A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) by George R.R. Martin

#readASOIAF Read-Along – Hosted by Riley from Riley Marie, Elizabeth from Liz Loves Literature, and Kayla from BOOKadoodles. ♥

A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons cover the same period of time, but split the characters and their points of view up. I’ve always chosen to read them back to back, but maybe people enjoy reading them simultaneously. If you would like to read them combined, here is the reading order: Link!

“Not all men were meant to dance with dragons.”

At this point in the series, five books in, it would be almost impossible to talk about this book without heavy spoilers, so please do not read any further if you have not read this book or its predecessors.

Okay, so on this reread, the prologue actually blew my mind. First, we learn it’s a major no-no among wargs to skin change into other humans. You know, like what Bran has been doing to Hodor. Then, we find out the character in this prologue survives his human death by warging into his wolf. This is completely foreshadowing of Jon’s fate at the end of this book.

I mean, Melisandre tried to warn Jon of daggers in the dark, also, but like all Starks, he doesn’t listen too well. Melisandre and her past is always hard for me to read. People always view her as this sex symbol from the show, but she has such a deeper, and sadder, past in the books. One of the things I look most forward to in this series is seeing her development and what she makes of her trauma. Oh, and seeing if she ends up resurrecting Jon, like in the show. I can’t wait to see how important Ghost’s role really was with bringing Jon back.

“The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother’s milk. Darkness will make you strong.”

Even though Melisandre is marching with Stannis and his men to see if they can defeat the Boltons so he will be one step closer to winning the throne, my favorite points of view were from Asha Greyjoy. Like, besides the fact she is a super strong woman, she represents how unfairly some people are treated just because of what gender they were born. Again, I know a lot of people read this series and deem it sexiest, but there are so many feminist themes throughout, and Asha is such a wonderful example that I can’t help but root for.

And Asha’s conversations with Alysane Mormont, while marching with Stannis’ army, just further proves the theory from A Storm of Swords, that Tormund is the father of Lyanna Mormont!

Meanwhile, on the Bolton side, Ramsey is really trying to out-do Euron for my most hated ASOIAF villain. The chapters inside of Reek/ Theon’s head were some of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read. I know Reek/Theon did some terrible things, but no one deserves the karma he has been dealt at the hand of Ramsey.

“When you have known the kiss of a flaying knife, a laugh loses all its power to hurt you.”

Also, if I were Jeyne Poole, Sansa’s old friend, I would have been singing at the top of my lungs that I wasn’t Arya, even if that meant my death, because Ramsey is that much of a sick fuck.

Cersei’s chapters were my favorite. Unlike Ramsey, her “villainous ways” make so much sense to me. Most mothers will do anything for their children, and Cersei will literally do anything. All her actions, both filled with hate or filled with love, are all because of what she thinks is best for them. There is something pretty endearing about that, and her chapters were honestly the best in this book.

“I am Cersei of House Lannister, a lion of the Rock, the rightful queen of these Seven Kingdoms, trueborn daughter of Tywin Lannister. And hair grows back.”

My favorite part of this whole book was when Cersei was reflecting upon the events that have happened recently, and was so remorseful thinking about how differently everything would have been if only Joffrey didn’t kill Ned in A Game of Thrones. It is crazy to think about how one terrible and thoughtless act can ruin so many lives. It is actually pretty heartbreaking.

I very much loved rereading Tyrion’s point of view, again! Oh, how I missed him! I completely forgot about Penny, but re- fell in love with her, too! Penny, Tyrion, and Jorah’s journey in this book sure wasn’t an easy one. Especially for Jorah, even though I low-key hate book Jorah.

Dany’s point of view starts with her being unable to control her dragons, but ends by leaving lot of mystery to where she will end up. I know that we have an unfair advantage with the show maybe being book-cannon, but I’m really looking forward to her meeting with Tyrion in The Winds of Winter. Like, I’m really, really, really looking forward to it.

And I obviously want a Stark meet-up more than anything. Bran is learning so much from the three-eyed crow, and him being a greenseer. I have always loved the children of the forest, and it was a joy reading about them again. Especially Leaf

I’ll be honest, for some reason I wasn’t enjoying this book as much as the previous four. I’m not sure if I just burnt myself out on ASOIAF by rereading a book a month or what, but I felt more determination to finish than enjoyment while reading. Obviously this series is in a league of its own, and deserves five stars because of the masterpiece that it is, but I’m happy to now tunnel my enjoyment into waiting for the release of The Winds of Winter.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan

Honestly, I had to read something I knew I loved after watching The Walking Dead premiere last night. It’s too bad that this volume decided to kick me more in the feels than that heartbreaking episode, but I digress.

This volume really highlights the struggle of “non-practical” house dynamics. Alana is now a working mother, and Marko is now a stay-at-home dad. The resentment from both sides is really hurting their relationship and it was really hard to see/read about. Seeing Hazel narrate the events is even more painful.

Hazel is such an amazing character, and she’s only going through toddlerhood. Every panel with her made me feel so many emotions. Brian K. Vaughan is seriously a genius for creating Hazel, and his voice in Saga truly makes this series one of the best comics ever made.

Also, I’m sort of loving Prince Robot IV now, so… I have to give the man credit for that, too. I haven’t hated and then loved a character for a very long time. Especially with such little time to do so in comics. I love seeing all the different parts of this intricate story come together. I think the finale is going to be something amazing and beyond words.

I’m now going to break down each chapter in this bind up. There will be SPOILERS, so please use caution in continuing if you have not read this graphic-novel, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, or Vol. 3!

CHAPTER NINETEEN:
Prince Robot IV’s son is born in the Robot Kingdom, but Prince Robot IV is still missing. Marko, Alana, Hazel, Klara, and Izabel are on a new planet named Gardenia, where Alana is living out one of her dreams of being an actress on the Open Circuit. Because of this job, we see the first signs of Alana and Marko’s relationship being in a not so great spot.

CHAPTER TWENTY:
Prince Robot IV is alive, and is in the brothel that the Will saved Sophie from. We meet Yuma, who works with Alana and is a drug dealer. Alana takes some of the drug Fadeaway, and soon becomes addicted. Marko is becoming friends with Hazel’s dance teacher, Ginny, and we see more foreshadowing on how Marko and Alana’s relationship is at a low point. Dengo, a robot janitor, kills Princess Robot and takes their newborn son. He talks about his son’s death, wanting retribution, and it really hit home for me, because his son died from drinking bad water, from a city no one cares about, without any health insurance to heal his son. I’m from Flint, Michigan, so that parallel to Dengo’s pain really resonates with me, and is very important to me.

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE:
This is the chapter where we really see the struggle of Marko being a stay at home dad, while Alana is the major breadwinner of the family. Alana is taking more Fadeaway to escape her problems, but it isn’t working. We learn Gwen is still missing.

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO:
Alana is becoming more and more addicted to the Fadeaway drug, all while Ginny is hanging out more and more with Marko. They have a huge fight, and it looks inconsolable. We meet Prince Robot IV’s dad, King Robot, and he’s a big jerk. Dengo comes to the Open Circuit so he can broadcast a message to the masses, but ends up shooting a lot of Alana’s coworkers.

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE:
After Alana and Marko’s fight, Marko goes to Ginny’s house. I was honestly going to scream if anything happened. But after seeing a toy Hazel left behind, Marko leaves to bring it back to her. Dengo is still trying to broadcast his message, but Yuma, before being shot, tells Dengo about Hazel. Izabel, the ghost babysitter, talks about her ex-girlfriend, how she died, and how important love is. Honestly, this chapter had some of my favorite panels, ever. Marko arrives at the ship, right when it is taking off – with Dengo inside. Prince Robot IV finally shows up and sees Yuma and Marko, who is now separated from his family.

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR:
The Will’s sister, The Brand, is interviewing the adorable Gus, from the previous installments, about the walrus he trades to Hazel and her family, Friendo. Sophie, Gwen, and Lying Cat are looking for a formula to save the Will’s life. They all find out that Gus is able to track Friendo, so they will be able to find Hazel, Alana, Klara, and Izabel, too. We then find out that Marko is working with Prince Robot IV and Yuma to get their families back.

I love this world, these planets, and these characters. Saga has the reputation for being the best comic series out there for a reason. It truly is at a tier above the rest, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself once I finish the last installment. I love these characters too much to let them go.

Higurashi When They Cry: Abducted by Demons Arc, Vol. 1 by Ryukishi07

This manga is based off a game/visual novel, that is a very popular murder mystery where you search for clues to find out who is the murderer. And it is also been made into an anime, if that interests you more.

This story is set in the summer of 1983, and stars Keiichi, who has just moved to a small, isolated village named Hinamizawa. There is only one school for all of the children living in this village, and Keiichi soon befriends two girls and the rest of their gaming club! The club starts out lighthearted and fun, with the kids pulling innocent pranks on each other, but when Keiichi discovers that the village might be cursed, the book becomes much darker.

For the past four years, someone has been murdered, while another person has gone missing, on that day of the cotton drifting. And the murders are very, very gory and brutal. This series is definitely not for the weak of stomach or heart.

When Keiichi asks his two best friends about the murders, they either ignore him or play innocent. Their behavior is super suspicious, and makes him question everything.

This was sort of perfect for the Halloween season, because it is for sure creepy and has such an overall eerie feel. The village of Hinamizawa is filled with mysteries on every page, most of which I probably missed, but I cannot wait to try to find out all of its secrets.

Also, there is one (two sided) breathtakingly beautiful full colored page in this volume. I know the artist chose this page for a particular reason, and I’m sure it has a very important impact on the story, but it really is absolutely beautiful. I’ve looked at it about 100 times, studying it.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere, #1) by Meg Elison

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“There are battles and accidents; there are collapses and plagues. There is silence only when one side wins or everyone has died.”

This book was perfection, and probably the easiest five stars I’ve given all year. This was so thought provoking, meaningful, eye-opening, and important. This was also, as a woman, the scariest dystopian I’ve ever read.

What made me initially request an ARC of this was that it had won an award in 2014, even though it is just being republished in 2016. Now that I’ve read this, it deserves every award – all the awards. If I could have people read one book this year, it would be this.

This book changed me.

I should preface this review by telling you there are many trigger warnings in this book: Rape, genital mutilation, physical abuse, sex trafficking/trades, stillbirths, and probably more things in the same vein. (You can ask me for a more specific trigger, and I will always reply back.)

Basically, 98% of Earth’s population of men and 99% of Earth’s population of women has died from an autoimmune disease. Even though most of the Earth’s population has be wiped out, the ratio of men to women is immense. Women become a very sought after commodity. Most are raped, sold, and treated like dogs.

“What disease cannot do, people accomplish with astonishing ease.”

The unnamed midwife makes it her goal to travel to a safer place, while pretending to be a man, and giving women healthy options to not get pregnant. She also is willing to help with births, to try to save the lives of the pregnant woman, because all the children being born are stillborn.

Since the main character of this book is impersonating a man, we get to see all the gender roles, and characteristics they have in this “new” world. Spoiler alert, they aren’t pretty. Many men take many steps back in progression, and have become more scary and animalistic, while trying to prove their alpha status.

This book heavily talks about gender roles and their impact on any society. They are obviously enhanced because of the ratio of men to women in this new post-apocalyptic society, but the parallels within our own society are so real and so scary.

The midwife is also very open about her sexuality. She identifies as bi, but I think she is most likely pan, too, and her take on being attracted to souls, and not bodies, hit really close to home for me. We also get to see juxtaposition with the Church of Latter-day Saints in this new post-apocalyptic world, and those chapters would be pretty eye opening, and very needed, for some people in today’s world.

“Expiration date of body > expiration date of canned tuna.”

We also get to see the different stages of progressiveness around the world, and how others are dealing with this disease. I loved looking at all the different cultures, and their reactions. I also loved how the author let us see what happened to the characters our midwife meets along the way, even though she never gets to know their fate.

Two of the characters she meets along the way really hit home for me. One is from Michigan, where I was born and raised, and the other was from Vegas/Henderson, which is where I currently live. Seeing two people, in the same terrible situation, from the two places in the world that I consider home, really hurt and scared me. The impact of the situation felt so real and will haunt me from some time to come.

Again, this book is so important. This book honestly touched, and shook me to, my core. I don’t use these words lightly, but I will carry this book inside me for the rest of my life. This book is so needed, and I hope it wins every award there is.

“Good old Planned Parenthood. Saved my life.”

Oh, and that quote made me decide that I loved Meg Elison, and I will read everything she creates. Honestly, the main and recurring theme of this book is how important it is to give girls options and keep them safe. Again, I’m repeating myself constantly, but everyone should read this book.

It’s scary to be a woman in today’s world, but it’s downright terrifying to try to survive as a woman in this book’s world. This main protagonist is one of the strongest and most empowering woman I’ve ever had the privilege to read about, and I don’t even get to learn her name.

The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Adulthood just meant finding the variety of crazy that resonated the most with you and doing it until you died or it killed you—whichever came first.”

This book really surprised me! The Alchemists of Loom ended up being a wonderful steam punk set story, filled with mystery and twists, and had a beautiful message: You can be anything you want to be, you do not have to be the expectations that other people have for you.

The world felt like something right out of Borderlands. The characters were heartfelt and compassionate. The message was really important and meaningful.

But this world is very unique, and the new lingo could be a little confusing. The rundown is basically this:

There are two worlds, separated by the clouds:
Loom: The main setting of this book, that is home to Fenthri and Chimeras and their five guilds.
Nova: The Dragon homeland that is inhabited by three Dragon Houses.

There are three races:
Fenthri: Grey, black, white, the weakest of the three races, and have tattoos on their face depicting what guild they belong to.
Dragon: A vast array of colors, very primal, can regrow most things from their bodies, have magical abilities, enslaved Loom and sees Fenthri as servants.
Chimera: Fenthri with Dragon blood and/or organs. They are made by Alchemists, and are very strong, but not as strong as Dragons.

(None of the characters in this world are Human, but they are for sure Humanoids)

The three Dragon Houses:
Rok: Strongest house, and the Dragon King’s House.
Tam: Second strongest house, and very aligned with House Rok.
Xin: Weakest house.

The five Guilds of Loom:
Alchemists: Developed Chimeras, and the only guild to not be under the Dragon King’s thumb.
Rivets: Specializes in refining processes in steel mines and applications for gold.
Revolvers: Explores all the uses for guns and explosions!
Harvesters: Supplies all the bare materials to all the other guilds.
Ravens: Moves people and goods all around Loom.

The five guilds are all linked together as a system to help one another, but that’s been very hard ever since that Dragons of Nova traveled down from the clouds, into Loom, and made the Fenthri population do their bidding.

The people from these guilds have a face tattoo for easy recognition. People of Loom are not able to choose or pick which house they are in. They are basically pre-placed, and forced to take two tests. If they are unable to pass these tests, they could be sentenced to death.

Not having a mark is also illegal, and Ari, our main protagonist, does not have a mark. The world knows her as the most notorious criminal of Loom, the White Wraith, and her story starts out with her completing a heist. Her past is a big mystery, but as the book goes on we are able to learn more and more.

“It doesn’t matter who she was. It matters who she can become…”

During that heist, she meets a Dragon named Cvareh. Ari hates, and refuses to trust, any Dragon, but when he offers her a boon to take him to the Alchemist Guild she finds herself unable to refuse. Cvareh is from House Xin and in desperate need to protect his family.

Ari also has an adorable assistant named Florence, who completely won me over. I was unsure of her age until towards the end of the book (16), so for a while I thought her and Ari were a thing and would end up together (this made me extremely happy, by the way), but I was kind of let down when I realized Flor’s age and that the relationship was more of a big sister/little sister relationship.

But Ari does identify as bisexual, and even though we don’t actually see her with another woman I was still happy with the representation. Also, I cannot wait to find out all about Ari’s past and the demons that still are chasing her.

“Don’t let the shadows of the past smother the possibility for a bright future.”

The other thing that I loved, besides the story and the world, was the writing. Elise Kova really strung together some breathtakingly beautiful sentences that left me wanting so much more. Her talent really shined with this book, and it left me very interested in reading more of her work.

“She waited for him to say something more. The silence held ciphers of truths that lingered between them, written in a script that neither knew yet how to decipher. This would not be the moment they were given sound.”

Like I said, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. My only main criticism was the feeling of queer-baiting through the first half. Maybe if they author told the ages of the girls, or explained Ari and Flor’s relationship a little better, I wouldn’t have felt like that.

Also, this is my own personal opinion. You might not even pick up the vibe I was getting from the girls. Maybe I’m so desperate for more F/F books that I’m trying to see it every time I read.

My other minor criticism is that the romance in this book does feel a little too insta-love-y for my personal tastes. Like, it went from cold to hot really quickly. Like, in the blink of an eye. It didn’t bother me, or pull me out of the story, but it didn’t feel 100% natural.

I know my break down above could seem a little overwhelming, because of all the new terms, but creating a completely new world out of nothing is never easy and there will always be a learning curve. This book is really rewarding and really worth the time. I honestly loved this, and I cannot wait for The Dragons of Nova in April 2017.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

I wanted to get more in the Halloween mood, so I thought this anthology collection would be perfect! I also, low key, wanted to read this because I just finished Crooked Kingdom, and now I have to read every sentence Leigh Bardugo has ever published. Seriously, I’m desperate.

Verse Chorus Verse ended up not being my favorite, but I was still left speechless at how good this anthology collection was! Dare I say, this might be the best anthology I’ve ever read? It is for sure the best I’ve ever rated.

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff end up being my favorite story. It was so beautiful, so thrilling, and had such amazing twists throughout. I loved it, and it has completely motivated me to read his other work.

And, sadly, M by Stefan Bachmann was my least favorite story. I wanted to like it, I really did, but it was just so boring to me.

Overall, I did really enjoy this collection and it did a wonderful job immersing me into the Halloween spirit. This is the perfect book for the Halloween season, and I can’t recommend it enough!

1.) The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma – Four Stars ★★★★
This was a perfect first story in this collection, because this author completely captures the creepy Halloween feel. This story drips with eerie, and gives a pretty good message about always listening to your kids. Also, creepy dudes are scarier than any Halloween creature.

2.) In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan – Four Stars ★★★★
This story was exquisite! It keeps switching back and forth between a span of ten years, and surrounds a girl obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, who has a very unusual friend. This story also gave me some major Five Nights as Freddy’s vibes. I was drinking tea while reading this one, and I do not recommend that. Amazing, creepy, exactly what I wanted from this short-story collection!

3.) Emmeline by Cat Winters – Three Stars ★★★
This one actually surprised me. I’m not that big of a fan of Historical Fiction, and this is set at the end of WWI, in France. I did really like this, even though it was pretty predictable. My only complaint is that it leaves you feeling really sad, rather than scared or spooked.

4.) Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo – Two Stars ★★
This was the novella I was most excited for in this anthology, but I think I set the bar too high. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed with this one. The rehab facility wasn’t explained well enough, and I think we needed more about this mother and daughter’s past to fully understand it. Don’t get me wrong, it was creepy and wonderfully written, because Leigh Bardugo is Queen, but this didn’t spook me or give me an eerie feel. It left a lot to be desired, and just made me think of an alternate reality Britney Spears.

5.) Hide and Seek by Megan Shepherd – Three Stars ★★★
This was a pretty unique take on the Grim Reaper. I also loved how it actually felt like a complete story with no loose ends. Also, the premise of Appalachian folktales hooked me from page one. This story was unique, thrilling, and had a great sense of closure.

6.) The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige – Four Stars ★★★★
Okay, this feels young and sort of Twilight-ish, but it was still really enjoyable for me. I loved all the nods at famous literature; it felt like a book lovers dream. Then, I was in Heaven with this modern day Hades and Persephone aspect. I know this is set in high school, but it also deals with the impact of bullying. Also, this has a very lyrical prose, which I absolutely devoured. I just really liked this short-story, and it left me wanting so much more!

7.) The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke – Two Stars ★★
This one felt pretty weak, especially the tie-in with the title. It is basically just a bunch of Mary Sues and Gary Stus, in high school, making bad decisions. The end was somewhat creepy, but it took a long time to get there.

8.) Fat Girl With a Knife by Jonathan Maberry – Two Stars ★★
I’ll be honest with you, the title of this, plus noticing it was by a male author, sort of pissed me off before I had even read one word of this story. So I was already developing pretty negative vibes for this story. Unfortunately, it didn’t get better while reading. This was the first zombie story, but it felt so unoriginal and even referenced The Walking Dead. Also, this story wasn’t even close to being creepy or scary; it was predictable and didn’t accomplish much.

9.) Sleepless by Jay Kristoff – Five Stars ★★★★★
This was so amazing. At first, I hated their messaging conversations, and I was actually cringing at the abbreviations they used. I knew something bad was going to go down once they said they starting talking on a serial killer subreddit, but then the twist came and I was so surprised. Then the other twist came, and I was even more surprised! Seriously, this read like such a perfect and complete short-story. This is the perfect Halloween story, especially for my generation, and I absolutely loved it!

10.) M by Stefan Bachmann – One Star ★
This story felt the weakest in the collection, in my opinion. I loved the blind representation, but the story didn’t feel very suspenseful, to me. I wish it felt more thrilling, but it fell very flat for me.

11.) The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu – Three Stars ★★★
This one was more all around scary, than Halloween scary. I think the message is pretty important, and not nearly talked about enough, but it still just lacked the eerie Halloween feel I’m looking for in these short stories. Also, major triggers for rape and cutting.

12.) A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman – Three Stars ★★★
If you’ve been following my reviews for a while now, you’ll know that I absolutely love stories about Shaman and how much I wish there were more out there! Well, this story stars one, so I was instantly drawn in. Honestly, I would read a full story set in this world. I was completely hooked, and it was perfect for my high-fantasy loving self. My only complaint: It didn’t feel like a Halloween story at all.

13.) Stitches by AG Howard – Four Stars ★★★★
This one was so creepy, yet empathetic! I loved these three children, and I can honestly say I’ve ever read anything like this; Perfect Halloween feel, amazing twists, and heart-warming characters. And the ending was so very clever. I still am thinking about this story, and I’m still super impressed.

14.) On the I-5 by Kendare Blake – Four Stars ★★★★
I loved this story, but I had the same problem I had with A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow: It didn’t feel like a Halloween story. I still absolutely loved it, and it felt like such a complete story that really left me satisfied. Revenge stories are always the best thriller stories.

I gave this anthology four stars overall, because out of a possible 70 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 14 stories) this anthology accumulated 44 stars (63%). I know that’s more like 3.5 stars, but since we can’t do half star ratings on Goodreads, and because I really enjoyed this collection, I am happy to give this four deserving stars.

I hope all of my Goodreads friends and family have a very happy Halloween, filled with love, sweets, happiness, and lots of good books.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo

“Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us? What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary.”

First and foremost, can we talk about the diversity and representation in this book?
– Main characters are POC.
– LGBTQ main characters.
– Disabled main characters.
– Body positivity.
– Abusive family dynamics.
– Trauma survivors (rape, abuse, loss.)
– Addictions (drug withdrawal and gambling.)
– Learning disabilities.
– Human trafficking awareness!

And Leigh Bardugo does all of this in a way that doesn’t feel exploitative. She just writes believable characters, in believable situations, that represent our world and the vast spectrum of human lives. She is honestly Queen, and every author should strive to write characters like her. Her books mean so much to so many people, and they are so very important and needed in today’s world. This diversity and representation is what more books need.

And she does this with only six characters! How many popular authors out there have a cast of twenty-plus characters that are all white and straight? Too many! This story is so character driven and focused, and those characters are so expertly written. Praise and bless Leigh Bardugo; I will read everything she ever writes.

To say a quick summary of this book, basically Six of Crows is about a group of unconventional young-adults that are running a heist that is much, much bigger than them. Well, Crooked Kingdom is about what happens after that heist, and the consequences from it.

I know this is just a duology, but both of these books live up to one another. They are both wonderful, action packed, witty, funny, self explorative books, which are filled with twists and turns. Leigh Bardugo also writes some of the best quotes I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

I will also very much recommend reading the Grisha trilogy before this duology, too, because some very big plot points will be spoiled from this book. Again, you’ll be able to follow everything in these books, but you will get major spoilers for the Grisha trilogy, since they share the same world and many of the characters make cameos in Crooked Kingdom!

Now, I can’t really say much more without SPOILERS, so please DO NOT continue on with this portion of the review if you have NOT read this book or Six of Crows!

This book broke me. I thought I was prepared, but I was so not prepared.

Okay, I guess we will get the biggest spoiler out of the way: I was not expecting that death. I knew, before reading this, that one of the main six would die, but I was completely blindsided on whom.

From page one, I was prepared to say goodbye to Kaz. It seemed so likely, especially with the Grisha trilogy ending, but it never came.

Kaz is, hands down, my favorite character. His growth and development speaks to something inside of me. His trauma, pain, loss, inability to let anyone get close to him, it all resonates with something inside of me. I am speechless that Leigh Bardugo was able to create Kaz Brekker, and it truly is a testament to her skill as a writer. Okay, I’m rambling, but I honestly thought he was going to die, but my little cinnamon roll lived!

Instead, I bawled my eyes out reading Matthias die, and Nina having to let him die in her arms. I see so many people saying they are upset, because they feel Matthias died for nothing, but, in my eyes, Matthias death represented so much. I mean, he was basically killed by a young version of himself, filled with hate and decimation. Matthias dying showed us what this world is truly like, how segregated it is, and how much work is left to be done.

I also think this showed us how helpless we really are to death. The irony of Nina losing her healing powers, and now is a powerful necromancer, broke my soul. But, that’s how death is, we don’t get to choose when we lose people we love, and we have to cherish the limited amount of time we do have. Just like in real life, we don’t always get happy endings.

Also, this is totally not the last we will see of Nina.

Jesper and Wylan’s relationship gave me life! The fact that their relationship was never, not once, looked down upon for being gay, and no one even made a big deal about it, seriously was the thing in this book that made me the happiest. They are both such amazing characters, and I am eternally thankful that they both were kept safe.

I also loved seeing Jesper’s father, and I need to know who his mother healed. Like, I’m going to look up theories after this, because I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

Obviously, Kaz and Inej are my favorite couple. They both have such painful pasts, but are such a perfect representation of how we are never truly broken, and we can love again after unspeakable trauma. They are so perfect for each other, and make such a great team. They truly build each other up and grow together, and I can’t get enough of them.

“And that was what destroyed you in the end: the longing for something you could never have.”

I feel like they are even more satisfying than they should be, because they represent, to me, what the the Grisha trilogy ending should have been. Be still, my heart.

This is probably the only series I’ve read, where everyone gets paired up together and it doesn’t bother me. It’s done so believable and so well, it just makes my heart happy and it doesn’t make my eyes roll like everyone other series that does this. The romance in this doesn’t feel forced, and it definitely takes a back seat to the rest of the plot.

And the friendships are also extraordinarily done, especially Nina and Inej’s. Their friendship was so pure and I have no words for the joy that seeing them saving each other gave me. Please, authors, give me more female friendships like this.

I loved all the cameos in this book, especially Nikolai (I was jumping up and down when Sturmhond, made an appearance!) Then, seeing Genya and Zoya again made me legitimately squeal! You have no idea how much I need more from this world! Please, oh please, Leigh Bardugo!

This is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and will for sure make it on my “Best of 2016” list. Kaz and Inej are relationship goals, and Leigh Bardugo is writing goals. I love this Grisha world, and I cannot wait to be back in it.

“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.”

 When I saw this piece, I lost my breath. Thank you, hainex, for creating this masterpiece.

Now, excuse me while I scour every inch of the internet for Kaz and Inej fan-fiction.