Mind = Blown Throne of Glass was a 2012 favorite pick at The Demon Librarian, and I can tell you right now, its sequel, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, is going to appear on our Best of 2013 list. Simply put, this book rocks. It doesn't just pick up where the last one left off - it shoots the series into a whole new realm of awesomeness.Before I dive into my review, I'd like to say something to those who read last year's Throne of Glass and struggled with it - those of you who wanted more assassin-y stuff, and less focus on Calaena's love life, wardrobe, and reading habits. I'm not the author (obviously) but in my humble reader's opinion, all that so-called "fluff" in ToG was necessary to lay the groundwork for things to come, and you'll understand why (or start to) when you read CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. You don't have to take my word for it, though. In fact, I hope you don't. Get yourself a copy of CROWN OF MIDNIGHT and see for yourselves. If you read it and still feel the same way about the series, I'll be happy to eat crow.Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way... ;)CROWN OF MIDNIGHT picks up not long after the events of Throne of Glass. Calaena is now the King's Champion, forced to do his bidding...or else. The man is a tyrant in every sense of the word, and his latest assignment is for Calaena to track down and assassinate members of an alleged rebellion, one by one. Much as she would like to, defying the King's orders is not an option. Calaena must obey him. If she doesn't, all the people she has grown to love and care about will be in danger - and the King is just the kind of despicable person to make good on his threats.Calaena is a very different heroine this time around. She's still a girl who loves books and pretty things, but there's a seriousness about her - a purpose - that wasn't there before. She really is as badass as she claims to be, and she proves it repeatedly throughout the book. I loved the darker, more ruthless side of her - boy did I! - but what really impressed me was how very human she was. Maas splits Calaena's character wide open, allowing us to see so many more facets to Calaena's personality. I was right there with Calaena as she navigated the treacherous waters she is forced to swim in. I cheered for her, felt for her, and completely fangirled over her.For me, though, what really shot this book into the stars were boys. I ate up every scene written from their POV's. I was already madly in love with Chaol after book one (seriously, who wouldn't fall in love with him? He's amazeballs!) and after reading CROWN OF MIDNIGHT....wow. Just, wow. I heart him so much. He's everything a hero should be - intelligent and sincere, true and loyal, and oh so swoonworthy! But some of the same traits that make him so wonderful are also his undoing, leading him to make decisions that made me shake my Kindle and shout, "No no no!" Amazing as he is, Chaol isn't perfect, and it was good to see that. It made me love him that much more. And then there was Dorian - OMG Dorian!!!! I liked him in book one (although not as a love interest) but I gotta say, the development of his character in this book absolutely blew me away. Out of all the characters, I think his story line was the most exciting for me, because I never saw any of it coming, and I can't wait to see where he goes from here.Sarah J. Maas has pulled out all the stops with this one, folks. You name it, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT has it. There are secrets and lies, betrayals, jaw-dropping revelations, passion and heartbreak, death and violence, magic and mystery...the list just goes on and on, and it all adds up to one heck of a story that will have you frantically turning the pages and snarling like a bad-tempered dog at anyone who dares to come between you and the next sentence.This book shook me, stirred me, and left me begging for more. I'm not just invested in the world and characters Maas has created - I'm addicted, and proud to say so!5 Stars ★★★★★ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.