Posted in Book Review

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: June 20,2019 – July 2, 2019
Publication date: September 29, 2015
Source: Owned paperback

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six of crows1

4.5 cats

**I always write my own synopsis for the books I review, but in this case, I’m using the one found on Goodreads because it’s PERFECT.**

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book hit hard from the very first chapter. I mean, seriously. At the end of the first chapter I literally stopped reading, looked up and said to no one, “Whaaaaatttt????”
It was incredibly enticing.

In the beginning we’re introduced to the Grisha, beings with magical powers specific to their kind.
Etherealniks, or tidemakers, can control currents and summon water or moisture from a nearby source.
Materialniks, or fabrikators, can manipulate substances to be something completely different than what they are.
Corporalniks, or healers, typically specialize in certain types of healing (emotional, physical, bone specific… etc)

There are certain powerful governmental figures who have found a drug that amplifies those Grisha’s powers and they are hoping to use the drugged Grisha to create an unbeatable army.
Cue Kaz Brekker. Kaz is the lieutenant of the Dregs, one of many gangs in Ketterdam, and he’s known to be dangerous and unrelenting. Kaz is tasked with rescuing the scientist who discovered the drug from the Ice Court where he is being imprisoned and tortured for information on how to make the drug. But Kaz’s task is an impossible one. The Ice Court’s walls are impenetrable. The sectors of the Court are heavily armed and guarded. The Court is crawling with drüskelle, witch hunters who are trained to hunt and capture Grisha. However, Kaz is fairly certain the crew he has gathered and the plan he’s created will work and get them in and out with their target. Cue the five outcasts he chooses to help him get the job done.

I have to say, I loved all the characters in this book. It’s usually pretty rare for me to not have a specific character in the main story who drives me absolutely crazy or who I just can’t connect with at all. But I enjoyed all of the characters in this one. There are quite a few main characters and the story is told from multiple perspectives so let’s break those characters down, eh?

A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.

Kaz– Dreg lieutenant. Cold-hearted. Will do any job for the right price.
Inej– Dreg member. They call her the Wraith. She can be standing right beside you in broad daylight and you’d never know she was there. She is Kaz’s right hand lady. She gathers intel for him and accompanies him to every job.
Jesper– Also a member of the Dregs. Another of Kaz’s close companions (as close as he’ll let them get). Jesper has a gambling problem and absolutely adores a good shoot out.
Nina– A Grisha healer and member of the Dregs. Kaz recruits her for the job in hopes that she will help them in recruiting someone from her past. Not to mention, it’s good to have a healer on the team.
Matthias– The recruit from Nina’s past. A drüskelle who wants nothing more than to see Nina pay for what she has done. An important part of the team since he lived and worked in the Ice Court and knows all of it’s ins and outs.
Wylan– Collateral, but also a skilled demolitions expert. He is the son of the man who employed Kaz to rescue the scientist and while he is useful for demolitions, he is also insurance when it comes to the reward Kaz is to receive if he is successful in bringing the scientist back to Ketterdam.

This band of misfits sets out on an impossible job with an even more impossible plan. But along the way they learn things about themselves and each other that will change their beliefs and how they feel about each other forever. And it. is. BEAUTIFUL.

I’m just going to go ahead and throw this out there, Matthias was my favorite. Read it and decide who you like the most for yourself but he was my fave. I liked all of the characters though. They were all so different and added something special to the story.

I loved watching the characters get to know one another. I mean REALLY know one another. Some of them were already acquainted but once some of the characters became familiar with one another it was so much fun to see the banter back and forth between them. I specifically enjoyed the relationship between Inej and Nina. These are two badass chicks who are very headstrong and independent but there were moments between the two of them that showed you just how human they were despite their gifts. Those were some of my favorite scenes. Reading as they hashed out their fears and insecurities with each other. There was a scene with the two of them where I had tears! Literal tears! And not because it was a sad scene, it was just so beautiful to read them and the friendship they had found in one another.

Is there romance in this book? Well yea, a little bit. I don’t think there is a single kiss in the entire thing. But there is talk of it. Briefly. This is more of an Oceans Eleven/Limitless type story and it is SURE action packed!

There were a few scenes that really did get me. I had actual tears. I love a book that can do that to me. It means I’ve connected with the characters. It means the author has built their case up so much to the point where I care what happens to them. I honestly loved them all and I loved this book and you should go read it. Really. It’s wonderful.

The life you live, the hate you feel–it’s poison. I can drink it no longer.

Now I’m going to go start the Shadow and Bone series and hope I haven’t wrecked everything. I’ve heard wonderful things about Six of Crows (which is why I picked it up and dove right in) but I have heard mixed reviews on the Shadow and Bone series. Six of Crows has given me such high expectations for Bardugo and I’m worried Shadow and Bone won’t measure up. We shall see!

If you’re one who read Shadow and Bone and abandoned all things Bardugo, I IMPLORE YOU to pick up Six of Crows. It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the grand adventure it took me on.

It was Jesper who spoke first. “No mourners,” he said with a grin.
“No funerals,” they replied in unison.

A song you say? But of course!

Keri

Posted in Book Review

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Read Dates: June 20, 2019 – June 20, 2019
Publication date: April 23, 2016
Source: Owned paperback

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The Princess Saves Herself in This One

4 cats

the princess i was born
a little bookmad.

i could be found stroking
the spines of my books

while i sat locked alone
inside my tower bedroom.

all the while, i hoped my books
would spill their exquisite words

over the lush green carpet
so i could collect them one by one

& savor them like
berries inside my mouth

forever a collector of words

Six months ago, if you had told me I would be into poetry books, I would have laughed right in your face. Mind you, I have always been into authors like Poe and Frost. Among others. But I just wasn’t a fan of how poetry was being written in modern times. Until I met Rupi Kaur and she absolutely broke me. That encounter led to me picking up other poetry books blindly without ever reading a single review or a single synopsis. I found Amanda Lovelace in the bestsellers section of my local bookstore and grabbed both this book and The Mermaid Doesn’t Lose Her Voice in This One. I’m glad I did.

Lovelace cuts to your core in a completely different way than Kaur does. While they both cover the same troubles, for me, it was the delivery. Lovelace spoke to me in a way that brought all my old wounds to the surface and just as they were beginning to fester, her words filled them with poultice and taught them what it took to heal.

She begins with The Princess. A young, naive version of herself who suffers abuse at the hands of her mother and ridicule from her peers. She tells a story of a girl who is broken and has no idea where she’s going much less how to get there. A girl who only wishes to escape into the worlds inside her books. (Same girl, same.)

fat
\’fat\
adjective

1. a descriptive word.
it has no deeper meaning.
it should not determine
the worth
(or lack thereof)
of a human being.

what i know now that I wish I knew then.

She continues the story by telling us how the princess became the damsel. The author seeks acceptance from those around her. She finds unhealthy relationships and clings to them because she wants to feel something other than the things she grew up with. Her mother passes away due to cancer and she harbors a battle inside of her as she tries to decide if her passing was a blessing or a curse. There is so much grief and pain in this section until the princess turned damsel finally finds herself.

the princess
jumped from
the tower
& she
learned
that she
could fly
all along.

she never needed those wings

The next section is my favorite. The princess becomes the queen. She becomes content. She finds someone whose soul compliments her own. She is finally able to be herself and live her life untainted. She gains the confidence to LIVE.

In the end, she encourages the reader. She’s taken you on her journey and carried you through the tale of her trials. But now she wants you to know that you are enough and you are able to face your own trials.

I highly recommend this one. It will reopen old wounds and bring to light current ones that you didn’t realize you had. It will make you feel.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pages in this book:

you were
sent down
from the stars

exactly the way
you were supposed
to be —

the way
you would
love,

the way
you would
lust,

& the way
you would find
your wings —

& no one
should have
been given

the power
to take that
away
from you.

you deserve your pulse.

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan

Read Dates: June 11, 2019 – June 18, 2019
Publication date: April 2, 2019
Source: Owned hardback

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Wicked Saints1

4.5 cats

Nadya is a cleric, the only one known to be left in the world. All she’s ever known is her home in a Kalyazin monastery where she learns and lives every day. With the gods on her side, she is able to utilize their magic, she need only ask.
Nadya’s world is turned upside down when soldiers and the High Price of Tranavia leave her home in ruins, taking her friends and mentors with it. The Tranavians and the Kalyazins have been at war for centuries, ever since the Tanavians cast out the gods from their land and relied solely on blood magic and the ruthless band of Vultures (blood mages turned monster), who follow their own code and their own king.
Nadya is on the run so as to not fall into the hands of the High Prince who wishes to use and abuse her divine magic for his own gain.
Nadya gains some unlikely allies and sets out on an adventure that could change her values and beliefs forever. There’s a lot Nadya doesn’t know and those truths will change the course of her life completely.

Before I even start to tell you how I feel about this book, let me tell you… I’m a huge D&D fan. This book is basically a D&D campaign written as a novel for people to read and enjoy and I LOVE IT. The minute I read the word “cleric” in this book, I was up and at attention waiting to see what this cleric could do.

I loved the idea of her having the favor of these gods that would grant her certain powers she was in need of at the moment… things as simple as light in dark places or the ability to know if someone is being truthful with her.

There are 20 known gods… as I read, I kept track of the ones that were mentioned. 13 total were mentioned. Nadya didn’t make use of all of them but I thought I’d make a cute little list of the ones we were met with.

Veceslav – god of war and protection
Marzenya – goddess of magic and sacrifice, goddess of winter and death (the goddess who claimed Nadya from infancy)
Zvonimira – goddess of light
Bozidarka – goddess of vision, goddess of prophecy
Horz – god of the heavens and stars
Devonya – goddess of the hunt
Myesta – goddess of the moons
Bozetjeh – god of wind, essence of speed and time
Alena – goddess of the sun
Krsnik – god of fire
Vaclav – god of truth
Zlatek – god of silence
Zbyhneuska – goddess of healing and health

I loved the little excerpts we get at the beginning of each chapter from the “Codex of the Divine”. Those were fun. They gave us little stories about past clerics, martyrs, saints, and past and present gods. There were a lot of really good ones and even ones that made me gasp out loud! But my favorite was this one:

Horz stole the stars and the heavens out from underneath Myesta’s control, and for that she has never forgiven him. For where can the moons rest if not in the heavens?
-Codex of the Divine, 5:26

That brings me to my biggest issue with the book. (Which isn’t SUCH a big issue…) It seemed like the gods didn’t really matter and there are some unanswered questions I had with them and with Nadya and her gifts. But this is a trilogy so I’m sure I’ll get some answers WHEN THE NEXT TWO BOOKS FINALLY COME OUT. Can’t believe I have to wait until next year for the second chapter in Nadya’s story.

Nadya. There’s something to talk about. She was fantastic. From the beginning she has this amazing independence and such a fierce protective nature when it comes to those she cares about. When she realizes the monastery is under attack, she grabs some voryens (daggers) and rushes headlong towards the fight. She just has her head on straight and she keeps an open mind. I love that. When she finds new information, she questions herself and adjusts her actions from what she was raised to do to what she needs to do. She doesn’t let anyone walk all over her. She tells multiple characters about themselves without thinking twice. She was such a joy to read.

Look, when you read the synopsis on Goodreads, you’re going to be like, “Uhh, is this a love triangle?” I’ll be honest, I was halfway through the book and I literally stopped mid-paragraph and wrote in my notes, “Is this going to be a love triangle?”
I’ll admit, love triangles are one of my guilty pleasures when they’re done right BUT this book was not a love triangle. In fact, it was better.
Yes. There is a bit of romance in this book but it comes with a price and a purpose and I think what the author did with this romance was fantastic. Did I see this duo coming from the beginning? Yes. But did I think that’s where they would end up as we reached the last page of the book? NOPE.

You guys know I like the bad guys in books and this book is no exception. Although, I’m not adding anyone from this book to my fictional boyfriend list this time.

Look guys, if you enjoy archetypal hero stories, then DIVE IN. This is definitely one of those and it was definitely worth the wait. The author had a plan, she knew our hero’s story and she filled in the rest with some beautiful, poetic, dark, and haunting elements. I’ll be anxiously awaiting Something Dark and Holy #2!

*Let me hit you with this throwback that played right as I was at the end of this book:


Go read this book and then listen to that song when you’re done and TELL ME it isn’t perfect. You won’t. Because it’s perfect.

+You may have noticed, my cats have changed! I was trying to create one that looked like one of my kitties and I finally found the time to work with it. I feel like my blog is a little more complete now. 🖤

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Black Butterfly by Robert M Drake

Read Dates:June 9, 2019 – June 9, 2019
Publication date: April 2, 2015
Source: Owned copy

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Black Butterfly edited

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There is nothing
more dangerous
to any form of government
than an entire
generation
who knows how to dream
and believe
in themselves enough
to change
and reinvent
it all.

I’m back again with another Robert M Drake book! I saw two of his books in my local bookstore a few weeks ago and… I’ll admit… bought them based on how beautiful the covers were. I have a serious cover porn problem…
Anyway, I wasn’t disappointed. His books are a far cry from what I get from Rupi Kaur who was actually the author who got me into poetry books at all. Where Kaur is raw and relentless, Drake is soft and soothing. This is only my second book of his and I plan to seek out ALL others by Drake but I’ve gathered that I’m 100% right in that he’s a hopeless romantic. In Black Butterfly he actually mentions his significant other and most of this book was more romantic whereas Spaceship had a little more heartache and struggle in it.

And there were
always
those nights where
she preferred the
rain over the people.
Because the rain would
remind her of how
she should feel
and people
would remind her
of all the things
she always
wanted
to forget.

The author is one of the few who has found true love and what it means and he wants the world to know of the beauties that come with finding the one who ignites your soul.

Don’t think.
It complicates things.
Just feel, and
if it feels like home
then follow
its path.

Look, if you want a feel good poetry book, pick up one of Drake’s books. This one was definitely more of a feel good poetry book. The passages are a little longer than those in Spaceship but they’re still just as deep. I really enjoyed this one and I’m glad I gave him a try. He’s wonderful.

Love
what loves you,
but never
hate
what hates you.
For hate is
the burden
to exhaust
the
stars in you.

And a timeless entry in Drake’s book from 2015 that I will cherish forever as Robin Williams was one of my absolute favorites and was lost all too soon.

Robin Williams

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Spaceship by Robert M Drake

Read Dates: June 6, 2019 – June 6, 2019
Publication date: March 13, 2014
Source: Owned copy

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Untitled design

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Society pushes us to pour out our beauty and uniqueness. So they can burn us alive for being too different

This book claims to be a “collection of words for the misunderstood”. It’s not wrong. This book is dark, quirky, weird, beautiful… there is hope among it’s pages.
It seems like the poet is a bit of a hopeless romantic as well. Always giving himself over to his love for his significant other.

This collection didn’t just present you with the words of a hopeless romantic, though. Nay. It gave you strength. It reminded you that you are enough and you can flourish and reach your full potential if only you allow those that are holding you back to let you go.

Her eyes like a battered black sun, departed from the night before. She remembered the suffering the world caused. But it was in her weary soul, a killer’s instinct to savagely keep going.

This book tells us not to be ashamed of what we’ve endured. It has taught us vital lessons and is the reason we are able to push forward with all of our might. Don’t let people pity you or shame you for your past. Your past shaped you into who you are right now.

Change was among the stars, the moment she began to love herself.

This was a super refreshing read. I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately when it comes to reading as we have been crazy busy but then I saw this book in my book case and thought, “Heck, I definitely have time for a poetry book!” I’ve also been wanting to read Drake’s works for a while now and I’m so glad I did. This book was wonderful and I hope you pick it up so it can remind you, as it did me, to stay weird. 🙃

The world is filled
with broken people
with broken lives
searching for broken love.
And that is why being
alone has never
felt so good.

I can’t see myself
with the crowd.

I never have.

Keri

Posted in Book Review

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Read Dates: May 20, 2019 – May 22, 2019
Publication date: January 29, 2019
Source: Owned copy

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely

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Harper is a senior in high school who lives with her older brother Jake and her mother who is bed ridden and battling cancer. Her father is gone and has left the family with a large debt. Her brother, Jake, has to do unspeakable things to repay his father’s debt and keep his mother and sister safe. He views Harper as someone who needs protection based on her size and the fact that she has cerebral palsy but they will both come to realize that she is stronger than either of them could have ever imagined.
Harper is acting as a look-out for one of her brother’s jobs when she witnesses a man carrying away a drunk, unconscious woman. Harper, who can’t just stand by and let the woman be kidnapped, leaps into action. The man she assaults is Grey, the guard commander for the crowned Prince of Emberfall. The Emberfall castle is under a curse that was bestowed by the only known enchantress left in the world, Lilith. She has cursed Prince Rhen to relive the autumn of his 18th year over and over again until he finds a girl to truly love him and break the spell. For over 300 seasons, Grey has brought a new girl to Rhen and for over 300 seasons, the prince has been unable to successfully have a girl fall in love with him. At the end of each season when the girl fails to fall in love with the prince, he turns into a ravenous beast who destroys everything in his path. Then the season resets and the curse starts over. Now, it is the Prince’s last chance as this is the final season Lilith is allotting him. When Harper arrives he knows she is unlike any other girl he has ever tried to woo. She’s stubborn, brave, and quick witted. Just as Prince Rhen is about to give up hope, he realizes he could really fall for this girl. But can she love him in return once she finds out what he has done and what he is to become?

When I see a retelling, I run headlong at it. Especially a Beauty and the Beast retelling.
I have so many mixed feelings about this book. Though, I will say, I loved reading it. I never had problems picking this book up to read it and once I began reading, it was really hard for me to put down. This is going to be hard to explain I think… Let me try…

From the beginning I really liked Harper. I love that the author added the cerebral palsy to a character who is stronger than many of the other characters in this book. She IS one of the cases with more functionality but you still get a sense of her struggle with that left leg and you FEEL that struggle in the book. If you know me, you know I like a good, strong, hard-hearted female character who knows what she wants and doesn’t let just any good looking man send her into a swoon stupor. She was a bit rash at times but she was logical. She saw her faults and she owned up to them. She didn’t let anyone believe her leg was some sort of injury, she instead told everyone, “NO. I was BORN THIS WAY.” And she owned it. That in itself was beautiful.

Rhen and Grey both took a bit to grow on me. Grey grew on me long before Rhen did but Rhen was a bit more of a mysterious character. Grey was fairly straightforward.
The problem was just the fact that it took me until the end of the book to connect to Rhen and it took more than half of the book for me to connect to Grey. Rhen, of course, is the one who you’re supposed to root for since he’s the one who is cursed, and while I did root for him, I also had moments where I wanted Harper to go for Grey instead. I’m honestly still undecided.

Do not misunderstand. For, this is no love triangle. In fact, there’s very little kissing/romance type stuff at all in this book.

The beginning was pretty much just setting up the curse and how Harper ends up in Emberfall so it was a little slow to start but I enjoyed Harper’s spirit and the world building enough that I didn’t lose interest.

The middle of the book was a journey. There’s a good little bit of traveling in this book so if you enjoy a good travel story, you’ll most likely enjoy this one. I fell in love with some of the secondary characters along the way as well. One was a woman who is being threatened by a group of soldiers who Harper rushes to fight for and the other was a small girl who wanted to join the royal guard regardless of the fact that she was an artist/musician. This book had some wonderful characters.

The end of the book was an absolute roller coaster. I’m pretty sure I went through all the emotions. There’s a moment in the book where Harper goes straight up Khaleesi on your ass and you’re like, “Yes, girl! Go, girl!”
This book did not end how I expected it would and that epilogue has me reeling. There’s going to be a book two, and I am ALL FOR IT. Bring it on.

I do highly recommend this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

**During my reading of this book, a song came on my playlist and it fit SO WELL with the scenes I was reading… so I have to post it here. Guys, there’s a good bit of bloodshed in this book, so… yea. You’ve been warned. Enjoy!

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Read Dates: May 13, 2019 – May 17, 2019
Publication date: January 15, 2019
Source: Owned copy

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Dragon Pearl edited

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Min is a thirteen year old girl who has missed her brother fiercely since he left to join The Thousand Worlds Space Forces. She can’t wait until she’s old enough to join the forces herself and serve alongside her brother. They’ve always talked of exploring all the worlds together.
When an officer comes to her home asking questions about her brother’s disappearance and accuses him of deserting, Min uses her fox magic shape shifting abilities to disguise herself as her cousin and runs off to find a way to bring back her brother and prove his innocence.
Min faces many challenges along the way and endures many set backs but she is determined. With the help of some unlikely friends and her fox magic charm, Min will go to great lengths to find her brother and find the legendary Dragon Pearl which can bring peace and prosperity to her home world of Jinju.

Buddy read with the Dragons & Tea Book Club!

If nothing else, this book was absolutely magical.

It took me a bit to get into it but I soon learned that the journey I was taken on was necessary to set up a story and build a few key characters.

Min is thirteen and at times it’s a little hard to accept the things she’s doing and getting away with as a thirteen-year-old. Mind you, I don’t typically read middle grade books so I had to keep reminding myself where I was. Once I was able to accept and keep in mind that this was a middle grade book, THIS BOOK WAS EVERYTHING.

Family is a huge part of this story. From the beginning, I enjoyed reading about Min, her strict mother, her pesky cousins, and her crazy aunties. I loved how they were all piled into a house together and loved the banter that went back and forth between them. I LOVE when a book can deliver a good family feel.

Once Min decides she’s running off to find her brother, the adventure begins. Min does some crazy things for a thirteen-year-old. She meets some interesting characters along the way and you’re never quite sure who you can trust.

Once she infiltrates the Space Forces, she meets some super fun characters. We’re introduced to other supernaturals like her. Although she is posing as someone who has no supernatural powers, the friends she makes do not hold back their own. She befriends a dragon who has control over weather patterns and the elements and a goblin who wields strength and the ability to be invisible. The magic parts of this book were SO MUCH fun. Hell, all the characters we met in this book were cool. A pilot, some mercenaries, an estranged aunt… and ghosts… oOOOooOOOooOO.

I was always wondering what Min was going to do next or how she was going to get herself out of certain situations. More than once, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for her to be discovered.This book had me on edge quite a few times! This book got me pretty emotional a couple of times too. I did not see that end coming but I am so happy with where it left me.

This was just such a fun adventure and I highly recommend it to everyone! Even if you’re not a middle grade reader. I’m not a middle grade reader and I LOVED this story.

**This was my first ever buddy read and I am so happy to be a part of the Dragons & Tea book club. The community has been absolutely amazing and I have so enjoyed sharing the reading experience with this wonderful group of people. I’ll definitely be doing more buddy reads in the future. :)**

Keri