This year, it seems like everyone on my Twitter and Instagram feeds has been reading the Six of Crows duology. I read Shadow and Bone a few years ago but didn’t click with it at the time – but I thought I would give Six of Crows the benefit of the doubt, and I’m very, very pleased that I did!
Six of Crows follows a gang of criminals in the fictional city of Ketterdam in Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, as they embark on an impossible heist — it could save the world as they know it and make them wealthier than they could ever imagine, but it could also end with them dead.
I think the first thing to say about the book is that it is so action-packed and perfectly paced, whilst still having beautiful prose and a big focus on the world. The balance between action/set-up was just right; I felt that I could ease myself into the lives of the crew, getting to know them quickly so that when the pace really picked up, I knew I was invested.
There were times when I had to go back and read sentences over multiple times because they were so wonderfully written, which isn’t something I’m used to with fantasy books. Bardugo has mastered the writing craft in a way that feels very unique, and is therefore not forgettable. She puts her mark on the book to a degree that I don’t see from many other authors. It made me want to read more fantasy to find something similar!
The characters, though, are definitely the best bit of Six of Crows. It would be hard to choose a favourite because they are all very different, but I did have a huge soft spot for Nina, who I could read about all day and would like a spin-off book of.
It was lovely to follow multiple characters who were all equally important to the plot and all had individual stories and lives. They’re not all morally good – in fact, I’d be pressed to say if any of them are – but that made me love them more because they felt as real to me as my own friends.
In Kaz, the leader and mastermind of the heist, Bardugo has sensitively portrayed a disabled protagonist and other non-Own Voices writers would do good to take note of Bardugo’s characterisation here, as well as of her representation of different nationalities and ethnicities.
Six of Crows left me desperate to read the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, so I’ll be doing that as soon as I possibly can. I’m now completely obsessed with the Grishaverse, so I’d like to revisit Shadow and Bone too and the other books in the trilogy. Sometimes you just have to read a book at the right time!
Have you read Six of Crows? If you have, let me know in the comments who your favourite character was!
If you haven’t read it, I’d love your recommendations for fantasy books with beautiful prose writing.
I cannot believe that it’s already December. This year has flown by at an incredible rate, and I’ve read some amazing books so far. I want to binge read my way to the end – so I’ve put together a very large TBR that I want to work my way through up until New Year. Who knows if I’ll read them all?! (Probably not.)
There’s a lot of fantasy included because I’m working on a fantasy series at the moment – lots of research is being done, which means reading around the genre a bit more! I also really want to finish some of the series and trilogies that I’ve been meaning to read for absolutely ages.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
It seems like everyone has read and loved Six of Crows, so I’ve been putting it off for ages because I really want to love it and I’m worried I won’t. It’s the first book in a duology, the second book being Crooked Kingdom, so the hope is to read them both back-to-back if I enjoy Six of Crows.
It’s about a criminal gang who work together to pull off a heist and I’ve heard so much about how awesome the characters are that I can’t wait to dive into it to meet them. So far, I’ve read the first chapter and it’s really good. Hopefully it will continue that way!
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Wing Jones is one of my most-anticipated releases of 2016 so when a copy popped through my letterbox, I was EXTREMELY excited. Understatement. Katherine is one of my favourite people on the Internet and super lovely, so I have no doubt that I’m going to love Wing Jones with all my heart.
It tells the story of teenager Wing who is caught between two different worlds – she has a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, so she’s stuck between the two cultures. Wing is a runner and running is the one thing that could save her family, who have recently experienced a tragedy. It’s also the thing that could keep her from the one thing she wants. How AMAZING does that sound?!?!
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
I haven’t read a super good US contemporary in AGES and this year I’ve read a shamefully low amount of LGBTQ+ fiction, so Everything Leads to You is going to be my cure for this.
It’s set in Los Angeles with a main character who is a production designer and working in the film industry. Emi, however, still feels like every other teenager when it comes to romance. I think it sounds so cute! It’s exactly what I need.
Never Evers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
I have been meaning to read Never Evers since last year after loving Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison’s debut novel, Lobsters. As winter ended though, I knew it would be better for me to read it as it started getting colder again and I could get into the winter spirit. So now is finally time to read it!
It’s on the slightly younger side of the YA scale – as opposed to Lobsters, which was for slightly older teens – and is set during a school ski trip. It’s about friendship, awkward romantic endeavours, and also a French pop star who turns up at the same time as the school trip… I think it’s going to be great!
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Whenever I scroll through Twitter, I always see people raving about how good Rebel of the Sands is. I *need* to read this soon!
It’s described as “an epic story of swirling desert sands, love, magic and revolution” which I think will be perfect to read now that I’m trying to get to more fantasy. I also want to read it before the sequel comes out next year, so I can stay up to date. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll really like it!
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
A Thousand Nights is a YA retelling of Arabian Nights, which I’ve never read and don’t know too much about, to be honest. I picked it up, though, because it sounds really interesting – about a girl who tells stories to keep herself alive in a palace where she is sure death awaits. As her stories become more intricate and beautiful, though, her magic becomes more powerful.
It sounds beautiful and I love books that have individual stories interweaved into the main plot.
Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens
I adored Robin’s debut novel, Murder Most Unladylike, and Arsenic for Tea is the second book in the series. They’re so quaint and amongst my favourite middle grade books. I can’t wait to continue on with the series and get back to Hazel and Daisy, the best pair of detectives ever.
In Arsenic for Tea, Hazel and Daisy have to solve the case of a poisoning that happens at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, over the school holidays. The books are set in the 1930’s and always make me feel super good inside, despite all the murder going on. They’re impossible not to love!
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
I heard about The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry a while back and loved Stacey’s review of it. A book about books?! I’m already in love.
It’s about the owner of a failing bookshop that one day finds a little girl on his doorstep with a note attached to her asking if he will look after her. It sounds incredibly cute and sweet, which I think will be perfect for the Christmas period.
Night School Endgame by C.J. Daugherty
The Night School series is one of my all-time favourites, but I’ve been super awful at finishing series this year. I think it’s because I don’t want to let them go! Night School Endgame is the final book in the series and the penultimate ended on such a cliffhanger that I’m not sure how I’ve waited this long for the next book.
I can already tell that it will be thrilling and exciting and will most likely smash my heart into smithereens, but all I can say to that is: BRING IT ON! I am so ready for it.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favourite authors of all time and I’ve read the majority of her books, but not The Scorpio Races yet. Her writing is beautiful and lyrical; I’m constantly in awe when I read her books. If I can be half as good as her one day, it would be incredible!
It’s a standalone novel about a competition that happens every year where only one person can win. The first line is, “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” If that’s not the most thrilling first sentence ever, I don’t know what is.
Raging Star by Moira Young
I was obsessed with Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart when I read them a few years ago, but then never read the last book in the trilogy. I think I’m a little bit insane for leaving it this long, but it is a testament to the awesomeness of these books that I’m just as excited years later as I was then.
The trilogy is set in a post-apocalyptic future with a wasteland setting and Moira Young writes in such an interesting style that makes it so easy to get in the head of the protagonist, Saba. I can’t wait to jump back in to the incredible world that Moira has created – and I’m sure it will make me want to re-read all of the books again!
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Days of Blood and Starlight is the second book in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Again, it’s a trilogy that I started a few years ago and loved at the time, but I was reading so much that the subsequent books slipped through my net.
I want to finish this trilogy before I start Laini’s next, which starts with Strange the Dreamer. She’s absolutely amazing at creating a totally believable world and she’s one of my favourite fantasy writers. This is going to be fantastic!
What are you aiming to read in December? Let me know in the comments below!
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I have a problem: I can’t stop buying books. My tastes have changed dramatically over the last few months so I’ve been discovering lots of new books and therefore can’t resist buying them all. I suppose there are worse problems to have!
As soon as I saw the new re-issues of Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie‘s books, I had already mentally bought them. I’ve wanted to read her books for a long time, but have only so far gotten to We Should All be Feminists – which I think is essential reading for everyone! 4th Estate have brought out these new gorgeous editions of Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, The Thing Around Your Neck and Americanah, which I think will really encourage me to read her books soon.
I’ve also been collecting the Penguin English Library series recently so I picked out a few more to add to my ever-growing pile. I bought The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne because I’ve been studying Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy recently and The Scarlet Letter, although American, has similar themes of sin and the idea of purity. So I thought it would be some good extended reading!
I then added Silas Marner to my collection of George Eliot novels; I started reading Middlemarch a few months ago and am liking it (although I’m struggling to find the time to read it amongst all of my other books – it’s massive!), so I thought I’d try some more George Eliot soon. I don’t know much about it but I do love the purple hue of the spine.
Two Charles Dickens novels then – A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations. I read A Christmas Carol at school a few years ago but can’t remember much of it other than the basic storyline so I’d like to revisit it before Christmas this year. I watched the BBC miniseries of Great Expectations a few years ago and really enjoyed it, but it’s never felt right to read it until now. So I’m expecting good things!
And then because I consider Thomas Hardy among my favourite authors, I bought The Mayor of Casterbridge and Two on a Tower. I am incredibly excited to read these because I’m in love with Hardy’s Wessex and could read his books all day, every day. I LOVE them!!
There is then The Woman in White and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, which I didn’t know too much about beforehand but have been recommended to me by lots of people in the last few weeks. They’re mystery novels and Wilkie Collins was one of the authors who inspired Agatha Christie, so I’m sure they’ll be brilliant, even if they are slightly different to what I’d usually read.
Finally for my Penguin English Library pile, I bought Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. I have no idea when I’m going to get round to reading this huge book, but it was loved by Charlotte Brontë, which is why I want to read it. My Brontë obsession is getting out of hand!
The final three books are all by Vita Sackville West – The Edwardians, Pepita and All Passion Spent. Vintage have reissued these editions recently, and I knew I had to buy them. It’s my aim to read as many Bloomsbury and Virginia Woolf-related books as I can, and Vita Sackville-West was a friend of Virginia Woolf and partly inspired her book, Orlando!
From Hachette, I was sent Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, the sequel to Six of Crows. I’m looking forward to reading them back to back, even if I didn’t love Leigh Bardugo’s other book, Shadow and Bone.
Also part of my quest to read Bloomsbury-related books, I bought The Waste Land and other poems by T.S. Eliot. The Waste Land was first published by The Hogarth Press, Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s publishing company and I also love poetry, so I can’ wait to read this. It’s a staple part of the poetry canon, in my opinion, so I’m hoping to read it ASAP.
I had recently read a little bit on John Keats’s life, so I thought I’d check out some of his poetry. He died tragically young and his life is very interesting to read about. I don’t know a lot about his poetry, so I’m looking forward to exploring it soon!
Anne of Green Gables is a children’s classic – but I’ve never read it, and I’m sure I’m missing out! I love the Vintage Children’s Classics editions and they even have fun little activities in the back. I can’t wait to start this series!
I first heard about Grief is the Thing with Feathers last year, when I did work experience in a bookshop. I’d been intrigued ever since, so finally bought a copy now that the paperback has been released and people are talking about it lots again. I did buy the hardback though!
Finally, because of my obsession with Virginia Woolf, I found this copy of The Charleston Bulletin Supplements which was written by Virginia’s nephews and which she contributed to too. I’d never heard of this before so it was a lovely surprise to find!
Isabel Greenberg is one of my favourite graphic novelists so when I first heard about her new one, The One Hundred Nights of Hero, I was incredibly excited. Her artwork is amazing and couples with her ability to weave incredible, fairytale-like stories which makes for a magical reading experience. I’m going to curl up with it one weekend and devour the amazing stories within!
Another graphic novelist I like is Nina Cosford, who has previously published little graphic novels on the lives of Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, and her latest book is My Name is Girl which looks like it’s going to offer a funny insight into the mind of being a woman. I’m looking forward to it lots!
And the final book on my pile is this gorgeous collection of three Brontë novels, published by Barnes and Noble. It was gifted to me by my lovely friend Lauren and I did feel rather emotional when she gave it to me – it’s one of the best gifts EVER. I’m incredibly in love with it and would take it everywhere with me if I didn’t think it would get damaged if I did. THANK YOU, Lauren!
Those were the books that fell in to my hands in September! I’m estimating that October will be a far less busy month in terms of book buying because I don’t think I have any more room for more books!
What books did you get in September? Are there any on my list that you think I should read immediately?
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