Review: King of Scars (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

40030680. sy475

Goodreads | Waterstones

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

This was actually my second time reading this book, but the first time I read it I hadn’t read the Grisha trilogy. Let me tell you now, I would definitely recommend reading the Grishaverse books in order of release, and that is what I’ve been doing this time around and it is so much better! I really enjoyed the story of this one the first time around, even though it spoiled the ending of the Grisha trilogy for me. However, I loved reading it so much more this time because I had these characters fresh in my mind and their backstories.

Nikolai is my favourite character from the Grisha trilogy so I really enjoyed reading about his storyline continuing in King of Scars! He is such a witty and sarcastic character who I adore and his one-liners always make me laugh/smile. I also love the story of Nina which continues in King of Scars, and I find her storyline my favourite of all of them. Her story also really makes me emotional, especially at the start of this book!

Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. 

I actually found this a little harder to get into than I expected considering I’ve been reading the Grisha books back to back. I did find the first time it took me around 250 pages to get in to, and this time it was more like 100 pages. However, once I got into this story I just adored it. It also took me a while to adjust to all of the points of view, especially considering we have a new character and a new point of view from someone else in the Grisha trilogy.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book, especially Isaak, Zoya and Nina’s points of view. Sadly, and surprisingly to me, I felt a little disconnected from Nikolai’s character and story in this one. I think this may be due to what is actually happening to him throughout this book, as it felt kind of natural to be a little disconnected from him because of the events.

We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.

I must say I really enjoyed this one but it didn’t quite have the same emotional impact or connection for me as the Six of Crows series does. I loved the plot, the characters and it kept me on the edge of my seat, but just didn’t quite reach 5 stars for me! I can’t wait to finally be able to read Rule of Wolves and see what I think.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Booktube | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere

Review: Crooked Kingdom (#2) by Leigh Bardugo

27840861. sy475

Goodreads | Waterstones

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.
Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.
A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
Welcome to the world of the Grisha
.

I cannot even describe how glad I am that I decided to reread this series and the Grishaverse books as a whole. Although I absolutely adored this one the first time around, going into it with background knowledge of the previous books just elevates it to another level. There were so many mentions of the people from Shadow and Bone and the events within those books that would have completely gone over my head in the first read!

Crooked Kingdom is set soon after the events of Six of Crows, but the whole reading experience feels so different. Whereas Six of Crows feels like diving into the deep end, Crooked Kingdom is diving under a warm and familiar duvet and wrapping it around you. Everything I felt was missing in the first book appears in this one. I love it.

I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing.

My favourite part of these books will always be the Crows themselves. I just love them, their stubborn, witty and determined selves. I will never stop loving them. Each Crow has a very distinct character, which I love, and I never wanted to skip chapters so I could be back with a different one. I cannot emphasise enough how skilled Leigh Bardugo is to write six different points of view yet keeps a fully coherent story throughout. I could (and did) easily cry at this book just because of the emotions I feel for the characters and the way they interact.

Which takes me onto the writing. The writing in this book is astounding, and I found myself holding my breath at crucial moments and fight scenes, yet crying at the gentler parts. It is utterly gripping and describes the world perfectly. I love Ketterdam and it is one of those places I can picture so vividly because of how well it is described.

Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.

Honestly, I could gush about this book forever and I do not have a bad word to say about it. It is a diamond in the rough, a rarity. I adore the characters, the relationships, the strong females, the world, the writing, the action, the pacing. It is all on another level. It shines.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Booktube | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere

Review: Six of Crows (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

23437156

Goodreads | Waterstones

Ketterdam: 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

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

I read this book for the first time back in 2016, and I honestly wasn’t planning on re-reading it soon, even though it’s been in the back of my mind for a while. But then the Shadow and Bone Netflix show began, and all I wanted was to be in this world again. Back when I read this book, it was actually the first Leigh Bardugo book I’d ever read. I actually don’t think I was even aware of Shadow and Bone existing. Because of that, I read the Grisha books in the complete wrong order (Six of Crows duology > King of Scars > Grisha trilogy). The actual order is the Grisha trilogy > Six of Crows duology > King of Scars duology, if you’re wondering! I’ve been wanting to reread all of the Grisha books for a while, so thank you to the Shadow and Bone show for making me finally do it.

Having gone straight from the Grisha trilogy to this, I enjoyed it so much more. However, I still felt more like I’d been thrown into the deep end than I expected to. I think this is because this book does begin straight in the action, and because of that it still took me 100ish pages to get into it properly. I felt the same the first time I read this book, but back then I had no knowledge of the Grisha world or powers. With the knowledge I have now, this was just so much more enjoyable.

I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker.

The characters are what melt my heart in this book. I just love them all so much and thinking of them makes me so emotional. The characters in these books are probably my favourite group of friends in any book, ever. I just adore the found family trope and Leigh writes it like no other. This book flicks between six points of view, and although I find this confusing normally, it really works in Six of Crows. I think this is helped along by the third person narrative, and made me feel really connected to all of the characters.

The writing is also absolutely beautiful and some of the quotes from this book and Crooked Kingdom make me so emotional. I started crying at the Shadow and Bone Netflix show at many random places, and one of those was when the line ‘no mourners, no funerals’ was used. I was just waiting for that moment, as those four words hold so much weight for the characters and in turn, for me as a reader.

The plot of this book is just amazing and I love the adventure in it. It’s so fast paced and especially after the first 100 pages or so, super addictive. I didn’t want to put it down, even though I had an awareness of the plot points from reading it the first time. I also adore the world so much, and I can’t wait to see more of it in Crooked Kingdom.

Or I will not have you at all.

Overall, I can’t not rate this book 5 stars. I’ve been conflicted about rating it 4.5 or 5 stars, but I just adore this book and these characters and they mean so much to me. This is definitely a personal rating (objectively, I would say 4.5 and leave that half star for Crooked Kingdom), but I just have such an emotional response to this book that it has become an absolute favourite over the years.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Booktube | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere

Review: The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

54205369. sy475

Goodreads | Waterstones

Dive into the epic world of international bestselling author Leigh Bardugo with this beautifully illustrated replica of The Lives of Saints, the Istorii Sankt’ya, featuring tales of saints drawn from the beloved novels and beyond. Out of the pages of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, from the hands of Alina Starkov to yours, the Istorii Sankt’ya is a magical keepsake from the Grishaverse.
These tales include miracles and martyrdoms from familiar saints like Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses and Sankt Ilya in Chains, to the strange and obscure stories of Sankta Ursula, Sankta Maradi, and the Starless Saint.
This beautiful collection includes stunning full-color illustrations of each story. 

As you can probably tell, I will happily buy and read anything Leigh Barudgo writes. She is such a talented writer, and I adore her stories. I was so hesitant about going into The Language of Thorns, yet I adored it. So when I realised this was going to be a similar style of short story collection, I knew I wanted to read it. I also happened to only pick up the Grisha trilogy last year, only a few months before this book was released. The Lives of Saints is referenced a lot in the Grisha trilogy, as a kind of bible, a book that is given to children as they grow up and learn about the saints they worship. In a way, this book reminded me a lot of Aesop’s fables, as they are only incredibly short and all have some kind of moral.

I feel like in a way, Bardugo really has a knack for short story/fairytale type writing. She has a beautiful, poetic way of writing that just fits and works so well with these kinds of books. I saw a review that mentioned these are similar to the kind of writings you get with tarot cards, and I can definitely see where they are coming from. These stories are super short, usually between half a page and no more than 5 pages. This book is already very short, only 120 pages, and with the stories themselves being short too, this went by very quickly and I read it within a couple of hours.

You can choose faith or you can choose fear. 

Most, if not all of these stories are quite sad and tragic, because of the nature of the saints having to die to become, well, saints. However, that doesn’t make all of them depressing or harrowing, and I found quite a lot of them poignant, yet uplifting. The illustrations alongside were absolutely beautiful, and this book as a whole is a gorgeous thing to own. I would like to point out that the ugly blue band on the photo is removable! There is gold foiling underneath and a red clothbound cover.

My main disappointment from this book was the fact I know I will forget these stories so quickly, purely because they are so short. It’s an easy, quick read and a great thing to pick up and read one or two from, but very forgettable. With stories this short, there is just no room for character development, and that was the main factor that made me compare this to The Language of Thorns, which has much longer and fewer fairytales, and I can vaguely remember them, even after a few years.

But only one will bring what you long for.

Overall, this was a sweet idea and I love the concept of it. It’s an absolutely beautiful book and the stories are lyrical and beautiful in their own right, but also a little disappointing as they are so short and I felt a bit disconnected from them.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere

Review: Ruin and Rising (#3) by Leigh Bardugo

14061957

Goodreads | Waterstones

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 really enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t the epic conclusion to the series I’d hoped for. Instead, I actually found the most problems with this one than probably any in the series. For such an epic build up, I just found it fell a little flat.

I think a lot of this was due to the fact I missed having a new character. We were obviously introduced to everybody in Shadow and Bone, and then had the introduction of Nikolai in Siege and Storm, who I loved as a character. Not having somebody new to explore made me slightly….bored? I also missed having Nikolai around for most of the story, which I won’t say any more about as I don’t want to spoil anything.

Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. 

I also found myself not being quite so compelled by the story until the last 100 pages or so, although I still finished it in just a couple of days! I really enjoyed the characters, including the ‘found family’ element which reminded me of the court in Throne of Glass. Some of the scenes of the group travelling really reminded me of the scenes and conversations in the later Throne of Glass books, and I loved it. We also had a chance to find out more of the backstory of some of the main characters, especially the Darkling himself.

I’ve heard a lot of people express disappointment about the ending of this book, but I actually really enjoyed it and felt satisfied by the end. Bardugo broke my heart into a million pieces and pieced it back together. I loved it, it made me so emotional and left me with tears in my eyes in places.

E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.

It’s mainly due to the ending of this book that I couldn’t bring myself to decrease my rating from 4 stars to lower. I did have a lot of problems and disappointments, but I still really enjoyed it and there is no question that Bardugo’s writing really develops throughout this series and this book in particular.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere