Ever over After by J.A. DeRouen

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Grown up Marlo is even worse than the younger Ever. Seriously! The girl who used to have so much faith in love became cynical and disengaged. But who could blame her right? Because of what happened to her in the past, she put on some impenetrable walls that can surely keep anyone at bay. Her new life has been all about taking control and security.

On the other hand, my heart is so happy to see what Ever has become and how he turned out. He deserves this redemption and he deserves everything that he has.

And above all, these two deserve each other.

That is why, I’m just so glad and my heart is so full with how Low and Ever found each other again. It may have been long, painful years that kept them apart but it was a reunion that made the pain all worth it.

Definitely a good follow up. Now, I’m just excited to read about the other girls.

I see a DeRouen binge read in the horizon.

4 STARS!

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Review Headings -  Blurb

Marlo … wild-eyed, untamed, and every single thing I’ve ever wanted from this life. I wasn’t ready for her back then. I was a stupid boy with adult feelings and no idea what to do with them. I squandered away every chance she gave me.

Yes, love like ours either burns white hot or crumbles under the pressure.
And now I’m back to sift through the rubble.

Questions and excuses are two things I have in spades. What I need now are answers.
Answers and Low.
Always Low.

My name is Ever Montgomery, and this is my story of love resurrected.

180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 SECONDS

“We are engaged in a form of intimacy that scares the absolute hell out of me. It’s as if there is a weight on my chest that I want to shove off, and I’ve never been this terrified before.
Or this whole and hopeful and connected.
My body starts to tremble. I want more of what I’m feeling, and I also want none of it.”

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It’s imperative to say that this is my first ever read from Jessica Park and in just one book, she was able to make me rethink about some of my opinions about some very important things.

Not really a fan of insta-love and insta-connection, 180 seconds made me reconsider my stand on this and the possibility of this happening in real life. I can tolerate instant connections so long as it is cleverly written but with this book – I not only tolerated it, I embraced it.

I love how this story just flows and grows. Initially, I was a bit hesitant to continue because our main character, Allison, sounds a lot like a main character in one of the books I recently read and did not fully support. Broken, flawed, difficult past – I felt that she will be predictable. However, I was surprised by how different she is. Her character was not stagnant. She knew she has issues, she acknowledged them and worked on them. Then there’s Esben. I cannot begin to explain how special he is and I feel like he will be one of those main characters who will stay with me for a long, long time.

I appreciate the idea of performing social experiments and using social media to promote kindness and hope. I enjoyed how relatable this story is and I am grateful for the kind of hope it gave me. At the same time, I admired the author for being realistic enough to also show the negative side of social media and the monsters that lurk in the background.

This book is spectacularly written. The pacing is perfect, I felt that it was neither slow nor being rushed making it all the more believable for me.

180 seconds may have been the push Allison needed to evaluate her beliefs and her life. But for me, this book is a catalyst of hope and making me believe that though a lot of days may be bleak, there’s still so much goodness and positivity to look forward to. There may be parts in the story where my heart broke (Damn 70%) but I understand and can accept it as well.  I know how pivotal certain events play in our MC’s life and I like how the author was very delicate and sensitive in writing those scenes.

This book is for those readers who would like to feel good, escape harsh reality for a short while, doesn’t mind a few tears and just need more positivity to boost their day. I didn’t really read the blurb but after finishing, I realized that I needed this kind of read now. So thank you Jessica for giving me Allison, Esben, Steffi, Kerry and Simon.

And though this is just my first read from this author, I am quite positive that this won’t be the last.

5 #THISKISSTHISKISS STARS!

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

The Silent Waters by Brittainy C. Cherry

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“The world keeps spinning because your heartbeats exist”

*Better late than never review*

This book is one big story comprised of little moments sewn together. Brittainy Cherry is fast becoming one of my favorite authors given that this is only my second read from her.The Silent Waters.jpg

When you read a story and it touches your soul, you WILL know.

This is one of those stories wherein I have absolutely no clue as to how things will play out. I fell in love with Maggie and Brooks as kids and even more as they grew. I admire how Cherry’s plots are unlike any other, how she digs in deeper and really finds that connection to her readers.

She creates characters which are not perfect. She creates characters you can relate to, characters who are flawed that you will sometimes find bits and pieces of yourself in them. 

She reinvents flaws and make them strengths and to date, I have to say that creating characters who seem real to me will always be one of her greatest strength as an author.

It also seems like friendship and family are dominant themes in her stories. This one in particular spans years and it started during our main characters’ childhood to being young adults to adulthood. I love how the story evolved, how the characters grew and I felt myself growing with them. I can’t say a lot about the story without giving much away. What’s important for you to know is that this is superbly written, thoughtfully structured with the minor characters providing great support to the main characters. How all the characters grew and matured with time is just exceptional. Each one affects the other and the main strength of this story is in the depth of our characters. 

Books like this is one of the reasons I read – to feel, to think and to learn to appreciate even the tiniest moments. 

4.5 STARS!

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Review Headings -  Blurb

Moments.

Our lives are a collection of moments. Some utterly painful and full of yesterday’s hurts. Some beautifully hopeful and full of tomorrow’s promises.

I’ve had many moments in my lifetime, moments that changed me, challenged me. Moments that scared me and engulfed me. However, the biggest ones—the most heartbreaking and breathtaking ones—all included him.

I was ten years old when I lost my voice. A piece of me was stolen away, and the only person who could truly hear my silence was Brooks Griffin. He was the light during my dark days, the promise of tomorrow, until tragedy found him. Tragedy that eventually drowned him in a sea of memories.

This is the story of a boy and girl who loved each other, but didn’t love themselves. A story of life and death. Of love and broken promises.

Of moments.

 

Scandal in Seattle by Nicole Williams

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“Revenge was an odd thing it could motivate a person like nothing else. It was my opinion that people who lacked motivation in life had a deficit of revenge. That wasn’t my problem, though. When it came to revenge, I had an abundant surplus.”SCANDAL IN SEATTLE.jpg

These books are painstakingly short and I just want more!!! 

Our Eve is back and on a roll! Things get a bit complicated when she lands a new target – Henry, a Ten and also her former lover, also that one guy who changed everything for her. Her new errand now involves getting revenge and things become complex when business and personal life clash.

Henry’s busy schedule gave way for Ally (formerly Sienna, originally named Eve) to work on another Errand and we again see how meticulous she is, how organized she plans for her targets and how focused she can be. Again, this target is hopeless and cannot be converted into a good guy as much as we want to. Ally worked her charm, creeping her way into her new target’s life – doing just as she was asked to do by the client wife.

I find the concept, the plot, even our protagonist fascinating and interesting. What intrigues me the most at this point is Henry. He brings life to our protagonist. He is different from all the other targets in the sense that there is no dirt on him. His wife just wants to separate herself, get her money and get out of the marriage.

To be honest. I like Henry’s character and feel that there is a bigger story to his “cheating” and past relationship to Eve (Sienna or Ally). Also, I sense that Eve still harbors some deep rooted feelings that she just cannot acknowledge at this point in her life and with this kind of career.

I’m excited to see how Henry and Eve’s story pans out and what other revelations are in store for me.

So far, so good.

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings - Blurb

Revenge isn’t what the Eves are about. Justice is.

But when Sienna Stevens leaves Miami for her Errand in Seattle as Ally Andrews, revenge is the only thing on her mind. A woman scorned is one thing, but Ally is something else altogether. She will not rest until the man who upended her world is brought to his personal and financial knees. She won’t settle for just upending his world in return. She’s going for full-blown annihilation.

Ally’s barely in Seattle a day before complications arise. She begins making slips. She’s one error away from being pulled from the biggest Errand of her career when she comes face to face with Henry Callahan. Former lover. Current Target.

Things just went from complicated to catastrophic.

Mischief in Miami by Nicole Williams

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“Life’s a sequence of gambles. You’re going to win some. You’re going to lose some. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the game.”

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Well, this is quite the surprise.

I have read Collared by Nicole Williams before and I LIKED it enough. I came across this series in my search for my next read after a fantasy binge and the plot intrigued me. I started this first book right away and boy, I was really fascinated.

Given the premise, the storyline could be a bit messy but I liked how the author gave life and justification to the Eves. In the simplest of terms, Eves are women who work for other women to help them get out of a marriage with a big fortune in their pockets. Eves are actually homewreckers hired by the wives to get out of their marriages with their cheating husbands.

The writing is good though it feels detached at times due to the main character’s sole narrative. However, I feel like it was a reflection of the main character’s personality. All work, no attachments. She felt impersonal, unreal and void of emotions. Her mindset is on finishing an Errand (how they refer to a job or an assignment) without any strings attached.

If you’re looking for romance or a bad boy turned good kind of story, I’m afraid that this might not be the one for you. This is a woman who consciously enters and wreaks havoc in a marriage. You might not like her, you might not understand her but in a way, I kind of understand why she does what she does. And  surprisingly, I found myself rooting for her.

We get a glimpse of Sienna and her life as an Eve in this first book. However, just when we start to understand them and their way of living, that ending kind of rocked the boat when we were given a sneak preview that these Eves also has their pasts and history. With that cliffhanger, I will surely dive into the next book. Who is that guy and why was Sienna affected by him so much?

This book is a short, fast paced read that’s not only good for killing time but also if you’re looking for a different kind of reading flavor.  

3.5 STARS

Stars - 4


Review Headings - Blurb

Seduction. Infidelity. Blackmail. Scandal. It can all be bought for the right price and for Sienna Stevens, business is good.

Because she’s in the business of Great Exploitations.

She’s an Eve, a member of a secret society of women contracted by the wives of wealthy, powerful men for one reason and one reason only: to seduce their husbands. To ensure their pre-nuptial agreement will be null and void thanks to a little loophole known as the Infidelity Clause. To ensure that those wives don’t find themselves on the other side of a divorce without a penny to their name.

When it comes to the Eves, Sienna’s one of the best because she follows the number one rule of the Eves to the letter: don’t let it get personal.

When the job file of her wealthiest client yet falls into her lap, Sienna realizes that this case could be the one that’s impossible to detach herself from. The payout would lead to her independence, but will the cost be too high in the end?

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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“The rest of the world quieted into nothing. In that moment, after ten long years, Celaena looked at Chaol and realised she was home.”

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Throne of Glass ended spectacularly that I just cannot resist diving into the second book immediately. I was intrigued, I was supremely curious. What happens to Celaena now? What happens to my ship? *wink wink*

Crown of Midnight offers a multitude of events that I just cannot find the right words to describe the awesomeness packed in this story. I did not linger on a single emotion because I found myself on highs and lows. It’s too early to tell but this can be my favorite among the series. (But that’s still open for re-negotiation. AS OF WRITING, I JUST FINISHED Qos AND CoM STILL REMAINS TO BE MY FAVORITE)

In terms of character development, I am glad that I was able to see a softer (if you could call it that) side to the bratty and hard headed assassin. I felt her opening up slowly, shedding layers of her solid core. I felt like I enjoyed this version of Celaena better that the one in TOG. The hyped up assassin I was looking for is here! After this book, everything made sense! I understood the entitlement, why she can be bratty and arrogant and stubborn. It all made perfect sense.

On the other hand, I couldn’t be happier for my ship. Love triangle, you said???? I’m sorry but my ship seems winning on this one although I have to admit that Dorian was a big surprise in this book. Initially, he felt like an obstacle to me but eventually, I enjoyed how he is being shaped as his own character and being made to fully stand on his own. 

It’s not just Dorian alone but all the other characters we get to know more of are ever changing and growing. I feel like we are slowly being made to see just how HUGE this series can be with all the plot twists, all the backstories, all the complex, multilayered characters we encountered.

Crown of Midnight is emotional as it is shocking, it’s twisted as it is satisfying.

I just don’t know if I can find the appropriate words for this book. Seriously, it feels like this made up for all the small flaws in Throne of Glass. I feel like Maas gave us a taste of what she can offer with Throne of Glass then gave us the main, delicious course in Crown of Midnight. This book had me on edge since I cannot imagine how it would end. With all the complexities, all the turns and twists and the madness and chaos – I did not dare hope for a positive ending.

BUT THAT ENDING POSITIVELY SHOOK ME! That was an ending I did not see coming. 

5 STARS!

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Review Headings - BlurbFrom the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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“It is the family you make, not the one you are born into, that matters.”

A Court of Wings and Ruin

*POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK*

Finishing ACOMAF gave me such an undescribable high and after reading ACOWAR…..well, I feel kind of sad writing this review.

I was late to join the Maas bandwagon and my first taste of her writing was with A Court of Thorns and Roses (which made me realize that I haven’t written a review for ACOTAR and ACOMAF yet!!). This was a year ago and I became one among the many impatiently waiting for this third book.

ACOMAF ended in a tense cliffhanger, with a promise of suspense, manipulation and a lot of high intensity. To my dismay, the first few chapters fell short for me. It was mostly Feyre’s rants and pining and I didn’t get the force and excitement I was expecting.  


PACE: The first half was slow for me. Boy, do I have a problem with the pacing. If this was the first book in a series, I would have put it down already. It was slow, sluggish and Feyre’s sole narrative can get tiring. It was narrative after narrative, only picking up when something remotely exciting happens. At Review Headings - Thoughts and Feelsabout 60 percent, I realized that the only reason I’m still sticking around is because I’m already invested in the characters from the first two books. I was hoping that the remaining 40 percent will redeem the monotony I felt in more than half of the book but I feel like I should not go through roughly 400++ pages of flatness before finally getting to a really good part.

There were parts which for me were repetitive and I feel that this could be a couple hundred pages less than its current length.


POV: This is one of those books where in I wish I was getting multiple POVs. It would have provided so much clarity, so much more information and so much more feels I was yearning for. There were scenes wherein I felt like something exciting would happen but we would never know since we can only see through Feyre. Our side characters are deep, complex and dynamic and I would have loved to see through their eyes and understand through their thoughts.

Through the whole book, I felt that much needed longing for a multiple POV the most during the battle scene. I wish I could have seen the battle from Cassian, or Azriel’s eyes. I would have also liked to get a glimpse on the minds of the other High Lords. Instead, we saw the battle unfold from a mere onlooker.


BATTLE SCENE: ACOMAF’s battle scene shouts EPIC and that set my standards pretty high. I was expecting the same intense, edge of my seat feels with ACOWAR but it didn’t come close. I feel like all these powers and strength were just left there and not utilized. Also, where were Feyre’s water wolves?


MORE QUESTIONS: This book ended with more questions than when I started. I feel like a lot of the plot twists are placed there to propel for the next books to come. Let’s start with the obvious ones:

MOR – I have such high regard for the LGBTQ community but I feel like Mor’s admission was somehow forced. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t feel believable. I felt like it was made to happen for mere representation without foundation from the first two books. 

LUCIEN – he was a presence during the first half then he ran off to play hero to locate a missing queen and ended up missing the rest of the story. Seriously, what is up with that? No one even kept tabs on him or thought to wonder how he is. One moment he’s here, the next day he’s gone resurfacing only in those last few chapters. Also, that reveal about his lineage was most likely to pave way for another book because that’s a twist that wasn’t even fully acknowledged.

NESTA/ELAIN: These two ladies have so much potential to be amazing. There’s this buildup regarding their powers which in the end were not even given much attention. I thought that their use of powers will make a sort of debut during the war but there was none of that. Elain can be cute but her character can easily be overshadowed by the other strong characters surrounding her. On the contrary, Nesta is too strong and stubborn that I wonder if she even feels at all. There are moments when I get to peek at her humanity, at her heart – but those are fleeting, minute moments and as much as I understand her backsground – this girl seriously needs to face and understand her emotions about Feyre, about Cassian, about her new life in general. 

I still have a lot on my list but writing them would be too rant-y already. 


THE GOOD: I have to say that I cannot stay away from this book mainly because of the characters. I love this crew so much and feel like they could have been made more amazing. There’s a lot of potential left for them to develop. I like how these characters were individualized but I feel like their growth was rushed and very little development happened in such few chapters left.

These characters are broken and discovering themselves everyday as they try to heal. I love how the other ships are given focus as well but like what I mentioned earlier, I wish it could have been from their POV for a more in depth understanding of their characters. Cassian and Azriel will always be favorites of mine. Despite the mating, I really get excited everytime Azriel will have an interaction with Elain. Also, was it just me or did you get a vibe that Nesta could be Cassian’s mate? 

Another plus point for me would be the meeting wherein I was able to get a glimpse of all the other courts and the personalities behind them. Also, I didn’t expect that I would have this kind of attachment and longing for the Bone Carver, the Weaver and the Suriel. It’s amazing how all these characters came together and banded for one common goal to fight in this very GOT-like battle.  

There were also strong messages being delivered like forgiveness, hope, survival, family, redemption and unity. It’s a strong book actually but I felt all these immensely ONLY in the latter third part of the story. There were other scenes and references I really liked such as the library and the reason why it was built, seeing Cassian in his element, Amren and Varian, Tamlin and Jurian, Miryam and Drakon, the other High Lords, the three ships, Vassa and my favorite, Rhysand’s speech.  


LASTLY, WHAT’S WITH ALL THE PURRING??? Jurian purred. Ianthe purred. Feyre purred. Rhys purred. Cassian purred. The Carver purred. Helion purred. And dear God, even the Cauldron purred. I can’t even describe how unsettling that can be.

WILL I CONTINUE WITH THE SERIES? Yes, if only to get the answers to the questions left. It was a good ending, not so epic but still enjoyable. I’m still deciding if it was me, the book or the extremely high expectations I set after ACOMAF. 

3 STARS TO RATTLE.

Stars - 3


A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES SERIES IN A GLANCE

A Court of Thorns and Roses – 4 STARS

A Court of Mist and Fury – 5 STARS

A Court of Wings and Ruin – 3 STARS

OVERALL: 4 STARS

4 star rating


 

Review Headings - Blurb

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

The Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo

Before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy of extraordinary power.

I was truly intriguThe Demon in the Wood.jpged by the Darkling’s history and though I don’t see myself rooting for him anytime soon, I felt empathy (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT!!!) and compassion towards the child that was the Darkling. Without giving thought to the adult (is adult EVEN the right term for his age?!) that he has become and just thinking of him as the child, it’s impossible not to feel sadness and remorse for what happened to him. All he wanted was acceptance and belongingness. He wasn’t an instant villain. All the villain-ness came from a deep rooted past of not being accepted in his harsh childhood. Another interesting facet of this short story is the Darkling’s close relationship with his mother making me wonder how their dynamics changed and evolved.

Only 30 pages BUT filled with so much depth and revelations.

Now I know why Leigh’s writing gets all the hype.

Stars - 3

 

Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti

“I so desperately wanted to be his gravity, to hold him on this earth and keep him from leaving me.”

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What prompted me to read this book is the number of readers with like interests and genres loving this and being the stalkerish bish that I am, I decided to read it once and for all.

I started it.

I finished it.

That’s it.

I wish I’m not writing this review right now but I’m never one to beat around the bush so here goes.

The premise is intriguing and right up my alley. Broken souls, scarred humans ~ finding friendship and love in such an unlikely place and time. It’s supposedly made for readers to feel all the broken feels but to me, it just fell flat.

I found no love for Parker. I tried, I really tried to work around her character, see beyond her flaws but I just can’t connect with her. She’s rude and detached and it was only on the very last pages that I glimpsed warmth and emotions from her. Speaking of rude, the “rude thing” banter between the two of them was sort of cute at first but got old real fast. I’m not sure if it was meant to showcase more of Parker’s character and personality but there was one scene when she was acting as a decoy which felt unnecessary to me. 

On the other hand, I know Everett was supposed to be another tortured soul I should empathize with but with his POV lacking, I just can’t get into his head. I am like only half-heartedly with him. There were times when he starts to grow on me but no, not going there.

Despite my issues with the characters, there were also things about this book that I really liked. First, I love the message that it’s trying to convey – fighting for your happiness and fighting for your life. This book is basically is basically the voice of two numb souls who had their second chance at life and love. Second, I did enjoyed the twist, well not really a twist but a semblance of explanation to some questions I had along the way and also, that ending basically salvaged what I thought has been a weary read.

PLUS, you cannot ignore all the quotable quotes scattered all throughout the story. I lost count how many I have marked. 

Another thing I’d like to point out is that I felt like while reading, I was subconsciously comparing it to another book with quite a similar theme and premise – The Edge of Never, if you’re curious and just so you know, I loved the hell out of that book.

I’m not particularly sure how I felt about the writing – some parts were good, some felt a bit choppy. I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would and had the urge to put it down a number of times. The ending was better than the entire story. The last few pages were so emotion filled and just raw and powerful. I wish that I felt just as strongly while reading the whole book. I know A LOT of people who loved this but maybe this is not the book for me. I did enjoy reading it but I was more of an audience looking in rather than being one and connecting to the story. 

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

“The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.”

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I was checking the list of books I have read for this year and saw that I am truly behind in fantasy. Like way, wayyyyyyyy behind. For this year, I have only read A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Wrath and the Dawn and the TWAD novellas. And that’s it. I was planning to remedy this before the year ends so I got the Six and Crows-Crooked Kingdom duology.

I was about to dive in but I was talking to a friend who is also an OC reader and from our conversation, we decided to start with the Grisha trilogy first before jumping into SoC and CK. We know it’s different stories but the worlds are the same.

Anyway, enough of my intro-slash-explanation. I have heard so much praise for Leigh Bardugo and being the hype-averse type of reader that I am, I tend to ignore. But eventually, I decided to give in. Heck, everyone I know is reading her books and I wanted to see for myself.

There is no denying Leigh’s talent. She is beyond good and I can see why so many readers got lost in the world/s she has created. This woman has created an entirely different universe, far beyond the scope of my imagination. It’s a dark, intriguing place and I was hooked.

Given, I’m in a rather busy stage of my life right now and it took me a while to finish this but there was VERY  MINIMAL TIME when I felt disconnected to the story or the characters. On the contrary, I was reeled in and I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next.

Alina is a likable heroine, not exactly my favourite but she has her strengths. There were certain parts of the story when I felt the YA-ish texture of the novel especially on Alina’s vanity moments. At first, I pegged her for being weak but she redeemed herself in the end. She actually showed that she can be feisty and strong yet her heart is in the right place. She started out as a lost girl, unsure of where she stands and what her purpose is. Eventually, she found her strength and drive and I loved the Alina that emerged from the power. I do hope I get to see more of this side in the next books.

Mal on the other hand is my guy. Alright, at this point I ship Mal and Alina. He is loyal to the core and would do anything for her and their friendship/relationship. At this point, I’m not sure where they stand but Mal is an okay guy and I would love to know more about him. There’s not much said about him and his background and I feel like I need to know more, I want to know him more. 

Probably, the most interesting for me is the Darkling. I know I’m supposed to loathe him after what went down in the end but there’s a big mystery and story surrounding his character. I can feel it. I can tell there’s more to him and that his role in this trilogy is essential.

With those things I have loved about this book, there are also some things that I found lacking. These are not really big issues, but these prevented me from giving it more stars.

For starters, I was actually looking forward to a lot of action, a lot of high intensity fight scenes but I only got a few. I’m not sure where this expectation of mine came from but I was not expecting a lot of narratives about cliques, mean girls, gossip, and who is prettiest and who is most popular. It swayed from the dark and intriguing vibe of the premise.

Also, I felt like I was blindly thrown into the world without any guide at all and I had to look different words up to grasp what I was reading. It was a few chapters in before I felt the connection to the book. 

Despite its flaws and my indifference to some of the characters, I liked, no scratch that, I L-O-V-E-D Bardugo’s writing. It was easy to read and captivating and definitely the main factor why I’m keeping the next books in my TBR list.

3.5 SHADOW FOLD STARS

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