I'm not a big fantasy reader, so I always open fantasy books feeling a little bit grumbly. Crown of Embers starts with a dramatic bang, then I had to remember what had been going on in book one -- there isn't much recap, and it took me a few chapters to orient myself.But then, WOW -- I was hooked. Suddenly, all the reasons I loved Girl of Fire and Thorns came rushing back to me, and I read through breakfast and forgot to take a shower.One of my favorite things about Girl of Fire and Thorns was its character development. I love a kickbutt girl as much as anyone, but what I love even more is when a book shows us that a kickbutt girl is made, not born. In Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa starts out sheltered and naive. She's married off to a king who doesn't love her, is thrown into court life, and has a lot to figure out.In Crown of Embers, she has to learn how to be not just a queen, but a ruler. She has to learn how to control the power in her Godstone. She has to decide with whom to ally herself. And she has to do this before mysterious assassins succeed in killing her.I was surprised at the turn that the romance took in Girl of Fire and Thorns. Really surprised. As Crown of Embers started, I could see right away where the romance train was headed. Let's just say that having one character teach another to spar is getting them halfway to first base in my book. But then this nascent love story took on some very unexpected twists and turns, which is exactly what a good fictional romance should do. Well done!If you've never read this series, I highly recommend you try Girl of Fire and Thorns.Read full review on my blog, YA Romantics!