Hello Readers and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to you!
I hope the first week of 2023 has been kind to you and that you’re feeling refreshed, energised and ready to seize the year!
This year is a big one for me personally as it’s the year that my fiancé and I GET MARRIED! AHH! I’ve got so much planning still to do, and we get married in July, so not too long to wait now until we say I do!
In terms of reading goals this year, i’ve set my goodreads challenge to 50 (add me) and so far this week I’ve managed to complete 2 and so hopefully I should be able to hit it! 2022 saw me read 43 books which equated to 15,282 pages.
This year I’ve decided that the world is a serious enough place and I need books to relax me especially with all the planning both at work and at home, so I’m going for books with more escapism this year, rather than hard literary titles. I really enjoyed fantasy books last year (thank you ACOTAR for that bug!) so I’ve decided to read more fantasy this year, and also contemporary fiction with more humour. It doesn’t mean though that all other genres are out the window so stick around if fantasy or humour isn’t your bag, and if it is – happy days!
I raided the Waterstones hardback sale for a decent book haul (see my reel Here) and I got LOADS to share with you later in the year, which I’m looking forward to. I also had a really good rummage around The Works and found some great paperbacks for less than a fiver, so I’m going to start 2023 reviews with the one that I picked up first.
SIX OF CROWS, BY LEIGH BARDUGO
About the Author: Leigh Bardugo is an Israeli American Author of multiple fantasy YA and Adult fantasy Books, each book belongs either to a Duology or Trilogy. If youre a user of Netflix you may have heard of or seen the Shadow of the Bone series, which is adapted from the Trilogy written by Leigh Bardugo. She’s a New York Times bestselling author and has won multiple awards, including the goodreads choice awards which she has won twice.
The Six of Crows is a YA Fantasy novel which belongs to Bardugo’s Grishaverse (the universe containing magical Grisha), and is the first in a Duology. Shadow of the Bone belongs to the same universe, so there’s some crossover and commonality. Shadow of the Bone was published in 2012, Six of Crows in 2015.
“Six Dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Together they might just be unstoppable – if they dont kill each other first.“
Synopsis: Criminal Prodigy, Kaz Brekker has been offered a chance at a deadly heist: break into the Ice Court – a military stronghold that has never been breached – and retrieve a hostage whose knowledge could change Grisha magic forever. To succeed would mean riches beyond Kat’s wildest dreams, but he can’t pull it off alone..
First impressions upon opening the front pages of the book was sheer delight, as we’re greeted with not just one, but TWO maps in this paperback copy – one of the land and territories and another of the ice court, the site at which the heist is to take place. There is also a breakdown of the Grisha, their orders and what types of Grisha belong to which order. I found this a really great way to simply introduce us to the kingdom without overcomplicating matters.
In terms of the land geography, although it doesn’t look like it on the page, the book is set in Europe which characters from Eastern Europe, Russia and East Asia, although they go by another name. Kaz and his team of unlikely bandits live in Ketterdam, which from its descriptions in the real world would be Amsterdam. It’s got waffles, quirky buildings, small alleys, good coffee and a port. Kaz comes from the dregs of what is known as the Barrel and he is the king of slight of hand, trickery and cunning.
The opening chapters introduced us well into why the hostage was so important to the future of the Grishaverse and it’s magic – in the wrong hands (which Kaz believes this hostage is), the impact could be deadly and is already shown to be having a negative effect. With the lure of 4 million Kruge (currency), he creates a plan with his gang to pull off the most lucrative and important heist he’s ever attempted.
Whilst the plot is pretty wild (it’s a game of thrones, meets mission impossible meets Ocean Eleven, but with teenagers) and enough to keep you on your toes, it is in my opinion a character driven novel – which to be honest is my favourite kind of novel – and although I would say that I did read the characters as late teens, early twenties rather than the sixteen to seventeen year olds they are written, their characters are fantastic.
You have Kaz, leader of the pack known as The Dregs. Orphan, walks with a stick, wears gloves all the time as can’t stand to be touched, but a master at sleight of hand and the strategist of the group. He has the financial goal of the heist in his mind, but revenge is what keeps him going.
Then there is Inja, a girl who was forced to work in the menagerie for a madam. Trained by circus parents she is light on her feet and an acrobat, known as the Waith.
Nina is a Heartrender Grisha (she’s got magical healing powers) who was captured by Matthias and his camp of Fjerden Druskelle. An absolute warrior who found her way out of capture.
Matthias is a large stocky soldier, member of the Druskelle whose life Nina saved. He is liberated from jail by The Dregs and joins their heist to break into his own Ice Court.
Jesper is a sharp shooter and a gambling addict. Sent to Ketterdam as a student he soon turned to gambling houses and built up many debts.
Wylan is the son of a wealthy merchant with many magic and distraction tricks up his sleeve.
Each character has a really well fleshed out background, a family behind them, a backstory as to how they ended up in Ketterdam as part of the dregs and no gaping plot holes.
“A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.”
Obviously this is a fantasy thriller so there’s bloodshed, gore, war, companionship and friendship, but there are also themes of romance between characters, but it’s not overplayed, just a sweet hint of sugar in a bitter coffee.
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 5/5
It’d be an understatement to say that this isnt a lengthy saga of a novel, it’s 495 pages in paperback format and the writing flips backwards and forwards between action and flashbacks, but it kept me entirely engaged and I flew through it in a few days. If I didn’t have a full time job I would have sat and read this in a day! I lapped it up. The writing is beautiful, I could sit and fill this post with favourite quotes. There is a significant level of thought in the writing, in the making this murderous band of burglars and thieves likeable, in still considering them as children, bickering and craving waffles, yet making their background significant enough with such a considerable level of struggle that they navigate and consider back up plans like the most experienced of army generals.
“…she heard it, a soft patter, a gentle drum that had no real rhythm. She felt it on her cheeks and face. She heard the hiss as it struck the coals below. Rain. Cool and forgiving. Inej tilted her head back. Somewhere, she heard bells ringing the three-quarter hour, but she didn’t care. She only heard the music of the rain as it washed away the sweat and soot, the coal smoke of Ketterdam, the face paint of the Menagerie, as it bathed the jute strands of the rope, and hardened the rubber on her suffering feet. It felt like a blessing, though she knew Kaz would just call it weather.”
There is LGTBQ representation amongst the characters, the women are written as strong and powerful, with a bond of female companionship that is supportive, empowering and energised. I love this band of characters, I think they’re very well considered and all have something to add. I would say my favourite character is Nina – she has such a level of fight for her own survival and yet has no hesitation in risking her life for her friends. She is loyal, smart and powerful.
If I had to shed any criticism, I would say that I did lose my way slightly in the Ice court, which is probably why there’s a map of it, but by the time I’d reached the heist, id forgotten it was there! I could probably have appreciated it more if that map was included at the start of Part 4. There was a bit too much going on and I didn’t quite link everyone’s location in my head or read it quite as drawn now I look back on it, but it didn’t impact my enjoyment or my buy into the world.
The final twist was for me, perfect. I ran out and bought the second in the duology, as I need to know what happens next!
I would recommend for lovers of fantasy fiction or for anyone looking for escapism. Age really doesn’t matter for a YA, so long as the reader is above the age of about 14 as there is sexual references and gore. It is not written too simply for adults to enjoy and lovers of game of thrones will find a toned down version to explore. Very clever and Thrilling.
To be honest, it’s really made me just want to go to back to Amsterdam and eat waffles.
WASHED DOWN WITH:
I’ve been drinking so much loose leaf tea this week, and I wanted to share with you something I’ve found that I think is much easier to enjoy a cup of loose leaf tea than a teapot or a metal strainer. I’ve got a teapot with a built in strainer but that means I have to be drinking at least 3 cups, and I’ve found that metal strainers let in too much loose leaf tea to the cup so you end up with a lot of dust/bits in your cup or mouth, and they’re also a pain in the butt to clean.
I went to flying tiger and found this silicone tea infuser for £3. I thought I’d give it a go, so took it to the till where the SA told me she also had bought it and it changed the game. So I went home, tried it out, went back and bought another for use at work!
This is SO MUCH EASIER! It doesn’t require loads of cleaning and bleaching like a metal tea strainer, you can easily load up the right level of tea by spooning the tea into the bottom, it comes out the same way straight into the bin, it can go into the dishwasher and it doesn’t change the flavour of your tea. Need I say more. There’s plenty of different types available online, but here’s what I bought. Highly recommend!
I really hope you enjoyed this week’s review! I’d be really keen to hear from you about what youre reading, and what youre hoping to achieve reading wise for 2023, so pop your comments below or msg me on Instagram, its great to connect! You can find me on fb, goodreads and Instagram at @papyrusandpeppermint
I hope this review has been helpful and inspiring and sorry if this means youre book buying ban was just broken, but it’ll be worth it ;)!
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Until the next Chapter,