Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Synopsis

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

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 badly weakened, 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 the Grisha world.

 

My Review

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.” 

Those of you who have read my review of ‘Six of Crows’ already know what I thought about the first part of this duology. But for those of you who haven’t read it, I’m just gonna quickly summarize my thoughts on it in a single sentence: I absolutely adored SOC and it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year so far.

(Unfortunately) that made me have really high expectations for ‘Crooked Kingdom’, especially because I’ve also seen so many people online state that they liked it even better than the first book. I’m guessing that might’ve been the reason why I was struggling with the book a little when I started reading it, though I might’ve also just not been in the mood for another fantasy novel. But no matter what the actual reason for my struggles was, I just had a hard time getting into this book. I basically had to force myself through the first 100 or 150 pages of it. Not even because it was badly written or absolutely boring, but because I just couldn’t sit down and properly concentrate on reading for a longer period of time. It really frustrated me but since I had been so excited for CK, I knew that I wouldn’t ever give up on it and pulled through which was totally worth it. At some point, something clicked. I had finally gotten into the book and the rest of it was just perfect.

The plot of CK was absolutely flawless and perfectly built on the plot of SOC. I’m still so impressed by the story Leigh Bardugo has created. How she thought of the entire plan that was necessary, so that they could successfully break into the ice court in the first book. But also by all the different things that went down in Ketterdam in this book. While reading both books I have so often been at points at which I was like: Damn, Kaz Brekker is such a genius. And seconds later I remembered that Leigh Bardugo wrote this book and didn’t only think of one plan for everything they did in this book, but instead she also had to think of second and third plans whenever things went wrong. All her ideas just went so well together and all the plot twists you can find in this book are just so well done. I was once again absolutely surprised by everything that happened and didn’t predict anything at all.

I’m also still completely in love with Leigh Bardugo’s writing style and I’m so glad I preordered Wonder Woman: Warbringer a couple of months ago before I’d ever even read on of her books because I can’t wait to read more stuff she’s written.

CK also made me feel even more connected to the characters and I love each and every one of them so dearly that some scenes of this book literally broke my heart. Nina is also still my favorite character and I’m so glad I finally found a character that I share a name with that isn’t absolutely boring or a complete brat.

All in all, CK is a great sequel to SOC and an amazing conclusion to this duology. I’m giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars because I just had a hard time getting into it which is why I simply can’t rate it the same as I rated SOC.

(Also, I really wish there were more books about these awesome characters and if Leigh Bardugo ever decides to write something more about them, make sure you tell me about it in case I miss it!)

Have you already read ‘Crooked Kingdom’ and did you like it? 🙂

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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Synopsis

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

 

My Review

“I am hard on myself. But isn’t it better to be honest about these things before someone else can use them against you? Before someone else can break your heart? Isn’t it better to break it yourself?” 

When I first saw that this book would be about Josh and Isla, two characters that have first been introduced in AATFK, I must say that I wasn’t too excited about it. He just didn’t seem to be a very interesting character in the first book but I think I had that impression because you just didn’t learn a lot about him in the first book except that his girlfriend and he spend almost every free second together.

But his girlfriend isn’t there anymore which allowed him to get into a new relationship and quite early in the book, you actually realize that Josh is quite an interesting character. I really liked how you learn a lot about his past and also about the time that was written about in AATFK. You get to learn a little more about Anna and St. Clair’s relationship from his point of view and you also learn the entire story of Josh and Rashmi’s relationship which was very interesting. I also loved his passion for art and really hope this book will one day be made into a movie just so that I can see someone draw what Stephanie Perkins described in this book.

Sex also played quite a big role in this book. In AATFK it was only mentioned once or twice but in LATBND it was already a bigger part of the story, so it only made sense that it would play an important role in this book even though it isn’t often discussed in YA books.

I also loved that this book’s plot was different from the plots of the first two books. In AATFK and LATBND we had one person who was in a relationship while the other person wasn’t and over the course of the book, they slowly realized that they’re more than friends. But in IATHEA they get into a relationship at an early point of the book and so you get to read about how their relationship develops and what problems they have to face.

Another thing that I loved is that we got to see Anna, St. Clair, Meredith, Lola and Cricket again. I just love how all three books in this series are connected with each other and the scenes with those characters almost made me cry in happiness. If you haven’t read the book yet, go read it and you’ll exactly know what moment I’m talking about.

But there were also two things that annoyed me a little and made me not give this book all five stars. For one, Isla was a little annoying at some points of the books even though she was by far not as annoying as Lola sometimes was. Furthermore, the ending of this book was incredibly cheesy. It was just way too much for me and even though I really like Josh and Isla, I just couldn’t enjoy the last scene of this book even though they’re a cute couple.

All in all, this was once again a cute and quick read and I really enjoyed it. I still love Stephanie Perkins’ writing style and she remains one of my all-time favorite contemporary authors! 4 out of 5 stars for “Isla and the Happily Ever After”.

Have you already read ‘Isla and the Happily Ever After’ and did you like it? 🙂

Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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Synopsis

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

 

My Review

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”

I’m actually not a fan of Sherlock Holmes. Not because I don’t like him, but because I’ve just never really been interested in him in the first place. I must admit that, even though I’ve watched the movies with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, I’ve never read any of the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle before and I also still haven’t gotten around to watching the TV show (although my sister has been trying to get me to watch it for ages now).

That’s why it probably won’t surprise you that I mainly bought “A Study in Charlotte” because of its cover while the synopsis was of minor importance; though it certainly made me be interested in this book as well or else I would have still left it and its pretty cover at the book store. I’ve often before been disappointed by books I’ve bought because of their covers, so I’ve become a little wary of them by now. And the fact that my first try to read this book ended with me putting it down again after about 80 pages and deciding not to continue reading it, didn’t make things better at all.

But I don’t easily give up on books and had a feeling that I’d just need to be in the right mood to be able to enjoy ASIC. So, when this year’s BookTubeAThon challenges were announced, I decided to read this book for the cover-buy challenge and I don’t regret my decision at all.

Like I’d expected, I really just needed to be in the right mood for this book because on the second attempt, I finished the entire novel in under 5 hours. It’s a very enjoyable book that is well-written and I think I just needed to get past the first 100 pages to really get into it. This time, I didn’t feel like I’d need to put the book down at some point because I just couldn’t concentrate on the story. Instead I really enjoyed it and was happy about it being such a quick read. I also love that Holmes is portrayed by a teenage girl called Charlotte Holmes in this novel, even though she can be a little annoying at times. But she is a Holmes through and through and at some points I felt the same way about Sherlock Holmes while watching the movies, so her nature perfectly fits the character she’s supposed to portray in this Sherlock retelling.

By the way, if you’re wondering if you can read this book without having ever read or seen anything Sherlock Holmes related before, then I can assure you that it’s not going to be a problem. If you still want to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books though and don’t want to read any spoilers about them, you should not read this book because it does summarize some of the original books and tells you what has happened in them.

All in all, it was a great book but in my opinion, it was still missing something. There were lots of great parts in it but then again there were parts that were quite boring. Towards the end I even felt like it got a little confusing because suddenly everything started being so fast paced and so much happened at once.

I decided to give it 3 out of 5 stars and I think after reading this book, I’ll now finally start watching Sherlock (the TV show).

Have you already read ‘A Study in Charlotte’ and did you enjoy it? 🙂

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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Synopsis

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect for Lola, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.

That is, until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt that Lola thought was long buried. So when talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally face up to a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Could the boy from Lola’s past be the love of her future?

My Review

“I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.” 

I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to finally read “Lola and the Boy next Door”. I mean, I read “Anna and the French Kiss” five years ago and never even thought about continuing this series even though I loved the first book.

But now I finally read it and I’m so glad about that because LATBND was great. I almost loved it as much as I loved AATFK.

Just like the first book in the series, this is a very quick and cute read. You can easily read this book in one sitting; by now I’m even starting to believe you could read the entire series in one sitting though I won’t know about that for sure until I’ve also read “Isla and the Happily Ever After”.

The basics of the plot of this book are very similar to the plot of AATFK. Once again, we have two teenagers. One of them is in a relationship and the other isn’t but they start feeling drawn to each other though they don’t want to admit it because they’re actually just friends. Some other things happen and you have a lot of stuff you can laugh about. That means that this book once again isn’t anything new and unique; but it’s another one of those books that just make you incredibly happy and will make you feel good about life which makes it perfect.

Since it is the sequel to AATFK, we also get to read about Anna and St. Clair again which already made me fall in love with this book before I had even really gotten into it. I think even if LATBND had been horrible, I would’ve still decided to reread it at some point just because of my two favorites.

But there is one thing that bugged me about this book and that resulted in me not liking it as much as I liked AATFK. My problem is that I think that Lola is a bit of an annoying character. During the first half of the book I was still able to mostly ignore but it got worse during the second half of the book. There were moments during which she was acting quite immature even though she was constantly trying to act older than she actually was. I also thought that the fact that she was always wearing costumes with wigs and all that stuff was a little too much. Maybe I am just too old for a character like that or I didn’t like it because I think it’s extremely weird to always run around in colorful costumes with often colorful wigs on your head even when you’re just going to school. I know that it is everyone’s own decision and it made her kind of unique, but it just didn’t help in that situation. Seeing her act so immature at some point and then imagining her with blue hair in a dress she made out of a picnic blanket was just a little too much for me.

That’s why I decided to give LATBND only 4 out of 5 stars. All in all though, it was a great book that is just as addictive as AATFK. It’s an adorable love story and I’ll definitely reread it one day even though I don’t like Lola that much.

Have you already read ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ and did you like it? 🙂

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Synopsis

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

 

My Review

“Many boys will bring you flowers. But someday you’ll meet a boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won’t matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does. Only that boy earns your heart.” 

If I had to describe ‘Six of Crows’ in a single word, I would have to use ‘AMAZING’. I literally can’t believe I managed to ignore the hype for so long because this is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year so far.

For quite some time now, everyone on Goodreads, Bookstagram and BookTube has been obsessed with the SOC duology and even though I bought both books when ‘Crooked Kingdom’ was published, I just kept myself from starting this series because I was so scared I wouldn’t like it as much as almost everybody else. I’ve had incredibly high expectations for SOC and, even though I’m often disappointed when I expect a lot from a book, Leigh Bardugo managed to even exceed my expectations with this YA Fantasy masterpiece.

SOC is a very gripping read. It’s been long since I’ve read a book that didn’t include a single scene that I thought was boring but SOC was one of those books. I kept reading and reading it and for once there weren’t any points at which I stopped and thought that a scene is redundant or could’ve been written in a different, more interesting way. That was of course mainly the case because the plot of this book was so amazing, but also because SOC is just extremely well written. Leigh Bardugo’s writing style is great and I immediately fell in love with it.

The book is written in third person POV but every chapter is kind of written from a different character’s point of view. I’m not exactly sure which kind of third person POV one would say this is written in, but I’d say it’s written in third person limited POV which allows us readers to gain insight into a different person’s head and life in each chapter. I usually don’t like switching POVs but in SOC it is very well done and I loved how the different POVs were kind of connected to each other. For example, in one chapter you read a scene in which a character does something the current character doesn’t understand and in the next chapter you then learn more about that character’s back story and understand why they’ve acted a certain way.

The characters were also all really well developed and I loved all of them (them = the six main characters). They had amazing back stories and even towards the end you still get to learn new things about some of them that will take you completely by surprise. This was also the first book I’ve ever read that included a character called Nina as one of the main characters which just made this book so much more enjoyable for me. She quickly became my favorite character, not just because we share a name, but because she’s just such an amazing and well-developed character that you probably cannot not like.

Like I’ve said before, SOC was a gripping read and that was mainly due to all the great plot twists in it. I literally didn’t expect any of them to happen and this book wasn’t predictable at all. Leigh Bardugo sent me, and probably most of the people that have already read this book, on an emotional rollercoaster. It was able to make me go from being amazed, to being shocked, to feeling betrayed and to wanting to bawl my eyes out within 10 pages. And as if that wasn’t already enough emotional drama, I’ve been told that ‘Crooked Kingdom’ is even worse in that department, so this duology is most probably going to be the end of me.

Still, I can’t wait to read CK even if it might destroy me. SOC is an amazing book and if you’re like me, and have been avoiding the hype for a very long time now, you should definitely grab this book right now and start reading it. 5 out of 5 stars for SOC!

Have you read Six of Crows and did you like it? 🙂