Posted in book review

Sawkill Girls: Reviewed

Sawkill Girls

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Genres/Descriptors: YA; horror; fantasy; LGBTQ+

Publication: October 2018

Pages: 450

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

I tried to write something, but honestly? The Goodreads description is perfect, and I don’t want to give away anything.

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.


Review:

This is either going to be very short, or very long, because I have a lot of feelings about this book, but I also don’t want to give anything away that might spoil it for someone. This book is so hard to talk about without spoilers, but I really think going into it without knowing much about the story is for the best.

I started this one night, barely managed to put it down after devouring about 60% of it, then immediately started reading again while eating breakfast. After that, I only put it down for a bathroom break. (The phrase “compulsively readable” comes to mind, and that’s exactly how I would describe this, if phrases like that didn’t make me roll my eyes.)

This book was so perfect for me: creepy and atmospheric setting, queer girls (there’s an asexual character, and the word “asexual” is on the page! plus a f/f relationship), great character dynamics, and it was angry in ways that are so relatable and had me cheering on the characters.

From the first page, I was totally sucked in. Sawkill Rock, and our three protagonists, owned my heart. By the halfway point, I’m pretty sure Claire Legrand owned part of my soul.

The writing is right up my alley, at least for books like this. Some people will probably hate it because it’s the kind of poetic kind of writing you find in some magical realism books, and I know that’s hit or miss for some people. It is for me, too, but in this book? It. Works. The writing added an extra layer to the atmosphere of the story, and I drank it in like I needed it to survive.

Non-spoilery example, from the prologue:

Old money: the taste of it sits on every tongue like a film of stale sugar.

The setting itself was fantastic. I love stories set on small islands, oh my gosh. Give me more! Something about those just instantly make a story feel a bit more magical, like anything could happen, like magic could be lurking just through the trees. I love it. If you enjoyed the setting of The Wicked Deep, you’ll probably like this one. Oh, and also Cabeswater, from The Raven Cycle (not an island, but kind of similar vibe). Sawkill Rock was very much a character in this story, and that’s another thing I want to read more of. I love when the actual land a story takes place on is a character (or like a character, whatever).

The characters. Where do I start? Background characters. So, even the characters who didn’t get a ton of page time were so freaking good. They were all distinct, and I could not only imagine how they looked, but I got a good sense of what they would sound like. That almost never happens for me, except when I’ve seen an adaptation before reading the book. Special shout out specifically for Grayson because he was a precious cinnamon roll and I love him ❤ He’s my newest book child, and I would protect him (possibly) with my life.

Marion, Zoey, and Valerie were amazing. Even when I didn’t really like them, I still liked reading about them.

Marion was strong and grounded, acting as the rock for her mother and sister to lean on. I was rooting for her from the beginning, and my heart just kept hurting for her. She went through so much, took on so much responsibility (I related a lot to that), and I just kept wishing she’d find some peace and happiness.

Zoey was probably the character I related to the most, at least with her personality. I can relate a lot to hiding feelings, laughing at possibly inappropriate times, and being an outcast. There were a few times I just wanted to hug her so bad.

And then there’s Valerie. I don’t know what to say about Val, because most of my opinions are wrapped so tightly with spoilers. I really enjoyed getting to know her, and her family history, and I was definitely satisfied with how things wrapped up. (For her, and for everyone else.)

The plot is tricky to talk about, but I will say that it kept me guessing. Until revelations were being made, I had no clue where this story was going, and I loved that. I usually have at least a couple of guesses, and one is usually right. But not with this book. I didn’t have a guess that turned out to be accurate until pretty late in the story, and it didn’t even involve any of our main characters. (It was about Zoey’s dad, for those of you who’ve read it.) The direction this took, with the reason girls kept disappearing from Sawkill, didn’t really surprise me, but I also wasn’t expecting it before it took that turn. The specifics of it all were different from anything else I’ve read, though, I’m pretty sure.

**If you think trigger/content warnings are spoilers, skip to the next paragraph!** This one definitely needs warnings for: blood and gore; violence; parental abuse; suicidal thoughts; loss of loved ones; drinking/alcohol; talk about miscarriage; animal death (not tortured, more like that scene from the ferry in The Ring); a challenged and apologized for acephobic comment plus mention of other comments that were not apologized for. There’s probably more, so I would suggest looking for others, if you feel you need to.

I want to gush and scream about this book, because that’s what I’m doing on the inside, but I’m trying so hard to keep this spoiler free. I’m wrapping this up now, before I can’t stop myself and do spoil it. So, in short, I absolutely loved this book, and I’m probably going to be screaming about it for a very long time. I highly recommend it.

I gave this one all the stars, 5 out of 5, and I wish I could give more, oh my gosh. This is a new favorite, and I can not wait to read more from Claire Legrand.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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Posted in book review

King of Scars: Reviewed

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (book one in the Nikolai duology)

Genres/Descriptors: YA; fantasy

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

This one takes place after the Six of Crows duology, and you definitely have to have read it and the Grisha trilogy to read King of Scars. I’m just going to paste in the Goodreads summary because mine kept getting way too long-winded.

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, the young king 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 Squaller, 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:

Being back in Ravka was basically like returning to Hogwarts, and I was absolutely thrilled ❤ We got to see a lot more of Ravka, and learn more about political stuff (that could have been expanded on, because we really only get a small glimpse into the politics and relationships between the nations), religion, customs, etc. in this book, and I really enjoyed all of that.

There were a lot of references to things and people from the original Grisha trilogy, and I was living for those oh my gosh. One of the reasons I was so excited about this book was because I wanted to know what happened with some of the characters from those books (not just Nikolai, but also Genya, Tolya, Tamar, David, etc.), and I wasn’t disappointed…mostly. We’ll get to that.

There were three points of view in this one: Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina. This is where we come to one of my first issues. See, this is called the “Nikolai” duology…but Nikolai basically felt like a secondary character. I didn’t actually count how many chapters were from each POV or anything, but it definitely seemed like Nikolai took a back seat in this one, which really threw me. I was expecting Nikolai, and maybe one other POV (or more than one, but with most of the chapters being from Nikolai’s POV). I just feel like the name of the duology is a bit misleading.

That said… Zoya!! I was so freaking excited to see her again, holy crap. I love Zoya. She’s an absolute badass, she doesn’t put up with anyone’s BS, and I loved all her chapters. I really enjoyed getting more of her backstory, too. (This honestly almost felt more like a Zoya book than a Nikolai book 😛 ) But, I had some issues. Some things happened later in the story with her that felt so rushed. The build up just wasn’t really there. I mean, it was, but it was so brief that when this huge, important thing happened, it felt so anticlimactic and rushed. I was really disappointed with how that went down, even though I enjoyed the final result, if that makes sense.

Back to Nikolai, since this is supposed to be his duology… He’s still my precious book child, and I loved him so much in this book. My heart hurt for him throughout most of it, and I honestly thought for a while that he might die. Yeah. His story was so intense that I actually wondered if Leigh Bardugo was going to kill off the duology’s eponymous character o_O I loved that uncertainty, though, because the tension was fantastic. Some things involving him, sort of, were kind of hilarious (but also so sad). I can’t elaborate because spoilers, but if you’ve read it already, I’m talking about the thing with Isaak.

Nina was my favorite from the Six of Crows duology, I think, and I was literally squealing with joy when I started reading this and saw that she was a POV character again ❤ And then my joy was promptly squashed. I won’t go into specifics, because spoilers, but wow. I expected Nina to be different, after what she went through in the Six of Crows duology, but not in the ways she was different in this book. This Nina felt like a totally different character, so drastically changed from who she used to be that she’s pretty much unrecognizable. She’s also in a different place from the other two, so that was weird for me (I’m finding I don’t mind multi-POV stories, as long as the characters are basically in the same place most of the time). Her part just felt unnecessary and dragged out for most of the book, like she was just kind of shoved into the story because so many people love her :/ I’m sure (like, 99.999% sure) that her story will be very important for the next book, but I spent most of her chapters in this one completely bored and wishing for it to end.

The villains, antagonists, whatever…left a lot to be desired, in my opinion. I am absolute trash for the Darkling, and I think he is one of the best antagonists pretty much ever. I love him because he’s just so freaking bad. But the ones in this book were just mediocre. I was not happy with them, and I feel like their parts were also really rushed. We never really got to know them, so I never really cared much about them being defeated, and it really didn’t feel like the stakes were as high as they were in the other five books in this universe. That isn’t to say that the stakes weren’t high, because they were. I just never felt that tension I look for with antagonists.

There were pairings that were kind of hinted at potentially developing in the next book, but none of the unpaired characters got together in this one, which I liked. I’m not sure how I feel about the potential romances that were hinted at, because I’m not opposed to them, but I’m also not super excited about them.

The plot and pacing felt so scattered). At times, things moved so slow, and I was kind of bored. But, with some really important things, it moved too fast and not enough time was spent with the build up and resolution, so the importance of what was happening wasn’t really driven home, and I didn’t care as much as I think I should have. I also kept waiting for the two plots to meet, but that didn’t really happen in this one, which was disappointing.

That. Ending. It’s something I’ve kind of wanted to happen, but now that it has, I almost wish it had stayed as just a headcanon kind of thing. I’m just not sure how I feel about it, and I’ll have to see how things play out in the second book.

For me, this has been Leigh Bardugo’s weakest book, and I am gutted by that thought. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I feel like I went into this expecting it to be like the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology, and it just wasn’t on the same level for me. I am absolutely going to buy and read the second book, but this one was such a letdown.

I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars, and I’m still angrily crying about that because I expected to love it more.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


I have a lot of feelings and thoughts about this one, so I might be writing a second post with spoilers soon.


Have you read King of Scars? What did you think of it?

Posted in book review

Vicious: Reviewed

Alright, this is more like a chatty, rambling thing than a review. Whatever. I need to talk about this freaking book! (This was supposed to post earlier, but apparently I didn’t check that the scheduling time was set for AM instead of PM *facepalm* )

Vicious (Villains, #1)

Description from goodreads:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. 

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Review(ish)

You guys…I had this book for so long. SO. LONG. I had the original cover (the one I used above), and I’m pretty sure I got this in like 2014, but didn’t read it until last month. At first it was because I wasn’t in the right mood, but I really wanted to read it as soon as I finally was. Then, we got the news about the sequel, so I waited. And waited. And waited. I still don’t have Vengeful (I tried to pre-order it, but my B&N order was randomly cancelled, and I’m still mad), but hopefully soon.

Anyway, this is about Vicious, so back to that.

This. Freaking. Book! If you’ve read it and are a fan, I’m sure you can imagine my feelings. From the very beginning, literally the first page, I knew I was going to love this book. I loved Victor and Sydney immediately, and oh my gosh Mitch ❤ And Dol ❤ I love them, and they are all my precious book children. (Well, okay, I might be referring to Victor as my first book boyfriend in like 12 years, but that’s beside the point.)

The relationship between Victor and Sydney could have been creepy, but it wasn’t. It was a little heart breaking at times, but I also felt like the Grinch near the end at one part, when Sydney went looking for Victor after an encounter with her sister. I honestly thought my heart was growing three sizes when I read Sydney’s thoughts, oh my gosh.

Mitch might have been my favorite character? I’m not totally sure. I loved the whole trio, but Mitch was just such a freaking cinnamon roll. I felt terrible for him and his backstory, and I made the most ridiculous screeching at one part when he was in a bathroom. (I am trying so hard to avoid spoilers, in case there’s anyone who hasn’t read this yet.)

I hated Eli. Right away, I hated him, and kind of started hoping something really terrible was going to happen to him not long after we started getting to know him. He might be the first “love to hate them” character I’ve encountered (on this level) since Umbridge 😮 I had so much fun hating him, which probably seems kind of weird, but oh well.

This book was so weird. I loved the take on EOs (ExtraOrdinaries) in this universe so much. While I do tend to enjoy sci-fi, sometimes I’m kind of “meh” about the actual science-y things. With this one, I don’t really know how to feel about it, like how much research and actual facts went into this book, because I haven’t checked anything out. Regardless of whether or not any of it was based on facts, it was delivered very well, and I don’t think I’ve ever come across an explanation for EOs quite like the one in this book, so that was refreshing. Everything about the “birth” of them was strange and new (to me), and I really enjoyed learning about it. I’m pretty sure that, by the time the full explanation came out, I wasn’t left dissatisfied and wondering about tons of things that weren’t addressed, which I really appreciated.

I’ve heard the “morally grey characters” bit said about this book by pretty much everyone who’s read it and talked about it, so I expected that, but I didn’t know what it would be like. I thought it was great. It was nice not really having a hero character who’s all morally superior, with clear distinctions between the hero and villain/antagonist and which side they’re on (good vs evil). I want more books with characters like these, and I want them noooow. (If you have recs, oh my gosh, please let me know in the comments!)

Am I being at all coherent with this? I’m trying, but I’m still just kind of flailing around and honestly thinking about re-reading it already.

Basically, this was one of my favorite books of the year. It wasn’t actually my favorite, but it was very close. Probably in my top 3? It’s definitely going on my “all time favorites” shelf on goodreads, though, and I did give it 5 out of 5 stars.

The pace was good, the flashbacks didn’t bother me (sometimes they annoy me in books, but I liked them in this one), the characters were fantastic, and the plot was very good. I’m really hoping to get Vengeful this weekend (fingers crossed!) because I want more ❤

Posted in book tags/memes

Top 10 Tuesday: Authors I’d Love to Meet

This is a weekly meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Every week, there’s a theme and you choose ten books that fit it. Check out upcoming topics here.


I’m still not sure if I found this topic easy or difficult, and I couldn’t decide if this list could/should also include deceased authors, so I limited it (just in case) to only those who are still among the living.

I’m using the first book I read by these authors this week because something about grabbing an author’s picture from somewhere online (their site, goodreads, whatever) feels really weird, so… :/

Also, these aren’t necessarily all people who write my all-time favorite books. I based my choices on a combination of enjoying their books and enjoying their posts on social media. (And for a couple, I’ve also seen clips of them speaking at events I believe, and read/heard/seen interviews with them.)

In no particular order… (Ok, except 1 & 2 because there’s a chance I’d sell a piece of my soul to be able to meet them.)


A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

 

Victoria/V.E. Schwab– Just ❤ I don’t think I need to explain this choice.

 

 

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Verse, #1)

 

Leigh Bardugo– *takes breath*  *unholy screeching* ❤ Leigh might have been the author who really got me into reading YA.

 

 

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)

 

Gail Carriger– I couldn’t leave Gail Carriger off this list after she single-handedly saved me from a reading slump. Plus, she’s fabulous.

 

 

Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them

 
Jillian Venters– I spent so much time on the Gothic Charm School site in middle and high school, omg. Jillian Venters helped me a lot and she’ll probably never know.

 

 

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)


Libba Bray–
Libba Bray is probably tied for the author on this list I’ve wanted to meet for the longest amount of time, because I read AGATB back in high school.

 

 

Fates and Furies

 
Lauren Groff– Lauren Groff makes the list partly because I really enjoyed this book, and partly because of things I’ve seen from recent interviews (I believe).

 

 

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

 

Victoria Aveyard– I’ve only read RQ, but I follow Victoria Aveyard on social media, and she seems like she’d be fun to chat with.

 

 

If We Were Villains

 

M.L. Rio– I’ve followed M.L. Rio online since well before this book was published, and I think I might pass out if I ever actually met her.

 

 

The Girl from the Well (The Girl from the Well, #1)


Rin Chupeco–
This! Book! I’m still not over it (and the sequel) and I highly recommend it! Rin Chupeco is one of very few horror writers to give me the creeps with a book, and I would love to at least meet her to tell her how much I appreciate that ❤

 

Modern Tarot: Connecting with Your Higher Self through the Wisdom of the Cards

Michelle Tea– I might be cheating a bit by adding Michelle Tea to the list, because I’m actually still reading my first book by her. But based on this book (especially some of the anecdotes) and her online presence, I would love to meet her at some point.

 

 

(I didn’t notice until I got to number 9 that all my picks this week are women authors, so that wasn’t actually intentional.)

 

Who are some authors you’d love to meet?

Posted in book tags/memes

Top 10 Tuesday: Books By My Faves I Still Need to Read

This is a weekly meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Every week, there’s a theme and you choose ten books that fit it. Check out upcoming topics here.


This one was kind of hard for me because I have different kinds of “favorite” authors. Like, there are different levels, and who my favorites are can change depending on the mood I’m in.

Anyway, these 10 books I still haven’t read yet, by some of my favorite authors, in no particular order.


This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)

 

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab– Sooooon! (Probably.)

 

 

Vicious (Villains, #1)

Vicious by V.E. Schwab– Later this week, as soon as I get my copy of Vengeful which came out today, and has hopefully shipped by the time this post goes up!

 

 

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo– I think I’m only putting off reading this because I don’t want to have zero unread Bardugo books on my shelf while I wait for something new from her.

 

 

Origin (Robert Langdon, #5)

Origin by Dan Brown– Dan Brown is almost a guilty pleasure author for me at this point, if I were the type of person to feel guilty for something I’ve read. I’ve read all his other books and enjoyed them, so I’ll probably read this one eventually.

 

 

Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle– I’m not sure if someone can become a favorite author after only one book, but I fell in love with Doyle’s writing in The Accident Season and I can’t wait to get to Spellbook.

 

 

Prudence (The Custard Protocol, #1)

 

Prudence by Gail Carriger– I want it so bad! I love her Parasol Protectorate series, so I’m hoping to also love this one.

 

 

Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14)

Cold Days by Jim Butcher– I’m like two books behind with The Dresden Files, but I keep waiting to read more until we get a hint for when book 16 will be coming out.

 

 

Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse, #13)

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris– STILL! Ugh. I’ve read the first 12 Southern Vampire Mysteries, and then I re-read them all, but still haven’t gotten to this one because my copy got destroyed before I could read it -_-

 

 

The Meaning of Liff (Meaning of Liff, #1)

The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams– I keep putting off getting a copy of this (and the sequel) because I don’t want to finally reach the end of Adams’s books 😦

 

 

Switch Bitch by Roald Dahl– I really like(d) his children’s books, and I’ve heard his adult short stories are kind of weird and maybe a little dark or twisted? I’m curious, and really want to check them out eventually.