Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

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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.

I’m writing this in the aftermath of reading Crooked Kingdom, having devoured both books in only a few days. And while this review is only on SoC, I would just like to say that the sequel is just as good… maybe better (I haven’t made up my mind, I’m still in shock and in the wants to hug the book and protect the characters stage)

There are so many things I love about Six of Crows.

It’s fantasy, which is always a huge plus, its huge which is an even better plus, and though there are small (tiny) romances throughout, the romance is only a bare fraction of what the book is about- which is the best plus (don’t get me wrong, I love romance- but there are some fantasy books that don’t need it- or don’t need it at the forefront.

Leigh is an incredible writer. She weaves her stories around so well that the reader is always one step behind- we think we know what will happen, and the the opposite does. Enemies are written as friends and betrayals are written as saves, and she teaches you to expect nothing less that the impossible and the unexpected.

And the characters- Oh my god each and every one of the  main six characters are flawed and funny and broken and brilliant. I think that is what makes you care about them so much- even Kaz, who is fairly ruthless and most of the time, seemingly heartless. Each of the six has their back story explored (some of them moreso in Crooked Kingdom) which, while not justifying actions, makes you understand them.

Their friendships and relationships are amazing as well. The girls do not fight each other over anything (no, not even boys), and actually help and support each other (The fact this seems to be such a rare thing in fiction makes me sad). And the romantic relationships are built on a foundation of the friendships and trust that is already there- and each romance is something that builds over both books, and each romance is not even about the kissing and making out- its about who the characters are to each other. Their actions and words and minds.

And then the storyline- this group of six teens who set out to break into a prison that is famous for not having escapees. Things go wrong, some of them get injured, some of them (surprisingly) manage not to kill the others. It’s funny and adventurous, insane and brilliant,

It’s funny and adventurous, insane and brilliant, and having now finished both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, I can say it is one of the best series I have ever read.

five stars

Currently reading: Cogheart

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Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?

With her friends – Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox – Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart…

Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian adventure.

The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

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Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good retelling. And that I love anything to do with myths and legends. So of course, in that respect, I love this book already.

The thing about retellings is…you already know the story. Yet each retelling is different. And what I love about this book is that, despite the fact I knew what was happening, and what was going to happen, it still managed to surprise me, still managed to have me up in the early hours in the morning wondering what had happened to my life to make me cry over the story and wondering if I would ever get over it (the answer is no. I first read it over a year ago when I was given it for my birthday. Since then I have wanted to reread it on countless occasions, but didn’t, and also since then, I have found myself thinking about the characters a lot. I finally reread it this week, so I’m sure the same will be happening in the future year)

I love every aspect of this book.

Patroclus’ narration is wonderful- it’s simple but powerful, and he is a character we can relate to. He is, in essence, the ‘least interesting’ character in the story- he is not favoured by gods, he is not half-god, like Achilles, is is not a good fighter, in fact, he’s pretty much useless on the battlefield. He’s an outcast, exiled and seemingly unwanted by everyone apart from Achilles. In a cast of kings and princes, Patroclus stands out, because he is so human and by being human, he brings out the ordinary in everyone else. I don’t think the story would have worked from any other PoV, or from third person, because… this is not a story about war and Troy. It’s a love story,  a boy and a half-god in love while they try to survive war and gods and the anger both brings.

But it’s not just Patroclus- all the characters are wonderful. And through Patroclus, you cannot help but fall a bit for Achilles. From the musical prince to the warrior, he changes so much, but you still cant help but love him. He is different to how we have read and seen him before- through Patroclus he is not full of wrath. Through Patroclus we see Achilles care for more than his fame and glory- most of the time. Of course, Achilles is still arrogant, still prideful (and oh god, dont you want to shake him when he is) but Patroclus makes him seem….more mortal.

And then…there is the end. I adore the last 50 pages, despite how much they destroy me. Its so beautifully written, every emotion so strong, as if you are not reading off a page but stood next to them all, watching and seeing it all play out.

Miller is an extraordinary writer, the words so lyrical and beautiful they draw you in completely.

five stars

On spoilers, reactions and Empire of Storms

The internet. It can be a wonderful place for bookish related things- from reviews to fan art to merchandise. But it can also be awful- when spoilers are leaked, or authors are attacked for writing their own book.

Sarah J Maas is one of my favourite writers. It’s not exactly hard to see that- I’m always trying to get people to read her books, always counting down til her next book, or writing about her characters. But the downside, I have found, to being a fan of Maas…is a lot of her other ‘fans.’

Before Queen of Shadows came out last year, someone leaked spoilers- and the last chapter- online, leading to outrage and complaints. People vowing to never read the books, people insulting others who were still reading the books, people telling people the end while they were still reading to get a reaction.

The book came out, and it was amazing. Because guess what? Spoilers tell you an outcome (sometimes not even that) not the lead up and the understanding.

I really really hoped that the fandom would have learnt from last year, but in the weeks leading up to Empire of Storms, the exact same thing happened. Spoilers were leaked, people started insulting the books- and the author. Whenever the series was mentioned, it was always with a cloud of anger or doubt or hate.

I’m not saying you can’t hate books or series, or authors. Hell, there are plenty of books in the world I have hated, and there are a few authors who I do not agree with. But there is a difference between hating something, and bullying.

Hate a series, yes. Do not spoil it for those that like it. Do not ruin it for those that are reading it, do not insult those that read it. Hate an author- but do not send them death threats!

Authors are human beings, just like you and me. They have feelings. The only difference is that they have put their imagination, some of their heart and soul into the book you hold. Treat them the way you want to be treated. Insulting them, sending them hate, its all out of order.

I never saw any spoilers of EoS. I managed to avoid them- by staying off websites like Goodreads in the run up to the book. So while I could see the backlash to what was happening- people getting upset and worried, people getting hate over defending Maas, I was cheerfully innocent to why people were so angry. Which is why, when the book arrived a few days early, I was still excited and dived into it at once.

Oh my god, it was amazing- just as I had expected.

Maas has a wonderful way of telling a story, and with every book, she just gets better. She draws you in, makes you fall in love then destroys your heart leaving you in a sobbing mess at the end.

I can understand why some people were a bit disappointed. (slight spoilers ahead?) After all, one of my favourite characters (and the one I want to steal and protect with my life) was not in this book. Darling Chaol was absent- and people were getting worked up about it.

However Take into account what Chaol’s storyline in this would have been like, and compare it to the giant arc that did happen, and even I can understand why he is missing. His chapters would have slowed things down, would not have been as important or interesting as what was in the book….and he is getting his own Novella, so…

And (personally) for me, there were a few to many make-out style scenes- but then I have always read this series for the fantasy, and the world, and the magic- and the individual characters- not for who gets with who.

And therein, I think, we find the problem.

Many readers- and mostly younger readers- read these books for the ‘ships’ more than the story. They want ‘this character’ to end with ‘that one’, they don’t like ‘this character’ and ‘that one’ together. There has always been a problem with the shippers- I remember, back with Heir of Fire, when I said that Chaol was my favourite, I was sent hate by many people because they assumed that by me liking him, I wanted him and Celaena to be together and according to them THIS WAS WRONG.

I was told that people who liked Chaol were ‘the problem’ and ‘children’ and ‘didn’t understand what a bad character was.’ I was told that ‘chaol lovers were the ones that kicked off and sent hate out’ (huh, funny that. Almost ironic)

But…a book is more than its relationship arcs. The relationships in the ToG books have been important- because they have shown how the characters have changed and grown throughout. But they are also not the end of everything. The ToG series is about a girl trying to find her place in a world that has been ruined, trying to get past what she has done to survive. It’s about a Prince trying to become a King, and a Captain learning where his loyalties should really lie.

Yes, some people do not like this series- and that is their right. But you should not hate a series based on spoilers, without reading the book yourself. And you should not ruin that book for others.

The series is incredibly well written. And even if it wasn’t- no author deserves to be sent hate for what they write, no reader should be sent hate for what they love. Every series ever written has had problems with them- because, like people, books are not perfect. But the lack of perfection- while should be noted- should not be throw in to the faces of the people that enjoy them.

Reading. Its meant to be fun, not stressful.

(and lastly, if you have’t read this series yet, please, please go and read it.)

 

On the TBR Pile: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

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Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

I….was not expecting to like this book as much as I did? People have been telling me for over a year to read it, and I kept putting it off since I’m always wary of hyped up books.

But, with the film out this month, I thought I would sit down and read it before I saw it.

And I enjoyed it. Not only is the book beautifully produced (I’m vain about books, alright) its different and interesting. I love the fact the story centered around all these strange vintage photographs- it makes me want to go out and find some myself to see what I can write.

And I love the actual storyline. All these odd characters on this island who have powers of some sort, being hunted by something they cant even see? And the time travel aspect of it (time travel, I sometimes find, is cheesy, but its so well done in this).

It’s an eerie, slightly creepy read, and I really do recommend it

four stars

On the TBR Pile: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?