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

Review: King of Scars (#1) by Leigh Bardugo
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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, the young king 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 Squaller, 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.

Before I begin, I have to say that this review is coming from the view of someone who has never read the Grisha trilogy, and has only read the Six of Crows duology. I really believe this has effected my thoughts on the book so just a warning! I also want to mention I read this book with my bookish bestie Courtney, and we had so much fun doing our first buddy-read together. 🙂 Reading is just a bit more special with someone to share it with!

I want to start with the start of the book – because this took me so long to get into. I think part of the reason was because I’ve been in the Shadowhunter world since early December, and it was just so strange to suddenly be thrown into a completely different world.

My second reason is definitely because I didn’t receive the world-building I needed from the Grisha trilogy. Although King of Scars is very descriptive, it took a lot of concentration for me to understand what was actually going on. So if you want to read Bardugo’s books, I’d honestly say please read her other books first (Grisha trilogy followed by Six of Crows). You need the world building and preparation – and lots of her previous books are spoiled in King of Scars!

“Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve.”

But despite this, I still really enjoyed King of Scars, especially after the first 250 pages. It took me about 4 days to read the first half, and only 2 to get through the second. Maybe the pacing is a little off because it definitely picks up, but I think this is also partly due to me finally clicking with the world (yes, it took that long).

I’ve always said this but I have to point it out again – Bardugo can write multiple POV books like no one else I have ever read. Six of Crows was from 6 different POV, but those books are among some of my favourites. And here we are again, with four POV, yet I loved them all in their own ways. There was such a balance here – each role was unique, and I wasn’t waiting or hoping to get back to a specific person.

“You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself.”

Overall, what a great book, and the second half really made it for me. The tense edge-of-your-seat plot and fighting scenes were immense, and made me fall in love with Bardugo’s work even more. I’ll definitely be re-reading Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars once I’ve tackled the Grisha trilogy!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Beautiful Quotes #114 / The Language of Thorns

Beautiful Quotes #114 / The Language of Thorns

Beautiful Quotes is a weekly meme hosted by me, where I post some of my favourite quotes. Any other bloggers are welcome to join me in this and just link my blog!

Hi all! I’ve had a pretty busy week considering I haven’t been at uni – I’ve spent it catching up with friends and visiting my lovely grandparents. I’m back home now, and I start back at uni tomorrow. I’ve really enjoyed my break but I am looking forward to going back too!

I’ve also been reading a lot and I finished City of Heavenly Fire last night. I can’t believe it only took me a month to finish the whole of The Mortal Instruments! Anyway, I picked up King of Scars this morning, and it reminded me of one of my favourite books of last year – The Language of Thorns. My review is here, and you can see a beautiful quote from this beautiful book below.

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“This is the problem with making a thing forbidden. It does nothing but build an ache in the heart.” 
― Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #80

Stacking the Shelves #80

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi guys! This week has been a great one for my bookshelf, for it has been blessed with King of Scars! I ordered a signed, hardback limited edition back in November, so before I started my book-buying ban. I was so excited when I picked it up from the store the other day!

I’ve read the Six of Crows duology and The Language of Thorns but not the Grisha trilogy. But I’m going to be buddy reading King of Scars with my lovely friend Courtney very soon – once I’ve finished City of Heavenly Fire!

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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, the young king 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 Squaller, 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. 

Have you bought any new books recently?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #74

Stacking the Shelves #74

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought this week. Find out more and join in here!

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 2

It’s another week of book collecting! I’ve visited the secondhand bookshop near me twice in the past couple of weeks as I’ve been able to show both my lovely friend Courtney and co-blogger Pete my favourite bookshop. It’s been awesome to show them around and I managed to pick up some great finds!

I’ve been looking for second hand copies of The Grisha Trilogy as I love Leigh Bardugo and Six of Crows. As lovely as the new paperbacks are, I still prefer the old ones. So I was very happy to come across this!

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Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed. Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two. 

Did you buy any books this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price. This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

This book is absolutely stunning. I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to read this, but I find short stories so hit and miss! Some (*cough* Tales of Beedle the Bard *cough*) can be blatant gimmicks. And others, like this, can be downright beauty.

I am so, so happy that this one fell into the latter. All 6 of these stories are based on classic fairytales, but with a new and fresh take set in the Grisha universe. I haven’t actually read the Grisha trilogy yet, but I loved Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom! What I love about this book is you don’t actually have to read any of Bardugo’s books to understand any of the tales.

“They pray that their children will be brave and clever and strong, that they will tell the true stories instead of the easy ones.”

I actually can’t chose a favourite of these stories, because they’re all so beautiful in their own ways. Ayama and the Thorn Wood, The Witch of Duva and The Water Sang Fire definitely all stood out for me though! I love how each story took up around 50 pages, and I think having that time and space is just crucial for the reader to know the character enough to connect fully to the story.

I can’t write this blog post without telling you all about the incredible illustrations that come with the hardback edition I own! Round every single page there’s a band of illustrations which build up as the story progresses. For example, in one story we start with a fox, and slowly the band builds up until we have trees and other forest creatures around the perimeter of the double-page spread. I can’t even begin to explain the beauty here, the amount these drawings add to each story and make them feel like fairytales.

“They pray for sons with red eyes and daughters with horns.”

I honestly have so much to say about this book that I’m going to have to stop myself from rambling and just say this. Leigh Bardugo, you have done short stories right. I have never experienced a novella quite like this one. It stands out in the fairytale experience, and it took me to many different worlds between the pages. I found it perfect for this festive time of year, so comforting and interesting. I’m sure these stories are ones I will come back to many times again!

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Kaz Brekker and his crew 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. 

This book broke my heart. And it made me feel so whole. I love that this is a duology, even though I adored these characters and the world and I didn’t want to leave them, it just kind of works. And as excited as I am to hear about King of Scars, this duology is just perfect as it is. Yay for duologies.

I’ve always said the hardest books to review are the ones you loved the most, and I am completely standing by that sentence right now. This book was set in a magical world, with beautiful words and in depth characters. I just can’t match up to that.

“She smiled then, her cheeks red, her cheeks scattered with some kind of dust.”

Just going to give a little shoutout to Emma, who inspires me so much and who wrote a review I love. I wish I could be that good with words!

I’m shocked at how much I enjoyed this book compared to Six of Crows. I’m not saying it was bad – far from it – but I just enjoyed this book so much more. Maybe it’s because I now class myself as a fantasy reader, and with every fantasy book I love I find the gateway to the genre open a little more.

Maybe I enjoyed it more because we explored much more of the world in Crooked Kingdom, and I love how the book followed a number of locations. And can we just talk for a minute about character development. Hell, I have never seen an author define their characters so well. I felt so close to each of the 6 POV, and I think that’s so rare in YA, to know exactly how each character is feeling in relation to the whole story and each separate character. To see the differences and definition in each beautiful soul and exactly how they work together like clockwork is so impressive.

“It was a smile he thought he might die to earn again.”

I might not be the best with words in these situations, but I do want to say something. This book shines. It is a rarity. It is 3D in a world of 2D. It is a, simply, an absolute gem. And if you love fantasy, please, I beg you, go and read this series.

★★★★★

5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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You may also enjoy: Six of Crows review

Beautiful Quotes #81 / Six of Crows

Beautiful Quotes is a weekly meme hosted by me, where I post some of my favourite quotes. Any other bloggers are welcome to join me in this and just link my blog!

Hello my lovely readers! I’m currently reading Crooked Kingdom and I’m so happy! When I read Six of Crows I did enjoy it, but I wasn’t a fantasy reader at the time. At all. But I do feel like Harry Potter opened a new gateway for me and has given me a new understanding and love for the genre, and I’m enjoying fantasy a lot more now!

So I thought I’d spend this post celebrating the gorgeous Six of Crows and this duology!

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“The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.” 
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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