What I’m Reading: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Last year I reviewed Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse Trilogy, which I really enjoyed. I borrowed Six of Crows from a friend, and finished reading it at the tail end of last year (it has taken me forever to post this review but that’s another story of a busy writer’s life). I have to say that I was hesitant to read another book in Grishverse, but in the end I preferred Six of Crows over the initial Grishaverse Trilogy, mainly because Six of Crows was more adult than Shadow and Bone.

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I’ve written before about my preference for mature young adult fiction, books along the lines of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, The Raven Boys trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater, and anything written by Holly Black. These authors don’t treat their characters like sheltered teens with perfect, non-dangerous lives. Their characters are constantly being forced to make tough choices, and they do. Life is about tough choices, and I love seeing this in young adult novels.

Six of Crows is about a rag-tag team of thieves brought together for a singular purpose, but everyone has their own agenda (of course!). It is a fast-paced heist novel, set in the Grisha world, which is a near steampunk, somewhat Gothic, almost Victorian but kind of Russian fantasy world. It is so unique and fun that Six of Crows was hard to put down.

I guess I’ll have to read Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows, because I know it will be just as fun.

JEH

 

My Top 5 Reads of 2020

It’s that time of year! Taking a look back over all I’ve read in 2019, a few books jump out at me. I’ll get to the list in a minute, but first I want to congratulate myself on reading all I did. While I didn’t meet my GoodReads goal—set at 60 books this year—I did finish 48 books! Plus, I read my own books a bunch of times while writing and editing them, so all in all, I did a great job with reading (can I add the books I wrote to my favourites???).

No matter how much I read, I always want to read more! While I want to set my reading target high for 2020, in the hope that I will find time to read more books, I’m going to set it reasonable, since I know 2020 will be busy.

But now, out of those 48 books, what were my top five?

  1. Legendary by Stephanie Garber (yes I liked book 2 better than book 3)
  2. Finale by Stephanie Garber (but book 3 was still fantastic)
  3. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (a great stand alone epic)
  4. The Wicked King by Holly Black (I always love Holly Black, can’t wait to get to Queen of Nothing!)
  5. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (I know it isn’t YA, but I was super into non-fiction in 2019, so one of those books was bound to make the list!)

Of course, there were plenty of books released in 2019 that I just haven’t got around to reading yet (not to mention in 2018), so there might be some books that should be on this list but I just haven’t got to reading yet. My TBR pile is out of control, so as per usual, my new years goal is to not buy any more books and focus on reading more of the books I already have (this resolution tends to never last long—hopefully this year it will stick as I’m getting back into using my library).

What were your favourite reads of 2019?

JEH

What I’m Listening To: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Young Adult Audiobook Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

This finally book in the Caraval Series didn’t let me down! After reading the first book and liking-but-not-loving it, I listened to the second book, Legendary, on Audiobook. You can read my review of that here.

Because the first book of Caraval is from one sister’s perspective (Scarlet), and the second book is by the other’s (Tella), I figured that the third book could go either way. I didn’t like the Scarlet book as much, so would I like a book told by both sisters? It turns out I did. I loved it.

There is just so much marvelous world building in this series (especially in books 2 and 3, which is why I loved them more than one). There is also the perfect amount of romance and adventure. But most, I just loved the magic. I’ve always had a thing for Tarot Cards, and I think anyone who has that interest will enjoy these books. I could easily read another book set in this world that deals with all those other fated places and things that we didn’t see in this trilogy (is it too much to hope??).

And as an audiobook, the narator did a marvelous job. I loved all the voices with perhaps the exception of Julian’s, since it felt like a bit too much, slightly jarrring as he had a fairly heavy accent compared to all of the other characters and it didn’t seem like he would considering spoilery things I won’t write here.

I recommend this book to any fantasy lover. 5/5 Stars

Have you read Finale yet?

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Fantasy Book Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

When I saw this book sitting on the library book shelf, I just had to check it out. Sometimes is just in the mood for a gigantic, heavy book that one can barely lift in bed. It gives me a certain kind of satisfaction to finish such a large read, especially if I can manage to do it in three weeks, before the book is due (I’m a pretty slow reader most of the time because I have a day job and I’m also trying to squeeze time in to write my own books, so extra satisfaction points there).

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If you love dragons and fantasy book, you will love The Priory of the Orange Tree. For an epic fantasy, this book was entirely readable. There were no long, rambling passages, or full pages dedicated to the description of landscapes or the aforementioned tree, which I felt kept the pace of the book moving. There were, however, some slower passages dedicated to romance that could have moved along a tad bit faster for me. But all in all, I got through this book quickly and enjoyed it thoroughly.

However, part of me did miss the journey. For an epic fantasy, I thought the journeys of characters across continents happened very quickly and very easily. I’m so used to their being a certain aspect of difficulty when it comes to crossing deserts on foot, that in this book maybe had a page or two written on them. Of course, dragons can sometimes speed up and ease that travel. But still, parts of me did miss the journey.

This book was a standalone, which I loved. Because sometimes I want to read and epic fantasy but I don’t want to spend years reading an entire 13 book series (although other times I do). Another plus for this book was all of the strong female characters that were fighting to save the world. There was no playing second fiddle to men in this book!

A solid 4.5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Young Adult Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is a young adult fantasy (with a little bit of tech), about a girl who ends up embroiled in a plot to kill the four queens of the land.

From the start, this book was a bit different than the other young adult fantasy books out there because of the little bit of tech thrown in, which I found interesting. But for me, this book was an up and down read, I really liked the beginning, which was promising, felt a bit lost in the middle, and liked the near ending, and wasn’t sure quite what to think about the ending.

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Four Dead Queens certainly kept me on my toes. I’m pretty good at guessing plot twists, but I didn’t quite guess these ones correct, which is always a nice surprise. This is also a stand alone fantasy, which can be hard to find (and sometimes it’s so nice to read just one book, don’t you think?).

I loved the maps in the book, but wish that the main characters would have traveled a bit further a field. I mean why have elaborate maps in a fantasy book if the characters aren’t going to journey to these far off lands? Still, it was a worthwhile read for me, as it’s nice to find a fantasy with a bit of mystery.

3.5/5 stars.

JEH

What I’m Listening to: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Young Adult Book Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

It’s been a while since I’ve published a book review. But lately, I’ve been spending a bit more time on the road and have gotten back into audiobooks. And the other week Legendary by Stephanie Garber was available from my local library, so I decided to check it out.

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I read Caraval a while back, and you can find the review here. I liked Caraval, but I didn’t love it. There were a few things I found confusing, and the story seemed a bit one dimensional, so when I finished Caraval, I didn’t plan on reading the rest of the trilogy. But then I started Legendary.

I LOVED legendary. I loved Tella’s character, but I also loved how the story went deeper, how the world’s mythology grew large and full of dimensions. There was so much more to Legendary than there was to Caraval. And the audiobook was very well done. All of the voices felt natural but weren’t too much (With the exception of one, maybe). I found the speed perfect (Note: I listen to my audiobooks at 1.25 times, otherwise I feel they move too slowly)

This is a case where the sequel is better than the first book, which I find rarely happens. But this trilogy does it. So if you read Caraval but were less than thrilled, give Legendary a chance anyway, it might just surprise you. It sure surprised me, and I can’t wait to listen to Finale.

Have you read Caraval or Legendary?

JEH

Best Edgy, Completed Young Adult Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction Series

Sometimes it sucks waiting for the end of a story. Other times, it only serves to build tension. But if you’re looking for an edgy, completed young adult series (a series you don’t have to wait years to read the ending to), then look no further than this list of completed series of young adult (arguably New Adult, in some cases) paranormal and fantasy fiction series.

  1. The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater – This series follows a group of high school students as they navigate the ley lines around their hometown. I enjoyed this series because it doesn’t just focus on the teens, but the adults too, including one very interesting hitman. IMG-1660
  2. The Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor – This series follows a young girl, whom, it turns out, isn’t so young, and her discovery that the world she thinks she’s from might not be the worlds she’s actually from after all. A young adult series with very few characters who aren’t actually really old, this books has plenty of mature themes.IMG_1024
  3. The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas – To be honest, I haven’t totally finished this series since the conclusion, Kingdom of Ash, was just released in September of last year, but I plan on finishing the series soon. This series is set in a rich fantasy world created by Sarah J. Maas, whose rutting is dark and cutting and is definitely on the upper end of Young Adult.img_1871
  4. The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey – This series is set in the human world, and revolves around a secret battle between two races unknown to humankind, except for one girl who was adopted into this world as a child. Full of hidden secrets and surprises around corners, Melissa Grey is a great writer who gets deep into character. 63fd4-photo-26
  5. The Dark Caravan Cycle by Heather Demetrios- If you want edgy, this is it. This series is arguably pretty darn adult. There are very adult themes in these books (abuse, imprisonment, slavery), but also lots of sexual tension and magical adventure. If you love the idea of a gypsy trying to break free of her bottle, this might be the series for you. IMG_5116

What’s your favorite series?

JEH