Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

22299763*sobs uncontrollably for a minute*

Okay, better.

So, I read Six of Crows and loved it. And then I moved to NZ for a year and books were expensive so I haven’t read Crooked Kingdom until just now and oh my god. What everyone (and by that I mean my co-workers) were telling me was totally true! And of course it didn’t make it any easier to handle when I actually read it.

Soooo, this had all the stuff I loved about Six of Crows in it. Diverse, complex characters, deception, scheming, action, emotions. Each character got a sort of “deep dive” chapter about their past, which I ate up. And they happened so seamlessly with what was currently going on I sometimes found myself thinking, “What were we talking about? Oh right, screwing someone over.” It also occurred to me, during these intimate looks into these characters’ lives, how attached I’d gotten to them even though this is only a two book series.

I could go on more about how the subject matter in this book is rather topical, how Ketterdam could be seen as a hyperbolic representation of our own world where money and the market rule and people are the last things to be concerned about. But I don’t want to ruin the book for myself. I want to just focus on the characters and how, even though they do terrible things that does not make them terrible people (not entirely anyway).

If you have not read Six of Crows, read it. And then read Crooked Kingdom and prepare to be sad.

~Ren

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Review: The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar by Matt Simon

51ja8inrg8l-_sx346_bo1204203200_Okay, the title alone is great, come on. And I’m a big biology/zoology buff so this was a great book for me.

If you’re someone who is interested in the many creatures that live in the world around you but you fall asleep when things get to technical and “science-y” this is the book for you! Matt Simon writes in a very accessible voice the is peppered with sarcastic jokes (and some bad jokes) and has the undercurrent of a smartass telling you something you don’t know (but not in an annoying way, at least to me).

The book is broken into sections and within those sections are short chapters on each different animal. This made it easy to pick up, read for a bit, and then go off to do something else. It was a very amusing and informative read that I would recommend to any animal/nature/science lover in your life.

~Ren

Review: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

41r8yicxm-l-_sx339_bo1204203200_While this book is short, it took me a while to get through because the content is very heavy.

The human race seems to have a lot of issues we just can’t seem to get over no matter how much they are talked about, studied, and fought against. The oppression of women is certainly one of those. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a long way, but we still can’t seem to shake this skewed dichotomy.

I appreciated Rebecca Solnit’s book because she did a very good job of not being accusatory. She wasn’t just going on a tirade about how men are bad and they treat women poorly and they are all just awful. She addressed the larger scope of the problem. She didn’t compartmentalize each issue (rape, murder, what have you) as it’s own separate problem. She acknowledge those things as symptoms of an over arching disease.

There are a lot of things to consider, lots of variables when looking at a topic like this, and Solnit tries to consider more, if not all of them, in this collection of essays instead of just a few. Sometimes it may seem like a topic is being talked to death, being pushed in our faces over and over again. But if we don’t talk about it and we don’t keep fighting against the problem, it will never go away. We can’t afford to become complacent.

~Ren

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

savagesong-hc-cVictoria Schwab never fails to impress me. Her characters, her worlds, her imagination. Uh, just, I love all of it.

So the quick way to sort of sum up This Savage Song is Romeo and Juliet with monsters and no romance. And without the ridiculous ending where the two main characters kill themselves. What’s up with that? Kate Harker and August Flynn are the two least likely people to meet and get along. They live in the same city but it is divided down the middle, with Kate’s father running one half and August’s running the other. And they don’t play too nice together.

Kate is a total badass, kind of what I imagine my own kickass alter ego would be, but that version of me only exists in my head. She’s sassy, smart, tough, but she has a soft sentimental side in there somewhere. She’s just gone through a lot of shit and I can understand why she’s chosen to suppress that side.¬†August is the exact opposite. He is soft, sweet, caring. So of course he and Kate were gonna get together, right?

Victoria Schwab once again puts a fresh, interesting spin on something that is common place in our own world. These monsters of Verity are created through horrible acts. Murder, violence. These acts leave things in their wake, but in the world of Verity they become very very real. But there is a dynamic to them. While Malchai and Corsai are vicious, the Sunai are the sort of embodiment of retribution and justice. Once again, a physical presence of the different responses people have to terrible acts of violence.

Victoria Schwab has a way of exploring deep, complex themes without getting too philosophical about it. It makes her writing interesting and compelling while also being immensely entertaining and fun. Can’t wait for the last book!

~Ren

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

23203252.jpgMy coworker pushed this book on me (I think she’s glad I’m back so she can start manipulating my reading list again). But it was totally fine that she did because it was awesome!

I always love a good, strong, female lead. And add a bit of fantasy, magic and heart-wrenching flirtation and I’m sold. All of the characters in this book had great personalities that complimented each other (and sometimes clashed with each other) in the best ways. There was witty dialogue, epic fight scenes, and I already mentioned the flirting.

Sometimes, whilst enjoying a good fantasy novel, I have moments where I wonder how authors are going to keep coming up with new, fantastic worlds of magic and awful baddies. But I’m almost always pleasantly surprised by what I come across. Jessica Cluess is no exception. The Ancients sound freaking terrifying and I can’t wait to see more of them. And the distinctions made between witches, magicians and sorcerers was a new twist.

All in all, this is a great debut novel that is an exciting, funny, with totally badass characters. Looking forward to the next book!

~Ren