BOOK REVIEW: Leigh Bardugo “The Language of Thorns”

Xpress-YA-Bardugo-TheLanguageofThornsTitle: The Language of Thorns

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

After my last two experiences reading the works of Leigh Bardugo, I admit I was beginning to lose faith. Shadow and Bone is one of my all-time favorite trilogies, and Six of Crows is hailed by many. However, after reading Wonder Woman: Warbringer and her short story included in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, I was disappointed to say the least. I thought that maybe she had lost her touch.

I am happy to say I was wrong.

The Language of Thorns is a collection of short stories set in the world of the Grisha, (aka the Grishaverse). While originally meant to be a prequel to Shadow and Bone, Bardugo took a different route: what are some tales that some of our favorite characters may have been told as children? What are some legends or stories from the Grisha’s past that might interest fans of this world?

Each story was beautifully told and left me feeling breathless, gasping, excited, heartbroken, surprised. It’s a series of stories with no real duds; every one of them was enjoyable and well told. Bardugo admits that she drew inspiration from some classic fairytales, but gave either a darker spin or a beautiful origin story.

Without giving too much away, there are stories originating from different regions of the Grishaverse: from Zemeni, Ravka, Kerch, and Fjerda. Each story is unique with stunning illustrations on every page that pertain to the story. Then at the end of each tale is a full-page illustration, also pertaining to the story. All are in the same style, and all are absolutely beautiful. I didn’t think I’d care much for the pictures before I picked up the book, but now that I have, I appreciate them fully.

Truly, this is some of Bardugo’s most awe-inspiring work. I’m ashamed now that I didn’t read it the moment that I owned it. I hate to leave a review with barely 300+ words, but there’s not much I can say that won’t spoil any of the stories. All I can say is that this is worth the read, and it comes highly recommended.

 

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

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW: “Slasher Girls & Monster Boys”

9780147514080Title: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Author(s): Stefan Bachmann, Kendare Blake, Jay Kristoff, Jonathan Maberry, Carrie Ryan, Nova Ren Suma, April Genevieve Tucholke, Leigh Bardugo, A.G. Howard, Marie Lu, Danielle Paige, Megan Shepherd, McCormick Templeman, Cat Winters

Genre: Horror/Thriller

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a compilation of 14 stories by some of the most well-known young adult authors in the business. This particular collection is full of creepy, scary, bone-chilling, spine-tingling stories, some of which might keep you up late into the night, scared to check under your bed or inside your closet. Each one is inspired by either TV, movies or books, some horror and some not, and gives it a twist. You’re intended to read each story and attempt to guess what they’re reminiscent of, and then you can find out at the end.

1.) The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma

The very first story in this collection was a really good way to set the tone for the entries to follow. It was appropriately creepy and told in just the right way; a story about a perverted old neighbor who takes pictures of young girls and shoots birds in his backyard.

2.) In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan

This story was by far the scariest. It’s quite obvious from the very first pages that the other drew her inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, but it took a very, very dark turn. It was disturbing and twisted and terrifying, and I will be thinking about this short story for a long, long time.

3.) Emmeline by Cat Winters

While some of these stories are intended to scary and induce nightmares, this particular story was sad: a lonely ghost girl who seduces men and likes the cinema. This one wasn’t a favorite of mine, but at least it didn’t make me want to cry like the previous one. Short, sweet, and to the point.

4.) Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo

I was excited to read this one because it was written by the lovely Leigh Bardugo, a favorite YA author of mine. This one was creepy but much more subtle. It was written well, but it was a little underwhelming to me.

5.) Hide-and-Seek by Megan Shepherd

This was a very enjoyable read for me. It was a unique and interesting concept and I feel like it could have possibly served well as a full-length story as well. The main character is murdered by her step-father in the beginning of the story, but she’s given a chance to live if she can win a game of hide-and-seek with death. The ending was very satisfying and justice was served in the end, a very uncommon trait for most horror stories.

6.) The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige

Unfortunately, this was one of my least favorites in this collection. It was kind of creepy, but it felt mostly silly. I wasn’t impressed by this story about the son of Hades.

7.) The Flicker, the Finger, the Beat, the Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke

Another one of my least favorites. It seemed sort of pointless and anti-climactic. It wasn’t scary, there were no explanations, and the characters were all very annoying and problematic. Bleh.

8.) Fat Girl With a Knife by Jonathan Maberry

This was definitely my favorite story in this book; I absolutely loved it. It was the only one of the stories that included humor, and it had zombies, which I also love. Quite honestly, I’m thinking about trying to contact Maberry and asking him to write an entire book- heck, an entire series about Dahlia and her zombie-killing awesomeness. So very enjoyable.

9.) Sleepless by Jay Kristoff

I’ve never read anything by Kristoff before, even though I’ve been seeing him all over Instagram. This wasn’t my favorite story, but it has made me want to read more of his work for sure. It was one of the more unpredictable works in this compilation and I was surprised by the outcome. It’s obvious the direction the story was going in based on the first few pages: boy meets girl online, they talk and develop a crush on each other, and one of them is probably a predator. Somehow, I got it all wrong though, and I really liked how it ended.

10.) M by Stefan Backmann

I was a little disappointed by this one. It wasn’t a bad story and it had a really interesting, lovely setting, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea, I suppose.

11.) The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu

Another beloved author contribution, Marie Lu. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read from her so far, so I was expecting to love this. Unfortunately, it was also meh. I guess I’m not impressed with paranormal-type stories about vengeful spirits. It’s such a common trope in ghost stories and I didn’t think this one was good enough to stand out.

12.) A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman

This one could have been really good. It had a unique setting, but it was almost like it was a completely different world. While it was different, it’s hard to create a whole new world and catch your reader’s attention when your story is barely 20 pages long. It’s hard to understand what’s happening when the author has so little time to explain it. If this had been longer and had more content, it would have shown promise.

13.) Stitches by A.G. Howard

Stitches was a weird story. I’m still not completely sure what happened. I want to say I liked it, but I don’t even know that. I don’t have much else to say.

14.) On the I-5 by Kendare Blake

This one was interesting, and I thought it was a good story to end on. It was beautiful in an odd, creepy kind of way.

All in all, this collection of stories had a pretty even mix of good and bad for me. Half of them I liked, half of them I didn’t.

Many of them reminded me of the stories my grandpa used to tell me. For some reason, I was able to handle scary stories better as a young child than I can now, and he used to set me up on his lap and tell some of the best ones. It’s one of my favorite memories of him and reading this brought those memories to mind. Reading this took me back to that time, and I appreciate that.

24-Hour Read-A-Thon and Certain Death

Hello, book people! I feel terribly because for a few weeks, I was posting so regularly and then I hit a dry spell. My excuse is that my husband and I started a keto diet, which is high fat, low carb. Incidentally, less than 48 hours into it, the carb withdrawals began, and boy, my body was not happy. I had major headaches, stomach aches, and several not-so-fun trips to the restroom. To say that I wasn’t in the mood to read or blog is an understatement.

However, I started feeling better Thursday, and it just so happened that my husband, a soldier in the Army, had a 24-hour duty scheduled. He basically has to go and stand watch at one of the singles barracks and tell people to settle down if they’re being too rowdy, but mostly the job consists of sitting in a chair and trying not to fall asleep from 9 o’clock one morning until 9 o’clock the next.

So I thought, “Hey, my husband’s going to be up all night, and I feel absolutely horrible when he comes home exhausted the morning after a duty.” So I decided to stay up for 24 hours also, and use that time to catch up on the week of reading that I missed. In addition, Alex (the husband) told me I was welcome to come to the barracks he was watching and sit in with him.

That night, I packed a bunch of books, some snacks, and I did just that. We settled in for the night around 7 p.m. By then, I had already finished my first book of the day, Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, and I was ready to knock out at least two more books. I even packed a book for my husband, The Lightning Thief, the first book from the Percy Jackson series, although he didn’t read it for long. He’s not much of a reader.

The next book I read was This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab, which I finished around midnight. I’m estimating here because the night was a total blur. I documented my all-nighter on my Instagram story, but that has long since disappeared unfortunately, so I can’t refer to it for times. However, I do know that I very much enjoyed the book. It was unique and interesting and dark; but I feel like it took me forever to get through it! Maybe it was because the first half was so slow, or maybe it was because fatigue was starting to set in. (What can I say? I’m a grandma. I’m in bed by 10.)

Even though I had the second book in the duology with me, Our Dark Duet, I wanted a break from that world and decided to read Little Monsters by Kara Thomas next.

That book was a ride. I had picked it up at the library a few days before and I was so excited. I had heard it was good, and I was so freaking ready to read a mystery/thriller that I hadn’t guessed the ending to. Maybe that sounds braggy, but it feels like lately, all the mysteries I’ve been reading have been predictable for me, and so I was never surprised and ended up being pretty unimpressed.

Little Monsters ended up surprising me, which is all I could have asked for, so I was very, very pleased. The book kept me guessing the entire time, and while I did try to predict the ending throughout, all of my theories ended up being wrong. Which made me happy?

By this time, it was 3 a.m. and I was beat. I wanted to keep reading, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to retain any of it. So I just sat there for the rest of the night, or at least until 7 when I gave up and went to the car to sleep. I slept until 9, when my husband got to the car, and then I crashed when we got home and slept until noon.

Suffice it to say, I am not good at all-nighters, and I didn’t do as well during my read-a-thon as I had hope. I had wanted to read at least two more books but I am a wimp. Still, the books I read were all pretty good-sized books. I’ll definitely be doing more read-a-thons in the future, but preferably one where I’m lounging on a couch instead of sitting in uncomfortable chairs outside where there are frat boy-like soldiers acting stupid and a chilly wind.