Wavering between 2.5 & 3 stars. Just didn't grab me. Angsty, angry love just isn't my bag any more. I need something more than star-crossed loversWavering between 2.5 & 3 stars. Just didn't grab me. Angsty, angry love just isn't my bag any more. I need something more than star-crossed lovers these days. Give me dragons, give me plague, give me robots. Hodge is a good writer though. ...more
Y’ALL I ended 2015 with a bang in book world! This book was 5 stars from start to finish. No warm-up period, no moments of doubt, no dumb ending. ThisY’ALL I ended 2015 with a bang in book world! This book was 5 stars from start to finish. No warm-up period, no moments of doubt, no dumb ending. This was a glorious fantastical trainwreck of fun times that made me feel feelings again! BOOKS ARE AWESOME ISN’T IT GREAT??
You like heists? You like snappy dialogue and colorful ensembles of 3-dimensional characters? You like Victorian London vibes and self-reliant orphans and rags to riches tales and gangs and just a dash of magic? You like being on the edge of your seat and honestly not knowing how your characters are getting out of this one again? You like character arcs and surprises and literary sleights of hand? You like moral ambiguity and bands of misfits?
Yeah, me too.
Synopsis: 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…. Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
Word to the wise: there is no info dump introduction chapters setting up this world & easing you into anything. This is a pre-established world Bardugo has made and there are a couple times you’ll be like, “wait, what?” at some reference or slang word. Tolkein has Middle Earth, Bardugo has the “Grisha” universe. She has written and published a separate “Grisha” trilogy with different characters that takes place a couple years before the events of Six of Crows. That series would definitely benefit a person in familiarising them with this Grisha world before reading Six of Crows, but it’s not necessary. Six of Crows is the first book by Bardugo I have ever read and I (clearly) enjoyed it. And you can guess what I’LL be reading until the Six of Crows sequel comes out next year! She has also written several “Grisha” short stories.
But back to Six of Crows. Amidst all the action and intrigue and twists and turns, Bardugo still manages to bring to life six incredibly rich characters. These characters are layered and they grow and they are given individualized character arcs all their own. Each one is even set up wonderfully for the sequel & I am beyond excited to see where Bardugo takes them. This was a strong first book in a series & I have high hopes for the sequel, Crooked Kingdom.
(huge spoilers: (view spoiler)[ Kaz setting aside his vengeance—the one thing that has driven him from the beginning—in order to pursue something entirely new, a love that isn’t possible with his condition. Will Dirtyhands finally remove those gloves for good?
Inej finally facing the one person who made her feel helpless and then getting the best of her—only to have her dreams of vigilante pirate justice snatched away as she is taken hostage. Will the Wraith who has conquered her fear save herself or need saving? (Little nervous about this one; Inej is not some Damsel in Distress and she better have agency in the sequel—but I trust Bardugo.)
Nina making the ultimate sacrifice to protect her friends—will the addiction claim her or will her brief stint on the dark side mar her newly restored relationship with Matthias?
Matthias making the hardest decision of his life by betraying his country and brotherhood and beliefs—how will he deprogram and relearn a new way of viewing the world?
Jesper finally coming to terms with not only his abilities but also his gambling problem—will he step up his game or run even farther from his problems?
Wylan changing his whole effing appearance and choosing the gang over his family—will he be able to go up against his father and potentially even have to kill him himself? Also, will he finally get his own chapters? (hide spoiler)])
One thing to nitpick? (view spoiler)[ The first book ends by setting up the sequel as though it will be an even bigger, crazier, more impossible job than the first…but how is rescuing someone (an insanely talented, deadly someone) from some random rich guy so much harder than infiltrating and escaping the most highly guarded and secretive military establishment ever? I don’t know… GUESS I JUST NEED THE SEQUEL RIGHT NOW. (hide spoiler)]
Please go read this book so we can talk about it! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I was totally expecting this to be a letdown 2 or 3 star sequel, based on all the negative reviews & comparisons it gets to Poison Study, but I'mI was totally expecting this to be a letdown 2 or 3 star sequel, based on all the negative reviews & comparisons it gets to Poison Study, but I'm glad I didn't listen to the haters, because I really liked it!! Totally solid sequel. Lots of character growth for Yelena, plenty of action, I had no problems with how take charge & fearless she was, and I dug that Valek actually only played a small part in the last third of the book. This isn't some plotless YA that is just an excuse for the lovers to gaze at each other all mopey while nothing really happens, this is YELENA'S journey and crap is going down and evil is afoot and sometimes a girl has to rely on herself and her own abilities! ...more
Was this book heavily inspired by Harry Potter (The Goblet of Fire in particular) and The Hunger Games? Yes. Was all of the the foreshadowing super obWas this book heavily inspired by Harry Potter (The Goblet of Fire in particular) and The Hunger Games? Yes. Was all of the the foreshadowing super obvious? You bet. Was there a love triangle? No, there were two. Did An Ember in the Ashes consume my thoughts for the several days it took me to read? Surprisingly, yes!
Book synopsis: Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom.
I don't know what it is that captivates me about certain books. Books like Harry Potter & Hunger Games that I could read again & again. That transport me to their worlds so easily and so completely. I ache for the characters, their struggles & hero journeys. These books feel like home. That's the simplest way to describe it. We all have favorite books that speak to us that way.
An Ember in the Ashes does not fall into that revered category for me. I don't know why. Maybe the writing style wasn't just right (it had its moments). Maybe it took me a little too long to take to certain characters. Or maybe this was the first time in a while I've read such a "hyped" book after it was already hyped. Oh, and did I mention the two love triangles?
So let's talk about what this book got right.
Elias. He isn't a cocky, angry douchebag (with a secret heart of gold)--although we DO get one of those, I'm looking at you, Keenan--and he also isn't a brooding mysterious psychopath. He's a young man with a horrific upbringing who is wrestling with the tension often found between self-preservation and doing what's right. I really enjoyed Elias' chapters. I found that tension intriguing. I loved that he had complex thoughts & feelings and that he was on a journey not just to free his body, but his heart & soul, too.
Laia. I know, I know, I wasn't crazy about her at first either. Mostly because I knew she was intentionally being written as overly-cowardly in the beginning so that her ~growth~ would be more pronounced. But I did enjoy her quiet strength. Her unwavering loyalty to her brother. (view spoiler)[I seriously loved that her ultimate motivation for saving Elias in the end was for her brother, not twu luvv for someone she's spoken with like 5 times. You go, girl!! Blood before studs. (hide spoiler)] Her non-fierceness was a fresh change from most YA with their Tough Girl characters (although we DO get one of those--I'm looking at you, Helene). Although she did suffer from multiple instances of injured-damsel-needs-to-be-carried-by-a-hunky-babe. But let's be real. If I ever found myself in one of these dreadful dystopian/fantasy worlds, I would way more likely be a Laia rather than a Katniss (or Helene in this case). I couldn't fight my way out of a paper bag, but you can bet I would sneak my way out meekly. Warrior Fighter Babe is the dream, and terrified yet determined weakling is the reality for most of us.
Gripping story, and while there are mild annoyances (the transparent foreshadowing I mentioned being a big one--so many times I wanted to shake the main characters and go "DUH, honey! It's so obvious, please put it together!"), this book never made me angry or offended me. Even the love triangles are done well! As realistic as a love triangle can be, really. A genuine feeling out of two different people, comparing/contrasting the dynamics. Is this lust or love? Attraction or a connection? Comfort or compatibility? Head or heart?
Overall: Tense, scary, shocking, disturbing...I stayed up past my bed time several nights in a row. I love riddles & trials & destiny & free will & rebels & empires. I got it all. Needless to say, I'm frothing at the bit for the sequel. Which comes out in August. Of 2016. Ten burning hells!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book was a nice little treat! Was I on the edge of my seat throughout or an emotional mess near the end? No. But I did look forward every day toThis book was a nice little treat! Was I on the edge of my seat throughout or an emotional mess near the end? No. But I did look forward every day to stealing some time away after work at night to read. And I find myself thinking about it at random points in the day & have already purchased the sequel. This book is not pulse-pounding, gut-wrenching fantastical escapism. It is a fairly simple story that does several key things very well, and that can really be all you need in a good, light read.
(fyi: The pacing, plot, etc. feel like YA, but the characters are all older (20s, 30s) which was refreshing, and it also dealt with some really “mature” themes (rape, abuse, etc.). So, I might classify this book more as “New Adult” or just plain adult. Whatever who cares.)
Plot: About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...
Things I liked:
1. The protagonist. Yelena is a smart, intelligent, proactive fighter. She is open to learning & wants to improve. She desires to trust & open herself to relationships despite her tragic history. This is not a shy wallflower who sits around waiting for things to happen to her. She's like, Someone’s trying to kill me? Better train up & learn how to defend myself. I like you, Yelena. She’s not a perfect snowflake from the beginning, she has to work hard to get better at her skills. Her training motivated me to get off my butt IRL, I won’t lie. What an inspiration.
2. Valek. One of the FIRST times in YA that I haven’t seen the love interest coming from a mile away. (In large part because Yelena did NOT go into exhaustive detail about how chiselled his physique was & how piercing his eyes were & how honey blonde caramel frappuccino his hair was the minute she laid eyes on him). In fact, I thought Valek was possibly going to be a mentor figure or something until like a third of the way through the book when Yelena caught herself admiring him, and I was like OOOoooohhhH. Then by the middle of the book I was crushin’. (but OK, I just finished watching Netflix’s Daredevil, and you can’t blame a girl for picturing Charlie Cox/Matt Murdoch as Valek in all his assassin/black-clothes wearing glory. I AM WEAK.) But anyway, BLESS Snyder for creating a romance between equals. People who value one another’s talents & abilities & who challenge each other. AND MY GOSH they can actually function as individuals with their own desires, plans & goals.
3. I’m just going to go ahead and say that the characters in general were great. Some of the villains were a little too hammy & one-dimensional, but overall everyone was pretty layered & real. Janco & Ari are mah boyz.
4. The world was intriguing enough, I want to see more & spend more time in it. It didn’t drown you in exposition & world-building, and I’m glad. There’s a lot of sequels, we have time for that.
5. All dat castle drama & political scheming.
6. Attempts at addressing female equality (yes it’s a sexist world, but the new Commander encourages women to work in all areas of life, including the military), and there is a trans character which I’ve never come across in historical fantasy before.
A drawback of this book though? All of the “foreshadowing” was painfully obvious. No twist truly shocked me. There was a couple, “duh, Yelena, put it together” moments. A pity. I hear the sequel is hit or miss. We’ll see. Even if it’s lame, I think I’ll read the third one anyway. Such is my thirst for Valek. ...more