The Midnight Star

28588345by Marie Lu
YA Fantasy
5 of 5 stars

This is exactly what I needed during this time of uncertainty and fear—a story to remind me that no matter how many terrible things someone has done, anyone can still choose goodness at any time.

Adelina’s journey into darkness from an outcast with powerful illusions to a queen with everyone at her feet has held me spellbound since its beginning.  Her ambition and determination pits her against everyone, including her former allies and her own sister Violetta. Yet part of her longs for the love and light she remembers feeling with her sister and the thief Magiano before her desire for revenge took over.

Right after she establishes her empire, Adelina receives word from the former Young Elites leader Raffaele that her sister is dying—just like all elites will die as their godlike powers consume their mortal bodies. Reluctantly, Adelina joins forces with the former Daggers and Queen Maeve’s army on a quest to save themselves—if she doesn’t decide to betray them all first.

Just as Adelina’s journey to become queen felt both like her destiny and her fatal flaw, this quest carries the weight of selfish desires and fate.  The pacing is relentless, and the characters are caught in a whirlwind of battles within and outside of their group. This is more about how the changes they have already undergone affect their relationships now, rather than what changes await them.

This flew by for me and the ending is beautiful and perfect. As with most trilogy ends, it’s hard to say more without spoilers!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Midnight Star is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski – Arin struggles to lead the Herrani resistance against the Valorians believing that Kestrel has betrayed him. Kestrel is actually in a forced labor camp because her father received the letter professing her love for Arin, instead of Arin himself. This is an emotional book for both characters as they try to reconcile their beliefs about each other and save their nations. See my review here.
  • Eona by Alison Goodman – Now that her true identity is revealed, Eona must lead the resistance to restore the true emperor to his throne while struggling with the limits of her dragon power and her true gender. A gripping study of sexism and what lies between good and evil. See my review here.
  • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis – An unflinching look at the double standards for men and women as seen through three teens after a party turns violent. Small-town seniors Alex, Jack and Peekay all have their own reputations, dreams and fears that collide in unexpected ways. This highlights the dark and insidious patterns of rape culture and what we can do to stop it. See my review here.
  • Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor – The massive and spell-binding conclusion to this trilogy about seraphs, chimaera and star-crossed lovers that hoped to stop their endless war. Karou and Akiva’s splintered relationship is all that remains to ally them against Jael’s army of seraphs that want to rule all of Eretz and Earth. See my review here.
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – A shape-shifting aspiring villain forcefully sidekicks herself to Lord Blackheart to learn the ropes, but he quickly realizes his new ward is dangerously unpredictable. See my review here.
  • Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman – Kate disguises herself as a boy and sets out to avenge her father’s murder at the hands of greedy prospectors hoping to find a secret gold mine.  She has the unlikely help of an Apache girl and a pair of brothers with their own secrets. See my review here.
  • Vicious by V. E. Schwab – An experiment meant to unlock superpowers in humans pits two roommates against each other because neither can agree who is the hero and who is the villain. See my review here.
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux – A rising opera star mentored by a mysterious man finds herself caught between his obsession and the chance at true love with a childhood friend. There is a lot of nuance here that you won’t find in the musical!
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – A man wrongly imprisoned escapes and builds his fortune as he plots to avenge himself on the three men that took his fiancée, his ship and his wealth.
  • Clariel by Garth Nix – Clariel isn’t adjusting well to her new city life–she misses the outdoors and her freedom. When Free Magic is discovered in the city, her attempts to be useful are thwarted, and her plan to regain her freedom once and for all comes with a terrible price.

What’s new this month

The second part of fall release season is here! Take a look at these gems that are finally here:

2777927510/4 – This Adventure Ends – by Emma Mills

This is a case of cover love at first sight for me–so gorgeous! Sloane leaves Florida for New York, and falls in with twins Vera and Gabe. Fast friends, and maybe something more, Sloane becomes even more involved with them when their mother’s painting goes missing. I’m intrigued by the Goodreads’ hints of LGBTQ themes, and honestly I just want to see what happens and if this story lives up to the beautiful cover art. (Seriously, this aquamarine / seafoam color is my absolute favorite).

More here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


2822082610/4 – When the Moon Was Ours – by Anna-Marie McLemore

I am so excited for this! LGBT magical realism that sounds beautiful and incredible. Miel and Sam both have strange abilities and the two of them are inseparable. Miel has roses that grow from her wrist, and Sam hangs moons in the trees. They’re both threatened by witches who want Miel’s roses for themselves, to make anyone fall in love. There’s aspects of romance and dark magic here and I can’t wait to see how this unfolds!

More here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


2858834510/11 – The Midnight Star – by Marie Lu

The epic conclusion to Adelina’s story is finally here! I absolutely fell in love with this series last year. Adelina’s downward spiral into evil so well-done and so sympathetic. The writing is stellar, and I honestly have no idea if Lu is going to steer Adelina towards redemption or damnation. Now that she rules as the White Wolf, Adelina has lost everything she holds dear. What is her next move going to be? As the voices in her mind threaten to take control, Adelina must choose her legacy and her fate.

More here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


2330283810/11 – Goldenhand – by Garth Nix

This has been my one of my favorite fantasy worlds for almost twenty years! We follow Lirael again as she attempts to save Nick from Free Magic and learns there’s a message waiting for her with the Clayr and a woman from the north from her dead mother, Arielle. For the first time, we get an expanded map beyond the Clayr’s glacier! Although I suspect this will be much like the other stories in this realm, I can never resist the urge to return and see what’s new for the beloved characters (especially Sabriel and Mogget). I am so excited to see what lies in store for Lirael!

More here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


2548829910/11 – The Secret Horses of Briar Hill – by Megan Shepherd

Again, the cover grabbed me and the jacket summary held me! Winged horses, mirrors, and a little girl trying to protect them. The Horse Lord tells Emmaline he’s hiding one of his own winged horses, Foxfire, in her world to protect him from the Black Horse, which hunts by colorless moonlight. The magic is intriguing, and this story sounds like everything my junior high self would have loved so I am all in!

More here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


2741438910/25 – A Darkly Beating Heart – by Lindsay Smith

Time-travel between present-day and 19th century Japan! Reiko is an angry girl with unresolved issues. After a failed suicide attempt, she is sent to a small, historically preserved Japanese village. There, Reiko connects with the spirit of Miyu–the only person that might be more obsessed with revenge than Reiko herself. She will have to face Miyu’s demons and her own if she wants to live. I’m intrigued on multiple levels and I really hope this is good! Historical fiction seems to be the author’s strong suit so I hope to be swept away with this revenge tale.

More here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

What to read again:

Ever since Harry Potter I’ve enjoyed re-reading the previous books in a series before the next one comes out. You get to soak up all the nuances and speculate about what’s going to happen next—it just makes the whole experience richer and more fun! What am I going to start re-reading?

The Young Elites series by Marie Lu

This is an incredible trilogy about what makes a villain. Adelina never asked to be one of the Young Elites–children and teens gifted with extraordinary abilities. But when her power frees her from the abusive control of her father, Adelina and her sister think they’ve found a new family with this group. But everyone has their own motives and Adelina begins to think she is the best person to unite and rule  before outside forces destroy them all.

Adelina’s descent into darkness is so understandable–a series of choices that lead in the opposite direction of what she intends. With war on the horizon and everyone turned against her, the final book will determine Adelina’s legacy and future. I can’t wait to find out what happens! Still need convincing? Here are my reviews for The Young Elites and The Rose Society. Read these books before the final one comes out next month!

28588345

The Rose Society

23846013by Marie Lu
YA Fantasy
5 of 5 stars
Review of advance uncorrected galley

Happy release day! In a stroke of luck, I found an advance copy of this book in a free little lending library at a coffee shop a few weeks ago! Book magic, indeed. I immediately grabbed The Young Elites, read that in a couple of days, and then went straight into this one. This series is one of my new favorites!

** Minor spoilers for The Young Elites **

Adelina’s journey is darker and if possible, more captivating in this installment. I couldn’t put this book down – we meet more Elites and learn about their intriguing powers as we watch Adelina’s personal goals shift and evolve. Pitting Adelina against Teren, Maeve, and Raffaele is a whirlwind of strategic battles and manipulation. To keep Adelina true to herself and yet empathetic to us is a difficult feat that Marie Lu has mastered. Her character arc has the feeling of inevitable destiny as well as the continued circumstantial push into choices between lesser evils. Adelina balances on a knife-edge and it is perfect. She is one of my favorite leading ladies now. But what makes this even better is that she is not alone! Maeve and Violetta battle Adelina’s will with their own, and the confrontations between these women are the most gripping. I will say every character is given clear-cut, logical reasons for their actions, and that is what makes this story so satisfying.

This action-packed sequel is a worthy follow-up to The Young Elites and the ending is just as much of a cliff-hanger, so brace yourself. I could read seven more of these books! The trilogy is scheduled to wrap up in 2016.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Rose Society is available on Goodreads and on Powell’s store website, here. Powell’s has several locations in Oregon, and is one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – Another trilogy of court/political intrigue with high stakes and espionage. Kestrel matches wits with the emperor and Arin’s forces as she tries to reconcile the two halves of her heart. See my review here.
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – Alina Starkov’s powers are sought after by everyone she meets (the Darkling, a mercenary, and a band of religious rebels), but it’s time for her to decide what to do with them. This is an excellent trilogy to add to your list!
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – Meira has always known her destiny is to restore the conquered kingdom of Winter, but when she finally accepts her first rebel mission, it sets off a chain of events she never could have imagined. See my review here.
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – Spies, political intrigue, and magic abound in the fourth installment of the Throne of Glass series. Consider catching up on these while you wait for the final Young Elites book. See my review here.
  • Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman – An older duology following Eon/Eona – the first (secretly) female dragoneye in a hundred years, as she tries to gain control of her dragon and keep the peace in the empire. Note that this book has come out from several publishers under various similar titles. See my review here.
  • Clariel by Garth Nix – The Abhorsen’s duty is to protect the Old Kingdom from the dead who won’t stay dead, but Clariel never wanted this responsibility. When it is forced upon her, she must decide to follow her heart’s desire or give up her dreams – or watch as her dreams change.
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – College roommates Eli and Victor accidentally discover a way to unlock every human’s potential for superhuman abilities. But they could not disagree more on what to do with this knowledge or what makes a hero and a villain. See my review here.
  • The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie – Cas is kidnapped by Pirate Queen Santa Elena to train a sea monster (reckoner) to defend her ship. This goes against everything Cas believes in, until pirate girl Swift comes along and makes her question everything. See my review here.

The Young Elites

20821111by Marie Lu
YA Fantasy
5 of 5 stars

This book blew me away! I would not change a thing about it – I loved it! Where do I even begin? This got bumped up on my TBR list because I happened to find an ARC (in the wild!) of the sequel, The Rose Society, and just knew I had to read these ASAP. I’ve heard good things about Marie Lu for years, and now I know they are completely deserved.

Adelina may seem like a typical protagonist – she has a dysfunctional (abusive) parent, a perfect little sister, and can’t wait to get away and earn her independence. She has some intense scars from the Blood Fever as well as her father, and it’s easy to root for her. In a society that hates malfettos (marked survivors), Adelina is definitely the underdog. But the best part is that she is not the hero. Adelina discovers she has tremendous powers of illusion, but that she can only feed her power with fear, bitterness, anger, and hatred. When the Young Elites’ Dagger Society saves/recruits her to the cause of restoring Enzo (another marked Blood Fever survivor) to the throne, she is caught up in court intrigue and espionage. But Adelina is tired of being used, and when her sister is kidnapped, she decides to burn everything in her path to save Violetta.

At this point, I was a bit disappointed that this series fell prey to what I call “the perfect little sister” trope. Beginning with Prim in The Hunger Games, every Strong Female Protagonist must have a Perfect Little Sister that illustrates the heroine’s flaws while also standing in as the only innocent person in the world, and the only thing in the world worth saving. She has no personality (except sweetness and light) and no purpose aside from being used to push our heroine into compromising situations or toward personal growth. It feels empty to me, as if without the younger sister, our heroine wouldn’t be empathetic or human, like she’s somehow deficient. All of that ranting to say: THIS book takes that trope, and twists it into something fresh and interesting, and THAT is when it won me over. Violetta is not just the Perfect Little Sister, and this fact sets up some amazing possibilities for this series and Adelina’s journey.

This is an excellent story about thwarted intentions and what brings out the darkness in all of us. I cannot wait for the sequel (I’ll be starting that as soon as this post is finished), but I have a feeling I’ll be just as eager for the third book.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Young Elites is available on Goodreads and on Powell’s store website, here. Powell’s has several locations in Oregon, and is one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – An excellent blend of intrigue and espionage. Although there is no magic here, Kestrel must match wits with everyone she encounters. See my review here.
  • Clariel by Garth Nix – A prequel to the Abhorsen trilogy – Clariel struggles against the future her parents have laid out for her, and the call to powers unlike anything she’s ever known.
  • The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman – Lyra and Will find a knife of amazing power and struggle to use it for good, when both of their worlds have other plans for it.
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – Light and darkness battle in more ways than one in this trilogy, and it’s fantastic! See my review here.
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – Mia Corvere is determined to survive initiation into the Red Church to become one of the best assassins in the land. Only then can she avenge her fallen family. See my review here.

What’s new this month

You can now search my book reviews by author – additional organization, hurrah!

Also: It’s the best time of the year for books! Here are a few I’m looking forward to this month:

10/1 – The Anatomy of Curiosity – by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna YovanoffAnatomy of Curiosity

This collection of short stories gives insight into the creative process behind writing. These three women have been critique partners for years, and not only do you get a sample of their work, you can see how they work together. For anyone who wonders “How does a writer puts those words on the page, anyway?” or writers who want to pick up some tips, I have a feeling this will be fun and informative.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


Carry On10/6 – Carry On – by Rainbow Rowell

This is so weirdly meta, I cannot wait! Rowell’s best-seller, Fangirl, followed introvert fanfiction writer/college student Cath. Cath’s popular serialized novel “Carry On” was set in the same world as the Simon Snow series (a Harry Potter-esque series within the Fangirl universe) with the main characters Simon and Baz in a gay relationship instead. Rowell has said she isn’t writing this novel as Cath or as Gemma (the fictional writer of the Simon Snow series) so I don’t really know what to expect. But it’s real fiction of fictional fanfiction with a touch of Harry Potter satire and that is just cool.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


10/13 – Ice Like Fire – by Sara RaaschIce Like Fire

The sequel to the wildly popular Snow Like Ashes is finally here, with beautiful cover art and the promise of more political intrigue and relational drama between Meira, Theron, and Mather. The rumored chasm of magic is discovered, and the three have very different ideas as to how to use it to best serve the kingdom of Winter and the world. The first book had some rough patches, but I’m hoping this one will iron those out. I have a feeling the battle over natural resources might mirror situations in our own lives.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


Career of Evil10/20 – Career of Evil – by Robert Galbraith

The third installment in the crime noir series following detective Cormoran Strike and his idealistic assistant Robin Ellacott promises more intrigue, nefarious schemes, and interpersonal drama. These novels are like watching an old detective show–in atmosphere, not in cheesy dialogue–and I can’t wait to see where Strike ends up next! Robin is starting to come into her own as she develops her sleuthing powers, and the tension between her and her fiance is mounting as she puts off getting “a real job.” Although you could probably read these as standalone mystery novels, I’d recommend reading the previous books (The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm) first.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


10/13 – The Rose Society – by Marie LuThe Rose Society

The much-anticipated sequel to The Young Elites follows Adelina as she plots revenge against her numerous enemies. Full confession, I just read the first book a few days ago! It deserves its amazing reviews and Adelina is a unique heroine among the YA crowd. I fell in love with it – this is a fantastic series and I can’t wait to follow Adelina’s journey further. By a stroke of luck, I found an ARC in the wild, so I’ll have a review ready quite soon!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


Newt's Emerald10/13 – Newt’s Emerald – by Garth Nix

Originally a Kindle exclusive, the hardcover version of this alternate England story comes out in the US this month! Lady Truthful (“Newt” to her friends) goes to London to track down her family’s missing emerald. Of course she discovers there’s more to the mysterious crime–and her disguise as a boy is precarious at best. This looks really fun and a bit different from his other work, so I can’t wait to check it out. Plus the dust jacket is beautiful!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

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