Who loves Goodreads giveaways??? I know I do! I often check the giveaway page every couple of days and enter any book giveaway that doesn't look half bad or have a half-naked man on the front. Personally, I prefer the print books but Goodreads has kindle giveaways as well.
All this to say that in all my time entering Goodreads giveaways, I have won one book (not all that surprising because there are a lot of people who enter those giveaways so the statistics suggest it won't be often that I will win a book).
That book was The Lives of Saints.
At first, I was frustrated. Not just because the book took three or so months to get to my house after I won the giveaway (the books are supposed to be delivered in 4-6 weeks). But because I hadn't read the series that the book belonged to so I really had two options:
Find and read the book series that the book belonged to (or rather, three separate series all set in the Grishaverse) and then read and enjoy my new book.
Read the book with no understanding of what was going on.
Of course, I could just not read the book (which was what I did for a while) but the book was absolutely stunning, and who in their right mind would let such a beautiful book go to waste.
In fact, it was so beautiful that when it finally did arrive I was grateful I won the book (and this book in particular as opposed to any other book) simply because of the stunning red cover, intricate gold writing and designs, and beautiful illustrations on the inside.
But, it did sit on my shelf for a while.
It should be noted, though, that by the time I received the book, I had figured out that Shadow and Bone (the first book in the first series connected to this book) was being turned into a Netflix original TV show. By that time, Shadow and Bone was expensive on thrift books, and impossible to find at the library without waiting in a line of holds (potentially for a month or two). I also had other books already on my reading list so I decided to wait to read Lives of Saints until the TV show came out.
It was a long wait but man was it worth it.
The TV show starts off a little bit slow (only because it is a magnificent world and they give you a great glimpse of it). The first episode would really appeal to lovers of wartime shows and historical shows (though it is neither, it simply has the feel of both) but after the first episode, it starts to speed up and get exciting. I loved the show and the characters in it and immediately after finishing the show (perhaps even while watching the show still) I put a hold on Shadow and Bone.
I finally did receive Shadow and Bone as well as Siege and Storm (the second book) a little while ago and finished Shadow and Bone in about 2 days. I am in the middle of Siege and Storm presently and would not be surprised if I also finish that book today (though that would be disappointing as I have not yet received Ruin and Rising, book 3 from the library). I didn't wait to read Lives of Saints though.
In fact, when I saw Alina receive a copy of the same book I myself owned in the TV show, a thrill went through me and I immediately (when I finished the episode) began to read the book. I finished it in the same day (after all, according to Siege and Storm, it is a book made for children).
The book is wonderful. It is a storybook of saints and how they came to be "saints." Many of the saints appear in the Shadow and Bone series which makes it a fun book to read. There is even one page in particular that makes a large appearance in Siege and Storm. The book was released recently, so technically, I suppose, it should be read after the Grishaverse books but, honestly, I would suggest acquiring a copy to read alongside the books. I have really enjoyed pulling it out to look at the pages when saints are mentioned in the book.
That being said, it can be confusing to read it before you read the books as the countries and other elements of the books are mentioned (though there aren't really any spoilers). But it is super fun to read, beautiful, and an excellent side book for the Grishaverse. Good job Leigh Bardugo!!
Keep an eye out for my review on the Shadow and Bone trilogy coming soon!