Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crooked kingdom

 

official blurb
Welcome to the world of the Grisha. Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

my blurb!
The page turning conclusion to Six of Crows that leaves you wanting more and thrilled with the ending all at the same time.

5 out of 5

what i liked
Like the first book in this duology – this book is required reading for fantasy lovers!
Oh. My. Gosh. So many feelings!  (I know, I’m super original – I should totally write a blog).
First of all, this book is just as good as the first book. (Seriously, does that ever happen?) I don’t know how she writes a book that is over 500 pages that somehow leaves me wanting more!  I want a novela, or a follow up book for at least 3 of the characters.  I felt like she really wrapped up two of the characters storylines well, but some others… (you’ll notice I’m leaving names out here- this is to avoid any spoilers for you!)
I bonded with these characters so much. I am the 7th crow.  Inej might have been the wraith but call me the hawk because I hovered around them watching all of them and creating a blood brothers bond with them all.  In hindsight, maybe I should have chosen a different animal for that scenario. A hawk being the 7th crow?  Well… what can I say, my imagination works in mysterious ways.  ANYWAYS, I bonded with these characters so much that I am in dire need of some condolence casserole from having to part ways with them.
Bardugo’s writing is so great, it reminded me a little of the lunar chronicles (I know, they’re nothing alike but bear with me here) because those books featured a crew (whom I’m also close friends with) with the odds against them that I got to hang out with in VERY long books and was constantly excited by the plot lines, and surprised and always left wanting more. [Did you enjoy that run on sentence as much as I did?] EXCEPT Marissa Meyer (the author of the lunar chronicles) wrote FOUR books and TWO novellas in the series.  Bardugo only wrote this Duology!!!!! (Okay, yes, it’s true that this is connected to her Grisha Trilogy- and is part of the whole Grishaverse, but these two books stand on their own and don’t overlap with main characters into the other series because it takes place afterwards.  Make sense? So I’m not counting those books towards the total number for this series.  That made sense right?)
My husband once said to me… and I’m not making this up “maybe I should be a vigilante because I love justice.”  This is how I felt reading this series.  I AM A CROW.  It’s all in my head but that won’t stop me from living my best life.

what i didn't like
Nothing! I loved it all! Take me back to the Grishaverse!

 

while reading you should
Listen to: Everybody Knows by Sigrid
and also listen to: Robbers by the 1975
Watch: Now You See Me
Do: practice slide of hand. (that’s right, time to scour amazon for a magician’s kit!)

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

the unhoneymooners

Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books for the copy of this book. Even though this book was free, it in no way affected my opinion of it!

official blurb
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.  Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.  Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

my blurb!
An unlucky twin is awarded a trip to paradise, the only catch being that she has to take the vacation with her least favorite person.

4.5 out of 5                                                                1.5 / 5 steam level

what i liked
Wow this book was so funny you guys! Because I read an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC), I can’t give you quotes until it comes out. But I loved this book and laughed out loud multiple times! I’ve read a few of Christina Lauren’s books now and they are great romcom writers!  I feel like if I’m in a book funk or wanting to be generally cheered up then I automatically reach for a Christina Lauren or an R.S. Grey book!
Now this book is a romcom, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it isn’t amazing and that it doesn’t tackle bigger topics.  (I see you, romcom hater!)  Believing the voice of women? Check. Perception changing your circumstances? Check. Honestly, the book was deeper than I was expecting it to be! And I loved that! Big tallies in the pro column for me.
Let’s go ahead and give a big holler for featuring one of my favorite tropes in a book! Enemies to lovers! *Holler!!!*  The only storyline I like more than enemies to lovers is fake relationship. Guess what…. this book featured both! *gasp!* I know, I’m telling you, run- don’t walk – and go buy this book!
The Unhoneymooners also featured a lower steam level then I am used to from CL.  This is a definite pro for me, because in general I tend to enjoy a book more if it’s not a 5 steam level. And this was nowhere near 5 flames of steaminess!
I have read quite a few stories featuring twins in the last year (99 Percent Mine, The Identicals).  This was the first book  which featured twins that were likable!! It was seriously a breath of fresh air. Finally twins I could get behind!!!  And truthfully don’t we all kind of root for twins? I blame the Parent Trap – it made me pro twin!

what i didn't like
You guys know that I love an epilogue. This book featured one! I know, you’re wondering why this is in the negative column for the book then.  Hold your horses little miss horsey holder! (Gilmore Girls reference anyone?).  The characters were together for like 2 weeks and their relationship progressed so quickly. It seemed as if they had been together for years.  Then there’s the epilogue which is like one year later. I was surprised at where the characters were. I expected them to be further along relationally. There was something about it that made me think they still didn’t know each other that well.  I don’t know, it just didn’t flow with who the characters were and where their relationship was for the whole book.  Which in turn made me like their relationship less because I felt like they were tiptoeing around each other.
Overall this negative aspect didn’t detract too much for me and I would still definitely recommend this book.

while reading you should
Do: get a firm grip on your stance about buffets. Pro or Con? I’m personally con.
Listen: To this playlist I created on Spotify
Eat: something made to order… because hopefully at this point you’ve realized you don’t like buffets.

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The Horse and His Boy (The Chronicles of Narnia #3) by C.S. Lewis

the horse and his boy

official blurb
The Horse and his Boy is a stirring and dramatic fantasy story that finds a young boy named Shasta on the run from his homeland with the talking horse, Bree. When the pair discover a deadly plot by the Calormen people to conquer the land of Narnia, the race is on to warn the inhabitants of the impending danger and to rescue them all from certain death.

my blurb!
A long story without very many pages, about some talking horses and the people who ride them.

2 out of 5

what i liked
This book would have been a one star read had it not been for Edmond. Edmond – who if you remember from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – was a world-class annoyance, came back to this book as the MVP.  He had amazing dialogue, great insight and seriously was as delightful as turkish delight! (I couldn’t help myself there. And no, I still have never had turkish delight so I can’t even say that with confidence).  I can say a lot of things about Clive (yes, C.S. Lewis and I are on a first name basis), and I can say with confidence that he writes a great epilogue.  And while they’re just a chapter number like any other, they are definitely epilogues.  I love a good epilogue- seriously, more people need to write them, we as readers want more!

what i didn't like
Wow, I almost didn’t finish this book. I almost looked up the summary and moved on.  The language in this one was hard for me to rally behind.  Not like there was a lot of cursing in this book, just the eloquent speech was hard for me to keep up with.  Let me mention again, that I am 30 years old, and this book was written for children. I know, I know, children of a different time – but children nonetheless! Chapter eight had come and gone and I was still not into this story.  There were a lot of character names that were rough – I really appreciate a good character name and didn’t find them in this book.  There was a character named Bree who was one of the main characters and he was super annoying.  Is it the rudest thing ever to say that C.S. Lewis wrote a lot of annoying characters?  Oops, I just said it!

while reading you should
Do: ride a horse (only to remember that it is an insanely uncomfortable way to get around)
Drink:  water (They’re on a long quest in this book so water is fitting. But also, do you ever really drink enough water?)
Listen: Come to Me by Bethel Music

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S. Lewis

LWW.PNG

 

official blurb
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy find their way through an old wardrobe into the world of Narnia. There, they unite with Aslan to fight the White Witch and save Narnia from perpetual Darkness.

my blurb!
Three siblings discover a magical land and then come to find that it is their destiny to save it.

3.5 stars

 

what i liked
I can vividly picture the scenes in this book.  I mean, I have seen the movie, so maybe that was why- but I’m gonna say that it was because of how descriptive it was.
There is something so magical about discovering an entirely new world within the confines of a house.  I don’t think that walking into that wardrobe will ever be anything short of amazing for me!
The overall allegory in this story is so well written- there is no room for confusion and it is so easily understood in the mind of a child.  I mean… it’s really pretty cool.  For instance- turkish delight is so good, it’s sinful.  See what I did there?  I couldn’t help myself.  Edmond has a taste of turkish delight and that is soon all he can think about.  It becomes an unquenchable desire to have more turkish delight regardless of the EXTREME consequences it would take to acquire more.

what i didn't like
Edmond sucks so badly.  I mean, wow- he is AWFUL.  I should mention that he isn’t inherently sucky- his siblings (or maybe the narrator) mention that he went away to boarding school and came back with this level of suckage.  He is a genuine unkind soul and I just got so irritated reading about him!
There is a scene featuring Aslan and Edmond and that scene was perfectly awkward in every way.
I think that Peter is portrayed as mean to Edmond.  And I didn’t really like that! Not that Peter was mean, but that he came across that way.  Because seriously, Peter said everything I wanted to say to Edmond.
Again, just as in The Magician’s Nephew, the sexism in this book was off putting for me.  Just so many constant insults about girls.

Overall, I thought I was going to like this book more.  I discovered when reading my copy, that I had actually read the book in college but I hadn’t remembered that at all!  So there are a few reasons that perhaps I didn’t like it as much- being a kids book and a reread, and having already seen the movie.  But I will say, that that has not stopped my love from blooming in the past.
Also, you know when it snows and everything is a beautiful winter wonderland and people all around you make references to Narnia?  I just want to point out that when Narnia was in this perpetual state of winter, it was being ruled by a dark and evil queen.  (Did I just make it obvious that I don’t like winter?)

 

while reading you should
Listen: The Blue Planet by Hans Zimmer
Watch: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe movie!
Eat: Turkish delight! (oh… that’s gross? Okay,  eat dark chocolate brownies.)

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Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey

anything you can do.PNG

official blurb
Lucas Thatcher has always been my enemy. It’s been a decade since I’ve seen him, but our years on opposite coasts were less of a lasting peace and more of a temporary cease-fire. Now that we’re both back in our small town, I know Lucas expects the same old war, but I’ve changed since high school—and from the looks of it, so has he. The arrogant boy who was my teenage rival is now a chiseled doctor armed with intimidating good looks. He is Lucas Thatcher 2.0, the new and improved version I’ll be competing with in the workplace instead of the schoolyard. I’m not worried; I’m a doctor now too, board-certified and sexy in a white coat. It almost feels like winning will be too easy—until Lucas unveils a tactic neither of us has ever used before: sexual warfare. The day he pushes me up against the wall and presses his lips to mine, I can’t help but wonder if he’s filling me with passion or poison. Every fleeting touch is perfect torture. With every stolen kiss, my walls crumble a little more. After all this time, Lucas knows exactly how to strip me of my defenses, but I’m in no hurry to surrender. Knowing thy enemy has never felt so good.

my blurb!
The Hating Game meets Grey’s Anatomy.

4.25 out of 5                                                                  5 / 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Do you remember how much I loved The Hating Game?  Yes? Okay, I may have mentioned it excessively.  Well, this book had a lot of vibes of THG.  I laughed so many times while reading it- Grey knows how to write sarcastic and hilarious girls!
I read this book in one sitting! I know, it seems like it should be an automatic 5 star rating then- but we’ll get to that part in a second.
I loved Lucas!  I love a man with a plan.
I loved the trope!  Compete with each other and then fall in love doing it? Yes! I love it, what’s not to love?
This book had an epilogue and it was great.  It needed the epilogue, and I enjoyed it!  I am so pro epilogue – if there was ever some form of politics involving books, I would run for senate and that would be my platform. “No more love triangles! Say yes to epilogues!”
I loved the mom and the BFF in the book. They were manipulative (in the best way), supportive, and hilarious!
I’ve mentioned that Grey is funny- but you might not believe me yet.  Here’s some quotes I laughed at in the book:

“I’m 28 and have never declared my love for a significant other. My biggest commitment so far is buying a Roomba.”

“Another bright spot for me is that men regularly mistake my exhausted ramblings and honest deprecation as humor and personality.”

“I’m having what I can only assume is a hot flash. Maybe the sight of a glistening Lucas has caused me to tumble into early menopause.”

She’s funny right?! Right.  I’m so glad we had this conversation.

what i didn't like
Of course you know me by now, and know that I don’t like a 5 steam level. It’s really hard for me to give a book I really loved a required reading status, if it’s too steamy for me.
In THG – pranks are played. I enjoyed it.  In this book, something felt too juvenile about a lot of the pranking.
There are some scenes where our main characters have to share a living space.  I wanted more out of these scenes to see what their normal lives would’ve been like.  I felt like I was kind of robbed of that.  (Too dramatic?  Ohhhhkay fine).

while reading you should
Act: make an appointment for your yearly physical
Listen: Anything You Can Do by Bing Crosby
Watch:  Grey’s Anatomy
Read: The Hating Game again!

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The Magician’s Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis

the magicians nephew

 

official blurb
In this unforgettable story, British schoolchildren Polly and Digory inadvertently tumble into the Wood Between the Worlds, where they meet the evil Queen Jadis and, ultimately, the great, mysterious King Aslan. We witness the birth of Narnia and discover the legendary source of all the adventures that are to follow in the seven books that comprise the series.

my blurb!
Read chronologically, this is the first book in The Chronicle of Narnia series, telling the origin story of the creation of Narnia.

4 out of 5

what i liked
This was a great start to The Chronicles of Narnia series. I really enjoyed reading it!  I had a hand injury when I started doing this buddy read, and was in a bit of a time crunch to complete it – so I actually read the print version and listened to the audiobook version in order to finish it on time.  And I would recommend either version of this book.
This is written for young readers.  I know you’re wondering, “How do you love it so much when you’re not a young reader?”  First of all, don’t be rude. Secondly, I really enjoyed the writing style! I was nervous that the old english would overtake me, but because it was written for kids it was a lot less intimidating!
This book features great quotes, amazing life lessons and a lot of Christian allegories throughout.
My favorite part about it, was probably all of the snide references about people who think they’re better than everyone else.
Shout out to Polly (why isn’t that name more popular by the way? What a cute name!) and to Aslan.  They were my favorite characters in the book!
The last big pro of the story for me was the final chapter.  It was a great wrap up for the story- almost more epilogue-ish.  And I love a good epilogue!

Now, I know I mentioned this is a kids book, but I also feel the need to mention that the queen was SCARY.  Lewis did a great job with her, I had no compassion for her whatsoever because – wowzah- that woman was out of control.  This isn’t in the pro or con column for the book- but I wanted to mention that if you’re thinking about reading this book to your kids.

what i didn't like
Diggory was so completely annoying in this story.  He is one of our main characters and oh boy, I found him so frustrating.  The uncle in the story was also way too much for me, but it made you really dislike him and he wasn’t supposed to be likable so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
There are a lot of statements about women being lesser than men throughout this book.  Insults to girls overall.  Now, this book was dedicated to a girl, and I feel that Lewis overall does have the girls stand above the boys as far as plot goes.  So if you’re studying the book, you would probably notice that and let it go. However, since this is a book for children, I’m not sure if they would easily separate the girl insults from the overall character arch.

while reading you should
Do: go on a walk in the countryside.
Listen: Zero by Hans Zimmer
Drink: tea. (this is an English book, afterall)

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

99pm

 

official blurb
Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough. When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade. Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

my blurb!
Two bickering twins fight over the attention of their childhood best friend.

 

So I’ve kind of been dreading doing this review because this was my first ever physical copy of a book from a publisher and I did expect to give it 5 stars. Spoiler alert- this wasn’t 5 stars for me, but I really do think that this book will find its audience!

Thank you William Morrow for this book! Receiving the free book did not change my feelings about the book!

3 out of 5                                                             4 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
Okay this book ends with an Epilogue for The Hating Game.  I know, this isn’t technically reviewing 99 Percent Mine – but the epilogue for THG is in this book so trust me it needs to be included.  Did you know that I loved THG?  Oh I’ve mentioned it roughly 1 million times?  Wait, are you saying I’m starting to sound like a broken record and you’re tired of hearing about Josh and Lucy?  Well, too bad! I love them with my whole heart and this epilogue was EVERYTHING.  Is that dramatic? NO! This was a 5 star epilogue!!!  I am not upset to own this book (which wasn’t 5 stars) because I would have bought it anyways simply to own this epilogue!
Okay, now to 99PM.  Darcy’s best friend in this book is great! She has her own business (which is an amazing business idea, btw) and is working hard to make it successful. She is supportive of Darcy! She wasn’t entirely awesome but was mostly amazing (I could go into that more but that would give you some spoilers so… Not today satan!)
While I didn’t laugh out loud while reading this book, I did enjoy some of Darcy’s inner dialogue.
I read this book quickly, in less than 24 hours. So quick and easy reading with this one!
So that’s the end of what I liked. You’re wondering how I possible gave it 3 stars and not 2 stars or 1 star.  Did you already forget the 5 star Epilogue?!  It carries this book.

what i didn't like
Lucy (from The Hating Game) is all sunshine and strawberries.  Darcy (from 99 Percent Mine) is black nail polish and remorse. I just could not connect with Darcy.  Sally Thorne said that Darcy is like Lucy’s older sister.  Darcy is crass and hardened. She has constantly showing bra straps, and a boy always in her bed.  HUGE contrast in the two main characters from the two books.  Which is TOTALLY fine- I don’t want to read the same character in every book at all! So Sally did a great job with that really.   But, I just couldn’t connect with Darcy because of these reasons!  The reasons I loved Lucy, I disliked Darcy.  Now it should be noted that I do think this book will find its audience. I think that some people didn’t love sunshine Lucy and they will love rain cloud Darcy.
Okay, moving on.  I didn’t fall in love alongside this couple.  When I finished the book, I wasn’t scrambling for more.  In a romance novel- I should be shipping this couple all day every day.
In THG- Sally (who is Australian) – does a phenomenal job of not using any language specific to Australia- so I actually thought THG took place in America because that is where I’m from!  In 99PM, there were some phrases and words used that didn’t translate easily to “American.”  Which confused me because I was pretty sure that this book was actually supposed to be in America.
There were aspects of the dialogue and certain scenes that actually didn’t make sense to me. A few times, I flipped the page to see if two pages stuck together because I didn’t think the scene made sense.
Darcy loves to flirt with other men, and even in the ending of the book, this is still mentioned.  Why? That was super weird to me.  The main couple is already together, but she still flirts with other men? What?!  I was  not into that at all.
This book was predictable. I’ve had a lot of feedback from people who read THG and thought it was predictable too.  But there were aspects of the plot in THG that were smaller plotlines and were not predictable.  In 99PM – every small plotline was predictable.  Obviously it’s a romance novel, so the overall plot is predictable (which I appreciate).  But I wanted more out of the smaller plots in this book.
Darcy and her brother are twins. They are both so annoying. I don’t know another way to say that. But wow they are annoying.  Like, I heavily disliked them.  Whenever there were scenes where they looked back on their lives with Tom… all I could think was, “Why in the world would Tom want to be around these out of control twins?! Let alone fall in in love with one?!”

while reading you should
Do: learn how to make a cocktail you really want!
Eat: Pizza
Listen to this playlist I created while reading this book:
Your Ex Lover is Dead by Stars
Fall by Justin Bieber
The Best of You and Me by Number one Gun
Show You by CXLOE (Full disclosure, Sally posted the following songs on her insta stories when she was talking about 99 Percent Mine!)
Call it What you Want by Taylor Swift
Backseat by Charli XCX
Baby by Bishop Briggs
Lucky Strike by Troye Sivan
Clumsy Love by Thelma Plum

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