Wait…is this Grisha fan-fiction? | King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

King of ScarsIt’s been a few years since the Darkling was defeated and Nikolai’s still trying to figure out how to keep Ravka afloat. This task is made much harder by the fact that Nikolai seems to turn into a monster most nights. A literal monster. He’s desperate for a solution and when a Darkling-loving monk turns up with a possible answer, Nikolai has no choice but to listen to what he has to say.

TL;DR – So much of this reads as Grisha fan-fiction. There were definitely parts that I liked, but a lot that I didn’t as well.

Purchase: Hardcover | Paperback (preorder) | eBook

It took me so long to finally read this book. I think I was just a little scared maybe. I really loved Nikolai from the original trilogy and I didn’t know how this was going to go. Starting off, I felt like I needed some kind of recap for the Grisha trilogy. I literally could not remember a single thing about Zoya. This book leans heavily on the assumption that everyone who picks it up has read Bardugo’s previous series’ which isn’t necessarily going to be the case. So yeah, I think it would have been wise to include at least a recap for the trilogy for those who don’t remember what happened in the original series or for those who never read it in the first place.

The narration mostly rotates between Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina but Nina is over in Fjerda so she’s got a different storyline than the other two. Honestly, I didn’t love Nina in the Six of Crows duology and this book possibly makes me like her even less. Her storyline was not compelling to me at all and I don’t see how it ties in with Nikolai’s main storyline. Honestly, it kind of felt forced as a way for Bardugo to bring her two series’ together (and every time Nina made some name-drop-y reference to the Ketterdam crew, I cringed). And then there’s the whole Nina/Hanne relationship that’s obviously coming and that started approximately five seconds after Nina buried Matthias’ body. I’m sorry, is this fan-fiction? Did someone write some f/f Nina fan-fiction and it accidentally got published as part of this book? I’m not trying to knock fan-fiction at all, I’m just trying to convey that this aspect had an inauthentic feel to me.

My other issue with Nina is that she’s selfless in this really selfish way. She doesn’t trust that people will help her if she gives them all of the information or tells them her whole plan. Nina puts people in tough situations and sometimes even in danger because she has her own agenda regardless of the consequences. She’s just not a team player and was a really frustrating character for me to read.

Nikolai, on the other hand, continues to be his most charming and lovable self. I appreciated getting to see some of his and Zoya’s respective backgrounds. I thought his storyline was a lot more interesting. His quest to find a cure was really interesting but I would have also liked a little more of “the bachelor” stuff to be thrown in–we didn’t actually get much of that. I really liked Isaak as a character and wished he’d been a narrator from the beginning. He deserved more than what he got and that’s all I’ll say about that.

And the ending…I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who DOESN’T have a strong opinion on the ending. Without being too spoiler-y, I’ll just say that once again, this reads like fan-fiction. That was a fan-fiction ending and I hate it.

Overall, I liked most of this book. I didn’t like Nina’s storyline or the ending, but everything else was great! I like the way that Bardugo seems to be expanding on the powers of the Grisha and I like the interesting political climate. I just think she’s spending too much time on things that aren’t relevant or wholly original instead of developing these interesting facets of her story.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: None

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10 favorite non-bookish apps

For this post I wanted to give you guys a glimpse of my non-bookish side (it exists). Here are some of my favorite non-bookish apps.

Non-Bookish Apps

Pocket Casts

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a HUGE podcast junkie. Love, love, love. It was a struggle for me to find a good podcast app when I switched from iPhone to Samsung, but I’ve really grown to love Pocket Casts.

Link

Spotify

I used to use Spotify a lot for myself, but at this point it’s a MUST for car rides with my baby. If he starts getting restless, I’ll just turn on his playlist and he’s usually okay for a bit.

Link

Ibotta

I recently started using Ibotta. It’s this cool app where you can get money back on groceries. It’s not a TON of money (I average about $1 per $50-60 shopping trip) but I figure it’s better than nothing. If you like getting name brands for things, though, there are a ton of coupons on the app. If you want to try it out, you can use my referral code: ubaviad (to be completely transparent, I will get a small bonus on the app if you use my code and redeem an offer).

Link

Samsung Notes

This isn’t really Samsung Notes specific, I just use my notes app a lot. I use it to keep track of my monthly TBRs as well as longer term TBRs. For non-bookish stuff, I use it for grocery lists, meal planning, and other assorted lists.

Link

YouTube

I LOVE YOUTUBE. I’m subscribed to a ton of different creators and I love vegging out to some YouTube vids every once in a while. The “Watch Later” function was seriously life-changing for me.

Link

Instagram

I also love Instagram. I’m not a frequent poster myself, but I love seeing what my friends and family are up to. I also like that I can manage several different accounts easily.

Link

Next Episode

This app is SO CRUCIAL if you’re going to binge a show (or intermittently binge as the case may be). You can mark all of the shows that you’re watching and it will help you keep track of what episode you’re on. I know that a lot of platforms like Netflix already have this function, but what if you go somewhere and you’re using someone else’s account? It also shows you when you have new episodes of a show because who has time to remember what day all these shows are on? Seriously, this app is THE BEST.

Link (the website looks kind of janky, but this app is legit)

Yelp

I love eating good food and Yelp helps me to find good food to eat. Since our move to California, this app has been especially useful. Bonus, not only does it help with food but it also has reviews for other businesses.

Link

Two Dots

I love this game. It’s so mindless and I can play it while I’m watching TV or listening to a podcast or audiobook.

Link

Color Puzzle

And then when I run out of lives on Two Dots I can switch over to this game. It’s so aesthetically pleasing while also being deceptively tricky (but not like TOO hard).

Link

What are some of your favorite non-bookish apps?

22 Best Book Deals for 9/12/19: And the Mountains Echoed, Anna Karenina, Sadie, and more

As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
Less than $2

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Pines by Blake Crouch

The House by Christina Lauren

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E Weymouth

How to Be Second Best by Jessica Dettman

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Talon by Julie Kagawa

The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Less than $3

Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography by Bear Grylls

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Heartbreak Cure by Amanda Ashby

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Heartburn by Nora Ephron


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Reading new-to-me authors (+ popular authors I’ve been meaning to get to)

I participate in a monthly book club and this month’s book was supposed to be Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. However, after reading it the hosts of the book club didn’t feel like they would necessarily recommend it, so this month’s book club is Liane Moriarty in general with a slight focus on NPS. I’d never read anything by Liane Moriarty though I have heard a great deal about her. I decided for this month that I’d read NPS (since that was the original plan) and that I’d also read Big Little Lies since it’s super hot right now (with the show and everything). And all of that got me thinking about the purpose of this post: how to read new-to-me authors.

discussion posts

I think this is a universal thing, right? We don’t always “find” an author when their debut book has just come out–we usually find them somewhere in the middle of their career when they have a few books already published. This has happened to me with Emma Millls, Victoria Schwab, and Neil Gaiman (just to name a few examples). The question is, when you find someone, what do you do next? I react in a couple different ways:

Reading their published works in order

This is kind of a no-brainer when it comes to a series. For example, with Susan Dennard I was obviously going to read the Truthwitch series in order because duh. But what about when someone has a bunch of standalones? This was the case for me with Emma Mills. I loved her covers and the premise of all of her books sounded good to me. So for her, I decided to start with her first official book, First & Then, and go from there. Even though they were standalones, I wanted to read her books in order in case there were any easter eggs from book to book (I don’t think there have been). Regardless, for some reason it felt important for me to read her books in order.

Not reading their published works in any specific order

For an author like Neil Gaiman, I’ve been jumping around. I’d read Anansi Boys way too young and remember almost nothing about it. Recently, I’ve been jumping around between his adult and young adult books. I think I want to read pretty much everything he’s written eventually, but I don’t feel that same urge to read his works in order.

How do you like to read books from new-to-you authors? Do you do a mixture of the above like I do? Do you do something completely different?

Here’s a list of authors I’ve been meaning to read, let me know how you think their books are best read:

  • Kristin Hannah
  • Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Julie Buxbaum
  • Erin Watt
  • Nicholas Sparks
  • Ruth Ware
Bonus question: Who are some of your absolute favorite authors?

Not my fave, but Asian rep so… | Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the CranePrincess Hesina knows her father was murdered, now she just needs to convince everyone else of that fact. She embarks on a journey to not only prove that he was murdered, but to also find his murderer. As she does, she will learn things about her country, her family, her friends, and herself. Hesina’s world is turned completely upside down as she grapples with these revelations and she’ll need to decide what kind of ruler she wants to be.

TL;DR – There were things that I liked about this book, but I don’t feel super invested in the story or the characters. Asian rep was cool though.

Purchase: Hardcover | eBook

This book started off really slow for me and that proved to be just the beginning of my issues with the plot. Several “shocking” plot points ended up being pretty obvious to me and others came out of left field and made little to no sense. The Sooth premise was interesting, but again, was mildly confusing. I didn’t really understand how their powers worked. I thought I understood the thing with their blood, but then halfway through the book I got confused. The author does try to explain certain things but it still doesn’t really make sense? And then the ending is just so…convoluted. I’m sure more things will be explained in the next book, but I don’t know that I’ll get to it.

The characters were fine. I didn’t love Hesina, but I did appreciate some small things about her. I liked that the author addressed periods as a thing that happens to women. I also liked that Hesina was a competent ruler. Even though she acquired the throne unexpectedly, she’d been adequately prepared for the role and knew how to do things like administrative paperwork, taxes, etc. I didn’t love Hesina’s relationship with her brother, Sanjing. I thought it was pretty obvious that he was just looking out for her and she pushed back at him to the extreme. It also doesn’t totally make sense to me how a 16-year-old boy could be trusted to lead the entire military? But, okay. Akira was fine but I wish his character had been explored more. He kind of just popped in at convenient times. Caiyan was pretty bland for most of the book and then all of the sudden got really interesting at the end. With that being said, since he wasn’t interesting for 99% of the book, I don’t feel any motivation to continue with his character arc in the next book.

Overall, I appreciated the Asian rep–always a great thing–but I didn’t LOVE this book. I thought the story was just kind of confusing and the characters weren’t great. There were some subtle things that I did appreciate, but I’m not really invested and probably won’t continue the series.

Overall Rating: 3.5
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

12 Best Book Deals for 9/4/19: Leah on the Offbeat, Lincoln in the Bardo, and more

As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
Less than $2

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

Remembrance by Meg Cabot

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Less than $3

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Seafire by Natalie C Parker

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu


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Summer TBR | Final Update

At the beginning of the summer, I posted a list of 9 books that I hoped to read. Then, I posted an update halfway through July. Now that summer is over, I just wanted to give a final update on how I did.

The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley – This was read from before. I’m continuing with my audio binge and am currently on #8
eBook | Paperback

Legendary by Stephanie Garber – Still waiting on my shelf…
eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – I read this one as a buddy read last month and had some thoughts. Review coming soon!
eBook | Hardcover

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – I checked this one out from the library. It took me longer than I thought it would to get through and I didn’t love it.
eBook | Hardcover

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen – Read from before. Sarah Dessen is a queen and I really liked this one. Review
eBook | Hardcover

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – Read from before. I was a bit disappointed in this one. Review
eBook | Hardcover

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills – Read from before. I’ve read all of her books that are out now (I think?) and have enjoyed them all! Mini-review
eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – I’m hoping to get to this one within the next couple of months!
eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – Still haven’t gotten to this one unfortunately, but the eBook is like…always available from the library, so hopefully soon!
eBook | Hardcover | Paperback (Preorder)

With my last update, I’d read 4/9 and at the end of the summer I’d gotten to 6/9. Which I don’t think is too bad! Especially considering two of the three books I didn’t get to are currently sitting on my shelf, I think I’ll finish this list before the end of the year.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite 2019 summer read was!