Six of Crows

Six of Crows
“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.”
-Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Suspense
Pages: 462
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Published: September 29th, 2015
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Synopsis From Goodreads:

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Six of Crows is very dark for a young adult novel, yet it still manages to be an easy and entertaining read. The character development is amazing, I loved the romantic tension, and it has some of the best world building I’ve seen since Harry Potter! The only major complaint I have is the plot. As far as I can tell, the first chapter is completely unnecessary, and the pacing seems kind of slow for the first quarter of the book. That being said, Six of Crows is easily one of my most favorite books ever because of the characters and world alone!

Everything, Everything

Everything Everything
“Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.”
-Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything

Title: everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 310
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Published: September 1, 2015
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Synopsis From Goodreads:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Everything, Everything is one of those books that you can read again and again and get something new from the story every time. It is a somewhat slower-paced story, but it still manages to catch your attention and hold it until the very end. The characters, plot, and setting are all very well developed. The only complaint I have is that the romance seemed very “instalovy”.
The characters in Everything, Everything each have their own backstory that contributes to the plot. Maddy, (the main character), has a severe immune disorder that prevents her from leaving her house. Olly, (Maddy’s love interest), hasn’t had the greatest family life. Maddy’s mother lost her husband and another child in a car accident, and now Maddy is all she has left. Each of these unique backstories contributes to the plot and character development in a way that makes Everything, Everything feel like more than the average teen romance.
Everything, Everything has a very interesting writing style. It is told in the first person narrative through Maddy, (the main character). The writing seemed a little… choppy at first, but after the first chapter or so it became much more fluid.
The plot of Everything, Everything is well-paced for the most part. I do think that some of the exposition could’ve been cut from the beginning, and the romance did feel a lot like instalove. I’m choosing to forgive the instalove in this instance, however, because of the unique situation. I believe that the instalove was made up for by the interesting backstory, strong character development, and bitter-sweet ending.
The ending of Everything, Everything was not what you usually see in young adult romance, but it was a welcome change in my opinion. Without spoiling everything about Everything, Everything, the ending brings a psychological twist into the story that ends everything on a bitter-sweet note.
Overall, Everything, Everything is a great read if you’re up for a cute teen romance with a psychological twist!

Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Gods and monsters
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts
And started the apocalypse.”
-Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of smoke & Bone #3
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 613
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Published: April 8, 2014
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Synopsis From Goodreads:

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Dreams of Gods & Monsters opens by introducing a new character to the series. I would normally consider it a “writerly no-no” to add a main character so late in a series, but in this case, it works! Without the addition of a new key player, the plot couldn’t have ended as it did. The new character is also very well developed to have entered the story so late, and she undergoes a complete character arck by the end.
The plot of Dreams of Gods & Monsters is tight and well paced. While Days of Blood & Starlight seemed slow in places, Dreams of Gods & Monsters flows quickly and holds your attention until the very last page.
The writing style is very smooth and almost captivating in some places, but as with the first two books, the narrator switches were not handled as well as they could’ve been. There were several instances where a narrator swap occurred in the middle of a chapter, and it got super hard to follow! The fact that there were so many characters didn’t help matters either… Honestly, the whole problem could’ve been remedied if the narrator changes had happened at chapter breaks, but because they didn’t, it became “borderline head-hopping.”
The ending of the series was carried out beautifully! I did NOT see the plot twist coming, but I love how everything was wrapped up! The worlds were saved, everyone who mattered got their happy ever after, and the only thing I could find fault with was the head-hopping problem!

Days of Blood & Starlight

Days of blood and starlight
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.
And its snap split the world in two.”
― Laini Taylor, Days of Blood & Starlight

Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2, (click here for my review of book 1)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 517
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: November 6th, 2012
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Synopsis From Goodreads:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Days of Blood & Starlight is a pretty good follow-up to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The plot picks up basically where the first book ended, but introduces an entirely new setting and conflict. The overall plot was excellent, but the pacing did seem a little slow to me. It wasn’t the torturous kind of slow progression that makes you want to skip ahead, but it definitely could’ve gotten off to a faster start!
The character development was amazing! The book was definitely more plot driven than character driven, but all of the main characters began some kind of transformation that was obvious through their actions and the ways in which they interacted with each other. Each of the character arcs unfolded alongside plot events, and the changes they experienced were caused by the plot, which created a nice balance. By the end of the story, all of the key players were placed at a point where they had to make a decision for better or worse. At that point in the story, they had all progressed enough to understand the right choice, and therefore the story reached a form of closure while still leaving room for the next book.
The writing style of Days of Blood & Starlight is very unique. It has a melodic flow that is beautiful and interesting, yet hard to follow sometimes. Part of the confusion also came from the fact that there were multiple narrators. I think I counted three main narrators and a couple chapters from others. I normally don’t have a problem with multiple narrators, but this got super hard to keep up with! I definitely understand why there were so many narrators, and they were all necessary for the story to unfold, but I think it could’ve been written a little more distinctly. Thankfully it was written in third person, otherwise I don’t think I could’ve gotten through all the head-hopping!
This most definitely is not the kind of book you read for mindless entertainment! Coming from someone who can usually listen to audio books while doing a multitude of other tasks simultaneously without missing a thing in the book, this was not an easy read! I mean… I actually had to dedicate time to curl into a small ball on my bed with only a blanket and coffee to read this thing instead of just throwing on my headphones while being a responsible student! That being said, it told a very unique and amazing story, and I have already started the next book because I am totally hooked on this plot!

Shiny Broken Pieces, (Tiny Pretty Things #2)

Shiny Broken Pieces

Title: Shiny Broken Pieces
Author: Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Series: Tiny Pretty Things #2
Pages: 385
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: July 12th, 2016
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Synopsis From Goodreads:

June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.
June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.
After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Wow… I have kind of fallen in love with one of these characters. Remember how I said the characters were kind of underdeveloped in my review of book 1? Shiny Broken Pieces almost completely turned that around! All of the characters had more depth, but I was able to connect with June in particular. The others seemed less relatable by comparison, but I also think June had more of a story to tell than the others.
The plot was still as much of a roller coaster as it was in Tiny Pretty Things but I felt like it was a bit tighter. The first person narrative that I mentioned as a downfall in Tiny Pretty Things was one of the biggest strengths in the plot of Shiny Broken Pieces. It allowed the readers to know who was doing what and why, but it still allowed a bit of mystery because one of the key players was not a narrator. There weren’t a ton of plot lines like there were in Tiny Pretty Things, and that made it a whole lot easier to follow! Shiny Broken Pieces picked up right after the massive cliff hanger ending of Tiny Pretty Things and wrapped up all of the loose threads that it created.
The ending of Shiny Broken Pieces did leave me a bit disappointed, not because I wanted more of the story or thought it was a bad ending, but because I didn’t like where some of the characters ended up. Honestly I felt like the ending was dragged out longer than was really necessary simply for the sake of throwing in one last plot twist. It could’ve ended about three chapters earlier than it did, and life would’ve been great! But it didn’t, and that’s what caused some characters to end up in places other than where I wanted them to go. Without totally spoiling everything, June did not make the choice I wanted her to make, Gigi did lots of unnecessary traveling but eventually landed right where I wanted her, and Bette got exactly what she wanted and she did not deserve that by any stretch of the imagination!
I love these characters and have become invested in this story by now, but I really hope there won’t be another book in this series. It’s starting to feel too much like Pretty Little Liars, and that series went on forever and ever and eventually got to where it just didn’t make any kind of sense at all… I don’t want that for this story. One more book might be good if it were done well, but the plot and writing style of the first two books makes me doubt that it would contribute anything to the series besides another plot roller coaster that would intrigue the reader at best and make them exhausted at worst. The potential for a third book is certainly there, but I don’t think it should be expanded upon.
In the end, Shiny Broken Pieces gets a solid four stars. I have criticized it, but id told a good story, added some depth to the original characters, tied up all the dangling strings, and provided me some entertainment as I listened to it and cleaned out iCloud Drive so my iPad would stop yelling about not being backed up. When it comes right down to it, books are supposed to entertain, and entertain this series does!