Children of Blood and Bone

Wow. This book has me feeling a lot of things. 

Children of Blood and Bone takes place in such an incredible, inventive world, and I thought it was really well crafted. Tomi Adeyemi really did a fantastic job explaining and describing the magic within this realm. Each scene was so beautiful and rich in my mind, and I felt like it was a feast for the eyes within my mind. I’m also stoked that it is in the works to become an on-screen adaptation. This is truly a perfect book to be brought to life.

The characters in this book were absolutely beautiful. We start off with Zélie, who I really connected with. She has a spark of anger in her to fight back against the monarchy in any way she can after they killed her mother 11 years ago. It is what fuels her every move, the reason she wants to learn how to fight with a staff. She is a diviner, a child of a maji, someone who should have been blessed with magic it if hadn’t been taken away by the king. Every day is dangerous for her and her family, and yet she doesn’t let that danger keep her from fighting for what is right and just. I love her strength, and I admire her desire to fight. She’s scared, she knows she’s not perfect, and she questions the gods when she learns that she must be the one to bring back magic to her people… yet she continues to fight for justice.

Amari is someone I can also relate to, maybe on a much more personal level than Zélie. She’s grown up in the shelter of the castle, away from the realities of the world. She only knows her father’s wrath and hatred, and she’s been brought up in a world of lies about magic and diviners. The only diviner she knows is sweet Binta, her servant, and it is when she watches her father murder Binta for having magic that she panics and runs away. When she meets Zélie and Tzain, she is still very ignorant of the way her father runs the kingdom, and how the diviners are treated in the stocks. As she becomes painfully aware of the dangers and unfair treatment of diviners, she realizes she wants to do everything she can to help right her father’s wrongs. She accepts the fact that her family is responsible for the pain and suffering of all diviners and maji, if only for the reason that they were different and the king saw that difference as a threat. Amari is terrified of her father, but she grows in her confidence and strength and she fiercely fights alongside Zélie and Tzain to bring magic back. I loved the friendship that formed between her and Zélie towards the end of the novel, and my favorite part of the story was when Zélie comes to Amari for strength when her magic disappeared. Both girls pushed the other out of their comfort zone in different parts of the story, and I’m here for their friendship.

Inan… Inan, Inan, Inan. There never was a more frustrating character. I think he made me the most sad throughout this book. He was also brought up in the castle full of lies about maji, but he was a son desperate for his father’s approval. Because of his desperation to win over his father and prove his worth as a future king, he drank up the hateful koolaid that his father spewed about maji and diviners. Even when he had his doubts about his father’s methods, he couldn’t shake those lies and he still was willfully ignorant towards the end of the book. The most frustrating part was that he learned from Zélie about maji and diviners, and he was even a maji himself!!! Dude, quit hating yourself just because of something you don’t understand. I thought he could be saved when he finally connected with Zélie and saw how wonderful and special magic truly is… then he saw how destructive it could be and still had faith that he could fight against his father without magic. At that point, he truly should have realized how hateful his father was and how nothing was going to change his mind about maji and diviners. It sadly took his father killing him to realize this, and for this I pity him. 

Speaking of which, is he truly dead? I’m slightly confused about the ending of this story. Zélie performs a ritual of her own, channeling spirits in order to reach the Sky Mother and bring back magic. She ultimately “dies” and talks with her mother in this sort-of-in-between realm, where her mother resembles Oya, the goddess of the Reapers. Her mother tells her she needs to go back to the land of the living to continue to fight for magic, and Zélie wakes up on a boat with her crew. She asks if her ritual works, and no one gives her a straight answer… and Amari now has a streak of white in her hair and seems to have the Connector powers that her brother had. And bam! that’s it. Talk about a cliffhanger… I immediately ordered the second book, and I’m hoping it clears up the ending of this first book. I can’t wait to see what Zélie, Tzain, and Amari do next in this fight that has only just begun. 

I strongly encourage everyone who read this book to read the author’s note at the end of the story. As she said, it’s easy to read this fantasy about the fight against oppression, it’s easy to hope the best for our crew to bring back magic and establish a land where hate doesn’t belong. It’s also easy to be sad for the characters within this story to die wrongful deaths because of ignorance and hate. However, we live in a much darker reality, where black people have been oppressed throughout our country’s history and have been wrongfully mistreated and murdered by police. They continue to be murdered by police and let down by our justice system. Black lives matter, they have always mattered, and they will continue to matter. We can’t stop fighting for their rights as human beings, just because we’re uncomfortable with the situation. It’s not as easy as closing the pages of this book; we are not done with this story and this fight. I am white, and I will never pretend to know what it’s like to be a black person in this country. What I can do, though, is educate myself, listen to others, and fight against hate and racism. I encourage you all to do the same. As Tomi Adeyemi says, “we are all children of blood and bone”, and the power to fight evil exists within us. 

Blood & Honey (a.k.a A Stab in the Heart)

I’m wrecked. Absolutely, thoroughly wrecked. Blood & Honey took a part of my soul with it, and I can’t believe I have to wait until NEXT YEAR to read the third book in this series. Shelby Mahurin, how could you?? 

Let me start this off by saying this book was definitely a “second book” if you know what I mean, and I felt like I read the whole thing with my heart in a vice grip. The energy of this book was much darker and far more desperate than the first. We were all on edge during Serpent & Dove, waiting for the moment when Reid discovers that Lou is a witch. Those pins and needles were nothing compared to the emotions I felt while reading this book. 

Immediately the story picks back up right where Serpent and Dove left off, with Lou, Reid, Ansel, Beau, Coco, and Madame Labelle on the run from the wrath of Morgane. The tension between Reid and Lou physically hurt my heart after we watched them fall in love before. Reid is no longer a Chasseur, he’s now knows he’s a witch, and Lou… is losing herself each time she performs magic. When they had to split up, I felt the despair within them further driving them apart. I think what made this book so intense for me was that I not only could picture each scene but also feel the emotions of Lou and Reid deep down. Reid… the poor guy had his entire existence turned upside down: the woman he loves is a witch, he himself is a witch, and he killed the only person who has ever supported him. I did see some reviews saying that they found Reid was rather annoying during this book *scoffs internally*. While I can see that he seriously needed to break free from his past assumptions, I didn’t find him annoying in this. Could be I’m just obsessed with him though. 

As for Lou… to be honest, she low key drove me nuts when she wouldn’t recognize the fact that she was losing herself with each dark spell she performed (may or may not be an unpopular opinion). No wonder Reid was terrified to practice magic. She had kept it suppressed for years to stay hidden, and when she finally started using it again, it was as a weapon. When she trades in memories to keep nature’s balance, she’ll lose herself in the process. It’s obvious she doesn’t realize how dangerous that is. No one can tell her so… which further drove me crazy. Everyone and their mother (literally) knew something was wrong with her, but she shuts all of them out. I wanted to smack her and tell her to stop deflecting or soon she won’t have anyone close to her except the matagots (which btw, I’d like more info on those guys… were they just hanging around her because she was turning into her mother? We never got the real rundown on why she attracted so many). 

There were many new characters introduced in this book, maybe even too many characters… but I’m not complaining too much. I think it was interesting that there were so many players in the game against Morgane, and I liked seeing them all come together. Sometimes I felt like it was hard to keep track of them, and I think I could have done without all of Claud’s crew and the extra blood witches. However, I do think it was necessary to bring so many new faces to the story because Lou and Reid needed literally all the help they could find.  

I don’t want to talk about it… but that ending. When Coco warned Lou that a man close to her heart would die, a man that she loved, I immediately panicked that the vision concerned Reid. And I REFUSED to accept that, like definitely might have shouted “NO!” during that scene (see above: obsessed with Reid). Then my mind started spinning, thinking of every man within their allied forces. The closest men I came up with were Beau, Claud, and… Ansel. I narrowed it down to Ansel with a heavy heart, but I was still focused on the fact that there was no way Reid would stay safely put above the catacombs. Lou snuck off, with the help of the blood witches (!!!) and expected that would keep Reid from going down below… but girl, really??? You really thought sealing the tunnel from him would keep him from following you, or at the very least, finding other entrances? Come on. Obviously Reid finds another way down there. Lou finds Celié and who suddenly shows up? Ansel… and my heart completely dropped because then I knew it was him. He was going to die, and there was nothing Lou could do about it. Beautiful, sweet Ansel… who deserved so much more than to be slaughtered by Morgane. All I have left to say is that Shelby Mahurin better deliver on the next book to make up for that heinous crime. 

I had my suspicions during the story that the blood witches were not what they seemed, but I honestly didn’t expect La Voisin to be in cahoots with Morgane. I also think I might have screamed another “NO!” at the end when they forced Lou to drink a controlling spell. Of course the book ends right there, of course it did nothing to soothe my aching heart, of course I have to bite my nails as my thoughts race as to how they could possibly win in this upcoming battle. 

I mentioned I’m wrecked, right? 

The Shadows Between Us

I’m not normally one of those “first chapter and I’m hooked” types of people, but I guess I can now relate after reading The Shadows Between Us. Right from the start I was intrigued… wait, she’s killed someone? She enjoys using men for gifts and pleasure? She wants to kill a king? Tell me more… That being said, there wasn’t much to this story in terms of depth and details. I felt as if the book was only skimming the top of what it could be; there was so much potential to get truly creative with the corrupt characters and the plot itself. While the first chapter set the tone for the whole book, I do feel as if the rest of the novel carried on at a more mellow pace. This does not mean I didn’t enjoy reading it; in fact, I think it would be the perfect story for getting over a book hangover, and it will give you a good distraction. It’s fun, light reading, and it’s easy to get lost in this little world without having to become too invested within the story itself. 

Right away we learn so much about Alessandra, who is quite the vengeful woman, and I LOVE IT. She has such a snarky, confident attitude. We learn she has killed someone who broke her heart, she woos men into falling for her and gifting her such lavish rings, and she seems to be hell bent on making the Shadow King fall in love with her (to kill him, of course). Talk about a badass woman who takes direction into her own hands. She really only cares for herself, and has not let anyone get close to her since Hektor broke her heart and she killed him. 

Side note: one good thing about reading a shorter novel is that while I could ask numerous questions about the characters and plot and demand to know answers, I don’t have to. I could ask a million questions about why Alessandra felt the need to kill Hektor, why she feels virtually no remorse, why she thinks wooing the Shadow King into making her his queen then killing him is a good plan… my list of questions could really go on and on. This is where I feel like we could have had a more profound story on our hands with all these details hiding below the surface of the book, but I digress. 

Alessandra is very morally grey at heart, and I’ll admit it’s fun and refreshing to have her as a main “heroine”. She wants power and control, and not even the fact that she murdered someone can hold her back from achieving her goals. I love that she is only afraid of getting caught because she won’t ever get a taste of power. It sounds like she lives in a very male-dominant society, where first sons and daughters are given primary rights. Ew. I really don’t blame her for doing everything she can to break free from those chains and taste power for herself (see above: badass woman). When she meets Kallias, she honestly mentions that she wants to be recognized, to be seen and respected, and I get that. They both really are each other’s equal, they want power and they don’t care how they achieve that goal. The author mentions in her dedication that this book is a “Slytherin romance” and there are no truer words to describe the connection between Alessandra and the Shadow King (I also adored the dedication to a Damon Salvatore quote… Vampire Diaries was my LIFE when I was in high school, and naturally, Damon was my favorite character… in fact, the more I think about this, I feel like we can compare Katherine and Damon to Alessandra and Kallias… maybe? Ok, Vampire Diaries tangent over). Kallias is a real treat; when he stabbed one guard and hung the others after they all failed to catch the masked bandit, I actually laughed out loud. And then Alessandra wasn’t even concerned that he had just killed someone right in front of her, she was only comparing it to when she killed Hektor! I love it. 

I felt like this book had strong female empowerment vibes, from Alessandra’s friendship with Rhoda and Hestia, to how Kallias respects Alessandra’s every move. He’s never seen her as anything but his equal, and I love how he is willing to share his power with her because he knows she is very capable. The Shadows Between Us does well by giving us plenty of instances where Alessandra defies the patriarchy, and the strong female characters definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the story. 

The Shadows Between Us was delightful to read, and while I wish it dove further into the plot with more details, deeper characters, and darker conflict, I couldn’t help but enjoy it for what it was. 

Crooked Kingdom Book Review

Our favorite band of miscreants is back in action, and whoa was this an epic sequel. The book starts off with a bang and it really doesn’t slow down, even to the very end. Every little detail that goes into their plan brought me immense joy… I cannot stress enough how clever Kaz is with his thorough planning. Once again, I love how it feels like we get to experience so much “behind the scenes” as they put together plans and go over details, yet when it comes time to complete their missions, we’re still just as surprised as ever. I truly can’t wait to see this come to life on Netflix, because I feel like the twists and turns could really make for an exciting show. 

Crooked Kingdom was fast-paced, and the fact that the majority of Ketterdam was against the Six gave me an overarching sense of doom (a very crooked kingdom indeed). Ketterdam is not a good place, they have no allies, and the entire city seems to be fighting against them (including their own gang at one point). The stakes were higher and they were forced to keep on their toes, which I felt was a new aspect to this book that wasn’t in the last one. The Six were scrambling from the moment they got Inej back from Van Eck, and when I found out that Pekka Rollins and Van Eck teamed up together against them, I felt so bleak… how could they come out victorious? Neither Pekka nor Van Eck were truly villainous in the last book, but we got to see just how greedy and selfish they both were in this one. Each man got what was coming to him, and it made me so happy to see them suffer while the Six used their own plans against them. While Van Eck’s prison sentence was more than satisfactory, what Kaz did to Pekka gave me chills. To make him afraid for the rest of his life that Kaz would be coming for his son… just perfect. As Kaz said so eloquently, “I could only kill Pekka’s son once… he can imagine his death a thousand times.” And when Inej came for Pekka at the end, to scare the living daylights out of him and leave a crow in his son’s arms?? Absolutely chilling, but in the best way possible. It was like eating dessert after a very satisfactory meal. Talk about a “chef’s kiss”. 

Wylan’s perspective is new to this book, and I have to say that I’m here for it. While I mentioned he wasn’t one of my favorite characters in my Six of Crows Review (oh, you haven’t read that review yet? I think you need to check it out), I liked the direction of his thoughts. I felt this new perspective really brought a certain depth to his character than we had not previously seen. When we first met him in Six of Crows, we got the impression that he was a spoiled merch kid, who ran away from his father and was playing “bad guy” with Ketterdam’s worst. As the first book went on, we saw that he in fact had many strengths, including intelligence, wit, and his ability to invent valuable bombs that got them out of a scrape or two. Now that we know he ran away from his father because his dad tried to have him killed, I really feel for the kid. And him and Jesper? Say no more, I loved it! They really are the most adorable couple and I’m glad they ended up together. 

Speaking of Jesper, I felt like he finally started to look inward at himself. It sounds like he had spent much of his life running from his problems, and running from what made him who he really is. When I read about what happened to his mom, my heart just broke for Jesper and his father. No wonder his dad was terrified to let Jesper use his powers (loved Colm’s character by the way). I’m glad he took Inej’s Suli proverb to heart to not apologize, but to learn from his mistakes and not repeat them. I felt like the book ended well with him and Wylan managing Wylan’s new estate… quite the happy ending there. 

What I am NOT satisfied with is the death of Matthias… why did Leigh have to kill him off like that?! I know authors make characters die for substance, so we can grieve and connect with the story on a deeper level… but that was cruel. Especially to have him killed off in such a gut wrenching way, by a younger druskelle who was so misguided and full of such hatred. He should have been able to help others with Nina, to go and teach his people not to hate Grisha. Ugh. Like Wylan said, they were all supposed to make it at the end. I was soooo upset over his death, and I don’t know if I can ever forgive Leigh for that one. 

I mentioned in my last review that Inej wasn’t one of my favorite characters, and her relationship with Kaz drove me nuts at times. Crooked Kingdom brought a little more substance to both of them, showing just how broken they both are individually. I think they kept their struggles buried so deep within them, and really, who wouldn’t be afraid to let someone in when you’ve been holding on to such darkness? I’m glad that towards the end of the book, Kaz and Inej really start to realize that they rely on each other, and that is okay. I enjoyed watching them acknowledge their feelings towards one another, and slowly start to chip away at the ice surrounding each of their hearts. They weren’t the perfect couple, but they were perfect for each other, and I actually began to love them by the end. When Inej’s family showed up at the docks and we found out Kaz had orchestrated their reunion, I actually cried. It was such an unexpected genuine action from him, and I’m so happy to see that Inej convinced him to be the better man and not succumb to the crookedness of Ketterdam’s ways. 

Overall, this was an incredible sequel, and I’m almost upset that this series was only a duology. The author built such deep characters over the course of just two stories, and I wish we could see more of the Six in action. Maybe we’ll see them in more of her other Grisha novels in the future (don’t mind my wistful thinking over here). The other series are definitely at the top of my TBR list and I can’t wait to dive into the Grishaverse once again!

Wicked Saints Review

Alternate Title: A Comprehensive List of the Questions I had while reading Wicked Saints.

Very first impression: my mind is having a HARD time reading the names in this series. I felt like I was going cross-eyed and my brain was getting tongue tied trying to keep track of all of the names. Big oof. I had to look up pronunciations after a while because I just KNEW I was butchering the names in my head and it was driving me insane. And then, even after I looked up pronunciations, I finally just gave up and went on with reading the book. However, upon reading Emily A. Duncan’s bio and finding out she studied obscure Slavic folklore and probably used it for inspiration for this series, I can appreciate the names a little bit more… my dad’s family is Slovenian and from the very few words I do know, it is not an easy language to pronounce. 

Ok, odd names aside, I enjoyed the dark, gothic vibe I got from this series… I started reading it not knowing entirely what to expect, and it did take a minute for me to fully get into it. Not only was I distracted by the names, languages, pronunciations, etc, but I also was a little confused about the differences between the two countries at war (ok, very confused). It took a bit of effort on my part to follow along in the beginning, and to fully submerse myself within this complicated world. 

Speaking of which, the world in which this story takes place was SO creative (maybe a smidge too creative, as I don’t quite understand it all), with two sides to the same coin seemingly at war with each other (for centuries, too). Tranavia has broken away from the gods and their mages practice blood magic, which is super dark and goth. Cutting your arms then bleeding on a page of spells to perform magic? Dark indeed. Also a bit complicated. On the other side of the coin, you’ve got Kalyazin, who is devoted to the gods, and yet they do not practice magic. Not going to lie, I am still confused about how the gods and the blood magic work, and what the main differences between them are. Some of my questions include: why do the gods only contact Nadya? Why is she the only cleric with powers, and what exactly are those powers? Why don’t the gods like blood magic, and why aren’t they present in Tranavia? Plus, when Nadya found out her magic was hers and hers alone, and that she didn’t need the gods to grant her that power, I became even more confused. Were they just using her as a vessel and they kept the extent of her powers a secret because they wanted to keep her as a weapon for themselves? Hmmmmmmm. And how the hell do the vultures fit into all of this? It seems to me like the vultures were the result of experiments on strong blood mages… to be quite honest, I was having a harder time visualizing them and what they looked like in the story. Big creepy vibes there. Obviously, no one is just born a vulture… Malachiasz was taken away as a child and turned into one. He’s in fact one of the strongest blood mages, as we learn that he is cousins with Serefin (who also happens to be an incredibly strong mage). I’m so curious to see how the story unfolds in the second book… while I spent the majority of this book rereading and flipping back between pages to try to connect the dots, it did not mean I enjoyed it any less. 

Let’s talk characters. I loved seeing just how woven together the narratives were. Of course I enjoyed the enemies to lovers tension between Nadya and Malachiasz (a.k.a our favorite troubled, dark-haired boy with a traumatic background). Like I mentioned above, I have a lot of questions about Nadya and her powers… so I’m hoping to learn more about them in the second book. We find out that Malachiasz is the Black Vulture (honestly did not see that one coming), and I don’t think he enjoys his position. He mentions that he became the Black Vulture to see if he could, not because he genuinely liked the vultures and what they stood for. I felt like he had some good in him throughout the novel, but then he went and pulled that stunt at the end, turning himself into a god(??? – see questions above). Why did he do that? I had a hard time understanding his reasoning behind it all. Is he really just that bad of a guy to betray Nadya and Serefin in the end? He must know something we don’t know about the “gods”… Emily Duncan hinted at that, so I’m excited to see what the next book brings. Serefin was also an interesting main character, but (please, Cori, grab the second book and quit asking all these questions that will probably be answered) I have about a million more questions about him… first and foremost what’s up with the moths? I understood his role as his father’s sacrifice. Obviously he survives… but for what reason, we don’t know. What brought him back to life? I liked Kacper and Ostyia, and even Parj and Rashid; they were essentially glorified filler characters (with more complicated names), but I do hope we learn more about their backgrounds as the story continues. Ultimately, there wasn’t a character I disliked; I just have one thousand questions about each of them. 

Once I got going, the book was very fast-paced, with narratives running parallel to each other and a build-up that leaves us at a cliff hanger. The creativity was unique, and I’m running to grab the next book (if for no other reason then to clear up some of my confusion about how the magic in this dark world works). Overall, this book did have some good stuff in it and I enjoyed the complex world that Emily A. Duncan has created. Stay tuned for part two… 

(P.S. I read somewhere that this story boils down to Reylo fan fiction… and if it is, I can see it. I’m not into that side of Star Wars, and that wasn’t my initial impression, but I can see it. In fact, I almost can’t unsee it.)

From Blood and Ash Review

Mmmmm was this a good book. Fantasy, mythical creatures, spicy romance, intensity… yes please. Jennifer L. Armentrout delivered on this novel. 

At the beginning of this book, I’ll admit I was a little confused on the differences between the Ascended, Atlantians, Craven, Descenters… and the Maiden herself. I *almost* googled it all because I felt like my confusion between all of them was holding me back from getting into the novel, but don’t worry… I didn’t. Sometimes I have to remind myself I’m an impatient person and that the build up and confusion is probably worth it (and in this case, it most certainly was). 

Looking back, I honestly think the confusion was necessary to the plot because Poppy herself didn’t understand the differences between them all. She was kept in the dark about her own powers and the role she played with the Ascended her whole life up until this moment. So it only makes sense that when she learned new information we as readers learned it as well. All of the puzzle pieces kind of started clicking together and long story short, I’m glad I held off my impatience. So much information was written into the end of the story that really made it hard for me to put the book down. 

This story was an interesting take on vampires/werewolves/magic, and I really enjoyed it (ok tbh any book involving vampires/werewolves/magic is like crack for me so of course I enjoyed it). We all knew something was off about the Ascended… and it doesn’t surprise me that what they were doing to people was ultimately wrong. I liked how they made it into a religion in order to hide historical facts and to convince the mass population that what they were doing was “right” (hmmmm organized religion much? Reminder: I grew up Catholic so I understand how a lot of history can be twisted in the interests of the Church). The Atlantians were made out to be the bad guys to cover up for the Ascended, and I honestly don’t fault any of the Descenters for trying to revolt from that creepy way of life. 

What we still don’t understand is the Maiden’s role in all of this. At the end of the book, we learn that one of Poppy’s parents had to be Atlantian, which kind-of-sort-of explains why Poppy has powers. I’m thinking that the first Maiden was also part Atlantian; therefore, she was used during the Ascension ritual for some reason and that is when she died… it has to have something to do with her powers (otherwise they’d just continue using the Atlantians they already have captive, like what happened to Hawke). Maybe she takes away the pain of the people of the Ascension and makes them all feel good while they turn into Ascended? Just a guess… Though I’m confident we’ll learn more about her importance in the next novel. 

Let’s talk characters. Poppy is a baddie and I loved her character development throughout this book. She grew up oppressed because she was thought to be “the Maiden”, but she herself didn’t understand what exactly made her this way. Her rebellious streaks made me happy, and as the story goes on we can see her start to realize that she did not want to be the Maiden and live for other people. Poppy was not afraid of fighting or getting in trouble, and she was constantly pushing her boundaries because she wanted to live her life how she wanted to, and not just live for the Ascended’s future. I mean, doesn’t every girl want this for herself? I stan this development. Plus, she has dealt with so much loss throughout her life… from her parents’ brutal murder, to her brother’s Ascension, and finally Vikter’s awful death… each loss played an important role in her character development as well.

Moving on to Hawke… or should I say his Highness? He was everything, and his respect and admiration for Poppy made me a fan immediately. I definitely was suspicious of him from the start, especially as the author dropped significant clues about his extra abilities along the way. I think around halfway through the book I started wondering if he was indeed the Dark One… but I wasn’t sure where his relationship with Poppy was going. It was obvious he was very into her, but why???? I don’t believe he was using her… he might have started out that way but he himself admitted that he connected with her from the start and couldn’t go through with his initial plan of turning her over to the Queen. While he has definitely done some pretty bad things in the past, and will probably continue to be bad in the next book, I really don’t care because we all love our tall, handsome, dark-haired bad boys. 

Booktok recommendations strike again with an excellent story in From Blood and Ash. I cannot WAIT to start the next book, so stay tuned for that review coming soon! 

Six of Crows Review

There’s almost no words (almost). This book was fan-freaking-tastic. Big edgy vibes hit us right from the start, and the characters were SO compelling. The story is set in such a gripping world… this is my first dip into Leigh Bardugo’s writing and I was very impressed. Though I have heard talk of her other work not being as delightful as this duology…? Hmmmmm. If you have other experience with Leigh’s books, let me know in the comments. Either way, I’ll look into it and let y’all know my thoughts… I’m sure I’ll have a lot. Because who would I be without my literary opinions. 

Now, where were we… damn were these characters extremely well-written. What I loved the most was watching each of their unique backgrounds unfold as the novel went on. Each character was deep and complex, which really makes for a great story. Every member of the Six had certain dark struggles to their past that they held within them, and that really made them who they were in the present.

Kaz. Not only did I get extreme Thomas Shelby (from Peaky Blinders) vibes, but he was very clever and kept me on my toes. Of course I loved every single member of the Six just as much, but Kaz was just so dark, moody, and intelligent, which can be a deadly combination for a character. He knew the part he had to play to become feared and successful in The Barrel, and he played it well. His deep down affection for Inej was very interesting, though at times I wish he would show it more for her sake… though I get it, to show affection for her would be to expose a weakness and he’s smarter than that. I think Inej deserved more than Kaz could give her. She probably had the best moral compass out of the Six, but she wasn’t my favorite. I’d put Wylan in the same boat as well… essential to the story, but both of them were not what kept my interest in the book. Nina, Matthias, and Jesper were probably my absolute favorite characters… the enemies to lovers link between Matthias and Nina captured my attention from the start (duh). Nina knew she made mistakes in the past but she owned up to them and never used them as excuses. Matthias had to face the realization that he was mislead into thinking the Grisha were awful creatures, and it was wrong of the druskelle to hunt them down to kill them. When he confronts Jarl Brum towards the end after he locked Nina in the chamber, I freaked out. I don’t think I took a single breath until he finally let Nina out. It was at that moment when we realized his intentions and his realization that there was more to life than hating Grisha. And Jesper… I just enjoyed his personality and dark humor. He definitely was running and hiding from the fact that he gambled away all of his tuition money (and racked up more debt in the process), but he was entertaining to say the least. I think I can relate to the “running away from my problems” part of his character… learning to face your own problems can be very difficult, so I feel his pain. 

I think I liked the plot of this book more than I liked the characters themselves… which definitely says something. The whole book was centered upon the big heist of Bo Yul-Bayar, and I like how the story progressed from setting the stage by introducing our Six, to actually breaking into the Ice Court. The plot started off slow, with essential details, and then the speed definitely picked up when as the story when on. There was so much planning done that I felt we as readers were a part of, yet each chapter brought a new surprise. This kept me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath as they stumbled their way through this dangerous mission. And it left us on such a cliff hanger! With Inej taken away, Wylan stuck as Kuwei, and Nina coming off the high from the jurda parem… I’m glad I bought this book as a set with Crooked Kingdom, because I am READY for the second book. I like how there wasn’t a central villain to the story either; rather, it seemed like it was such a grey world and no one really stood out as a “good” character… this wasn’t a fairy tale world where good things naturally happen to our main characters. I think that each of the Six have realized this the hard way, and their struggles with this corrupt world ultimately band them together (along with the obvious mission of course). I enjoyed reading the last chapter from Pekka Rollins’ point of view, too. I find it so ironic to see how insignificant he found Kaz and the gang to be. Making Pekka suffer is Kaz’s prime motivation for every single thing he has done… Pekka definitely doesn’t know what is coming to him and I’m curious to see how Kaz settles the score in the second book. 

I read that this book will be made into a Netflix show and I can definitely see that. Did you guys get this vibe as well? Not only is the narrative perfect for a TV show, but I felt that the story lines progressed as a TV show would as well (p.s. I think if people want to make screen adaptations of books, they should just go for TV shows instead of movies period… there’s so much more room for details that way). I just remember reading it, thinking “wow this would make for a great show to watch”, and then I looked it up and sure enough, we’ll be getting one hopefully in late 2020. Though, I’ve read that it will be combined 50/50 with the Shadow and Bone trilogy… so I better get caught up with that series before the show hits Netflix. 

Hello, Friends

Here I am, hiking in Arches National Park

I might as well introduce myself a little bit further with this post, so here goes nothing. My name is Cori Bostrom, I’m 24 years old, and I live in Brush, Colorado with my husband, Brett. I have been obsessed with books from a very young age, and my mom was actually a librarian while I was growing up. She used to bring home tons of books for me to read and “review” for her, and I would spend hours on end in the library picking out some good reads on my own. To further paint the picture, I was the kid who would sit underneath their locker and read during lunch. To add EVEN MORE detail to the picture, I usually spent my birthday and Christmas money on books. Fun fact, my uncle would give me an Amazon gift card every year for Christmas, and I would immediately go to my TBR pile and pick out as many books as the gift card would get me… and every year he asked me, “you know you could spend that gift card on other things, like clothes or electronics or anything else, right?” Yes, I was aware. Did that stop me? No.

I started this blog to have a place where I could express my literary perspective on the books I read and casually chat with others about them… does anyone else out there feel the need to talk about their books IMMEDIATELY after they’ve finished them? Or is that just me? Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to deep-dive into the narratives and talk to my parents about my favorite characters and my favorite writing techniques. I’m hoping you feel the same. 

I primarily read fantasy, fiction, sci-fi, YA, but I am ALWAYS open to new stories and I’m hoping some of you guys have some great suggestions for me. I’m definitely NOT an expert on reading or literature, and this blog is simply for my own entertainment and to bond with some fellow book nerds. If you like what you see, give me a follow on my social media pages, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Pen pals, anyone? 

Besides reading, I enjoy hiking, gardening, working out, and engaging in lengthy Star Wars discussions with my husband (who also happens to love all things nerdy). 

Midnight Sun Review

Wow. Just wow.

Everything about this book takes me back to where I was when I first starting reading Twilight. I was obsessed then and I can confidently say I never grew out of it (side-note: anyone else stuck back in their middle school days during this quarantine? Music, books, movies… almost like growing up was a fever dream and we’re all back to square one). While I didn’t think I needed this book (tbh I forgot it was even on the table), when Stephenie Meyer announced the release date for Midnight Sun, I immediately preordered it. Then I counted down the days. Then I freaked out when I saw the SIZE of the book compared to Twilight. 

Edward was the ultimate book boyfriend while I was growing up in middle school, and I very much wanted to be in Bella’s place. I never thought it was a contest between Edward and Jacob… I thoroughly enjoyed both characters, but Edward always came first in my heart. I was a little bummed that we even got to experience Jacob’s perspective during Breaking Dawn, constantly wondering why we were never privy to Edward’s thoughts. Well, Edward has A LOT of thoughts… and I am HERE for it. I can see why it took 12 years to finish this book, and I’m grateful for the amount of detail that Stephanie has put into his character. 

Like the true book nerd I am, I decided to read Midnight Sun and Twilight side by side to see the comparisons. Honestly, I recommend reading it this way, though initially it is a little shocking. Since Edward is an incredibly deep character, this gives you insight into every single move that Bella happens to pick up on, and it also provides incredible background knowledge into other minor characters. Not only do we get to understand each of the Cullens on a more personal level, but we also get even more details on Bella’s classmates and family members due to Edward’s mind-reading talent. 

The most obvious difference between Twilight and Midnight Sun is the size of the books… and one of the more funny explanations for this difference that I came across is that Bella simply has no thoughts. My sense of humor can appreciate that joke (ESPECIALLY if you think the books are better than the movies), but this is where I can also praise Stephanie Meyer’s writing a little bit. We have to remember that Edward is a creature from a completely different time period, and this is evident within his internal thoughts. She put a lot of effort into keeping him true to his era, and I have to give her kudos for this degree of detail. He also has had over 100 years to be wrapped up not only within his own thoughts 24/7, but to also be wrapped up in the thoughts of everyone else around him. So to me, this makes perfect sense to explain the difference between his internal monologue and Bella’s, and even Jacob’s. Both Bella and Jacob are products of this modern day, so I’d naturally expect them to think as they do. It once again makes me appreciate how differently Stephenie Meyer wrote this book from Twilight. 

I loved the extra insight into each of the minor characters. We already knew some of Bella’s classmates were annoying (i.e. Jessica and Mike) but we never got to see just how annoying they were because Bella was never too concerned about the opinion of her peers. I also enjoyed reading scenes we never got the chance to see before, like when the Cullens confront Edward about whether Bella should be dealt with after he saves her from the van. 

The only part of the book that irked me was the fact that Edward blamed himself for everything that happened to Bella and how he decided he was going to eventually leave her for her “well-being”… but we already knew this so I can’t be too mad. It was just annoying how he didn’t listen to Alice or any one of his other family members who seemed to know from the start that Bella was going to eventually join them as a vampire. Like come on guy… stop being a martyr and stop thinking of yourself as a monster and just embrace the future… as we all know, Bella excels at being a vampire, almost as if that was her destiny to be a better vampire than she ever was as a human. 

All in all, Midnight Sun was a delight. While the details and intensity of Edward’s perspective was quite the change at first, I came to enjoy it much more than Bella’s point of view. I wish she would write all of the books from Edward’s viewpoint just because there was so much more detail and insight to every major plot point. We can only dream, right? 

Serpent and Dove Review

You guys, I loved this book. Damn, was it good. It had everything I love in a novel… enemies to lovers, creative magical elements, vivid descriptions and details, lovable main characters… the list goes on and on. I seriously CANNOT wait for the second book to come out. As of right now, the countdown is on and I’m sure I’ll have words to say about it as well. 

Let’s start off on my favorite subject: enemies to lovers romance. Ummmm yes please. The tension between Lou and Reid is tight from the start, and it only gets better as the story goes on. I just love how Reid is the ultimate chivalrous knight who follows all the rules (has never even had a reason to question them in the first place), and he’s so naive that it is quite endearing. Lou on the other hand, is wild, breaks all of the rules, and uses her charm and her wit to keep herself alive. They’re complete opposites, not to mention actual enemies… but you can tell they’re learning so much from each other as the story progresses. Lou realizes that Chasseurs aren’t all the nameless, evil villains she assumed they’d be, and Reid… Reid learns A LOT (wink wink) about women, witches, and magic. He ultimately finds out that everything he was taught to believe to be “right” was inherently wrong. The author really did something by switching back and forth from Lou’s point of view and Reid’s throughout the book. This gave us a first row seat to their changing feelings and personal battles throughout the novel. Plus, I love it when stories are told through the man’s point of view as well as the main heroine’s; I just think that it gives the readers more depth and perspective to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the rooftop scene, it was raw and passionate and you could actually feel each main character go over the edge of love into a place where neither can go back from. Mmmmm, it was (and I can’t say this enough) perfect. 

The universe in which Serpent and Dove takes place is very alluring and inventive. I really enjoyed the magical witchcraft within this book, although it was a little confusing at times (certainly not complaining though; in fact, because the magic was so intricate, I felt it made the story that much more gripping). When I read how Lou uses her magic and sees the pathways in which she can perform witchcraft, it took me a second to realize that she could actually visualize the symbols of the spell she performed. The idea that there was always a price to pay for the magic Lou uses was a very compelling take on spells and witchcraft. I almost wish Shelby Mahurin would elaborate a little further on the differences between blood witches, like Coco, and the other type of witches, like Lou, but I have a feeling she’ll get to it in the second book. Not only does this story end with our motley crew heading to find Coco’s family for refuge, but the title itself (Blood and Honey) hints at it as well. 

I found it intriguing that one of the main enemies in this story was the church and its acolytes. A lot of problems exist within organized religion (I grew up Catholic), and I liked that this novel touched on some of those problems without being too forward about it. I found it absolutely mind-blowing to learn that the Archbishop was Lou’s father, and he was just trying to keep Lou safe from her mother the whole time. It doesn’t erase all of his witch hate-crimes over the years, but I liked that he wasn’t as holy as he claimed and he ultimately fell in love with a witch (great plot twist there). Maybe he saw some of himself in Reid and that’s why he ultimately groomed him to become his second in command. Speaking of Reid… I thought it was also mind-blowing to find out his mother was Madame Labelle, who was also a witch, who fell in love with the king, and Reid actually has powers of his own. I think my jaw actually dropped when I read the scene where Lou and Reid run into her on the street and she sees the matching ring on Lou’s finger… and then you and Lou (through Lou’s perspective) put two and two together and bam! It was unexpected to find out that he has powers as well, and it definitely changes the witchcraft ball game going forward. Maybe witches won’t be persecuted now that they know men can also have powers?! 

If you can’t already tell, I freaking loved everything about this book… I’m hoping you all feel the same. Soon we will have the second book, Blood and Honey, in our hands and then we can pour some more wine and chat about that one as well. 

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