Book Review: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo 

​One could not end 2016 any better than this… 

Imagine Now You See Me 2 on a scale twice as big, then you begin to get an inkling of the magnitude of the heist pulled off by Kaz Brekker and his unique crew in Crooked Kingdom. It’s an even bigger heist than the one they managed to pull off in Six of Crows. 

The sheer magnitude of the heist, coupled with how it plays out occupies about 2/3 of the book, meaning there’s little or no build-up. What passes for the build-up is a whirlwind of events that set the stage for the final storm! 

I greatly loved the pacing of the book. It moved along quickly from scene to scene with seamless ease. Most books aren’t written at this kind of pace. It’s not just fast, it adjusts its pace accordingly, switching speed, upping pace and then slowing down, all at exactly the right time. It’s incredible. There’s little or no buildup. No lengthy, ponderous stretch of writing that leads up to the main action. 

Another amazing thing about the book is how the author manages to pack so much action in a few hundred pages. There’s enough action and thrill in this book to fill two books, another author might have decided to extend the series by an extra book. 

The characters are fantastic. Kaz displays the full extent of his unique scheming abilities. Inej, Nina, Matthias, Wylan and Jesper are just as excellent in displaying their various talents. 

It’s a great series, with everything done just right! 

Book Review: The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

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 I think a new genre should be created for Nicholas Sparks: psychological romance. 

The story features everything and anything Sparks: characters with serious health/genetic issues/disorders, middle aged/widowed/widower characters, and a small town setting. 

It’s a bit different from the Sparks novels I’ve read in the past. Rather than focus on the relationship between the two main characters, it’s an expository on the nature of both characters: the uniqueness of the life experiences that have made each character what they are. 

The book, as does all of Sparks’ books, closely mirrors the real word. It’s not imaginary romance like other authors write. It’s more character based. It’s an insertion of love into some of the toughest psychological challenges a human can face, and then leaving the entire thing to play out on its own without any artificial theme or intrigue. The result is as unpredictable as any real world happening. 

These kinds of books are the easiest to write, in a way. At the same time, they are also the most difficult to write, because the author has to make decisions at nearly every point whether to allow the story ‘flow’ or add twists and turns. 

It’s not the most thrilling or heart pounding read out there. But it’s a must read for those of us who have let our lives and the lives of those we love be shaped by our past mistakes (which is quite a lot of people).

Book Review: Black Cross (Black Powder Wars #1) by J.P Ashman

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I’m surprised this book doesn’t have higher ratings and isn’t more popular than it is. It’s a really great book.

CHARACTERS

The author has managed to created really memorable characters here. They’re all well fleshed out. The reading of the book is mad even more thrilling by the discovery of each of the individual characters. Each has a different role to play. Each is unique, making the resulting blend truly exquisite. I also noticed an element of mystery in every POV character. It makes the whole thing even more intriguing, as the characters are complex and highly unpredictable.

I didn’t exactly fancy the author’s portrayal of the race of elves, especially their women. The grace, sternness and dignity I’ve come to associate with fictional elves is missing. In the book, they’re more or less humans with only enhanced beauty and magical powers.
While this book would be classified by most to be Grimdark, it’s extensive use of magic and creatures such as dwarves, elves, goblins and griffins among others bring it to the realm of pure epic fantasy.

PLOT

It’s a great story, elastic, really flexible, and continually expands. Those are the best stories. Despite there being quite a lot of magic, it doesn’t distract from the story. It’s a really complex story, at some point I had to slow down with my reading because I was missing too many things.
As well as being a great story, it’s also unique. It’s not typical Grimdark like Mark Lawrence or Joe Abercrombie, it’s got a blend of Tolkien as well. There’s antiheroes, heroes, and villains.

THEMES

We have the usual evil vs good theme, as characterises nearly every work of fantasy, but it’s cleverly covered with other layers. The entire thing is intriguing enough to distract from the main theme in the story which is the fight against an unknown evil. The antiheroes make you root for them! Their gritty, dark deeds blend with their odd but righteous sense of justice.
Love is a lightly treated issue, and I prefer it that way.

SETTING

Much of what happens in the book only occurs within the city of Wesson. There are no mind blowing descriptions of the continent of Brisance, or the countryside. Despite the book’s really epic scope, it’s more plot driven and doesn’t dwell too much on the setting.

It’s a really great read. I recommend it to anyone and everyone who reads this review.