midnight centered on Chaol and Celaena. Now I even see that Celaena’s feelings for Chaol are stronger than anything she ever felt for the prince. But, oh, does his POV make you want to give him a giant hug.

And it’s not just because he’s hopelessly in love with a girl who loves his best friend. It’s the line he’s walking between his old life—weak in his position as prince—and this new one where he cares what his wicked father is doing to the kingdom. He’s trying to figure out his place as prince as well as developing magical powers, and his scenes of struggle and self-realization were some of my favorite in the book.

I also found I liked Chaol better in this book. His love for Celaena and his resolve to follow the king’s orders despite his desires to betray them for Celaena were captivating, as was his conflict with his father.

The plot in this sequel was twisty and more complicated than the first, and you can see that Maas is building bigger story than the one Throne of Glass hinted at. I imagine that the next book in the series, Heir of Fire, will be even better still. Overall, a strong second book with excellent characters, a phenomenal ending, and a third book publishing way, way too far in the future.

 What have you read recently?

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