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review 2016-12-31 03:08
#CBR8 Book 134: How Not to Let Go by Emily Foster
How Not to Let Go - Emily Foster

Spoiler warning! This is a direct continuation of part one of The Belhaven series, How Not to Fall, and while the reader is given enough context to understand what happened in the previous book, it will not make as much sense or have the emotional resonance for the reader unless you have read the first one. Seriously, these books are two halves of a whole story. Also, you will probably get spoilers for the first book in the series in this review. So maybe skip it until you've read part one. It's a really great start to a romance, and I promise you that the second part gives the story a satisfactory ending.

 

At the end of an extremely steamy month of physical intimacy, medical student Annabelle "Annie" Coffey can't help but fall in love with her intense lover, Dr. Charles Douglas, only to be told that due to the horrible abuse he watched his family go through at the hands of his father, and the extreme emotional strain this has had on him, Charles isn't capable of returning her feelings. Their arrangement was always meant to be one month of no strings attached sex, before they went their separate ways, remaining friends. Utterly heartbroken, Annie is in no fit state to maintain any sort of friendship. She leaves Charles without even saying goodbye and goes home to her parents, hurt and devastated, to slowly put herself back together. The couple meet briefly a month later, at Annie's best friend's wedding, and Charles is mortified at how much he has hurt her.

 

They don't have any contact or see each other for nearly a year. Having worked closely together for years before they started their sexual relationship, both deeply miss the company and professional input of the other. Annie keeps writing long e-mails to Charles, but never sends them. She knows he will be at a big conference in London, where she will be presenting, however, and having spent their time apart trying to come to grips with her feelings for him, and recalibrating them, so they might have a chance at a friendship, she reaches out and asks to meet Charles when they are both in England.

 

Back in London for the first time in four years, Charles also has to face his family again. His genius computer programmer brother and his long-suffering, abused mother. When the airport is closed down suddenly as Annie is due to fly back to the US, she ends up staying over at Charles' brother and gets to meet and see for herself just how monstrous his father actually is. She begins to see the challenges Charles struggles against and what is he fighting so desperately not to become.

 

While at least the first two thirds of How Not to Fall is all laughter, intimacy, getting to know each other better, the flutterings of infatuation and a LOT of smexy times, the last third shows that in the face of severe psychological damage, the love of a good woman and an amazing physical connection isn't enough to magically heal.

 

In How Not to Let Go both Annie and Charles have to change and redefine their relationship. Annie has to get over her initial heartbreak and figure out if her heart has lied to her, or if Charles is worth loving and keeping in her life, even if she can never be his partner. It takes her a year of processing and soul-searching before she's ready to consider a friendship with him, despite their continued physical attraction. Charles, on the other hand, is gutted that he ever caused Annie a moment of pain and has spent a year just trying to be worthy of her respect. Through a lot of gruelling therapy, he's started mapping out exactly how messed up his psyche is and how many protective layers there are, keeping him from being able to allow himself to get close to or trust anyone.

 

There is a LOT of pain in this book and several rounds of gruelling emotional exploration. It's quite clear that both Annie and Charles are better together than apart, but Charles has such a long way to go before he can return Annie's love and his family situation really is so very messed up. While the first book was told entirely from Annie's point of view, this one has more or less alternating chapters from Annie and Charles, so the reader gets to fully see inside Charles as he works his way up from the pit of despair, through the swamp and wasteland, up rage mountain to battle the metaphorical dragon, before he can begin to break down the walls surrounding his inner self.

 

With How Not to Fall, I had trouble putting the book down, and kept reading long after it was entirely sensible. I find Annie and Charles such incredibly compelling characters and kept wanting to read more about them. In this book, I occasionally had to take a break, though, as their emotional journey was absolutely exhausting to me. While the first book focuses mostly on Annie, the second book is probably more Charles'. We get to meet Charles' family, his anorexic little sister, who has no end of imagination games to parse out people's inner psyche; his extremely brilliant and sensitive younger brother, who seems to express himself best through piano playing; his lovely mother and see the joy they can share when Charles senior, Lord Belhaven is nowhere near them. We also get to see the contrast in Annie's home life with her incredibly loving and supportive parents.

 

The first book ends on a cliffhanger, when Annie leaves Charles. The second book begins at the same place. Neither book will be entirely satisfying without the other, they are really two halves of a whole story. While some romances get the couple together quickly and spend very little time actually having them get to know each other, the opposite has to be said for Emily Foster. By the end of the book, Annie and Charles have known each other for about four years, and have had their "Thing" for the best end of two. The course of their true love certainly doesn't run smooth, and there is a lot of pain to work through and a whole lot of metaphorical dragon slaying to do before they can have a chance at their HEA.

 

I have no idea if Foster intends to write any more about the younger Charles siblings, but based on their appearances in this book, I would absolutely love to see a book starring Charles' younger brother Simon as a hero, or his wounded but snarky younger sister Elizabeth as a heroine. Preferably both. I know that she primarily writes scientific non-fiction, but based on these two books, it would be a terrible shame if she didn't continue writing realistic and very satisfying romance as well.

 

And with this, I post my final book review of the year. Cannonball 9 starts on January 1st. Anyone interested in participating can sign up here.

 

Judging a book by its cover: How Not to Fall had a couple embracing and kissing in the rain, here the weather is a lot more sunny (possibly indicative of the brighter times faced by the couple towards the very end of the book). It may just be me, but the male cover model reminds me a lot of Ryan Gosling. Charles does not. I forget exactly how Annie is described in the book, but I'm pretty sure the female cover isn't a very good match for her. Nonetheless, it's a sweet and romantic book cover. Doesn't quite match the emotional turmoil of the contents, but there IS a happy ending, so maybe I'm just being overly critical.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-134-how-not-to-let-go-by.html
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review 2016-12-31 00:58
#CBR8 Book 132: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
One Fell Sweep - Ilona Andrews

Spoiler warning! This is the third book in The Innkeeper Chronicles and as such, this review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series. It's also a series that is best read in order, so if you are unfamiliar with the books, go start at the beginning, with Clean Sweep.

While Dina Demille may seem like a fairly ordinary young human woman, she is in fact an Innkeeper, and within the bounds of her inn, she is almost unbelievably powerful. Her broom is a deadly weapon. She can rearrange the rooms and gardens to suit any guest, she can open portals to other worlds and planets in the universe and she can mount a pretty comprehensive defence if someone is threatening the safety of her guests. The only permanent resident of her inn is the ruthless Caldenia, wanted across most of the known universe because of her many atrocities. There is also Dina's dog, Beast, who on the surface looks like a fluffy Shih Tzu, but may feature a lot more teeth than your normal dog. In her kitchen, Orro, her temperamental and brilliant Quillonian chef rules. He stays out of sight from the neighbours as he looks like a six-foot tall hedgehog.

Dina's chief concern is the comfort and safety of her guests, and making very sure that everyone in the quiet little place she lives doesn't realise that there is anything peculiar about the old Victorian building where she houses her other-worldly guests. She is still recovering from the strain of having hosted a large intergalactic peace summit and trying to figure out where exactly she stands with her handsome neighbour Sean (who also happens to be an alpha-strain alien werewolf who survived countless campaigns in a hostile environment that killed others of his kind pretty much instantly) when a particularly noisy and inconspicuous alien messenger brings word that her sister is in danger. Dina calls in favours where she can and soon she, Sean and Arland, a vampire warlord with whom she's had previous adventures are on their way to the universe's version of 19th Century vampire Australia to locate Dina's sister and her niece.

Maud, Dina's sister, is the widow of a disgraced vampire warlord and her daughter is half vampire. Once her idiot husband got himself killed, Maud and her child waged a six month revenge raid against the people who killed him, but Maud's at the end of her reserves when Dina and her twosome of powerful, very deadly men show up. While Maud has sworn off vampires forever, Arland is instantly smitten and does whatever he can to impress the extremely deadly lady, not to mention her semi-feral daughter. He even insists that he has to stay at Dina's inn for an unspecified amount of time, for an extended vacation. That he'll be close to the lovely Maud is probably just a side benefit.

Of course, having several highly trained warriors at her inn turns out to be good for Dina, as she ends offering asylum to an unusual alien, the Hiru, whose race has nearly been hunted to extinction by another, called the Draziri. They apparently ensure eternal salvation of their entire clan if they kill a Hiru. While helping the Hiru is almost certainly going to end badly, they offer her aid in locating her missing parents, something she cannot refuse, even if she didn't feel sympathy for their plight. Soon she has to use all her ingenuity and drain the inn's defences as they are facing an all-out assault from what is basically an alien gangster cartel who will stop at nothing to kill the Hiru and anyone else at Dina's inn.

Ilona Andrews started The Innkeeper Chronicles back in 2013 and has published each of the books in more or less weekly instalments on their website. They then take the finished product, clean it up, try to iron out any plot inconsistencies (which can easily sneak in as they are writing from week to week), add some scenes to make the story flow more smoothly, and self-published the results. This is the third book in the series, which by now has a small cast of recurring characters in addition to our heroine, Dina. As the series has progressed, the world-building gets more complex, the characters get more developed and the reader gets a clearer picture of where the authors may be going with this.

I always follow the story religiously while the authors post their instalments during the first part of the year, but enjoy re-reading the book when it's a finished product that they published. In One Fell Sweep, for instance, there is less violence and certainly a fairly PG ending, as the authors are aware that anyone can read the story when they come across it on their website. The book has an extended final chapter, where readers who want a more satisfying romantic ending with some decidedly more adult content should be happy with the result. There are also little scenes added throughout the book to help build Dina and Sean, and Maud and Arland's relationships. As a huge fan of Arland's since the first book, I was delighted to see them find him a suitable partner, as it's been obvious since book one that he didn't really have a chance with Dina.

While these books are somewhat less "meaty" and substantial than Ilona Andrews' other output, I still greatly appreciate what they are doing. There is no obligation to the fans to keep publishing stories for free throughout the year. Because these books are written in quick bursts from week to week, there may be less complex story and character development, but there tends to be a lot of breath-taking action. This instalment also had a truly heart-breaking chapter towards the end, which a lot off readers said beautifully captured the feel of truly crippling depression.

It makes me very happy to read that this book was number 2 on the New York Times E-book bestseller list, and 18th on the combined list the week after release, as well as number 2 on the Wall Street Journal's bestseller list I will buy anything the Andrews' publish, and their continued success brings me joy. I hope they continue the adventures of Dina and her inn for many years to come.

Judging a book by its cover: I know the authors hire an artist (I forget her name and was unable to find it in my quick Google search) to do the cover art and inside illustrations. While I'm not wild about Dina's cloak in this one, I like the little glimpse of her energy whip and her fairly casual outfit otherwise. I generally really like these covers and the artist's various character renderings inside the book. The one of Dina's sister Maud and her niece Helen is excellent.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-132-one-fell-sweep-by-ilona.html
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review 2016-12-28 00:33
#CBR8 Book 128: Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne Long
Wild at Whiskey Creek: A Hellcat Canyon Novel (Hot in Hellcat Canyon) - Julie Anne Long

Glory Hallelujah (yup, that's actually her name) Greenleaf is the only one in her family who's never broken the law or deviated from the straight and narrow. Unlike most of her other family members, who only seem to leave Hellcat Canyon to go to prison or when they die, Glory was going to become a star, using her songwriting and singing talent to make it big. Of course, then her brother Jonah was arrested for meth dealing and she had to use all her savings to help pay her mother's mortgage, and now she's still impatiently cooling her heels, trying to make ends meet by waitressing badly.

 

Deputy sheriff Eli Barlow has loved Glory since he was twelve years old, but any chance he had of winning her heart was crushed when he had to arrest her brother, his best friends, for meth dealing. He can't entirely understand what she's still doing in town, considering she had several demo tapes recorded and was all set to leave to get herself a music career. He hates that he had to break her heart (and his own) by arresting Jonah, and desperately wants to make things right between them. When Hollywood talent comes to town and takes notice of Glory's talent, Eli realises that the best way to win this woman's heart is to make sure she can leave Hellcat Canyon forever. 

 

Julie Anne Long will always have some leeway with me, having written one of my favourite romances of all time, What I Did for a Duke. I can respect that she wants to try new things, having written historical novels for most of her career. I thought Wild at Whiskey Creek worked moderately better than her first attempt at contemporary romance, Hot in Hellcat Canyon, although she still has quite a way to go to reach the levels of quality or entertainment value of her best historicals. In her biographical information for this book, Long reveals that she herself wanted to become a rock star and did both singing and guitar playing, but writing became her career choice instead. She certainly seems to know what she's talking about with regards to songwriting and composing (I know nothing about guitar playing, and only barely learned to strum a few chords during whatever basic lessons they gave us in music class in secondary school). I will also give her this, the earworm indie hit that is referenced throughout the story ended up getting stuck in my head as I read the book, despite the fact that it was a fictional song, that I'd never heard. I still ended up reciting the catchy chorus in my head. So kudos to you for that, Ms. Long.

 

Couples who have loved one another since they were children can be a tricky thing to pull off, but Ms. Long manages pretty well here. Since Eli and Glory's brother Jonah were best friends and grew up inseparably together, it seems natural he would also have spent a lot of time with Glory during that time. It's established that neither Eli nor Glory are silently and celibately pining for the other, they both date and have other relationships, but share one scorching and very memorable kiss when they are both single. Sadly, this is just before the bit where Eli has to arrest Jonah and send him to prison for years, making the fiercely loyal Glory shun him like the plague. Eli hates that he had to hurt her, and hates the reckless Jonah quite a bit as well, for giving the law-abiding Eli no choice but to do his job. 

 

After pretty much rudely telling everyone in town where to stick it before her brother got arrested, because she was getting out and becoming a big singing star, Glory has been forced to apologise to a lot of people and help support her widowed mother and assorted hard-up half-siblings by waitressing. The arrival of Hollywood TV crews, filming new historical prestige show, set during the California Gold Rush, also brings handsome television and movie actor Franco Francone to town. He pisses off Eli by joyriding his Porsche way above the speed limit through town, and making the moves on Glory, who is clearly the most interesting of all the single ladies in Hellcat Canyon. She's amused by his attention, but mainly flirts with him to make Eli jealous. Eli, on the other hand, has been set up with one of the makeup artists on the show, and tries his best to forget his impossible infatuation with Glory, who he's always known is meant for far better than him and the little mountain region they're from, no matter how lawless and hopeless most of her family members are. 

 

Because they've grown up together, there is no need for Eli and Glory to get to know each other. They have a shared past and just need to get past the conflict caused when utterly decent and law-abiding Eli arrested Glory's beloved, but rather careless brother. It's quite clear that Glory has a lot of talent, and needs to get her chance to show the world. So they need to figure out how they can reconcile their romantic feelings for one another, when Eli doesn't really have any plans of leaving Hellcat Canyon, while Glory wants nothing more than to get away.

 

Having written eleven Regency novels set in the little English town of Pennyroyal Green, Julie Anne Long is good at creating a cozy setting for her books. The towns of Hellcat Canyon and Whiskey Creek clearly have their fair share of colourful supporting cast that help populate the stories, many of whom the reader was already introduced to in the first book in the series. You by no means need to have read the previous book to enjoy this one, but it's quite clear that several of the secondary characters here will feature more prominently in future books. 

 

Sadly, while these books are perfectly entertaining as you're reading them, they're not very memorable. I read this at the beginning of December, and already I'm having trouble remembering specific details about the plot, except that Glory's younger half-brother and his clueless selfishness really annoyed me, plus there was a little too much of the romance plot that was Eli or Glory jealous of the other, but not actually talking to each other. Oh, and Ms. Long needs to realise that now that she's writing contemporary romances, she NEEDS to acknowledge that in the modern world, couples use some form of protection and talk about it before they fall into bed with one another. Really, it doesn't need to take up a lot of page space, but the fact that in both this and her previous contemporary, there is no talk of condoms, other contraceptives, the possibility of STDs or pregnancy. It's a minor point, but I saw it referenced in another review of this book as well, and I absolutely agree. 

 

This book was on Kirkus Best of 2016 list of romances. They clearly have very different taste in romance from me, since the excellent The Hating Game wasn't even on the list, while several romances that I found entertaining, but really nothing special were represented. While this was a better contemporary than her previous one, Julie Anne Long will have to do better to truly impress me, and I'm not going to rush out and get her next book.

 

Judging a book by its cover: Woman in a denim miniskirt stands in a meadow with her back to the camera, holding an acoustic guitar over her shoulders. am assuming this is supposed to be Glory, but based on her description in the book, I don't think it fits her at all. She doesn't seem like the sort of person who would wear pink, for one thing. I'm also really annoyed by the askew "k" at the end of "Creek". I'm sure it's supposed to be playful and whimsical, but it just sets my teeth on edge.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-128-wild-at-whiskey-creek-by.html
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review 2016-12-27 02:21
#CBR8 Book 126: Managed by Kristen Callihan
Managed (VIP Book 2) - Kristen Callihan Sophie Darling (sadly nowhere near as awesome as my favourite romance heroine with Darling as a surname) is on her way to a job interview in London and unexpectedly and happily finds herself upgraded to first class. Her joy is somewhat lessened when very handsome, but supremely grouchy Gabriel "Scottie" Scott is seated next to her, outraged that one of the two seats he's purchased has been allotted to someone. Nonetheless, cheerful and mischievous Sophie decides to try to crack handsome guy's crabby demeanour (at this point she doesn't know his name) by both flirting and teasing him and once she discovers that he's clearly deeply uncomfortable on planes, she does her best to distract him, so he doesn't have such a bad time of it. Before they arrive in London, they discover that the interview Sophie is on her way to is as social media rep for the rock band Kill John, which Scottie manages. So indirectly, if she gets the job, he will become her boss. Obviously, he can't get involved with one of his employees, so any flirting between them has to stop right there. Once Sophie does meet the band, there is a brief conflict involving her paparazzi past, but she gets the job, and will now be going on the European tour with the band. In "could only happen in a romance novel" plotting, both Sophie and Gabriel have trouble sleeping and it's making them both irritable and less than efficient. They discover, through plot contrivance that only when in the same bed can they get a good night's sleep. So Gabriel proposes that Sophie start sleeping in his bed, totally platonically, of course, even though everyone with eyes in their head can tell that both he and Sophie are absolutely gone for each other, and Scottie's famed iron control is about to crack every time some other guy so much as glances in Sophie's direction. Emmalita, one of my fellow romance enthusiasts over on CBR, absolutely hated this book and Gabriel in particular. I can agree that Gabriel isn't the most likable of heroes, but I read him as a lot less emotionally manipulative and controlling than her. Like so many alphahole romance heroes, there are issues in his past that have led to him becoming an icy control freak and he's terrified of letting loose or letting anyone get close to him. He clearly has massive abandonment issues and believes that as long as he doesn't let anyone get close (be they a romantic interest or his friends/found family, the band and Brenna), he will never be left alone again. He also clearly has some serious anger issues that he takes out with no holds barred fights for money every so often. Does he behave like a stuck-up d*ck for a lot of the book? Yup. Did I see what Sophie saw in him? Nope, not really. Did I hate the book? Not even slightly. Sophie is a lovely character and I liked that she was working hard to make up for a past in which her life choices both with regards to career and boyfriend made her do some pretty rotten things. The third act complication where her sleazy ex suddenly enters the picture again and creates tension between her and Gabriel felt incredibly unnecessary and made me roll my eyes. Still, I liked her, and this book passed the time just fine. Can I clearly remember the plot now, three weeks after reading the book? Nope. Do I regret paying money for it? Not really, as Callihan self-publishes these and I have very much enjoyed her Game On books enough that she gets a chance or two extra because of them. It's a perfectly forgettable book. If you want to read a really good book involving a heroine surnamed Darling and a guy with a lot of control tendencies, read Courtney Milan's lovely Unraveled instead. Smite is a million times better in the hero department than Gabriel is. For better Callihan books, check out her Game On series. Based on this, I doubt I'll be paying any more money for future instalments of the VIP series, unless they are very reduced or free. Judging a book by its cover: While the previous book in the series, Idol, had brighter, sharper colours on the covers, this one is in more muted pastels, showing what I'm assuming is supposed to be Gabriel sitting around waiting for the band to finish, or something? It's not a very exciting romance cover, but then again, neither was the first one in the series. Callihan is clearly not going for steaming covers for these self-published books.
Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-126-managed-by-kristen.html
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review 2016-12-26 01:56
#CBR8 Book 123: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Crooked Kingdom - Brandon Rubin,Audible Studios,Leigh Bardugo,Elizabeth Evans,Peter Ganim,Fred Berman,Lauren Fortgang,Roger Clark,Jay Snyder,Kevin T. Collins

Spoiler warning! There will be some spoilers for Six of Crows and Ruin and Rising, the final book in Bardugo's Grisha trilogy in this review. There will also be some spoilers about the ending of this book, which means it's best to avoid this whole review until you've read both these excellent books (and possibly the Grisha trilogy as well.)

 

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team-member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalites. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets - a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world. 

 

While they pulled off the impossible and managed to get out of the Fjerdan ice court alive, with the only possible source of the dangerous superdrug jurda parem in their custody, Kaz Brekker and his little band of outlaws didn't get to retire with their unbelievable wealth, celebrating their victory. The brilliant Kaz was in fact outsmarted and out-manoeuvred by the deceitful Councilman Van Eyck, and now his beloved Wraith has been abducted and the gang have less than a week to rescue her and orchestrate their revenge. If their previous mission was dangerous and hard to complete, this one is possibly going to be even harder. They have no money, no allies, there are a number of hostile parties trying to kill some or all of the group and time is running out. 

 

The action of Crooked Kingdom takes the reader back to Ketterdam, where Kaz, Matthias, Nina, Jesper and Wylan have to work together against steep odds to outsmart Van Eyck and their other enemies, rescue Inej, make sure the only living source of jurda parem gets out of the city safely and finally get paid the money they were promised. As in Six of Crows, the action takes place over a short space of time and everything that could go wrong, seems to have turned against our heroes and heroines. These two books should ideally be read together, as they don't work seperately and the stories complement each other so well.

 

I bought this audiobook on Audible pretty much the second I'd finished Six of Crows, as I had to find out what happened immediately. The book is even longer than the first, and yet I listened to the whole thing in less than three days. In this book, Wylan also gets his own chapters, and his narrator on the audio didn't entirely work for me. It was especially the way he made Kaz sound (as in Wylan hearing Kaz talking). He made his sound far too nasal and high-pitched, like a strange parody version of Wallace Shawn doing Vizzini in The Princess Bride. It was distracting and took me out of the story a little bit.

 

I mostly really loved this book, and I especially loved the way it tied everything together with Bardugo's first trilogy with some very cool cameos. I must admit that I liked a certain privateer character a lot more in his appearance here than I did in the Grisha trilogy. He fit better, somehow. The one thing I didn't like was the choice Bardugo made close to the ending. I think the only reason she did it was to try to inject even more darkness and grittiness to the story, which really was not necessary if one considers how dark the books already go in depicting Kaz's past and how he lost his brother, Inej's separation from her family and forced prostitution, what Wylan discovers about his parents, Matthias' time in prison, how Nina had to survive in Ketterdam and so on. What she chooses to do in the final act of the story feels cheap and actually robs the story of something, and it made me absolutely furious.

 

Vague spoilers for Ruin and Rising and also this book. At the end of this book, a character is actually pretty much resurrected with magic, from the point of actual honest to god death, just so our heroine can have a happy ending of sorts. This storyline actually makes the huge sacrifice of said character mean a lot less and while it would have been a bit of a bummer ending for the book, it would have felt appropriate with what happens earlier in the plot. Instead we get a "everybody lives" situation, and the characters haven't actually sacrificed much of anything, they end up exactly where they'd be happiest.

 

I have a theory that Bardugo possibly regretted this ending somewhat, and therefore decided to prove that she could be ruthless and there could be personal loss and despite the character's saying of "No mourners, no funerals", she wanted them to have to say goodbye to one of their own. It's a very Joss Whedon-y move, offing one beloved cast member just so the others will be extra sad, and it annoyed me as much here as it tends to do in Whedon's work. 

 

Bardugo's choice, which I think seriously takes away from my enjoyment of the book, makes me deduct one star from the total rating. Nonetheless, this is the end of an excellent duology and the promise that Bardugo showed in her first three books has developed even further into a great pair of books. As well as continuing the plotting and scheming with a new and different heist, all the romantic promise in the first book comes to fruition in this book, with three amazing couples, all of whom I loved to read about and spend time with. These characters are all, in their way, so damaged and broken, they have such pain in their pasts and need each other so very much. For characters so young, they have lived through so much pain. By the end, there is a promise of a better life for them, and I really hope that if Bardugo continues to write books from her Grishaverse, we meet some of them again in future instalments.

 

Judging a book by its cover: Another cover combining towering buildings and a dark and ominous crow. I don't really have another way of saying that I love these covers, so I'll just leave it at that.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-123-crooked-kingdom-by-leigh.html
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