Winged Reviews A young adult book blog for those a little bit older.

Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier

Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier

Den of Wolves by Juliet MarillierDen of Wolves
Publisher: Roc
Date: November 2016
448 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Buy the BookGoodreads

Feather bright and feather fine, None shall harm this child of mine...

Healer Blackthorn knows all too well the rules of her bond to the fey: seek no vengeance, help any who ask, do only good. But after the recent ordeal she and her companion, Grim, have suffered, she knows she cannot let go of her quest to bring justice to the man who ruined her life.

Despite her personal struggles, Blackthorn agrees to help the princess of Dalriada in taking care of a troubled young girl who has recently been brought to court, while Grim is sent to the girl’s home at Wolf Glen to aid her wealthy father with a strange task—repairing a broken-down house deep in the woods. It doesn’t take Grim long to realize that everything in Wolf Glen is not as it seems—the place is full of perilous secrets and deadly lies...

Back at Winterfalls, the evil touch of Blackthorn’s sworn enemy reopens old wounds and fuels her long-simmering passion for justice. With danger on two fronts, Blackthorn and Grim are faced with a heartbreaking choice—to stand once again by each other’s side or to fight their battles alone...

Den of Wolves is the final book in the Blackthorn & Grim trilogy and happily I also think it’s the best.

This review won’t contain any major spoilers for the earlier two books as each is written in a rather self contained way. That said, if you haven’t read this series, you do want to start with book one, Dreamer’s Pool, as these are not stand alone novels. If you haven’t read anything by Juliet Marillier (gasp!) then I would suggest starting with her Sevenwaters trilogy. I still think it’s the best. However there are so many things I love about this one, most of which comes down to Blackthorn and Grim themselves.


General Reason’s I Love This Series:

  • Blackthorn. An embittered healer woman whose life is turned upside down by the Big Bad of the series. She has been wrongfully imprisoned, abused, and longs for little beyond revenge. She is not a feisty teenager. There is absolutely nothing naive or hopeful about her. Even adult fantasy tends to have more youthful heroines. Blackthorn is in her thirties, mentally she is way older. I just find her complete lack of any girlish-ness refreshing.
  • Our theta hero Grim! He is to Blackthorn what Samwise Gamgee was to Frodo. What Jean Tannen is to Locke Lamora. Except in this case the question of whether this will all remain platonic becomes more intriguing as the series goes on. I’m not telling. 😉
  • Like all of Marillier’s work, this has that subtle blend of history and magic with both Good and Bad Fey working behind the scenes (and of course a Druid or two).


Why I Specifically Love Den of Wolves:

  • Blackthorns character growth. In the first book Blackthorn made a bargain with the mysterious fey know as Conmael. His purpose for this and why it was necessary for Blackthorn comes to completion in such a clear and satisfying way. His actions at the start of the series may have saved her physical life, but the parameters he set saved her emotional life come the end. I was proud of her and so grateful for the subtle mechanization of this intriguing background character.
  • Better side character POV’s. Each book in the series has four POV’s. Blackthorn, Grim, and two side characters they are assisting. In  the first two books I didn’t care for the two extra characters much. But this time around I found them to be sympathetic and interesting to read about. As always I love the way storytelling and legends parallel and fit into how problems and mysteries are solved.
  • An appearance by a new generation of Swan Island warriors! Fellow Sevenwater’s fans will love this.  Bran was my favorite character in that series, seeing the positive legacy left by someone so tortured and controversial in his time just made me happy.


I highly recommend this series to fantasy fans and those who like things set in ancient Ireland. It gets better with each book and has one of the most satisfying finale’s I have read.

5 Stars

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Date: 09/2016
546 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the BookGoodreads

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

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 badly weakened, 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 loyalties. 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 the Grisha world.

“They don’t know who we are. Not really. They don’t know what we’ve done, what we’ve managed together.” Kaz rapped his cane on the ground. “So let’s go show them they picked the wrong damn fight.”




Six of Crows was one of my favorite books of 2015 and I was a little nervous going into Crooked Kingdom. I needn’t have worried about the quality of the story, the plot was fast paced with frequently shifting sources of tension and danger. Kaz and company feel a little less ahead of the game than last time. Fighting for more personal reasons than money, and doing so against adversaries who know they are coming, plenty of ugly surprises are in store. This wasn’t like taking the Ice Court by surprise; coming up against a very-prepared Van Eck and Pekka Rollins, the gang frequently struggled and had to re-plot in their quest for revenge and redemption. I kept turning the pages wondering how Kaz and team would manage to achieve everything this story has been set up for. From beginning to end the plot flows masterfully with only small breathers before the next big disaster hits.

The backstories are just as wonderful as before. I didn’t feel as connected to Wylan in Six of Crows, but that all changed here. Chapter 14 alone had me thirsting for Van Ecks ruin. Far less like a lost young boy, both his intellectual and emotional intelligence begin to shine. There’s an appearance from Jesper Fahey’s father, a younger Kaz still finding his way during early days in the Dregs, and some heart-breaking flashbacks from Inej. All of them either endeared the character (as in the case of Jesper and Wylan) or focused on some aspect of their history that I didn’t feel Six of Crows hit on (as in the case of Kaz and Inej). And then there is my beloved OTP for this series, Matthias and Nina. I could read an entire book of these two just flirting, teasing, and loving each other. Right now I desperately wish I had one. But every pairing here managed to be perfect in it’s own way, without drawing more attention to itself than the story warrants.

This duology has all my favorite storytelling elements in it, like a focus on criminals and the underworld. I love that magic is as much a liability as a strength and that the most important characters don’t even have any. One of my favorite quotes comes from Inej and calls out a common breed of YA heroine:

“But wasn’t that what every girl dreamed? That she’d wake and find herself a princess? Or blessed with magical powers and a grand destiny? Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us?
What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary.
That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.”



Oh, but Bardugo is cruel at times. While this ends on a high note, there is some real pain. I could barely see the last few chapters through my tears and had to reread them the next morning. Happily, the end hints at bright new alliances for a better Ketterdam. Kaz, Inej, and Wylan in particular are in a unique position to be forces of  future change. The path from ruin to triumph has been cleared with hopes and plans for a better world for all.

5 Stars

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Blog Tour: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Blog Tour: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo


I’m so thrilled to be hosting the final stop on the Crooked Kingdom international blog tour, celebrating the eagerly anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Six of Crows! I’m here to introduce our favourite thief and cutthroat Kaz Brekker with exclusive thoughts by author Leigh Bardugo. The excitement is real guys! Gorgeous artwork up ahead by Kevin Wada.


On writing Kaz Brekker

by Leigh Bardugo

When I set out to write Six of Crows, I really wasn’t interested in writing about a “merry band of thieves,” and Kaz makes it clear he’s not some character out of a bedtime story who takes from the rich to give to the poor. He isn’t charming. He isn’t smooth. He’s just the toughest, most ruthless kid in the room, and I have to admit, I love writing him.

Six Reasons Why I love Kaz Brekker

Kaz has survived and thrived against the odds:

“A boy whose only cause was himself. Still he was a survivor, and his own form of soldier.”

Kaz went on to become someone to fear in the Dregs:

“I’m the kind of bastard they only manufacture in the Barrel.”

“The boy they called dirty hands didn’t need a reason any more than he needed permission – to break a leg, sever an alliance, or change a man’s fortunes with the turn of a card.”

So he’d found himself a Fabricator and had his cane made. It became a declaration. There was no part of him that was not broken, that had not healed wrong, and there was no part of him that was not stronger for having been broken. The cane became part of the myth he built.

Kaz owns who and what he is:

“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?”

“I’m not some character out of a children’s story who plays harmless pranks and steals from the rich to give to the poor. There was money to be made and information to be had.”

Kaz is commands respect and confidence:

“Being angry at Kaz for being ruthless is like being angry at a stove for being hot. You know what he is.”

“Sure of yourself, aren’t you Brekker?
“Myself and nothing else.”

Kaz is a realist:

“If it were a trick, I’d promise you safety. I’d offer you happiness. I don’t know if that exists in the Barrel, but you’ll find none of it with me.”

“Pretty sure most of us don’t have ‘stalwart’ or ‘true’ checked off on our resumes.”

Kaz doesn’t show he cares often, but when he does…:

“Kaz felt himself drawn toward her voice like water rolling downhill.”

“He was afraid for you.”
“Kat isn’t afraid of anything.”
“You should have seen his face when he brought you to me.”
“I’m a very valuable investment.”

About Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven: science and superstition collide in the epic sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling SIX OF CROWS by the highly acclaimed Leigh Bardugo: enter CROOKED KINGDOM.

You met six dangerous outcasts, and watched as they took on one impossible heist in Six of Crows…

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

Now follow as they attempt to survive their success and make their way in Ketterdam’s new world order.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn – and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist in the notorious Ice Court 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 a kidnapping, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope.

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 loyalties.

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 the Grisha world.

About Leigh Bardugo

leigh-bardugo-c-talli-song-roth #1 New York Times bestseller Leigh Bardugo is the author of the Grisha books (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising). Born in Jerusalem, Leigh grew up in Los Angeles and is a graduate of Yale. She has written for 20th Century Fox and the L.A. WEEKLY among others.

Find the world of SIX OF CROWS and CROOKED KINGDOM at and follow Leigh via her website at and on Twitter @lbardugo, Instagram: and Tumblr:

See more on all channels using: #SixOfCrows


From 21/9 – 26/9, bloggers in the US and UK will be paired up to share the secrets of Kaz’s crew as we count down to publication of Crooked Kingdom. Check out the other stops on the tour!

But wait. There’s more! Enter to win a Crooked Kingdom prize pack full of US AND UK swag (including the coveted Crooked Kingdom socks) by commenting on all 12 blog posts by 11:59pm EST Monday, 3 October 2016.

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Favorite Romance Authors

Favorite Romance Authors


Today I am excited to highlight three of my favorite romance authors!

I  live for fantasy. I read tons of it. Romance is what I turn to when I need to detox. The time always comes when I need a break. I want to be free of magic, special snowflakes, and worlds that need saving, so I can come back refreshed.

So here below are some of my favorite authors to turn to. Do I love every book they have ever written? No. I can’t name a single author with a decent size body of work who I can say that about. Nor do I think  it’s realistic. But these ladies are very consistent for me.


 Historical Romance: Lisa Kleypas


Once upon a time I had historical romance firmly in the category of Things-Only-Old-Ladies-Read. The fact that I can remember my mother laughing as she discovered boxes of them when cleaning out my Great Aunt Leah’s house may be partly to blame. I gave Kleypas a try after reading how much another blogger, Kelly , loved them. Obsession ensued.  I started with The Wallflowers series, which I read in under a week. I then moved directly on to The Hathaways, which I finished in about the same time frame.

At once sexy, charming, and free of the problematic themes common in earlier decades, they are good example of modern genre (post 2000’s) historical romance. Kleypas is currently two books in to her new historical series, The Ravenels. She also has an excellent contemporary series and some other historicals.

While I would read these in order, my favorites from each series are:

The Wallflowers: It Happened One Autumn and Devil in Winter

The Hathaways: Tempt Me at Twilight and Love in the Afternoon

The Ravenels: Still to come! She’s only two books into this family-based series and my favorite’s haven’t had their own book yet. Book three, Devil in Spring, comes out March 2017 and the hero is the son of the couple from Devil in Winter, so that should be fun.



#1. Cara McKenna 


In spite of all the beefcake on McKenna’s covers (which just make me laugh for some reason), I really love her books. Her voice is unique and the focus is on ordinary people with more realism and less wish-fulfillment.

Kelly (yes, that’s his name) from After Hours lives in a run down city outside Detroit and works as an orderly in a mental hospital. That’s right. Not one of the doctors or therapists. Not even someone with a college degree. The orderly. Cause he huge and good at calming residents having a meltdown. Two favorites from other books are a prison inmate and an agoraphobic ex-alcoholic with a submissive kink. I don’t think McKenna is deliberately giving a giant  middle-finger to the ‘billionaire bachelor’, but as one who loathes that particular trope, I am delighted. Her stories are also characterized by satisfying HFN (happy-for-now) endings. While there are exceptions, I generally prefer that contemporary novels not end with weddings and babies.

A Few Favorites:

After Hours


Hard Time


#2 Christina Lauren


Christina Lauren are best known for their Beautiful Bastard series. I like Wild Seasons better. In fact, it is one of my all-time favorite series in the romance genre. They are fun, sexy, and swoony.  Sure, the titles are a bit goofy. But I appreciate the lack of beefcake on the cover. Best of all, the stories rock and avoid many of my most hated/over-used tropes. It’s nice to take a break from the athletes, man-whores, and alpha-holes. However, if you happen to love those you can find a few of them in the Beautiful series.


Wild Seasons: I love the first three almost equally. If I had to choose, Dirty Rowdy Thing is probably my favorite.

Beautiful Bastard: I love Beautiful Stranger, but am pretty ambivalent about the others.


In Conclusion:

The stories and writing styles of these authors are very different from each other. I hope you enjoyed and find one that works for you!



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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher: Tor
Date: 19/05/2015
438 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
Buy the BookGoodreads

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

This is a spruced-up version of a review I wrote on my old blog last year for Uprooted. This book instantly became an all-time favorite of mine and even won the Nebula Award last spring!

Uprooted was scary, fun, and even at times romantic. It’s similar to Patricia McKillip’s novels in that it has a pastoral fairy tale feel, but is longer, with a more complex plot.

When the Dragon (an ageless wizard) chooses Agnieszka as a tribute of sorts, she begins to study magic with him. The two are very different and their dynamic is one of my favorite things about this book. I love that Agnieszka remains a snarly-haired wild thing with dirty clothes through to the end. Heroines are commonly written as viewing themselves to be average while actually being described as anything but. It’s a pet-peeve of mine and I am so glad it didn’t happen here. Agnieskza’s oddness suits the nature-focused, intuitive, right-brained style of magic that flows through her (all the while mystifying and infuriating her teacher!). Her value lies in her abilities and her loyal tenacious nature, much of this is highlighted via her relationship with her best friend Kasia.

The Dragon (whose name is Sarkan), is like wizardry’s answer to Henry Higgins, though there are some key inner and outer differences. He appears young and his attitude comes from isolation and social ineptitude rather than selfish vanity. Ultimately the Dragons life work has been one done in service to protect others. But regardless of how his feelings for Agnieszka evolve over time, he is grouchy and combative more often than not. This made scenes where he reveals either passion or tenderness that much more surprising and satisfying.

Agnieszka however is no Galatea, and remains the opposite of Sarkan in most ways. Sarkan practices a very left-brained precise style of magic with powerful results. He admires both beauty and order. There is very little about her that suits his sensibilities, but as they work through various crises with the wood, Kasia, and members of the royal family, a mutually beneficial and stimulating dynamic develops through the embracing and joining of opposites. Novik never allows this to overshadow the larger story, but it continually simmers in the background.

I don’t want to give away much about the plot. The Wood, which is sentient and capable of devouring whole villages, is the nemesis of the story. But as I got closer to understanding why, it all felt more sad than it did evil or frightening. The connection between man and nature is important to this story which I love. A combination of lovable characters, charming world-building, and an exciting and creepy plot has earned Uprooted a place on my list of all-time favorite fantasy novels.

5 Stars

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