Review: Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Series: King of Scars #2
Goodreads: Rule of Wolves
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible. 

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

Review: Alright here we go, lets talk about the grand finale of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse or at least the final book for now. I couldn’t figure out how to do this without spoilers so there’ll be spoilers below for Rule of Wolves, King of Scars, and the other books that make up the Grishaverse.

The Nikolai duology and I have really not gotten on, and Rule of Wolves really does follow the same pattern unfortunately. This book feels almost like fan service, all your faves will appear here including The Darkling (he even gets his own pov chapters) after his revival in King of Scars, and if you love a story based around bringing together all the characters for one last hurrah then you’ll probably love this. I, unfortunately, loathed this feature because it meant that the book was stuffed so full that most plot points ended up being meaningless or forgotten after a few pages. In Rule of Wolves you’ll get, without adding in the huge spoiler plot points:

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Bimonthly Book Haul

Bi-monthly she said, well that didn’t happen did it. I went on a wildly unsuccessful book buying ban, and due to the country shutting down and my brush with Covid-19 I didn’t managed to read many books let alone buy ’em but now we’re back baby. This is going to be a bit of a long clean-up post so we can get back on track with this whole book haul thing, and so I can call myself out for buying books and then forgetting about them like a fool. There’ll also be no ARCs in this post because I did, somehow, manage to resist requesting advanced reader copies and I’m quite proud of myself!

Bought

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Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Series: King of Scars #1
Goodreads: King of Scars
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Review: So I finally sat down and read the Nikolai duology all in one go. I’d been saving it because I know Leigh is partial to a cliff-hanger and I wanted to avoid that whole experience, so I waited patiently for Rule of Wolves and now I’m going to release the reviews back to back too! There’ll be a few spoilers for other novels in the Grisha series below.

Right, first things first, this book was a surprisingly mediocre experience for me, just so we’re both on the same page before we get into things. King of Scars and I just did not click. I’d been really looking forward to a narrative based around Nikolai but I think he ended up getting the least amount of character development, and that’s not to say I didn’t love the addition of Zoya and Nina’s perspectives, it was just unexpected. In fact, Zoya completely steals the show from Nikolai and her story-line and characterization just feels better than his, to the point where I kind of wish this book was completely Zoya focused. Zoya is powerful, talented, and her snark with Nikolai was right up my street. I really feel like Bardugo excels when it comes to dialogue and relationships between characters, and it’s always a joy to read the characters interacting with each other.

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Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Series: Hades and Persephone #1
Goodreads: A Touch of Darkness
Publisher: Self Published
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows – and it’s forbidden.

Review: I’ve recently descended into booktok hell and alongside that swift descent I rekindled my love of Greek mythology, so when A Touch of Darkness popped up on my for you page it felt like fate. A spicy Hades and Persephone retelling while I’m gripped by Lore Olympus, yes please, but this book ended up being a major flop for me.

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Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series: These Violent Delights #1
Goodreads: These Violent Delights
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Hodder & Stoughton.

I’ve been struggling with this review in the same way I struggled to finish this book. I think it may be a case of covid brain and an ill-timed Hades play-through that meant I read this in bits and couldn’t settle into it, but I’m going to try my best to explain why I didn’t click with this book.

The Shanghai that Chloe Gong developed was so intricate and interesting, and I really felt as though I was walking the city streets alongside Juliette and Roma. It’s vivid, and the clashes between the different cultures alongside the colonisation of Shanghai, and Juliette’s discomfort with the westernisation of her home is palpable. Juliette was certainly my favourite part of the These Violent Delights. She’s tough, whip smart, plus I loved the fact she was torn between her loyalty to the gang and working with Roma to save Shanghai. Juliette returns to the city from America with something to prove and a lot to lose, and you can really feel how on edge she feels walking round an often unfamiliar Shanghai. She’s wonderfully well developed, and I was always disappointed when we moved away from her perspective!

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Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Goodreads: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
Publisher: First Second Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: All Freddy Riley wants is for Laura Dean to stop breaking up with her.

The day they got together was the best one of Freddy’s life, but nothing’s made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny, and SO CUTE … but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy’s head spinning — and Freddy’s friends can’t understand why she keeps going back.

When Freddy consults the services of a local mystic, the mysterious Seek-Her, she isn’t thrilled with the advice she receives. But something’s got to give: Freddy’s heart is breaking in slow motion, and she may be about to lose her very best friend as well as her last shred of self-respect. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnist Anna Vice, to help her through being a teenager in love.

Review: trigger warning: abortion, emotional abuse

This gorgeous Graphic novel has been on my list for so long that it’s become slightly embarrassing, I fell in love with the art but never managed to find a copy in my local bookshop. Eventually, I caved (lock-down broke me) and ordered it from Waterstones, so now I can finally say I’ve finished the absolutely gorgeous Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.

The detail, the art style, the clever use of pink to make certain panels pop, this is undeniably one of the prettiest graphic novels I’ve ever read. I fell in love before I’d opened it up, and the artwork within did not disappoint.

It’s just a gorgeous novel following a girl just trying to figure out love, and the emotional turmoil that comes with it’s challenges.

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Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Goodreads: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Publisher: Titan Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Titan Books!

I don’t think I can express quite how happy I was to receive an eBook of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue back in August, and I devoured it as soon as I was approved. This book leapt high above my expectations, and this review is going to be more of an ode to V. E. Schwab and her writing.

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Review: The Orphanage of the Gods by Helena Coggan

Goodreads: The Orphanage of the Gods
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Book Depository
Synopsis: Twenty years ago, the humans came for their gods.

In the bloody revolution, gods were all but wiped out. Ever since, the children they left behind have been imprisoned in an orphanage, watched day and night by the ruthless Guard. Any who show signs of divine power vanish from their beds in the night, all knowledge of their existence denied.

No one has ever escaped the orphanage.
Until now
.

Seventeen-year-old Hero is finally free – but at a terrible price. Her sister has been captured by the Guard and is being held in a prison in the northern sea. Hero desperately wants to get her back, and to escape the murderous Guardsmen hunting her down. But not all the gods are dead, and the ones waiting for Hero in the north have their own plans for her – ones that will change the world forever . . .

As she advances further and further into the unknown, Hero will need to decide: how far is she willing to go to do what needs to be done?

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Hodder & Stoughton!

So I’ve been attempting to improve my Netgalley average and this is one I’ve had sitting around for a little while. The blurb really caught me when I requested it, but I never got round into picking this up until now.

The Orphanage of the Gods, unfortunately, didn’t manage to live up to my expectations. It had a really strong start with Hero, who’s strength and compassion I still admire, but once the perspective switching began I found myself less interested. The other two perspectives were a strange addition, Raven especially as she was a young girl and I don’t really think it added any essential details to the story, but Kestrel’s perspective just made me uncomfortable and I’ll be getting into why a little later. There was also the fact that once the perspective switched the other two protagonists were barely touched on; it felt a bit like I was reading three stories in one, and I was not a fan.

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Review: The Damned by Renée Ahdieh

Series: The Beautiful #2
Goodreads: The Damned
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Book Depository
Synopsis: Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

Review:  I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

So at the end of my review of The Beautiful I said that I felt the series had a lot of potential, and despite not being wild about the book I was rather excited for the sequel. I figured The Damned would put Celine at the centre of a Vampire vs Werewolf conflict, and in some ways I was right, but at the same time so, so, wrong.

I asked for more vampires and The Damned definitely delivered. The lack of vampire action was one of my biggest issues with The Beautiful, but this book has supernatural creatures in spades. There’s a whole lot of world development in this one, some of which should have been mentioned in the first novel, but this book really revealed New Orleans’ supernatural underbelly and I loved it.

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Review: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

Series: The Beautiful #1
Goodreads: The Beautiful
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Book Depository
Synopsis: In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

Review: Cleaning up my book backlog from a rather bad reading slump means that this technically an e-arc, so thank you Hodder & Stoughton for giving me the ebook version!

I love vampires, stupid twilight dragged me in, and now I’ll consume most media where these monsters feature. Admittedly, now, I prefer my vampires darker rather than sparkly vegetarians, but I was really excited to pick up The Beautiful. This is also my first Renée Ahdieh book, although Flame in the Mist had been on my tbr for a while, and I’d heard so many good things about her writing that I was really excited to pick it up.

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