King of Scars

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in a Grisha-verse duology.

Nikolai Lantsov survived the civil war, though not unscathed, and has been working endlessly to bring Ravka back from the brink of destruction. But Ravka is weak, it’s boarders need shoring up and financially, it is in trouble.

As Nikolai and his allies work to strengthen Ravka and it’s decimated Grisha army, a darkness within begins to take hold, neighboring countries spout niceties while planning invasion, and legend threatens to become reality.

Can Nikolai continue to rule if the darkness takes over? Will there even be a Ravka left when all is said and done?

I kept meaning to pick this one up but kept putting it aside. I actually read Six of Crows before reading any of Bardugo’s other books and still nothing can compare. That being said, it was nice to see some familiar faces in this book and to get more of Nikolai’s and the others stories.

Did anyone else notice just how often Nina brings up her former band of misfits from Six of Crows? The whole time I was listening to the audio book, I just kept wanting them to show up. Sigh.

Ultimately, there wasn’t anything really negative to say about the book. Nikolai and Zoya are both lovingly snarky and the banter was spot on. And the Grisha’s and Ravka were the same as always. I guess the issue I have is that the book was a little slow for me. Not a lot happens until the last 100+ pages. And what does happen in the first half of the book, feels too familiar for me–sort of like we’ve been there before in the other Grisha books.

I do expect a lot more action and going-ons in the second book. This one gets a solid 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Poisoned

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly is a fairy-tale re-imagining of Snow White for a Young Adult audience.

To rule, once must be strong and powerful; there is no place for kindness and the gentle hearted. Or at least, this is what Sophie has been told her entire life. According to her step mother, Queen Regent, and the rest of the court, weak, foolish, silly Sophie doesn’t have what it takes to be the ruler her country needs. So when the huntsman pulls out his knife and plunges it into her heart, Sophie shouldn’t have been surprised.

And even though Sophie believed everything they said about her, it was still a surprise. But, what was more surprising, was waking up.

Given a second chance at life, will Sophie muster the bravery to fight for her kingdom and the will to rule it as she seems fit?

I really enjoyed Donnelly’s Stepsister, so I was excited to pick this one up. And, although it was an entertaining read, I wasn’t wowed by it. I enjoyed it but I could have used a little bit more toward the end. Like Stepsister, the villains, weren’t ordinary villains–they were abstract entities personified. <<And that’s about as much as I can say without giving anything away. And this was interesting, a little preachy at times but it’s meant to be written as a “lesson.”

Now that I think about it, what I liked best about the book, were the side characters. I just loved the hound master’s son, the dwarfs, Will and Arlo, even our villains. But Sophie, fell a little flat for me. We see her journey throughout, both physical and emotional, but she still felt a little two dimensional to me.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me. I’ll be interested to see which fairy-tale Donnelly picks up next.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Sky Beyond the Storm

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir is the fourth and final book in the An Ember in the Ashes series.

Picking up not long after A Reaper at the Gates, war has come and no one will be spared. The Jinn, lead by the vengeful Nightbringer, are on the attack and their battles are bloody and devastating. At the Nightbringer’s side is the self declared Empress, Commandant Keris Veturia, who is determined to strike down anyone in her way.

Laia of Serra and the Blood Shrike ally together to battle the darkness. Laia is determined to bring down the Nightbringer and the Blood Shrike is equally set on killing Keris.

And alone with the ghosts, amidst the Waiting Place, is the Soul Catcher who wants only to pass the spirits on without the memories of his past weighing him down. But ignoring the world, the love, he left behind could very well lead to the destruction of all.

All in all, I really enjoyed this series and I thought that this was a fitting end to the series. This last book really felt like the culmination of what came before. All of the characters, the story-lines, they merge in this final installment and there is one last, epic battle to win or lose it all. It was nice to feel like everything was coming to an end and satisfyingly so.

The relationships built in this book have also evolved through the series, in both good and bad ways. Elias’ struggles to turn off and on his emotions could maybe have been done a little differently. I felt more like he was trying to turn it off, rather than Maud(sp?) pulling him away.

Not giving anything away, but I really felt for one of the characters, who always seemed to get the short end of the stick. His/Her revelation at the end is nice but man Tahir, couldn’t you give him/her a little something more at the end.

Overall, this was a neat world to be sucked into for four books. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco

The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco is the conclusion to The Never Tilting World duology. 

After a treacherous journey to the Great Abyss, twins Haidee and Odessa thought the worse was over. The world has begun to turn again and they fought the void and lived to tell the tale. But even though the world turns once again the Great Abyss will not be satisfied until a sacrifice has been made and a goddesses blood has been spilled. 

Refusing to give in to a tradition of sacrifice that has gone on for decades, Haidee and Odessa must search for answers within the Cruel Kingdom, the underworld. But gaining entrance may cost them more than they are willing to give. 

Will the twins be able to find the answers they seek before it is too late it or will terror, guilt and anger get in their way? 

I often find that duologies work better than trilogies because you don’t get the second book lull that a trilogy often has and I think this is true of The Never Tilting World duology. There was action each step of the way, all while building up to a fairly satisfying ending. 

I did listen to this one on Audible and, as happens when listening vs reading, I think there were a few instances where I was preoccupied while listening and missed a free crucial connections. There were a lot of little intricacies between the two books that all go together to “reveal” the ending. Missing these caused a little confusion here and there for me.  So I think I would recommend reading vs listening to this one. 

Otherwise, I found this world to be really unique and dynamic and the author did a great job of layering on details throughout the story. This one gets 3.5 stars from me. 

That’s all for now! 

-M-

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith is the second book in the Hell’s Library series. 

As Claire and Brevity adjust to their new roles within the library a new threat from within could destroy those who depend on it. 

After being almost destroyed and losing hundreds of books to a fire, the Library of the Unwritten and its caretakers are trying to deal with the trauma and heal but tensions are high and so many stories were lost. 

In the Arcane wing, a mysterious pool of ink appears and Claire and Brevity are at odds at what to do with the dangerous substance. Will they be able to put aside their differences before it is too late?

A Library in hell, a stubborn librarian, a fallen Angel, a muse and a hero… really, how could I not like this series. This second book introduces a bigger arching plot only hinted at in the first book that feels sort of like a coming end game. 

I did have mixed feelings about having more points of view in the second installment because I felt like I missed Claire’s voice and wasn’t as invested in Brevity’s. I understand why we need it to propel the story but I just wanted more from Claire and not broken Claire, determined, stubborn Claire. 

I also missed the feel of “the chase” from the first book. There wasn’t much of that feeling of urgency here and I wanted to see Claire back on the case. 

Even so, there was still a lot to like about this one, Hero and Rami’s budding relationship to name one. Overall, I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see where the next one goes. 

That’s ask for now! 

-M-