Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Release date: September 29, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

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

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I didn’t know what to expect with Six of Crows and was pleasantly impressed, giddy, and quite frankly, blown away. I say “didn’t know what to expect” because I dived in without giving much thought into why this book is “highly recommended and over-hyped” (and for good reason!). To be honest, I thought the first two chapters were quite dry and a little boring. But, oh! The boredom quickly shifts to a captivating world filled with colorful characters. Their differences bring them together to see if they can pull off an impossible heist in order to gain some of their freedom/revenge.

This story is heavily driven by its characters and I loved that so much. The narrative is multi-perspective which was thoroughly developed. Each character has it’s own voice without being blurred or confused for another. To me, that is writing mastery and I applaud Bardugo for it.

I loved each character for their pasts, flaws, and fierceness. No one is who they seem on the surface. Every one has or will overcome their fears and demons. I also really really REALLY loved the diverse cast of characters like Kaz’s disabled body and how it did not affect how much of a badass he is, Inej’s dark skin and her strength and fierceness, Jesper’s attraction to men, and lastly Wylan’s disability. I’m not saying what kind of disability because it’s kind of a spoiler 😛 I loved how their characterization transcends their abilities as people. People are more than how they look and that’s a huge attribute I took away from reading Six of Crows.

The writing itself is powerful, spellbinding, and immersive. I was captivated by the world that Bardugo expanded upon. I only read Shadow and Bone in her Grisha trilogy and that was years ago. I saw this expansion as completely new and riveting, and it actually has made me want to continue reading the Grisha trilogy. The world-building is just…it’s magic. I love how she’s taken folklore and spun it to her own will, creating a whirlwind of adventure.

Lastly, I love love LOVE the romantic relationships within this fantastical world. I just swoon from every single one. There are so many quote worthy lines in this book and it is just:

Image result for heart eyes gif

It has been weeks since I finished Six of Crows and I cannot stop thinking about it. It was bloody brilliant and I honestly cannot wait until Crooked Kingdom is shipped to me. It needs to get here like NOW. I highly recommend this read if you like fantasy, beautiful world-building, and a mixture of unlikely criminals who can be seen as heroes of their story.

addy5star

 

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Book Review: Easy is the Descent by Emily Heng

Author: Emily Heng

Publisher: Self

Release date: January 5, 2017

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synopsis

Kie is no stranger to magic—not since her mother signed her life away to the world of witches and the supernatural, that is. With a contract in place binding her to their world, Kie must now escort the newly deceased souls from earth to the hereafter all while attempting to maintain some sort of normalcy in her own life.

And just when she’s beginning to get the hang of things, the first body shows up.

Witches around the city are turning up dead, and Kie is caught right in the middle of it; causing rising tensions between the two factions of witches—those born with their abilities, and those who have learned to harness them through other means—and unless Kie can prove her innocence, it can only lead to one thing: war.

NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I was instantly hooked by the beautiful cover and intriguing summary, only to be disappointed and unimpressed.

Let me begin by addressing the elements I really enjoyed in this novel like the diverse cast. Our protagonist, Kie is Korean (I believe) while the male protagonist, Grey, describes himself as “Euroasian.” The descriptions aren’t too clear, which I would have loved because I’m always so fascinated with the vast cultures of our world. I also enjoyed the magic system and the difference in old vs. new magic. Old magic comes from the earth, it is something that a person is born to while new magic is made when a deal is struck with another magical being. There are tensions between these two different kinds of magic and the tension rises when witches are being murdered.

This brings me to my third point: this is a crime mystery novel enriched with the element of magic! Kie and Grey are on a mission to solve the murder by attaining information illegally…I liked this so much because Grey proves to be resourceful! By working together, Kie and Grey form an unlikely bond of friendship, trust, and an inkling of romance. I liked this budding romance because they did not get on well at their first meeting.

The story was fast paced, while the chapters were too long. I think the chapters could have easily been split, especially when there are like 3-4 breaks within a chapter. That’s just a personally preference, though.

One of the MAJOR things that I disliked about this novel was the writing, more specifically the grammar. There were an abundance of grammatical mistakes that irked me. Simple mistakes, too. For example:

Shut up.” She said, automatic, rolling her eyes skyward.

Hey, I resent that accusation.” He said, mild.

From the glimpses she caught, nothing seemed to be amiss, but.

Her doubts from the night before still niggled at her in the cold light of day, weighed heavily at her thoughts.

As an English major, and more importantly as a writer myself, these kinds of mistakes are unacceptable. It’s easily fixable, but these were made more than once throughout the novel and it is why I knocked it down a star. I am kind of upset that I paid $3 for this when it wasn’t thoroughly edited.

The other reason for a star loss was the fact that I just wanted MORE. I wanted more magic, I wanted more relationship bonds. A possible romance was denied to me! By expanding on Kie’s magical world, this book could have been so amazing! Like I wanted to know more of the support group and each individual’s magical abilities – or maybe just more description on the magic of those she’s closest to like Petra’s and Taissa’s.

Easy is the Descent was good, but it could have been so much better if it was thoroughly edited and if there was more added magic.

addy3star

Book Review: Red Madrassa (Algardis #1)

Author: Terah Edun

Publisher: Terah Edun

Release date: November 8, 2012

Rating: 4 stars – ENJOYED IT!

Purchase from Amazon

 

Synopsis

A magical accident threw them together. But when Fate holds all the cards, it can be impossible to tell the difference between pure chance and Destiny…

The Madrassa, a magical school for mage practitioners, is the stuff of legend. With selective entrance exams and quotas for only the most advanced of mage children, it’s almost impossible to attend.

When Allorna, a guardian trainee for the royal family, ends up on the doorstep of the citadel on the eve of the final day of a recruitment ceremony, she decides it must be fate.

She was sure she knew the path her life would take before she enrolled. But sometimes life has a way of throwing in magical curveballs and strange friends, just to see if you’ll trip up.

Oh, and one of those friends is a mage accused of murder, another is a slightly psychotic dragon, the third a healer facing an existential crisis, and the last is a female storm-caller with more hidden secrets than a thief lord.

Do they all belong at the new school they call home?

This book is suitable for ages 12 and over. It is free of nudity, sexuality and only light cursing. The book is inclusive of LBGT and racial diversity. — Goodreads

 

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. SPOILERS MAY BE AHEAD.

Newly fresh YA voice, Terah Edun, delivers a nice, fast paced read full of adventure, magic, and a wee bit of romance.

I honestly thought that the book was really nicely written. I’m trying to get into the habit of reading indie books because self-published authors deserve some cred too! I was happy and honored to have the author herself contact me, asking to read her book and write a review. I accepted without hesitation because I absolutely love reading everything and anything. With that being said….let’s move on to the review itself.

For the very beginning, I thought that it was a little confusing. It jumped around from p.o.v. to p.o.v and I had to physically take down notes to keep track of the characters. There are 4 p.o.v’s altogether, but it’s written in 3rd person. I felt like at some points the p.o.v’s were the same…while other times they were wholly different, contrasting one another perfectly. Edun’s voice is strong and I liked that because it drove the story, making it a light and fast-paced read.

After I got through the first few chapters of the novel, it got easier to read. I suddenly knew who Allorna, Sidimo, Vedaris, and Sitara were. I saw them as four teenage misfits, kinda running from the law and settling at a magic school. It made it easy for me to see them in that sort of analogy to go forth with the story, which is unique and inventive, all on it own.

If there is one thing I love about stories it’s original plot lines and creative worlds. Edun does not disappoint in that aspect.

The other thing that I liked was the romance part woven into the novel. It wasn’t sappy-first-love, which I detest. I loved that Terah actually takes the time to develop the romance between the two characters. Not going to say who cause it’s SPOILERS, as River Song likes to say. It’s quite refreshing to read that since most of often YA novels consist of “love at first.”

All in all, I thought that Terah Edun’s first novel in her YA fantasy Algardis series was a great start! It definitely introduced a nice handful of characters and built the world in which the story takes place. I’d definitely recommend this to YA fantasy lovers!

Book Review: Mystic City (Mystic City #1) by Theo Lawrence

Author: Theo Lawrence

Publisher: Delacorte Books

Released date: October 9, 2012

Rating: 4.5 stars – REALLY LIKED IT!

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Synopsis

For fans of  Matched, The Hunger Games, X-Men, and Blade Runner comes a tale of a magical city divided, a political rebellion ignited, and a love that was meant to last forever. Book One of the Mystic City Novels.Goodreads

A Manhattan where magic is real and true love can change the world.

In this Manhattan, also known as Mystic City, the rich and powerful live in skyscrapers called the Aeries. The poor live far below, in the squalor of the Depths, alongside magic-wielding mystics who provide the energy that keeps the city pulsing.

High in the Aeries, Aria Rose is madly in love with Thomas Foster.

Or so she’s been told.

Aria wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. She doesn’t remember carrying on a secret romance with Thomas, the son of her father’s sworn enemy, much less falling in love with him. And now she and Thomas are engaged, pledged to a union that promises to end the bitter political rivalry between their families once and for all.

Then Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic who holds the key to her past. But as she begins to unlock the dark secrets behind her memory loss, she risks losing her one true love forever.

A sweeping epic, Mystic City is full of forbidden passion, deep betrayals, and dazzling bursts of magic.

TREAD CAREFULLY. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. SPOILERS MAY BE AHEAD.

When I first read the summary I was completely captivated by the Romeo & Juliet vibe I instantly received. Plus, isn’t the cover gorgeous? I’m a sucker for beautiful covers. Anyways, my R&J speculations were dead on as I began reading. From the very beginning, Lawrence weaves his story with parallels from Shakespeare’s most popular play, Romeo & Juliet. But just as it has similarities to Shakespeare’s themes, it is also a unique and creative story ignited by the power of love.

I found the beginning hard to read – as I find most dystopian novels at first. Why? Well, I think it’s because it’s set in a different world with terminology that at first needs to be understood. After reading two chapters I set the book aside. I couldn’t read it anymore. I found it dragging and boring. But when I picked up the book again that night I found myself unable to put it down. The plot picked up, sending Aria (the main protagonist) into a journey. All she wants is to remember. She wants to remember her love for Thomas, who is the son of her father’s sworn enemy and who she has no recollection of. She wants to remember why she even took Stic (a drug infused with Mystic magic), causing her to loss her memory in the first place. As the novel progresses, she begins to have distant dreams of the past, pushing her forward on her quest.

When she meets Hunter, who is a Mystic rebel, Aria is on her way to the East side to see her fiance, Thomas. There is something familiar about Hunter, but she let’s it pass. Of course, as the reader I couldn’t help but theorize that she must have known Hunter. But he was part of the memories that she had lost. When we find out who he really is, it’s not difficult to put the puzzle pieces together. It takes Aria more time to figure it out, though. I don’t blame her, seeing as she has so many other things to worry about. Like the impending wedding to a guy she doesn’t love and the fact that her dad is practically a mobster and her mother is a selfish and cold-hearted woman.  True villainous tyrants, if you ask me. They will do anything to keep their power over the city, including killing their own daughter.

Yep. That’s right.

Even though I felt like the love story was predictable in Mystic City, there were still many surprises throughout the novel. The betrayals ran deep between blood and allies, while startling secrets about character’s actual identities are revealed. Towards the end of the book there is a specific betrayal that I’m completely shocked about. I just couldn’t believe it and it seemed that that specific person could have been trusted the most. I learned a valuable lesson just by that part: NEVER TRUST ANYONE.

There’s also magic. Beautiful and unique magic, which is one of the main issues that arises in the story. Mystics aren’t to be trusted. They are to drained when they reach thirteen years because it’s when their powers are fully developed. There are some who are against the drainings. They are the rebels who live underground the city’s abandoned tunnels. The people who live in the Aeries believe them to all be evil because of a single action that a group of them committed, which we find out the validity to that story throughout the novel. I found it parallel to the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York by a handful of Muslim men and the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese. Suddenly, when a group of people that are from a different race or religion or are simply “different than the norm” all who belong to said group are condemned. Which isn’t right by any means. But it’s much like what happens to the Mystics in the novel.

If you love dystopian novels and romance you’ll definitely be a fan of Theo Lawrence’s new series. Like I said, it has loads of Romeo & Juliet parallels but Lawrence makes Shakespeare’s themes all his own, integrating them into the foundation of the story. There are also vivid comparisons to political questions and actions that truly churn your mind. It’s quite intriguing and captivating. I couldn’t stop reading until I finished because so many things kept happening that kept fueling the story. The conclusion is startling and inevitable, but filled with so much passion. I couldn’t help myself liking Aria Rose for her strength and courage. It’s definitely one of new favorite series and I absolutely cannot wait until next summer when Renegade Heart hits shelves!