BOOK REVIEW: Leigh Bardugo “Crooked Kingdom”

9781627792134_custom-87433fa92146030d7e670837720f99c53b84f112-s900-c85Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

There are definitely going to be spoilers in this review so if you have not read Crooked Kingdom, I’m begging you to leave. Like seriously, you don’t want to find out what happens from some poor sap rambling about the book on her blog. Go away.

This book freaking tore me up. Like it made me want to throw myself off a bridge and die. Just why does Bardugo want to kill me with her sad, dark endings? Why?

Yet I can’t say enough good things about this duology; I understand now why people rave about it. Six of Crows and the characters and the genius story… it’s all together a work of art. I never thought that Bardugo could write something better than the Grisha trilogy and yet fortunately, I was so wrong. She has created such a beautiful and unique world with amazing abilities, in-depth characters and the intricately weaved stories she tells.

I didn’t think that Bardugo could top the awesomeness of Six of Crows, but Crooked Kingdom was still incredible. Kaz was still coming up with amazing plans and still causing trouble and it’s just so much fun to read.

Serious spoiler warnings ahead:

So.

Matthias.

Him dying.

Can we talk about that and how much it tore me up? Like, he was definitely in my top three favorite characters, and while I so appreciate the poetic nature of his death, still why did it have to happen? I was so ridiculously heartbroken.

No, seriously. My husband has perfect timing and called me in the middle of my sob-session, and he was very alarmed.

Me: HELLOOOooOO? (obviously crying) 

Him: Babe, what’s wrong?

Me: (Unintelligible crying)

Him: Tell me what happened?! What’s going on?! (becoming slightly panicked)

Me: A CHARACTER IN MY BOOK DIIIiiIIED (continues to cry)

He proceeded to laugh at me because apparently he thinks my crying over a fictional death is funny. He comforted me over the phone but there was definitely a joking tone behind it.

Him: He’s just a book character, honey-

Me: NO THEY’RE ALL MY BABIES.

I definitely felt like I needed some therapy after that scene.

And then I’m going to be super honest, the rest of the book was a blur for me because I was still so upset. I read it, but everything had sort of resolved itself by then and none of the other characters were in danger anymore so the story closed and I was just still heartbroken over Matthias. I still feel like I need someone to console me, and it’s been several days. Literally all the tears.

So I mean, that’s how I came away from Crooked Kingdom: amazing world, amazing storytelling, amazing characters, oh my gosh Matthias is dead.

Alright, someone provide me the number of a therapist who can help me work this out because I am not alright. Why did I give this book 5 stars? Oh wait because it was still amazing. Why am I like this?

So, turns out I’m not emotionally stable enough to write this review yet, but I may never be so I’m posting it anyway because it’s a super accurate representation of my feels. You’re welcome. Come cry with me if you need to.

BOOK REVIEW: Leigh Bardugo “Six of Crows”

Six-of-Crows-Cover

Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

I feel as though it’s almost pointless to include a summary here for Six of Crows seeing as I’m one of the last humans on earth to finally get around to reading it. However, for those who live under a rock, this book can be described as a high-stakes heist story with six main characters told in 5 alternating points of view featuring magic, action, violence, romance and awesomeness. This book is set in the same world as that of the Shadow & Bone trilogy, known as the “Grishaverse”. Grisha are beings that have different types of abilities and are totally cool.

This book has the most incredible, fleshed out characters I have ever seen in literature; Leigh Bardugo truly outdid herself. First we have Kaz, the leader of our mismatched crew: he’s dark, dangerous, calculating and generally unfeeling. He’s also incredibly swoony somehow, despite being such a cold character. He has quite the revenge complex which is what keeps him from being very emotional, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling for Inej, his Wraith. Kaz saved Inej from a life of prostitution when he saw her potential. She’s sneaky, quick, light on her feet, invisible. So she works for Kaz to gather secrets and inform for him.

Then there’s the sharpshooter with a gambling problem, Jesper. So deep in debt, he finds himself working for the Dregs in order to pay back those he owes, all while his father believes him to be away at school. He constantly wonders what would have happened if he had focused on his education rather than wind up in the slums. Jesper forms a reluctant connection with Wylan, a newer member of the dregs. Wylan is the estranged son of a rich mercher, with plenty of secrets and a lot to prove.

There’s also Nina, the charming Grisha Heartrender who is hopelessly in love with Matthias, a Fjerdan. Fjerdans are very prejudiced against Grisha and believe them to be unnatural, so they hunt them, give them trial and put them to death. Matthias is no different and finds Nina to be repulsive… and gorgeous, incredible, etc. He is constantly fighting his feelings for her, struggling between the desires of his heart and remaining faithful to his country and his beliefs.

Together, this band of misfits join together for the most dangerous, impossible heist they can imagine.

Everything about this book deserves an A+. Five thousand stars. Just wow. The characters are so wonderful and Bardugo does an amazing job of giving us backstories to make us even more attached to them. I became immediately invested in each of these characters, their relationships, their livelihoods, their everything. I just want to hug them all and make sure that they’re all happy and healthy and loved. And of course, they’re all so morally grey, but you can’t help but adore them.

The plot had me on the edge of my seat throughout. The writing was phenomenal; so much quotable material! Six of Crows was perfectly paced, perfectly executed, perfectly ended. And it had me dying to read Crooked Kingdom as soon as possible.

Honestly, I can’t believe it took me so long to finally read this book to completion. What an absolutely stunning, incredible read. Leigh Bardugo deserves all the praise in the world. Wow.

 

Leigh Bardugo: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Straight Up, Just a Collection of Pretty Covers

I don’t know about you, but I have a serious case of lusting after beautiful books. Even if I buy the book and despise it, I will keep it simply because it’s a nice addition to my bookshelf.

How shallow, right? It’s true. The following are some of the prettiest books I’ve ever seen: some I loved, some I didn’t, and some I have yet to read.

1.) Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The cover is what initially drew me toward this book in the first place, but this is one instance where the cover matched the contents. This is a beautiful series, and definitely one of my favorites. In fact, all of the books in the Grisha trilogy are beautiful. Here, just look at them:

grisha-trilogy-covers

Recently, this series underwent a cover change, which I felt was completely unnecessary but oh well. As long as I own the superior covers.

2.) These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

Whoever designed this cover deserves an award. Just holy cow. I borrowed this book first from a friend, and when I ended up loving it, I immediately bought it. (Didn’t hurt that it’s one of the prettiest books I’ve ever seen in my life, right?) However, I wish the rest of this series had been as amazing as the first. This space adventure trilogy started off so strong, and then I slowly started to lose interest. I’ve shamelessly kept the books, though, and still like to take them down and gaze at them every so often.

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3.) Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Holy cow, this book. Before I opened it for the first time, I knew nothing about it. It turned out to be the best book I’ve read so far in 2017. The story, the characters, the mystery; just oh so incredible and engaging. And of course, it has one of the most amazing covers. Mine even shimmers in certain lights, and I could just stare at it all day. However, please read this book because of the amazing story and not because the cover is so beautiful you could die. You can read my review for Caraval here.

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4.) A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I have very mixed feelings about this trilogy. On one hand, the concept and idea of the story is very interesting and showed plenty of promise. I’m all for time travel and talk of different dimensions and all that jazz. This book could have had it all, for me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t pleased with how the story was told. For a story so action-packed like this one, I shouldn’t be bored. I shouldn’t be wishing for the end like I did so often with this series. However, would you just look at those covers?

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5.) Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Long before I ever joined bookstagram or I even dreamed of blogging about books, I ran across this book while browsing Goodreads. I was immediately struck by how beautiful the cover was, and I immediately wanted it. At the time, I had no job and no money, so it went into my Amazon wish list for me to buy at another time.

Over three years later, I have finally bought this book and added it to my bookshelf, and it was one of the most glorious moments. I’ve been waiting to own this piece of art forever, and I finally have it. Have I read it yet? No. Will I soon? Maybe. If I hate it, will I get rid of it? Definitely never. In fact, I need to add the rest of this series to my wish list ASAP, and maybe purchase them in the next few months instead of waiting three years like last time.

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6.) Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

I read this one on a whim and I was so glad that I did. Rebel of the Sands had a unique premise and a unique setting, and also sported some very likeable, interesting characters. My only wish is that I could find this same edition for the second book in hardcover, because so far I have had no such luck. Why are there so many different editions and various covers for the same book? Why can’t they all look the same, even if they’re covers for another country? Can’t you change the language and content of the book without changing the look of the cover? Is this so much to ask???

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7.) The Selection by Kiera Cass

Ah, yes. This infamous series. What to say about The Selection? I hate them, and I can’t get enough of them. I could talk crap about them all day, but if Cass were to release another book right now, I would go out and buy it immediately, no questions asked. Why is this? What is the magic of these books? It’s not even the beautiful covers with the girly dresses, although I love them. I just can’t stop reading them. I want to say that they bore me but they don’t. It doesn’t matter how much I despise America (the main character’s name in the series, I promise I love my country). It doesn’t matter how maddening her decisions are. I just eat these books up, and I am ashamed.

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8.) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

These books have always been a lot of fun, particularly the very first one. The premise is wonderful, and even though I have disliked certain aspects of the story, I still consider these to be good reads. While I prefer the Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy, this is still an excellent addition to Han’s repertoire. Plus, the covers are super cute, come on.

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That’s all for today folks. Just wanted to share with you some of my favorite book covers and feature them here for y’all’s enjoyment and appreciation. Sometimes I like to stare at them dreamily, and maybe that’s a little creepy. I love my books, okay? Not only do I believe they should have excellent content, I’m a firm believer in creating aesthetically pleasing cover art. What can I say, I’m a sucker. Slap a nice cover on a crappy book and I’ll totally buy it. Sue me.

BOOK REVIEW: Leigh Bardugo “Wonder Woman: Warbringer”

22016201_1813513125345437_1510066936_nTitle: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy/Action Adventure

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

This is probably one of my bigger disappointments of 2017. Warbringer was such an anticipated read for me, especially after the success of the film (disclaimer: the book and film are not related), and I’ve loved Leigh Bardugo’s work in the past. Shadow & Bone is one of my all-time favorite series, so of course I was going to read this.

Bardugo begins Diana’s story on Themyscira, the remote island that Amazon women inhabit. Diana struggles to fit in with the Amazons and prove herself, fully aware that she’s different from the rest of them. While the other women have seen battle and proved themselves as warriors, Diana has never had to and is seen as inferior.

While running a race, hoping to win and show her mother how strong she has become, Diana witnesses the explosion of a ship off the coast of Themyscira. Against her better judgement, she dives into the water to survey the wreckage, only to find a lone survivor, Alia, who she saves. Shortly after performing this good deed, Diana discovers that Alia comes from a line of Warbringers, women that are descendants of Helen and are catalysts of aggression and violence among humans. Alia’s presence on the island causes the Amazons to get sick and for the island to begin to die. Unwilling to sacrifice Alia, Diana hopes to end the line of Warbringers once and for all by taking Alia to Helen’s resting place and letting her bathe in the nearby springs. However, this means exposure to the real world, something that Diana has never seen before. Can she reach Helen’s resting place before Alia is killed by those hoping to prevent war?

Let’s start with the things I liked about this book. Of course, I loved Diana; she’s such a good, pure, innocent character. Her desire to help everyone and ensure that no one has to die is admirable, and she constantly puts her life on the line for people she barely knows. Most of these sacrifices are born initially from her love for her fellow Amazons, but she could have let Themyscira kill Alia if she cared for only her people. She was also a fun character to read after she and Alia reached New York; poor Diana was so naive and had some very unintentionally funny moments.

And to be honest, that’s all I enjoyed. Alia was a solid character, I suppose, but I just didn’t sympathize with her like I feel I was supposed to. Jason was dull, as were the other supporting characters, Nim and Theo, who were both too one-dimensional. All in all, I just didn’t care what happened to any of them, whether they lived or died. They didn’t make me feel anything.

As far as the story, I kept going back and forth on it. The first few chapters had me concerned, but once we were told Alia’s heritage, I was interested. Unfortunately, as soon as they reached New York, I feel that the plot sort of plateaued. There was no story development, and the characters stayed in one place for too long. They spent too long deciding what to do, and then spent too long waiting to act on that decision.

Honestly, this book had a very Percy Jackson feel to it, but I didn’t like it. With Percy Jackson books, you come to expect some ridiculousness because that’s kind of the point; Rick Riordan parodies some of these gods and goddesses so that they aren’t even intimidating anymore; the whole thing is basically a joke, but in the best possible way. The books are meant for middle graders and are meant to entertain. The characters crack stupid jokes during battles and high-action scenes not because it’s realistic, but because it’s hilarious.

I didn’t want Wonder Woman to feel like a middle grade read. I expected this to be more mature, and while I realize it’s fantasy and there’s no way this could have been completely realistic, there has to be some semblance of practicality in the way the characters react and interact.

Not to mention, there’s a good chunk of about 200 pages in the middle of the book that had me bored to tears. It’s almost as if Bardugo had this great idea for a story (it really was!) and knew where the characters were going to end up, but not how they were going to get there. So we spend the entire center of the book in limbo waiting for something to happen, and by the time we get to the end, I didn’t care anymore.

I feel I was really generous with my 2.5 star rating, mostly due to my love for Leigh Bardugo. This book doesn’t affect my opinion of the lovely author; I just don’t think urban fantasy is her thing. I’ve read many raving reviews about the book and I’m so glad that others were able to enjoy what I could not, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Leigh Bardugo: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads