Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Published October 2019 by Flatiron Books|458 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Alex Stern #1

Genre: Adult Mystery

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

I liked Ninth House! I wasn’t sure what to expect, because it’s definitely different than any of her Grishaverse novels. I really liked those books, and I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while.

I really liked Alex. I’m really intrigued with what she can see, and how she’s able to do it when most people can’t. I wonder why she’s able to, but if it was mentioned why, then I must have missed it. But it was pretty normal for her to see the Gray’s and I liked that about her ability. Still, I was sad that it seemed like people knew and didn’t do anything about it. I think it would have made her feel a lot better, like she could do something about it.

I really like the idea of a ninth house keeping watch over all of the other houses. Which are the secret societies you always hear about. They all have a purpose for existing, and the whole time I was reading the book, I felt like there was a whole history we didn’t know about.

Honestly, I just loved the world and why all of the Ivy League schools came about. It was hard not to get pulled into that world, and what was going on. You could see the distinction between the students and the people who live there, and how…corrupt…things were.

It seemed like everyone had a role in the ninth house, but I didn’t really think that was explained enough. Maybe it was supposed to be obvious, and it went over my head. Honestly, I just wanted to know why the roles had certain names, and I feel like it’s supposed to mean something, but I could never figure out what.

It took me most of the book to figure out that it was jumping around in time, and wasn’t told linearly. That might have added to my confusion, and I couldn’t figure out why it seemed like we were in present time and randomly going back in time.

I didn’t love it, and there were things that didn’t make sense to me. I’m pretty sure you’ve picked up on that at this point, but I did want to know what happened next, and that’s a big reason why I kept reading. I’d definitely read the next to see what’s in store for Alex and to see what happens next. I see that as a pretty good sign that the book caught my interest.

3 stars. I liked Ninth House, especially the world Alex lives in. Yale is a great back-drop for everything that happens, and I do want to know what happens next.

Book Review: King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Book: King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Published January 2019 by Imprint|514 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Nikolai Duology #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

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.

I’m been pretty excited about King Of Scars for a while!  And while I didn’t love it, I still really liked it.

I loved seeing Nikolai’s story, and I was really surprised with how everything ended.  It’s definitely an adventure, and I don’t blame him for wanting to keep everything a secret.  It’s been ages since I read the Shadow and Bone series, but I did not see that coming.

We also have Nina and Zoya narrate King Of Scars, and it was nice to to see Zoya’s perspective on what was going on with Nikolai.  It was also nice to see what was going on with Nina, and while Zoya and Nikolai were dealing with what was going on with Nikolai.

I was nervous going into this book because I hadn’t re-read Shadow And Bone or Six Of Crows ahead of time.  If you haven’t read those series, you don’t need to in order to read this one.  Bardugo does a great job at explaining what’s happened before and she weaves it into the story really well.  You’ll understand what’s going on in this book, which worked out great for me because I didn’t remember anything.

Still, reading those books first is something I’d recommend, because it does set up the world we see in this book, and it does give you the background and history you need it.  It just makes understanding this world easier, but it’s not necessary.

I want to randomly switch over to Isaac for a second.  We do get a few chapters from his perspective, and while it’s a way to see what’s going on while Nikokai is dealing with things, I also didn’t particularly care for those chapters.  They didn’t really stand out to me, and all I pretty much remember is that they exist.

It seemed like it took a while for things to get going- it wasn’t until the end of the book that things really got interesting, and part of me wishes that it didn’t seem to meander for a lot of the book.  That’s what it felt like to me, anyway.

4 stars.  I really liked King Of Scars, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Book Review Round-Up: Crooked Kingdom, My Lady Jane And Tumbling

Since I’ve finished a few books recently, I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been reading!

crooked-kingdom-coverBook #1: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Published September 2016 by Henry Holt & Co|448 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Six Of Crows #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: 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.

What I Thought: After reading Six Of Crows, I knew I would be anxiously waiting for the sequel!  It didn’t disappoint, and even though I didn’t love it, I still really liked it!

It’s such a roller-coaster and I was glad that I was along for the ride.  There’s a lot of craziness, but in a good way, because I wanted to see what happened next.  There’s a lot of action and adventure…which I expected, considering it’s fantasy and a heist novel.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I swear, her writing is getting better and better.  And the world is completely amazing.

I loved the banter and it made me laugh, and yet, my heart broke a couple of times.  So many feels!

I will admit that I was surprised by how complete the story felt.  I honestly went into this book assuming that it was the 2nd book in a trilogy, and was surprised to find that there is no book 3 planned.  I really wanted (and was expecting) more to this story.  At the same time, though, she wrapped up the story really well.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked the story, and I’m a little disappointed there are only 2 books, because I really wanted more books!

my-lady-jane-coverBook #2: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

Published June 2016 by HarperTeen|512 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Alternate History

What It’s About: The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

Like that could go wrong.

What I Thought: I had really high hopes for My Lady Jane.  I love the time period, and I love Hand and Meadows. I have yet to read anything by Ashton.  But I was really disappointed in the book, and I hate that I didn’t like it, because I really wanted to.

It felt like it dragged on, and the pacing seemed insanely slow.  It felt like it took forever for me to finish the book, and there were a lot of times where I didn’t want to pick it up.  It seems like they were going for a Princess Bride sort of feel with the book, but it felt more like an alternate history than fantasy.  I wasn’t particularly amused by anything that happened, even though I feel like they were trying to be funny.

For me, I don’t know that using history as a springboard necessarily worked for the story they were trying to tell. It’s an interesting idea, and I can see why people like the book so much.  It makes me wish that this book were for me.  I am curious to see how this book would work if it were entirely made up of original characters.

My Rating: 1 star.  I wanted to like it but it didn’t work for me.

tumbling-coverBook #3: Tumbling by Caela Carter

Published June 2016 by Viking Books For Young Readers|432 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life… and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.

What I Thought: Gymnastics is my favorite thing to watch when the Summer Olympics on, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it.

I really liked that this book takes place over the span of 2 days, and you follow several gymnasts in their quest to go to the Olympics.  I really liked seeing their stories, but some stood out more than others.

I really felt for Wilhelmina, who missed going to the Olympic trials 4 years prior because she wasn’t old enough. You can see how much she wants, and for a while, you’re not sure if she’s going to make it onto the team because of politics.  Which is completely horrible, but not that surprising.

Monica’s story also stood out to me- it seems like she has a coach who isn’t at all interested in coaching her because he pays a lot of attention to his daughter.  I really hated that he didn’t seem to be a good coach to her, and with all of the time and money that’s going into her training, it seems like a waste of time.  She could be great if she had a better coach.

I felt like Grace and Leigh were the typical mean girls, and I didn’t care for Grace’s story.  She felt very flat, and not as rounded or developed as the other characters.  I also felt like the fact that Grace doesn’t eat a lot was super-stereotypical.  I felt that to a certain degree with Leigh and her secret, although I felt like that was understandable, given Leigh is lesbian, and she’s worried about people finding out.  We do see some of her thoughts, but I wish it had been explored more.  Given how the book focuses on 5 different people, each character could be developed more if the book had focused on less of them, but all things considered, they were more developed and had more depth than you’d think.

Oh, Camile!  I almost forgot about her.  I did like her story and how she wanted to make her mom happy, but at the same time, I’d place her in between Grace and Leigh as one of my least favorite stories.

The one thing that kept me from loving this book was how drama there was behind the scenes.  I have no idea how accurate this was, but it seemed like there was some research put in, if the lengthy glossary at the end of the book is any indication.  I get that these girls are under a lot of pressure and one little mistake can cost them the dream they’ve been working so hard for, especially given female gymnasts seem to peak at around 16 or 17. And I get that it’s a way for the reader to be invested in these girls, but something about rang a little bit true, but not completely true.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it, but with 5 different narrators, you didn’t get to spend a lot of time with each of them.

Book Review: Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six Of Crows CoverBook: Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Published September 2015 by Henry Holt & Company|465 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Six Of Crows #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

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.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really liked Six Of Crows!  It was nice to visit the world we got to know in her Grisha trilogy, and revisit it in a completely different way.

I liked seeing a completely different part of Ravka, and how this group of people came together for one task.  It’s a random assortment of people, but they all brought something different to the group, and they all have such different skill sets.  It made everyone important, and I thought they worked really well as a group.

I also liked seeing everyone’s stories, and how they ended up in Ketterdam.  We all learn more about the different characters, and how they came to be involved in this really big heist.  And they all take turns narrating, which I really liked.  It was a little slow at first, and hard to get into, because it takes a little bit to figure out who is who, and what their story was, and their place in this world, but once you get past that, it was an interesting read.

It’s such a complex world, and it takes place after the Grisha trilogy ends (though how long after, I’m not sure). Like I said earlier, you get a different look at this world, because of the different setting, and it really expands on how people see the Grisha, and how things are in a different place.  With spin-off series, I get a little nervous, just because I never know if I’ll like it as much as the original.  More often than not, I do, but in this case, I think setting it in the same universe, but in a different setting, and at a later point on the timeline, was a really good idea, because you still get a sense of the world and it’s familiar but also different.

I think what I love the most was that the heist didn’t go as planned.  It definitely changed how Kaz went about trying to get them out of it, and I really am curious as to how the rest of the series is going to go.  There’s romance (which has a small part in things and totally threw me for a loop) and adventure and even though I didn’t love it, I still thought it was a really great book.  There’s more to this world than I ever thought was possible in the original series. And what’s nice is that you don’t need to read the Grisha trilogy to know what’s going on in this book, because even though they’re set in the same world, they’re also stand-alone series.  I don’t know if that makes sense, but I don’t know how else to explain it.  You can, of course, and some of the terminology and magic might make more sense, but it’s not necessary because Bardugo does a great job at explaining how this world is.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  It was a little slow at first, but it definitely lives up to the hype!