**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [294]

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


As you can see from some new blog posts, I've been able to read a bit and adding some new fantastic books to my shelves! Here's some new and old books I've been reading or adding to my TBR pile. And, for kicks, I've added some great quotes to some too.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Recently completed.
I loved that this heroine had a bit more sympathy for Anne Brontë than her sisters.

"Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life."

Renegades by Marissa Meyer (#1)
Recently completed.

Blog post coming soon. 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Recently completed.
This would be loved by any who love grammar and classic English literature for the subtle beauty and observances of prose. Excellent quotes for this book. Here are a few.

"Here, indeed, was a formidable sentence--one, that was on intimate terms with the comma, and that held the period in healthy disregard."
"Poetic concision demands the avoidance of a pair of words when a single word will suffice. . . .With all due respect to poetic concision, the male of the species was endowed with a pair when a single might have sufficed."
"All little girls outgrow their interest in princesses," she said. "In fact, they outgrow their interest in princesses faster than little boys outgrow their interest in clambering about."
"Thus, in the spring of 1928, at the sprightly age of twenty-nine, Anna Urbanova was what the Americans would have called a has-been."
(This was a particularly useful quote. Good to know I've been downgraded at twenty-nine, myself."
(On small children)
"She is no more than thirty pounds; no more than three feet tall; her entire bag of belongings could fit in a single drawer; she rarely speaks unless spoken to; and her heart beats no louder than a bird's. So how is it possible that she takes up so much space?!" 
"Did he remember those days when his children were almost certainly six? When there was a pitter-pat in the hallways an hour before dawn? When every object smaller than an apple was nowhere to be found, until it was right underfoot? When books went unread, letters unanswered, and every train of thought was left incomplete?" (This is my life!)
"There is not, I think, a single country in the civilized world where less attention is paid to philosophy than in the United States. . . The minds of Americans are universally preoccupied with meeting the body's every need and attending to life's little comforts."
"He had said that our lives are steered by uncertainties, many of which are disruptive or even daunting; but that if we persevere and remain generous of heart, we may be granted a moment of supreme lucidity--a moment in which all that has happened to us suddenly comes into focus as a necessary course of events, even as we find ourselves on the threshold of a bold new life that we had been meant to lead all along."

Still Me by Jojo Moyes (Me Before You #3)
Recently completed.

"You shut a library, Louisa, you don't just shut down a building, you shut down hope."
"He was shot through with the American dream--you worked hard, you succeeded, and then you gave back."
"All nonsense about women having it all. We never could and we never shall. Women always have the make the difficult choices."

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Recently completed.

Blogging on my personal blog about this one!

Red Rising by Pierce Brown (#1)
Recently re-read.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown (#2)
Currently re-reading.

Morning Star by Pierce Brown (#3)
To be re-read soon!

Blog post coming soon!

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown 
(Second series, #1)

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
Currently reading (and am LOVING it so far!)

What have you been reading lately?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [293]

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
I'm prepping this post pretty early, because I'm off to the American Library Association Midwinter Conference this weekend in Denver. ALA is kind of like BEA for librarians, just with more meetings.

I haven't picked up many books yet this week, and I'm planning to restrain myself from picking up too many, or at least too many print ARCs at the conference. So my teaser list isn't much shorter than my actual list over at Reading Reality.

So if these teasers aren't enough of a tease, let me direct your attention to the SFR (that's Science Fiction Romance) Galaxy Awards, announced on 1/31. If you like a little rocket fuel in your romance, the SFR Galaxy Award Winners make for terrific reading.

Now about those teasers...

Dark in Death (In Death #46) by J.D. Robb

The Kill Wire (Jamie Sinclair #5) by Nichole Christoff

Please link your STS post in the linky below:

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardback: 448 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: January 30, 2018

Series:  Elementae, #1

Source: For review

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for an end to the violence that has claimed so many of their loved ones. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bone Lands, a country where magic is outlawed and the Elementae--those that can control earth, air, fire and water--are traitors, subject to torture . . . or worse.
Before she is even crowned, Shalia discovers that she can bend the earth to her will. Trapped between her husband's irrational hatred of the Elementae and a dangerous rebellion led by her own brother, Shalia must harness her power and make an impossible choice: save her family, save the Elementae, or save herself.

I've been waiting on this book for years! A.C. Gaughen wrote the fantastic historical fiction YA series about Will Scarlet, Robin Hood, and Marian, and since then I've been a fan. I started this book without reading any blurbs and had no clue what it was about.

I thought the heart of this book is wonderful. Shalia is a strong girl from the desert who sacrifices her own happiness for the safety of her family and her people by entering into marriage alliance with Calix, the King of the Bone Lands who hates the desert clans and the Elementae, people who have the unique ability to control earth, air, fire and water. In her marriage, she hopes to find love and peace but also faces the reality that this marriage is a sort of death. In fact, members in her family and in her tribe have been murdered by Bone Lands soldiers. The Bone Lands are ruled by the Trifectate, the Three-Faced God made human. Calix is the head of the Trifectate, supposed to embody the most senior of the Three-Faced God, the head of truth and justice. His younger brother Galen is his commander, the face of honor and strength, and Danae, his sister, is the hidden face of the god, binding the two, she says. As Shalia comes to know her new family, she also learns what Calix hopes from their marriage, using her to secure an heir to his throne and thus ensure his rule from being threatened by his nobles.

As Shalia attempts to walk between two very fine lines, one of loyalty to her husband and loyalty to her family, and they both conflict heavily as Shalia's eldest brother Rian is a leader in the Resistance and fighting to subvert Calix's penchant for torture and mayhem of those he deems a threat, namely rebellious desert people and the Elementae. Having expected obedience, Calix does not forgive his wife her conflict of interest but expects to her betray any information that will help him. As Shalia realizes her situation, she embraces her role towards the people and inspires with her kindness. She takes strength from her successes, which she will desperately need when the conflict between blood and marriage erupts into all out war.

Though I read the ARC, the one thing I really missed was how little we actually got to see of Shalia's past and her true relationships as desert girl and with her family. Kairos in particular confused me as a character because what was he? And what odd relationship does he have with the hawk again? Shalia's resilience we got, though I think she's crazy for riding around pell-mell on a horse while pregnant and exhausted, but maybe she didn't get afflicted with the same horrible exhaustion that I did. I certainly couldn't have climbed up a rock wall while pregnant and sick and bone tired.

Despite these few flaws, it was a fun read, and who knows, maybe these few changes will be different in the final edition, released just this week! Fans of YA authors Ahdieh, Maas, and Tahir will probably be addicted to this series starter.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [292]

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
My full stack, as always, is over at Reading Reality. But today I have a couple of very special books to tease you with. Well, special to me, anyway. It's not often that not just one but two of the books on my Most Anticipated list show up at once, but that happened this week.

And now they are both burning the proverbial hole in my pocket. I want to sit down and read them both right now. Possibly even simultaneously. Decisions, decisions...

By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis

Head On by John Scalzi

Please link your STS post in the linky below:

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, mythology,
Hardcover: 369 pages
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release date: August 29, 2017

Series:  DC Icons, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

She will become one of the world's greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn't know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Fans of the recent movie will want to know, where does this book fit in? Well, Diana is a "teenager" in years, for a start. It seems to be pre-movie, but is not in any way connected to the movie or the comic series in chronology. (I've never read the comics, so I'm just taking this from Leigh's info about writing the book that she spoke about once.) This tale takes place in the modern era, finding Diana desperate to be worthy of her sisters and her mother's legacy. Diana is much less sure of herself and rather impetuous, choosing to fight her insecurities through action by rescuing Alia and attempting to reverse her Warbringer destiny. Rather than being sure of her superhuman abilities, here Diana does not fly or cause pulse shocks (or whatever you call it) with her armbands. Instead she is constantly trying to show her skills as a warrior, tougher than average because she's been trained by the best of her Amazon sisters. Even without her more flashy superpowers, Diana shines as she single-handedly manages to keep a horde of gun-toting mercenaries in a chase for miles and then leap aboard an ascending aircraft.

In Diana's relationship with and through Alia, we finally get to see how she navigates female friendship, potential romance, and discovers modern customs and humor as she meets Alia's friends Theo and Nim and her brother Jason. Here Diana gets her first dose of human violence, politics and manipulation all the while adapting to the mythical power of the Warbringer and the entropy towards mass destruction. I loved the characters and Nim, Theo, Jason and Alia come to life just as much as larger-than-life Diana.

It's a very clever, fun book, and while I don't want to give too much away, I will say I was laughing out loud at times and impressed by some astute observations on the behavior of humanity. I also learned a shared fact about Wonder Woman - she prefers Shakespeare's Benedick and Beatrice over Romeo and Juliet, a woman after my own heart! This was a fantastic book for fans of Wonder Woman and will grab teens who're new to the fandom. I loved the twists at the end and the spurts of mythology that almost remind readers of the appeal of Rick Riordan's famous Percy Jackson etc. series.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Jason: "I'm just saying all those things that make our lives so convenient have a price. Think about the way technology has changed modern warfare. How much courage do you need to launch an air strike from behind a computer screen?"

Nim shook her head, "Alia and I have spent half our lives being bullied. If those asshats think they can scare us into not fighting back, they're in for an education."
Nim held up her right pinky and Alia locked her own finger into it. Alia raised her left hand, and after a moment of confusion, Diana hooked her pinky with Alia's, then offered her other pinky to Nim.
"Are you guys forming a coven?" called Theo, the spare slung over his bony shoulder.
"Bubble, bubble," said Nim with a determined grin.
Alia squeezed her pinkies and felt Nim and Diana squeeze back.
They answered together, "Make some trouble."

Read an excerpt.

Watch the book trailer.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [291]

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
Enregistrer This was a week where I didn't see much of anything interesting, at least not until one of those Amazon suggestion thingies, the ones that say "if you liked this you'll like that" actually paid off. Or at least I hope so. The series certainly looks interesting - and I was able to get them from the library, which is highly appropriate, as they are library-based mysteries.

In addition to that little teaser, I also received an eARC for the next Amanda Quick book. I read Promise Not to Tell this week and absolutely loved it, so I'm really looking forward to this one! I always love her work, whether she's writing as Amanda Quick, Jayne Castle or Jayne Ann Krentz. Her books are always great reads!

The rest of my stack is, as always, over at Reading Reality.

Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover's Mystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay

The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

Please link your STS post in the linky below:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, historical fiction
Hardcover: 311 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release date: October 10, 2017

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Here is a thing everyone wants:

A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears:

What it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado, is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

If you all didn't know, I'm a big Stiefvater fan. I think she writes such descriptive, lyrical fantasy and unforgettable characters. Two months ago, I was so thrilled to be able to go see Maggie when she came to YALLFest in Charleston, SC.

[This is obviously not a great picture. Sorry! I had to super hurry because she had tons of people in line and a very limited time to sign, so we were all trying to be quick and accommodating so as many of her fans could see her as possible (and I met the nicest two people in line that day, Bonnie and Kirsten!).]

This is Maggie Stiefvater's second standalone novel, after The Scorpio Races, and is a very odd little book. It has more world-building at the start than most of her books, and is just so niche, and yet positively wonderful. It's rather a redemption story and more magical realism than fantasy. If this is the first book of hers you pick up, you might be caught off guard, especially new teen readers, as it unfolds much more slowly. It contains a lot of characters and presents a number of facts the reader must keep straight to appreciate fully the scope and beauty of the novel. The reader is told of what each character wants and fears, but also of exceedingly strange impossibilities that strain credibility and threaten to make you break the suspension of disbelief barrier.

However, if you're able to get past this, you'll discover it's actually a gem. No, it doesn't beat my favorite of her novels, The Scorpio Races, nor is it quite as beloved as the Raven Boys series. Still, it's a story about a Latin American family, the Sorias, who have a particular set of gifts; they're saints and can perform miracles if they choose. Pilgrims have journeyed from all over to get a miracle out of desperation, and when their darkness is revealed into some manifestation, they must somehow conquer it to be fully healed. However, the sainted Sorias also have fatal flaws: if they interfere with the miracles they grant, their own darkness is revealed and can destroy any number of them. Therefore, the Sorias perform the miracles and then adhere to strict guidelines to stay away from the pilgrims desperate to find their second miracle and be fully healed. The pilgrims meanwhile are growing in number and must live with their particular affliction, like Jennie who can only speak by repeating back what people say to her. What you don't expect is that all the Sorias are pilgrims themselves, even if they don't realize it, and throughout the book, both pilgrims and Sorias have some lessons to learn about letting miracles come to fruition. It exposes a unique truth about being human -- that we all have flaws, big and little; some of us try to improve them, but you can still find the beauty in imperfections and courage in the effort of conquering them.

As far as the representation of Latinx culture, I can't really speak with any authority on that, but it didn't feel offensive to me. It felt rather like it brought out some truths that could be out there and happen to apply to this family. I enjoyed that this had a different perspective of culture and setting.  [I think we're all pretty tired of reading only about white people, and honestly, writing about only yourself (which you can't change) is boring and unimaginative and kind of selfish. How much better to write about different people and bring them to life in a unique way?] I loved having such a close range of family. I felt that was true to culture and the way I've seen it represented in people I know. Especially enjoyed that there is such a close sibling-like relationship between the cousins.

I wish we got to see more of Pete and the inside of Joaquin are the only two complaints I can give. I loved the bits with the rooster, also Francisco's roses, and I'm reminded how I'm always struck by the animals in Stiefvater's novels. I don't think she'll ever write a book without a significant animal.

The imagery is particularly memorable (see quotes below) and Marisita's tale of her past still comes to life vividly. Two other things I enjoyed were that 1) the owls, who seemed to congregate around the miracles, seemed rather like winged hope and that 2) Beatriz, who is descibed as la chica sin sentimientos or "the girl without feelings," who really discovered she had feelings but perhaps didn't know how to express them. Contrast her with Marisita who literally wore her feelings as falling sorrows of rain, and that just really makes me happy to have both of them. Can you tell they were my favorite?

Interesting quotes or other excerpts:
The beginning of Pete and the desert...

[Tony speaking] "You always this pedantic? Why don't you turn on the radio?"
There was no knob. Pete said, "I can't. The dial's missing."
With satisfaction, Tony replied, "Damn right it is, because I threw it out the window in Ohio. I didn't want to listen to its whining and I don't want to listen to yours, either. Why don't you just point those lost-puppy eyes of yours right out the window and stare at God's country for a while."
.     .     . 
 Pete fell deeply in love with it. 
This strange cold desert does not care if you live or die in it, but he fell for it anyway. He had not known before then that a place could feel so raw and so close to the surface. His weak heart felt the danger but could not resist. 
 He fell in love so fiercely that the desert itself noticed.
Owls, Saints, and Witches
Marisita had come from Texas to Bicho Raro, and on the border where she lived, owls were considered with distrust. The problem lay not with the owls themselves but rather with the lechuzas, witches who could transform themselves into owls with human faces. Even though Marisita trusted the intentions of the Sorias, there was no pretending that they didn't have otherworldly abilities. And although she did not believe the Church had been correct to drive them from Abejones, it was not difficult for her to see how she, as one of the Sorias' troubled pilgrims, also did not belong in a church.
It was just that Marisita was not sure that saints and witches were very different in the end.

Just for kicks - There were some horrifying things to note if you are a parent, especially a mom. Here's one example.

George Wyatt was a man of action. George Wyatt had been supposed to die in the womb, as his umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck, but he'd decided that death was not for him and had chewed himself free. He'd been born two weeks early, his baby hands still clutching the ragged stump of his umbilical cord, his baby mouth already full of teeth. 

My favorite quote:

Read an excerpt.

Watch the brief trailer.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [290]

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
Enregistrer It's cold here in Atlanta. In fact, it even snowed again this week. This is the kind of weather I moved down here to get away from. What's going on?

But the cold weather makes curling up with a good book (and a cat or two) even more tempting. While my complete and surprisingly short stack is over at Reading Reality, I do have a couple of books to tease you with.

The Day of the Dead by Nicci French
Yes, I know the title is a bit creepy. But this is the final book in what has been an absolutely awesome psychological thriller series. If you like suspense thrillers and have not met Frieda Klein yet, start with Blue Monday.

Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins
Higgins always does wonderful slice-of-life, contemporary romance/women's fiction, and this looks like another winner, as well as being considerably less creepy a teaser than The Day of the Dead!

Please link your STS post in the linky below:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [289]

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
Enregistrer Do you still have to stop yourself before writing the date as 2017? 2018 is well and truly on its way!

I have some fun books to tease you with this week. My complete stack is over at Reading Reality, but there were three books I just can't wait to share.

Someone to Care by Mary Balogh
The Westcott series, beginning with Someone to Love back in 2016, has been absolutely marvelous from beginning to end. If you like historical romances that feature interesting heroines, this series is just a treat.

To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear
I have a soft spot for historical mysteries, and the Maisie Dobbs series is simply one of the best. This is the 14th book in the series, but every single one has been a gem, and Maisie is a character to admire and want to follow. Each year's entry in the series is a treat for me, and I hope you'll take a look.

Celta Cats by Robin D. Owens
After a bit of a rocky start, the Celta's Heartmates series has become one of my all-time favorite fantasy/SF/futuristic/paranormal romance series. I know that's a lot of genres, but it fits a bit in all of them. This little collection of short stories is not, however, about the humans who populate Celta, but instead features their highly intelligent familiars, or fams, especially the fam-cats who make the series so much fun. For lovers of the series, this little collection is just a treat.

Please link your STS post in the linky below:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo Six of Crows 2Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: September 27, 2016

Series:  Six of Crows, #2

Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

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.

I'll tell you. After I finished Six of Crows, I was dying for this book. But when it came out, I thought, Oh no! If I read this, then it will all be over. Leigh (Bardugo) doesn't have anything else coming out. *insert despair/dying emoji here*.

So, there it sat. Taunting me on my bookshelf. Saying you know you want to read me because you'll love me, but I'll absolutely ruin you. MWHAHAHA!

UNTIL! *victory trumpet* Recently, she's had her The Language of Thorns published, which is a collection of short stories in the Grishaverse, AND she's announced she's writing King of Scars which centers around King Nikolai. Whew. A huge sigh of relief and now I can breathe and get on with this.

Crooked Kingdom picks up with the revelation that the Shu are hunting the Grisha in Ketterdam while our beloved crew had just experienced the crushing loss of Inej being taken captive by Van Eck. Kaz and crew have had some time to form a plan and they're just putting things into place to rescue Inej. In Inej's capture, Kaz's hard exterior has been bored through and he's anxious and reliving moments from his past that have made him vulnerable. Kaz has previously been thought to be bloodthirsty and fueled by greed, impenetrable by feeling. When it comes to Inej and his crew, this isn't the case, actually, and the others start to notice.

Kaz possesses a formidable amount of determination to succeed in his goal of freeing Inej and also besting Van Eck, but this determination, when levied by the humanity of his crew, threatens to fall apart. Nina has barely recovered from her emergency use of jurda parem and is still craving the potent drug. She hasn't been able to use her power since the event, either. Matthias has been taking care of her diligently, but he is a stranger in a foreign land and a wanted jailbird. Wylan is still wearing Kuwei's appearance, and dealing with his father's treachery and his own flaws of severe dyslexia. Jesper's betrayal was revealed, and he wrestles with his penchant for gambling as well as the news that his father has come to Ketterdam in search of him. Kuwei, their newest addition, is both collateral and a big liability as he doesn't even know the language or customs and stands to be fleeced or murdered if he even steps foot out of their custody.

Our heroes and heroines definitely possess less bravado this go around, though they haven't reached the limit of tricks up their proverbial (or in Kaz's case, literal) sleeves. The character development is more pronounced and relationships hinted at in the last book are better fleshed out. Since his encounter with Kaz & co., Van Eck has learned to respect their capabilities, and Kaz seems surrounded on both sides, since even he makes a deal with the devil, his personal devil Pekka Rollins. Favorite moment: When Kaz has a showdown with Per Haskell. Loose ends, like Rollins and Nina's Grisha connections and Jesper and Wylan's respective family issues, are all neatly and masterfully dealt with in the final climax of the novel.

Despite this being less of a delightful surprise than Six of Crows, Bardugo still pulls off a skillfully ingenious wrap up to the duology. If this series had food comparisons, Six of Crows would have been the mystery surprise of exotic flavors you didn't know you craved while Crooked Kingdom is full-bodied and richly satisfying to devour and complete the palate. I love this series and these characters, despite them being a bunch of teenage criminals. I am so sad to leave them! This duology will likely remain one of my top all-time favorites.

Download & Read an Excerpt

Watch the trailer with Leigh