The Six of Crows Duology

I was very excited to read the Six of Crows Duology, because I know it’s beloved by many Grishaverse fans, and the premise sounded intriguing — and so different from the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. My only regret is that I didn’t read these books sooner, but I also can’t imagine reading the first book and then having to wait a year for the second one. Talk about torture! 😱 These reviews are as non-spoilery as possible, so without further ado…

SOCSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

After hearing so many great things about this book, I was curious to see if it would live up to the hype. Spoiler: IT DID. The writing is sharp and superb, the pacing is flawless, and the character development is truly next level. In a story with six main protagonists, there’s a risk of focusing too much on some and not enough on others. But Bardugo strikes the perfect balance between all of the Dregs, providing each of them with a distinct personality and backstory. Honestly, I love them all, and I would join them for waffles in a heartbeat. ❤️ I finally understand tweets like “I WOULD DIE FOR KAZ BREKKER,” because he is an incredible character, and I want nothing but the best for my ruthless, stabby boy. 🔪🔪🔪 But the thing that most impressed me was the story itself. It’s about a high-stakes heist that takes place in a fantasy world; I’ve never read anything quite like it. And just when you think you’ve figured out Kaz’s plan, he throws a curveball straight at your face. Even if you weren’t a big fan of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, I would definitely recommend giving this book a shot. There’s a clear improvement in Bardugo’s writing, the narrative style is completely different (and works much better than first-person narration), and — drumroll please — there’s no love triangle! 😁

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

CKCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I’m going to try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but I’ll tell you this: Prepare to have your heart ripped out — repeatedly. I was warned before I read it, but still… DEAR LORD, THAT WAS DEVASTATING. 😭 Much like Six of Crows, this book revolves around a dangerous heist — among other things — and has impeccable pacing. The Dregs are faced with enemies on all sides, and the tension is consistently palpable. I can’t remember the last time I stayed up until 2 AM reading a book, but I just couldn’t put this one down until I finished it. If you’ve read the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, you’ll see some familiar faces in this book. (Also: If you plan on reading King of Scars, this duology is pretty much required reading. It provides valuable insight into certain characters’ motivations, as well as context for many of the key plot points in King of Scars.) We learn more about the Dregs’ lives prior to the Ice Court heist, we see relationships grow and change, and we’re forced to watch as each of them is pushed to their absolute limit. This is a fantastic conclusion to the duology, and the ending left me teary-eyed but (mostly) happy. ❤️ I’m probably going to spend the rest of this month — if not my entire life — yelling at people to read this book.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

February TBR

february tbr

Six of Crows + Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve already started reading Six of Crows, and I can hardly put it down. IT’S SO GOOD. Definitely one of those books that I wish I had read sooner. (Let’s just ignore the fact that it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for over two years… 😅) And I can honestly say that I love every single one of the Dregs. But I’ve heard that Crooked Kingdom will devastate me, so I’m enjoying my happiness while it lasts.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
This book has everything I love — a gorgeous cover (and illustrations that change as you read each story), Leigh Bardugo’s magical writing, and fairy tales and folklore from the Grishaverse. This collection includes “The Too-Clever Fox,” which will be perfect to read before finally diving into King of Scars. (Nikolaaaaai. ❤️)

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it has taken all of my willpower to set it aside until I’ve finished my Grishaverse read-a-thon. 🙃 I’ve avoided synopses, comments, reactions, spoilers… Everything. But I’m ecstatic that our favorite mischievous king is getting his own duology! And I’m excited to see where this story will take him.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Another of my most anticipated reads of the year, this book sounds beautiful and dark — like, really dark. (MY FAVORITE KIND. 😈) And I was lucky enough to win an ARC in a giveaway! Roshani Chokshi said on Goodreads, “This book is for everyone who shipped Alina and The Darkling,” so… *cough* I have a feeling I’m going to really like it… 🖤 As an added bonus, the author — whose tweets bring me much joy — is also from Northeast Ohio!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I haven’t read this book since high school, so I’m curious to see what I’ll think of it 10+ years later. I’m positive I’ll still be Team Elizabeth Bennet, but will I swoon over Mr. Darcy? 🤔 (Fun Fact: In high school, I was less interested in Mr. Darcy than I was in Jane Eyre‘s brooding Mr. Rochester. This probably tells you a lot about me as a person.) This is the February pick for the #ArdentlyAustenBookClub readalong on Instagram. You can find more info here!

What will you be reading this month? Anything romantic? 😉 Let me know below!

January Wrap-Up

january wrap-up

Here are the books I read this month:

Were there any books on my January TBR that I did not read?
I didn’t end up reading The Cruel Prince or The Wicked King this month (*sob*), but I will definitely read them soon! 😁

Did I read any books that weren’t on my January TBR?
Yes! The Need wasn’t on my TBR. I was really intrigued by the premise, and it was a nice break between Sense and Sensibility and my reread of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy.

What was my favorite read of this month?
I have to go with Siege and Storm. It was a pleasure to reread it and remember why I enjoyed it so much when I first picked it up years ago.

What was my least favorite read of this month?
I was surprisingly disappointed — and a little frustrated — by Match Me If You Can. 🙁

January Favorites

This year, I’ve decided to share my monthly favorites! 😃 Some of these will be book-related, but I’ll also be talking about other favorites of mine, including TV shows, movies, songs, candles, games, and more.

Here are some of my January favorites…

jankindle

KINDLE BOOKS: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi // The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty // King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about The Gilded Wolves, so I couldn’t resist adding it to my library. Even though I have yet to read The City of Brass, I decided to purchase the sequel The Kingdom of Copper so that I can binge both books… sometime. (Soon! Hopefully. 😅) And DUH, King of Scars. It’s taking all of my willpower not to just dive right in, but I still have three books standing between me and my sweet Nikolai. I even deleted my Twitter app to avoid spoilers. I’m taking this book very seriously…

jangrGOODREADS ADDS: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson // These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling // Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

The Storm Crow is described as “Eragon meets And I Darken,” and the cover is so beautiful!  If you’re looking for a story with elemental witches, blood magic, and F/F romance, look no further than These Witches Don’t Burn. (Which, coincidentally, comes out on my birthday! 😁) And do I even have to explain my excitement for Empire of the Vampire? It’s devastating that we have to wait until 2020 for this book, but at least we get Darkdawn — the highly-anticipated conclusion to Kristoff’s The Nevernight Chronicle — in September. 🖤

TV SHOW: The Good Place

Holy motherforking shirtballs, this show is the BEST. It’s a hilarious, feel-good comedy about the afterlife that is still, even after three seasons, completely unpredictable. It should be criminal to have such a perfect cast, and I have laughed, gasped, cried, and felt pretty much every feeling possible while watching it. A+, 10/10, would recommend to literally everyone. The first two seasons are available on Netflix. Also: Have I ever identified with a character more than Chidi Anagonye? Probably not. Indecisive intellectuals, unite! 😂

jancandleCANDLE: Fine, Make Me Your Villain from Rose & Adder

I mostly chose this candle because it was inspired by the Darkling, and I just finished my reread of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. (You can read my mini-reviews of each book here!) But I also think this candle is perfect for winter. The scents are black currant, anise, and clove. It’s an intoxicating, heady scent that’s perfect for one of my favorite hot-yet-murderous-and-overall-problematic faves. 😉 You can check out Rose & Adder’s shop here!

SONG: “Moving On” — Anna of the North

If, like me, you watched (and fell in love with) Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, you’ll probably remember Anna of the North’s song “Lovers.” As great as that song is, I personally think this one is even more amazing. It’s bubbly, retro, and perfect for a solo dance party while doing laundry. (Don’t tell me I’m the only one who does that.) While “Lovers” has over 26 million plays on Spotify, this song only has a little over 2.5 million. Listen now, thank me later. 🎧

jancomicWEBCOMIC: Lore Olympus

Step 1: Download the LINE WEBTOON app. (Or visit their website, linked above.)
Step 2: Bask in the utter perfection that is this webcomic. ❤️

Here’s a synopsis:

Witness what the gods do… after dark. The friendships and the lies, the gossip and the wild parties, and of course, forbidden love. Because it turns out, the gods aren’t so different from us after all, especially when it comes to their problems. Stylish and immersive, this is one of mythology’s greatest stories — The Taking of Persephone — as it’s never been told before.

The artwork is stunning, the dialogue is sharp and witty, and the short chapters will leave you eager for the next one. Lucky for you, there are 47 available right now, and the comic is updated every Saturday at 9 PM EST. You can follow the brilliant creator, Rachel Smythe, at @used_bandaid on Twitter.

MOBILE GAME: The Arcana

I’ll admit it. I’m trash for this game. 😝 It’s described as an interactive novel, and it’s more fun than it has any right to be. You’re able to choose between romancing your magic teacher, the alluring countess, the fugitive former plague doctor, and the mysterious, brooding outsider. Yes, it’s one of those games that tries to make you spend your actual money on in-game money. BUT there are multiple ways to earn free coins and keys, which are used to unlock exclusive content and access chapters. So if you’re patient — like, really, really patient — I assure you, it can be done without spending a dime.

janrecipeRECIPE: Stacked Cantina Nachos with Everything Cheese Sauce from The Simple Kitchen

One of my goals this year is to learn some new recipes, because I seem to just cook the same stuff every week. These nachos were a huge hit, and the cheese sauce was really easy to make. (And it’s not that gross, yellow-orange nacho cheese, so, bonus! 😄) I skipped the refried beans, pickled jalapeños, and sour cream, because I’m a somewhat-picky eater. But these were so nice, I made ’em twice! I highly recommend Chad and Donna Elick’s cookbook, The Simple Kitchen, along with their blog, The Slow Roasted Italian.

The Shadow and Bone Trilogy

In anticipation of Leigh Bardugo’s newest Grishaverse book, King of Scars, I decided to reread the trilogy that started it all. (I’ll also be reading Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom, and The Language of Thorns.) Instead of writing full reviews of each book in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, I decided that three mini-reviews would be best.

SPOILER WARNING: I’ve tried to make these reviews as non-spoilery as possible, but if you haven’t read these books and wish to remain completely, 100% unspoiled, proceed with caution! 😬

sabShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

This book is a good start to the series. It introduces us to the main characters, handles a ton of world-building, and sets things into motion for the second and third books. That being said, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time I read it. 🤔 Knowing that Alina and Mal both change by the end of the series, I was a little more patient. But I can see a first-time reader feeling frustrated — or even bored — by both of them. One of the most interesting characters is the Darkling. (I also have a weakness for ancient, magical men with dark pasts and villainous tendencies. 😂) This book does utilize some well-known YA tropes; Alina is the “chosen one,” and there’s definitely a love triangle. I do think, however, that Bardugo uses them in interesting ways. 

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

sasSiege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

This is my favorite of the three books. The pacing is impeccable, we get the perfection that is Sturmhond, and the ending… WHEW. There’s a scene that, even now, still gives me chills. 🖤 (For those who’ve read this book, I’m talking about pg. 418-422.) This book has some serious momentum, and there never seems to be a dull moment. It’s honestly hard to write about it without spoiling some major plot points, but you can expect high seas adventure, secret identities, witty banter, bad decisions (SO MANY OF THEM), hope, pain, and wanting to start the next book immediately after you finish this one. And did I mention Sturmhond? We are truly blessed by his literary existence. 😍

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

rarRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

While Siege and Storm has impeccable pacing, this book seems to drag on and on… We spend so much time in the White Cathedral (nearly 20% of the book!) and, later, the Sikurzoi. But then the final battle seemed to happen so quickly. 😐 I do like the ending more than I did when I first read this book. I will warn you — it might feel like this book repeatedly rips your heart out and throws it across the room. Don’t worry. This is normal. 😫 I’m still curious about what the trilogy would have looked like if Alina had given in and agreed to rule alongside the Darkling. (I know, I know. He’s undeniably monstrous. But just look at this fan art. Look at it and join me in the pit of despair.) Also, Baghra and Nikolai’s bickering is the fantasy buddy cop movie I never knew I wanted.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

January Mini-Reviews

mmiycMatch Me If You Can by Tiana Smith

This book deals with lots of secrets. And while it doesn’t have online dating, it does have an online matchmaking service… for high schoolers! I related to Mia in many ways. She’s struggling to figure out what — and who — she wants, worrying about the school newspaper and her college aspirations, and… well, she’s pretty awkward. It sometimes felt like I was looking in a mirror. (Or like my seventeen-year-old self was looking in a mirror. That was a loooooong time ago. 😅)

While I realize that Mia and her friends are still in high school, I still found many of their actions to be overly-dramatic and not very believable. (Her exchanges with Elena? WHEW. I felt like I was watching Riverdale — and not in a good way.) Some small things become big things, and some big things — like Mia logging into Robyn’s email account behind her back to send Vince fake matchmaking results — seem to just… not matter all that much. And seriously, why does Mia keep calling Vince “genuine”? He only asks her to homecoming because of the email she sends — not because he has any feelings for her. Maybe I’m biased since I thought she and Logan had great romantic tension right from the start.

I stand by what I said in my January TBR — I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sandhya Menon’s From Twinkle, With Love. And anyone who enjoys modern-day Shakespeare adaptations would likely enjoy seeing how Smith wrote her own take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Note: Thank you to Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

mfhnsMy Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

This book checked all the boxes for me. Friends-to-lovers trope? Check. Online dating, with lots of emailing back and forth? (I’m a sucker for a good epistolary romance.) Check. Complex, hilarious, and memorable characters? Check. And the main character, Millie, is an expert on female serial killers! She’s also a self-proclaimed “Level Five Hot Mess,” but watching her learn from her mistakes and grow as a person… *chef’s kiss*

But as much as I enjoyed this book, there were times when I became frustrated with all the secrets. Millie and Reid keep the fact that they had sex a secret from their friends. Millie keeps pretty much her entire life a secret from her friends. Then she creates her “Catherine” dating profile and keeps her true identity a secret from Reid. And the list goes on and on. I don’t usually have a problem with secrets, but there came a point when I was practically shaking the book, shouting, “JUST COME OUT AND SAY IT!” (It probably didn’t help that I was reading Match Me If You Can — another book that’s full of secrets — at the same time.)

That being said, this book was an absolute delight. ❤️ The alternating POVs work well, the dialogue is perfect, and the ending will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. I would recommend this to fans of Christina Lauren’s other books, especially Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. And if you’re a fan of My Favorite Murder, you’ll likely find yourself wishing you could be BFFs with Millie.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

sasSense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Having never read Sense and Sensibility — or even watched an adaptation — I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised, and even though it took some time for me to become invested in the story, I quickly became eager to find out what would happen to Marianne and Elinor.

I would definitely call it a romantic comedy, for the most part. The characters are all so dynamic and well-written — I fell head over heels for the Dashwood girls, who, while very different, are complementary heroines. 😊 There were some slower parts, and I initially felt a little disoriented. (It’s been a while since I’ve read any Austen, though.) But the humor, the complexity of the characters, and the suspense kept me reading. If, like me, you’ve only ever read Pride and Prejudice, I think you’ll find that this book is similar in all the best ways.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

needThe Need by Helen Phillips
Release Date: July 9th, 2019

I don’t usually gravitate toward thrillers — mostly because I’m easily scared. But I couldn’t resist the bizarre premise of this book: Molly, a paleobotanist and mother, is at home with her two children when she hears footsteps in the other room. While this is happening, you learn that the fossil quarry she’s been digging in has yielded some puzzling finds, including a controversial Bible that draws unwanted — and, at times, frightening — attention from tourists. What happens next is unnerving, mind-bending, and psychologically harrowing.

I liked that this book was a thriller that also functioned as an introspection on what it means to be a mother. We see Molly struggle, and there’s nothing held back. Her love for her children is complicated and messy and fierce, and it is the beating heart of this book. The pacing was superb, mostly because of the short chapters. They built a momentum that kept me reading until late at night, unable tear myself away. The big reveal wasn’t too surprising; the author drops several hints before it’s actually confirmed. And there were a few other things that I wish had been a little less predictable. I anticipate the ending dividing some readers, since it’s one of those endings that doesn’t entirely feel like an ending. 🤔

In some ways, this book reminds me of Michael Rutger’s The Anomaly, Thomas Pierce’s The Afterlives, and even Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. It’s the kind of story that blurs reality just enough that you’ll be left looking at the world around you in a different way long after you’ve turned the last page.

Note: Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

January TBR

January TBR

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
After reading Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and Roomies, I’m excited to check out Christina Lauren’s latest book. It sounds fun and sexy, with some friends-to-lovers romance and guaranteed online dating hijinks.

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith
I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book, and it sounds perfect for fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and From Twinkle, With Love. It’s a YA contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Early reviews promise sweet fluffiness and relatable characters — and have you seen the adorable cover? Talk about swoon-worthy! 😊

The Cruel PrinceThe Wicked King by Holly Black
I really enjoyed reading The Cruel Prince last year, and while I feel like I still remember most of it, I’m going to reread it before moving on to the sequel. I’ve been seeing lots of positive reviews of The Wicked King — as well as some non-spoilery OMFG tweets confirming that some crazy shit goes down in this book.

The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
I’m going to try to reread Shadow and BoneSiege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising as well as read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom for the first time — before I jump into King of Scars. It’s been a while since I’ve read this trilogy, so I’m curious to see how I feel about it now.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I haven’t read much Jane Austen, so I decided to join the #ArdentlyAustenBookClub readalong on Instagram. It’s hosted by @alchemyandink and @paperbackbones, and the goal is to read one Austen book every month through July. You can find more info here!

What books are you planning to read this month? Leave a comment and let me know!