Review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crookedkingdom Crooked Kingdom
By: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 27th 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Kaz Brekker and his crew 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 left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, 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 magic in the Grisha world.

My Thoughts:
This book was beyond fantastic. I am unable to really articulate how much I loved this book. It is no surprise to anyone that follows me on Instagram or Twitter but I am such a fan of Bardugo’s writing. I have loved each of her books and think that Crooked Kingdom might be my absolute favorite.

Bardugo takes her readers much deeper into each character’s backstory in CK. We get so much more development and understanding about each of their pasts. I found these bits so incredibly emotionally moving. I don’t cry often in books but this one had me in tears several times. I have such a deep love for each character I am still not over how heartbreaking it was to see this series end.

Though I love each, Kaz has got to be my very favorite. There’s just something about him that pulls me in- I love how even with how tragic his past was he still has the capacity for kindness (in his own twisted way). I love a character that straddles good and evil and Kaz did this. I never knew exactly what he’s capable of which always keeps me guessing.

Once again the city of Ketterdam was a living and breathing place. Bardugo was capable of putting so much detail into her descriptions I felt like I was there (not always a good thing!) Her descriptions of each character’s relationship to the city helped to color the setting and give it life. Since the stakes are so incredibly high the pacing was fast and I flew through the pages. I tried to savor this read but I found myself progressing far too quickly. I wanted it to never end.

The novel had an amazing finish and most of the character’s story lines had closure. There was however a character that didn’t get a full ending so I’m hoping that well see more in the future. I can’t accept that Bardugo is done with Ketterdam and its citizens.

One question I’ve been asked several times- do you need to read the Grisha series before Six of Crows? Well, I think you completely could but you will miss some of the backstory of the world and some characters do cross over. I feel that every reader should dive into both series and I personally prefer to read in publishing order though technically you could read SoC prior to the Grisha books.

crookedkingdomsig

Final Thoughts:
Crooked Kingdom was an impeccable finish to Six of Crows. I can’t really complain about any aspect (even my tears) and I only hope that Bardugo weaves a couple of The Dregs into her future stories.

Now tell me- how do I live without more Kaz stories? The only thing I’ve found to fill the void left by this series ending was to purchase SoC/CK merchandise. I thought I’d share some of my favorite things…

cktote ckcandle

Crooked Kingdom Tote by Evie Seo
No Mourners No Funerals Candle by Lumiere Candle Shop
No Mourner No Funerals Art Print by Her Bookish Things

Review for Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson

LikeaRiverGloriusLike a River Glorious
By: Rae Carson
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:
After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

My Thoughts:
I am really loving Carson’s newest series and her foray into westerns. I think she has captured the harshness and tension that had to have been present during this time period in California. My take-away from this novel- the gold rush was not fun. I’m not sure I’d have made it due to the hardships but reading Lee’s journey was incredibly riveting.

This book was very dark at times and the tension was hard to get through. I had to read this one slowly because all the struggles Lee had to endure really took a toll on me. I am really emotionally connected to these characters so their journey was my own. It was hard reading about them coming upon one bad thing after another. And Hiram- ack what a sadistic jerk. Carson has given his character incredible depth but my dislike for him runs deep. I wanted to throttle him throughout his scenes. His treatment of Lee and the people working his mine…grr.

There was a romance that started in the first novel and grows some in this one. It wasn’t a focus of the novel although it does push along the plot and Lee’s motivations at times. I really love this couple and I hope that at the end of the series there ends up being a HEA. I need it. This novel wasn’t at all filler to me, the plot points of the storyline were done wonderfully and this didn’t end on a cliff-hanger which I appreciated. I’m not all that sure where the last book of the series will go but I’m excited to find out.

The historical aspects of the novel were well done though I don’t have much to base them on. I’ve not done much study into this time period or the treatment of the Native Americans or Chinese workers but this depiction seemed incredibly realistic and makes me want to further my education and learn more about what it was like for them. It wasn’t easy to read but I think necessary for all of us to remember. I think it’s so easy for our historical knowledge to gloss over these nasty bits and that really needs to change.

I love that this series is so based in history and reality and the magical elements are incorporated seamlessly. Lee’s magical ability was such a blessing yet curse for her. I love how she struggles throughout both novels to really grasp the extent of her skill and its impact on others around her.

LikeARiverGloriousIG

Final Thoughts:
Like a River Glorious was such a beautifully done novel though certain aspects were really hard for me to read. I had to take it slow and read another novel in between because the struggle Lee goes through as well as the treatment of people in this book could be really depressing. I was always riveted to the storyline and feel it was a strong follow up to the first book.

 

Review of Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

BrightSmokeColdFireBright Smoke, Cold Fire
By: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: September 27th 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . .

My Thoughts:
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire was an adaptation/reworking of the play Romeo & Juliet. This has always been my favorite of Shakespeare’s so I was thrilled to have the chance to read it early. Immediately, I was captivated with how Hodge wove the original storyline into this fantasy story. The world was rather complicated and I’ll admit that at times I felt a tad lost trying to keep up with who went with which family, etc. This world is one in which there is only once city standing in a world surrounded by death caused by the Ruining. The dead are pretty much zombies.

From the original play, Paris was always, to me, a very sidelined character. He was always just the poor guy that Juliet was supposed to marry for the honor of her family. I was thrilled that he had a much larger role to play in this adaptation. And, he’s never a love interest for our Juliet. His role was so much more unique. I loved how his character struggled with his self-worth and confidence. He never felt self-assured or that he was really the person for the job. I can really relate to these self doubts so I was instantly sympathetic to his character. He was so realistic.

Juliet was a fierce warrior driven by duty to her family. I loved that she was actually nameless and Juliet was actually her position rather than her name. She was a bit harder to relate to because she hid herself so well to those around her. She had such a deep shell surrounding her true feelings it meant something to me that Romeo was able to find a crack in her surface armor. You might think that this book would be romantically driven. When I picked it up I thought it would be but it was far from that. Yes, romance drives the plot point but I wasn’t overly moved by the relationship between Juliet and Romeo. As with the original their love was new and rushed.

All of the other relationships were so much more moving for me. We have burgeoning friendships, partnerships and companions. I loved watching these characters warm up to each other and slowly open up. I found it to be the driving force in the novel for me.

We focus on multiple characters and their stories and only as things near the end do we really see how it all ties together and how later in the series things might converge. This book set up the story line so well that I can’t wait to see where things will go. I honestly have no clue what Hodge has in store. In this book alone I was surprised by at least a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming.

I think that some readers might find the world building a bit dense and might find it to be a bit slow in certain parts. Though I recognized these things I felt that it all built up to a wonderfully complex and interesting story and world that was worth the time to get a feel for the families, history and magic.

Brightsmokecoldfirepicture

Final Thoughts:
Once again Rosamund Hodge has written a beautifully complex and original story. I loved how she wove elements of Romeo & Juliet into this story and yet made it completely new. I never knew exactly where the story was going and found myself surprised with the final events. The way this book left off I’m positive there will be a sequel and I can’t wait.