Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Review of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 4.75/5 Stars

“It’s not natural for women to fight.” “It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.”

Do you ever start a book and immediately think, “Oh, I’m going to love this.” Well, Six of Crows is one of those books for me. Really though, are we surprised? Of course not. Leigh Bardugo is a literary master and I’ve come to the conclusion that she could rewrite an instruction manual and I’d want to reread it again and again.

Now, Six of Crows. Do you like morally ambiguous characters? Six of Crows is a gold mine of them. Its like Ocean’s Eleven meets Suicide Squad. Meet six teenagers whose lives have been wholly shaped by the broken world they live in. They may not love what they do, but they do what they have to in order to survive.

“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”Kaz Brekker has been offered the job of a lifetime. The payout is like nothing he’s seen before and the task at hand is ambitious, to say the least. He must travel across the sea to a foreign land, break into an impenetrable fortress, rescue a hostage, break out of said fortress and return home. To pull this job off, he’ll need a team with the talent and discretion to get the job done and keep it quiet. Enter Inej “the Wraith”, Jesper the sharpshooter, Nina the Grisha Heartrender, Matthias the Fjerdan drüskelle and Wylan the explosives expert.

“No mourners. No funerals.”

The characters and their histories really drove this story home for me. The plot and world are fantastic as always, I fell in love with the Grishaverse when I read the Grisha trilogy a few months ago, but it was the characters that were the real backbone of this one. I thoroughly enjoyed the flashback parts, especially Nina and Matthias’ story and Kaz’s history of what lead him to become Dirtyhands. Despite the flashbacks and the numerous POV, everything flowed seamlessly. Oh, and Nina is my spirit animal.

One thing that I sometimes find hard to believe in young adult novels is the overly mature personalities occasionally given to characters. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind this at all, but it has to feel real. You can’t just take a character and give them the personality of someone in their late twenties or thirties and call them seventeen with no explanation as to why they are like that. Most young adult novels focus on characters in their mid- to late-teens and occasionally their actions make you think, “Would someone that age really behave that way? What made them the character they are now?” In Six of Crows the characters do have mature characteristics, but they are each a victim of circumstance, which has shaped each of them into who they are now. We are told why they make the choices they do and it fits uniformly into who they are.

“The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.”

Six of Crows is set apart from many current young adult series out there in that it doesn’t follow your typical girl meets boy, boy saves girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl gets boy mold. There is a smattering of romance in this but its disproportionality and placement as a side story is what made it truly believable and wonderfulIf you’re looking for insta-love, this is not it, but it still give you all. the. emotions. I felt like I was teetering on the edge throughout the whole book.

“You love trickery.” “I love puzzles. Trickery is just my native tongue.”The plot in this story is ingenuous. I felt like Kaz always had an ace up his sleeve, whether through his own planning or through choosing the crew that would have the tools and knowledge to work out the next step. AND THAT ENDING. There was so much I did not see coming but it had me on the edge of my seat thinking, “Oh yeah! That’s the way its done!”

Overall, there is a reason why this is one of the most beloved young adult series out there. I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in the genre. Personally, I would recommend reading Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy before this, but it is not necessary. The Grisha trilogy takes place two years before Six of Crows starts and gives a good backstory as to who the Grisha are and some of the larger political dynamics in the Grishaverse, plus you’ll get to enjoy all of the easter eggs thrown into Six of Crows.

I started this thinking, “This is going to hurt, but I’m going to love it nonetheless.” I couldn’t have been closer to the truth.

View Review on Goodreads

Review: Mother of Shadows by Meg Anne

Review of Mother of Shadows by Meg Anne

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I especially love this one and I hope more people will pick it up so I can gush about how much I enjoyed it! This debut novel from Meg Anne has popped her squarely onto my “authors to love” list. She knows how to weave a tale that causes you to truly feel the emotions of the characters.

“He might be, Damaskiri, but aren’t we all made of both shadows and light? Shadows cannot exist without light though, so you cannot have one and not have the other. Just because he may be that side of you does not make him evil.”

First, I enjoyed that this story was a healthy mix of romance and plot. While the romance in this is integral to the progression of the story itself, it is not overbearing and the nature of this romance is similar to that of Rhysand & Feyre and Desmond & Callie.

This story has a great elemental magic system at play. While most Chosen are only blessed with the ability to wield one type of magic, a select few have mastered multiple branches, and only the Damaskiri is blessed with the ability to wield magic from the Spirit branch. This is where our main character, Helena comes in. Helena has recently discovered she is not the ungifted peasant girl she always believed herself to be. Thrown right into the role of Damaskiri after the death of its previous ruler, the story follows Helena discovering the magic hidden within herself and facing the apprehension she has toward the task ahead of her.

“It matters naught what you fear, or that you find yourself wanting. If you were born for this as they say, then you can do whatever is asked of you.”

This story has a full cast of unique characters, but I especially found myself loving Darrin and of course, Von. While Darrin’s love for Helena is undeniable due to their childhood spent together, it is his loyalty to her and his duty as Shield that garnered him a spot in my heart as a smol cinnamon roll, right next to Dorian Havilliard. ❤ I will protect him with my life.

And Von, oh how he fills up that anti-hero spot nicely. He’s all sarcasm and power on the outside, but he is tender and compassionate in his love for Helena. Be forewarned that things get a little steamy in this one. Von presents himself to Helena with other motives at play, but finds himself humbled by the discovery that he is her Mate. Honest regarding his inglorious past, Von takes his new role with stride, becoming a pillar for Helena to lean against when she feels weak and a guiding beacon for her soul to cling to. I adore the interaction between these two and their bond with each other.

“All that I am, is yours. Regardless of what it is that brought me to you, I am yours. I belong to you, and I will strive to be worthy of you.”

Lastly, THAT ENDING! OMGAHHHHH. Yes, it is a cliffhanger, but I still loved it nonetheless. I was seething with emotion at the end of this and truly felt the hurt and rage projected by the characters. I’ve also found myself a new favorite character to hate and despise with a vengeance. While their untrustworthiness was no real secret to me as a reader, their actions at the end were incredibly despicable and I’m pretty certain I’ll be wishing them a slow, painful death in the next installment (which I am ready for right now!).

I read this on my Kindle but plan to purchase a physical copy of it soon. It’s just one of those books I have to own a copy I can put my hands on!

View Review on Goodreads

Review: In The Shadows by E.J. Shaw

Review of In The Shadows by E.J. Shaw

Rating: 4/5 Stars

ARC generously provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A well-written, engrossing read, In The Shadows brings something new to the paranormal fantasy category with its engaging, unique characters and a delightfully British ambience.

Eden, an aspiring ballerina, has moved from her quaint English village to London, to live with her aunt and uncle and begin attending college. Determined to make a good impression at her new college, Eden catches the eye of her tutors and the other students. Soon, Eden has partnered with a charming fellow student, who may have more in mind than just being dance partners. However, Eden still holds feelings for her former boyfriend back home, and isn’t even sure what she wants at this point. Eden chooses to put her focus on her schooling and dancing, rising to the envious position of star pupil.

Only, Eden isn’t your typical college student. After an unfortunate horseback riding incident, Eden is seeing things she cannot rationally explain. And those things are ghosts. Befriending a rag-tag group of spirits, Eden begins to notice strange matters afoot, and is thrust into a celestial battle of heavenly proportions. Working together, Eden and her new friends search tirelessly for a way to win the battle and restore the balance. But, Eden becomes distracted, dreaming of and drawn to an entity that doesn’t appear to reciprocate her attention. Who are they? What is their purpose and can Eden determine why her presence is so troubling to them?

“She felt herself drifting and she knew that she was waking up from the dream. Before she fully regained consciousness, she felt once more that warm breath on her neck, a hand on her arm.”

I was surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did. I went into it with an open mind, but found it constantly absorbing and never slow-paced or dragging. Initially, I was somewhat perplexed by the English slang used, but adjusted to it quickly and appreciate the realism it delivered to the story. The paranormal aspects of the storyline are well-thought-out and I adore the group of ‘spooks’ Eden finds herself in cahoots with. Eden herself is likeable and had that girl-next-door kind of personality. Additionally, I absolutely loved the Phantom of the Opera theme incorporated into the storyline, it gave the storyline a mysterious allure that can be hard to achieve. The setting was unique, almost gothic in nature, but still different from most of what I’ve read in this category.

Overall, I will certainly be back when this story continues, I’m curious to see how Eden deals with the events that unfolded at the conclusion! In short, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a captivating paranormal fantasy read.

 

View Review on Goodreads

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Review of An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I chose An Enchantment of Ravens because I had seen quite a few recommendations of it online. I wanted something to listen to while driving, as the other book I’m currently reading is not available in audiobook format and this one seemed like a perfect choice to get me through the work week, so I purchased it via Audible. Turns out, I loved it so much I may or may not have ordered it from Amazon and paid extra for one-day shipping so I could finish it that way. (The audiobook is fantastic though!)

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, I’d seen it recommended to those that love Sarah J. Maas novels, but had also seen contradictions to those recommendations as well. But overall, those who read it said they loved it, even if it wasn’t what they thought it would be. The best way I can describe this is that its a fairytale, but a twisted fairytale, rather than your traditional “and they lived happily-ever-after” type story.

I found myself engrossed with this story within just a few pages. The descriptions are rich, the writing almost lyrical. One thing was clear from the start, Margaret Rogerson knows how to write a beautiful story. When she introduces a new concept or word, she weaves the meaning of it right into the story, its explanation never felt out of place or for the benefit of the reader only. The only real fault I can give her writing is that I found myself a little lost a couple of times, feeling as though I missed something that had happened because the action of it was so subtle or implied through her writing that I had to go back and reread a sentence.

“Why do we desire, above all other things, that which has the greatest power to destroy us?”

In this story, fair folk and mortals trade with each other, enchantments for Craft. A fair folk’s Craft is their enchantment, but they value the Craft of mortals over all else, as it is the one thing they cannot create themselves. Vice versa, mortals find themselves enthralled with the possibilities of a fair folk’s enchantments and many find it hard to resist the opportunity to have one bestowed upon them, even if there is always a catch to it. Our main character, Isobel has learned to be clever when negotiating the terms of her enchantments, considering all possibilities and choosing those that benefit her family and their survival, rather than those that serve only vanity or greed.

Isobel’s Craft is her painting and she has become sought out by the fair folk above all other mortals. This has created an advantage and disadvantage for her, for she knows the fair folk better than any other but it has also garnered her attention she isn’t certain she is prepared for. When Isobel is informed that the autumn prince, Rook, plans to come calling, she worries of the implications if her Craft is found to be unsatisfactory.

However, Isobel finds that Rook isn’t quite what she had in mind and finds herself drawn to his almost human emotions, even if his aloofness in how to interact with her almost confounds her. For who could be so rude and yet so charming in one sentence? Soon thereafter, a misunderstanding finds Isobel and Rook forced to trust one another for their own mutual survival and with it comes a greater awareness of the other and what comes with the trust they have given.

One aspect I loved is as the story progresses, Isobel finds, with her Craft, she can create her own catch, as the fair folk often do with their enchantments. Isobel learns how to use this knowledge to her advantage, for more than herself and her family may depend upon its implications.

The characters were fantastic, with depth and ulterior motives I did not expect or see coming. Their actions left me feeling sorrow, pride and betrayal. At first I thought this would be another insta-love romantic fairytale, but those feelings were soon quashed within the first few chapters. While Isobel and Rook have an undeniable attraction to each other, their world will not permit the growth of such feelings, for the consequences are dire.

Overall, I found this story fast-paced and an entertainingly quick read because of its ability to instantly draw me in. I enjoyed Rogerson’s take on the fair folk, creating something more akin to traditional fairy characteristics, something to fear and be wary of, rather than pine over. As I stated previously, this story is a twisted fairytale through-and-through. I’d be lying if I said I don’t hope for the chance to return to Isobel and Rook’s world in the future!

Lastly, I’d like to comment on the stunning cover art by Charlie Bowater. I felt the artwork really captures the atmosphere of the story. I suggest you check out more of her art, she has some wonderful pieces portraying other favorite book characters!

 

View Review on Goodreads

What are your favorite book covers?

Are there any book covers you just love the texture of?

I love books whose covers have embossing and similar features. As I’m reading, my fingers press lightly into the structure of it, mentally cataloging the hills and valleys as I lose myself within the world on its pages.

I read quite a bit on my Kindle and listen via Audible almost as much, but there are some books you must have a physical copy of to fully appreciate its semblance and impression.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo is one such book for me. I haven’t read all of the stories within it, I’m taking my time to savor and reflect upon each one individually. However, I marvel at the cleverness of the writing and the elements of well-known classic fairytales woven into something else altogether wicked and otherworldly. The ambiance it creates makes it the perfect Fall read to curl up with, coffee at my side while tucked under a blanket.

Please share your favorite covers in the comments, what qualities do you love the most about it?