Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo has got to be one of the most highly anticipated YA novels of 2015. I remember first seeing it as the must-have book from BEA, and I have to admit I was mad jealous that everyone seemed to have a copy but me. I pre-ordered it, of course, and like always, once it arrived it sat on my shelf…and sat, and sat. Eventually, I picked it up and it blew my expectations out of the water.

23437156Ketterdam: 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.

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

The main reason I loved this book was the hidden depths in each of the six characters we follow in the novel. The chapters are told in various POVs and the secret motivations and traumatic past of most of these characters was so intriguing. I have to say Kaz and Inej were my favorite because they were so complex with the trauma they endured, but Matthias totally did it for me with his constant brooding and unyielding loyalty.  All the characters had something to offer and unlike other books that often shift POV, I was never bored or felt like skipping over a character’s perspective. Bardugo did a great job in creating widely diverse characters, whether they were from different cultural backgrounds or suffered from disabilities. I loved the variety, which isn’t found in many books.

An interesting, and unexpected, thing about this book was the lack of romance, yet it was incredibly romantic. Bardugo weaved an action-packed story with edge-of-your-seat tension as the gang undertakes the ultimate heist, but like all professionals, there is no room for romance. Or is there? The romantic elements throughout the story are subtle at first and by the end it slaps you in the face…in a very, very good way.

I loved the buildup in this story. With each life or death encounter, I had NO IDEA how Kaz and the gang would get through it but they always did in the most unexpected and exciting way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes heist movies like Ocean’s Eleven.

The ending wasn’t what I wanted but I was oddly satisfied. Perhaps it’s because I know there will be a sequel. I am exciting to see what new plotting adventure Bardugo will take us on as the gang takes on Kaz’s ultimate enemy in their home territory all for the sake of an unaddressed but oh so real love.

Can’t. wait.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world!

Today, I’m anticipating the release of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead, which will be released on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

27272506A dazzling new fantasy series set in a mix of Elizabethan and frontier worlds that’s dripping with romance from Richelle Mead, #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy.

Big and sweeping, spanning the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies capable of arranging powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together, they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first, as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and later, when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands. . . .

I loved Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series and I have the spin-off sitting on my shelf waiting to be devoured, so it was a no brainer to add Mead’s newest book to my TBR list. This book has arranged marriages, a kind of etiquette school that apparently includes glitter and a hot guy named Cedric (I totally thought of Cedric Diggory from HP but we’ll see what he really turns out to be like). I’m totally sold on this book and I can’t wait to see what delicious tension Mead dreams up next.

Book Subscription Review: Uppercase Box

I’ve done it.

I finally caved.

I knew it was only a matter of time before I fell for another mail subscription for books. My first experience with Bookworm Box was great, but I decided to not reorder because I already had one of the books and the other wasn’t something I would read. After licking my wounds, I got back out there and subscribed to Uppercase Box, a monthly young adult book subscription that includes bookish items and a handwritten note with a newly released signed book.

I went back and forth about whether to order the subscription because it’s kind of expensive at $23 a month plus shipping. (I had major sad face when I realized it was more like 30 bucks than 20.) But on a day when I needed a serious pick-me-up, I clicked purchase for good ol’ retail therapy.

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When this box (which is really a bag in a soft envelope) arrived, it was like Christmas. I tore into it to see what treasures it held. It had some fun Alice in Wonderland goodies, some Lunar Chronicles-inspired tattoos (I need to read this series…STAT) and of course the book — First & Then by Emma Mills. My handwritten note described it as “Friday Night Lights meets Pride and Prejudice.”

First impression: I would never have picked up this book. Why? I have this strange strong dislike for typographic covers, where there isn’t any people just words and graphics. HOWEVER, after reading the synopsis, I think I’m really going to like this book. I mean I love Pride and Prejudice, so it must be good, right?

I love that these books are new releases so the likelihood that you get a book you already own is slim as long as you aren’t a pre-ordering fiend (which I am guilty of!).

My verdict? I don’t know yet. Once I read the novel, I’ll have a better idea if I like the kind of books that are given. I really enjoyed the bookish items and I am always down for some fun snail mail. I think I’ll wait a couple more times to get a real feel for it, but at $30 a month, I’m not sure how long this will last, especially because I have an ungodly amount of books I haven’t read already and adding another book per month to the stack kind of gives me anxiety. However, these books are signed or come with signed book plates so if you’re into autographed copies, this is the way to go.

The Movie Star’s Red Hot Holiday Fling by Christine Glover

I discovered Christine Clover at a recent book event, and I was intrigued by The Movie Star’s Red Hot Holiday Fling because it was described as a book with a female former marine who falls for an action movie star.

23491286Determined to qualify for the fire department’s grueling physical, former marine Jessie Sullivan never gives up, despite the pins in her leg. The last thing she needs is a tall, incredibly hot action movie star sharing her gym…and who makes her want to trade in her reps for some sexy physical activity. Of the naked kind.

Blake Johnston is more than just a Big Screen Sex Machine, and he’s willing to prove it. Especially to a spirited and sexy ex-marine like Jessie. But when a harmless dare leads to sizzling fireworks, Jessie and Blake’s workout ends up generating some serious heat between the sheets. And it’s more than Jessie could have imagined. Much, much more.

But flings don’t last forever. And in two weeks, Jessie will have to say goodbye to her red-hot Christmas fantasy…

I was very impressed with this story. I was immediately immersed in the writing and I connected with the main characters, Jessie and Blake. First, Jessie was a kickass, vulnerable heroine. I loved how she was struggling with PTSD and I appreciated the mention of missing the brotherhood of the military as an issue for reinserting herself into civilian society, which is a real thing. (I watch a lot of TED Talks, okay?) I loved her snark and self-reliance. Blake was an intriguing character. The reader is unsure of his intentions at first, and once they are revealed, one can’t help but fall in love with him.

My favorite thing about this novella is the flipped stereotypes – the woman who’s in the armed forces struggling with the effects of war and the action star trying to prove he’s more than abs and a pretty face. Their internal battles made for a compelling story line.

My only gripe would be that it was too short. I typically dislike novellas because I know they will be shorter in length. I like stories with a lot of depth and usually that means a higher page count. Another slight issue I had was the title; I tend to stay away from self-explanatory titles because I prefer the intrigue of a well-contrived one that grabs attention. However, I’m glad I read this hot little story. I’ll be putting more of Christine Glover’s work on my to be read list.

STARS: 4 out of 5