March 6, 2019: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo/A Review

     I really, really enjoyed Six of Crows! This is Leigh Bardugo’s fourth novel within the Grishaverse, centered within the city of Ketterdam. Six young and fearless fighters venture out to achieve a high stakes heist, led by Kaz Brekker, leader of the Dregs. They face impossible obstacles as they discover the root of the issue, and also look into their own personal demons along their journey.

     As I began reading Six of Crows, I immediately sensed that Leigh Bardugo took a radically different turn with writing her lead female characters. It’s a multiple perspective novel, following each member of the group as they embark on the heist. The two main female characters, Inej and Nina, are fearless. While fighting their own personal demons, these two women are extremely confident in their abilities. It’s very refreshing to see after reading the Grisha trilogy. I enjoyed the series, but I wanted more from the lead female character, and Six of Crows certainly came through with that.

     This book takes place a couple years after the trilogy’s storyline. References of the ‘Ravkan civil war’ is threaded throughout the story. I’m going to enjoy reading ‘Crooked Kingdom’, as I feel that Ravka will be more prominent.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

March 3, 2019: Six of Crows Reading Blog #2

I’m about halfway through Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six of Crows’ (midway through Section 3: Heartbreak). This part goes heavily into the backstory of the Dregs’ members, how they came into the lives they chose to live. I love how it shows the human side of all of these characters. Way before their notorious reputations were cemented, they were small children forced into indentured servitude, or living a life of intense gambling. Fate also brought bitter enemies together, forcing them to ignore their biases in each other in order to survive and adapt. (The parts involving the history of Nina and Matthias were very intriguing). I definitely notice that Bardugo’s writing style is quite different from the Grisha series. Her female characters in Six of Crows are feminine and fierce, which is quite refreshing to read. Perhaps I’ll be able to finish this story by mid-week.

March 2, 2019: My March TBR List

March has definitely began somewhat dramatic, yet reading is always my escape, my relaxation from the craziness. For this month, I have a blend of stories I borrowed from the library and books I own, and I enjoy that! As much as I love having books of my very own, I love frequenting my local library. I use it for curriculum material, and browsing books for personal interest.

This month, I have five books in my TBR list. One of them is a Book of the Month selection, one is a Barnes and Noble purchase, and three are from the library.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Henry Holt and Company

I began reading Six of Crows during the last week of February, wanting to finish this novel by the 28, but it didn’t work out that way. Not because I’m not enjoying it (it’s a good story!), life just has a way of pausing interests. I’m all ready to get back into the book. Six of Crows is a continuation of the Grisha universe that Bardugo introduced during the Grishaverse trilogy. The story takes place in Ketterdam, following Kaz Brekker and a gang of outcasts as they attempt to pull off a heist of incredibly high risk.

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Doubleday Books

I first came across Meddling Kids a year ago, and I was immediately intrigued by it. It’s a tale that honors the Scooby Gang we all know and love as children, except they are now older, and handling personal traumas of their own. I’ve wanted to pick it up and read it for the longer time…finally about a week ago, I picked it up at my local library. I’m looking forward to reading it soon!

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Balzar and Bray

The Hate U Give follows Starr Carter as she handles the aftermath of the death of her best friend Khalil, who was shot dead by police. The cast reaches notional headlines, and only Starr is the sole witness of the crime. This story confronts the issues of racism and brutality in modern day America. This is Angie Thomas’s breakout debut novel, and her second book, On The Come Up, immediately became a national bestseller since its debut the beginning of February. I feel like I’m one of the few people who have yet to read The Hate U Give, so I’m really going to tackle that this month!

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Minion by L.A. Banks (Vampire Huntress Book 1)
Macmillian Books

Minion follows the story of Damali Richards, a spoken word artist who doubles as a vampire slayer. Damali and her guardians are on a mission in seeking out an entity murdering her fellow group members and their rival label. This story came out around 2003, and I only got part of the way at that time before putting it down (why I did that, no clue, since I love slayer stories!). Luckily, this story was in my library as well, so I get to enjoy awesome reading material that involves powerful women!

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Small Country by Gael Faye
Hogarth

Small Country is my Book of the Month selection from a few months earlier. It follows the story of Gael living through the heartbreak of war and genocide. This story was widely renowned in 2018 for its poignancy and brutal truths. This novel was sitting on my shelf for quite some time, and its another story that I intend on reading this month.

February 27, 2019: ‘Six of Crows’ Reading Blog #1

I’m finally tackling ‘Six of Crows’! I wanted to wrap up my February reads with this story, but I’m only a quarter of the way through with it. So far, I feel a bit conflicted over what I’m reading thus far. Perhaps it’s because that the plot centers around completing a risky heist, and I usually don’t warm up to heist stories so easily. I do find some of the characters enjoyable though, like Kaz and Inej.

I’m currently on Chapter 11, and something big just happened in the story. I’m curious to see what happens next…

February 24, 2019: Reading to Escape

I’ve been very happy with my reading goals thus far. I know we’re only a couple months into 2019, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ve done a considerable amount of reading. At this time last year, I don’t think I picked up a book to read for enjoyment. Aside from searching through books for my classroom (equally valuable, since they enrich my students’ love of reading), I didn’t really pursue reading for personal enjoyment. This year, I’ve read 9 books so far in 2019, and one my way to begin another one. I’m very excited about this fact! I’ll write about my February reads in a post later this week.

This weekend I’ve been experiencing a heighented amount of stress. I’m planning my wedding for August, which brings on details that I would rather not deal with! Through all of the craziness, I’m relieved that I can turn to reading and escape the madness for short periods!

February 16, 2019: ‘Ruin and Rising’ by Leigh Bardugo/A Review

I heard so many mixed reviews about ‘Ruin and Rising’. I went into this book bracing myself, since I wasn’t sure whether I would be pleasantly surprised or throw the book down in disgust after sticking with it for this long.

It turns out that I feel…well, pleasantly surprised!

‘Ruin and Rising’ by Leigh Bardugo is the third book in the Grisha trilogy. It follows Alina and her quest in searching for the final amplifier in order to save Ravka from the Darkling. Along the way, Alina discovers more about her powers, and also which characters in her inner circle are truly her supporters in the darkest of times.

There is a major plot twist toward the end of this book, which did make me want to put the book down and say, ‘Really? It’s going down that path?’, but I decided to keep reading. Only because I was almost finished with the trilogy, so I might as well see what happens. As it turns out, the way it all wrapped up was a pleasant surprise. I do wish that I received more input from certain characters, but I wasn’t dissatisfied with it.

I’m glad that I completed ‘Ruin and Rising’, and now on to ‘Six of Crows’. The world of Ketterdam is touched on briefly in Ruin and Rising’, and I’m curious to learn more about this different landscape.

One more thing…so many readers love the Darkling over Mal. As for me, I’m just not into the Darkling. Manipulation is not for me!

Professional Reader

February 13, 2019: The Book Addiction Tag

I came across this book tag through Harper Grae’s page.

What is the longest amount of time you can go without picking up a book?

A few hours…but only because I’m busy working.

How many books do you carry on your person (or Kindle) at one time?

Usually just one. I always have some type of book with me. If I have my Kindle, there’s several books on there.

Do you keep every book you buy/receive or are you happy to pass them on to make space for more?

I’ve given away books in the past, when I had to move.

How long would you spend in a bookstore on a standard visit?

About an hour. I always lose track of time in there!

How much time per day do you actually spend reading?

It depends if I’m working. On work days I spend about an hour a day. When I’m not working, over a couple hours.

Where does the task ‘picking up a book’ appear on your to-do list?

Always on an important spot!

How many books do you think you own, including eBooks?

Hmmm….right now, I believe over a hundred-fifty. Most of them are packed away, due to a recent move.

Approximately how often do you bring up books in a conversation?

With friends, most of the time. Sometimes at work, with a couple co-workers. We have different reading tastes, but we understand that passion for reading, which matters the most.

What is the biggest book (page count) you have finished reading?

The Stand by Stephen King. Over 1,100 pages.

Is there a book you had to get your hands on against all odds?

I had to pick up ‘The Oyster Thief’ when I first heard about it a few months ago. I finally picked it up at the library a couple weeks back. It was an amazing book.

A book you struggled to finish but didn’t DNF

‘Not That I Could Tell’ by Jessica Strawser. The mystery angle intrigued me, but it veered into ‘Chick-Lit’ territory, which is not my fave. I stuck with it though!

What are 3 of your main book goals for 2019?

  • Read at least 30 books this year (so far I’ve read 7)
  • Embrace the concept of audiobooks. I signed up for Audible last month. It came through for me during a rough period!
  • Feel more confident posting and sharing my love of reading!

Have you ever had the privilege of of converting someone into a reader?

No, not yet!

Describe what books mean to you in 5 words.

Reading is a welcome escape!

February 12, 2019: Book Of The Month unboxing

I recently received my Book Of The Month selection for February: A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum. It’s a story set in Pakistan and Brooklyn, NY, spanning three generations of women dealing with strife and traditional constructs.

Synopsis:

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

I love that each package comes wrapped. It really was a lifesaver a couple months back, when my package was left out in the rain for two days, and I had no clue!

February 12, 2019: Library Book Haul (and Barnes and Noble purchase)!

I picked up three books over the weekend; Two from the library, and one Barnes and Noble purchase. I enjoy picking up selections from my local library, and I try to frequent it every chance I get.

Since I’m eager to finish the Grisha trilogy, I picked up the last book in the series, ‘Ruin and Rising’ by Leigh Bardugo. This story takes place a few months after the showdown between Alina and the Darkling at Os Alta.

Synopsis of ‘Ruin and Rising’:
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I also picked up ‘A Blade so Black’ by L.L. McKinney. This story is a retelling of ‘Alice and Wonderland, set in modern day Atlanta, Georgia.

Synopsis of ‘A Blade so Black’:

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

I also stopped in at Barnes and Noble to pick up ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas. I’ve been wanting to read this story for quite some time. I know I could have also picked it up at the library, but I read the first few pages of ‘The Hate U Give’ at B & N, and I immediately wanted to take it home. So there you have it!

Synopsis of ‘The Hate U Give’:
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I hope to complete ‘Ruin and Rising’ in a few days, so that I can begin ‘A Blade So Black’!



February 10, 2019: ‘Ever Alice’ by H.J. Ramsay/A Review

**I received an eARC of ‘Ever Alice’ from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.**

‘Ever Alice’ is a retelling of ‘Alice of Wonderland’. It takes place a few years after the classic story, and it finds Alice in a mental asylum. She manages to flee, returning to Wonderland, and finds herself embroiled in a plot to kill the vicious Queen of Hearts. This story features many characters from the classic Lewis Caroll tale, as well as some new figures.

Although I felt like this story has a predictable ending, I appreciate that it takes a slightly darker turn from the regular ‘Alice in Wonderland’ story, and it kept me interested until the very end.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

Professional Reader