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

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: July 21, 2019 – July 22, 2019
Publication date: June 17, 2014
Source: Owned paperback

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3 cats

Ravka is in ruin. It has fallen to the Darkling. Alina is weak and under the watchful eye of the Apparat in a well hidden underground cathedral.But she wants nothing more than to get above ground and find the firebird, which she believes to be the key to defeating the Darkling. The third and final installment of The Shadow and Bone trilogy is all about friendships, sacrifices, and ancient legends that have proven true. Will Alina and her new band of friends find a way to stop the Darkling or will their efforts cause the ruin of Ravka and the rising of the Darkling?

You see what I did there?

Anyway… let me first say that I definitely enjoyed reading this story and while I was a little bored or annoyed in some places, I did rather enjoy this story. It just wasn’t super amazing to me. Let’s get into it…

There are no other’s like us, Alina. And there never will be.

We start off like we did in book two: Alina and Mal have found a safe place to hang out and recoup and then chaos soon ensues. I have to say, I found the beginning of the book to be completely annoying and boring. It didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose at all for the story. Honestly, sitting here now, writing this review, I’m wondering to myself, “Why was the Apparat even in this book AT ALL?”

From book one I had hoped his creepy presence and occasional sightings would eventually serve some purpose. I hoped he would either be Alina’s undoing or become her only hope. But he basically did nothing but spout pretty words that meant a whole lot of nothing and just cowered in his cathedral until he knew for sure that it was safe to come out.

I’m sure he’ll be in King of Scars and I would say I’m interested to see what becomes of him there but at this point I wish he would just disappear from the books all together. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have three main issues with this series:

  • Why was the Apparat even in this book series?
  • The entire series needed more Darkling.
  • Giant miracles are happening that don’t really make sense?

Other than those things, it was pretty fun. We went on more adventures which are always fun. We were thrown a few curve balls that I honestly didn’t see coming. I thought I had Mal and Alina’s characters figured out but I had it all wrong.

The only character I really connected to or came to care about was Nikolai. Ok. And Mal. But mostly Nikolai. I can’t wait to read King of Scars. Nikolai is slowly making his way onto my “Favorite Fictional Characters” list.

I gasped. “Imposs–”
“Don’t say it,” muttered Mal.
Then chaos erupted.

I also really liked Baghra. I liked her in book one but didn’t really care about her in book two. Book three put her back on my radar. There’s something so refreshing about a grumpy old woman who can never get warm enough and is happiest when she’s smacking you in the knee with her walking stick. She’s everything I hope to be when I’m old.

“The same things that make the mountain make you. It has no lungs, so let it breathe with you. It has no pulse, so give it your heartbeat. That is the essence of the Small Science.”
She thumped me with her stick.
“Stop huffing like a wild boar. Breathe the way I taught you – contained, even.”

The Darling and his entire story arch was pretty cool but I WANTED MORE OF IT. I also enjoyed The Last Jedi type Rey and Kylo feel between Alina and the Darkling… that was pretty cool.

The ending was nice but it wasn’t convincing. I didn’t really feel it. It was cute and sweet and whatever but it held no weight. I didn’t get emotional. The most emotion I felt at the end was for an 8 year old and a cat. (After reading that back I realize that’s not really that surprising for me…)

I did enjoy this one though. It was a whole new kind of world and a whole different kind of characters and I did really enjoy it. I just wanted more Darkling. I feel like the story we got didn’t do his character justice. We could have had SO MUCH MORE DARKLING. And I say that as someone who didn’t even really like him!

I will say, the momentum for this universe has not been lost on me. I am every bit excited to get into Crooked Kingdom and then into Nikolai’s book. There are so many things we could explore. Bardugo could probably write stories based on this world for the rest of her life and then some. The possibilities are endless and I am here for it.

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: July 12, 2019 – July 20, 2019
Publication date: June 4, 2013
Source: Owned paperback

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Siege and Storm1

3 cats

Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.

Alina, Mal, and the Darkling are back in the second installment of the Grishaverse. And if you thought there was a lot of traveling in the first book, you’re not ready for book two.
Mal and Alina have escaped the clutches of the Darkling and are living quiet lives in Cofton where they both have jobs and are saving up so they can make their way to somewhere where they feel they may be permanently safe. But they are soon found out and are sent spiraling into a new adventure with new creatures, new obstacles, new allies, and a lot of new information that will change the course of their lives forever.
Will Mal and Alina ever be free to live their lives quietly together without the Darkling’s interference? Will Alina choose duty over her best friend and the only person she’s ever loved? Will she find a way to balance the two? Or will Alina succumb to the temptation of this new found power she wields and lose herself completely?

Look, I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way Alina and Mal AREN’T going to end up together and there’s no way the good guys AREN’T going to win in the end.” Well, my little pirozhki, buckle up because you just may be all kinds of wrong. (Spoiler free review ahead.)

Bardguo definitely makes for good reading. You think you know where things are going to go or what’s going to happen and you would be wrong. The author is relentless. She understands that in this world, not everyone can survive and some people will have to sacrifice much for the greater good of the rest. This is no fairy tale, ladies and gentlemen. This is a book full of magic, sacrifice, hardships, and pure evil. There’s no way to tell who you can trust and there are a lot of characters to question in this book.

The beginning started off with a bang. It was exciting. I wasn’t bored because I didn’t have time to be. There was so much going on. Ambushes, betrayals, allegiances were severed, daring rescues were made, the impossible (or improbable according to Sturmhond’s character) was achieved… THEY FLEW ON A BOAT LIKE FRIGGIN PETER PAN. IN THE FRIGGIN SKY.

I found the middle and meat of this book to be absolutely exhausting. There were SO MANY characters and it was hard to keep track of who was who and who had what kind of powers or if they were even Grisha at all. I grew a bit bored with the middle of this book as it was mostly Mal and Alina’s weird love story and a bunch of war planning. And also a lot of Alina being a total idiot. But I get that this is what the second book in most series contain. The first book sets up, the second book crashes down, and the third book resolves. (Hopefully.)

The ox feels the yoke, but does the bird feel the weight of its wings?”

Look, it took me a LONG TIME to begin to like the Darkling and that’s SUPER WEIRD and out of character for me. I always LOVE the villain. They are always my favorite character. He was all over the place at first. He wasn’t a straight up villain, he was teetering back and forth.

I like my villains tall, dark, and evil with no redeeming qualities and for a while he was giving himself all these redeeming qualities that I found myself rolling my eyes over. I’m just supposed to believe that he’s outright evil but I want to SEE IT. Let me FEEL the evil. Don’t tell me, “Oh, hey, this guy right here is baaaaad news. He’s evil. Trust me.” I don’t want to trust you. I want to see it and feel it for myself. I haven’t really had that yet.

I will say though, a lot of people had only one complaint about this book: it needed more Darkling. At first I was thinking “ughh, whatever”, now I’m on that same boat. Let me hop on that bandwagon. Because I’m telling you, if there had been more Darkling in this book, it may have gotten 4 stars instead of 3.

When I came to the end of the book I did have a few gasp and aha moments and it was full of action so I definitely wasn’t bored from like chapter 22 to the end. Of course, we were left with a cliffhanger. And of course, like any good second book, NOTHING has been resolved and everything is left to question. I’ll be curious to see where the author takes the story from here. I’m not going to even try and guess anymore at this point. Bardugo keeps throwing surprises my way and I love them.

You know the problem with heroes and saints, Nikolai?… They always end up dead.”

Keri