Raincoast approached me to be a participant in the Fierce Reads Blog Tour, which I happily said yes to. I had the pleasure a few years back of going to the first time Toronto got to host Fierce Reads and it was such a fantastic event. Fierce Reads is back in Toronto on October 17th, and is featuring Leigh Bardugo, Leila Sales, Josephine Angelini, and Emma Mills! I was given the chance to review two of the books for the tour, and I got to ask the other two authors a question in regards to their works.
I received an advance reader’s copy of the following books thanks to Raincoast/Macmillan, and the thoughts and opinions expressed are purely my own.
Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Those who know me, know I am a sucker for a good heist story. Needless to say when details started trickling out about Six of Crows, I knew I had to have it. I admit, I enjoyed the Grisha trilogy, even with all its flaws, but I feel like Six of Crows shows what a much stronger writer Leigh Bardugo has become over the years.
While this book has us following multiple perspectives, all of them are well intertwined. If you’ve read the Grisha Trilogy, than Six of Crows in terms of it’s world building will not feel foreign to you, including the series terminology. Even though there’s multiple perspective at play, each character in the story feels full developed and well realized, and each makes for an engaging point of view to read about. My favourite point of view to read, easily was Inej’s, if only because she’s a character who I easily gravitate towards when I read fantasy: mysterious, tough as nails, unafraid to be herself, but on the downside isn’t easy to warm up to others, and definitely has trust issues. She also easily gets some of the best lines in the story as well.
The additions to the Grisha world in this book is fantastic and so much more grittier than what the original series provided. I loved the grim, dark atmosphere, and I loved how Bardugo really plays with description in this novel. Everything about this novel is epic in scope, and you constantly feel like you’re being tossed around in a hectic storm. I admit, I was slow reading this at first, but once I hit parts four and five, I found I couldn’t put the novel down. I was invested in the heist, invested in the characters, and I needed to know that they were going to be okay.
I WAS NOT OKAY READING THIS BOOK. I was not, I admit it. I had moments where my heart was racing, I was panicking for the characters, and Bardugo is evil for that. She’s great at tugging on the reader’s heart strings and making her characters vulnerable. It makes for such a great reading experience. If you loved the Grisha trilogy, you’ll love how the world has been expanded with Six of Crows. However, if you want a starting point into Bardugo’s work, I strong recommend reading Shadow and Bone, if only to give yourself more familiarity to the world that’s crafted. Believe me, it’s one hell of a world, and one heck of an experience.
Leigh Bardugo is the author of the New York Times-bestselling series The Grisha Trilogy. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood, where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band. leighbardugo.com / grishatrilogy.com
Title: Tonight the Streets Are Ours
Author: Leila Sales
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she’s tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.
Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called “Tonight the Streets Are Ours,” the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.
During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.
One of my favourite books in 2013 was This Song Will Save Your Life. I found the novel moving, something I could relate to in a strong way. Needless to say, I was thrilled that Leila Sales was putting out another novel, one I was hoping to have a much stronger emotional connection towards. I have to admit, however, that while I enjoyed parts of this novel, I struggled to suspend my disbelief in some situations.
I will concede that I loved the idea of this novel being an unexpected love story, and I loved the exploration around this concept. I think Sales does a great job of grabbing the reader’s attention to show obsessed Arden becomes with the blog and the man behind the words. It’s easy to become infatuated with someone else’s words or the way in which they tell their stories, but I admit, I disapproved of Arden’s actions in going to NYC and seeking Peter out in real life.
I just had such a hard time suspending my disbelief for that, and I feel uncomfortable with the idea that someone would go that far to stalk someone’s blog. I recognize that it happens, but my discomfort comes from the fact that it at first comes across quite unwelcomed? Perhaps there’s just a part of me that was confused by how this was supposed to be a romantic gesture of sorts — and like my co-blogger said, there’s that part of me that felt out and questioned how Arden could be so damn trusting towards Peter. I understand that she feels like she knows him, but on the other side of the coin does she really? Again, the level of trust and lack of discomfort really threw me for a loop, and admittedly, I’m surprised that Lindsey as her friend would go along with this (mind you, she’s the more adventurous type compared to Arden). I really enjoyed the reveal in regards to Peter, and I loved that Arden learns how one-sided everything is after confronting him about his relationship with Bianca. I kinda wish Arden had been more upfront with Chris, but I do like how Sales shows cheating as a learning experience, though I still wish she hadn’t done that!
I will say, I actually loved the friendship between Arden and Lindsey. For me, that was the best parts of this novel — the way they had each others back, the way they could call each other on their crap, the way in which they took care of each other was pretty admirable. I also loved Arden’s growth in terms of her family problems and how she eventually is able to speak out about it to her parents and others. For me, those were the more interesting parts of the novel since I struggled to buy into the Peter relationship and the blog stalking. I just found those aspects so hard to connect with mostly because I was screaming STRANGER DANGER every few seconds.
I think Tonight the Streets Are Ours is definitely an engaging read, especially if you can suspend your disbelief with how easy a lot of aspects fall into the place. I found I liked the novel, but was just also very disappointed in how simple and easy a lot of the situations were. I wish there had been more to the consequences, because that really did frustrate me. I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this book the way I did This Song Will Save Your Life, but I do recommend it to those who can suspend their disbelief and enjoy the narrative for what it is.
Leila Sales (www.leilasales.com) is the author of the novels This Song Will Save Your Life, Mostly Good Girls, and Past Perfect. This Song Will Save Your Life garnered two starred reviews, was included on the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list, was one of Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of the Year, and was listed as one of the Best YA Books of 2013 by Buzzfeed.com. It has been published in ten foreign countries, and it has been optioned for stage and film development.
Leila grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Chicago. When she’s not writing, she spends her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, chocolate, and how to get more of all of them. Leila lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in children’s book publishing. Follow her @LeilaSalesBooks.
Q&A Time! Featuring Emma Mills and Josephine Angelini
Every participant got to ask a question to the authors about something they were interested in. My question to Emma Mills and Josephine Angelini was: “In your opinion, what makes a book a “fierce read” and how would you apply your definition to your novel?”
Emma Mills: For me, a “fierce read” is one that’s enthralling—a book that you just can’t quit! I hope that the relationships in FIRST & THEN—romantic, platonic, and familial— are able to draw people in and get them invested in the story!
Josephine Angelini: Strong characters. High stakes. A heartbreaking love story and a killer twist at the end. That’s a fierce read to me. I hope that’s what I delivered.
Emma Mills is a debut author better known to her subscribers as vlogger Elmify. She is also co-creator and co-host of the “life skills” channel How to Adult. youtube.com/user/elmify
Josephine Angelini is the internationally bestselling author of Trial by Fire and the Starcrossed series. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. Originally from Massachusetts, Josie now lives in Los Angeles with her screenwriter husband, her daughter, Pia Marie, and three shelter cats. You can visit her on Facebook, her website josephineangelini.com, or follow her on Twitter @josieangelini.
I want to extend a huge thank you to Raincoast for giving me this opportunity, as well as the authors for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer my question! Make sure to stop by the other tour stops below, and I hope to see you on October 17th at the Fierce Reads Tour Stop! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #FierceReadsTakesTO!