5 Foremost Things about Kendare Blake’s “Five Dark Fates”

“Five Dark Fates”

Three Dark Crowns #4

by Kendare Blake

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Katharine is the Queen Crowned, yet her two sisters still live and the island is not happy about it. The mist that once protected and concealed the island now raises up to gruesomely slaughter all who come into contact with it. As Queen Mirabella seeks out Queen Katharine to find a peaceful solution, Queen Arsinoe prepares for war, backing the rebellion of the Legion Queen. All the while, Queen Katharine is finding that she may have doomed the whole island as she is the Undead Queen and may not be able to control the rageful dead queens inside of her.

5 Foremost Things about Kendare Blake’s “Five Dark Fates”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The Gifted

Many residents of Fennbirn are gifted with supernatural powers. There are the elementals that can manipulate the elements of earth, air, fire and water, with Queen Mirabella being the strongest one in a long time. Then there are the poisoners such as Queen Arsinoe that are able to ingest poison, withstand them, and have uncanny abilities creating them. Naturalists like Queen Katharine are able to influence plants, communicate with animals, and usually have a familiar. Then there are the oracles or seers and the warriors who are war-gifted and have exceptional fighting skills.

2. Concept

Overall, the concept for the Three Dark Crowns is pleasantly unique. A set of triplets are born each generation by the preceding queen and then those triplets must battle to the death. The remaining girl becomes the Crowned Queen and reigns until she bears the next set of triplets. Very dark and twisted.

3. LGBTQ

Blake includes a LGBTQ romance budding between Jules and Emilia. There also seems to be no uproar from other characters so in the Three Dark Crowns universe this is accepted and appears to be viewed as normal. Hopefully we can get there one day!

4. The Queens

While they have been taught and raised to not trust each other, the three queens do attempt to work together. They remember that they loved each other once and that perhaps they can be there for each other instead of against each other.

5. Conclusion

“Five Dark Fates” has an overall happy ending for such a bloody and dark tale. Queen Katharine redeems herself in many ways, even though she was never truly monstrous. The Legion Queen is crowned and the island begins to change. There is no more mist to conceal Fennbirn and the reign of the three queens is finally over. And although Billy has left back to the mainland, “Five Dark Fates” ends with Arsinoe leaving to find him.

What were your favorite things about “Five Dark Fates”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

8 Cunning Things about Leigh Bardugo’s “Crooked Kingdom”

“Crooked Kingdom”

Grishaverse #5; Six of Crows #2

by Leigh Bardugo

NIKKI’S RATING: 8 OUT OF 10

Summary: Double-crossed by a merchant and the man who killed his brother, Kaz Brekkar is preparing to go to war. As his gang of misfits come together to save the Wraith and even the score, Kaz will need be the ruthless monster of The Barrel as they take on not just two men but the whole town of Ketterdam as word gets out that Kaz is protecting the only person who can create parem, the super addictive and deadly drug that gives Grisha god-like powers.

8 Cunning Things about Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Grishaverse

“Crooked Kingdom” features characters from the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and even though it is a brief glimpse, it is always to see previous characters again. It is like bumping into an old friend.

2. World Building

Bardugo has done an amazing job of building the Grishaverse world and she continues weaving the tapestry. One element of world building that is very prominent in “Crooked Kingdom” is the politics in Kerch. It is drastically different in comparison to Ravka or Fjerda making her universe believable and brings diversity to her fictional world.

3. LGBTQ

As with her previous novels, Bardugo includes characters who identify as LGBTQ. Jesper and Wylan are adorable and thankfully Wylan gets his own face back to keep Jesper from making mistakes again.

4. Raising the Dead

While Nina grieves the loss of her original powers, her new powers are pretty badass while also disturbing. Basically a necromancer, Nina can control the dead in certain aspects, a perversion of her Corporalki powers after consuming parem.

5. Balance

One of my favorite elements of the Grishaverse is the universe’s mandate of balance. This was seen in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy in many ways, the Fold being created by the Darkling on accident, a place where his powers were utterly useless and then when Alina attempts to become super powerful, her powers are scattered amongst thousands of others and she is left with nothing. In the Six of Crows series we see this with the madness and death usually brought on by the consumption of parem or in Nina’s case, since she survived, her powers were altered. There is a cost, a balance to be maintained.

6. Emotional

“Crooked Kingdom” kept me on my toes mostly because I was so afraid of one or more characters dying and then when everything seemed safe Matthias was killed. I’m still upset about this death, Nina and Matthias were meant to have a happily-ever-after. It was so devastating to read their goodbye scene, absolutely killed me!

7. Hope

Regardless of the pain, turmoil, and trauma that all the characters have gone through, especially Kaz and Inej, “Crooked Kingdom” ends on a positive note. The book concludes with each character planning for the future, a brighter one, each of them grasping onto hope.

8. King of Scars

With the glimpse of the characters from the Shadow and Bone trilogy, it is only fitting that Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse continues with those characters and a return to Ravka in “King of Scars” book 1 in the Nikolai Duology.

What were your favorite things about Crooked Kingdom?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

9 Rewarding Things about Leigh Bardugo’s “Ruin and Rising”

“Ruin and Rising”

Grishaverse Book 3; The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 3

by Leigh Bardugo

NIKKI’S RATING: 9 OUT OF 10

Summary: Unable to use her powers, Alina Starkov is a prisoner once again but this time to the cunning Apparat, the spiritual leader of Ravka who tends to change sides whenever it suits him. While Nikolai attempts to keep the Darkling busy focusing on him, Alina’s allies come together to help her escape. As they travel across Ravka searching for the last amplifier, Alina comes to discover that the cost may be too high. In order to stop the Darkling, Alina will have to destroy herself and kill the man she’s loved since childhood.

9 Rewarding Things about Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Genya

Genya’s storyline is tragic and yet beautiful. While her looks get ruined she not only remains true to Alina and what she believes in, she eventually shows the same confidence and sassiness she had prior to her punishment, looks be damned. Genya gets all she deserves in the end, her man David, a pardon, and a leadership role.

2. LGBTQ

The Shadow and Bone Trilogy included the LGBTQ community through the characters Nadia and Tamar who were an openly lesbian couple. And I loved that in the Grishaverse this was not seen as abnormal, no one commented on it, made a fuss, and the characters weren’t trying to hide their feelings. Hopefully our world can become that accepting one day.

3. Writing

“Ruin and Rising” was written well with great pacing and was absolutely emotional. It was a hard book to put down and it was difficult to say goodbye to the characters in the end.

4. Sun Summoners

The great twist of the three amplifiers, power multiplied a thousand fold but not in one person but shared amongst many otkazat’sya. This twist was so unexpected and yet, made sense with Morozova’s story and the need for balance in the end.

5. The Darkling

Aleksander, the Darkling, another tale of tragedy. While he needed to be stopped, his end is truly sad. All he wanted was to not be alone but he always would be in his power, in his greatness, he had no equal. The Darkling was evil, he did horrible things but there was a goodness to him, a human quality of wanting to be loved, accepted, and cherished.

6. Mal & Alina

OMG! Just an emotional rollercoaster with these two! I’m so relieved that Mal and Alina ended up together in the end, I was really unsure if they would both survive. After everything they had been through with each other, they deserve their happy ending.

7. The Future

While Alina is no longer in the picture, I love that Nikolai embraces her ideas for the future of the Grisha. The leadership for the Grisha will be shared amongst representatives from each order and together they will lead the Second Army, maintaining a safe haven for the Grisha in their world.

8. Bittersweet

Overall, “Ruin and Rising” had a bittersweet ending and it was fitting. Alina and Mal both lost their “gifts”, Nikolai and Genya are forever scarred, and they all have some serious PTSD. However, they all move forward and they appreciate and embrace the happiness that they are able to find. Such is life.

9. Six of Crows

While Mal and Alina’s story has ended with their happily-ever-after, the Grishaverse continues on in Leigh Bardugo’s “Six of Crows.”


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

9 Superior Things about Leigh Bardugo’s “Siege and Storm”

“Siege and Storm”

Grishaverse Book 2; The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 2

by Leigh Bardugo

NIKKI’S RATING: 9 OUT OF 10

Summary: Prisoners of the Darkling, Mal and Alina are forced to hunt Morozova’s next amplifier, the legendary ice dragon Rusaly. Just when it seems that there is no hope, they are rescued by the most unlikely person and dropped into the vindictive and superficial Ravka court. As Alina tries to lead the Second Army and find a way to save them all, she is being haunted by the Darkling and comes to realize that they may not be so different after all.

9 Superior Things about Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Grishaverse

Bardugo’s greatest accomplishment as a writer is her world-building skills. There are so many tiny details about the Grishaverse that make it wholeheartedly believable and interesting. While Ravka is influenced by Imperial Russia, Fjerda appears to be influenced by the Norse, while Shu Han appears to have Asian influence. I suspect the Wandering Isle may be inspired by Ireland but I could be wrong. Regardless, as one would expect all these nations have diverse cultures and ways in which they deal with their Grisha, looking forward to learning more about each of them.

2. Grisha Magic

Another testament to Bardugo’s wonderful imagination is the lore, especially surrounding the Grisha and their magic. The idea that it is not necessarily “magic” but manipulation of natural elements and that there is a balance that must be maintained creates a unique spin on the concept.

3. Amplifiers

The amplifiers are a neat idea; the “rule” that a Grisha may only have one and that some Grisha are actual amplifiers makes things much more interesting. And then of course, there are Morozova’s amplifiers that are legendary beings, which are totally awesome and beautiful. I just wish they didn’t have to kill them, like why would you kill a legendary, mythical being, its just wrong!

4. Sturmhond

Sturmhond aka Nikolai Lantsov is a fantastic character and quite possibly my favorite. While handsome, he is incredibly intelligent, kind, cunning, and most importantly hilarious. Regardless of all the darkness, challenges, and heartache happening, Nikolai keeps his humor and positive outlook. He is the much needed comic relief!

5. Mal

The hero of our story, Mal is another beloved character of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. He is steadfast, loyal, good looking and all around good guy. While it is heartbreaking to watch his self-destructive behavior, it really shows how much Alina means to him and how much he will put himself through to do the right thing.

6. Alina

While not the most fascinating female protagonist, there is an element of darkness in Alina that makes her alluring. Her desire for more power makes her more relatable and human and really adds to her character development.

7. Connection

The connection between Alina and the Darkling is very intriguing and makes sense. They are connected through their unique powers, their drive for more power, and wanting to “save” Ravka from itself. Just as Alina learns that there is some goodness in the Darkling, there is some darkness in herself. There is no light without darkness and vice versa. It’s all about balance.

8. Emotional

“Siege and Storm” was an emotional rollercoaster for me. Bardugo can seriously pull on some heartstrings. Being the romantic, the only thing I want is for Mal and Alina to have a happily ever after and I’m getting a sick feeling that I may not get what I want.

9. Ruin and Rising

Thankfully this is not the end for Alina and Mal, the Grishaverse continues in Book 3 of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, “Ruin and Rising”

What were your favorite things about Siege and Storm?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

7 Horrors of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”

The Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Four strangers come together to spend a summer at Hill House. Hoping to observe paranormal occurrences, they may have gotten more than they bargained for. Rooms covered in blood, personal messages written on the walls, the house appears to have a mind of its own.

7 Horrors of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Quick Read

All in all, The Haunting of Hill House is a quick read and I’m extremely grateful for this as I do not think my anxiety could deal with a full-length horror novel.

2. Horror

The Haunting of Hill House is an effective horror story and is really quite disturbing to read; makes the reader think and question if they have ever experienced a house that might have been sentient.

3. Description

Nothing can drag a story and bore the reader than too much description. However, Jackson uses description effectively. While description could be heavy throughout The Haunting of Hill House it did not appear to be drawn out past what was necessary for the reader to know and understand the scene.

4. Characters

There are a few rather vile and hated characters in The Haunting of Hill House and Jackson writes them well! Character development is no easy feat in a short story as there is less interaction with the characters overall but Jackson does an amazing job with her unfavorable characters. Just thinking about Dudley makes me cringe.

5. Build Up

One of the reasons The Haunting of Hill House is an effective horror story is because Jackson is a masterful writer in that she builds the intensity. At first Hill House is strange, then there is some unease that eventually grows into feeling like there is an actual sinister presence which leads to all out fear.

6. Eleanor Vance

Another extremely effective piece of The Haunting of Hill House is that readers are left questioning whether Eleanor’s demise was because of an evil presence that is Hill House or her own psychological break.

7. The Beginning is the End

The book begins and ends in exactly the same way and it is quite unsettling:

“Hill House itself, not sane, stood against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met nearly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

(p. 3 & 235)

What were your favorite things about The Haunting of Hill House?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

8 Worthwhile Things about Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: Growing up together, Heathcliff and Catherine fall deeply in love, believing that one could not survive without the other. But Heathcliff has no title, no land, no occupation and Catherine must be provided for. After losing Catherine forever, Heathcliff torments the next generation as he is haunted by Catherine and what could have been.

8 Worthwhile Things about Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Romanticism

“Wuthering Heights” like “Jane Eyre” is a prime example of Romanticism. With its Gothic themes of ghosts and elements of the Byronic hero seen in Heathcliff, “Wuthering Heights” is truly inspired by the Romantic era.

2. Perspective

The perspective of “Wuthering Heights” is not told through one of the main characters of the story but rather an outsider who is not an intimate of the family and who seems to be unreliable as well. This leaves the reader in an interesting predicament of being further removed from the actual main characters and knowing that we are not seeing the whole story.

3. Speech

Emily Brontë kept her characters authentic by writing phonetically for those of the lower class who had a very different pattern of speech.

4. Love Story

While Heathcliff’s obsession is a bit stalkerish/creepy and Catherine is truly a spoiled brat, their love is still romantic on many levels. One cannot help but wish that they had ended up together and feel how tragic it is that they didn’t.

5. Heathcliff

Healthcliff is a dynamic character. While he appears to be quite a brute with questionable morals, there is an element of softness about him. A tortured soul who only wants to be with his true love. A Bryonic hero indeed!

6. Parallels

There are many parallels in “Wuthering Heights” between the first and second generations. One such parallel is that between Heathcliff and Hareton. Being the son of his bitter enemy, Heathcliff treats Hareton accordingly. Heathcliff actually raises Hareton similar to how he was raised, treating Hareton like a servant and denying him an education. And yet we see this goodness in Heathcliff through him saving Hareton’s life as a baby and treating him better than Hareton’s real father ever does.

7. Hareton and catherine

The love that eventually develops between Catherine and Hareton is quite beautiful and provides an ending to “Wuthering Heights” that is positive and hopeful especially after the heartbreak of Heathcliff and Catherine.

8. Beautifully Written

Written eloquently with beautiful descriptives, interesting characters, and a tragic, heartbreaking love-story, “Wuthering Heights” is an enchanting novel that will remain a timeless classic for years to come.

What are your favorite things about “Wuthering Heights”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

4 Heroic Things about Kira Brady’s “Hearts of Chaos”


Hearts of Chaos

Deadglass Book 3

by Kira Brady

Nikki’s Rating: 4 out of 10

Summary:  While Emory rules with an iron-fist and expects a dutiful, compliant, dainty wife, his betrothed Lucia is defiant, outspoken, and challenges Emory at every turn. Destined to save their world and the Kivati, a race of shapeshifters, Emory and Lucia must find a way to each other’s hearts and destroy the ancient goddess Tiamet before its too late.

4 Heroic Things about Kira Brady’s “Hearts of Chaos”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Babylonian Myths

The Deadglass series features a lot of lore from the religion of ancient Babylon and in “Hearts of Chaos” we finally get to see the Babylonian Goddess of Primordial Chaos, Tiamet. She has an interesting backstory and learning about unfamiliar lore, myths, and religion of other cultures is always fascinating.

2. Adventures

“Hearts of Chaos” follows Lucia and Emory through the Land of the Dead. Like a tale of old, they must complete tasks set by the gods to test different strengths. It was most intriguing to find out what the trials were and see how the characters overcame them.

3. Lucia and Emory

The best part of “Hearts of Chaos” was watching Lucia and Emory find respect, friendship, and then eventually love with one another. While some of their traits were drastically different, they were able to find common ground in their values, and realize that they really weren’t that different.

4. Happy Ending

“Heart of Chaos” concludes Kira Brady’s Deadglass series and thankfully while the world at large experienced drastic changes and all were affected by loss throughout the novels, there is a happy ending and hope for the future.

What are your favorite things about “Hearts of Chaos”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

8 Fun Things about J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

by J.K. Rowling

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: Updated and now available to Muggles, Newt Scamander’s compendium of magical creatures, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them is a must-read! Listed alphabetically, Newt Scamander gives important information on all sorts of magical creatures from the dangerous dragons, and their types, to the beautiful elusive unicorn.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fantasticbeastsandwheretofindthem.jpg

8 Fun Things about J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The World

The Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling is absolutely brilliant and imaginative. “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” is just another glimpse into that wonderful Wizarding World.

2. Immerse Yourself

With a Foreword by New Scamander and the Introduction, which includes a history of magical beasts and Muggle awareness and Ministry of Magic beast classifications, “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” really immerses us into J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.

3. Enjoyable

While not quite a story, “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” is a fun, enjoyable quick read.

4. Drawings

My only complaint is that “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” isn’t filled with drawings of all the magical creatures! The drawings that are featured are adorbs and make me want these beasts even with dangerous M.O.M. classifications.

5. Animals

“Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” is all about animals and while they are fictional it is interesting to see how J.K. Rowling imagined them.

6. Comic Relief

Comic Relief, a charity with a vision of a just world, free from poverty, gets a donation with each sale of “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them.”

7. Lumos

With each sale of “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them,” donations also go to Lumos, a nonprofit set on ending the institutionalization of children.

8. Quidditch Through the Ages

For further reading into the Wizarding World, besides the Harry Potter series, check out “Quidditch Through the Ages” and “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.”

What are your favorite things about “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”?


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

4 Hopeful Things about Kira Brady’s “Hearts of Shadow”

Hearts of Shadow

Deadglass Book 2

by Kira Brady

Nikki’s Rating: 4 out of 10

Summary:  Grace Mercer must fight wraiths every day now that the world has plummeted into chaos due to the Unraveling. Caught in the middle of the war between the Kivati shapeshifters and the Drekar, dragon shifters, Grace is simply trying to survive like all other humans but Leif Asgard is convinced she is more than that. As Leif and Grace hunt for answers to save the world, something ancient begins to hunt them and the only way to save each other is to embrace the love they’ve been desperately denying.

4 Hopeful Things about Kira Brady’s “Hearts of Shadow”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Grace Mercer

Grace reminds me so much of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium series. Both women are abrasive and downright rude but love deeply and are extremely loyal. Like Lisbeth, Grace kicks some major ass and takes shit from nobody.

2. The Lore

While novels featuring supernaturals are nothing new, I appreciate Kira Brandy bringing different elements into her universe. In “Hearts of Shadow,” the incorporation of runes to protect and actually use in battle was very interesting. And the Deadglass series features dragon-shifters, which is totally awesome!

3. Sweltering

Things heat up in “Hearts of Shadow” as Grace and Leif give in to their desires.

4. Hearts of Chaos

While Grace and Leif got their happily-ever-after, their world is in deep shit, Tiamat has awoken. The Deadglass series continues in Kira Brady’s “Hearts of Chaos.”

What are your favorite things about “Hearts of Shadow”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.