Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Kaz Brekker is a world-class thief who has made his name and fortune ruling the streets of Ketterdam. But his success is not enough. Kaz has revenge to exact on a rival gang lord — revenge that, if left unsettled, will drive Kaz to destruction. One day, Kaz and his crew of misfits skilled in illegal and deadly arts are offered a chance to pull off the heist of a lifetime. If they succeed in breaking into an impenetrable fortress and kidnapping a wanted prisoner, their riches are set for life and Kaz can accomplish his life’s goal. If they fail — they die.

Since I LOVED Shadow and Bone (Darkling, duh), I was excited to try out this new series. Of course, I was super disappointed in the lack of the Darkling, but I was happy to see an exciting new setting and some amazing characters. My only problems with this book are that it took some time to get going (but once it did, it was amazing!), and that there are few reminders of the Grisha world from the SB books. Since it had been so long since I read the first series, I’d forgotten a lot and it took some time to remember. Other than that, this is a great book! Definitely give it a try if you loved the Shadow and Bone series.

Rating: 4/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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The finale to the Grisha trilogy finds Alina the head of a shattered Grisha army and virtual prisoner of the Apparat. Hidden in a deep underground chapel, Alina must hide from the Darkling, who has gained control of the capital and crowned himself king. Though aware of the potential dangers, Alina yearns for the firebird — the final amplifier — and the power it would wield. Somehow she, Mal, and the remaining Grisha must emerge from their underground hiding, find the firebird, and endure one final battle with the Darkling and his forces.

My heart is crying because this series is over. If you’ve read my other reviews (for Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm) you know how much I love me some Darkling. So, of course, I want this series to go on forever with more Darkling scenes for me to read and tell myself how bad he is. Sigh. If it did have to end, I felt this book was a strong finish. I enjoyed seeing a less selfish/jealous Mal, a stronger Alina (kind of), and, of course, every scene with Nikolai was a gem. As with the other books, there’s plenty of action, adventure, some surprising plot twists, and romance. I’m really sad this is the last book in this series, but very happy it did not go the way of other series (ahem, Hunger Games) and have a weird, unsatisfying final book. Bardugo also apparently has a companion series going now — so if you need more Grisha in your life, check it out.

Rating: 5/5

*YALSA Teen’s Top Ten Fiction, 2014

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

The sequel to Shadow and Bone. Disguised as peasants, Alina and Mal attempt to make a new life together far from the Darkling’s reach. Their dream of freedom, however, is short-lived, as soon Alina finds herself once again under the control of the Darkling. Though all she wants is a life free of her Grisha power, Alina learns that there is no escaping her role as the Sun Summoner. As her power grows, her relationship with Mal is tested, and the Darkling is quickly closing in on Ravka. Alina must choose: protect her country and her people as the Sun Summoner, or Mal’s love.

I’ve been waiting to read this one for what felt like forever (there’s just so much else to read!) — and it was just as awesome as I hoped it would be. I feel like it had even more action than the first book (though less Darkling, which made me sad), and there were minimal slow parts. While I was certainly annoyed by Alina’s continual love struggles, I really appreciated the way she transitions into a strong, independent female character focused on her own will and not the desires of others. In the last book, she was extremely naive, gullible, and happy to bend to the will of the male characters. As always, the Darkling was evil, super hot, and dangerous. Alina should definitely NOT wind up with him — because he’s mine. I don’t care that he’s evil and basically wants to cover the realm in darkness. Well, I should care. But I don’t. Yes I do.

If you’re as excited as I am to read the last in the trilogy, the title is Ruin and Rising.

Rating: 5/5

*YALSA Top Teen Books for Young Adults, 2014

There WAS a full analysis for this, but it was wrecked by my computer.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Book cover for Shadow and Bone

Orphaned, alone, and forced to serve in the service of her king, the only comfort Alina Starkov enjoys is the friendship of fellow orphan and soldier, Mal. However, once Alina’s hidden power is discovered, she is ripped away from her best friend and secret love in order to become a Grisha, a powerful magic-wielding unit of the king’s army. Surrounded by luxury she’s never known, Alina quickly becomes the Grisha leader’s, the Darkling’s, favorite, and must attempt to see beyond the breathless, mysterious intrigue of court life in order to save both her world, and herself.

Bardugo’s novel is a mix of fantasy and romance, set in what feels like sweeping imperialist Russia. It’s awesome. The magical elements are intriguing without being so overdone that they’re completely unbelievable, and the characterization is extremely rich. After reading this, I definitely wanted to run away and become a Grisha. My one criticism of the book is that I feel like Alina is always being led by/controlled by a male character, and I really wanted to see her take charge of her own life. You might not agree with me though! In all, an excellent beginning of Bardugo’s series that you will want to read in one sitting. If you like it, look for the second (Siege and Storm) and third (Ruin and Rising, coming June!) installments.

This one has a great book trailer! Click here to watch.

*Tayshas 2013!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.