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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The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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official blurb
A long, hot summer… That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father. But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.

my blurb!
A girl who is in search of perfection finds her perfect life doesn’t look exactly like she planned.

5 out of 5

 

what i liked
This is required reading for YA fans! (Here’s my list of amazing YA books).
Let me start with the elephant in the room.  Before I met my husband I was in love with someone else.  I have never gotten over him and still think of him often.  That’s right, I am talking about my first fictional boyfriend, Wes.  And he lives in the pages of The Truth About Forever.  Now before you go on and on saying that you also loved Wes, let me tell you that our love is good and it is true- so don’t go trying to make it anything other than that with your false tales of your swooning heart!  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you can see why Wes is the first thing mentioned under things that I liked in this book.
This is a reread. To be truthful, I reread this book every year.  Every. Year. Since it was published. I told you my love for Wes was real!  So to be clear, this was published in 2004. I’m pretty certain I read it back to back when I got it, so that brings my total to 15 times read!  I guess you could say I like this book.
Sarah Dessen came out with a gauntlet of perfect YA books in the early 2000s.  And don’t let this whole “YA” tag fool you.  She writes heavy topics that also happen to have swoon worthy love stories in them.
In this book, Macy is trying to cope with life after her dad died.  Dessen does an amazing job of giving you all of the feels of loss, and the repercussions of choosing the way you’re going to mourn. Macy is a crazy flawed character. She is insecure and wants total control.  She never speaks her own voice and she hides in other people’s shadows.  And she is somehow so likable.
Macy and her mom have so many realistic interactions that it is sometimes stressful to read.  Me being me, I wanted all Wes scenes all day long.  The worst part about this book is going from being with the fictional love of my life, directly into the next scene of a crappy interaction with Macy’s mom! I found myself saying, “I don’t care about your mom damn it! I want Wes!”  And then the librarian would graciously ask me to lower my voice and refrain from using curse words while watching my kids play at the library.
Have I ranted on and on about this book enough to convince you to read it? No… okay here comes my second wind.
Just kidding.  Go get this book!

Ps. You can order a personalized book from Sarah Dessen here.  I personally would like a dedication stating that she acknowledges that I am Wes’ true love but that she felt she couldn’t write about our nonfiction love so she wrote Macy instead. That’s reasonable, right?

when to read
This is a great summer read!  But since it is required reading- pick it up any time!

while reading you should
Listen to my “The Truth About Forever Mini Playlist:”
-Summertime romance by Johnnyswim
-Something Stupid by Michael Bublé ft Reese Witherspoon
– Catching Feelings by Justin Bieber
-I Run To You by Lady Antebellum

Picture the following actors as the characters in this book:
Wes: Bob Morley, Shawn Mendes, Liam Hemsworth, Logan Lerman
Macy’s mom: Lauren Graham, Julia Roberts,
Macy: Dakota Fanning, Lily Collins, Emma Watson
Kristy: (way younger) Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Lawrence
Monica: Taylor Momsen, Carly Chaikin
Jason: Michael Welch, Freddie Highmore, Lucas Till
Bert: Jack O’connell, Taron Egerton

Eat: Meatballs
Do: Go for a Run
Watch: A news special on Armageddon

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Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount

official blurb
Book lovers, rejoice! In this love letter to all things bookish, Jane Mount brings literary people, places, and things to life through her signature and vibrant illustrations. Readers will:
• Tour the world’s most beautiful bookstores
• Test their knowledge of the written word with quizzes
• Find their next great read in lovingly curated stacks of books
• Sample the most famous fictional meals
• Peek inside the workspaces of their favorite authors
A source of endless inspiration, literary facts and recommendations, and pure bookish joy, Bibliophile is sure to enchant book clubbers, English majors, poetry devotees, inspiring writers, and any and all who identify as bookworms.

my blurb!
The perfect coffee table book for book lovers, and lovers of illustration.

5 out of 5

Okay, this one is a really weird one to rate because it is 100% a coffee table book.  The kind of book that you flip through once, but then might keep on the table (or in your bathroom) to skim through and read a page or two at any random point to spark your interest.  So if this is the case how could I have rated it 5 stars?  Well… what can I say, it’s a good coffee table book!

what i liked
The illustrations were gorgeous! I would LOVE to have Jane Mount draw a picture of me holding my favorite book (dream Christmas list item anyone?).  I almost wish some of the pages were perforated so that I could tear them out and frame them!  (Also, I should mention that I got this as a library book so I couldn’t do that if my dream became a reality).
I loved all of the lists.  Bookstores that are owned by authors, amazing libraries to visit, books recommended by authors or influencers, best books by genre, etc.  They were great ones to go through, and always kept my attention.  My personal favorite was definitely bookstores owned by authors.
I read the whole book in one sitting, it was easy to flip through and kept my attention.  I found myself taking pictures of quite a few of the pages because I wanted to remember what she was referencing.  I know, so lame (yes, I am a cheap genius). But it also made me realize that I wanted to buy this book. Hence the 5 star rating!
Ps. Since my initial read through of this book, I have received this book as a gift and I am THRILLED to add it to my library!

what i didn't like
No bookstore recommendations in my current hometown or my OG hometown!  But I can look past that.  Maybe that means I need to open one (not gonna happen!). haha.

while reading you should
Make: a list of all of the books you want to buy or check out from your library
Eat: anything you made out of a legit cookbook- not online.
Listen: The Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack (it just makes me feel all literary!)
Buy: this bibliophile journal or these notecards!  (I personally have two of Jane Mount’s vases and am *patiently* waiting to be gifted the third, cough cough).

if you would like to buy
Click here: Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

 

Are you interested in reading this book with your book club or having a “The Hating Game” themed party?  Check out my companion post to this review in Books & Baking.

official blurb

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing 3) Joshua Templeman. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude. Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

my blurb!
The perfect romance novel with love to hate you and hate to love you feelings screaming out of every page.

5 out of 5

First let me tell you – this is a 5 out of 5 romance novel! It IS a romance novel filled with steamy scenes. So if you don’t like romance novels- even though it’s 5 out of 5 stars, this book isn’t for you.

what i liked
I LOVED the trope. The whole – I hate this person, oh snap I like this person thing. Very enjoyable to read for me. I like that storyline so much that without the steamy scenes, I would’ve added this book to required reading fiction.
I read this book in 24 hours. I was loving every minute of it.
I am BRAND NEW to the whole romance novel scene. In fact, this is my fourth ever romance novel. But in my limited experience I think it did everything a romance novel should do! Solid love trope? Check. Characters you want to fight for? Check. Steamy love scenes. Check. Wondering how the book with end the whole time? Check.
I loved Josh our main guy.  He’s smart and gorgeous and has a strong scheme game.
I loved Lucinda- shout out to the awesome name choice by the way- her perspective throughout the book was hilarious.  Her train of thought was scatterbrained, unreliable and true to herself.  She wore amazing red lipstick throughout the book and she definitely influenced me to up my lipstick game.
(Update: since writing this review I have gone back and reread this book bringing my total times read to THREE – and a half… okay I started it again last night – times!)
You guys, I enjoyed this book so much that I joined the authors facebook group – the Flamethrowers.  And I don’t even have a facebook account! That’s right, I used my husbands facebook account to join this romance novelists book club.  To say I am obsessed is an understatement.

what i didn't like

Nothing! I loved it!

when to read
Really, anytime because this is a required read. But especially when you’re in a rut at your job and want to be inspired to try more.

while reading you should
Eat: cake
Play: Paintball
Watch: the smurfs
Listen to: Breathe In by Frou Frou

if you would like to buy

Click here: The Hating Game: A Novel

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How To Walk Away by Katherine Center

official blurb
Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.  In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

my blurb!
A book about a woman who is faced with how to overcome when you really don’t feel like you have it in you.

5 out of 5

 

what i liked
Everything! This is required reading!
I loved the main character, Maggie.  She was strong, and real, and fragile and amazing! (I know, with that description, don’t you just want to be friends with her?!)
I loved her sister, Kit.  She was quirky, and resilient, and funny.
There were so many good characters in this book. The plot had some really funny elements in it (like accidentally attending an ex’s wedding. hah!)  As I’m describing this book I want to make sure I capture its genre so you know what you’re getting into. (I’ve heard a lot of people had this problem with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – thinking it was a comedy).  I would call this book a drama with some comedy in it. Okay maybe it would be called a dramedy.
The writing was amazing. I’ve had some crazy hospital experiences myself- nothing like this, but the way that the author portrayed the way that time is different in the hospital – it was so realistic!  So much of her journey- it rang true!  I imagine Katherine Center did a lot of research for this to be the case and it paid off.
Overall this book had an amazing message in it that I loved reading and having reiterated throughout the novel.
I read this book in less than 24 hours, I would recommend it easily and would buy it and loan it out to friends. If that’s not a 5 star read, I don’t know what is!

what i didn't like
Nothing! I loved everything about this book.

while reading you should
Watch: Grease
Listen to: Let it Be
Eat: Indian food
Do: sing your heart out to a musical

if you would like to buy
Click here: How to Walk Away

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God’s Very Good Idea by Trillia J Newbell

official blurb
God’s very good idea is to have lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other. This stunningly illustrated journey from the garden of Eden to God’s heavenly throne room shows how despite our sinfulness, everyone can be a part of God’s very good idea through the saving work of Christ. This book will help children see how people from all ethnic and social backgrounds are valuable to God and how Jesus came to rescue all kinds of people. It will also excite them about being part of church.

my blurb!
A 32 page children’s book about God’s goal- to love everyone.

5 out of 5

what i liked
The illustrations are amazing! While reading this to my toddlers, I thought there was NO way this book would keep their attention with all of its words combined with its length. When I’m wrong, I’m wrong and well… I was wrong! (Sheesh, what do you want, blood?!)  The pictures in this book are amazing. You’ll love them.
The message! The whole point of this book is to reiterate to kids over and over again- that God loves EVERYONE and you need to too!

what i didn't like
Nothing! It was a great and easy read! And in my case with littles, it was a read that I will continue to read until I can read it no more.

when to read
All day every day! This book is required reading for kids!

while reading you should
Sing: Yes, Jesus Loves Me
Eat: popcorn (this suggestion is for no reason other than my littles love eating popcorn right now)

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

official blurb
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop. So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company. She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

my blurb!
Girl low on money and high on wit, meets VERY rich boy that she tries super hard not to like.

5 out of 5

 

So I’ve been doing some Kasie West rereads and reminding myself why I somehow had a crazy insta love with her as an author.  I do love how much she interacts with her fans on goodreads – I’ve never seen an author interact as often as she does! And that could be why I’ve kept reading her books after the insta love has tapered off for me.  But when I reread this book in ONE night AGAIN… well she cemented a spot as an “always read” author for me.

what i liked
First of all, let me state that this is my THIRD time reading this book. Every time I’ve read it, I have read it one sitting. Last night, I read it until 130am.  Why would I do that? I have two kids 3 and under. What was I thinking?! I wasn’t! I was just reading and loving every moment so much that I couldn’t stop reading!!
I LOVE Caymen.  She is the snarky high schooler I was, with the wit I always hoped I had.  She reacts very realistically to me, early in the book. Any main character who minimally annoys me- if at all- is a HUGE win for me.  (Am I the only one who finds a lot of main characters whiney and annoying??)
I love Xander. Though I don’t adore his name – she at least tells us how to pronounce it very early on in the book.
I love Mrs. Dalton. If i can be her when I’m old, I would be. (Well, except for collecting dolls.  Let me go ahead and set that record straight right now. Creepy dolls are not my thing).
I enjoyed Skye. She’s Caymen’s best friend and also has enjoyable wit and isn’t always out of the loop with what’s going on in Caymen’s life like a lot of YA friends are.

what i didn't like
The anticipation of waiting for the other shoe to drop.  You know Caymen is going to get something totally misconstrued and you can’t help but keep reading. The suspense of getting to the moment is brutal!

when to read
Your junior or senior year of high school. Oh wait, I’m 30.  Okay, then anytime.

while reading you should
Shop at: Savers, or your favorite local thrift store.
Listen to: a random local band playing at a bar/ coffee shop near you
Drink: Hot chocolate
Eat: blueberry muffins (or if you’re like me and don’t like blueberries, lemon poppy seed. In my opinion, they are equally addicting).

if you would like to buy
Click here. (A friendly reminder, that this link is an affiliate link. It doesn’t cost you more for the book but it does give me a kickback!)

Ps. I’ve mentioned before that Kasie regularly interacts with fans on goodreads. Well, I finally sent her a question and she responded! Enjoy!
the distance between us kasie west

 

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