Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Date: 5th June 2012

I feel as if I am very late to this series considering it has been out for six years now, but better late than never right? The reason I decided to read the Grishaverse trilogy a go is because I keep hearing everyone talking about Six of Crows, and then I found out there’s a series beforehand and I figured it would be best to start at the beginning. Shadow and Bone was amazing. I read it all within two days and I can honestly say that I think Leigh Bardugo is one of my favourite authors now, especially after reading The Language of Thorns as well, which you can read about here.

Alina Starkov is from Ravka, a nation that was torn in two by the darkness of the Shadow Fold, a place where no light exists and creatures made of nightmares attack whoever enters. Alina is with her regiment crossing the Fold when they are attacked and her best friend, Mal, is injured. He would have been killed if she hadn’t somehow saved him with powers that had been dormant for all of her life. Once they have been discovered she is whisked away by the Darkling, a powerful Grisha who wishes to teach her their ways, for she could be the key to saving Ravka. She soon learns that nothing is as it seems and a dark force is looming in the distance.

When it comes to world building, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do it better than Leigh Bardugo. We are thrown straight into it, with new words, places and people cropping up, but it was done in a way so that it wasn’t information overload. I loved the Russian influence on the names and the setting which made it feel very authentic and real. I became so immersed in the world that I didn’t want to stop reading. I wanted to know more and I cannot wait to see more of these incredible Kingdoms in the following books.

The magical elements of this book were so different to what I had read before and I loved how there were different types of Grisha, all specialising in certain abilities. There were Summoners, like the Darkling who conjured darkness, and there were others that could manipulate the weather. It was very interesting to see how Alina fit into the elite group after living such a mundane life beforehand, one where she was a nobody.

All of the characters in this book are wonderful in their own way and they were fleshed out so they were relatable and real. Alina was a great protagonist, with a strong voice and her character arc was great as she set out to discover who she really is. Yes, she has self-doubt and wonders whether she can be the person everyone expects her to be, but once she stops moping, she turns out to be a badass. Something else I enjoyed reading about were the other Grisha characters that feature and play a role in the story. Genya was someone who Alina grew close to and it was great to see a female friendship that was genuine.

Mal didn’t feature in the book a lot to begin with and I didn’t have much of an option of him, but it was interesting to see his relationship with Alina. The Darkling…He was the most mysterious character out of the whole book and I found myself wanting to know more. His voice was strong and intriguing, with a few twists and surprises that I didn’t expect. You can’t help but like the bad ones and he definitely has hints of that in him. And like with most good Young Adult novels there is some romance in this story and it was wonderful.

Shadow and Bone was a great story overall. While it may have started off a little slowly, the ending was amazing and made me excited to start the second book. If Siege and Storm continues on being as amazing as the first, I have a feeling it will become one of my favourites. I’m going to give this a solid four stars.

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Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: The Language of Thorns

Author: Leigh Bardguo

Date: 26th September 2017

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

I had never read a book by Leigh Bardugo before, but I have heard everyone raving about both the trilogy and her duology and I knew I had to play catch up. I figured the best place to start would be her collection of fairy tales set within the Grishaverse. It was the best decision I have ever made. I read this book in less than 24 hours. The Language of Thorns was incredible and took my breath away. I don’t think I have ever loved a book like this before and when I finished I held it to my chest and just said ‘wow’.

The illustrations throughout this book were beautiful and I loved that they were all in different shades of red and blue. It was very clever how they would start in the corner and grow as you turned the pages until they reached around the border. And the full page spreads…They were amazing and so detailed, capturing the essence of the story in one image. Out of all 6 I think my favourite has to be the first, Ayama and the Thorn Wood, but also The Too-Clever Fox was. But then again, the last one was perfect too.

Six wasn’t enough. I need more of these dark and twisted tales set in this world. I adored how they were all different takes on fairy tales I grew up on. Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, The Nutcracker, The Little Mermaid. I just couldn’t get enough of them all.

When it comes to writing, Leigh Bardugo is one of the best that I have seen. Everything flowed and kept to a great tempo, begging me to turn the pages until I reached the end. It was the one thing that spurred me on to wanting to read all of the books she has written, and that is exactly what I am going to do.

How can I give this book anything other than five stars? It is definitely worthy of them and I know for a fact that I will read this again in the future.

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Wrapping Up The Week (5th March – 11th March)

I didn’t want to admit it, but I’ve been in a reading slump for the last two weeks. It wasn’t necessarily because I wasn’t enjoying the book I was reading (I was), it’s just that I didn’t have the motivation to read for some reason. I wasn’t getting hooked like I normally would and there’s been a lot going on in my life. Although, I do have some good news. I am reading a new book that has captured my attention and already I am over half way and I only started it last night (I will discuss what book it is down below). Bye, bye reading slump!

The week definitely went by quickly, with a lot going on at work and looking forward to the meal I had on Friday with the whole team. All in all, it’s been a relaxing weekend as well. Saturday was spent not doing too much, but today we went out to a nature park for a 3-mile walk, and we even spotted a little rabbit hopping around. I’ve spent most of the last two days reading and it’s made me feel a lot better.

Books I read and reviewed…

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While I haven’t got a review up yet (I’m hoping to do that tomorrow), I finally finished reading To Kill A Kingdom, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It might have taken me a little longer to read, but it was fun, entertaining and showed a different take on sirens, pirates and mermaids. I can’t wait to let you all know my thoughts on it.

I am currently reading…

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I. am. hooked. This collection of stories has taken my breath away and I am loving every second of it. This is the first book I am reading by Leigh Bardugo (I have the Six of Crows duology on my shelf and Shadow and Bone on my Kindle) and I am so glad that I chose to start here. My favourite tale so far is the first one, Ayama and the Thorn Wood. The illustrations are beautiful and I love how with each page that gets turned there is more added to them until you reach the amazing double-spread image. I can’t wait to read the last two stories in the collection.

Posts from the week…

February Book Haul – Book Buying Ban Was Successful

With a reading slump comes the lack of blog posts, but I am hoping that over the next week there will be more for me to talk about, especially when the next couple of books I want to read. I’m being very open with what I’m reading this month, so there’s no TBR for March and I am completely okay with that.

My WIP…

I’ve decided that I need a little time away from my manuscript to gain some new perspective on the story and come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. Ideas are constantly running around my head of how I can make the story better and I make sure to write them down before I forget. The next week will be spent relaxing, reading and hopefully, come next weekend, I make a start on really diving into the edits. I can’t wait!

Other Fun Stuff…

I mentioned heading out for a meal with my work colleagues, which was fun as I don’t always get a chance to talk to people in the development team as I’m part of the marketing team. Apart from that it has been a very relaxing week with not a lot of fun stuff going on at the moment. I’m trying to catch up with YouTube videos and TV shows, such as Riverdale.

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I’m sorry for being a little MIA lately, but I’m going to try harder for next week. I never realise how much I miss blogging and talking to you all until I have moments like this. I hope you all had great weeks! Let me know what your best book from the week was in the comments.

February Book Haul – Book Buying Ban Was Successful

Unrelated to this post, but I think I’m in a reading slump. For the last few days I’ve hardly read a thing and I’m not sure why, because I’m actually enjoying the book I’m reading. I’m chalking it down to feeling unmotivated, and my brain wanting to switch off a bit ever since I finished my novel. I hope I can finish the book soon and then I can pick up a book I really want to read. I feel like TBR lists stop me from enjoying the books as I feel like I have to stick to them. Maybe for March I will forget about it and just go with the flow.

Anyway, onto the book I bought in February, because there was only one. I put myself on a book buying ban because for the two previous months I bought way too many and my TBR list is endless. I’m trying to get through the ones I currently have. The only exceptions are some new releases that I am super excited about, such as the one below (spoiler: I loved it and you can read my review here). Also, the releases are for April and May which is still a while away.

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March will be a completely different story as I’m already waiting on a pre-order (which is also coming with a book that’s been out since last year) and with my birthday coming up I’ve given my dad a list of books I’d like. Who knows, I may treat myself to a couple books when I get paid at the end of the month.

Another unrelated topic, but I booked a week long holiday in Zante, Greece for the end of September and I am beyond excited. Ever since I fell in love with Greek mythology I have wanted to go. Now I finally get my chance. It’s still 6 months away but that gives me more than enough time to buy an amazing wardrobe and get some spending money.

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What was the best book that you bought last month? Have you tried a book buying ban lately? Let me know in the comments.

Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Title: The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Date: 8th February 2018

Publisher: Penguin

I was one of the lucky people that got accepted to read this on Netgalley before the release date, and I was really excited because I had heard so much. The Hazel Wood was one of the strangest books I have read in a long time and while I was intrigued by the idea, I felt that it could have been a lot darker. I was expecting creepier tales and settings to dominate the book and I was a little disappointed that they didn’t. You can definitely see the inspiration from Alice in Wonderland and while I enjoyed this book, I wish we got to see more of the Fantasy setting.

For her whole life, Alice and her mother, Ella, have constantly moved from place to place, bad luck following them wherever they go. Until one day they hear that Alice’s grandmother, Althea, an author of a book filled with dark fairy tales, dies in the Hazel Wood, they finally settle down. They were wrong to feel safe and one day Ella mysteriously disappears, leaving behind nothing but a message telling Alice to stay away from the Hazel Wood. Unable to do that, she embarks on a quest to rescue her mother from the people that have supposedly come from the world of fairy tales.

I will say that I prefer the second half of the book to the first, because at the beginning it felt very Contemporary with not a lot of Fantasy elements. I understand why, but it would have been nice for our characters to get to Hinterland, the place where the fairy tales reside, instead of milling about in the city and travelling by car. However, I really enjoyed the dark and strange world of Hinterland and the Hazel Wood. Some things might not have made sense (do fairy tales ever make sense with their rhymes and what not), but I thought that the descriptions of the world were great and intriguing. I loved the idea of the ‘story’ characters and how they acted. Not to mention, there were a couple plot twists that I didn’t see coming, which is always a nice surprise.

Alice is the kind of character who doesn’t care much about anything, except for her mother that she will do anything for, even if it means travelling to a far off place they have no idea if it even exists. I wanted to like Alice, and I did in parts, but she isn’t the most likeable character, often being rude and ignorant (which is understandable later on when we learn of her background). However, I enjoyed reading about Finch, the rich boy who helps Alice with her mission. He was so lovely and tried to help, even when he probably shouldn’t have because Alice was awful to him at times. Because of that it was a little awkward reading some interactions, especially when it came to mentioning his race (as he’s dark skinned) and Alice always seemed to bring up how entitled he was because he had money.

I wish we had a chance to meet more of the fairy tale characters from Hinterland and I would have loved to know more of the tales, instead of the few that are mentioned. The book definitely would have seemed more interesting if there were more fantastical elements to it. The pacing of the book was mainly good, with only a few slow parts, but I think most books have them in places.

Overall, while there were things I would have improved on and parts I didn’t connect with, I enjoyed the idea of the story and the majority of The Hazel Wood. Was it the most amazing book I’ve ever read? No, and I think that’s because I was expecting it to be something it wasn’t. I am intrigued to know more about the world, just not so much about how it works alongside the ‘normal’ world. After a long time thinking about this book, I think that a 3 star rating is what I will give it.

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Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Heir of Fire

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Date: 11th September 2014

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s

This series is incredible and it has gotten better with every book I have read. It’s been a while since I loved a series as much as this and I am so passionate about the characters and their world. I just can’t get enough! Heir of Fire is the best so far because it was tense, fast paced and I was hooked. As this is the third book in the series there will be some spoilers below so if you haven’t read the others, don’t read anymore.

Heir of Fire picks up with Celaena arriving in Wendlyn to carry out the task the King had set her, to steal military plans from the Kingdom. Going against his orders, she hides out until she meets the mysterious Fae Prince, Rowan Whitethorn, who takes her to see Queen Maeve, who can give her the answers that she seeks. But first, she must master her gifts with the help of Rowan. Together they travel to Mistborn, where the Demi-Fae live and they begin a gruelling training regime. All the while a darkness is growing in the mountains where the Ironteeth witches are gathering to help the King of Adarlan. Back in Rifthold Chaol is working with the rebels to come up with ways to help Dorian control his magic and how they can restore it to the land.

There is so much that goes on in this book that it’s hard to know where to start (and it isn’t exactly a small book either). I’m going to start off by saying that I loved the multiple POVs in this book and it was so easy to keep track of everyone’s story. My favourite, by far, was learning about Manon Blackbeak and the wyverns that had been created. I can’t even begin to explain how incredible it was to learn of their history (especially after being introduced to the Yellowlegs clan in Crown of Midnight) and Manon was one of the most badass characters I’ve seen in a while. There is definitely more than meets the eye with her and I’m excited to see where her story leads her (also, Abraxos is amazing and I got Toothless vibes).

The character growth, especially for Celaena, was amazing and learning about her past helped us to understand why she acted the way she did. I was almost crying at some parts because it was so emotional and I think it all comes down to the fact that Maas has created a character that we can all connect with in some way. The shock of finding out that she was Aelin, heir to the throne of Terrasen, stuck with me at the beginning of the novel and it was fascinating to read her interactions at Mistward and the struggles she faced regaining her power.

We were introduced to so many new characters in this novel and they all had their own voice that was distinct and unique. While Rowan seemed to be a bit of an arse in the beginning (he was just a little bit harsh to Celaena), we later grew to understand him and in the end I could feel him becoming one of my favourites. We also met Aedion, the General of one of the King’s armies, who was helping Chaol uncover the secrets of how the magic in Adarlan disappeared and how they could indeed get it back. He, too, was a bit of an arse, but in the end it all made sense and I was rooting for him, for them all really.

Dorian managed to meet someone, a healer named Sorscha, who made him happy and I couldn’t help but smile when I read his POV, although that ending had me gasping because I did not expect a thing! It was heart breaking and left me wanting to know what would happen to all my favourite characters. The last few chapters sent me spiralling and I just know that Queen of Shadows is going to start with a bang. Also, I really, really want the King to die because he’s so evil and it’s infuriating. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this strongly about an antagonist and once again, it’s all down to Maas’ writing ability.

I could go on and on about how amazing this book is and it wouldn’t do it justice. The writing is incredible as always and the world building was fantastic. We learned so much more and I could vividly picture it all. There was action, darkness, drama, romance and heartache. This book made me feel everything and I just love it. How could I not give it 5 stars?

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WWW Wednesday

This is my first time taking part in WWW Wednesday and I’m excited to start something new. WWW Wednesday was originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm, and was taken over by Taking on a World of Words.

I’m going to start by saying that I have way too many books I want to read and it’s getting difficult choosing which ones I’m going to read next. I’ve come up with a good plan of how I will manage to read more and that is to read two books at once. One will be a physical book and the other will be on my Kindle (I like to read at night and it’s easier with the Kindle). It’s going well so far, although I will finish my current Kindle read quickly as it’s a novella.

So without further ado…

What Are You Currently Reading?

The Young Queens by Kendare Blake (E-book)

I pre-ordered this a little while ago and as I loved Three Dark Crowns and One Dark Throne so much, I knew I had to buy this. So far I’m about 40% of the way through and I’m really enjoying it. It’s great to get a bit more of a backstory of when the girls were born, what their mother was like and how they are growing up within the homes of their foster families. I’m flying through it and wouldn’t be surprised if I finished it tonight.

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (paperback)

This series just blows me away every time I read it. I might even go as far as to say that it will become my favourite (that spot is currently held my The Vampire Academy series) and I am loving the third instalment. So far I have loved how it switched from the different POVs and I am particularly liking learning about the Ironteeth witches (badass or what). I’m over a third of the way through (these books really get big, don’t they?) and hopefully I can finish it at the weekend.

What Did You Recently Finish Reading?

Keeper

I finished Keeper by Kim Chance a few days ago and overall I really enjoyed it. I found it different to read from the POV of a 16/17 year old girl and to me, it seemed immature at times, but Chance perfectly captured her voice. The story was great, with a few twists here and there, and I was thoroughly entertained. You can read my review here.

What Do You Think You’ll Read Next?

Well, here’s a funny story. In my mind I had planned to read Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings as I pre-ordered it on Amazon. Now, I pre-ordered it with The Hazel Wood, which doesn’t come out until February. Yesterday I received an email saying that Zenith would be delivered to me on the 14th of February. FEBRUARY! So I was super confused and annoyed, and then I realised it’s because I went for free delivery which groups your items into as few packages as possible. Safe to say I was very annoyed that I am going to have to wait an extra month.

So instead, I have decided that my next E-book read will be The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton which I received from NetGalley. As soon as I read the synopsis I knew it was something I’d like. And as for paperbacks, I am going to choose The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell, which I received for Christmas from my dad.

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What books are you currently reading or have just finished? I’d love to know.

Review: One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne

Title: One Dark Throne

Author: Kendare Blake

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Year: 2017

Wow. I think starting this review with that one word is a great start because this book was incredible. As soon as I finished Three Dark Crowns I dived straight into the sequel and I loved it so much more than the first (if that was even possible). The UK cover is, once again, better than the US and beautiful, with the sisters abilities wrapping around the sword.

The second instalment picks up where the first left off and Kendare Blake doesn’t keep us waiting. The action begins practically straight away. Compared to the first book, the pace is a lot quicker and not once did I feel like I was plodding through the chapters. The plot was so much darker than the first too, something that I was hoping for more of in the sequel. I got just what I wanted, with the sisters plotting each others’ demise and evil schemes falling into place. Katharine definitely shone in that department (but we always knew she was harsher than the other two from the first book alone).

In terms of character development, it was greatly improved with this book and I felt a connection with some that I didn’t care for in the first book. My favourite sister from the first book, Arsinoe, is still the one I relate to and love the most, and she definitely got her chance to shine. Mirabella grew on me, slightly redeeming herself for some of her actions in the first book, and I couldn’t help but root for her too. I even felt sorry for Katharine (which isn’t easy when she’s one of the most evil in the book). And in a story where two out of the three sisters has to die? It makes it very complicated when I care about two of them. I still couldn’t make my mind up about who I wanted to be Queen. In a perfect world none of them would die and they could live happily ever after with the people they love. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that happy endings exist in Fennbirn.

The relationships between character were put to test throughout the book and the romantic ones in particular felt much more genuine this time round. My personal favourite has to be Arsinoe and Billy who had such a sweet friendship that was natural and made me smile when reading. I can’t not mention Jules, the kind of friend to Arsinoe that I would love to have for myself. She is strong, protective and her story definitely took a few turns along the way.

Having gotten used to the POV that Blake uses in the first book, I found it a lot easier to keep track of all the characters and the events taking place. It flowed so perfectly and there was no stopping with this book. The tension kept building, the story growing more complicated. There is violence, blood shed and so much emotion. Especially towards the end of the book. You can’t predict where this story will go and there were twists that I didn’t expect at all. I am beyond excited for the third one. I just hate that I have to wait until next year.

It is so hard to review this book without giving too much away and spoiling it, but it is definitely one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I am going to give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.