Six Things About Six of Crows

I have to admit I am a sucker for epic fantasy, especially anything that involves assassins, thieves and characters dark enough to perforate my soul. And here I am, writing this review while holding my mauled heart and saying, “God damn, that was brilliant.”

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a quite simply a heist story. Six young criminals are hired to break into the world’s most secure prison and extract a prisoner for a larger than large sum of money. It’s dark, dangerous and filled with plots and schemes that might go wrong. It’s  a well written steampunk fantasy heist tale and I don’t know what took me so long to read it.

So here are six things about Six of Crows – spoiler free!

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The world itself is incredible.

Set in the same universe as the Grisha trilogy (you don’t have to read that series in order to read this one as they are totally separate), the novel explores the gritty Barrel and the lavish Ice Court, slowly forming Ketterdam as we dive into the various cultures Bardugo has created from the Shu to the Suli. It’s not lacklustre by any means; there’s knives, guns, magic, technology mashed together into something that is so attractive. It’s rich with culture and has an grimy vibe as we travel with this crew of misfits.

The characters are extraordinary and dimensional af.

“No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck.”

The 400 page novel balances six characters, all with their own backstories and reasons for being a part of the heist. These characters, the Dregs, have left a hole in my heart because of just how incredible they are. They’re diverse, broken and mismatched and I love the balance they created with each other.

  • Kaz: The ringleader of the Dregs, a cold and calculating mastermind who is so tragically lovable. He’s covers his bets, is mysterious to even his own crew and is capable of incapacitating a person with a cane. Because you know, he has a limp and doesn’t let anyone take advance of him.
  • Inej: She’s the spider, the Wraith, a deadly acrobat who knows everything. She’s fierce in a quiet kind of way and ambitious.
    I also ship her really really hard with Kaz because yolo.
  • Nina: Oh my lord, this woman is my spirit animal. She’s a Grisha, loves food and is sassy af. She’s loyal to a fault, doesn’t like to be in debt to anyone and capable of making men drop to their knees (and not just because of her good looks).
    I would alternatively be shipping Inej with Nina because their relationship is so damn cute.
  • Matthias: He’s kind of like a brick wall with feelings. He’s basically helping these crows break into a place that is sacred to his culture and he’s not liking it. He’s extremely stubborn and doesn’t like to show said feelings. It’s hilarious.
  • Jesper: The comic relief, the dork who loves guns and has a slight gambling addiction.
  • Wylan: This precious baby is adorable as he tries to prove himself to the Dregs. He’s defiant, clever and sometimes forgotten because he hasn’t quite conformed to the crooked personas of his fellow crew members.

“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”

The use of multiple perspectives allowed for a deeper and more mysterious plot.

Because we’re seeing things from six POVs, not everything will be interpreted the same. Different scenes had one or two characters telling the part and it was brilliant to see how the Big Job has unfolded for the six of them. It also allowed for their backstories to ease into the plot without much introduction; and while it was sometimes too much information at once, I loved that we got to see what made these characters so hard and despicable. While I would have liked more of Kaz’s perspective, but the novel had to balance them all and it worked well.

“The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.”

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The heist itself is incredible and humourous.

I haven’t read a good heist book in a long time, especially one that involved magic. I liked living vicariously through these characters who could pull off such incredible feats and still hold a conversation while sassing each other. The plans and schemes formulated in order to succeed had my eyes glued to the page. I wanted to know everything. How can someone (Kaz, my child) be so clever to come up with such a complex plan and improvise when things go wrong? Ugh, I loved the manipulation, the cons, the gradual world-building as we follow the crew through the Ice Court. It’s a damn thrill.

“I’m a business man,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”
“You’re a thief, Kaz.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”

Bardugo’s writing is just so good, I could eat it.

It’s no lie – I enjoyed this series so much more than the Grisha trilogy. There is a depth to her writing that lacked in the her previous work. She’s clever with her words, quick with descriptions that paint a lasting image and has penned some impressive feats by these characters. There’s a richness to her words that I found exciting. The dialogue is also A+.

The book itself is the definition of epic fantasy.

I mean, it’s a heist book set in a Russian-inspired fantasy universe where a crew of thieves and assassins who are all sassy af are about to pull off their biggest stunt for a large enough sum to risk their lives. Why haven’t you read this already?

Rating

 

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Let’s chat!

Have you read Six of Crows? Do you like heist books? Who was your favourite character? Leave me a comment down below and we can discuss!

 

 

 

The Upside of Unrequited // Lots of diversity and a squishy romance

I finished this book at 2am on Tuesday morning with a warm heart and a wet face. I thought about whether it was a good idea to have read this on a night when I had university at 9am.

Turns out I didn’t really care. I have no regrets. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli was absolutely brilliant.

Let’s talk about Molly Peskin-Suso.

Our main character is Molly, a chubby 17-year-old with a fraternal twin and two mums. She’s never had a boyfriend, never been kissed and has had a long ass list of crushes (26, I should add). When her twin, Cassie, falls in love, Molly finds herself in a situation where her other half is slowly orbiting around someone else and she is feeling alone. As any good sister would, Cassie is determined to hook Molly up with her girlfriend’s best friend, Will; but Molly’s new job at a Pinterest perfect store has her thinking about her geeky coworker, Reid. Molly’s inward struggle between following her sister’s guidance and what she’s feeling in her chest is a painfully accurate representation of relationships, rejection and being seventeen.

The coming-of-age elements within this novel are so realistic.

I liked the way Becky explains Molly’s thought process behind the crushes, capturing the fleeting yet exciting feeling perfectly. I also loved how Molly’s weight didn’t define her story (because why should it?), but it was brought up in fleeting moments when Molly’s insecurity was strong. It resonated with me so much, taking me back to a time in high school when I was worried about not being kissed and my body. Did people not like my body? Was I wrong to like mine? A lot of old memories bubbled up as Molly’s character developed into a more confident and thoughtful individual. Her story was so relatable – from needing to feel rejected, to being confident in your own skin, to feeling confused while everyone is moving on without her. I also liked the representation of anxiety in Molly, especially in regards to medication. There was never a moment when Molly was made to feel inferior because of her condition.

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The diversity is absolutely lovely.

The representation in this is amazing. There are so many queer and POCs and explanations on various sexualities, rounding the story into something unique and lovely. I loved Molly’s two mums, how her relationship with them was positive and open, the unconventional family dynamics that totally worked, and the bonds between the family members (including cousins and aunts). The relationships within the novel are realistic, hilarious and beautiful, especially Molly and Cassie’s sisterhood as it explores the bittersweet process of growing apart and losing that sibling closeness. I also loved the fact Molly is Jewish (because since when have I read a book with a Jewish protagonist?).

The writing is brilliant!

I adore the dialogue between the characters. It is so realistic and relatable. I also couldn’t take my eyes off the page. I devoured this book so easily because of the excellent writing.

The romances are so sweet and cute, I couldn’t handle it.

Cassie and Mina: Too cute that I was blushing. I loved how easily they complemented each other.

Molly and Reid: Um, they bond over cookie dough and Cadbury Mini Eggs. How is that not true love? I also liked their honesty with each other, and the subtle drops of adorable geeky things.

Nadine and Patty: Molly and Cassie’s mums have such a brilliant relationship. I loved their compassion, honesty and love for compound swear words.

Overall Thoughts

This is the cutest contemporary YA novel I’ve read so far. Extremely diverse and geeky, it accurately represents what it’s like to be seventeen and afraid of the world, but also the excitement in growing up and being confident. The romantic elements were so cute and I loved the emphasis on family.

Rating: 5/5!

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Series Review: The Grisha Trilogy // Russian mythology and a suave villain

“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”

Hello, bookworms! Today I’ll be reviewing the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. This isn’t something I do quite often because I usually like to review books one by one; however, I did read the trilogy as a buddy read with a dear friend on bookstagram, and now I’m inclined to do a review on the series as a whole.

So here we go.

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Book Review: Gemina // Wormholes, space sass and plot twists

Here it is, the sequel to Illuminae – the book that had me dusted and broken into a million stars.

Holy heck, what did I just read?

Hands down this is the perfect sequel, and it was just as good as Illuminae. Kristoff and Kaufman have outdone themselves with their masterful words and fantastic story. It’s 2575, and they delivered everything I could have asked for: a rapid-fire thrilling adventure featuring the perfect amount of sass, wormholes, a lethal BeiTech team, ingenuity and alien-esque creatures that’ll haunt your dreams. This is a page turner, a masterpiece of young adult science fiction.

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Book Review: Fury by Charlotte McConaghy

This is a spoiler free review!

I feel like I haven’t reviewed enough books yet so here we are with this rather underrated dystopian gem by Charlotte McConaghy.

Review

This is that perfect mix of Divergent and Maze Runner with the good qualities of a dystopian novel without the bland cynical parts.

Fury follows the story of 18-year-old Josephine Luquet, or Josie as you’ll get to know her as, who has a horrible experience on the blood moon every year where she wakes up covered in blood and naked without a clue on what has happened.

The society in which she lives has purged anger by introducing the Cure, an immunisation manadated by the government. Those who do not take it are subject to become Furies and those that do become ‘drones’. She has not responded to the Cure like the others, and that makes her dangerous.

Then along comes Luke, a drone who is determined to help Josie figure out what is happening and save her before the next blood moon, and before the government finds out she has not been Cured.

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Book Review: The Star Touched Queen // Indian mythology and a whirlwind love

On the blog today is a review for this rather lovely book by Roshani Chokshi. Set in a luxurious kingdom lush with Indian mythology, elegant writing and a mystery, The Star Touched Queen is, without a doubt, a beautiful book. It is a recent diverse read in my collection and I was so thrilled to have it in my hands. The story follows Maya of Bharata who is whisked away by the mysterious Amar, made Queen of an unknown realm and starts to uncover secrets within the palace.

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Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aka the book that ate my heart, spat it out into the cosmos, let me explode into tiny atoms then put it back together.

Illuminae is the kind of book that leaves you breathless, fumbling for purchase while you cry, and gripping your heart at the sheer beauty of it. I’d like to thank the book community for introducing me to this gem.

Synopsis

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

{Goodreads}

Review

The book is still fresh in my mind and the thought of it is making my heart ache. What I loved most about this book was the format. It’s told through files, online messages, emails, documents and surveillance cameras on board the Alexander and Hypatia. Not only is that a genius idea but it also gave the story the ability to withhold information and let us imagine what has occurred. It was interesting to read the interactions across ships via online messages, especially between the captains of the vessels. The plot twists and revelations we would get in a normal book felt so much more intriguing when told in this format. Illuminae is not black and white, but various shades of grey as we get accounts from multiple perspectives.

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This is legit how I imagined outside the ship to be like. Source.

Let’s talk about Kady Grant and appreciate this girl’s sass, brains and resilence even in the moments before death grew imminent. Kady had just broken up with Ezra and two minutes later their world is under attack and they’re on separate intergalatic ship heading for a safe base. With only dialogue between her and the interviewer at the very beginning, we already get a glimpse at the girl I grew to love.

Then there’s Ezra Mason and while he’s not as intelligent with computers and numbers and strategy, he’s the softie we needed to cushion Kady’s rough edges. This is why I loved their lowkey and slow burn romance throughout the entire book. Ezra helps Kady hold it together, the voice of reason during their bleak times on board different ships. I also loved his lame attempts to romance her while being stars away from her. If only someone would write me a drunken email every once in a while.

And now, I want to talk about Aidan. God, I hated this AI so much at the beginning. He was destructive (to me and to our beloved characters), unable to compute orders and downright scary.

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Aidan will be the death of me. Source. 

But his fascination with Kady, something I didn’t expect from an AI, was so interesting. I loved the second half of the book simply because we get to see Kady and Aidan interact in a way that will make you laugh and cry. My heart was breaking so much in these last pages, and I have never been so attached to a psychotic and poetic AI before.

The writing itself was brilliant, rich and so cool with the tech and space lingo. I adored how Kristoff and Kaufman worked together and created such a fascinating universe.

Rating

 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Let me know in the comments what you thought of Illuminae! I’d love to chat!

Until next time.

Stay golden!

 

Book Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Contains spoilers for the novel. 

I have to admit that I had some high hopes for this book and while I was somewhat satisfied, I was also let down. Greek mythology, a main character who can make empires fall, a dark past and a future in the balance – I was holding out for something that would exciting and adventurous. I had actually neglected to realise that this was a romance, and primarily a romance. 

I had a few gripes with this novel, mostly because I felt like this could have steered away from the romance and focus more on the actual world-building, the politics of the different tribes, and the potential of having a Kingmaker on your side.

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Synopsis

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

{Goodreads; Book Depository}

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Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

In the wee hours of the second morning of 2017, I finished this book and almost cried because it was over and I wanted answers.

I need to know why!

Why do I feel so overwhelmed and joyous to have read this book yet somewhat disappointed? Why did that happen? Why am I in awe of this man’s writing? It was thrilling, magical and oh so very adult. With that being said, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is a book I do not regret reading so let’s jump into the review.

Synopsis

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Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

{Book Depository; Goodreads}

Review

Oh my god, where do I even start? I was instantly captivated by this book, the first few pages gripping me and so beautifully written. It starts off with the narrator introducing us to who and what Mia has been called, and leaves us to read to make our own judgement of her. The next few pages are a contrast between Mia’s first time having sex and her first time murdering someone. I found the comparison and allusions to each other very creative and clever, attributes that are woven throughout the rest of the novel.

I loved the premise behind the story: a young girl out for the blood of the men who sentenced her father to die finds herself being educated at an assassin’s school was so cool. The school itself was awesome with the ‘subjects’ they learned separated into Halls, training themselves in the ways of being deadly in all shapes and forms. What I loved was the brutality of the Red Church, but it was also the aspect that let down the rest of the book. The Red Church was far more violent than the actual murders and assassinations that took place throughout the book. Also, just a fair warning that this is an adult fantasy book despite the main character being sixteen. There are detailed sex scenes, which I thought were fantastic but placed so close together that it was almost like reading a porn-without-plot book for a good 100 pages.

Oh, and the f-bomb is dropped like there is no tomorrow.

I absolutely loved the Venetian elements, the details in the geography and how Kristoff weaved magic into the world without being cliche. I also liked the footnotes at first as they were sarcastic, witty and explained concepts that Kristoff has built in this world of violence and blood. But I often found myself skipping them when they took up almost half the page. I honestly couldn’t be bothered to read them, sorry Jay.

Holy smokes I love Mia. She is the epitome of fiery, sass and recklessness. I loved the concept of her being darkin and the rarity of their kind. But do we get to know about darkin? Nuh uh. We have to wait for that one, little lamb. I love Mister Kindly, tha not-cat shadow that keeps her nightmares away He is too precious and his conversations with Mia were some of my favourite parts. Mia’s characterisation grows but also stays stagnant in some ways. At first I thought she would become the soulless assassin and while she has cold-hearted moments, she showed she cared. She also showed this care by stabbing some people and slitting their throats. 10/10.

Some of my favourite quotes by Mia are:

“Apologies,” Mia frowned, searching the floor as if looking for something. “I appear to have misplaced the fucks I give for what you think…”

“If I were going to name my blade,” Mia said thoughtfully, “I’d call it ‘Fluffy’.”

God, I love her.

Warning: spoilers ahead! 

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Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

Full disclosure: this is probably one of Sarah J. Maas’ best works to date. I honestly feel like she gets better and better with each novel she brings out.

PSA: There will be spoilers in the full review for both A Court of Thorns and Roses and this book. Now, A Court of Mist and Fury… where do I even begin? It is a long and compelling narrative that will leave you breathless yet satisfied. As the second installment to A Court of Thorns and Roses and almost double its size, there were many good things about this book with only a couple of itty bitty gripes I had with some of the plot.

Synopsis

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Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

(Book Depository; Goodreads)

Review

I have too many feelings over this book. For a sequel, this was a million times better than the first novel. I hooked from the very beginning unlike ACOTAR where it took me a while to really get into it. Sarah’s writing is so addictive, her skill with words impeccable. There was more character development across the board, more badass Fae drama and more political intrigue as we travel beyond the Spring Court to the other sides of Prythian. This book does a great job at setting the stage for bigger things that are to happen in Prythian; things involving the King of Hybern, the Night Court and the supernatural forces of the Cauldron that created the world. Swoon-worthy, heart-breaking, and packed with action (in various ways), I loved this book! Someone give me a teleportation devise cause I wanna hijack it and winnow to the Night Court. PLEASE.   

Plot

Let me just take a moment to breathe and remember that this is a book and not real life. Things are heating up in Prythian with politics, world domination, Fae lore, and evil asf kings, winnowing us to the Summer Court and more impressively, the Night Court, a place that has been painted as dark and evil. The shadows and characters that Tamlin’s pretty Spring Court had kept hidden from us are now in full view, slowly peeling away the layers of Prythian to reveal a deeply unsettling truth about the Fae courts and their rulers. While I didn’t like how Feyre suddenly became the answer for every single issue happening in the Fae world, it was an entertaining read and I simply couldn’t put it down.

Also, in a classic Sarah J. Maas fashion, the Tamlin we all grew to love is suddenly the villain. And guess who becomes our next sugar daddy? Rhysand. And while I was put off by it after the impression we got from Rhysand was somewhat unpleasant yet strangely atrractive),  I’m now totally OKAY WITH IT! All aboard the Rhysand train, friends!  

I liked how fleshed out the plot was in this installment – there was just so much more we could sink our teeth into unlike ACOTAR where we were rather secluded to one area of the world. I loved the intricate character development, especially with Feyre and Rhysand as we grow with their new budding friendship and relationship. It was satisfying and brilliant, totally worth the 600 odd pages.

Characters

“There are good days and hard days for me—even now. Don’t let the hard days win.”

Can we just talk about my baby girl Feyre for a moment? The trials she endured in ACOTAR have ramifications in this installment and it shows that despite being immortal, she is still human. She’s in pain, guilt ridden and continues to be haunted by the horrors she had to face – something Tamlin turns a blind eye to. I loved how Sarah didn’t hide the fact that Feyre was struggling to function day to day, especially when Feyre couldn’t find her old passion of painting. She validated her issues and that was important. Feyre’s strength shines through as she comes to terms with her actions and her new immortality, but she does relapse. She isn’t always strong and that’s okay.

Also, her powers! With a piece of each court in her body, she’s able to harness abilities across a wide spectrum. *insert proud Rhysand*

“The issue isn’t whether he loved you, it’s how much. Too much. Love can be a poison.”

With Tamlin, it’s not often we see what happens after the fairytale ending so his change came as a shock to me. The sauve and mysterious boy toy we were in love with is suddenly twisted and he’s the bad guy. He neglects Feyre, refuses to let her leave the Spring Court and throughout the whole wedding preparations (and the wedding itself), he doesn’t seem to give a damn about how Feyre feels. The possessiveness that a lot of us ladies like to see in men is warped in a way for us to see that it’s not healthy – his version of love is not right. It was hard to have their relationship written off as a mistake after what happened in ACOTAR (I mean, Feyre absolutely destroyed herself for him), but it sort of makes sense. I re-read ACOTAR after this and realised that the signs were there, just subtle ones so we wouldn’t pick up on it so easily. And the shit he pulls at the end of this book, I mean…  I’m completely on board the Tamlin the Tool ship.

“You are my salvation, Feyre.”

*insert excited squeal* I’m admitting this now: I’m Rhysand trash. Complete and utter trash for this Fae. His character unfolds so wonderfully in this novel as the Rhysand we had met in the first book turns out to be completely different. While this a cliche and it almost annoyed me to no end that Sarah decided to throw Tamlin under the bus and replace him with this ass, I’m happy she did. The way he supports and protects Feyre when she needed someone during a time where she felt worthless really put him in my good books. And don’t even get me started on the wedding scene when he casually gate crashes the ceremony and steals Feyre with that charisma we’ve grown to love. Oh, and chapter 55.

I like that we got to see different layers of Rhysand and the secrets he’s been keeping in order to protect his Inner Circle and his people. I also loved the dialogue between him and his Inner Circle and Feyre – so much sass and innuendo.

Also, the Inner Circle are so precious to me. I just love how they interact and the close bonds they share. I never want anything bad to happen to them. I love them so much and can’t wait to see what they do in the next installment.

Writing

Sarah’s writing has improved drastically from the first novel. Like I said before, Sarah grows with every novel she comes out with. It’s amazing to see how rich and wonderful her story weaving is becoming, how deep and dimensional her characters are becoming. I also love how she makes the effort to have strong female leads, but not without their flaws. Oh and uh, why is this book targeted in the children’s section? It has some very mature scenes and it shouldn’t be anywhere near children.

Rating

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I feel I’m giving 5 stars to all the books I’ve been reviewing, but I haven’t come across anything I have disliked yet. What did you guys think of this sequel? Are you as keen as I am for A Court of Wings and Ruin?

Until next time!

Stay golden.