Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on September 29th
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 465
Format: Hardcover
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Goodreads
five-stars

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 are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

What I thoughtSix of Crows was so freaking fantastic. Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy is one of my favorite series of all time, and a part of me thought she couldn’t really top that, but boy, were my socks knocked off my feet. This book was so incredibly good. The entire story is one crazy intense and action packed ride, where plot twists just lurk behind every corner waiting to jump on you. This is a MUST READ!

Intriguing and original setting

First things first, Six of Crows is loosely based on 17th century the Netherlands. A setting that was really different from what we encountered in the Grisha trilogy, but made for a wonderful addition to the Grishaverse! The Dutch words that were incorporated in the story and the little cultural things (*cough* hutspot *cough*) were so fun to encounter. The setting was really intriguing and a bit dark, which makes for a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It really is a bit like a fantasy version of Ocean’s Eleven, I mean, what’s not to love?

Gritty and dark and lovable characters

The characters were gritty and dark, which fit the setting perfectly, and I got sucked into their pov’s right away. They are amazing and have SO MUCH depth! Each character overflows with depth. Each character has a past, a personal story that brought them to Ketterdam, which makes them distinctive. They are complex, flawed, strong, lovable, and they all get their time to shine. I fell in love with each and every one of them while learning their background (it is inevitable really) and they became favorites in no time at all.

Action and excitement galore

If you love action-packed and fast-paced stories then Six of Crows is the story for you! Action and excitement galore! The heist itself was nerve-wrecking and Kaz’s genius will surprise you again and again. Plenty of plot twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat and will leave you begging for the sequel. Magic, mischief, and jailbreaking, again, what’s not to love?

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

If my review didn’t already tell you this: Six of Crows was AMAZING. Beautifully written, lovable characters with SO MUCH depth, and an action-packed and fast-paced plot. PERFECTION! All I’ve left to tell you is: go read this, it’s awesome!

five-stars

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal by Trish DollerSomething Like Normal by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 19th 2012
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
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Goodreads
five-stars

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

What I thought

Something Like Normal is a beautiful read: raw and unflinchingly honest. While I’m writing my review (roughly an hour after having finished the book) I don’t quite know what to do with myself. There’s this feeling inside me that took root when I started reading Something Like Normal and kept growing and growing while reading and I feel like it’s about to burst right now. This book is under my skin, and managed to secure a special place in my heart. THAT’s how beautiful this book was.

I love how this book isn’t about patriotism or politics. Simply put Something Like Normal is a story about people. Trish Dollar doesn’t turn her characters into saints, they’re flawed like any person is, and that is exactly the thing that makes this story so realistic. I care about the people in this book: about Travis and his friends, I laughed at their antics, and felt for them and what they were going through. Besides that, it’s incredibly realistic in the way the characters talk. She doesn’t water down their language use. We’re talking about 19 year old males here (besides the fact that they’re soldiers), and what guy our age doesn’t swear or say stupid shit? Like I said before, the characters aren’t saints, they’re flawed, and that includes them using the word “fuck” and them calling each other names.

Travis is struggling to hold himself together after losing his best friend in the war. He struggles with his grief and guilt, and it becomes so very clear that while he’s home, in some respects, he is very much still at war and Trish doller did a wonderful job at describing Travis’ emotional state. Throughout the story he develops his relationship with his mother, which made me want to cry at times. The way Trish Doller wrote about Travis’ mother and the desperation she felt over her son going to war was so palpable. I think she represented that in a great and (again) very realistic way.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

Something Like Normal was quite the devastating, but most of all incredibly moving story with a flawed but appealing main character. I feel like everything I said in this review has been said by others already, but if this is your first time hearing about this book then please take my word and do yourself the favor of  reading this book. I promise you that it won’t dissapoint.

five-stars

New OTP on the Horizon – Graceling by Kristin Cashore

New OTP on the Horizon – Graceling by Kristin CashoreGraceling by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Published by Gollancz on January 22nd 2009
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?

The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...

What I thought

Graceling now holds a special place among my favorite fantasy books. What a story! Magical powers, good and interesting plot, and great characters, what more can you ask for?! I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy after finishing Graceling and want to hug the book to my chest and never EVER let go again. I need more. This story could’ve gone on infinitely and I wouldn’t have cared, I just need MORE.

I have a new OTP, Katsa and Po were absolutely PERFECT together.

I absolutely ADORE Katsa and Po together. I love how they first became friends and then slowly their bond developed into much more. They had that special something, that spark, that makes for a beautiful romance. They are, well I can’t say adorable, because they’re both badass in their own way and they fight eachother (literally… they beat the crap out of eachother). They can because their graces allow them too, and it’s just EVERYTHING I look for in a romance. Their banter was the best. I LOVED it.

Katsa develops so freaking much throughout the story, it’s a beautiful thing to read about.

Katsa is a wonderfully complex character. Yes, she’s badass, but she’s so much more than that. She is intelligent and has this soft side that starts coming out more and more. She develops enormously throughout the story. She goes from the king’s lapdog to this strong and independent person that values justice above all else. She’s nowhere near perfect, but she’s courageous and not afraid to learn from her mistakes.

Po’s character was so damn refreshing. He’s cheerful and talkative and just so lovable!

Po, gosh I am in love with sweet Po. His grace allows him to fight a somewhat fair fight with Katsa on her level, and even though he got his ass handed to him plenty of times he was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I want my own Po, desperately. He’s cheerful and talkative and just so damn lovable. You have no idea how refreshing his character was. I love me a good and sexy bad boy, or a diamond in the rough, but I think we need more Po’s in literature (and in real life… swoons).

The plot was well thought out and unfolded at a very comfortable pace, with some great twists along the way.

The plot is basically this gigantic journey. The story follows Katsa and the journey she makes. I would have thought it would have some boring moments here and then, but I was fully enchanted with the story and writing. I COULDN’T stop reading. I loved the survival part of this story, it was interesting and made it even easier for me to admire Katsa’s strength and character. The plot was well thought out and unfolded at a very comfortable pace, with some great twists along the way.

Basically, I wish there was MORE.

I was looking at the synopsis for the sequel and noticed that it’s not neccesarily about Katsa, and part of me is sad about it. I loved her story so freaking much and I wish there was MORE. But on the other hand, I’m content with the way this story ended, and intrigued by the synopsis of the sequel. Graceling BLEW me away.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

Graceling is one EPIC story. It has EVERYTHING you need in a story: an easy writing-style, engaging plot, great characters, and solid world-building. I just want more, more, and more. I sure hope we’ll see more of Katsa and Po in the future! I definitely need more Kristin Cashore as soon as possible!

four-half-stars

a Bombshell of a Fantasy – The Falconer by Elizabeth May

a Bombshell of a Fantasy – The Falconer by Elizabeth MayThe Falconer by Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer #1
Published by Gollancz on September 26th 2013
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 317
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
five-stars

She's a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She's a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She's a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She's a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.

What I thoughtThe Falconer is EVERYTHING and more. I loved every single second of this book, and I am dying to read more. Every since I read my first steampunk story I’ve been kinda intrigued and obsessed with the genre. The Falconer has steampunk AND faeries, a more perfect combination doesn’t exist, especially when the story is so perfectly executed.

Aileanna is as feisty and determined as they come, she’s a glorious protagonist (one I’d rather not have as my enemy)

The main character, Aileanna, takes badass to a whole new level. Since she witnessed a fae kill her mother she’s been thirsting for vengeance. Kieran, a powerful faery, trains her and gives her all the tools to kill all kinds of faeries. Her thirst of revenge has her on the very edges of morality, but with the memories of the brutal death of her mother plaguing her it is hard not to feel for her and be pulled into her mission. She’s as feisty and determined as they come, and loves tinkering with mechanics. Not just tinkering, she creates some seriously badass weapons. I love reading about all the things she creates, it’s what I LOVE so much about steampunk. I greatly admired her strength and the way she dealt, or rather struggled, with the expectations and conventions of society. People talking behind her back, she sneaking off during balls to kill a fae, it was all so intriguing. Gossip, nasty glares, and great fights, it’s glorious.

The chemistry, the banter, and slow burning realtionship get’s better and better every page

I also hava a serious new crush: Kieran. This guy is almost unreal, that’s how swoon-wrorthy he is (of course he isn’t human, so that might explain the ‘unrealness’ haha). It’s a bit of a process to get to that point, I was REALLY hesitant about him at first, but once I got over that WHAM I was a goner. And the romance is a slow burner. The chemistry, the banter, the slow burning realtionship that get’s better and better every page, I was fanning myself through all those scenes. LOVED it and I’m pretty sure, no I’m positive, I’m in love with Kieran.

Solid characters with great depth to them

All the secondary characters are solid. Aileanna’s pixie friend, Derick, made me giggle a lot. Then there’s Catherine, Aileanna’s best friend, and Gavin, her past crush, they are good characters with great depth to them, every single one of them.

I was sucked into the story from the very first page

The plot is good, VERY good. I loved learning more about the falconers, their history, and especially how this made Aileanna different from others. I was sucked into the story from the very first page. The Scottish setting and the Fearies made for an amazing story. Battles, bloodshed, Gossip. I am absolutely in love with every single aspect of The Falconer.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

I love this book. I adore this book. I need the sequel. Kickass characters, an epic Scottish setting, steampunk, faeries, battles, bloodshed, upperclass society and gossip, The Falconer has everything you look for in an epic fantasy, more than everything even. It is a glorious book. A fair warning though, don’t start this book if you don’t have the sequel as well. I am lucky to have only read this book 8 days before the sequel releases, but I feel for all the people that have had to wait more than a year for it, because that ending is a KILLER.

five-stars

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review (but slightly different)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review (but slightly different)Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 10th 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 445
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
five-stars

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

A few days ago my secret sister asked me if I had read Fangirl yet. She’d browsed my Goodreads profile, and found Rainbow Rowell’s other books marked read, but Fangirl painfully empty. And to my surprise (and growing horror), I realized she was right. Which just isn’t right, because Fangirl is EVERYTHING and means the world to me. I read Fangirl at precisely the right time. It was exactly the kind of read I needed at that time, relayed a beautiful message like a punch in the gut, and because of that it has  secured a solid spot in my heart.

Now there’s literally TONS of great reviews out there, and I don’t think I have anything to say that hasn’t been said before. Therefore, this is going to be a slightly different review than what you’re used to seeing here on my blog. It’s going to be me telling you about why Fangirl had such a huge impact on me.

What was going on in my life?

When I read Fangirl I had just about finished high-school. My high-school diploma almost in my pocket, I’d gotten the green light from the university of my choice to start my dream study the next year, that sounds like I had it all figured out doesn’t it? Truth was: I was excited but also incredibly intimidated and more than a little scared for what was to come. I would have to move out, because traveling 1 hour and a half to university (and back) every single day just wouldn’t work out. So a strange city, where I didn’t know anyone. That’s bound to be scary for everyone, but internally I was freaking out BIG TIME.

What Fangirl did for me

So I did what I always do when I start freaking out: I read. I picked Fangirl and Cath’s socially awkward personality turned out to be exactly what I needed. She was just as geeky and passionate about books as I am and definitely more socially awkward than I am. And I know that it’s a piece of fiction, but I figured that if she could come out stronger then so could I. I also realized that there were a lot of others probably feeling the same way I did. No one likes change, that’s a given, but it’s also the only way we can challenge ourselves. Change can keep you on your toes, and LOTS of good things can come from it.

So I told myself to suck it up. That first day was nerve-wrecking, but I managed to open myself to the whole experience and now (almost one and a half year later) I am completely settled. I made some great new friends, joined a running association and am very very happy with how my life looks right now.

Sometimes you just need a little nudge in the right direction. Fangirl, without a doubt, was that nudge for me. It was the right read at exactly the right time. Cath’s beautiful and touching story was my wake-up call and for that reason alone Fangirl will always have a special place in my heart (it also helps that besides that the book is just 100% pure awesomeness).

So there you go, my slightly different than normal review of Fangirl. Now there’s just one thing left that I’d like to ask you:

Do YOU have a specific book that did what Fangirl did for me?

 

 

five-stars

Talon by Julie Kagawa | Review

Talon by Julie Kagawa | ReviewTalon by Julie Kagawa
Series: Talon #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on October 28th 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 499
Goodreads
four-stars

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

What I thoughtWhen I got the news Julie Kagawa would be visiting the Netherlands I (finally) picked up my sister’s copy of Talon. I’d heard some incredibly good things about this book, but was a bit afraid of reading it. Ever since I read Eragon I’ve loved dragon stories, but once you’ve found a great read, it’s hard to find one that will be just as good. So even though I was hesitant, I never pass up the chance to meet an author, so I picked up Talon. And I’m so glad I did, because even though I love Eragon more, I can’t deny that this was a VERY good read!

Talon is a really character driven story. There are three POV’s throughout the story: Ember, a dragon; Garrett, a dragon hunter; and eventually Riley, a rogue dragon. Ember is awesome. She’s spunky and has a razor sharp tongue. She’s tough, braved through her training, and then sneaked off to enjoy the perks of summer. She was pretty damn awesome, even though her name *cough* Ember *cough* is a bit of a cliché. Then for Garrett… I wasn’t really sure about him. Military boy that holds a grudge (understandably) against dragons and focussed 100% on his mission. He kinda grew on me. It was fun reading about him trying to relax and have fun (he was a grumpy captain-no-fun at first). Last but not least: Riley. Whom I kinda digged. Ah, who am I kidding, I have a thing for ‘badboys’ in YA. Ember and Riley have a relationship that built very slowly (and who doesn’t like a slow-burner?). The characters were really rich and full of depth, it’s what made the story so enjoyable for me.

The thing about this book, it isn’t about Ember’s abilities, neither is it all about Talon the organization, or about the history of the dragons: it’s about Ember’s one chance to be free. One summer to be free from the system. The only summer she’ll get to have fun before she’ll have to face her future. Not only that, but it’s also about falling in love, falling in love and wanting to be normal for a little while. All three characters have some pretty harsh realities and some even tougher responsibilities, but they all have some secrets that don’t really allow that to be a reality (and let’s not forget that they’re enemies, and those secrets draw a line straight between them). The thing is, because the emphasis was really on this ‘one summer’ that Ember’s abilities and the history of her race wasn’t that important in this book, but I’m guessing (hoping) it will be in the next book!

I really enjoyed this book. It was a superb summer read! The ‘forbidden’ love, the training, and the surfing! I love the characters, they have depth and they’re ballsy (just all-round awesome). The end of the book is one major cliff-hanger, but it’s not wholly unbearable (it’s actually a pretty smart one and I didn’t really see it coming until it was right in front of me).

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

So yeah, I liked this book. I would’ve liked a little more depth, but as first as a first book in a series goes, Talon was pretty damn promising. I’m happy I took a chance and read it, because it was really really enjoyable and I can’t wait to see how the sequel will unfold!

 

 

four-stars