ARC Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Check out what I thought about SIX OF CROWS, a YA fantasy novel, by Leigh Bardugo!

six of crowsTitle: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pub Date: September 29, 2015 from Henry Holt & Co
Amazon: Buy it here
B&N: Or here
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves

Preorder campaign going on here!
Leigh also appeared in Vanity Fair! Cause she’s awesome.

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.

Thanks to Brittany for loaning me her ARC!

Six of Crows quickly became a book I was very much looking forward to after seeing Leigh at BookCon in May with Marissa Meyer and tearing through her Grisha Trilogy recently.

leigh marissa bookconleigh marissa bookcon 2

I don’t even know how to tell you, it does NOT disappoint.

This book has been pitched as Ocean’s 11 for YA. I’ve never seen those movies but I can tell you I’d pitch this as Heist Society meets Leigh Bardugo. It has great team dynamics that are really interesting and all the sass, pain, and creativity from Leigh as you’d expect.

It’s kind of crazy to say this book is told through SIX POVs but it works. I saw another reviewer on Goodreads mention that this book would have failed without Leigh and I think that’s so true. No one else could have allowed their characters to go to extremely unlikeable or dark places and still underpin everything with humanity. I’m trying to be annoyingly vague because this is a story you need to curl up with and devour in its entirety immediately.

Each POV is third person, which allows Leigh’s tone to stay the same, but delve into their unique backstories all while moving the plot along. I can’t fathom how it all works, but it does. It’s a marvel.

The Grisha world expands in ways I didn’t expect. There are lots of easter eggs for fans of her first series sprinkled throughout which make the reading experience all the more fun. One thing I loved about the original trilogy was the relationship between Alina, Genya, and Zoya. Leigh continues to write amazing female friendships, like she does here with Inej and Nina.

Six of Crows is fantastic. When I was reading the Grisha trilogy, I remember noticing that Leigh’s writing was improving steadily over each book. And then Six of Crows happened and I didn’t know her writing could get even better! Six of Crows will introduce readers to new ships (ooohhhmmmmyyygoooddd the ships), amazing flawed characters, high stakes, and an impossible heist only the most badass outcasts will attempt. And you’ll have the best time reading it.

Cover Thoughts
hamtaro happy

Favorite Quote
I don’t even know. Below is a small selection:

-Kaz knew death. He could feel its presence on the ship now, looming over them, ready to take his Wraith. He was covered in her blood. [for otp/ship feels]

-‘I’m a businessman,’ he’d told her. ‘No more, no less.’
‘You’re a thief, Kaz.’
‘Isn’t that what I just said?’

-‘Do you have a different name for killing when you wear a uniform to do it?’

-‘It’s not natural for women to fight.’
She rolled her eyes. ‘It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet here you stand.’

-Better terrible truths than kind lies.

Favorite Character
Inej just squeaks by Kaz and Nina.

Will I make it to 2016?
waiting

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ARC Review: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

Check out what I thought about THIS MONSTROUS THING, a YA re-imagining of Frankenstein, by debut novelist Mackenzi Lee!

this monstrous thing coverTitle: This Monstrous Thing
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Pub Date: September 22, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books
Amazon: Click here!
B&N: Or here!
Goodreads: *waves*

If you’re in Boston, head to the launch event in Cambridge next Friday 9/25!

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Thanks to Brittany for giving me her ARC! She thought it would be too scary for her and I was more than happy to take if off her hands.

this monstrous thing

(I’m a massive wimp and have never even seen a scary movie and there was only one scene that made me squeamish and it involves body parts and a workshop–so don’t worry!)

A list of all the awesome, for reasons:

*Mary Shelley. I loved morally ambiguous Mary Shelley who you think know, but then realize you don’t, and that you probably never will because she’s a person and people are unknowable in their own ways.
snape approves

*Brothers. BROTHERLY FEELS omg
how r you im dying parksA reenactment of me reading this book

*Prettypretty writing. It made me feel everything I was supposed to. “Ow, brother” feels. “Ewwww that’s so gross, I might be sick” feels. “Badass lady” feels. “Shady dude” feels. “This place is so pretty, when can I visit” feels.
owl-fangirl-hearts-happy1

*The Author’s Note at the end. Reading Mackenzi’s thoughts about the story and what she was trying to say really helped put This Monstrous Thing into perspective for me and reminds me why I’m happy to be an English student.
minions fangirling

So in conclusion, this book is pretty darn fabulous. It has great world building, writing that will hurt you, and is a really cool re-imagining of a classic with a twist. I wanted a tad more resolution between Alasdair and Oliver at the end, but that might just be because I loved Oliver with all my heart and wanted to give him the world’s biggest hug.

Cover Thoughts
scared-and-horny

Favorite Quote(s)
If you’ve bee following my reviews you might have noticed this has been a hard feature for me. Again, This Monstrous Thing did NOT make it easy to pick a favorite. There’s one I really love about saying things at the wrong time, but I think it is too spoiler-y so I shall save that gem for you. And there are lots of good ones about Alasdair’s feels towards resurrecting his brother but I don’t want to spoil those, either. [Disclaimer: These all could change as they’re from the ARC.]

Are you good, whispered that horrid voice inside me, or are you clever?

-‘Is it shallow to say I miss living well?’ ‘I don’t think it’s shallow. I think it’s human.’

-‘It’s never just ‘I hit him’ or ‘he hit me’ or he was right and I was wrong. Everything’s always got sides and angles and all sorts of bits you can’t see. Nothing’s ever the way it looks straight on.’

-‘You liked Coleridge.’
‘What does he write?’
‘Words.’
He elbowed me sharply with his mechanical arm, and I yelped. It hurt more than I hoped he meant it to. ‘What sort of things, you ninny?’

Favorite Character 
OLIVER. *weeps*
(You’ll see.)

Series Review: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Check out what I thought about The Grisha Trilogy (Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, and Ruin & Rising) by novelist Leigh Bardugo!

grisha-trilogy-covers

Title: The Grisha Trilogy
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pub Date: A few years ago WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
Amazon: Here
B&N: and here
Goodreads: and also here

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

I am probably the only person in the world who had not yet read these books. I don’t know what was wrong with me. But I do know, once I started, I was hooked. Like, obsessed hook. Like I put books two and three on hold at the same time and rushed to pick them up as soon as they arrived at the library. Like I heard songs and related them to the characters. Like I made an Alina/Darkling mix immediately after finishing Ruin & Rising (oh, yeah, and I also weeped). (And I’ve also pre-ordered Six of Crows.) (I don’t have a problem.) (You have a problem.)

So these books…

this is the best

I want to start by saying I never knew I could love a prologue and epilogue so much. The Before and After sections of these books are probably my favorite parts. They read like a fairy tale. I can’t even explain the feels I feel while reading them.

And now let’s break it down book by book.

Shadow and Bone: Super cool. Alina has such an amazing arc even in book one. This isn’t one of those set-up books where nothing really happens. This book kicks you in the stomach the moment you pick it up and takes you on a ride.

Things to love: Alina’s relationship with the Darkling is so complex and messy and done so well *ohmygosh*. The Fold is crazy intriguing. So is the world-building. After I finished the books, I read something Leigh wrote where she explained why she decided to set the books in a fantastical Russia and it just made me appreciate the series so much more.

One issue I had was Alina being a rather passive character. She’s very quick witted, as are a lot of the characters, and I adore it. But I did have a hard time just reading about her reacting to things and going through the motions instead of driving the plot. But the events happening were enough to keep me hooked and like I said, I appreciated her growth. Which somehow happened even if she wasn’t driving the plot–in my opinion.

Siege and Storm: The book we meet Sturmhond!

pokemon brock lol

aka my love. aka I have so many feels.

Okay but other than the delicious, adorable, perfection that is this man, we have more amazing sass and stakes being raised. I feel like this is the book that really starts to push one of the major themes of the books. The Grisha Trilogy feels different to me because it explores power and greed in a way I haven’t seen other YA books do before. This is the book that sets up the consequences–or rather takes what Shadow and Bone hinted at and makes it bigger.

Ruin & Rising: *incoherent weeping*

owl

Even if you don’t watch or read Game of Thrones, you know it is famous for killing characters. Like major characters. It suddenly dawned on me that this might happen in Ruin & Rising. Like, I actually believed in the threat. And somehow, without any heavy handed lines like “If you think this a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention” in Game of Thrones, I just wondered who was going to make it to the end.

No spoilers. But this book gave me everything I wanted. I don’t even know how to talk about it without spoiling anything because I just want to fangirl over everything.

So I guess I’m going to talk about power and greed.

“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.” (Siege & Storm)

I actually don’t know how without giving anything away. But it’s so interesting because you have Alina and Mal who start out with no power and no greed. And you have the Darkling who is born with power and his greed grows until it basically consumes him.

Then Alina who gains power and greed and wrestles with wanting her power (and even more power), and trying to fight her greed. And Mal who *so many spoilers.* Then there’s also Stormhund who *way more spoilers.*

And by Ruin & Rising you have these characters that have evolved and finally learn the price of greed and what happens when you try to attain too much power. And I love it.

So basically, read these books because they are hilarious, amazing, and super deep. Oh and there’s a lot of hot guys and sassy girls and magic vs science and greed and power and even religion and unhealthy/abusive relationships. 

Cover Thoughts:
colbert give it to me

Favorite Quote:
This is not a real question. I REFUSE TO ANSWER.
hp crack lold serious
This is basically accurate, though. Like first you’re laughing along and going “OH, THE SASS.” And then shit happens and it’s like “omg what am i going to do. PROTECT THE BABIES.”

Favorite Character:
Alina… or Sturmhond… or Genya? or… Baghra..or Misha…
let me love you3

ARC Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Check out what I thought about DUMPLIN’, a YA contemporary novel by Julie Murphy.

dumplinTitle: Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Pub Date: September 15, 2015 from Balzer + Bray
Amazon: Here!
B&N: Or here!
Goodreads: Add me to your shelf!

Julie is also running a pre-order campaign. Get the info here.

 

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Thanks to my good friend Carrie for loaning me her ARC of Dumplin’!

dumplin 2

Dumplin’ was one of my most anticipated reads of this year. Did this hold up? Not entirely, but that doesn’t mean this book wasn’t enjoyable. I still tore through it in one evening because I couldn’t put it down. I’d say, “After this chapter… no, this one… no, THIS one!”

I stopped after chapter sixty-one (spoiler alert: cause that’s the end).

i regret nothing parks and rec

So how did this book make me read it in one night?
*Willowdean: She’s a great character, the heart of this book, smart, fat, and beautiful.
*The supporting cast of women (Ellen, Hannah, Millie, Amanda): Awesome! More of them, please!
*Willowdean’s part time job: I have no idea why I loved the scenes that took place in Harpy’s so much. It just added a layer of realism to an already realistic contemporary and was a lot of fun.

If you’ve been waiting for this book for months or only just heard about it recently, my suggestion is to go into it not thinking about the hype or your expectations and just enjoy it for what it is. Willowdean is an awesome character who stands up for herself and makes new friends, people she had previously misjudged. I loved seeing her see them clearly for the first time. DUMPLIN’ is a page-turner with good characters and a good theme at its core. Definitely read it!

Cover Thoughts
totally-awesome-starkid-reaction-1

Favorite Line
A few stick out to me but the one I’m going with is: “If I could avert my eyes from all the kissing people ever, I’m positive that my life would be at least 2 percent more fulfilling.” [ARC, page 3–final quote may change]
I FEEL YOU, WILLOWDEAN. I really do.
gatsby cheers

Favorite Character
Gotta be Millie or Hannah. Here are gifs that summarize both characters… you guess which is which.
liv and maddie peppy rainbow liv and maddie dead inside