Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Awesome heist story, with a trickster god (not literally) of an anti-hero? Check. Kickass female characters who really deserve their own books? Check. Romantic subplots that gives you ALL THE FEELS without being annoying or taking over the story? Check. Diverse characters? Check, check and check. A character that might have annoyed me some in the first book but I feel oh so protective about in this sequel? CHECK.
Really, I can’t think of a single thing to dislike about Crooked Kingdom, or the first book in this duology, Six of Crows. I’ve yet to read the original Grisha books, and now I want to because this duology is over and I WANT MORE OF THIS WORLD. No, I want more of THESE CHARACTERS, but I guess I’m not going to get that, so I’ll take what I can. Six of Crows ended with one of Kaz Brekker’s crews getting captured and the gang not being paid, and this book continues right after, as they plot their revenge and rescue. Basically, this book is just beautiful because it checks all my favourite boxes but THAT ENDING. *cries eternal tears.* Do read this.
Note: I received a copy from Pansing Distribution Malaysia in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Pansing!
Thick As Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner
So, I was one of the lucky ones who got to read this ahead of the release date, but of course the thing about being able to read something so anticipated and so amazing early on, is that you can’t really talk about it with anyone else. It’s so frustrating! This is the fifth book in the Queen’s Thief series, so if you haven’t read the previous books, ignore me and just go and read the first four books instead. Or – you know what? It doesn’t matter. You can start with this one. Each book can be read as a standalone, and out of order, although it is a treat to read it in order.
Minus spoilers, it’s hard to know what I can say about it, so I’ll be short:
The main character is Kamet – those who have read previous books may remember him, but even if you haven’t, or don’t, no worries – you’ll love him here. Eventually. Maybe. The thing about Megan Whalen Turner is the thing about Diana Wynne Jones – you love her characters as much as you love to hate on them, and I suppose that kind of thing isn’t for everyone. So. There is Kamet, who is a slave, and there is a stranger, who is a soldier. This stranger may not be a stranger to readers of previous books, but again, it doesn’t matter. The soldier tells the slave that he can help him run away and find freedom. The slave follows the soldier, but there is something he knows that the soldier doesn’t. And there is a journey, full of snakes and slave traders and a lion’s den. And at the end of it all, there is a king, who is possibly the greatest thief there is in fiction and real life, and while many are still doubtful, it is possible that he might be one of the great kings in their country’s history.
The reader will be either mind blown by the brilliance of the story, or very gleeful because they’ve figured it out and are in on the joke. The characters are too busy being annoyed or angry or exasperated to appreciate all of the mind-blowingly brilliant bits. Probably. This adds to the readers’ glee.
This may be the best book you’ll ever read (that isn’t by Diana Wynne Jones) unless that book is The Thief or The Queen of Attolia or The King of Attolia or A Conspiracy of Kings. Or, you know, the next Queen’s Thief book, which I will probably have to wait another seven years for. It will be worth it.
Note: I received an ARC from MPH Distributors Malaysia through work. I also received a finished copy later on, and there is an ENTIRE CHARACTER who isn’t quite included in the ARC, so if you’ve only read the ARC, I recommend reading the finished copy.
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
I am obsessed with this series. I have to say that the adult in me feels just a teensy bit embarrassed admitting it because despite not believing in the idea of “guilty pleasures” and thinking that no reading should be considered shameful, the fact remains that there is a tiny elitist voice in me saying that I should be beyond this – something that, if published under adult fiction, would be shelved under Romance rather than Fantasy, and would bear those bodice-ripping covers with swooning women and muscular men. Ha. Not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of fiction. It’s just that it’s not what I usually go for, despite my affection for the romance genre. And it surprises me that in this case, I am really and truly enjoying it.
In this installation of the series, practically everyone gets a love interest and lots of sexual tension. And as interesting as that may be, my favourite part is when everyone from the previous books FINALLY CAME TOGETHER. I know what I’m writing may not make sense to anyone that hadn’t read the series, but it’s an epic fantasy and this is the fifth book. There are nearly a dozen narrators by now and in the last book, I was completely rooting for Manon’s character development and wanted to whoop with joy to see how her story progressed in this book. Aelin had annoyed me incredibly in the first book and by now I’m rooting for her, too – she’s really stepping into her role as a leader and queen, which is excellent, but best of all she’s proving herself to be quite a trickster, and I love tricksters.
Before the Throne of Glass books, I only swore by one romance author – Nora Roberts (who writes adult romances, yeah, but some of them are less steamy than Sarah J. Maas’ YA, so I guess it doesn’t matter). The thing I love about Nora Roberts’ books were the characters – they were all so completely real and human and easily became people whose lives you cared about. When I wrote fanfic, I came to realise that I learned a lot about characterisation from her books. I think that I could say the same about Sarah J. Maas and action/plot. The way she kept things moving, the way that even when Aelin still annoyed me I was driven by this intense desire to know what happens next, and the feeling wouldn’t let go until I got to the end of the book. That’s special. And if I were still writing fanfic, I have a feeling that I’d find that I learned a lot from these books. They’re not for everyone, but they certainly made for good reading for me.
Note: I received a copy from Pansing Distributors Malaysia in exchange for an honest review.