The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Set in the world of the Grishaverse, this is a collection of fairytales from Ravka and beyond.

Fantasy, 275 pages, published in 2017

Set in the world of the Grishaverse, this is a collection of fairytales from Ravka and beyond.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This collection of short stories is one of the best things by Leigh Bardugo for me. I read it back in 2018 and ever since, I have been itching to reread it, so I finally did! Normally, I don’t love short stories, but I feel like these are separated enough from the books set in this world.

I think these stories are so atmospheric and powerful! They are all a little bit dark, both in themes and atmosphere, but they definitely feel like fairytales. I loved the mystical vibes from these stories. Women are at the focal point of most of these stories, and they are all strong in different ways. I feel like these stories made me feel more connected to the Grishaverse.

I think the writing is also great! There are so many sentences that just make me stop and think “wow”.

Of course, I can’t forget to mention the stunning artwork! I absolutely adore Sara Kipin‘s illustrations in this book. I had one of them set as my phone background for a very long time.

I definitely enjoyed some stories more than others, so here is my ranking:

  1. Little Knife (the artwork for this one was my background)
  2. Ayama and the Thorn Wood
  3. The Witch of Duva
  4. When Water Sang Fire
  5. The Too-Clever Fox
  6. The Soldier Prince

I also love that there are references to things from mainly the Shadow and Bone series. There is a location in Little Knife that comes up in Ruin and Rising and I believe Duva is mentioned at some point. There is at least one more reference, but I won’t say it because it verges on spoiler territory.

I definitely think that if you are a fan of the Grishaverse, you should read this book! It’s a really quick read as well.

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My Favorite Female Authors!

Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, I wanted to chat about some of my favorite female authors! To be honest, most of the books I read are by women, so most of my favorite authors are women, but they still deserve a shoutout.

There are definitely more that I could have added to this list, but I wanted to include only authors that I’ve read multiple books/series from.

Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, I wanted to chat about some of my favorite female authors! To be honest, most of the books I read are by women, so most of my favorite authors are women, but they still deserve a shoutout.

There are definitely more that I could have added to this list, but I wanted to include only authors that I’ve read multiple books/series from.

CHRISTINA LAUREN

I have read 10 of Christina Lauren’s books and honestly, they are hit or miss for me. Looking back, I have loved less of them than I’ve disliked, but still, the ones I’ve loved are absolute favorites of mine. Their books don’t feel formulaic to me, so each book stands out in my mind. I can’t wait for the release of The Honey Don’t List later this month!

AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN

I was drawn to Starfish initially for the cover, but the main character ended up being very relatable to me because of her social anxiety. I loved the book and all the other issues that were dealt with. Her second book, Summer Bird Blue, was quite different than her first, but was so emotional. I just adore both of these books and I can’t wait to read anything and everything she writes in the future!

TAYLOR JENKINS REID

I’ve loved every book that I’ve read by Taylor Jenkins Reid, starting from when I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. She comes up with such heart-wrenching ideas for her stories and they always impact me.

ALICE OSEMAN

I broke my rule with Alice Oseman, since I have only read Heartstopper from her, but I just love it so much. It is so pure and heartwarming and I love it so much. Eventually, I would love to read some of her proper novels.

MARGARET ROGERSON

Both of Margaret Rogerson’s books were just such enjoyable reads! She does standalone fantasy so well and I love the worlds and characters she creates. I don’t know what she has planned in the future, but I will read it for sure.

LAINI TAYLOR

Laini is the queen of beautiful writing! Thinking about Strange The Dreamer still does things to my heart. I’ve read both of her series, and while I didn’t love the end of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, she is still an exceptional writer and her stories stay with me.

LEIGH BARDUGO

Leigh Bardugo is another author where I don’t necessarily love everything she’s written. The Shadow and Bone series wasn’t for me (though I have been feeling like rereading it lately…) and King of Scars was one of the most disappointing books I read in 2019, but I love Six of Crows. I think I will continue to read anything she comes out with.

SARAH J. MAAS

It feels controversial to have Sarah J. Maas be among my favorite authors, but truly, I love her books. They are fun and addicting and mean a lot to me. I’ve read and loved pretty much everything she’s written and now that I have House of Earth and Blood in my possession I can’t wait to dive in!


Who are some of your favorite female authors?

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Books I Plan to Reread This Year!

One of my goals this year was to reread a lot, so I’ve come up with a lot of books I want to try to get to this year. I was originally going to make a schedule of when I wanted to reread everything, but that’s really not who I am.

One of my goals this year was to reread a lot, so I’ve come up with some books I want to try to get to this year. I was originally going to make a schedule of when I wanted to reread everything, but that’s really not who I am. These are in no particular order!

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES

I had lukewarm feelings about the first and third book of this series, and with the next book coming out soon-ish, I want to give these a reread. ACOMAF was an all-time favorite of mine, so I want to see if my opinion has changed on that.

THE BOOKS OF BAYERN

I’ve read The Goose Girl probably close to 10 times, but I’ve only read the other books in this series once, maybe twice. I finally bought them all when they came out with these gorgeous new editions! They are gonna be super quick reads.

SIX OF CROWS

I really loved this series when I was reading it, though I do remember being confused by Crooked Kingdom. I would like to savor these a little bit more this time around because I was definitely rushing the first time.

MISTBORN

As I am writing this, I just started reading The Eleventh Metal, a short story to go with this series, and it gave me a HUGE rush of nostalgia for these books! The atmosphere, the characters, the magic, I loved it all! I can’t decide if I want to reread the second era as well. I think I would enjoy them more the second time around because I know what to expect.

THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO

I seriously adored this book the first time around! I want to feel that way again. This book is unlike anything else I’ve read before.

STRANGE THE DREAMER

Laini’s writing is absolutely stunning and I want to experience it again! Also, these books just speak to my soul, okay I need to reread them.

AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN BOOKS

I related to Starfish when I read it more than any other book I had read before. Both of her books are beautifully written and are so powerful. I can’t wait for her next book!

THE LUNAR CHRONICLES

I read this series right when I started getting back into reading and I loved it! I know I got a little burnt out on them by the last book, so I may try and space them out a little more this time.

THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS

This book is absolutely gorgeous! I don’t normally love books of short stories, but the artwork combined with the creative and memorable stories makes this one of my favorites.

Do you have any goals to reread this year?

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Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis: Alex Stern has been sent to Yale in order to join Lethe, a group that keeps all the other secret societies of Yale in check. The murder of a young woman sets of a series of events that could expose the dark secrets of the societies.

Fantasy, 458 pages, published in 2019

Synopsis: Alex Stern has been sent to Yale in order to join Lethe, a group that keeps all the other secret societies of Yale in check. The murder of a young woman sets of a series of events that could expose the dark secrets of the societies.

Spoiler Free Review:

💜💜💜💜

This is such a hard book for me to review. I have had mixed feelings about Leigh Bardugo’s books in the past, so honestly, this one fits that theme. I was hesitant going in because of all the trigger warnings associated with this book.

I really did not enjoy the first half of this book. It was confusing and boring to me. Chapters are split between “winter”, where the actual story takes place, and “last fall”, where some somewhat relevant stuff happens. This doesn’t stop the narration from going back to Alex’s memories at any time. I had such a hard time keeping track of when each part was taking place because the transitions between the current time and a memory was hard to follow. It was hard to remember what was happening in the current time because some memories were pages and pages long.

It felt like this beginning section was really just setting up for the action in the second half. This was actually my biggest complaint about King of Scars, Leigh’s other release this year. It just doesn’t feel worth it to have to sit around for 200+ pages in order to get to the good stuff.

This is what makes this review hard: I absolutely loved the second half of this book. It was mostly an investigation, which I really enjoyed. It’s an investigation, plus magic, ghosts, and secret societies. It was just a really cool mix of things.

Alex works with some people she initially clashes with, but watching them eventually become friends was so nice. I don’t particularly love Alex, but she was fine and an interesting character to follow through these events.

I am really looking forward to the next book! It seems like it’ll explore something that I’m really interested in, and hopefully that we have all the background already, the beginning won’t be a slog like in this book.

As far as the trigger warnings, I definitely was expecting worse. I was most worried about the sexual assault and forced consumption of human waste because my brain took those phrases and ran, but they were not as bad as I was imagining. I am still grateful that I knew about them though, because I think I would have been caught off guard had I not known.

I think if you like ghosts, secret societies, or murder mysteries, you could enjoy this book! Please beware though, this is adult, not YA. Since Leigh has only written YA in the past, many people are categorizing it as such, but it isn’t.

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Review: King of Scars

Synopsis: Several years after the Ravka civil war, threats still plague the country. King Nikolai Lantsov must deal with the these external threats, as well as the darkness that remains inside him. Meanwhile in Fjerda, Nina Zenik discovers a nefarious plot while on an undercover mission.

Genre: Fantasy

Published: January 28th, 2019

Pages: 527

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Several years after the Ravka civil war, threats still plague the country. King Nikolai Lantsov must deal with the these external threats, as well as the darkness that remains inside him. Meanwhile in Fjerda, Nina Zenik discovers a nefarious plot while on an undercover mission.

Non-Spoiler Review:

**NOTE: While this section won’t have spoilers for King of Scars, it WILL contain spoilers for both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, since this book is a direct sequel to both of those.**

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019. I loved Nikolai in the Shadow and Bone trilogy and it was announced that Nina from the Six of Crows duology would also be a main character, so I really thought I would love it. However, I was overall disappointed.

The book has POV chapters from Nikolai, Nina, and Zoya, as well as a new character, Isaak. Nikolai and Zoya are working together closely, so their chapters are one storyline, while Nina’s chapters are a completely different storyline. I can’t say much about Isaak without spoilers. The two storylines had very little to do with each other, which gave the book a very slow start. Most books do start a little slow, since you have to get oriented in the world, get introduced to new characters, and figure out what the overall conflict is. With two storylines, that means that this slowness at the beginning of a book was doubled. It took until about halfway through the book for things to actually start happening, at which point, I didn’t really care anymore.

We get some good character background on Zoya and Nikolai, which was one of my favorite parts of the book. It really helps the reader understand the motivations and actions of these characters. Zoya was my favorite point of view to read from because who she really is and who she shows to the world are two different people.

Leigh had said that anyone could read this book, not just people who have read Shadow and Bone or Six of Crows, but it felt like this book was just riddled with references to those series. Also, I can’t remember if the magic system was described very well, so if I was new to Ravka and the Grishaverse, I think I would have been confused. The big event that happens to Nikolai has to do with magic and I was actually confused. I don’t know if I missed something (I read pretty fast so this is a common problem for me) or if it wasn’t explained well, but I did not understand how this event worked within the magic system at all.

There was no actual romance in this book, but there were beginnings to what could be two different romantic relationships. I thought both pairings were fairly predictable, but I enjoyed them. I think it will be interesting to see how they develop in the next book.

Overall, this book was just not great. I think Nina deserves her own book, rather than having it thrown in this one. I’m sure that the two storylines will merge in the next book, but it was not at all even hinted at how that will happen in this book. I do still that Leigh’s writing is really, really good and she will still be one of my favorite authors. If you have read and enjoyed her other books, especially these characters, give this book a shot! I’m not sure people new to the Grishaverse would enjoy this book.

Also, some other thoughts that I couldn’t fit in anywhere else in the review:

  • I thought it was funny that Nina would mention everyone else in the Six of Crows crew except for Wylan. I don’t know if that was intentional or not!
  • The cliffhanger! I won’t say what it is, but I don’t think I’m too happy about it. It definitely is interesting though.
  • This book without the dust jacket is GORGEOUS and I think that might add to why I am so disappointed.

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