BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom – by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: Crooked Kingdom
(Six Of Crows #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: September 27th 2016
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Finished reading: November 29th 2016
Pages: 536
Rating 4qqq

“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”

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Six Of  Crows was by far one of my favorite reads last year, and I have been highly anticipating the sequel ever since. But somehow, when Crooked Kingdom was finally published in September, I held back. I was expecting the world of this book, and I started to wonder: what if it isn’t as good as the first book? What if it suffers from the so-called ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’? What if I’m not ready to say goodbye to the characters? I posponed and posponed and it soon became embarrasing. I needed to read this book I was so looking forward to! And I’m glad I did. I don’t think it actually lives up to the excellence of Six Of Crows, but it is kind of hard to beat that quality in the first place. There is no doubt I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel and Leigh Bardugo‘s writing is just as brilliant as ever. It was so good reading about my favorite characters again ans the plot twists are again excellent. I did feel the ending was a bit rushed though… And why did she have to go George R.R. Martin on me?! I still have a small book hangover from Crooked Kingdom and it was sad to say goodbye to the characters. That said, I did feel it missed the spark of Six Of Crows.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just done the unthinkable and pulled of a heist so dangerous they didn’t think they would survive. But when they arrive home things didn’t go as planned, and instead of enjoying their reward they end up right where they started and fighting for their lives. The crew has been double-crossed and after the kidnapping of a valuable member, they will have to find a way to strike back and pull off a rescue as well. That’s not their only problem, as leaders around the world travel to Ketterdam to find out more about the dangerous drug known as jurda parem… Will they be able to do the impossible once more?

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Leigh Bardugo is without doubt one of my favorite authors. Brilliant prose, excellent worldbuilding and character development, a lot of action, not too many romance scenes… It’s basically what I’m always looking for in a good story. Six Of Crows is without doubt my absolute favorite of her work, and its characters are on my all time favorite list as well. And while Crooked Kingdom wasn’t as good as the first book, I loved every single minute of it anyway. Well, except for the rushed ending and a plot twist I couldn’t understand in the end. I can’t go into details, but those who read it will understand. My heart literally almost stopped when I read those pages… If you haven’t read this duology yet, I can definitely recommend it! You won’t regret it.

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WWW Wednesdays #113 – November 30th

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WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m currently trying to finish Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham before the end of today, although I’m not sure if I will actually be able to since it’s still early days when it comes to my progress. I guess part of the problem is that I’m not sure if I’m actually in the mood for historical fiction right now… That and my Crooked Kingdom book hangover.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first reread Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo in anticipation of the second book in this duology. I loved it just as much the second time around! This one is without doubt my all time favorite Bardugo and among my favorite YA fantasy books as well.
* I then finished reading While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft, which turned out to be a good enough read. I admit it wasn’t as good as I was expecting and part of the plot and plot twists were either farfetched or even a bit predictable. The ending was a surprise, although I’m not sure I actually liked it. Also, the characters were not exactly likeable.
* Next up is my very first audiobook experience with Secondhand Smoke by M. Louis. I’ve tried my hands at audiobooks in the past, but could never actually get into the voices that told the stories. I was offered a copy of this one, and I ended up enjoying the whole experience a lot better than I thought I would. The story is full of action and plot twists, and the characters are without doubt interesting. Could have done without the romance and wasn’t sure about the ending, but overall it is without doubt a very entertaining story. It also worked perfectly as an audiobook and I was able to multitask while listening to it. I’m not sure I will switch to audiobooks any time soon, but one or two every once in a while have become way more tempting.
* Next up was one of the Goodreads Choice Awards finalists: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison. And boy I definitely got more than what I had expected! This book is mentioned in the horror genre for a good reason, because this is without doubt one sick and messed up story. I will never look at my butterfly tattoo in the same way again… The story is well written, although the beginning and ending are a lot stronger than the middle part. In fact, the pace slowed down considerably and it took me longer than imagined to finish it. I’m not sure all of it is believable (for example: why don’t those girls ever fight back??!!), but it is without doubt one hell of a horror story. And it definitely isn’t one for the weakhearted…
* I also read His Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James, which turned out to be another interesting psychological thriller with an interesting twist. The character development is probably the most interesting part of this story, as we see how both the kidnapper and her ‘son’ evolve over time and deal with their lives. The story switches between past and present and touches some very sensitive topics; you’ve been warned.
* And the last book I finished since last week is Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not sure if it was just because my expectations were set too high, but while I thoroughly enjoyed reading this sequel I don’t think it’s actually as good as the first book. Sure, I loved the characters and the twists and I no doubt have a small book hangover after finishing it. But it missed the spark of Six Of Crows. That doesn’t take away I’m sad to say goodbye to these characters…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I  want to try and read my very first Reading Alley ARC next: Tipping Point by Tomas Byrne. I also have another Netgalley ARC pending (sooo close to the 80% now!) The Killing Game by J.S. Carol. I’ve heard great things about it, so I’m looking forward to finally picking it up. I also want to finally dive into This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I have loved everything written by this woman so far this year, so I honestly don’t understand what’s taking me so long. Lastly, my newest TBR jar pick is still Little Women by Louise May Alcott.

WWW Wednesdays #112 – November 23rd

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WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m currently almost finished rereading Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and of course I’m loving this story as much as I did the first time around. As soon as I do end the final page, I’m picking up the sequel Crooked Kingdom! I’m also reading the Netgalley ARC While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft, although I’m only a few pages into that one so far. And I’m quite far into my very first audiobook experience with Secondhand Smoke by M. Louis. I have to admit it takes some time getting used to the whole audiobook thing, but this action-packed story does make it a lot easier for me to enjoy the process.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first finished reading Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi, which I had picked up on a whim after being in the mood for a fantasy read. (The fact that it’s a Goodreads Choice Nominee is a bonus of course). I loved the worldbuilding and the prose is great, but I wasn’t too convinced by the characters or the ending. It’s a middle grade read though, and I have a feeling the target group will probably love this story.
* I then finished reading The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt, which turned out to be quite a refreshing new detective series in the way that the detective the series is named after doesn’t play that big of a role nor does she have a messed up private life. It’s also quite a fast-paced read, although I have to admit the sheer amount of characters that is introduced can get quite confusing at times. I had a hard time identifying where each character stood in the story, and it made it more difficult to actually just enjoy the story. I also had problems with the credibility?
* Afterwards I decided to read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and it turns out it is nominated for Best Memoir for a good reason. This memoir is powerful, raw, emotional and simply heartbreaking… The story of a young neurosurgeon who lost the battle against cancer, a man who tried to write down the story of his life during a race against the clock. The rush especially shows in the last part he wrote himself, but that only makes this memoir more authentic. The final part written by his wife was especially moving.
* Afterwards I decided to continue with Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It’s a truly interesting historical fiction novel set in both Africa and the US and follows different generations of two initial characters. The story was a bit confusing in the beginning, mostly due to the sheer amount of characters that are introduced over time. The pace was a tad slow at times as well, but overall Homegoing is without doubt a very powerful and well researched historical fiction novel.
* The last book I read is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, which was my last TBR jar pick. And boy do I regret not having picked this one up earlier! This originally Swedish book was in one word BRILLIANT. I fell in love with the prose and main character from the very first page and it’s been a while since a book has been able to make me laugh and cry at the same time. Ove has managed to win over my heart, grumpiness and all, and he is hands down one of my new favorite characters. Fredrik Backman is able to combine heartbreaking and sensitive topics with a humor that is right up my alley; I can’t wait to read more of his work soon. (By the way, am I the only one who thinks Ove sounds a bit like the old grumpy man in the movie Up?)

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I’m still trying to read more Goodreads Choice Awards nominees, so I have The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly on my list. I also want to try and read my very first Reading Alley ARC: Tipping Point by Tomas Byrne. Lastly, I have a new TBR jar pick: Little Women by Louise May Alcott. I have to admit I have never read this classic before nor am I that excited about it, but hopefully I will turn out to be wrong about this one. At least it’s a great excuse to squeeze in another classic before the end of this year. 😉

BOOK REVIEW: Six Of Crows – by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: Six Of Crows
(Six Of Crows #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: September 29th 2015
Finished reading: November 10th 2015
Pages: 465
Rating 5qqq

“What do you want then?”
The old answers came easily to mind. Money. Vengeance. Jordie’s voice in my head silenced forever. But a different reply roared to life inside him, loud, insistent, and unwelcome. You, Inej. You.

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l have been looking forward to Six Of Crows ever since I finished reading The Grisha Trilogy earlier this year, and I think I enjoyed this new series even better. Leigh Bardugo‘s writing is just as brilliant as always and it really shows that she took a lot of effort in creating her characters and this (partly) new world. I admit it took me some time to get used to the strange names of the different characters and places, but I guess that having been born a Dutchie did help in memorizing them. In fact, most names sounded either Dutch or possibly Scandinavian… And the reference to “hutspot” made me crave Dutch food. Language aside, the character development is very well done and I liked the interaction and the way they complemented each other. It was really easy to connect to the story once I got used to the names and the ‘impossible’ job created openings for many plot twists. And that ending! It will definitely be a long and painful wait for the sequel… Ten months truly feels too long to find out what happens next.

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Ketterdam is a place bustling with people both honest and criminal trying to win their fortune. International trade, gambling… Anything can be had for the right place, and nobody knows that better than Kaz Brekker. Kaz made himself into the next criminal prodigy and is about to get rich beyond his imagination… If he manages to do the impossible. He is offered a mission he cannot refuse, but he will need his crew and a lot of luck and determination to succeed. Each member has a very different past and wants different things of the mission; will the six outcasts be able to all work together and do the impossible?

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I’ve kept the summary extra short so I won’t ruin any surprises, but what I can say is that Six Of Crows is simply brilliant. Each character has its own personality and I liked the dynamics between them. The prose is as good as always and the action scenes are perfectly balanced with dialogues and more emotional parts. Leigh Bardugo sure knows how to entertain and keep you on the edge of your seat, and I definitely wish I could read the sequel Crooked Kingdom sooner… More than recommended if you like the genre!

Teaser Tuesdays #67 – November 10th: Six Of Crows

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at A Daily Rhythm. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’m still reading Six Of CrowsLeigh Bardugo‘s prose is as good as ever, but it did take me some time to get used to all the difficult names. (Quite a few sound either Dutch or Scandinavian) I’m really looking forward to properly sit down and continue this read later today though!

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My teaser (10%):

“Inej pitied the boy who might die alone with no one to comfort him in his last hours or who might live and spend his life as an exile. But the night’s work wasn’t yet over, and the Wraith didn’t have time for traitors.”

What are you reading right now?

WWW Wednesdays #63 – November 4th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m about 60% into The Valentine Circle by Reinaldo DelValle and while it’s not a mindblowing read, the general plot is interesting enough for me to keep reading. I will probably end up finishing it later today… I still haven’t continued with Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; not because I’m not enjoying it, but there are a few other books I want to finish first before fully commiting to this giant.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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Three books and a novella this week; not bad at all…
* The first is The Fear Trials by Lindsay Cummings; an excellent prequel novella that gives the perfect introduction to the story and will convince you to read the rest of the series.
* Next up is Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, a novel that kept popping up at my TBR lists and finally decided to pick up. Not a bad read, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it either…
* I then decided to read The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey since it was the last title on my October TBR I hadn’t started yet. I know other people love this series, but I wasn’t convinced by the sequel either.
* After two mediocre reads, I wanted something good and decided to pick up the Anna sequel Girl Of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. While not as good as the first book, this one is still really good!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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As soon as I finish The Valentine Circle, I will either start Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo or Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Basically I’m superexcited to read both and I will be having a hard time deciding which one to pick up first. I also want to read Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling since it’s nominated for the Goodreads Choice awards… And my new TBR jar pick is Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Friday Finds #28 – March 20th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Should Be Reading and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. This week’s finds are all 2015 releases that either have been published already or are still unpublished…

My finds this week:

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