Tag: book review

Six of Crows Duology – Book Review

Six of Crows

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . . A convict with a thirst for revenge A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager A runaway with a privileged past A spy known as the Wraith A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
To date, I have read all of Ms. Bardugo's works and each hold
a special place in my heart. The Six of Crows duology is
integrated with charismatic characters who all embody some facet
of a psychological or mood disorder. Engrossing and tortuous
world-building hold the reader hostage, flipping page after page.
I am thankful I decided to read Six of Crows after Crooked Kingdom had already released.

The ginormous cast of characters proved to be a bit confusing in
the beginning. You can see all of my little sticky notes in the
picture. Each had a distinct personality rife with goodness and flaws,
though at times they only seemed criminal. And, they were
criminals, every single man and woman. Yes, perhaps boys and
girls sounds right, but all Ms. Bardugo's books hang on the edge
of adult fantasy. The criminality of this particular duology is
definitely for a more mature reader.
Kaz is an anti-hero. Every defining characteristic was born from
the first time he washed up on Ketterdam's shore as a young 
child. He thieved, lied, and schemed his way to a comfortable
position among the gangs surrounding the docks. He is business
savvy and knows the types of individuals he needs to complete any
mission. The largest problem is knowing who to trust.

Six of Crows is a luring tale of deviance, trust, crime, and
especially friendship. Ms. Bardugo's ability to craft twisted but
ultimately redeemable villains sets the stage for quite the drama.
The story is written in third person with each chapter told from
a different point-of-view. As is my usual opinion, multiple
point-of-views allow a deeper understanding of the characters.

I highly recommend this gorgeous read to those who love beguiling
fantasies with the allusion of a crime drama. Finally, I will
leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes.

Jesper knocked his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward, “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo; page 181

Jesper just grinned and whispered, “Well, we’ve managed to get ourselves locked into the most secure prison in the world. We’re either geniuses or the dumbest sons of bitches to ever breathe air.”

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo; page 181
Looking at the quotes I tagged, I will go on record as saying 
Jesper is my favorite character.

Trigger warning: violence and language
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The Damned by Renee Ahdieh – Book Review

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

Admittedly, when I read Beautiful I did not know the novel reintroduced vampires into the YA genre. As I continued reading the more I fell in love with Sebastian and his band of misfits. This series is not only fraught with the danger of vampires, but as we learn in The Damned, other monsters pepper the pages. Fae, witches, werewolves, the Fallen, etc.

A majority of the book is told from Sebastian’s POV. His character grows immensely throughout the story. Many secrets are revealed, most are twisting turns that surprise and shock. The pace of the novel picks up as the pages turn and before long I was immersed and surprised when I flipped the last page sadness vibrated throughout my mind.

The Damned is written in multiple POVs with Sebastien’s being the only one written in first person. The other characters’ POVs are all in third person. As I mentioned earlier, the beginning is a little slow but picks up quickly. The story flows with wonderful world-building and character development. The prose is descriptive and makes you feel as if you are traipsing along Sebastien’s journey with him as he searches for a mysterious being who is rumored to have the power to “unmake” vampires.

Overall, this is one of the best stories I have read in 2020. I found virtually no mistakes. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy paranormal romance. The content is heavy on the paranormal and light on the romance, but the tension is always there.

Trigger Warnings: slight violence

4.5 Stars

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth HouseTitle: Ninth House: Alex Cross #1
Series: Alex Cross
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Macmillan: Flatiron Books
Publishing Year: 2019
Edition: Hardcover
Purchased: Barnes & Noble (Brick and Mortar)
Image and blurb attributed to Goodreads

Blurb:

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

 


My Thoughts: Ninth House has many conflicting reviews. I will go on record as saying I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Bardugo’s newest novel. The bevy of characters fascinated me, especially since the author consistently added to each of the characters’ stories. Every turn of the page brought surprises, shocks, and awes. My heart pounded, pulse raced, and head ached from the whiplash unleashed.

Major Character Overview:

Galaxy Stern (AKA-Alex Stern): An odd addition to Yale. At 20 years of age, one of the deans found her in a hospital and insisted she go to Yale on a full scholarship. When she enrolled she had only a GED, but she possessed other skills the university desperately needed. Her past was littered with trouble and inconsistencies. As the narrator, she proved to be unreliable. Secrets encased her, hiding her self-apprehension. All Alex’s mysterious enigma slowly fades as her reality is unveiled, piece by piece.

Daniel Arlington (AKA-Darlington): As the leader of the Lethe House he had a duty to watch over eight other houses, all possessing some type of paranormal abilities. His official title: the Virgil. A perfect specimen of Yale University’s college life. He spoke many languages, learned everything possible about the Lethe, took his duty as a student and a Virgil seriously, and resented Alex.

Pamela Dawes (AKA-Dawes): Dawes served the Lethe as the Oculus, according to Darlington, “[She] keeps everything running and ensures I [Darlington] don’t make too big a fool of myself.” Dawes and Alex have a tenuous relationship throughout the book. Dawes’s occlusive ways and her attachment to Tarot cards helped separate her from others.

My Thoughts: While there are many other important characters, these are the three that advance the mysterious plotline throughout the chapters. Ninth House was my baptism into Leigh Bardugo’s writing and reading this around Halloween built the suspense and the horror of the prognostications performed by the eight other houses. The cast of characters each has secrets and you can never think you know anything about anyone. Their personalities and anything assumed can change with the flip of a page.

There are a few flaws in the writing and I’m not particularly fond of the back and forth from present to past and past to present because it muddles the clarity. Especially since you are dropped into the middle of the action and are then forced to look to the past, the present, and the future. As one fellow bookstagrammer said, “it was completely unnecessary.” Once I acclimated myself, the story flowed and I became invested in the characters, the houses, the Lethe house history, and the grays. More than one mystery is presented, a few are solved, and many more are left unanswered.

I thought of a million things to say about this novel, but all of them are cliche. Ms. Bardugo’s writing beguiled and enraptured me within the pages of this wonderfully dark, mysterious, and horrifying suspense. While this author’s other novels are strongly categorized as Young Adult, Ninth House is for mature readers due to violence and vocabulary.

A definite 5/5 star read for me. The hype behind this book was huge. If you’ve read Ninth House leave me a comment and tell me how you felt about this crazy story.

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls
Title: Pretty Girls
Author: Karin Slaughter (website)
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Williams Morrow
Genre: Adult Thriller
Source: Audible
Synopsis (Goodreads):

Twenty years ago Claire Scott’s eldest sister, Julia, went missing. No one knew where she went – no note, no body. It was a mystery that was never solved and it tore her family apart.

Now another girl has disappeared, with chilling echoes of the past. And it seems that she might not be the only one.

Claire is convinced Julia’s disappearance is linked.

But when she begins to learn the truth about her sister, she is confronted with a shocking discovery, and nothing will ever be the same…

My Thoughts: I went into this book not knowing what to expect. To say the craziness of this extended dysfunctional family was seemingly normal within their separate nuclear families would be pushing boundaries and shows a great deal of denial. One sister went missing, another covered her pain with booze and pills, and the last lived a lavish, kept-woman life. All oblivious to the danger surrounding them.

The novel is written from a limited third-person point of view. While I love audiobooks for convenience, sometimes shifts in POV happen when I’m in the midst of cleaning or driving and I miss the character shift. When a single narrator attempts to take on several characters, the subtle changes in tone can be imperceptible. This fallacy is something I bypassed with relative ease and continued to be fascinated by the story.

Thriller reviews are difficult for me because it’s so hard to avoid spoilers. This author is a master of ratcheting up the suspense just when you think you might catch up and get a grasp on the story.

World-building: Pretty Girls is a thriller. It is meant to keep the reader wrapt in suspense. The world-building in this novel proves to be a very complicated and intricate design. The descriptions caused me to shiver, shake, and squirm. Gore, violence, and sexual content added a sense of truth to this mystery. Karin Slaughter, the author, proved to be an expert sociopath… or, at least, she writes like one.

Character-building: My favorite aspect of this story was the complicated characters. Each had dramatically different lives with one common denominator–they were family. Over the course of my reading, I enjoyed watching them grow, and suffer, as individuals and reunite as a family.

Audiobook rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Warning: This suspense novel delves into rape, drugs, and vulgar descriptions and vocabulary. I would suggest for mature reading only.

Outside of possible triggers, if you love dark suspense, Pretty Girls is the novel for you.

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The Girl the Sea Gave Back

the girl mv4Title: The Girl the Sea Gave Back
Author: Adrienne Young (Website)
Source: Amazon
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Summary: Via Goodreads

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

My take: While I enjoyed Tova’s story, I felt the book started slowly and it took me a few chapters to become invested in the characters. Point-of-views shifted between Tova and Halvard, each written in first-person. However, a few chapters were written in third-person and it proved a bit confusing.

 

Main Characters:

Tova: In the beginning, I found her annoying. She was found by the Svell after her mother believed her to be dead. Tova’s attachment and dependence upon Jorrund, the tribes Tala, felt codependent. She had great abilities, though she had never learned to hone them correctly. The saving grace for my ability to like her was the ability of the author to show fierce character progression.

Halvard: Strangely enough, I liked him immediately. His character was forced to mature quickly as he would come to lead his people at an early age.

 

Passages I loved:

          “The All Seer had seen what lay inside the heart of Vigdis and had come in warning. But the Svell didn’t know the language of the future the way I did. They didn’t understand that there was no such thing as a secret. The truth was everywhere. It was in everything. You only had to open your eyes to see it. The Spinners sat beneath the Tree of Uror, watching. Listening. Weaving away at the web of fate.” Zova, page 91

          “‘The stones? You don’t listen to the stones!’ I flung a hand toward the blood-soaked glade, my voice rising. ‘You want to believe that you can carve fate into a river that leads you where you want to go. It doesn’t work that way, Jorrund.'” Zova, Page 96

I love a story involving fate and destiny. I love the way characters embrace their own beliefs. This story is firmly defined by fate and there wasn’t much of a debate between fate and free-will, which I wished to see.

Overall, The Girl the Sea Gave Back interested me and held my attention. The world-building could have been better for a fantasy novel, in my opinion. The author’s writing, while there was a little too much telling, was concise without grammar or spelling errors.

 

Rating: 3.5

 

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