blurrypetals
blurrypetals
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blurrypetals · a day ago
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Credence by Penelope Douglas - blurrypetals review
originally posted june 20, 2021 - ★☆☆☆☆
I think this book is almost singlehandedly responsible for the reading slump I've been in since June. I dropped this in June and I couldn't even find the strength to review it until now, in August. But honestly, I don't even know if I'll ever be strong enough to review this book. I never really know what to expect when I read Penelope Douglas's work. I did not care for Bully or Corrupt but Birthday Girl wasn't so bad and Punk 57 was so weirdly enjoyable that it ended up making me sort of question my taste in literature. So, when I saw that Douglas had a new book out, I figured I would take a gamble and see if it would be worth my time and that was a roll of the dice which I lost. Douglas very clearly loves to write fucked up romances. That's fine. That's one of the reasons I found Punk 57 to be so fun, but apparently when she set out to write this, she decided to have three unhealthy fucked up love interests and to make all three of them get with the one girl. Apparently the three of them teach her how to love. We're told as much but, other than the incentive of sex and the hormones that come with it, there are literally zero reasons why the protagonist would like any of these guys, all of whom coerce her into said sexual activity. I actually got really close to finishing this book but ended up taking a vacation just before I finished and, once I returned to work, I had absolutely zero desire to listen to any audiobook, let alone this book. 0/10 but will probably unfortunately Penelope Douglas again.
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blurrypetals · a month ago
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One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston - blurrypetals review
originally posted june 7, 2021 - ★★☆☆☆
After May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor, this is easily my most disappointing anticipated release of 2021 so far. Even though I finished the other book (somehow) I couldn't bring myself to finish this one. I am a huge fan of McQuiston's debut, Red, White & Royal Blue. I've even read it twice already and it's only been out 2 years. It's charming, it's funny, it's romantic, and it has a plot that's easy to latch onto. So, the fact that One Last Stop is devoid of any of the same charm, humor, romance, and plot honestly took me by surprise. In the first half of the book that I managed to get through, I never really formed an opinion on our protagonist August. She seemed to lack both drive and personality past being instantly in love with Jane, the girl from the '70's, and I didn't really care. Jane is so clearly meant to be this wonderful dream girl for August but everything we learn about her only served to make her aggressively unlikable. Anyway, this was a waste of my time and I'm pretty disappointed. I would probably give McQuiston another chance for her next book, but this certainly didn't inspire any confidence. The only reason I would still read her work now is because of my love for her debut, not this meandering mess.
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blurrypetals · a month ago
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Shipped by Angie Hockman - blurrypetals review
originally posted may 31, 2021 - ★★★★☆
This was wonderfully charming! It sort of felt like Hockman took all the fun tropes The Hating Game and People We Meet on Vacation used. It ends up feeling a little messy because of this, but it did pay off in the end for me! My biggest issue with this book was the romance. The first half of the book with Henley and Graham's slow burn felt really special, but by the time things started to simmer, I felt like it wasn't enough by the end to feel rewarding. That said, this really was a lovely read and I'm very glad to have stumbled across it! This is a lovely effort as a debut I would be very happy to read more of Hockman's work in the future!
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blurrypetals · 2 months ago
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Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson - blurrypetals review
originally posted may 25, 2021 - ★★☆☆☆
I really waffled around over whether I was actually going to DNF this or not. I've read 3 of Matson's other books and 2 of them, Since You've Been Gone and Save the Date, are a couple of my favorite books of all time. This book just didn't have any of Matson's usual charm. Even in her debut, she had some intrigue and drama that drew me in, but the plot of this book just absolutely did not draw me in and life's too short to waste time reading a book you aren't interested in.
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blurrypetals · 2 months ago
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Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall - blurrypetals review
originally posted may 25, 2021 - ★★★★★
This was a complete fucking delight. Honestly, after this and Boyfriend Material, I think I would happily read just about anything by Alexis Hall at this point. I didn't like this one quite as much as I did Boyfriend Material, but this was almost as charming, heartwarming, funny, and lovely. Rosaline's growth as a person cast against the backdrop of the baking competition makes for a legitimately tense yet rewarding journey, just as if I was watching a season of a television show with a ton of behind the scenes content. The only reason I liked Boyfriend Material better is because the humor was a little more my style and I found the romance to be a lot more engaging. That said, this book really does have a good funny bone and the romance does turn out to be quite sweet and lovely. I also thought this had some really nice and refreshing sentiments when it came to bisexuality, motherhood, and dating that I found to be very authentic and rewarding. I am excited to read another installment in this Winner Bakes All series and just as excited to dig into Hall's backlog!
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blurrypetals · 2 months ago
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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary - blurrypetals review
originally posted may 18, 2021 - ★★☆☆☆
I'll be honest, I didn't really care for this one! I know it's pretty popular right now, but I honestly just do not get it with this.
It's been almost a week since I finished this book and I've been kind of putting off my review because I really don't have much to say other than that I didn't care for basically the entire vibe of this book. I didn't care for Tiffy's state of mind, finding her to be incredibly, unrealistically oblivious, and the style Leon's passages were written were really irritating and didn't fit the tone of the rest of the story.
I would not be excited to read any more of O'Leary's work and I'm glad to be reading an Alexis Hall book right now instead.
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blurrypetals · 2 months ago
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People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry - blurrypetals review
originally posted may 14, 2021 - ★★★★★
This was so wonderful! Between this and <i>Beach Read</i>, Emily Henry is absolutely one I'll be watching for years to come.
I didn't enjoy this quite as much as <i>Beach Read</i> but it had a lot of the same heart, charm, and humor.
This was an absolute delight, though and I'll be excited to read whatever Emily Henry writes next!
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blurrypetals · 2 months ago
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My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren - blurrypetals review
originally posted may 7, 2021 - ★★★☆☆
I've really been in the mood for some cute, fluffy romances and when you need cute and fluffy, Christina Lauren is a pretty safe bet! I didn't love this, but it did end up falling a little flat for me. I didn't enjoy our female lead very much and, because she was really closed off and this was a friends to lovers sort of thing, I felt like I was playing catch up to their whole relationship the entire time. That said, it did have some really cute and fun moments and a fairly interesting premise. Certainly not the worst thing in the world but certainly not my favorite either!
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blurrypetals · 2 months ago
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Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales - blurrypetals review
originally posted may 5, 2021 - ★★★★☆
This was super heckin' cute! I actually don't have a whole lot else to say other than that. The last contemporary I read before this was May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor, which was another queer high school romance and, in comparison to the angsty trash fire that book was, this was an utterly wonderful breath of fresh air. I also am a big fan of the plotline following Darcy's struggle with the validity of her sexuality. I think it's really nice and cool to focus on a bisexual character who is afraid to date someone of the opposite gender because she thinks she won't be "queer enough." This was wonderful and I recommend it to anyone looking for a really cute, fun high school romance!
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blurrypetals · 3 months ago
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The Crown of Gilded Bone by Jennifer L. Armentrout - blurrypetals review
originally posted may 4, 2021 - ★★★★☆
This was just a smidge better than From Blood and Ash but not quite as good as A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire. My biggest issue with this book was the pacing. Armentrout has struggled with pacing this series since the first book and this book suffers from a lot of the same types of issues. There is a lot of starting and stopping and characters seem to whisk themselves to and from most locations quite easily, when in books past, travel time seemed to be a much more serious factor, considering the possibilities of craven and any other unsavory encounters. The plot also feels more muddled than ever. I felt throughout the first two books that I had a pretty firm grasp on the mythology, the different words used to describe the vampires and werewolves and shapeshifters (oh my!) throughout, but I was really lost with most things that had to do with Poppy's new status as a deity (or is it a god? I'm not quite sure, to be honest). There was also a reveal with someone's true name near the end of the book that was definitely framed as a big reveal, but it absolutely didn't land for me because I had no idea who the person with that name was meant to be. I know it's been a few months since I read the first two books, but it hasn't been that long. All that said, I think Armentrout still really plays to a lot of her strengths here. Casteel easily turns just about everything in these books into a good time and his and Poppy's relationship continues to be really fun and rewarding. I am certainly interested to see what happens next but I am miffed that this seemed to lose steam after the previous book's overall pretty great track record. Also, just as a tiny unrelated addendum, I love that this book came out on Poppy's birthday!
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blurrypetals · 3 months ago
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May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor - blurrypetals review
originally posted apr. 30, 2021 - ★★☆☆☆
An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is by far my biggest disappointment of 2021 so far. This book had so much promise to be an adorable romantic comedy with one of the cutest premises ever, but due largely to the fact that it is being disgustingly mismarketed as a cutesy rom com when it is, in fact, not funny and it is not a romance, it falls directly on its face when there is nothing but angst and hollow characters to hold it up. To say that this book was a slog would be a bit of an understatement. I started this book on March 15th and it took me until today, April 30th, to drag myself across the finish line. It might have honestly taken me longer if my copy from NetGalley weren't expiring in just a few hours. As I mentioned before, I did expect this book to have a completely different tone from what it ended up having, but it also didn't focus on Homecoming the same way I expected it to. I really expected this to be the two boys pranking back and forth throughout Homecoming week and any fun and trouble that might occur in between, but the conflict of this book barely involves the race for Homecoming King. Instead, it's about a bully at the school, the school's Code of Conduct, and Lukas's struggles to succeed despite his extra challenges due to the fact that he's autistic. This shift in focus wouldn't be so bad if it actually meant something at the end of the book, but so much is abandoned, shoved aside, or just plain ignored by the end that it really left me wanting for something. This book really is just angst on wheels. While I do think this is an honest portrayal of a trans character in Jeremy, it also feels like there is nowhere near enough depth to him. He oftentimes reads as a bit of a parody of himself, though, especially in the parts that deal with the Code of Conduct and Philip, the school bully. All nuance is thrown straight out the window when it comes to Jeremy's conflicts in the story and it's extremely difficult to relate to him as a character when he feels like he's built purely of nothing but anger and being trans. And I say this knowing that a lot of trans folks are angry, and they have every right to be. I'm angry for a lot of trans folks who don't get the rights they deserve. So when their representation is boiled down to nothing but a hate filled boy whose friends all hate him, it sort of ends up feeling like an empty portrayal. If I didn't already know the author was trans, I truly might have thought this was written by someone who was cis. Someone well-meaning, perhaps, but misguided. Jeremy's personality is that he's angry and trans. Show me why Lukas loves him, why his friends care about him, because I don't get it. Ellor failed to write a compelling, believable trans character, which is a real damn shame, probably the biggest failing of this book, in my opinion. Lukas's character is dealt with the same lack of care. Lukas is autistic and his family is grieving after the death of his older brother. I think Lukas's autism is handled the way I wish Jeremy's trans-ness had been handled: as a trait of his but not a defining character trait. It affects Lukas's schooling and even causes him to cheat, but his autism doesn't rule his storyline the same way Jeremy being trans rules his. I know these two things are not exactly comparable, but again, it just handles this completely normal thing, autism, and treats it like this completely normal thing. Why couldn't Jeremy being trans be like this? I digress. The part of Lukas's story that annoyed me most was his issues with his family. We get maybe two or three full, real scenes including Lukas's parents, but in each one, we are never really shown the issues Lukas is having with them, other than perhaps the fact that they are distant. There is a really strange scene that comes out of nowhere in the latter half of the book involving Lukas's mother that gets absolutely no resolution by the end, it just happens, even appears to be a big, life-changing event for Lukas, but Ellor's major pacing issues leave no room for any conflicts to actually breathe, change, or resolve. And, since I've mentioned it, let's discuss Ellor's issues with pacing! Have any of you ever gotten into a car with a 15-year-old who's preparing for their permit test? It starts a little rough; there's a lot of jolting, stopping and starting as they get used to the brakes and, once they get going, they might start to get the hang of it, but eventually they have to use those brakes again, so it's just a lot of stopping and starting, a lack of surety, and often no true sense of direction. This whole analogy is to say: Z.R. Ellor's pacing feels exactly like a 15-year-old kid learning to drive. Scenes end suddenly and move along to the next bit, often in ways that makes it difficult for the reader to get their bearings or follow the extremely tenuous threads that string each scene together. Any time it seems like Ellor gains a little momentum, he shoots himself in the foot, hitting the brakes immediately before pivoting elsewhere. Lukas and Jeremy both seem to drift through scenes, telling us the things they're thinking without those thoughts having much bearing on the scenes at hand most of the time. Also, this book is written from the first person POV in the present tense, which only made it feel like I was reading a hollow What I Did Over the Summer essay a high schooler was forced to write. It's so frustrating that this story is all about these two boys' hardships but the pacing and all-around average to poor writing quality make it impossible to hold onto anything. It feels every bit the debut that it is. And, speaking of holding onto things, this book gave me absolutely no reason to root for Lukas and Jeremy to be together. None of the flashbacks or stories from before their breakup led me to believe the two of them really ever loved each other, which hurts the story greatly, since much of the drama comes from their lingering feelings for one another. They both seemed to admire one another, but they had next to zero chemistry, so when they're still pining over each other, it feels like actors reading a script, not two boys who have complicated yet sincere feelings for each other. I honestly think I could go on, but I really have already wasted enough time with this one. It's boring, its marketing is misleading, and you can tell from just about every aspect of this book that it is a debut with shockingly little polish and utterly empty characters, apart from Sol, the best part of the book. It's rushed, yet it somehow also feels agonizingly slow. I wanted this premise to work, I was so prepared to be swept away by this book. I legitimately pumped my fists in the air when I got approved for this one, so I really had high hopes for it to work. But you know what they say about high expectations: the higher they are, the longer and harder the fall.
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blurrypetals · 3 months ago
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Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne - blurrypetals review
originally posted apr. 21, 2021 - ★★★★☆
I don't know what is is about The Hating Game that felt so special, but Thorne got it on her first book and I think I'll be eternally disappointed anytime she isn't able to hit that same level of quality. I liked this a bit better than 99 Percent Mine but it still had a few of the same issues as 99 Percent Mine. The leads had chemistry, but it wasn't anywhere near as sizzling hot as The Hating Game, which I'm beginning to think might have been a fluke, at least as far as chemistry goes. Honestly, even though I liked this book, at the end of the day, it didn't quite feel like it was written by the same Sally Thorne. It just didn't have the same humor or bite as her other books, like it was sanded down at the corners. That said, there are a few things I still enjoyed. I loved the Parlonis, and Melanie with her Sasaki Method was adorable. I really liked the auxiliary characters a lot. I also did like Teddy and Ruthie, but like I said, their chemistry just wasn't at the level I had hoped. I did also enjoy the themes of the novel, even if they were a bit simple. I did like that there weren't simple or straightforward solutions to those things, though. All in all, this wasn't bad, but it also wasn't great either! I would suggest it to someone looking for a cute new romance but not for much else! Hopefully Thorne will be able to write something as good as The Hating Game again someday!
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blurrypetals · 3 months ago
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You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes - blurrypetals review
originally posted apr. 17, 2021 - ★★★☆☆
What a big, fat letdown! I'm a big fan of Kepnes's other books. Even Providence, which was extremely different from Joe Goldberg's story, was really well written, interesting, and very good with inner thoughts. Kepnes is excellent at the inner monologue. In theory, the idea of another You book wasn't so bad. I think the way Hidden Bodies ended was really fun and surprising and set up Joe and Love to be a super wild murder couple together. So, when this book opens with the fact that Joe and Love are no longer together, the Quinns paid Joe off to stay away from their son, and he already has a new obsession it was...jarring. I didn't expect another notch in Joe's creepy stalker bedpost, so to speak. It's clear to anyone who has read even just the first book that Joe has a pattern of doing this with women. Hidden Bodies plays with this expectation of the repeating pattern by instead turning it on its head, leaving Joe playing catchup for some time. So, when this book decided to just be another link in a chain of Joe's exploits, I didn't understand what made Kepnes write it at all (other than that sweet sweet Netflix season 3 paycheck, of course). Most egregious here, as I already mentioned, is the sidelining of Love's character as well as everything to do with Forty, Joe's son, named after Love's late brother. She and Forty are still very much an influence in the story, as Joe stalks their lives through Love's Instagram, but are largely clipped out of the fabric of Joe's life. I also thought the way Kepnes killed her off was rushed, came out of nowhere, and was honestly a little insulting to the Love we met in the last book. Honestly, this book is basically just You all over again, just with another girl, another city, and the same lack of consequences. I never really expected Joe to be able to learn or grow, but I did expect this third book to, at the very least, be different. The only reason I rated this a 3 instead of a 2 is because, despite the content of the book being annoyingly repetitive, it's still Kepnes writing Joe Goldberg. I can understand her desire to stick to writing this character because she is very damn good at it, even when she's doing the same damn thing all over again. But honestly, this was my biggest fear going into this book. Even though I still liked You and Hidden Bodies better than Providence, I enjoyed that, even though Kepnes's third effort was as different from her first two as it was, it was still of very high quality. I wanted her fourth book to be something fresh and different. The TV show is already different enough that it didn't need any more material to adapt (and it looks like, since Victoria Pedretti is credited in all the episodes of season 3, they are already taking a different direction with it) so why did we need a third Joe Goldberg book? Why couldn't Kepnes have taken that time to write something completely new? Anyway, I don't know if I can call this book bad, but it was tiresome and frustrating. I see here on Goodreads that Kepnes is looking at writing a fourth book and honestly, unless you really plan to do something radically different and maybe even bring forth a reckoning for everybody's favorite stalker, then please don't bother. Just move forward.
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blurrypetals · 3 months ago
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Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo - blurrypetals review
originally posted apr. 13, 2021 - ★★★★★
Even though I love The Grisha Trilogy as well as the Six of Crows duology, I only recently found full contentment in the two endings upon my latest reread in order to prepare for this book's release. While I still think Crooked Kingdom is Bardugo's strongest and most enjoyable effort, I believe this book is Bardugo's most immediately satisfying ending. This book, really, was altogether extremely satisfying. It and King of Scars had to play a tricky little balancing act to please both sides of the Grishaverse coin: continue and do justice to the stories of the Ravkans we left behind at the end of Ruin and Rising and continue and do justice to the story of Nina Zenik after suffering a considerable loss at the end of Crooked Kingdom. King of Scars expertly set those dominoes up. Rule of Wolves toppled them over and it was breathtaking. I really love how things played out, expertly weaving together both halves of this universe until it all came crashing down at the end. Zoya was never a favorite of mine, not even after King of Scars, but this book finally brought her entire character arc into focus, making me appreciate damn near everything about her in a way I had never appreciated before. Nikolai's entire story also came to a satisfying and fitting close and I'm just so proud of him and everything he accomplished. I think this brought so much good to the table. I loved everything with the Shu princesses, Nina and Hanne pulling one over on all of Fjerda, Zoya and her dragon, the brief yet interesting return of Alina and...even Mal. My favorite part was definitely the little mini heist with Kaz, Jesper, and Wylan but I also loved the small appearance from Inej at the end, too. I've wanted a continuation or an epilogue of some sort for the four of them for some time now, so now that we've seen them all again and the third Six of Crows book is all but confirmed at this point, it made this a beautiful epilogue and an intriguing new chapter. I'm over the moon about this book and I'm so glad this book's release got me to reread the rest of the series, because having it all fresh in my mind made it all that much more enjoyable! It might feel like a finale in some ways, but this universe is just starting to gain traction and I'm ever excited to see the heights it soars to next.
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blurrypetals · 3 months ago
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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo - blurrypetals review
originally posted apr. 6, 2021 - ★★★★★
[reread in anticipation of the release of Rule of Wolves as well as the Netflix adaptation, Shadow and Bone]
"I am the monster and the monster is me."
I'll be perfectly honest, I did not recall the plot of this book from the first time I read it. I recalled things as they came up, but other than The Darkling's dramatic return and Nina's adventures as a spy in Fjerda, I would have been hard-pressed to give anyone a full summary of the plot before this reread. It was a really great feeling though, because I thought I had retained more of it than I actually did, so it was fantastic to rediscover all the other plots within the book such as Nikolai and Zoya's disappearance into the twilight fold, Isaak posing as Nikolai because of that disappearance, and everything to do with the saints. Again, I'm not sure how I forgot about all this good good stuff, but it was cool to be able to experience it twice. That said, I really enjoyed rereading this to prepare for Rule of Wolves, but everything I said in my first review for this book still stands! It's a fantastic sequel to both The Grisha Trilogy as well as The Six of Crows Duology and I'm incredibly excited to see how everything wraps up in Rule of Wolves! Catch you on the flip!
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blurrypetals · 4 months ago
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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo - blurrypetals review
originally posted mar. 30, 2021 - ★★★★★
[reread in anticipation of the release of Rule of Wolves as well as the Netflix adaptation, Shadow and Bone]
"I would have come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting."
Well, it looks like I'm 2 for 2 on not knowing how to begin a review for Crooked Kingdom! I legitimately am left speechless by how intricate this book is. To name drop another popular NA series, I read the From Blood and Ash books in December and, aside from being popular NA series with fantasy elements whose second books' titles contain the word Kingdom, these two series don't have a lot in common. That said, I'd like to sort of bring in something that I mentioned in my review for A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire that, even if it wasn't my favorite book of Jennifer L. Armentrout's, I would be comfortable saying it is her best. Crooked Kingdom, however, is my favorite book of Leigh Bardugo's and I would be extremely comfortable in saying it's Bardugo's best, even knowing Rule of Wolves is out now. I'll admit, my feelings were mixed on it when I first read it. I felt like the death of a certain Fjerdan was a little unearned and sudden and I had a difficult time coming to grips with the ellipsis so many of the characters' stories were left on. That said, it's been 3 years since I last read these books and, just the same as with Six of Crows, a reread has only made me appreciate what was there, rather than being disappointed about my expectations being subverted. It's so interesting and wonderful how different this is from Six of Crows yet stays so true to everything that book set up. The fact that this book follows up one of the greatest heist books of all time with the plans and heel turns while still being its own version of a crime novel is utterly fantastic. I think this is an utterly breathtaking, delightfully funny, utterly heartwrenching, and, in its own way, uplifting. I would be so glad to see all these characters come together again someday, perhaps even in a future season of the television show, if it's successful, but for now, I'm more than content being left with a couple of Crows holding hands by the docks, The Wraith, and a hopeful sigh as they run off to meet a spider's parents. For now, I'll take that, and move onward to King of Scars!
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blurrypetals · 4 months ago
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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - blurrypetals review
originally posted mar. 25, 2021 - ★★★★★
[reread in anticipation of the release of Rule of Wolves as well as the Netflix adaptation, Shadow and Bone]
No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for 'good luck.'
I have a confession to make! Even though I knew I loved this book back when I first read it in 2018, I wasn't exactly warmed up to it as I am now. It was of an undeniable quality back in 2018, but now, having spent 3 years growing to both love and miss these characters, I am finally exactly where I always wanted to be with this series: loving it, missing the characters, and relishing a reread just as much as I relished a reread of The Grisha Trilogy. In my first review for this book, I broke down my thoughts in a character by character basis. At the time, it felt easier to break apart the Crows, pick my favorites, and call it good, but now, trying to think of the six of them as anything other than the beautiful cohesive unit seems almost like blasphemy. I do still have my favorites, of course, in Kaz and Inej, but I really loved and appreciated the whole team and the way they all worked together much more this go around. The heist they pull off is so well written, so chill-inducing, so fun and adventurous that part of me wonders if Leigh Bardugo sold her soul to write a book as slick and well put together as this. One of the most incredible and mind-blowing parts of this book is the crew's escape from the Ice Court at the end. It boils each and every character's emotions right to the surface: Matthias and Nina's reunion, Jesper's success with the winch and the exultant escape with the tank, Inej realizing she wants to buy her way out of Ketterdam and free slaves, and perhaps most compelling of all, Kaz accepting how he feels about Inej in the river, recalling her laughter feeding the crows on the roof of the Slat. The finale of this book is so breathtaking that it's no wonder this series has become as popular as it is. I am as excited as ever to return to Crooked Kingdom and I cannot wait to embrace it with the same warmth and adoration as I embraced this with. See ya in the next one!
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blurrypetals · 4 months ago
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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo - blurrypetals review
originally posted mar. 19, 2021 - ★★★★★
"It’s true," I said softly. "You are stronger, wiser, infinite in experience." I leaned forward and whispered, my lips brushing the shell of his ear. "But I am an apt pupil."
And so The Grisha Trilogy draws to a breathtaking close! This is definitely the book I have had the most mixed feelings on over the years. In a lot of ways, it is perfect, and in a lot of ways it is not. However, I think that is what makes this book so great: even if it is not exactly what I wanted from the finale, it is nevertheless great. I think that's the mark of great writing, is recognizing that even though it may not be perfectly up to my taste, it's still a fantastic finale that fits beautifully with the rest of the series. With that all said, I think it's time I get to air a grievance I have with this book! I rarely talk about the things I don't like in 5-star reviews, particularly in rereads as I celebrate a series, but it's something I never have dug into in any of my reviews for the Grisha books and there's no time like the present, baby! Mal and Alina should never have ended up together. I'm not even going to say she should have ended up with someone else, either, not Nikolai, not the Darkling, not Genya, nobody! I think it would have been far more interesting and impactful if, by the end of the series, Alina would have decided to be by herself, to start over and see the world or settle elsewhere, away from the Little Palace, away from the Ravkan Civil War, maybe even away from Ravka entirely! It just feels like a regression for her to end up with the guy who was always wanting her to stay the same, never celebrating her growth, never building her up but instead guilting her and making her feel ashamed of herself, of a part of herself she couldn't control. It's always bothered me, ever since I finished this book, that she ended up with him. But, in a weird sort of way, even if I don't like it, it still works! The heroine doesn't have to end up with the perfect guy at the end of the story or make the best choice. Alina always craved love, family, and comfort, and after the Ravkan Civil War, she wanted to return to what was comfortable, familiar. To Mal. But this book isn't all ending! There is so much good to it and that is why it's still a 5-star read to me. The way Alina works with her team of Grisha throughout this book is so much fun and it makes their escape from the Apparat and their subsequent search for the Fire Bird an absolute pleasure to read. Their chemistry and banter is all so delightful, especially when it comes to Zoya and Harshaw―Harshaw, who deserved so much better. This is an imperfect yet wonderful close to this trilogy, but the most wonderful thing is that this is really just the beginning of this universe. So, with that, onward to the Crows.
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blurrypetals · 4 months ago
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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo - blurrypetals review
originally posted mar. 17, 2021 - ★★★★★
"I've waged the war you forced me to, Alina," said the Darkling. "If you hadn't run from me, the Second Army would still be intact. All those Grisha would still be alive. Your tracker would be safe and happy with his regiment. When will it be enough? When will you let me stop?"
It's difficult to say for absolute certain, but I would be comfortable saying Siege and Storm is one of the greatest second books ever written for a series, outdone only by the likes of Catching Fire and Clockwork Prince. I think I had a hard time appreciating this book for what it was the first time I read it and, even though I loved it just as much in 2018 as I do now in 2021, I think it's nice to be able to take a step backward and really enjoy its slow, simmering pace and the intricate, delicate webs of trust and deceit strung between each character. Because of that, I enjoyed this a lot more the second time around than the first go around because I was a lot less focused on expectations and what could be instead of what is as what made me love it so much in the first place. I'll be shocked if I don't feel similarly upon rereading Ruin and Rising. This entire book is just such a strong, full effort, though. The beginning is a bombastic, swashbuckling adventure with everyone's favorite pirate―ahem, privateer―with extremely high stakes, the hunt for a sea serpent, and the threat of being stuck on a whaler with the Darkling and it really is Bardugo at her best here. The middle deals with things much less immediately threatening and exciting yet it's all about things that are extremely important to Alina's character, her deciding to be a leader, a symbol for the people of Ravka when they need hope most, and the tension it all causes between Alina, Mal, Nikolai, and the rest of the cast is delicious. And speaking of delicious, the mind games the Darkling plays on Alina throughout this part of the novel are fantastically creepy, a seduction from the dark side worthy of the sith. And finally, that utterly breathtaking finale wherein everything comes crashing together in Os Alta due to Vasily's hubris and stupidity and all hell breaks completely fucking loose. It's incredible. I'm just as eager to move on to Ruin and Rising as I was to read this book, so again, I press onward and will catch you in the next one!
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blurrypetals · 4 months ago
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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - blurrypetals review
originally posted mar. 15, 2021 - ★★★★★
[reread in anticipation of the release of Rule of Wolves as well as the Netflix adaptation, Shadow and Bone]
“Fine,” he said with a weary shrug. “Make me your villain.”
It's legitimately difficult for me to put into words how great of a debut this book is. I think there is a weird amount of discourse about what order a new reader should read the Grisha books in lately and it legitimately baffles me when people say you can have a good experience reading Six of Crows first. Not only am I fan of reading things in their publication order, but I'm also a fan of giving credit to master class worldbuilding like the worldbuilding that lies within this original trilogy. Things are introduced in such an intricate, careful fashion that I can't imagine someone totally blowing that worldbuilding out the plate glass window by reading Six of Crows first. Because, other than the 11/10 characters that populate this universe, the thing I remember best about the first time I read this book is the setting, the magic, the color systems with the keftas, the idea that the Darkling is a title rather than a single figure (at least, it’s supposed to be that way) and the diverse fantasy cultures Bardugo adapted for her fantasy world, and so much more that makes the magic and the setting of this entire series feel so rich and memorable. But, as I already touched upon, the characters are what make Bardugo's work a lasting favorite of mine. Even with characters I don't like such as Mal, I still find them interesting, well fleshed out characters who elevate this series from interesting fun all the way to the worldwide phenomenon it has become, the even bigger worldwide phenomenon it's about to become once Netflix releases the first season in April. And, despite enjoying just about every character in some aspect, the end-all be-all best character of this series is absolutely The Darkling. It is insane how well-actualized his character is and the way our view of him is distorted just as easily as Alina's perception of him is distorted really sells his entire arc as a character. He's a character who, if handled by a lesser writer, would have come off as one-dimensional, evil for evil's sake, but Bardugo instead altered the way I view and enjoy just about every villain or morally corrupt character I have read about since I first read her books in 2018. I'm honestly a little mad I'll never find a book with a character that's as good as The Darkling, but that hasn't stopped me from reading recommendation after recommendation trying to find something that can quench my thirst for this particularly weirdly sympathetic genocidal maniac. I'm incredibly eager to move on to Siege and Storm tomorrow so I'll catch you in the next one as I continue to bask in the glory that is Leigh Bardugo's debut series!
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