Posted in Book Review

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: July 21, 2019 – July 22, 2019
Publication date: June 17, 2014
Source: Owned paperback

GoodreadsAmazon

Ruin and Rising1

3 cats

Ravka is in ruin. It has fallen to the Darkling. Alina is weak and under the watchful eye of the Apparat in a well hidden underground cathedral.But she wants nothing more than to get above ground and find the firebird, which she believes to be the key to defeating the Darkling. The third and final installment of The Shadow and Bone trilogy is all about friendships, sacrifices, and ancient legends that have proven true. Will Alina and her new band of friends find a way to stop the Darkling or will their efforts cause the ruin of Ravka and the rising of the Darkling?

You see what I did there?

Anyway… let me first say that I definitely enjoyed reading this story and while I was a little bored or annoyed in some places, I did rather enjoy this story. It just wasn’t super amazing to me. Let’s get into it…

There are no other’s like us, Alina. And there never will be.

We start off like we did in book two: Alina and Mal have found a safe place to hang out and recoup and then chaos soon ensues. I have to say, I found the beginning of the book to be completely annoying and boring. It didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose at all for the story. Honestly, sitting here now, writing this review, I’m wondering to myself, “Why was the Apparat even in this book AT ALL?”

From book one I had hoped his creepy presence and occasional sightings would eventually serve some purpose. I hoped he would either be Alina’s undoing or become her only hope. But he basically did nothing but spout pretty words that meant a whole lot of nothing and just cowered in his cathedral until he knew for sure that it was safe to come out.

I’m sure he’ll be in King of Scars and I would say I’m interested to see what becomes of him there but at this point I wish he would just disappear from the books all together. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have three main issues with this series:

  • Why was the Apparat even in this book series?
  • The entire series needed more Darkling.
  • Giant miracles are happening that don’t really make sense?

Other than those things, it was pretty fun. We went on more adventures which are always fun. We were thrown a few curve balls that I honestly didn’t see coming. I thought I had Mal and Alina’s characters figured out but I had it all wrong.

The only character I really connected to or came to care about was Nikolai. Ok. And Mal. But mostly Nikolai. I can’t wait to read King of Scars. Nikolai is slowly making his way onto my “Favorite Fictional Characters” list.

I gasped. “Imposs–”
“Don’t say it,” muttered Mal.
Then chaos erupted.

I also really liked Baghra. I liked her in book one but didn’t really care about her in book two. Book three put her back on my radar. There’s something so refreshing about a grumpy old woman who can never get warm enough and is happiest when she’s smacking you in the knee with her walking stick. She’s everything I hope to be when I’m old.

“The same things that make the mountain make you. It has no lungs, so let it breathe with you. It has no pulse, so give it your heartbeat. That is the essence of the Small Science.”
She thumped me with her stick.
“Stop huffing like a wild boar. Breathe the way I taught you – contained, even.”

The Darling and his entire story arch was pretty cool but I WANTED MORE OF IT. I also enjoyed The Last Jedi type Rey and Kylo feel between Alina and the Darkling… that was pretty cool.

The ending was nice but it wasn’t convincing. I didn’t really feel it. It was cute and sweet and whatever but it held no weight. I didn’t get emotional. The most emotion I felt at the end was for an 8 year old and a cat. (After reading that back I realize that’s not really that surprising for me…)

I did enjoy this one though. It was a whole new kind of world and a whole different kind of characters and I did really enjoy it. I just wanted more Darkling. I feel like the story we got didn’t do his character justice. We could have had SO MUCH MORE DARKLING. And I say that as someone who didn’t even really like him!

I will say, the momentum for this universe has not been lost on me. I am every bit excited to get into Crooked Kingdom and then into Nikolai’s book. There are so many things we could explore. Bardugo could probably write stories based on this world for the rest of her life and then some. The possibilities are endless and I am here for it.

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: July 12, 2019 – July 20, 2019
Publication date: June 4, 2013
Source: Owned paperback

GoodreadsAmazon

Siege and Storm1

3 cats

Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.

Alina, Mal, and the Darkling are back in the second installment of the Grishaverse. And if you thought there was a lot of traveling in the first book, you’re not ready for book two.
Mal and Alina have escaped the clutches of the Darkling and are living quiet lives in Cofton where they both have jobs and are saving up so they can make their way to somewhere where they feel they may be permanently safe. But they are soon found out and are sent spiraling into a new adventure with new creatures, new obstacles, new allies, and a lot of new information that will change the course of their lives forever.
Will Mal and Alina ever be free to live their lives quietly together without the Darkling’s interference? Will Alina choose duty over her best friend and the only person she’s ever loved? Will she find a way to balance the two? Or will Alina succumb to the temptation of this new found power she wields and lose herself completely?

Look, I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way Alina and Mal AREN’T going to end up together and there’s no way the good guys AREN’T going to win in the end.” Well, my little pirozhki, buckle up because you just may be all kinds of wrong. (Spoiler free review ahead.)

Bardguo definitely makes for good reading. You think you know where things are going to go or what’s going to happen and you would be wrong. The author is relentless. She understands that in this world, not everyone can survive and some people will have to sacrifice much for the greater good of the rest. This is no fairy tale, ladies and gentlemen. This is a book full of magic, sacrifice, hardships, and pure evil. There’s no way to tell who you can trust and there are a lot of characters to question in this book.

The beginning started off with a bang. It was exciting. I wasn’t bored because I didn’t have time to be. There was so much going on. Ambushes, betrayals, allegiances were severed, daring rescues were made, the impossible (or improbable according to Sturmhond’s character) was achieved… THEY FLEW ON A BOAT LIKE FRIGGIN PETER PAN. IN THE FRIGGIN SKY.

I found the middle and meat of this book to be absolutely exhausting. There were SO MANY characters and it was hard to keep track of who was who and who had what kind of powers or if they were even Grisha at all. I grew a bit bored with the middle of this book as it was mostly Mal and Alina’s weird love story and a bunch of war planning. And also a lot of Alina being a total idiot. But I get that this is what the second book in most series contain. The first book sets up, the second book crashes down, and the third book resolves. (Hopefully.)

The ox feels the yoke, but does the bird feel the weight of its wings?”

Look, it took me a LONG TIME to begin to like the Darkling and that’s SUPER WEIRD and out of character for me. I always LOVE the villain. They are always my favorite character. He was all over the place at first. He wasn’t a straight up villain, he was teetering back and forth.

I like my villains tall, dark, and evil with no redeeming qualities and for a while he was giving himself all these redeeming qualities that I found myself rolling my eyes over. I’m just supposed to believe that he’s outright evil but I want to SEE IT. Let me FEEL the evil. Don’t tell me, “Oh, hey, this guy right here is baaaaad news. He’s evil. Trust me.” I don’t want to trust you. I want to see it and feel it for myself. I haven’t really had that yet.

I will say though, a lot of people had only one complaint about this book: it needed more Darkling. At first I was thinking “ughh, whatever”, now I’m on that same boat. Let me hop on that bandwagon. Because I’m telling you, if there had been more Darkling in this book, it may have gotten 4 stars instead of 3.

When I came to the end of the book I did have a few gasp and aha moments and it was full of action so I definitely wasn’t bored from like chapter 22 to the end. Of course, we were left with a cliffhanger. And of course, like any good second book, NOTHING has been resolved and everything is left to question. I’ll be curious to see where the author takes the story from here. I’m not going to even try and guess anymore at this point. Bardugo keeps throwing surprises my way and I love them.

You know the problem with heroes and saints, Nikolai?… They always end up dead.”

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: July 2, 2019 – July 10, 2019
Publication date: June 5, 2012
Source: Owned paperback

GoodreadsAmazon

Shadow and Bone1

3.5 cats

Alina and Mal are best friends and orphans. They’ve grown up together and are inseparable. They seclude themselves from the other kids and get into trouble together but that’s the way they like it. It’s just the two of them against the world. But they weren’t aware of just how vast and unpredictable that world could be. One day, their lives are thrown into chaos as they are chosen to travel across The Fold, a stretch of land blanketed by absolute darkness. When Mal sustains serious injuries, a power Alina never knew she had arises and she is ripped from her best friend by the Darkling, a dark and mysterious Grisha with great powers. The life she knew comes to an end as she is forced to travel to the Little Palace where she is labeled a Grisha and must study and practice to use her new abilities. Alina enjoys palace life but she also misses her best friend with every fiber of her being. Will she ever see him again? Could life with the Darkling be as sweet as it used to be with Mal? Can she harness her powers and live up to the Grisha title?

One thing did stand out to me: the word the philosophers used to describe people born without Grisha gifts, otkazat’sya, “the abandoned”. It was another word for orphan.

First of all, can we acknowledge how BEAUTIFUL this cover is? Ughh. And the following books are no exception. In fact, I haven’t seen a Bardugo cover that didn’t immediately draw me to it.

So I read a lot of reviews on this series before I decided I was going to try it out and a lot of people complained about being bored. My question to those people is: HOW? I admit I can think back to a few places in the book where people might have felt that the story had become a bit sluggish… but it was never sluggish for me. I felt like the story moved at a great pace and I never lost interest. I was always anxious to get back to the book and continue Alina’s journey.

I definitely enjoyed the characters but this is actually where the book fell short for me. The setting was incredible, the story line was engaging and unique, the creatures in the book were intriguing… but the characters didn’t make me feel a whole lot. If you read my blog you know that I rather enjoy the evil, bad boy characters but the Darkling, for me, was just eh…
I didn’t really get to know Mal until the end which I guess makes sense since the story followed Alina and they were torn apart. But I got ALL of Mal at one time and it was overwhelming.

“Thanks for finding me.”
I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming , but somewhere in the dark, I heard him whisper, “Always.”

I enjoyed Alina’s attitude and how she was more than happy to become someone who was self sufficient and didn’t need anyone to feel her own worth.

I enjoyed the friendship between Alina and Genya. I got to read a realistic girl pal relationship and that was nice. I WANT MORE GENYA.

One of my biggest issues was certain characters being introduced BUT THEN NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED WITH THEM. Why were they even there to begin with? They didn’t contribute to the story! Maybe they’ll have a role in the second or third book? Maybe we’ll meet them later into the Grishaverse timeline? I don’t even know. But I was disappointed with one character in particular. I kept saying “annnnnd cue character to swoop in and be the last person they expected…”. NOPE. Didn’t happen.

All that aside, I am absolutely in love with the Grisha. I love reading about the different kinds of Grisha and the abilities they wield and all the different ways they use those abilities. Bardugo was so incredibly creative when writing these magical beings and I love it.

My adventure continues! I really want to try and get through the Grishaverse books by the end of July. There’s a series coming to Netflix and I want to be ready and armed to the teeth for what it brings. Away to Siege and Storm I go! I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book and a wonderful song by a wonderful band. ♥

“Do you blame me for every mistake I made? For every girl I tumbled? For every dumb thing I’ve said? Because if we start running tallies on stupid, you know who’s going to come out ahead.”

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: June 20,2019 – July 2, 2019
Publication date: September 29, 2015
Source: Owned paperback

GoodreadsAmazon

six of crows1

4.5 cats

**I always write my own synopsis for the books I review, but in this case, I’m using the one found on Goodreads because it’s PERFECT.**

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

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book hit hard from the very first chapter. I mean, seriously. At the end of the first chapter I literally stopped reading, looked up and said to no one, “Whaaaaatttt????”
It was incredibly enticing.

In the beginning we’re introduced to the Grisha, beings with magical powers specific to their kind.
Etherealniks, or tidemakers, can control currents and summon water or moisture from a nearby source.
Materialniks, or fabrikators, can manipulate substances to be something completely different than what they are.
Corporalniks, or healers, typically specialize in certain types of healing (emotional, physical, bone specific… etc)

There are certain powerful governmental figures who have found a drug that amplifies those Grisha’s powers and they are hoping to use the drugged Grisha to create an unbeatable army.
Cue Kaz Brekker. Kaz is the lieutenant of the Dregs, one of many gangs in Ketterdam, and he’s known to be dangerous and unrelenting. Kaz is tasked with rescuing the scientist who discovered the drug from the Ice Court where he is being imprisoned and tortured for information on how to make the drug. But Kaz’s task is an impossible one. The Ice Court’s walls are impenetrable. The sectors of the Court are heavily armed and guarded. The Court is crawling with drüskelle, witch hunters who are trained to hunt and capture Grisha. However, Kaz is fairly certain the crew he has gathered and the plan he’s created will work and get them in and out with their target. Cue the five outcasts he chooses to help him get the job done.

I have to say, I loved all the characters in this book. It’s usually pretty rare for me to not have a specific character in the main story who drives me absolutely crazy or who I just can’t connect with at all. But I enjoyed all of the characters in this one. There are quite a few main characters and the story is told from multiple perspectives so let’s break those characters down, eh?

A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.

Kaz– Dreg lieutenant. Cold-hearted. Will do any job for the right price.
Inej– Dreg member. They call her the Wraith. She can be standing right beside you in broad daylight and you’d never know she was there. She is Kaz’s right hand lady. She gathers intel for him and accompanies him to every job.
Jesper– Also a member of the Dregs. Another of Kaz’s close companions (as close as he’ll let them get). Jesper has a gambling problem and absolutely adores a good shoot out.
Nina– A Grisha healer and member of the Dregs. Kaz recruits her for the job in hopes that she will help them in recruiting someone from her past. Not to mention, it’s good to have a healer on the team.
Matthias– The recruit from Nina’s past. A drüskelle who wants nothing more than to see Nina pay for what she has done. An important part of the team since he lived and worked in the Ice Court and knows all of it’s ins and outs.
Wylan– Collateral, but also a skilled demolitions expert. He is the son of the man who employed Kaz to rescue the scientist and while he is useful for demolitions, he is also insurance when it comes to the reward Kaz is to receive if he is successful in bringing the scientist back to Ketterdam.

This band of misfits sets out on an impossible job with an even more impossible plan. But along the way they learn things about themselves and each other that will change their beliefs and how they feel about each other forever. And it. is. BEAUTIFUL.

I’m just going to go ahead and throw this out there, Matthias was my favorite. Read it and decide who you like the most for yourself but he was my fave. I liked all of the characters though. They were all so different and added something special to the story.

I loved watching the characters get to know one another. I mean REALLY know one another. Some of them were already acquainted but once some of the characters became familiar with one another it was so much fun to see the banter back and forth between them. I specifically enjoyed the relationship between Inej and Nina. These are two badass chicks who are very headstrong and independent but there were moments between the two of them that showed you just how human they were despite their gifts. Those were some of my favorite scenes. Reading as they hashed out their fears and insecurities with each other. There was a scene with the two of them where I had tears! Literal tears! And not because it was a sad scene, it was just so beautiful to read them and the friendship they had found in one another.

Is there romance in this book? Well yea, a little bit. I don’t think there is a single kiss in the entire thing. But there is talk of it. Briefly. This is more of an Oceans Eleven/Limitless type story and it is SURE action packed!

There were a few scenes that really did get me. I had actual tears. I love a book that can do that to me. It means I’ve connected with the characters. It means the author has built their case up so much to the point where I care what happens to them. I honestly loved them all and I loved this book and you should go read it. Really. It’s wonderful.

The life you live, the hate you feel–it’s poison. I can drink it no longer.

Now I’m going to go start the Shadow and Bone series and hope I haven’t wrecked everything. I’ve heard wonderful things about Six of Crows (which is why I picked it up and dove right in) but I have heard mixed reviews on the Shadow and Bone series. Six of Crows has given me such high expectations for Bardugo and I’m worried Shadow and Bone won’t measure up. We shall see!

If you’re one who read Shadow and Bone and abandoned all things Bardugo, I IMPLORE YOU to pick up Six of Crows. It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the grand adventure it took me on.

It was Jesper who spoke first. “No mourners,” he said with a grin.
“No funerals,” they replied in unison.

A song you say? But of course!

Keri

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

June Wrap-Up

June Stats
Number of Books Read: 4
Pages Read: 923
Average Rating: 4.125
Favorite Book of the Month: Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan
Least Favorite Book of the Month: Didn’t really have one!
Current Progress Made Towards Yearly Reading Challenge: 31 of 50

June was… well… rough. Only four books!?

I’m giving myself a pass though. We had a busy month.

We vacationed for a long weekend with family in Oak Island, NC, we celebrated one year of marriage, we started packing up our apartment in preparation for moving in with my parents while our house is being built, we spent numerous weekends with family and friends… it’s just been a crazy month.

I’m going to strive to do better in July!

It’s only the first of the month and I’m almost done with my very first Grishaverse book and so far, I’m loving it! I didn’t really know about them at all so I started with Six of Crows, simply because everyone raves about it. But after I finish Six of Crows, I’m going to jump back to Shadow and Bone and hope it doesn’t confuse the crap out of me. I’ve literally had Shadow and Bone this entire time and I didn’t know I should have started there! I’ve gone about this all wrong and it’s really giving me anxiety.

Anyway, some honorable mentions for June:

  • Hats off to my husband for making it a year with me! Though he’s been dealing with me for over 7 now…
  • I got my ARC for Cursed by Thomas Wheeler and I am PUMPED to read it and then watch the Netflix show when it comes out.cursed.jpg
  • The Grishaverse is coming to Netflix! The Shadow and Bone series will be hitting Netflix soon and I. Can’t. Wait. I’m going to burn through all the Grishaverse books in preparation! Check it out here.
  • A new Hunger Games book was announced! It looks like this story will be set 64 years before the events of the trilogy we all know and love! untitled panem novel

Until next month!

Keri