Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

official blurb
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.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

my blurb!
A fantasy dystopian Ocean’s Eleven crew, with a story that leaves you turning the pages non-stop instead of going to bed.

5 out of 5

*This book is a part of a world created called the Grishaverse.  Technically in the timeline of the Grishaverse, this book (which is part one of a duology) comes AFTER the Grisha Trilogy.  However, this is a stand alone duology and can be read out of order. I did read these books BEFORE picking up the Grisha Trilogy and I don’t regret that decision.*

what i liked
I liked so much about this book.  First of all the characters were SO well written!  The story is told by each of the six crows different perspectives.  Although now that I think of it, I’m not sure if there actually was a chapter from Wylan’s perspective.  As the chapters unfold there are also time jumps that occur.  I mean, the characters aren’t time traveling, but you learn about them in the past and then you come back to the present day heist.
All of the characters were fighting to survive in the world- filled with darkness and thievery and rich merchants and traveling acrobats.  I mean… what a world to live in!  This book was a little dark, just in the realistic world building that Bardugo writes, and the revelations of what the characters had to do to survive with the hands they were dealt.
Seriously, the world building. Wow. so good.  Big shout out to my favorite characters Kaz and Inej.   I was doing a buddy read for this book and we decided to do our own Hollywood casting.  The actors we chose are FAR too old to be playing these teens in the book, but when has that ever stopped Hollywood before?!  In the fictional movie that my friend and I created, Kaz would be played by Taron Egerton and Inej would be played by Alicia Vikander.  You’re welcome for that fictional casting.  (If you’ve read the book, who do you think should be cast in the 6 of Crows roles?)
***since reading this book it was JUST announced that this series will be combined with the Grisha Trilogy books in a new Netflix show!***
This book was a page turner, it had a great plot, amazing characters, and a realistic world created.  What else do you need for a 5 star book?!  So good!
I want to mention again that while this is YA- it is dark- so reader beware. Also, don’t let the whole YA tag dissuade you from reading this book! Read what you love and love what you read!

what i didn't like
Towards the end-ish of the book, Bardugo literally tells you some things about Kaz’s character that I already knew as a reader.  I couldn’t tell if she wanted to make sure the reader understood what she was alluding to in previous chapters, or if she had forgotten she’d already mentioned that whole plot line previously in the book.  I’m not sure.  It wasn’t enough of an annoyance to not make this book Required Reading: Fantasy- because readers who love that genre will love this book – but it needed to be mentioned.

while reading you should
Play: Poker
Watch: Ocean’s Eleven or the Italian Job
Eat: Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes… and waffles. Not together. But hey, you do you.
Listen to: Everybody Knows by Sigrid

if you would like to buy
Click here: Six of Crows

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War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #4)

The following review is the fourth and final book of the Red Queen series and therefore contains spoilers about the previous three books.

official blurb
Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head. But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

my blurb!
The disappointing finale to a saga that started out strong.

2 out of 5

Okay, there’s nothing immediately wrong with this book. I didn’t want to start it because upon rereading the previous books I just didn’t feel the steam.  There was no momentum to find out the ending for me. I was tired of the writing style and tired of Mare (world’s biggest understatement).  When I FINALLY picked up this book the day it was due, I was sucked in.  Well maybe sucked in is a strong term…  I wasn’t exactly clambering to read it, but I was trucking along in it every time I did pick it up.  Here’s the thing.. it’s long.  Really long. So when I felt like I was making some good progress (chapter 15 aka 250 pages into the book) I decided to see exactly how many pages were left. That’s where I made my mistake.  I flipped directly to the epilogue and I didn’t look at the page number. I looked at the words and started reading! What was I thinking?! (I couldn’t help myself!)  And here’s the real kicker… I HATED the ending.  It was lame. Not entirely lame but almost entirely lame.  So here i am writing a review for a book that I did not finish because I know I won’t like the ending…because I didn’t like the ending.  did you follow that? not really?  welp.  I’m nothing if not an honest reviewer! (I should state that I was persuaded to start reading at chapter 30 and read it out until the epilogue [like the last 8 chapters]. So I read chapters 1-15 and 30-38).

what i liked
I liked the chapters from Cal’s perspective.  I also really liked Evangeline! Who would’ve thought that crazy woman would’ve grown on me so much. So much so that I stopped thinking she was crazy and totally understood all of her motives.  That’s the perk of reading from the specific characters perspective – you get in their head and you don’t always mind being inside of it.  The same was the case for Cal. I know there are a lot of Cal haters out there. I am not one of them.
Also shout out to my favorite character Farley for being a total bad ass.
What else did I like… what else…. what else…. yupp that’s about it.

what i didn't like
Mare!!!!!!! The world’s biggest whiner!!!! We know that she isn’t the most amazing electricon there is. So she’s not special there.  She whines all of the time. All. The. Time.  People have had much harder lives than her in the series.  But Mare. Whew. The. Worst. If you don’t believe me. Read the 657 page book.  An in the epilogue when you read it…. you will agree with me.
There are SO many things I hated about the ending. I could go into them but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  But if you’ve read the book or WANT spoilers- feel free to write me in the comments. I would love to rant.
One of the biggest things I didn’t like (no spoilers, I promise!) is that we never find out what happens to certain characters.  We spends chapters with a certain character and we read about this person in the big war scene but then in the epilogue they’re not mentioned! What?!
Also, isn’t the epilogue supposed to wrap things up for the reader?  This isn’t the second book- it’s the FOURTH book!  I mean, COME ON.

If I would have rated the book after the first 15 chapters it would have gotten about 3 stars for me.  That’s how much the ending sucked. It knocked off not part of a star… but a WHOLE star. Whew. Rough stuff…

while reading you should
Watch: X-men- days of futures past. and imagine this whole storyline could be erased and rewritten by someone going to the past and changing the annoying future.
Listen to: Belle (reprise) from the  Beauty and the Beast 2017 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Eat: Your feelings.

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #2)


WARNING: spoilers ahead for the FIRST book of the series – as this is the second book of a 4 book series.  To read the review of the first book, click here.

official blurb
If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different. Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.  The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind. Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.  But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster  she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

my blurb!
X-men youngsters taking on the establishment with an annoying love triangle.

3.75 our of 5

what i didn't like
Maybe I am completely underestimating the true love that Mare and Maven have.  Or maybe my fury is more unquenchable than Mare’s.  Whatever the reason, I do not understand how she can constantly go between- I will kill Maven with my bare hands- and then also thinking – all of our love can’t have been a lie.  Like…what? How are those feelings remotely intertwined?  It’s like Stockholm Syndrome or something.
Why is Mare always apologizing for using Cal.  She didn’t use him THAT badly.  It was all Maven and his mom, but Mare feels responsible.  It’s annoying. She really shouldn’t be on the hook for that one.
Same with her guard, Lucas Samos- he was going to die anyways! Why do you need to feel bad about that, YOU didn’t kill him! I just feel like with so much going on, she shouldn’t add that to her list- guilt.  It could be a rational response- but I sure don’t like reading her thoughts about it.
The moral of the story is that I really don’t like Mare that much- but I still keep reading the series.
Other annoying characters in this book include: The Colonel, Kilorn.
Also, Aveyard introduced a bunch of new characters and I had a hard time keeping them all straight. So prepare yourself.
We also didn’t escape her annoying thought process of explanatory text followed by italicized emphasis points.  It didn’t get any more appealing to me in the second installment.  I’ll give you another example:

“I’m torn between wonder and fear of an organization large enough and patient enough to infiltrate, not one, but three sovereign nations ruled by Silver kings and princes.
This is not the simple, ragtag bunch of true believers I imagined.”

what i liked
Cal really shines in this book.  In the Red Queen, I’m realizing the characters weren’t super developed.  You don’t get a solid love story but an odd love square.  When Maven suggests in the Red Queen that Cal will choose Mare over everything else, you’re like – why because they kissed once and have hung out like 10 times?  Regardless of the lack of character development before, in THIS book I started to understand Cal and I like him.  Officially team Cal!  Aveyard does a good job of helping me understand his struggle.  He’s studied the war and I totally get him being dumbfounded by the strength of the rebellion, I get his defeat in meeting people who he’s hurt by his military strategy, I get his torn feeling about Mare.
I should give another shout out to Farley who is a hardcore female character in the book.  We need more characters like Farley!  I actually wish the books could sometimes shift to her perspective!
I also loved Maven in this book. Let me be clear, Maven sucks. But he’s such a great bad guy! I also love Elara because she is a psycho.  Don’t we all love a good psycho bad guy?
I love Shade. I won’t spend too much time on him. If you’ve read it, let’s talk about Shade.
There is a lot of action in this book. The action is so great! There are twists! YAY twists in a book!!!

Overall I think I liked this book better than the first.  I have maybe gotten used to Mare’s annoying personality.  It’s almost like watching the real housewives- you’re like “welp Luann sucks but she sure makes things more entertaining.”  That’s how I feel about Mare. We need her for the drama, but that doesn’t make her less annoying. (Yes I am a YA reading, Hallmark watching, junk food eating, real housewives loving blogger. Nice to meet you too!)

if you would like to buy
Click here

while reading you should
Listen to: Everybody Knows by Sigrid
Eat: Flaky biscuits.  I feel like eating your feelings throughout this book might be the best plan ever.
Watch: X-men: First Class

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The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

“In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the Earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that. The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

official blurb
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

my blurb!
X-Men powers in a dystopian world.  Red bloods are powerless, silver bloods hold all of the super powers. Or so we think, until Mare is discovered to have powers AND red blood (dum dum dum…) Hang with her as she is forced to deceive the world and pretend she actually has silver blood.  Better hope she doesn’t get cut…

3.5 stars

what i didn't like
Why is Mare the world’s best girl? Maven, Cal, and Kilorn are all obsessed with her. We know she’s not particularly pretty by the way she describes herself in the book. And the whole thing is from her perspective so we also know that she’s not a charmer. What am I missing…?
I’m surprised I like this series bc mare kind of sucks. Like a paragraph of her thinking and then an italicized succinct thought. That sums up mare pretty easily. Don’t believe me? Here’s a random excerpt from the book.

“That sends a new stab of fear through me. If I’m captured, if I tell them what little I know – what will they do to my family? to Kilorn? To the Stilts?
They cannot catch me.”

what i liked
Regardless the series (even upon rereading this book in prep for book 4) holds something in it. It’s not completely original but it’s still fresh. It’s world building is realistic and you can feel the weight of oppression the reds have to bear. The characters are written well and the twists aren’t predictable – you know there is going to be a twist, but you don’t know what it’s going to be.

If you’re into dystopian tales this would be enjoyable for you .  If you hate love triangles or squares, like me, you can make it through this book and still enjoy it. It just makes it a little less amazing.

while reading you should
Eat: grapes (it just seems like something the luxurious silvers would be eating)
Watch: The Gladiator (Watch is a strong term. Maybe watch the trailer)
Listen to: Jolene (I like the Miley Cyrus cover myself but feel free to go full on Dolly Parton)

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Keep reading to read guest blogger’s, Hawk, review of this book!

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

4 out of 5

The Red Queen has been on my To Read list for years. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read it, but now that I have, I can’t believe I’ve been missing out all these years!

*Some spoilers ahead*

This book was a new twist on a rags-to-riches story. Mare Barrow thinks she’s received the opportunity of a lifetime when she receives a job that will keep her family fed and the electricity on. But something happens that brings her to the attention of the Silvers–a class of people responsible for sending her brothers to war and crippling her sister. That “something” starts Mare on a path of love and betrayal and courage.

Now, this isn’t normally the case, but I think my favorite character was actually Cal, the Crown Prince who met Mare in disguise and got her the job in the palace. He wants to do the right thing for his kingdom, though Mare (and maybe we readers) think he has it wrong. But Cal cares deeply, and it was actually more heartbreaking for me to see him realize he was betrayed than it was to see Mare betrayed.

In the forthcoming books, I’m excited to learn more about how Mare, and others with abilities like hers, came to be in this world divided by Red and Silver blood. I’m also dying to see how Cal copes with his new existence, and I hope Mare doesn’t let him down. I’m sure there will be some love-triangle like tension between Mare, Cal, and Kilorn, but I hope Mare makes the right decision (hint: not Kilorn). I also can’t wait to get to know Mare’s brother Shade, and learn more about his own ability.

All in all, solid read! Very excited to finally check it off my list, and get moving onto the next book of the series!

-Hawk-

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The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth

The following review does contain spoilers of the FIRST book in this two book series.  Click here to see Hawk’s review of the first book – Carve the Mark.

3.5 stars

official blurb
The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth are ruled by their fates, spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates, once determined, are inescapable. Akos is in love with Cyra, in spite of his fate: He will die in service to Cyra’s family. And when Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek—a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead—reclaims the Shotet throne, Akos believes his end is closer than ever. As Lazmet ignites a barbaric war, Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost. For Cyra, that could mean taking the life of the man who may—or may not—be her father. For Akos, it could mean giving his own. In a stunning twist, the two will discover how fate defines their lives in ways most unexpected.

my blurb!
The conclusion to Carve the Mark- which really continues with the same pace and character personalities of the first book.

Okay, so Hawk didn’t love the first book.  I don’t remember loving it but I did find it enjoyable.  It’s hard for Roth to beat the insane world building she did in Divergent- but she does it again in this series- so I did love that.

As I was reading Fates, I thought I would rate it lower than I ended up rating it! I wasn’t enthralled and could easily put the book down and go to bed when a chapter was over.  The main reason for this, is because each chapter is written from a different characters perspective, and I didn’t like all of the characters.

what i liked
The character I liked the most was Cyra, she is witty and sarcastic and has a good knack for reading people.  Our other main character is semi likeable but not entirely likable.  He is understandable so you can empathize with him. Teka also deserves honorable mention for likability factor.  Really, the thing I liked most was the ending (no spoilers!).  I felt like by the end- a good school paper could’ve been written about this book about the core of a person and black & white answers, and protagonists and antagonists (hello, high school English).  There was just something that really stuck with me about how Roth was able to end this book.  I will say that I HATED the third and final Divergent book and it made me pretty irritable with Roth, so I really had no expectations for how she would choose to end this series.  I was pleasantly surprised!

what i didn't like
Because each chapter is written from a different perspective there are so many descriptors every single time.  I’m not a big “multiple paragraphs to set up the scene” kind of reader- so I didn’t like that at all.
I also didn’t like some characters (cough, cough, Eijeh!) so his sections were a little more rough. Though, they were still well written.  And even though I liked Cisi and Akos, I REALLY liked Cyra, so I would get annoyed when someone elses chapter would overtake hers.  She had the personality to propel the book and the others didn’t always do it for me.

Overall, if you found the first book enjoyable then you should read this one! If you hated the first one, this one is a lot like it- so I would skip it if I were you.

If you would like to buy this book, click here.

while reading you should
Drink: Loose leaf tea (you can feel like Akos making a concoction)
Listen to: Leave the Pieces When You’re Gone by The Wreckers
Also listen to: Gone Away by Safetysuit

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

official blurb
Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

my blurb!
A page turner told from multiple perspectives about life after your life as you know it ends.

5 out of 5

How did I not know about this book??? I’ve never heard of the author at all, and until Whitney from @theunreadshelf had me borrow this book- it had never come on my radar.  She was trying to help me get out of my awful February book slump and recommended this book to me.  I knew it was post apocalyptic, and…well that was about it- and wow was I in for a surprise.  Let me start out by saying that this book is in NO way nightmare inducing.  It’s not that type of post-apocalyptic vibe – no graphic rape or descriptive violence. It was totally believable- no zombies (sorry Walking Dead fans), or super heros

what i liked
I loved the characters! There are multiple main characters in this novel- which in the beginning is always hard to catch onto. Trust me, it’s worth remembering the characters- they are written beautifully and I dare you not to like the mains.
There are also multiple time jumps throughout each section in the book. I must say, I am almost NEVER a fan of the time jump… but alas apparently I’ve never been a fan of the writing of a time jump! Mandel’s writing of the time jumps never left me discombobulated (you’re welcome for using that word), but I was on the adventure with the characters!
I also liked the semi mystery of the plot.  What will happen? Who is the Prophet? (Though I figured that out before the reveal- NO spoilers!- I credit that to my BBC mystery series training) Who is living and dead?

what i didn't like
There is not a lot I didn’t like. If anything, I would say I could use a second book. I want to know even more- it could’ve been longer!

while reading you should
Listen to: Clair de Lune
Eat: an orange

when to read
The BEST time to read this is snowy weather WINTER. BUT this is required reading if you like this genre- so enjoy it all year round!

if you would like to buy
click here.

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