Crooked Kingdom

22299763by Leigh Bardugo
YA Fantasy
5 of 5 stars

The rare case of the sequel being even better than the original! For once I can truly say that the end to a series is perfect yet all I want is more!

Kaz and the Dregs escaped the Ice Court and returned to Ketterdam for their life-changing reward, only to be double-crossed. Now they’re seeking revenge and their money, but Kaz finds himself one step behind at every turn.

Everything I loved about the first book was taken to new heights in this one! Break-neck pacing, emotional character arcs (all the ships!), banter, schemes, dark magic, and waffles. As Kaz leads them to the brink of destruction in pursuit of revenge, the rest of the gang begins to fracture, more interested in personal gains.

The dynamic of the Dregs changes so much, and it’s fascinating to see all of their bonds with each other evolve. Just like the first book, you root for all of them, and you can’t play favorites! The best part of sequels is that you already know the characters and they know each other and that is definitely at play here.

So many good lines, so many close calls–this was enjoyable and stressful to read! New characters come on the scene and old ones make an appearance. Several scenes had me holding my breath, and others had me tearing up. The imagery and dialogue here are masterful. We get to explore Ketterdam and the Barrel in-depth, and just when you think you’ve seen the darkest corners, a new secret comes to light. You really feel like you’re in this grungy world of criminals–it’s so atmospheric! (Can you tell it’s hard to say more without spoilers?!)

The most tantalizing part is that there’s definitely room for more stories to be told in the Grishaverse, and if Bardugo ever revisits this world I will be all in!

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


Similar reads:

  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon – A gang of clairvoyants bands together to evade the government that seeks to destroy them. This is a theatrical read with plenty of twists! See my review here.
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – Two college students, one thesis seeking the ultimate potential of humanity. Oh, the things that could go wrong and the rivalries that could emerge. This is a suspenseful read with ruthless characters. See my review here.
  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu – Adelina discovers the path to becoming her country’s most-feared Young Elite is complicated and filled with small choices. This is an excellent trilogy about the darkness in all of us. See my review here.
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – Kestrel’s delicate dance along both sides of a war gets more dangerous and complicated by the day. I loved the strategies and mind games in this novel. See my review here.
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – One girl escapes a concentration camp and joins the resistance to kill Hitler in this alternate 1956 ruled by the triumphant Axis Powers. A break-neck plot that you’ll want to read in one sitting! See my review here.

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?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

This was my favorite read from last year! Bardugo expanded her Grisha universe and wrote a heist story about six criminals uniting for a common prize. Of course, they have different ideas about what to do with with that prize! The characters, the plot, the betrayals, the cliff-hanger ending, the incredible writing – it’s almost impossible to overhype this story! (See my review here). It doesn’t hurt that it’s gorgeous, too. (Black-stained pages?! And the sequel has red-stained pages!) You have a month to read this before the next book comes out! Don’t miss it!

22299763

 

Six of Crows

23437156by Leigh Bardugo
YA Fantasy
5 of 5 stars

I will do my best not to over-hype this book, but if you love YA fantasy, you need to read it. There’s no way around that. This is my pick for best book of 2015 – the deal is the deal! I will attempt to explain why this is true with limited hyperbole and gushing, but bear with me–this book is one hell of a ride!

I always say a 5-star rating is a book with zero complaints from me, and this one is no exception. The characters and the plot – both weighted equally, both bringing the two halves of a story together into a satisfying thrill ride of unforeseen twists and turns. So many times a complicated plot involves the awkward withholding of information from the reader and a deus ex machina escape from the jaws of death. Neither of these crutches is put into play here and the result is incredible. It’s cinematic and startling and addictive.

Normally having six point-of-view characters would throw up a huge red flag for me, but each member of this group of criminals has their own past, their own push-and-pull relationship with the Dregs, their own reasons for going along with the mad heist Kaz proposes. You care about all of them and each time a chapter ends and the next character takes over, there isn’t one that you want to skip. You don’t groan and say “I wish this chapter was so-and-so”–you are just as eager to see what they are thinking and doing. There is never that feeling of “oh, we are back with the author’s favorite character now, they get all the action and the good lines”–this group is a team of equals and you will love them all!

Perfect pacing, smart dialogue, air-tight plot, hold-your-breath action scenes, badass women, subtle romance, shifting alliances – check, check, check. It’s all here, and it’s amazing! Whether you read the Grisha Trilogy or not, this book takes her world to a whole new level. I spent a week enjoying this savory read and it will be in my end of year wrap-up for sure. I’m already looking forward to the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, due next September!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Six of Crows 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:

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – Two college students, one thesis seeking the ultimate potential of humanity. Oh, the things that could go wrong and the rivalries that could emerge. This is a suspenseful read with ruthless characters. See my review here.
  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu – Adelina discovers the path to becoming her country’s most-feared Young Elite is complicated and filled with small choices. This is an excellent trilogy about the darkness in all of us. See my review here.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Until Six of Crows, the best fantasy novel I read this year. The magic feels real and the relationships between the characters are incredibly deep. There are some great surprises with the plot. I loved every page! See my review here.
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – For another story centered around revenge and schemes, the fourth installment in the Throne of Glass series does not disappoint! See my review here.
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – Kestrel’s delicate dance along both sides of a war gets more dangerous and complicated by the day. I loved the strategies and mind games in this novel. See my review here.
  • Rook by Sharon Cameron – A one-and-done story about espionage and alliances in a re-telling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Sophia might be in over her head when it comes to covert activities and saving her family’s fortune. See my review here.

What’s new this month

First of all, I re-organized some menus, so reviews should be easier to find. Yay, organization!

Second, and more importantly, ’tis finally the season of good books! There is magic happening on bookshelves everywhere for the next two months. Drum roll please, here–after almost a year of waiting–are the books I’m excited about this month:

Queen of Shadows9/1 – Queen of Shadows – by Sarah J. Maas

The fourth Throne of Glass installment came out Tuesday and I could not be more excited! I haven’t loved a series this much since Harry Potter – I cannot wait to see what happens next! Whatever you’ve heard, believe the hype, and jump into this 6-book series before it’s over and you missed it. There’s a giveaway here for the first three books in paperback until 9/11/15!

More info here: Goodreads and Powell’s


A New Hope9/22 – A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy – by Alexandra Bracken

A fully illustrated Star Wars novel for old and new fans alike. This promises some narrative twists to one of the most famous film sagas, and I think it’s an interesting concept. The artwork is done by actual Star Wars concept artist Iain McCaig, and this is going to be a series of books with a fresh voice. The author also wrote The Darkest Minds trilogy. I can’t wait to flip through this and see what it’s really like.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


six of crows9/29 – Six of Crows – by Leigh Bardugo

I thoroughly enjoyed her Grisha trilogy and this duology is set in the same universe but with different characters. Her writing is explosive and cinematic, and I can’t wait to see how her novels about a group of miscreants pulling off a heist play out, especially with the magic system she has created. This is described as a fantasy version of Ocean’s 11 – what could be more fun?

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


The Raven King temp9/29 – The Raven King – by Maggie Stiefvater

Remember, this book’s publication has been delayed until February 2016. We don’t even have cover art yet! I was really bummed about this, but there is plenty to be excited about in October, and then it’s the holidays and the next Sherlock season, and then boom – it will only be a month away! This is the coping mechanism I suggest for all of you.

Backlist Bonus: Shadow and Bone

10194157by Leigh Bardugo
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars
Debut novel – June 5, 2012

When I picked up this book a few years ago I couldn’t believe it – old school fantasy maps are coming back? YA fantasy from a female first person perspective? A world based on Russian mythology with nods to Russian architecture and names? Most of all – a villain that is around for more than harping on about his world domination plans? A sexy antagonist with a backstory and complexity? Fresh world, fresh magic, fresh characters – I was enthralled.

Although it took some time to warm up to Alina, all the elements more than made up for her moments of indecision and self-pity. More female friendship would have been nice too, but that improves throughout the trilogy. What I really liked about this story was Alina discovering with us how magic works and what you can do with it. They use the elements (fire, air, water) but magic also has tinges of spirituality. “Like calls to like,” if you keep your mind clear. Your power will connect to you and work for you if you understand its nature. Alina has to harness her power for the good of her country, but she doesn’t feel particularly indebted to Ravka (she’s a poor orphan soldier, taken by the Darkling to study magic), and the politics of the royal court don’t suit her either. All she really wants is to be with her best friend, Mal, which becomes more difficult as she advances.

Getting acquainted with the Darkling is the real treat of this story. One of the more unique antagonists I’ve encountered, he’s a character that winds through the story as Alina tries to determine his true motivation. Their scenes are the best and always leave you wanting more. This is an excellent fantasy adventure that maintains its energy and mystique throughout the trilogy.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Shadow and Bone is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – Another first person fantasy novel in a unique world governed by Rhythms and Seasons. Meira wants to save her fallen kingdom, Winter, but isn’t prepared for her true destiny. See my review here.
  • Fire Arrow by Edith Pattou – A teenage archer seeks revenge for her father’s murder and must defeat an evil sorcerer – if the deadly power of the fire arrow doesn’t destroy her first. This is an older story and a sequel to Hero’s Song.
  • The Whim of the Dragon by Pamela Dean – The conclusion of this trilogy is filled with magic and betrayal. The four cousins who found themselves in the magical land they made up as a game must figure out how to fulfill their roles, and whether they will destroy their creation to escape.
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – A genre-mashing novel told from 19-year-old Paige’s perspective. A clairvoyant in a country where clairvoyance is illegal, she finds safety in London’s underworld until agents of the government find her–and reveal a world hidden within her own. See my review here.
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This companion novel takes the magic and mayhem to the next level! Six criminals, the ultimate heist, betrayals, and the fate of the world hanging in the balance. See my review here.

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