Coffee Book Tag!

Hello everyone! I’m going to be doing the Coffee Book Tag! I’m sitting down this morning and looking for some posts to do (other than my extremely long list of reviews) while drinking my very yummy coffee, so I figured…why not do the Coffee Book Tag that I found all over the place in booktube. I found the original tag here on youtube, and I love all the questions!

1. Black: Name a series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans.

10964Okay, don’t kill me you diehard Outlander fans, and what not. But, I’ve tried a couple times to get into Outlander and it’s SUPER HARD! But I know there’s SO MANY of you who absolutely adore this series. But don’t you worry, I’m not giving up on you!

2. Peppermint mocha: Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.
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I feel like I’m not the only one who re-reads Harry Potter during the cold months of the year. And I’m pretty sure there’s a Harry Potter Read-A-Thon around winter time as well. And honestly, there’s something cozy about reading Harry Potter snuggled up in blankets while it snows outside.

3. Hot chocolate: What is your favorite children’s book?
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The Chronicles of Narnia was a book I picked up for summer reading and it all snowballed from there. I love love LOVE the Narnia series and I actually started re-reading it recently. And I have to say, Narnia is such a magical place, and I absolutely love that this was one of my favorite series as a kid.

4. Double shot of espresso: Name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
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I mean…COME ON THIS IS SUCH A GREAT BOOK. I literally could not stop reading and it was written so well and in a way where you think you know what’s going on but then everything gets turned on it’s head. I really REALLY great book.

5. Starbucks: Name a book you see everywhere.
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The Diabolic is something I’ve been seeing everywhere lately and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

6. That hipster coffee shop: Give a book by an indie author a shoutout.
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I want to give a shout out to Tia Giacalone. She sent us a copy of her book Hey Sunshine when we were still a bit shakey on our feet as a blog. She sent us Hey Sunshine and Taylor and I both loved it! Hey Sunshine has a sequel as well as a third book on the way! Please check out Tia and her books they’re well worth the read!

7. Oops! I accidentally got decaf: Name a book you were expecting more from.
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I was expecting SO MUCH MORE from Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I thought pirates and time travel would be so much cooler but…it kind of fell flat for me.

8. The perfect blend: Name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet but ultimately satisfying.
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Oh my goodness, this series has absolutely everything. All the highs and all the lows. This book has it all! I absolutely love Throne of Glass and it’s a GREAT series. Action, Romance, Wit, Mystery. It’s great.

And there you have it! The Coffee Book Tag!
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Top 5 Wednesday : Favorite Villains

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey on YouTube. And this week’s topic is Favorite Villains. Although we all hate them, there are a few that are our favorites that we just never forget about.

1. Queen Levana
11235712I think Levana was one of THE WORST and most sadistic villain I’ve ever read about. She’s always been pure evil throughout the whole Cinder series and I don’t think she ever had a redeeming moment within the whole series. She’s….well…she’s a bitch.

2.The Darkling
He’s so swoon worthy though….a bit messed up, but GAH, I swoon whenever he speaks.

3. Maeve
28260587You may be thinking…well she’s not that bad…IF YOU HAVEN’T READ EMPIRE OF STORMS YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW MESSED UP THIS WOMAN IS. Ugh I hate her. She’s THE WORST. I want to say almost a tie with Levana for the most vengeful, sadistic person ever.

4. Dorothy 18053060She’s so awful, just the way she acts like she knows everything and rules over everything an is such a jerk I can’t stand her!

5. He Who Must Not Be Named
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Review : Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

14061957Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 17, 2014

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
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I’m a bit bitter sweet about this ending. It was kind of expected but not really because Crooked Kingdom kind of spoiled it a bit for me (when Genia talks about Sankta Alina and her story). But then when I read Ruin and Rising right after Crooked Kingdom I found out the ending was not what I thought it was.

And honestly…I thought the Crooked Kingdom spoiler-ending would’ve been like 10 times more bad ass than what happened in Ruin and Rising.

The beginning of this book was really hard for me to get into. I don’t know why and maybe it’s because I completely DESPISE the apparat. But, what are you gonna do, there are some people we just don’t like. And then from there, I was kind of annoyed that Alina kept reaching out for the Darkling…like what the hell are you doing?! You’re trying to defeat him, not chat with the enemy.

I loved how everyone came together to try and take down The Darkling. Especially Tolia and Temar ( MY BABIES). I’m not sure how I feel about Genia being pardoned for her STUPID choices. But, Oh Well. AND HOLY HELL THE FEELS WITH BAGRHA. I think she was freaking AWESOME in this book. So happy we got to see her again.

All in all I think this conclusion was an okay one, like I said previously. I little anti-climactic for my taste, but a VERY solid series. I love the grisha universe that Bardugo has created and I REALLY hope we get to see more of it now that Six of Crows duology is done as well as the Grisha Series.

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Stephanie-Signature

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

14061955 Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 4th 2013

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
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I was a bit apprehensive starting Siege and Storm. I was told it was an “okay” filler book between Shadow and Bone and Ruin and Rising. I have to say I absolutely loved this book. I enjoyed the writing (as most of you can tell I’ve been on a very big Bardugo Binge) as well as the story line. A lot of threads being woven together for the conclusion of this series.

The pace of this book is absolutely perfect if this is considered a “filler” book. Although the Darkling isn’t very present in this book, he’s very much-so a big part of this plot/story, especially in this book. The suspense and the tie between The Darkling and The Sun Summoner are absolutely amazing.

Also, I feel like I hate Alina and Mal, or maybe it’s just Mal that annoys me. I think I boarded the Alina and Nikolai ship. I have to say that I’m loving more and more of the characters like Tolya and Temar. They’re two great pillars in this book series and I can’t get enough of them!

I think this book did a great job of setting up for Ruin and Rising and if Leigh Bardugo’s writing is anything like the last book, Ruin and Rising seems quite promising (spoiler alert : I already read Ruin and Rising and it’s great…review to come).

Review : Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

22299763Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Published : September 27, 2016

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

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If you’d like to read my review about Six of Crows you could find it here (just so you know how I felt about it).

I’d like to preface this review with THERE WILL BE SPOILERS ALL THROUGH OUT THIS REVIEW… so be warned…let us begin
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Mind Blowing is honestly the only thing that can come into the shambles of my little brain as I think of this absolutely stunning book. Crooked Kingdom has been one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not fail me one bit. I was so happy to be in the universe again and so enamored by all the characters. I kind of don’t understand at all how someone can write such a diverse group of people and have me love every single person in that group so damn much (i’m a very hard woman to please). So, Leigh Bardugo, I commend you. You’ve written a book where I love all of them Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper and Wylan I cannot get enough of them and I’m actually pretty upset that there are no other books. I’m honestly sobbing on the inside due to this.

I think my favorite thing about this book was the character growth and the development of them. This book made me fall in love with them even more. I’d have to say that Wylan and Matthias get the award for most growth. But all in all, I think all six of my babies grew and went through such development and in some way I feel like Bardugo put SUCH development and thought into all these characters that they grew more than some characters would in other series. Which makes me feel like I should break down the characters and how I felt about them…So I WILL!

Kaz & Inej 
giphy“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would 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.”

I don’t think I’ve ever felt such sexual tension between anyone in-person or fictional ever in my life. And oh boy, was it glorious. I’ve been rooting for Kaz and Inej since Six of Crows and I had a feeling that Bardugo wouldn’t go all the way with the smut but, well…it’s perfect. I love that they never got into the smuttiness and I really enjoy their dyanmic.

When Van Eck is about to smash Inej’s legs and she breaks and says she’s worth nothing to Kaz without her legs. It completely broke me.

But I think the above quote describes the two of them pretty damn well. They’re always there for each other and will always save the other one, no matter what. I absolutely love their dynamic.

I love Kaz’s all knowing demeanor and the fact that he can actually be 18 steps ahead of people and not let you know his grand scheme and I loved watching it all unfold. His ruthlessness and his constant mind games (like making Pekka Rollin’s believe that Kaz killed his kid)

As for Inej, she’s the perfect counterpart to Kaz. Elegant and composed. She’s such a strong woman and the care and love she has for the crew and her family and the fire inside her to make sure no person goes treated poorly. Ugh! Praise Inej! Her perseverance is amazing and I loved her Suli proverbs and the way she handled everything with such grace.

Jesper & Wylan
giphy-1Jesper felt the pounding of his heart—or was it Wylan’s?—like a stampede in his chest, and the only thought in his head was a happy, startled, Oh.

Slowly, inevitably, they broke apart. “Wylan,” Jesper said, looking into the wide blue sky of his eyes, “I really hope we don’t die.”

Dear lord these two. I cannot even begin to explain my love for these two since Six of Crows. I never really much liked Wylan through Six of Crows but Oh my god in this book my heart just melted for this little munchkin of a man. I couldn’t believe how amazing of a back story Wylan had. He became such an in-depth and dynamic character.  I loved how by the end of the book he overcame his struggle of illiteracy and didn’t let that become him. I sobbed when we found out about Wylan’s mother, I never thought that would be an actual thing and I love LOVE LOVE how Kaz mentors him though not letting his illiteracy hold him back. I thought that was a great side of Kaz to show as well as a great point to make because Wylan is really smart and has a lot of potential.

And Oh, my baby Jes. My heart swelled at his re-uniting with his father and learning of his mother. I adored his quick and witty come-backs and my god he’s perfect for Wylan. My absolute favorite sharp shooter. Jes is someone I most definitely connect with based on his personality and his responses. I feel as though Jesper was a bit more stagnant compared to everyone else in regards to development but that could just be me.

Nina & Matthias
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 “They were twin souls, soldiers destined to fight for different sides, to find each other and lose each other too quickly. She would not keep him here. Not like this.”

“Nina screamed , a howl that tore from the black space where her heart had beat only moments before. She searched for his pulse, for the light and force that had been Matthias.”

“Farvell,” she said in Fjerdan. “May Djel watch over you until I can once more.”

Not sure if you can tell from this, but…Nina and Mathias are my favorite. I loved them from the beginning and I loved Nina more than Mathias but I came around to him and dear god this was so much perfection and then it all got TORN AWAY FROM ME. I’m very upset with Bardugo about this. I legitimately cried in bed for hours when I read about Mathias leaving Nina. I literally could not handle it. The way it was written and the pain she went through and reading her emotions and just the way she expressed herself with the loss. I couldn’t do it.

But beyond their amazing love, Nina was stunning, witty, pure strength when she needed to be and it was absolutely amazing. I have loved Nina Zenek from the beginning and the fact that she broke down the brick wall that was Matthias Helvar…was perfect. Side note : Kudos to the grisha trilogy peeps cameo’s! But I think Nina was probably one of my most favorite perspectives to read from because she was mostly light, clever and would joke more than others.

Matthias Helvar was swoon-worthy to me.  I loved that he was the enemy gone “good”.  I absolutely love Matthias. I love how he’s come to love the dregs and love the gang, and how undying and burning his love for Nina is and how he’d do anything for her. How he cared for her during her Parem withdrawal. And I just feel like the fact that he was taken away ISN’T FAIR. HE JUST WANTED TO KISS NINA IN A SNOWY WOOD AFTER HAVING DINNER WITH HER FAMILY THREE TIMES AND THEN GO ON A WALK WITH HER. *sobs* I’m sorry but I’m still not over the perfection of Matthias Helvar.

Plot and Story Line
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I was completely enamored by this book. I didn’t put it down. I savored it, I devoured it, I fell completely in love with it. Although, I hate that it’s only a duology, I have to say that this sequel was amazingly thought through, well written and tied up everything in such an amazing way. I don’t think I could’ve ever seen this ending in such a perfect way (with the exception of losing Matthias). I can’t get enough of Leigh Bardugo’s writing and I really wish I could get more stories/books written in the Grisha world as well as seeing the crew again.  I just want to say that this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and by God, did this book give it justice to be one of my top 2016 reads.

No Mourners. No Funerals.

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Stephanie-Signature

Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

22299763Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Published September 27th 2016

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

 

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This book was amazing. I absolutely loved it and I’m so sad that this is the last book.
Leigh Bardugo is such an incredible writer and I will read any and all books that she writes.
The characters, the writing, the world building, everything about this book was perfect. I was so emotionally invested in this book and I can’t recommend the Six of Crows duology enough.

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Taylor’s review of Six of Crows

Stephanie’s review of Six of Crows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

10194157Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5, 2012

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

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I feel like I’ve been on a really good lucky streak with amazing books. I literally devoured this one in about two days and that’s really uncommon for me. I’ve picked up Shadow and Bone before but I didn’t really get into it so I put it down a couple times actually, and this time it actually stuck with me.

The Darkling captivated me as I’m sure he swept away most other readers, and Alina was awesome but I kept begging her to get over Mal. I think that was the one thing that really bothered me was the tug at a love triangle, but at the same time I HATED that Alina was so hung up on Mal. Not sure why, he’s a pretty good character, but I still couldn’t get over it for some reason. Maybe it’s because I got caught up with the Darkling (whoopsie! But I mean seriously…come on).

The overall plot and storyline was super engaging! No true lulls to the story and a constant stream of motion and action. I hope to see more of this Grisha Universe though, I read Six of Crows and I’m liking the more in depth look into the Grisha and who they are and how they work etc. etc.  I’m a bit worried as to what will happen in Book 2 since this book finished on a pretty solid note…

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Stephanie-Signature

Review: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

19364719Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke, Stefan Bachmann, Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, A.G. Howard, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu, Jonathan Maberry, Danielle Paige, Carrie Ryan, Megan Shepherd, Nova Ren Suma, McCormick Templeman, and Cat Winters.

Published August 18th 2015

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

I’ve had this book for months and I’m so glad I finally got around to picking it up!
I’m a big fan of horror so this book was basically perfect for me. I love how many short stories were in this book and there’s so many amazing writers that contributed.
My favorite stories were Emmeline by Cat Winters, Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo, Far Girl with a Knife by Jonathan Maberry, and Hide-And-Seek by Megan Shepherd.
If you’re looking for some great horror stories, I’d definitely recommend Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.

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Taylor-Signature

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Review

23437156Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Published: September 29, 2015

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.


PERFECTION. 
That’s all you need to know for this review is that word. Because that’s what this book is.  If you want to see what my face looked like upon finishing this book, please reference the gif below:
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Yup that’s right. That’s exactly what it felt like. Lights and shiny things and everything and all I could do was sit there. Mouth open. Wondering what to do with myself BECAUSE THIS BOOK WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

I haven’t read a Leigh Bardugo book yet. And I heard the Grisha trilogy is amazing. and I know this takes place in the same world. But anyway I’m having trouble writing up this review because I don’t know where to begin with expressing how I feel. I guess characters is an okay place to begin.

Six delinquent characters, all very different in their own way, working together to one goal. To get into the Ice Court, the most impenetrable place and a most impossible task. The Ice Court is one of the most well guarded places. And this group of six has to get both IN and OUT of The Ice Court in order to rescue a scientist who has been held captive within the Ice Court. Each character is thoroughly different. Actually, everyone is leaps and bounds different than the next person. I have to give tons of props to Bardugo. Each character has their own share of flaws, and downfalls. Kaz, can never say no to a good sum of money, and the mastermind of this whole heist, Inej, a.k.a. the wraith is a silent killer, in love with her daggers, and tenacious, Nina a Grisha who is beyond charming and witty, Wylan a newcomer, a youngin’ and a boy who’s family tree proves to be something the group holds against him and Matthaias the druskalla (witch hunter) who holds his religion close and moral standing even higher to his home of the Ice Court and Jesper, the flirty, cunning and deadly shot. All of these characters work….less than flawlessly together but still somehow end up being a very tight group of misfits. You couldn’t really ask for more separate yet together group from this book. Each character is written to the point where you either go hate to love, love to love even more, or love to hate, or love to love to love love to love love love even more. Either way, at one point or another you find yourself  completely enamored with all of these characters.

The pace of this book was great. Never a dull moment, even during the points of travel. It was the perspective switching in my opinion that kept it moving and all the back story you got on each character was wonderful. And how each few characters intertwined with each other was absolutely flawless. It was the perfect amount of intertwined stories, not so much that all their lives revolved around oneanothers, but enough that you knew that they were tied to each other in one way or another. That being said. Thank god there were no love triangles because that would have completely ruined the book. BUT the romance that was there, was BEAUTIFUL. Wonderfully written and just the right amount! I couldn’t  have asked for a better romance (my favorite being between Nina and Mathaias) between the character pairs. And even if there wasn’t full fledged romance, it was still a good sense of caring and love between them. It was beautiful.

And now, for my final thoughts on action and plot. I don’t think there was a moment throughout this book where I felt lost or bored or even “over it”. Fully engaged throughout, and constantly having an issue with putting down Six of Crows. There were nights where I was up all night trying to get my full satisfaction in finding a spot where I could put the book down due to a lull so I wouldn’t miss anything, but no. There was no such thing. A constant moving and flowing river of perfection. The action was great and descriptive and I felt like I was part of the brawls and the cannons blasting and the bombs going off and the alarms sounding. I felt as though I was in Ketterdam and inside The Ice Court. It was one of the most immersive reads I’ve ever experienced. Thanks Leigh Bardugo for this wonderful book, I’ll have to pick up The Grisha Trilogy sometime soon.

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Stephanie-Signature

LET THE READ ALONG BEGIN!

The time has come! Let the reading begin! After this post is up I’ll be scurrying over to our goodreads group and post all the month’s weekly open discussions up so everyone can post and chat as we please. All we ask from you guys are a couple small things.  These will also be posted up on the group topic as a pinned post so you see it all the time.
23437156Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

1. Please do not reveal any big spoilers. Or please use the spoiler code when writing spoilers. If you do not know how to do that, we will show you how now:
When posting a spoiler please use these tags <spoiler> PUT YOUR SPOILER HERE </spoiler> and your content within these tags will be hidden within your post.

2.  Please pleas PLEASE be nice to each other. We haven’t had any issues with this but I like to reiterate that this is to be a good experience for everyone to get together and talk about a great book to bring all us readers together this holiday season! :D

3. If you can please use our hashtag #WinterIsCrowing  it’ll place you into our read along give away that is happening in result of a successful read along.  Please feel free to use this hashtag on any sort of social media and please feel free to tell people that you’re participating in this read along. The more the merrier!

 

HAPPY READING!