Posted in Book Review

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Read Dates: November 25, 2019 – December 4, 2019
Publication date: November 19, 2019
Source: Owned Hardback

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Queen of Nothing

5 cats

“Mock me all you like. Whatever I imagined then, now it is I who would beg and grovel for a kind word from your lips.” His eyes are black with desire. “By you, I am forever undone.”

And by THIS BOOK I am forever undone. Omg. Seriously. This book chewed me up and spit me out multiple times. This book tore me apart.

“Prince Cardan will be your last born child,” the Royal Astrologer said. “He will be the destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.”

Cardan and Jude are back again.
Jude is still in exile in the mortal world but that changes when her twin sister Taryn comes to the mortal world to ask for her help. Jude is to go back to Faerie and pretend to be her sister. But Cardan is not so easily fooled. It turns out they’ve both fallen to some serious misunderstandings about each other but they’re back to working together against the enemies of the crown and the political games that are being played by folk from other regions. They’ll soon find that the only people they truly trust are each other.

This book had me CRYING. Mind you, I’m pregnant so that’s not such a crazy thing these days, but seriously… some of the words… Ugh. Let’s just get through this review without me crying all over my laptop.

“Unlike Locke, I never thought love was a game,” he says. “You may accuse me of much, but not that.”

Cardan is growing as a person. He’s come SO FAR since The Cruel Prince. It’s amazing how this cold-hearted fey went from a foolish, selfish, and cruel youth to a somehow level-headed and reasonable High King. Like, what? My head is still spinning at how we even got here. But then I realize, it was Jude. And the way that you figure it out and the ways he shows that it was her that changed him is so beautiful. This book was seriously so beautifully written.

Mind you, a lot of this book is not romance in any way. Most of the book is Jude getting herself into hairy situations and making me nervous as hell. Also, the political parts of this book never bored me. I’m still just baffled at ALL the characters really. Every single character in this book has changed so much from the first book.

If you guys remember, I didn’t care for the first book. And the second book definitely had more of my attention. But THIS book was a giant game changer. I LOVED this book. I couldn’t put it down. Every time I was doing anything other than reading this book, I wanted to scream. I just wanted to pick it up and fly through the entirety of it without stopping.

“We have lived in our armor for so long, you and I. And now I am not sure if either of us knows how to remove it.”

I’m not typically one to read an enemies to lovers type story and I honestly wasn’t even sure that’s what this was when I first started this series. That was just what I heard about it. I saw people saying Cardan and Jude was “their favorite book couple”. So I held out. I waited to see what would happen. But let me tell you something… I think the reason this book hit so hard is because of the enemies to lovers aspect. The fact that he was TERRIBLE to her in book one and then hot and cold to her in book two made all the nice things he said in book three, no matter how small, mean that much more. They hit you harder in the feels than they would if he had been nice to her or even neutral with her since the beginning. It’s so hard to explain this relationship and why and how much I love it but it’s soooo so so good.

I might have grown into something else, a High King as monstrous as Dain. And if I did – if I fulfilled that prophecy – I ought to be stopped. And I believe that you would stop me.

So this book finally gave us Cardan’s background and details about his childhood and why he was treated the way he was. It gave us this prophecy about him being the “destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.” I wasn’t sure what all this would mean. I rattled my brain trying to decide what would happen and I still didn’t really see it coming.
This book not only had the wonderful characters I keep on about but it also had a fantastic plot. The story never left you wanting. I was on edge, I was hopeful, I was emotional, I was torn, and I was so ridiculously happy.

I have such a new respect for Holly Black and her writing. She murdered me with this book. I mean, c’mon, I’m getting to the point where I’ve got WAY too many fictional boyfriends. It’s getting ridiculous. But she wrote Cardan SO FREAKING WELL and she wrote this story and fulfilled this prophecy SO FREAKING WELL and I think I’m in love with Holly Black now.

Which reminds me, she dedicated this book to Leigh Bardugo, who has recently become one of my all time favorite authors. So in the beginning I was thinking to myself, “If Leigh likes her, then so do I.” But then I read this book and began to like her for my own reasons.

“My sweet nemesis, how glad I am that you returned.”

I just loved this book so much. I love the continuation of the banter between Cardan and Jude but in a new light now. And I love the supporting characters and how this last book brought everyone together and left NO ONE out when bringing everyone’s story to a close. The only issue I’m having now is I WANT MORE CARDAN AND JUDE. I think they’re my new favorite book couple. So there’s that. I just highly recommend this series. I was unsure during the first book but, now, I would reread this entire series in a heartbeat if I didn’t have so many books on my “to-read” list. So good. So so so good.

I start to speak but he stops me with a gesture. “And you.” He looks at me, his lips curving in something that’s not quite a smile; it’s more and less than that. “I knew little else, but I always knew you.”

My heart literally hurts over this book guys. But in a good way. Pick it up. Meet Cardan and Jude. Do yourself a favor.

Keri

Posted in Book Review

The Wicked King by Holly Black

Read Dates: October 22, 2019 – November 19, 2019
Publication date: January 8, 2019
Source: Owned Hardback

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4 cats

Jude and Cardan are back, and things are much much different now. Jude exercises her newfound power over Cardan, controlling both he and the throne. Her end goal is to get her little brother, Oak, the rightful heir to the throne, crowned king. But she doesn’t want to put him there until he’s ready, and he is still very young. Jude continues to plan and scheme in order to achieve this end goal. But Cardan is just as clever as she is and keeps her on her toes not only with his manipulations, but also with his charm. Why is Jude so drawn to him? And why does it seem like he’s drawn to her too? Can they cooperate with each other long enough to find out? Can they work together to fight off the threats all around them? It’s hard to tell where anyone’s loyalties lie… and this book will make you question everyone.

Power is so much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.

If you follow my blog, you know that I struggled with The Cruel Prince. I mean I really struggled. It took all the effort I had to pick up The Cruel Prince and trudge on. Don’t get me wrong, once I started up, it was an easy read. But I didn’t feel attached to the story and its characters.
Well The Wicked King was a little different. Maybe it’s because the story and characters have already been established? I’m not sure. But I found myself WANTING to pick this book up. Yes, it took me a while to get through it, but that’s just because my life is crazy right now. I legitimately wanted to continue on. This was one of those books that had me so invested that if anyone came over and interrupted my reading, I immediately wanted to take their head off their shoulders. (Just my inner Jude coming out I guess.)

You are my dearest punishment.

The characters have come so far since book one. Jude has found the power she always wanted (just not quite in the form she thought it would come). Cardan has finally been bested and is getting a healthy dose of his own medicine. Madoc is learning not to underestimate Jude. The characters are evolving and it’s so much fun to watch the way they act and how they treat each other now.

His mouth curls into a smile. His eyes shine with wicked intent. “Look at them all, your subjects. A shame not a one knows who their true ruler is.”

We’re also given this sliver of hope that there may be some sort of romance between Jude and Cardan. And honestly, I’m here for it. I was cheering for it the entire time. I wanted something to happen. There were so many moments in the book where I was thinking, “Ok, this is it. Something is going to happen. Cardan is finally going to fess up.” These moments were few, but I was living for all of them. Besides those moments, I LOVED just reading the scenes between Cardan and Jude. Their dynamic, the way they banter. Ughh. I just loved them.

Our eyes meet, and something dangerous sparks.
He hates you, I remind myself.
“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”

Orlagh, the sea queen is stirring up trouble in this book and it makes things even more exciting. Reading this book, I was kept on my toes simply because of the games and intrigue that Jude and Cardan would throw each other’s way. But when a true threat arises and our main characters actually have to put their heads together to come up with a solution, things started to get reallllllly interesting.

Everybody in this damn book doubted Jude Duarte!
Mind you, I doubted a few characters along the way and quickly learned that I was wrong as well. If you’re going into this book thinking you know who’s going to betray who, I’m willing to bet you’re not ready for what this book is about to throw at you. There were quite a few twists and turns that had me defiant to put the book down. I wanted to keep going! But alas, lunches are only an hour in the corporate world. *sigh*

This book just makes you feel all the things. It makes you question all the characters. There was a specific twist towards the end of the book where I was cheering and whooping and wondering what came next. I was so excited at the happenings that I didn’t stop to think what this book might do to my high hopes. (How could you Holly? How could you?)

“For a moment,” he says, “I wondered if it wasn’t you shooting bolts at me.”
I make a face at him. “And what made you decide it wasn’t?”
He grins up at me. “They missed.”

A word of advice: If you’re going to read this one, you better go ahead and just have book 3 on standby so you can continue the story without absolutely losing your mind at this ending. You’ve been warned.

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

Read Dates: September 26, 2019 – October 20, 2019
Publication date: October 1, 2019
Source: eArc via Netgalley

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4 cats

Nimue is a Fey who holds within her the power of The Hidden. Because of this, she’s viewed as an outcast in her lands and is called “cursed”. But her mother, Lenore, the Arch Druid of their village, makes sure Nimue is taught to hold her own.
Until one day, the Red Paladins ride in and lay waste to Nimue’s people. Lenore gives Nimue the sword of power and tells her to find Merlin. So Nimue sets out to find Merlin per her mother’s final wish. She never expected that this would land her in the company of Arthur and Morgan who mean to help her find Merlin at whatever costs. Nor the company of many other kinds of Fey folk who are on the run from the Red Paladins.
Nimue struggles between her thirst for revenge against the Red Paladins and her decency and sanity. Will the sword of power take over her mind and turn her into a bloodthirsty, power-hungry killer? Will she be able to give the sword to Merlin when she finds him? Or will she use the sword’s history to proclaim herself Queen since whoever wields the sword is the “one true king”?
Regardless of what she decides, kings and interested parties everywhere will do what they can to claim the sword for themselves, even if that means allying with unlikely groups of murderers… or worse.

First of all, I’m super excited that this book is being adapted into a Netflix show. I can’t wait to see all of this come to life on screen!
Secondly… there are a lottttt of characters in this book. So I feel like maybe we should start there. Let’s just give you a brief rundown of who’s involved with this story:

  • Nimue – Main character. Has a connection with the “hidden”. Is labeled as a “cursed” child by the people of her village.
  • Lenore – Nimue’s mother. Arch Druid of Dewdenn
  • Arthur – Sword for hire who takes an interest in Nimue and her cause
  • Morgan – Arthur’s half-sister. Pledges herself to Nimue and her cause
  • Squirrel – 8-year-old little boy from Nimue’s village. He and Nimue are close friends
  • Uther Pendragon – 26-year-old King of England
  • Merlin – Wizard. Advisor of King Uther
  • Lady Lunette – King Uther’s mother, the Queen Regent
  • Gawain – A friend of Nimue’s from Dewdenn. He has since disappeared. They call him “The Green Knight”
  • Rugen – The Leper King
  • Father Carden – Head priest leading the Red Paladins
  • Weeping Monk – Father Carden’s favorite follower
  • Sister Iris – A pupil of Father Carden. She only wants to do his bidding, earn his respect, and be his favorite
  • Brother Salt – Member of the Red Paladins who is particularly good at “carving” information out of people
  • Abbot Wicklow – a mysterious man who is observing the work of the Red Paladins
  • Red Spear – Viking Warlord who is loyal to the Ice King
  • Lord Cumber – The Ice King (self-proclaimed)
  • Hilja – The Ice Queen
  • Pope Abel – Leader of the Trinity
  • Kaze – mysterious purple-robed woman. Gawain’s trusted companion
  • Lady Cacher – of House Chastellain. A friend of Merlin’s

It seems a bit overwhelming, I know, but these characters are introduced in such a way so that you won’t ever be confused. They only come into the story when it is their time. Some are mentioned before they actually play a part but, I’m telling you, the author made this so easy to follow.

Ya know what I found refreshing about this book? There’s a female heroine but she isn’t glorified. She makes mistakes. We’re shown her thought process multiple times where she’s wondering if she’s doing the right thing or she’s trying to figure out if she made the right decision. What’s even more, she makes mistakes! She literally makes choices in the story that lead to bad things happening. But she takes everything as it comes. She owns up to everything. SHE PUTS HER PEOPLE BEFORE HERSELF. Even though those same people ridiculed her at first and saw her as different and weird… she still chose to put them first and do what was best for all and not just one. That was so damn refreshing.

The adventure in this book is endless. The story follows Nimue, Father Carden, and occasionally the Weeping Monk or Arthur. This story does not lack adventure at any point. The action is present from the very start until the very end of the book. I was never bored while reading this story.

I really liked how these classic characters were shown in a different light. Instead of Merlin the wizard who outsmarts everyone and who can get himself out of any situation, he was instead ensnared multiple times. Yes, he still had the witty tongue to get himself out of said situations but sometimes in the story, he just plain got lucky.
Arthur is just as human as the rest of them. Making his own mistakes and bad choices. Running from conflict. But eventually, finding his flaws and correcting himself to be worthy of the knighthood he’s always dreamed of.
Lancelot even makes his appearance in this book! But I won’t go into detail about his character as that would be a MAJOR spoiler.

I feel like this story is a better representation of how things would actually be if the Sword of Power was out there and in the hands of one person. Yes, the Sword of Power chooses someone and that person is said to be the rightful king, but let’s be honest here, there will always be evils who wish the power for themselves and will do ruthless things to get to it. This story embodies that. It shows the selfish desires of man, even the ones who may have meant well in the beginning. It shows the price of wielding such power and how that power can go to your head if you let it. It reminded me a lot of Bilbo Baggins and The One Ring to Rule Them All.

I honestly can’t wait to see all of these characters come to life. I can’t wait to see if the show will be just as relentless as the book was. Torture, mass slaughters, poisonings… It got pretty brutal at times. But, GOODNESS this book was so good. It kept me on the edge of my seat. It kept me wondering what might happen next. Then there were all the twists. Those were so much fun. At one point I was whooping and fist pumping into the air because I was so excited about the twist that came my way.

I did see that this book didn’t do so well where ratings were concerned on Goodreads… But I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to anyone who can handle a middle grade book that has about 100 more pages than it really needs. But again, I was never bored. The adventure was so abundant that I didn’t mind the extra pages.
You do have the option to just wait for the show to come out next year though. But I definitely urge people to always read the book first. 🙂

Shout out to Frank Miller for the amazing illustrations throughout this book! I rather enjoyed those as well!

Keri

Posted in Book Review

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Read dates: September 9, 2019 – September 25, 2019
Publication date: January 29, 2019
Source: Owned hardback

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King of Scars1

5 cats

The war is over.
The Darkling is dead.
Alina is gone.
Nikolai is King of Ravka.

Though Nikolai’s family were all casualties of the Darkling’s hunger for power and the decimation of Os Alta, Nikolai is not alone at the palace. He has his commander, Zoya, and nearly the entire gang of Alina’s followers, the Triumvirate, at his side. But none of them are able to vanquish the darkness within him, left there by the Darkling’s evil soul before he died. Nikolai just wants to rule Ravka in a way that would give his people peace and freedom, but how can he do that when he lives with the beast inside who enjoys showing up unannounced and wreaking havoc on everything around him? How long will his companions stand by his side and risk their lives to rein the beast? Can Nikolai be a good king while this darkness looms within him?

Meanwhile, Nina is on a secret mission to gain intelligence for Ravka. But what she finds when she arrives to Fjerda is much worse than she could have ever imagined. Can she put her grieving aside to do what is necessary? Can she show the Fjerdans mercy as Matthias has always wished of her? Will she ever be able to forgive the entire race of Fjerdans for the shortcomings and loss in her life?

“Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.”

First of all, let me start by saying, “WHAT THE WHAT?!”
Does Bardugo have a voodoo doll of me that she’s using as a pin cushion? Because that’s what it feels like.

What a ride that was. I’m still reeling. So many unanswered questions and new revelations to chew on until the second book comes out WHENEVER THAT MAY BE.
Dear lord… how am I going to make it? I’ll tell ya how… I’m NOT. I can’t wait that long! I need to know the answers to my questions! I need to know what’s going to happen now that… those… things… have happened! Ughh…

So, the book starts off strong with the story of a boy named Dima. He is the youngest of his brothers and is sent out one night to close the barn doors as it seems the wind has blown them open. The boy is terrified but he wishes to earn the respect of his older brothers so he braves the storm and sets out. When he gets to the barn, he is met with a winged beast and narrowly escapes disaster when a beautiful grisha steps in to capture the beast. I loved reading this beginning piece. It sort of set the eerie mood of the book and amped you up for what was to come so I thought it was definitely worth mentioning.

“We are all connected, King Nikolai. The Grisha, the Fold, the power inside you. The Fold is a wound that may never heal. But perhaps it was not meant to.”

The rest of the story is told primarily through three perspectives. Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina. That’s right. Nina is BACK. We learn a lot about the origins of Nikolai and Zoya in this story and Nina’s tale continues and nearly brought me to tears a few times. Nikolai is battling the beast within him. Zoya is battling her past. Nina is battling the future and moving on with her life after the end of Crooked Kingdom.

Though the Darkling is dead, he’s left his mark on the world. Strange things begin to happen and a monk appears claiming to be one of the people in charge of the Cult of the Starless. A group who ultimately worship the Darkling and wish him to be seen as a saint. He wishes to officially make the Darkling a saint with the help of the Apparat (gag me with a spoon) and King Nikolai. Now Nikolai and Zoya must figure out if the monk’s ramblings are just that or if there is some truth to the Darkling’s soul living on in the fold after his death. But there’s only one way to find out! That’s right! Go to the fold!! We’re on an adventure!! Honestly, this entire book is an adventure. Nikolai and Zoya are on an adventure, Nina is on an adventure with Leoni and Adrik. It’s just chock-full of adventure and I LOVE IT.

I will never be ready for the Grishaverse to come to an end. I’ve so enjoyed the world building and the character building and the constant changes and revelations the characters go through. I don’t think I will ever tire of reading about the Grisha. I even love the characters who aren’t Grisha. I wish I could say I had favorites but I really pretty much love them all!

I will say I really hope the next book doesn’t turn into a love triangle. I don’t know if my heart can take it and it would honestly just be a little weird but they sort of alluded to a future love triangle at the end of this book.

Also, JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER!

Bottom line: this book was everything a book should be. It kept my attention, it kept me guessing, it had me attached to the characters, and it had me hating life while I was too busy to pick it up and continue on to find out what happened next.

I was eager to read this book even before I got into the Grishaverse. When I read the synopsis on Goodreads, I was thinking to myself, “Oh this is going to be gooooood.” But then I did a little more research and found that there were quite a few books ahead of this one so I decided to do the right thing and start at the beginning.
I can tell you, my anticipation for this book did not go to waste. This book scratched the YA/fantasy itch I’ve been dealing with for some time now. Once again, Bardugo gives us multiple POVs and delivers them seamlessly. I’m still in awe of how she’s able to pace a book with multiple POVs and it not be a jumbled mess. She’s become one of my all-time favorite authors and I can’t wait to read Ninth House while I wait to read the fate of King Nikolai and his ruthless and powerful commander, Zoya, and the girl who became one of my favorite characters during Crooked Kingdom, Nina.

A few honorable mentions that I can’t leave out:

The story about Dominik and young Nikolai. Ughhh

“This country gets you in the end, brother. Don’t forget it.”
“Not us,” he said. But Dominik was already gone. “I’ll do better,” Nikolai promised, just as he had so many years ago in Mitkin’s classroom. “I’ll find a way.”

The story about Zoya’s past and the way the dragon (that’s right, there’s a dragon) cares for her. UGHHHHHH

“Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself…”
“Zoya of the lost city. Zoya of the garden. Zoya bleeding in the snow. You are strong enough to survive the fall.”

The part where Nina breaks down in front of Hanne talking about her “husband” and how he loved her and she loved him. WAHHHHHH

“Have you always been this sure of yourself?”
Nina shrugged. “Yes.”
“And your husband didn’t complain?”
“He complained,” Nina said – and suddenly she had to look away, because it was not some fictional merchant who had come to mind but Matthias with his strict propriety and his disapproving glower and his loving, generous heart. “He complained all the time.”
“Was he quick to anger?” Hanne asked.
Nina shook her head and pressed her palms to her eyes, unable to stop the tears that came, not wanting to… “No. We didn’t always agree.” She smiled. “In fact, we almost never agreed. But he loved me. And I loved him.”

Keri

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

August Wrap-Up

August Stats
Number of Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 817
Average Rating: 4.5
Favorite Book of the Month: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
Current Progress Made Towards Yearly Reading Challenge: 40 of 50

Only two books this month! Ouch!

Between moving and getting our lives back in order (and sleeping a lot), I haven’t had much time to sit and really read. Hoping that will be changing now that we’re settled!

I turned 28 this month, so I’m that much closer to 30… I can feel that in my elbows, knees, hips, and back…

I’ve got one more book in the Grishaverse to read and then I’ll be all caught up! It’s the one I’ve been waiting all this time for! Nikolai’s book. *swoons*

I’m also going to try and fit in Shadow and Ice by Gena Showalter since my best friend read it already and has been waiting to talk about it!

I’m anxiously awaiting the Grishaverse’s screen debut on Netflix! They can drop a premiere date annnnyyyy day now.

Not a very eventful month where books are concerned for me. Hoping to change that in September!

♥♥♥

Keri

Posted in Book Review

You Have to Believe Me by Sunday Tomassetti

Read Dates: August 27, 2019 – September 4, 2019
Expected Publication Date: September 19, 2019
Source: eARC via Ardent Prose PR

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5 cats

Dove is lost. She’s recently lost her husband, Ian, whom she believed to be her one and only, her true love. She didn’t just lose him, she lost him to her best friend Kirsten Best. But soon, they both lose him when he’s murdered and left with no DNA leads for the police to go on. Kirsten suspects Dove, Dove suspects everyone… but both women are determined to get to the bottom of what really happened to Ian.

WHAT A ROLLER COASTER!

So I was invited to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review, and upon going to the Goodreads page to read the synopsis, I was 100% in. Not to mention, the publisher mentioned the book would have a “Minka Kent” feel to it. I discovered Minka last year and was IN LOVE. So, naturally, I was more than willing to give this book a go.
Soon after receiving the eARC, I found that this book was written BY MINKA KENT under the pseudonym Sunday Tomassetti. And that could explain why I was so absolutely taken by this book.

Kent\Tomassetti has a way of fashioning a story around multiple characters and then smoothly delivering the meat of a story in a way that keeps you going and guessing until she reaches the end and she gathers up all those characters you read about throughout the novel and brings them together to show you how their stories intertwine. I LOVE the way she tells a story.

So naturally, I was drawn in from page one of this book. I was never bored. I felt like an armchair detective right along with Dove. Over analyzing everything and writing things down that I thought may be important later on. Little did I know, nothing I was over examining would matter when it came down to who the actual killer was. Because in true Kent fashion, I was given all of these different characters stories to explore and break down that caused me to look in all the wrong places. I LOVED IT.

At first I was thinking Dove was going to be similar to Rachel from The Girl on the Train. A woman gone mad when her husband and her “perfect life” leave her for some other “better” woman. But Dove was so much more than that. I came to really enjoy Dove’s character a lot. The way she didn’t single any one person out… she was always weary of everyone. No matter how long she’d known them or what reasons they lacked to kill her ex husband, she suspected EVERYONE. So looking at the story from her perspective was always enjoyable as she would puzzle out all these possibilities and ridiculous theories behind why a certain person would have been involved.

Kirsten was fun to read as well. I didn’t enjoy her in the beginning. I was kind of in Dove’s corner from the start. Especially since Kirsten was Dove’s best friend before Kirsten began dating her ex husband. I had no sympathy for Kirsten as she sat alone at Ian’s funeral and watched Dove with Ian’s family. But I did come to enjoy Kirsten’s chapters as most of the twists in this book were revealed in her chapters. Not to mention, the things that were happening in Kirsten’s life seemed significant to me… and it turned out they were.

There were multiple supporting characters in the story which was a lot of fun to examine. When I read a mystery with so many characters, I always find myself questioning every last one of them as Dove does in the story. We have Noah, Dove’s boss and friend. Ari, Dove’s co-worker and friend. Michael and Lori, Ian’s parents. David Hobbs, Kirsten’s neighbor who becomes her only friend. There are also some other characters who show up in the story for the sake of finding new information in relation to Ian’s murder. I broke them all down. Every last one of them. But I did NOT see the end coming. I thought I had the killer figured out and also the motive behind the killing, and while I was close, I was wrong.

This book was so amazing and really goes to show that you can “know” a person for most of your life… but do you ever truly KNOW them and know everything they’re capable of?

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery/who dun’it type novel. Minka Kent, Sunday Tomassetti, it doesn’t matter what name she writes under, I’m going to be reading everything this woman pens.

Keri

Posted in Book Review

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Read Dates: August 20, 2019 – August 26, 2019
Publication date: September 26, 2017
Source: Owned hardback

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5 cats

Leigh Bardugo has bamboozled me again!
This time it’s with a collection of short stories passed down through generations in different villages spread across the lands of the Grishaverse. Novya Zem, Ravka, Kerch, and Fjerdan stories that absolutely set my soul alight. They were clever and they were beautiful and they were shocking and I LOVED THEM.

Let’s get into it.

Ayama and the Thorn Wood
A queen gives birth to a terrible wolf child and the king banishes it to a maze. However, one day the wolf escapes and chaos ensues over the Zemeni lands. Herds of cattle are attacked and human bones are piled up for the townspeople to see… So the king calls for someone to bargain with the beast in exchange for riches. Ayama, urged by her grandmother, volunteers and sets out to find the beast in the thorn wood. The beast requires a story. One that will not bore him and should Ayama succeed in holding his attention, he will agree to leave the village be.

This story was so magical and enchanting. I loved Ayama from the beginning and I loved where the story took her character. There’s a lesson to be learned from this story and also just the pure beauty of the ending this story gives us.

The Too-Clever Fox
A story of a fox born as the runt of his litter who is able to outwit any other creature, freeing himself from life threatening situations. Until one day the fox befriends a famous hunter’s sister in order to find out how the hunter is able to hunt so quietly and fiercely.

I saw the ending coming but it didn’t take away from the story at all. I still felt the shock that the author intended and was on the edge of my seat as the fox had to, once again, wiggle his way from a dire situation. Another lesson, and another entrancing story.

The Witch of Duva
Girls are going missing in the village.
Nadya and Havel live with their grieving father who has just lost his wife, their mother. When a woman named Karina comes into their lives and seems to only want the children to leave she and their father be. Havel goes off the the war but Nadya remains and wanders off one day into the woods to escape her overbearing and hateful stepmother. She becomes lost and finds the shack of a witch who she stays with for a time learning to make potions and meals. But Nadya could’ve never prepared herself for the truths the witch comes to reveal to her.

At the end of this story, in my notes, I wrote the word “WOW”. And that’s honestly the best explanation I can give you for how I felt about this story. This one actually DID have me fooled and then when all was revealed, I was in SHOCK. This story was so wonderful, and yet so chilling… Two of my favorite things.

Little Knife
This is the story of Yeva, a duke’s daughter who is so beautiful that no one can look upon her without going mad. Every man wishes to win her favor and wed her. But the greedy duke sets a task for all the men who wish to have her hand in marriage. The duke creates challenges that he believes only the prince has the resources to win, as the duke wishes his daughter to be married to the prince so that they can be rich and live a wealthy life. Semyon is a poor, penniless man who wishes to marry the beautiful Yeva and, as luck would have it, has the favor of the river who he named “Little Knife”. The river helps him win every challenge to win the beautiful Yeva, but at what price?

This story was my least favorite of all the stories in this book but I still liked it! It seemed, thus far, that all of these stories were here to teach you a moral. Stories grandmothers and mothers told their children before bed at night to keep them honest and well-behaved. This story was fun and I loved the ending but it just wasn’t my favorite… (We’ll get to that one.)

The Soldier Prince
The Clocksmith is a creepy, isolated man who decides it would be in his best interest to marry into money so he can live a comfortable life. So the Clocksmith sets his sights on Clara, the daughter of a wealthy couple whom he befriends. He attends parties at their home, bringing his magical trinkets to woo the other party goers. To win the favor of Clara, he crafts her a nutcracker doll. He enchants the doll so that he can learn all of Clara’s secrets, wishes and dreams. Clara becomes so attached to the nutcracker that her family worries for her and wishes for her to become more social with real people. Only Clara, the nutcracker, and the Clocksmith know the true nature of the doll and just what Clara can have the doll become with just a few simple words spoken to it.

This one was FASCINATING. The spin the author put on this story was amazing! Toy Story meets Peter Pan? Something like that. Anyway, it was wonderful. But… still not my favorite.

When Water Sang Fire
Ulla and Signy are mermaids who, when their voices combine, can create magic unlike anything anyone has ever seen. The two are invited to accompany the princes to the surface where they will use magic to grow legs and live among the King and Queen for three months until they can find a suitable gift to bring their King. Each prince must present their King with a gift from the mortal world. The King will decide which price will become King based on the gifts he receives. Ulla and Signy are swept into court life by the youngest price, Roffe, who takes an interest in the two and their magic. But Roffe is willing to go to great lengths to present his father with the best gift and become King… and he may end up pulling Ulla and Signy into something sinister that they could never hope to recover from.

Welcome to my favorite story in the book!! THIS STORY WAS EVERYTHING. I admit, I do have a soft spot for the mermaid stories. Once I read the REAL “Little Mermaid” story, I was obsessed. I loved the dark side of it and this story gave me just that. BUT BETTER. That ending! I was breathless. Speechless. I wanted MORE. Dear lord, Leigh, please give me a book about Ulla? Please?

Honestly, guys, Leigh Bardugo is holding my heart in her hands. I’ve been making my way through the Grishaverse one book at a time and all I have left now is King of Scars. (And then the one that comes after that which I would LOVE to have a release date for…) I don’t ever want her books to end. I absolutely adore Bardugo and everything she’s done up to this point. If you aren’t interested in reading any of the Grishaverse books, at least pick up The Language of Thorns. It has nothing to do with any of the characters or stories from the Grishaverse but the stories within it are so beautifully constructed and I HIGHLY recommend them to ANYONE who just enjoys a good fairy tale. I LOVED this book and I’m quite sure I’ll be reading it again and again.

Keri