Mini-Reviews–feat. disaster teens, murder, and me screaming

Hello friends! September is already almost over, and what even happened to time? How are we here already??

As promised, today I’ll be sharing some mini-reviews of some of the books I read over the summer…including books I read back in August? And even July??

Bold of me to assume I’ll be able to remember that far back.

* * *

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

My Very Informative Summary: After everything goes wrong, goes right, and then basically blows up in their faces in the fiasco that is the Six of Crows finale, the waffle-eating crew of murdery teens needs a plan. Preferably a plan that includes not being killed by the various powers converging on the city. Good news: they have one. Sort of. Maybe. Well, they have a Kaz, and it’s pretty much the same thing.

I read this back in July. If you think I remember all the intricacies of the plot…you have way too much faith in my memory.

Six of Crows ends with the story appallingly incomplete, so Crooked Kingdom functions as a very necessary second half. More heists! More banter! And FINALLY some actual waffles!

I Am Here For:

  • INEJ. In my Six of Crows review, I think I said Kaz was my favorite. That is a lie. Inej is the best.
Me to Kaz when I realize Inej is my favorite
source
  • Ok, but Kaz too. I’m still here for Kaz.
  • WAFFLES. In the first book, they just talk about waffles, but in this book they EAT waffles. 10/10
  • Colm Fahey just here to visit his son, accidentally adopting a handful of disastrous, murdery teenagers
  • I’m 90% sure Alys Van Eck is Dora from David Copperfield
  • Inej and Nina’s friendship. Hugging each other and sharing biscuits. This is beautiful.
  • Getting chapters from Wylan’s perspective and being like, “Man, Jan Van Eck is even more of a jerk than a thought…Woah, even more…WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS MAN.”
  • That one moment where Kaz–who always has back-up plans on top of back-up plans–DOESN’T HAVE A PLAN, and I had genuine concerns.

Not So Here For:

  • Nina/Matthias’s romance. I don’t hate it anymore, but, as I said in my review of the first book, the introduction to their relationship put a bad taste in my mouth and I never quite got over it. (Although, I will say I enjoyed some of the banter.)
  • Not sure how I felt about the end. I sort of feel like, for his own well-being and mental health, Kaz should go live on a farm where he can pet baby sheep and maybe actually start letting go of some of his pain and rage and such. It seems like staying in this city and destroying people–however much they deserve it–isn’t necessarily helpful for his own well-being? But maybe that’s just me??
  • Teen romantic drama: “Oh, no! I accidentally kissed this person, because I thought it was that person, but then that person saw it and–” Please, spare me.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

My Very Informative Summary: There used to be twelve sisters at Highmoor, but, due to a string of tragic deaths, they are down to eight, and there is definitely something sketchy going on. Maybe Annaleigh will be able to figure out who–or what–is behind the deaths…Or maybe she’ll get distracted by nightly dance parties.

I’ve always loved the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses–maybe because I grew up amongst a pack of sisters and female cousins, and this was one of the few fairy tales that would accommodate all of us as princesses*. But I’d never read a retelling of this fairy tale before. Hence, I needed to read this book.

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking it all that much, but I’m still glad I read it.

*Not that we limited ourselves to stories about girls. We played Robin Hood a LOT. And Pride and Prejudice. I was Wickham once when I was small and didn’t really know the story at all. My cousin told me that all I needed to know was that Darcy hated me, so when I ran into him at a ball, I fell to my knees and said, “Spare my life!” Which cracked all the older kids up. (Wow. I’d forgotten about that until just now.)

I Am Here For:

  • Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling! Obviously.
  • The aesthetic: dark cliffs and old manors and fog and salty air and the oceaaaaaan
  • SISTERS. Always here for sisters.
  • Especially Verity. She is dear.
  • Mysterious murders! I’m currently in the process of developing multiple mysterious, murdery books, so anything that I read or watch involving mystery and/or murder is RESEARCH.
  • Legends and mythology and gods who maybe stop in at the dressmakers every so often…

Not So Here For:

  • The romance. You can take this with a grain of salt, because I’m very picky about what romance I like–but the love interest was so perfect and boring and…I just didn’t care.
  • Speaking of romance, the last scene. *audibly gagging and laughing at the same time*
  • I enjoyed some of the stuff about the different gods and the stories surrounding them, but I felt like there wasn’t enough. I went away still having very little idea who these different gods were and what they meant to these people. I would have liked this aspect to be developed more.

The Riverman Trilogy by Aaron Starmer

My Very Informative Summary (of the first book): Alistair Cleary is MY SON a twelve-year old boy who is good at keeping secrets…but should the secrets that people keep telling him be kept? Fiona Loomis needs his help. She says she’s been to a magical world where a sinister being is stealing children’s souls. Can Alistair read between the lines to find out what’ s really going on? Or could it be that Fiona means exactly what she’s saying? Whatever the case, we should all be extremely concerned.

Bold of me to assume I can constrain my thought on this series to a mini-review.

Doubly bold of me to assume I can review the entire series without giving away any serious spoilers. BUT I’M GONNA DO IT.

This trilogy may or may not have caused my brain to explode. In a good way? In a bad way?

Yes.

I don’t know if I can even organize my thought into pros and cons, so I’m giving you one messy joint bullet list.

I Am Here For: Not So Here For: Things That Are Here:

  • First off, these books think they can masquerade as middle-grade because the protagonist is twelve, but…really now? Please, nobody hand one of these books to a ten-year old.
  • For better or for worse, Aaron Starmer continually subverted my expectations throughout this series–and not just things like, “I thought character X was going to end up with character Y, but they ended up with character Z!” or “I thought character A was going to win the race, but character B won!” More like, “Ok, here’s what we know so far…On second thought, let’s reexamine EVERYTHING.”
  • I’m still in awe of all the layers and parallels and cycles. There’s so much there. I’m almost tempted to write a literary analysis essay (except that I’m not in school anymore and I just can’t bring myself to write an essay for fun).
  • This is one of those rare trilogies where each subsequent book makes you view the book(s) before it in a different light, and I don’t know what to do with myself.
  • It’s so very dark. Will you be depressed? Quite possibly. Will it be worth it? I have no idea.
  • Very mixed feelings about the last book. It’s from Alistair’s sister’s perspective, which was a really interesting move in terms of the structure of the whole trilogy (WE’VE COME FULL CIRCLE), but I missed Alistair’s perspective. *cries*
  • Also, not entirely satisfied with the ending? But what can you do? A truly satisfying ending is hard to find.

Have you read any of these books? Are you picky about romance, or do you enjoy most romances in books? Have you read many fairy tale retellings? (Any recs?) Have you ever read a series that made your brain explode? Do you think Kaz needs an emotional support sheep? Did your older siblings/cousins make you play Wickham so they could be the good characters? Do tell!

10 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews–feat. disaster teens, murder, and me screaming

  1. I haven’t actually read any of these…Six of Crows left me so freaking confused (what is the architecture of this building? what are these characters? too many, cannot keep straight the motivations) even though I loved Kaz, that I didn’t end up reading Crooked Kingdom. Someday, I will be better at brain-ing and will go back and read them both. XD

    Laughing v. hard right now at the Wickham role-playing anecdote. 😀

    And WOW The Riverman sounds soooooo gooooooood! I love books that are like that–the series is really a big puzzle for your brain. (Somehow I can deal with that sort of thing and not Six of Crows? Would like an owner’s manual for my brain plz.)

    (Also, hi! I’m new here. Found you through Jem Jones, I think? Loving your blog. :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Six of Crows had SO MANY characters, and I was so lost for a very long time *confused screaming* The copy of Crooked Kingdom I read had an index of characters in the back, and I was like, “…This would have been nice to have.”
      I was an excellent Wickham XD
      Yeah, the Riverman trilogy is quite a puzzle for your brain. There’s just SO MUCH to think about and analyze.
      Haha, I would like the owners manual to my brain as well. Half the time, I have no idea what’s going on up there.
      Thanks so much! I’m glad you found your way here 🙂 [Jem Jones is lovely!]

      Like

  2. AH I love your story about playing Wickham. I feel like if I was told I was playing a character hated by someone else, I would do my best to avoid them.
    Ahaha okay, I’m on the less picky side for romances. What type of romances do you like, and what can you not stand?
    Oooh, fairytale retellings! This is making me realize I haven’t read a retelling in so. long. I think I might’ve talked about these books with The Story Sponge, but have you read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom?
    Just as I said last time, you should definitely do more reviews :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, I’m not exactly sure if I can describe what types of romance I like. I’m trying to think through the ones I like, and there’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to it. I do know that I prefer friends-to-lovers vs. love at first sight. I really can’t stand romances where the people are constantly just thinking about how beautiful each other are or how muscular and how much they want to kiss *gagging* I like it when one or both of them is awkward (Newt and Tina from Fantastic Beasts is always an example that comes to mind). Also banter and insults can be great (Elizabeth Marie Pope’s books are an excellent example).
      I have read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom! I love the way it combines all the different fairy tale characters 🙂
      Thanks! There should be more in the future 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your mini-reviews. They are very amusing and interesting and just plain awesome. 😄 Please do some more…they are so much fun to read!

    I’ve seen the Six of Crows books around SO MUCH and was rather suspicious of them because y’know “popular” (I’m naturally suspicious of popular books for some reason) but they actually sound really interesting. Maybe I’ll have to get around to reading them sometime.

    The Riverman trilogy sounds incredible. Also, concerning. You said we should be concerned and I am. Quite concerned. But also intrigued…😂

    This whole post is just fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you. 🙂
      I was pretty suspicious of Six of Crows too before I read it (I share this suspicion of popular books. Who knows why??), and while they’re not my new favorite books or anything, they did turn out to be pretty enjoyable.
      Concerned and intrigued is a very appropriate way to feel towards the Riverman trilogy XD
      Thanks so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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