A Quiet Kind of Thunder book review

by Sara Barnard (2017) Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star

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Stefi is a selective mute and has pretty much been invisible all her life but it suits her and she gets by. But a new guy starts at her school, Rhys who is deaf and their common knowledge of sign language has Stefi talking more than she ever has before. Because love isn’t a flash of lightning, sometimes is a small rumble of thunder which builds and builds…

Love, love, love this book! I didn’t want to put it down I just couldn’t get enough of this beautiful story. I loved how it wasn’t a typical love story, I mean yeah they get together so it is a typical love story but it also isn’t because they both have their own mental and physical illness which impacts their lives differently. Stefi can’t talk to people which makes everything the average person takes for granted so hard, but Rhys can’t hear and has a whole other world in his life most people don’t give a second thought to.

Rhys is absolutely adorable. Seriously, he is a cutie and I love him and Stefi together in this book because they are so sweet. They argue over which is the best Pixar film: Toy Story or Wall-E (and for the record, it’s most definitely WALL-E I mean there’s just no competition) and then he gets her two pop vinyl figures for her birthday – a Wall-E and Eve! God can Rhys please be my boyfriend haha!

What I loved about this book is how it represents two completely different but so similar people in the fact that they both have some sort of illness/disability – Rhys is deaf and Stefi is mute and has social anxiety. It helps to understand just how someone with anxiety is affected by this and I was quite shocked how some things she did I would consider to be rude or blase. Like at one point she answers a question in class with one word but doesn’t look up and carries on drawing in her notepad – I would have found this to be disrespectful if I didn’t know she was a selective mute so it just goes to show that you can’t presume you know everything about a person just from how they act – there’s always something you don’t know about.

And I learnt so much about sign language and lip reading! I had no idea how much someone could understand what someone is saying just from lip reading, or that someone who is deaf could talk so much. Because it’s not a part of my life – I don’t know anyone who is deaf – I have no idea how someone who is deaf manages with day-to-day life and what obstacles they have to overcome.

I love books like this. Ones that are not only enjoyable to read, but educate the reader about things they just wouldn’t have come across in their life. It was so lovely to read and made me laugh at times as well! I love Stefi’s friend with her cheeky humour and the fact that Stefi has separated parents and two families; it shows that life isn’t perfect but it’s what you make of it and I really liked the representation of family and friendships in this book, as well as starting a relationship for the first time.

It was such a sweet romance to read about, with their texting and their communication through sign language and they were just so cute together! And I absolutely loved the realistic ‘first time’ that Stefi experienced with Rhys – it shows that, again, it’s not the fairytale wonderful moment you dream it to be. This book was just so on it with the reality of life and it was so refreshing to read.

Love and relationships be they family, friend or romantic, are always hard and have their obstacles and difficulties. This book shows that in a beautifully subtle way and I recommend reading it!

“With lightning, you’re never really sure if that’s what it was; it’s just a flash. Thunder, you know. You feel it.’
‘You can keep your quiet thunder. I’ll keep the exciting lightning.” – Sara Barnard, A Quiet Kind of Thunder

Caraval book review

by Stephenie Garber (2017) Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star

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“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.” – Stephanie Garber, Caraval

Once a year, the legendary and magical Caraval performance brings wonder and madness into life, a game where the audience takes part and anything can happen. Scarlett has never left her tiny island but dreams of seeing Caraval and escaping her father with her sister, Tella. But those far-flung dreams soon become reality when Scarlett and her sister receive an invitation, only for Tella to be kidnapped by the director of the game. Scarlett must save her beloved sister before she disappears, but she must also remember that what happens in Caraval is never quite what it seems…

Wow, wow, WOW!!! This book has certainly lived up to the hype because my god is it amazing!!!

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Seriously, the world-building in this book is extraordinary and there was nothing predictable in this book whatsoever. Every character was brilliantly constructed, my favourite being Legend because of how mysterious and dangerous he’s made out to be. Scarlett and Tella have a typical sister relationship with each of them trying to do what’s best for the other every time and I liked both of them because they were flawed and believable as sisters.

The DESCRIPTIONS in this book were something else – is it possible for words to actually seep magic because that’s what I felt like was happening when I read Caraval. I could just read writing as beautiful as that all day; I never once tired of it or found myself bored – it really grabs and holds your attention throughout the whole book.

Sp the story goes that Scarlett must solve a series of clues along with other participants in order to save her sister from Legend, with the help of a sailor she met along the way. But everyone has warned her that it is only a game, and to not get swept away by it… Scarlett soon learns things and speculations are made but I could not have guessed what happened in the end! It was so unpredictable and amazing with a slight cliffhanger teasing you at the end that definitely leaves you craving for more.

“Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game.” – Stephanie Garber, Caraval

Now of course I’m going to have to mention many spoilers because SO MUCH HAPPENED in this book that I did not see coming so look away now to avoid spoilers!

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I shall start by freaking out.

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THIS BOOK WAS SO AWESOME I CAN’T-

Okay so Scarlett and Tella live with their abusive father who actually beats them up. But if Tella does something wrong, he beats up Scarlett and vice versa. I just didn’t see that coming and that was only in the first few chapters!! Doesn’t even scratch the surface of twists and surprises.

They both escape to go to Caraval with Julian the mysterious sailor who seems to know an awful lot about Caraval. Tella is taken hostage by Legend and Scarlett has to save her, and if she wins the game, she gets one wish.

Legend was just the most enigmatic character made and I couldn’t wait to meet him. As Scarlett and Julian tried to solve the clues to find Tella, I had a sneaky suspicion that Julian might be Legend BUT I WAS WRONG. Right, so maybe the guy who says he is Legend when Scarlett confronts him is Legend.

WRONG AGAIN.

Where the hell is this Legend guy and who is he?!

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And after all that we still didn’t find out who Legend is and by the end of the book I am internally screaming because I need to know who he is!!!

I honestly thought we had met him at the end when he was going all crazy and manic but we all knew that Julian was involved somehow in the game so when ‘Legend’ KILLED him-

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And then we aren’t even left to get over that because straight away Scarlett goes to find her sister and Legend strolls in all concerned that Scarlett has got too swept away by the game. Tella believes him and things escalate as she realises Scarlett was telling the truth and she THROWS HERSELF OFF THE BALCONY

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WHAT ARE YOU DOING GARBER?!

I couldn’t deal with all that it was too much for a first book in a series, it felt more like a finale or something. But the magic of books is that they always surprise us and of course Julian and Tella didn’t really die! They appear at the end all well and totally not dead but we’re still left just as confused as Scarlett.

Just as it’s about to end, Tella creeps off somewhere and we discover the letter that Legend wrote back to her on receiving her proposal for tickets to Caraval. She owes some kind of payment for her wish being granted for basically her and Scarlett to get away from their abusive father.

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So what does Tella have to do in payment for getting tickets for Caraval and escaping their father? Who the hell is Legend and when exactly are we going to meet him?! I have questions! So many questions!!

I loved every second of this book and I cannot WAIT for the sequel!!!

“Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.” – Stephenie Garber, Caraval

 

A little bit about me

So I’ve realised that I don’t ever post anything about me, I only post book reviews and wrap-ups mainly, so I thought I’d do a little Q&A about myself because why not? Plus it’s a Sunday and I’m procrastinating from doing revision… So here’s a little bit about me:

Where am I from?

I’m originally from the West Midlands but I currently go to uni in Hertfordshire!

What am I studying at uni?

I’m in my third year at vet school – I’ve just started the clinical years and it’s all getting a bit too real now!

Any pets?

I have three cats: Rosie (a tortoiseshell), Bobby (a black cat) and Eva (black and white). They’re all unrelated and rescues (and all adorable).

Favourite film?

So it HAS to be three because I always said my favourite film was Wall-E (hence my cat’s name) but then my friend introduced me to How To Train Your Dragon and the adorable Toothless. But of course I absolutely love Beauty and The Beast as well, especially after seeing the live action one, so it has to be those three: Wall-E, HTTYD and Beauty and the Beast (both versions)!

Favourite book?!

It’s like your favourite song – you just can’t choose one and there’s too many to choose from. I absolutely love Harry Potter, naturally, and I love the Throne of Glass and ACOTAR series as well as the Darker Shade of Magic series, The Lunar Chronicles and The Bone Season series.

Favourite authors?

JK, V E Schwab, S J Maas, Samantha Shannon, Holly Bourne, Stephenie Meyer, Marissa Meyer, Rainbow Rowell… There are still so many authors that I haven’t discovered yet though!

So there you go – a little bit about me this sunny Sunday. Feel free to do this yourself or ask me anything else! I love meeting new people on here 🙂

Jo x

 

March wrap-up & April TBR

March has been a brilliant month because Beauty and the Beast came out (seen it twice now and it’s definitely one of my top 10 films ever) which was amazing and I loved it so much and I read a total of eight books! The Song Rising came out this month and I went to the launch party in London as well as making some more beautiful book purchases.

Books I read in March:

The Mime OrderImage result for the mime order uk

Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
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The Pale DreamerImage result for the pale dreamer uk

Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
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The Song RisingImage result for the song rising uk

Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
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On The Merits Of UnnaturalnessImage result for on the merits of unnaturalness uk

Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
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City of BonesImage result for city of bones uk

Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books
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InkImage result for ink alice broadway

Author: Alice Broadway
Publisher: Scholastic
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The Wrath and the DawnImage result for the wrath and the dawn

Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: Putnam
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The Rose and the DaggerImage result for the rose and the dagger cover

Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: Putnam
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My favourite book was definitely The Song Rising – I had such a good time at the launch event and I devoured that book in two days! I also loved reading the little novellas to continue staying in that world 🙂 I finally got round to starting the Mortal Instruments series and I plan to read more throughout April. I also finally got round to rereading The Wrath and the Dawn so I could, at last, read the sequel! My least favourite book was probably Ink but I still found it an interesting read but I enjoyed every single book I read this month.

I’ve just started Beauty and the Beast Book of the Film and I’m loving it! It is basically a book version of the film with description and added speech – I absolutely love that film so this is a perfect read for me right now. When I’ve finished I want to read Strange the Dreamer which sounds amazing but I’ve also got a few more books arriving in the post so we’ll see what happens!

Jo x

Rereading books and the joy it brings

I just reread The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh and I loved it! I forgot so much of what happened besides really significant moments or a few scenes I remember here and there, however I totally didn’t remember the writing being this amazing and the story-telling so beautiful! I looked back on my Goodreads and read through my review (the first one I did on Goodreads) and I raved about it! I read the book in just two days when I first read it and it’s taken only a few days to read it a second time.

I love rereading books because it transports you back to that world you fell in love with and the writing you enjoyed so much. You get to meet some of your favourite characters again as well just take some time to read something familiar and comforting, knowing you’ll love it just as much as you did the first time.

Also, you don’t realise just how much you forget when you haven’t read that book in a while! I did a reread of the Throne of Glass series before I read Empire of Storms last August and I had totally forgotten so much; I even forgot some of the characters that popped up later on in the series. Rereading means you can fall into that land of magic and experience it all over again. It will never be the same as when you read something for the first time, but rereading brings its own unique kind of joy that’s an echo of an embrace as the story wraps itself around you and brings you back, ready for you to lose yourself in its words and magic.

I don’t reread enough, I tend to only do it when I am about to read a sequel and I want the story to be fresh in my mind so I’m not left wondering how the last book ended or who the characters are. I definitely need to set aside time every few months to do a reread because it’s amazing to revisit the worlds and characters I love so much.

Are there any books you want to reread?

Jo x

The Chemist book review

by Stephenie Meyer (2016) Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star

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Alex is on the run from people who want to kill her, like badly want her dead because she’s already evaded them three times now and she knows things – things that can’t get out to the public. Having trained for years to become a medic and worked as a torturer for the last section of her life, Alex is known as the Chemist to those around her –  a name that brings fear to people.

But her previous employment have got back into contact with her again because they need her help. An intricate trap is set in place for Alex to investigate this new information on her own terms but as she discovers something even more horrifying, she is dragged into even deeper distress and Alex finds that making friends is never safe and it’s a liability when there are people out to kill you.

“You’ll make mistakes because it’s impossible to know what is or isn’t a mistake until it’s made.” – Stephenie Meyer, The Chemist

Alex is a fearless character who is no stranger to doing what needs to be done in order to survive. She’ll kill anyone who tries to kill her first but has that something special inside her which hasn’t turned her into something sadistic because she only hurts and kills if peoples’ lives are on the line. I loved her as a character and how independent she was but I hated how isolated and lonely she had become all because of her situation. Alex lives in another world where you can’t trust anyone or get close to anyone for fear they could be used against you. All she knows is chemistry and she sticks to what she can do well.

I loved the fact that she was the best at her job because she is just so intelligent and plays her weaknesses to her strengths – no one suspects a little woman to be the source of unimaginable pain and that’s how she gets results and is why she is the best in the business. All the while having the utmost for saving people and the repulsion to hurting innocents.

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The Chemist was just dripping in research because the DETAIL was astounding. You could tell the author had done their research to get the correct details and add just that bit more realism to the story. The science, the fighting and all the disguises were fantastic as well as the extra additions of adding things like the fact that the characters needed to eat and had to go undercover in order to get supplies – things that some people might just miss out rather than include but characters need to be fed! It really added to making it feel realistic and like this could really happen.

There was so much action in this book and intelligence but it was punctuated throughout enough to give the reader a break. And I really liked all the characters involved and Einstein the dog was brilliant! Seriously give this book a go if you like thrills and action – I don’t even pick up thrillers often but I thoroughly enjoyed this book so much. It kept me on the edge of my seat and nerves wired, especially at adrenaline-induced action parts.

Its ending was just perfectly done and somewhat unexpected. Now I must mention some things that happened that shocked me so look away now to avoid spoilers!

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So I need to begin with Daniel because I kept having such mixed feelings about him. I honestly thought he was the bad guy and did not see the whole ‘his twin is still alive’ thing until right before she showed him the photograph and his reaction was disbelief but sadness. PLOT TWIST – his brother didn’t die and Alex just tortured an innocent.

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I couldn’t believe she actually tortured a man who was completely innocent and didn’t really feel bad about it after – she just kind of accepted what she had done and got on with her job. I suppose there’s nothing she could have done though, you can’t turn back time but still… I guess she’s just hardened given her job.

So Daniel’s brother, Kevin, is alive and comes back to rescue Daniel which is kinda cute that he still loves his brother loads even though he had to pretend to die to protect him. But what confused me about Daniel is how he didn’t seem traumatically scarred by being tortured by Alex – he just gets over it pretty quickly and ends up becoming more than friends with her. Sorry but if someone tortured me, I would NOT want to be anywhere near them let alone get into a relationship with them!

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Saying that, I found myself really hoping they ended up together because I liked them as a couple – Daniel is kind and funny and brings out the best in Alex who needs to be reminded that she can be happy and live without fear with the right people around her. What is a thriller was also a bit of a romance but more so about not forgetting who you are and to stay human, not allowing yourself to become a monster that someone has tried to turn you into.

This book was so full of action but one last thing I want to mention is the bit where Daniel gets shot because OH MY WORD I was so sure he was going to die and I seriously did not see that coming about him being a mirror twin which is what saved his life from the kill shot. I had completely forgotten that being mentioned earlier on in the book and when I read it I was like

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Such a good idea and one I haven’t encountered before – so much better than just surgery being done quick enough or their will brought them back. I loved it!

The book ended on such a good note with the reader being satisfied with the knowledge that Alex, Daniel and Kevin are safe running a little restaurant. It was a sweet way to finish by focusing on someone completely different when the man phones up Daniel and Alex’s restaurant to announce they’ve won a prize because we just get a small glimpse into their new life which is enough and exactly what the reader needed.

An absolutely brilliant book I couldn’t put down and became invested in the characters, I really loved reading The Chemist!

Six of Crows book review

by Leigh Bardugo (2015) Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star

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“No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck.”

– Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

Six of Crows is a Grisha novel set in the world created in the Shadow and Bone trilogy, but focusing on a different part of this world – Ketterdam where anything is traded for a price and bustling with criminals. One such criminal who knows Ketterdam better than anyone, is Kaz Brekker. So when he is sought after to pull off the most dangerous and impossible heist by breaking into the Ice Court (for a rather hefty sum) he gathers together a crew. Will this bunch of six wild and dangerous criminals manage to do the impossible?

I read the Shadow and Bone trilogy last year and really enjoyed the first book, but I found the other two a bit disappointing so I really hoped this book was going to be better and it definitely was! Set in a different part of the same world with the odd reference to happenings in the Shadow and Bone trilogy, you don’t need to have read the previous trilogy to understand Six of Crows.

All of the characters in this book were absolutely brilliant. Each chapter focused on a different character’s perspective (but written in the third person) so the writing was similar throughout but only slightly attuned to how each character noticed and reacted to things. And all six of them had a unique and creatively constructed personality – I love their interactions with each other!

“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”

– Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

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Of course Kaz was my favourite. He’s such a dark and mysterious character and what I really liked about him was that he had flaws and wasn’t perfect inside or out – he has a limp but wears it as armour and uses it to his advantage. Kaz also can’t remove his gloves – a weakness but he turns it around into building the image and legend of Dirtyhands, a criminal of Ketterdam that leads him into a deal with the wealthy Jan Van Eck.

So Kaz recruits five people to help him pull of this heist:
– Inej, his spider of Ketterdam,
– Jesper, a wild and hungry-for-action sharpshooter,
– Nina, the bold and unafraid Grisha,
– the Fjerdan and Grisha-hunter, Matthias, and
– Wylan who there is more to than first seems.

Like I said, every one of them is fantasically thought-up and the best thing about this book is the huge amount of awesome character development there is! I love how much we learn and discover about all of them, and grow to understand how and why they got into their position.

“I’m a business man,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”
“You’re a thief, Kaz.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”

– Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

I actually didn’t really warm to any of the characters at first except Jhoost at the start. I loved how it started with a completely random character who wasn’t even essential to the story, but it just showed that there are people who are affected by the doings of others even just because of situational accident. But as I read on I grew to love all of the characters and their hilarious quips and jibes.

Just give this book a go, whether you read the Shadow and Bone trilogy or not, it is such a unique and intriguing read! So I’ll mention a few spoilers now because there were a couple of little twists and turns I was not expecting!

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The Grisha taking the jurda parem was a great idea to continue with the story of the whole Grisha world whilst focusing on another part with completely different characters. I did like the fact that Nina was a main character in Six of Crows when she was just slightly involved in the previous trilogy.

So Jan Van Eck sends Kaz to retrieve the scientist responsible for the creation of jurda parem because he’s a crazy power-hungry man who only wants it so he can gain further control of Ketterdam and further. Breaking into the Ice Court took a little longer than I thought; I just felt like I was reading a lot of explanation without there being actually much explanation with regards to what was going on? I don’t know I just didn’t feel the planning to break in and breaking in part of the story, but things really got going when they actually locate Kuwei.

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I honestly loved Nina and Matthias’s relationship and history in this book – it was just so cute but also frustrating to see Matthias admit his true feelings towards Nina, given how much he hates her ‘unnatural’ kind. So when he betrays her and gets her locked up in the Ice Court, I wasn’t that surprised because I thought I knew his hatred would win out over love. But THEN it turns out that was a rouse and he does love her and it was all an act! Talk about plot twists.

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Learning why Kaz always wears gloves was quite sad with the history of his brother dying I mean, no wonder he is the way he is! And Pekka Rollins is just vile so I’m glad Kaz is trying to slowly destroy that monster. I thought it was really sad when he’s trying to battle his past demons and his feelings for Inej and it made him such a more believable character – him falling in love doesn’t solve everything, he has to figure out himself and accept what’s happened before anything else.

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Each character had their own secrets – Jesper with his gambling, Inej and her time in a ‘pleasure house’ and Wylan with the small detail of being Jan Van Eck’s son who can’t read. It all just adds to the story in making it more relatable and realistic and I love it when authors do this. The bit at the end when Nina took jurda parem and tailored Wylan to look like Kuwei though-

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I thought Kaz was always going to best Jan Van Eck and be five steps ahead of everyone when it came to scheming so I was disappointed when they got bested by Jan Van Eck at the end. How could it finish on Inej being taken by Van Eck?!

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Nothing was expected or could be predicted in this book! It definitely picked up near the end once they got Kuwei but I just loved the amount of character development involved in this book! It will be so interesting to see where their relationships between each other go in the next book, particularly between Nina and Matthias, Inej and Kaz and Wylan and Jesper.

“The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.”

– Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows