Ruin & Rising

Title: Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 2.5

Yuyeh sesh. Despise your heart. Ni weh sesh. I have no heart.

I don’t know how I feel about this.

Personally I liked it. But also I didn’t like it at the same time.

I just- I can’t decide how I felt on a whole (and it was so hard to come up with a rating) so I’m just going to spew a few opinions and hope it all makes sense at the end.

So first up is Mal. Glorious Mal who I loved in the first book, hated in the second and just sort of tolerated in this one. I wanted to love him again in the last book. I didn’t want to close the novel despising him, but I just couldn’t help myself because he really was nothing but a pesky bug. I think what frustrated me the most about Mal was the fact that I knew exactly where the book was going to go right from the beginning. He was the ideal warrior, a solid best friend and I still couldn’t find it in my heart to like him. His only use was to play yet another love interest for Alina, or at least that’s how he felt for me, because any of the others probably could have taken up his role. Especially in the second book. Also, maybe it was because I’d read them all in such a short time, but I had pretty much guessed that there had to be something more to Mal. So when things came out I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. I could also tell exactly how Bardugo wanted her novel to end and it was not the ending that I would have chosen.

Which brings us to the Darkling. Who is this impostor or what exactly did Bardugo do to the Darkling? In the first book I loved his character. He was so, well, dark, then in the second book he disappeared for a while (a long while) and every time we saw him was pretty moot. I wanted to see more of him, I wanted to see more happen for him! I had hopes, high hopes, for his return in the last book. He would wreak havoc and live up to his name (and history) and everything would be gloomy and spectacular. But it wasn’t. He didn’t. Not really anyway. There was one scene really where he was terribly bad but other than that it was just more flirting and the development of his new power that I still don’t entirely understand. How did Alina ‘give him’ this power? I understand what it is and everything but how did Alina suddenly unlock it for him?

Speaking of powers, I love how Alina manipulated hers towards the end of this. Finally some development that I wanted to see! The etherealki were pretty great too when they started to create new uses for their abilities, and David (*sighs*). David is one of my favourite, underappreciated characters. He was just so smart and it was always so much fun reading about his various inventions! Especially when you added it to his doziness and utter lack of communication!

Nickolai was also one of my favourites and this book was so heartbreaking for me just because of his plot. I think I may have driven Charlie mental with all of my Nickolai messages. I just have a serious attachment to this sassy fox and his lines are without a doubt the best in the entire series. He has so many awesome one-liners and you just can’t help but love him for them!

And Alina. Well, yet again, Alina fell flat for me. I mean, seriously, how many times can the girl contemplate the colour of her kefta. She decided way back in book one that she would wear blue but still she keeps talking about gold and black keftas as if choosing the colour is the most important thing. She also has an obsession with comparing herself to other girls. I understand that it’s a natural thing to do for most girls, but seriously there should be more important things on her plate than worrying that the pretty brunette is talking to Mal again. What I wanted was for her to set Mal aside, to stop worrying about her pretty boy and start worrying about the more serous things but she just doesn’t seem able to.

I just felt like plot-wise, this failed for me. Ending-wise, this was also a fail for me. Characters, well there were some good characters. But I don’t think they were enough to save this series from it’s downward spiral. I’m just going to crawl back into my bed and reread Six of Crows.

So I wasn’t a fan unfortunately (sorry Charlie!). I would love to hear everyone else’s opinions though.

Siege & Storm

Title: Siege & Storm (The Grisha #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Year: 2013
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3

You are right about one thing, Summoner. The Darkling is a powerul enemy. You might want to think about making some powerful friends.

I don’t. Like. Mal. Any more?

Well, I don’t like the Mal only seems to care about Alina and nothing but Alina. What happened to Mal from the first book who loved his friends and had a passion for tracking and defending Ravka? All he seems to focus on now is being jealous of anyone who even lays eyes on Alina, fighting to get over Alina and doing whatever he can to make himself look better to Alina. It irked me so much and I found him so annoying! In the first book I was seriously enjoying him and his relationship with Alina and in this one they just need to sit down and work things out. But instead all they appear to be doing is butting heads and arguing and not doing anything remotely helpful!  I can only hope that they fix it so that Mal can crawl back into my good favour in the next book because I found him seriously annoying in this one.

In fact, I might go as far as to say that I didn’t really enjoy this book? Okay, that’s a lie. At the beginning I adored the book. It had a serious Six of Crows vibe and while I adored that book, this one quickly fell from the high level that I had placed SoC on. When the Darkling was involved, everything was dangerous and exciting. Then came the vagabond Sturmhond and I adored him. I couldn’t help it! I have a thing for swaggering pirates with an abundance of charm and a smirk to boot. He caught me in seconds and I was in love with him long before I found out who he really was. My only issue was that, after that, Siege & Storm really started to seriously lack any sort of interesting plot. The novel spirals back into that of the first, leaving us in the mind-numbingly boring world of the social elites. Once again Alina’s thoughts turn to beauty and her romance rather than the real impending situation that she should be dealing with.Basically, it felt like it was dragging it’s feet for the majority of the middle of the novel before finally escalating into something interesting in the final quarter.

AND THOSE FINAL FEW CHAPTERS. AAAH.

But moving swiftly on, the one big issue for me in this was the Darkling was MIA for most of it. After the first part, he disappears only to reappear briefly now and then. I found the way that Bardugo did this incredible and I can’t wait to read the explanation for his random appearances in the final instalment! There’s so much about the Darkling’s newfound abilities that I don’t understand and I can’t wait to discover just what has happened to him! Especially considering he’s so much stronger than Alina when she’s got her amplifier. It’s so intriguing and I can’t wait to see how it all develops and if Alina will ever really be strong enough to defeat him!

Hopefully with the aid of our Steampunk!Pirate Privateer Alina will be able to do some damage to his ego! I need to read book 3 like now, to see how this all works out!

Shadow and Bone

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3.5

You’re the first glimmer of hope I’ve had for a long time.

Oh gosh I blame Charlie for this. Yet anther series that I’ve fallen in love with because Charlie recommended it to me. I have to stop reading series and start reading more stand-alone novels. Or maybe just stop reading series that Inkwellsandbooksmells recommends because I read the first book and then end up buying the entirety of the rest of the series because I can’t cope waiting. I don’t have the money for this Charlie! I don’t! But the books are so good and I can never wait to get started on the rest of the series.

Now this review is going to go back and forth a lot because there were a bunch of things I liked and didn’t like about this book starting with the love triangle. Does every YA novel have to have a love triangle now? Is this some sort of YA formula? One female lead + one best friend + one mystery, dark broody type = THE BEST LOVE STORY OF ALL TIME. Because I hate them but every time I open a YA novel I seem to stumble across yet another love triangle and it’s starting to get a little repetitive. Although I admit that this one did have a pretty good twist as things moved further along. I for one was not expecting it in the slightest and I think Bardugo did a great job at catching us off guard. But I do think that the relationships definitely could have been developed a little more before the big changes came into play. Then maybe it would have had a greater effect. Having said that I adored the relationship between Mal and Alina. I love best friend relationships and it was great reading about the two best friends growing up together. It really made me happy to see a bit of a background there.

However, while there’s a background for some of the characters, I couldn’t really see a decent world background. In my opinion this entire world wasn’t really built that well. I really wanted to love it because there were so many things that I adored like the creation of Grisha’s and all of their abilities. I thought the Fold was genius and how Alina’s power worked into that was pretty neat. But I felt like it was rather lacking other than that. There was no explanation of where the Grisha powers came from, nor how someone could develop them. I was also a little confused as to how there could be so many Corporalki, Etheralki and Materialki but there’s only one Darkling and only one Alina. But then I guess without that there wouldn’t be a plot. There’s a little bit of information about the different groups that live in this world but there is little/no description of the world. I can only hope this is fixed in the next one!

There are seriously strong chosen one vibes in this though and another timid MC who thinks that she’s unattractive and boring before she manages to enter a love triangle and become one of the most important people in the world. I don’t know but like with love triangles this plot point is incredibly overused. Having said that, I liked that Lina wasn’t a headstrong bad-ass like most MCs. I liked that she was nervous and timid but I found that it was great that as the story developed so did she. She grew as a person (although I thought that she took a huge step forwards at one point, just to take about 3 back later on) and it was amazing seeing that. I also did not see the point in the bitchy character. She literally was not needed at all, other than to give the MC a jealous opponent in order to feel even better about herself.

Then, finally there was the writing. The writing that was so flowing and beautiful and mesmerising. I loved it. Bardugo just has ways of describing scenes that has me hooked and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the next book. Now just to put this review to bed and start reading!

Throne of Glass

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Year:2012
Genre: Fantasy | Romance | YA
Rating: 3

Still the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lonely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.

I feel like I always read books in the wrong order. I’ll finish one book and I’ll be gushing about it to someone and they’ll just go “yeah but have you read their other series?” and I just sort of blanch. Most of the time I end up reading other series before an author’s most famous and this happened to me again with Throne of Glass. I fell in love with the ACOTAR series and then discovered that Maas had an entirely different series, with a badass assassin as a main character and I was over the moon. Naturally I ordered them all instantly. Now I’m not so sure I should have rushed into things as quickly as I did. It’s not that I hated this book, I just think I expected more than it gave me.

Going into this book I was ensured that she was as epic as Frodo and that the book was reminiscent of Game of Thrones and those are some big names to live up to. Needless to say I was prepared for awesomeness and at the start I got it. It was hard not to like Celeana at the start. She was smart and bitchy and acted exactly like I would have expected an A grade assassin to act after being stuck in the prison. She bigged herself up and given her attitude, I could totally believe the reputation. Perhaps, if she’d stayed that way for the entire novel I would have enjoyed Throne of Glass a lot more. As it happens, she began to slip for me for countless reasons.

One the attitude stayed. There were many times when we were heard about how amazing Celeana was but it wasn’t showcased until towards the end of the trials. Furthermore she’s obsessed with books! I’ve got nothing against books, I love books and bookworm characters. But when a tough hard-ass assassin who is training for a life or death competition the next day chooses to stay up all night reading instead, I can’t help but feel a little disbelief. Not to mention the fact that she appears to sleep through almost every time someone enters her bedroom. She even slept through the Crown Prince (who I imagine can’t be the quietest) sneaking into her room to leave a pile of chocolate and sweets on her bed. What sort of assassin wouldn’t wake up to that? Surely the greatest assassin in the world wouldn’t sleep through what could have been a potential murder attempt, especially with everything that was going on. There’s also the fact that most of the time she is complaining about her clothes, about the fact that she wasn’t invited to balls and, most importantly, the fact that the guy didn’t joke with her like someone else, so he must find her unattractive. After spending a year trapped in a salt mine, I assumed she would have had more important things to worry about like the impending competition and trials that she had to complete to in order to ensure she didn’t get sent back there?

Then there was a love triangle. Love triangles are the bane of my existence, and it was just my luck that there was one in Throne of Glass as well. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one either. Chaol I don’t mind. Chaol was calm, respectable and their relationship seemed a lot more realistic. From the get go he was suspicious and careful around her as one should be with the most feared assassin the Crown Prince takes an entirely different route. Chaol and Celeana’s relationship is a slow build but for me Dorian and Celeana’s seemed to much like instalove. From the get go they are flirting and she’s batting her eyelashes and getting things out of him. Not to mention all of the eye glances. And don’t mention the ending of all this to me because we all know what’s going to happen next.

Also what the hell is up with the glass castle? It was barely touched upon at all, it was just a random castle made out of glass thrown in there. Not to mention that the book is named Throne of Glass but even at this point I have no idea why? I’m assuming it has something to do with the glass castle but I’m not sure.

My main issue was that this book seemed more romance and playing princess that it actually did fantasy. When we got to the actual plot though (Maas glosses over a fair bit of the competition in my opinion) I really enjoyed it. The bits of the competition I read were entertaining (although perhaps a little benign considering who was competing and what they were competing for) and the fantasy parts may be the reason that I actually continue reading this! I liked reading about the Wyrdmarks and Wyrdgates and I was intrigued by the dark creatures.

Nehemia was also a shining star for me in this one. As a POC character in what I assume was a world of white characters aside from her guards, I was already rooting for her. I love POC characters and while I would prefer more than one as an MC I could handle it. Nehemia was a curious characters. She arrives randomly, without a proper explanation, and instantly befriends Celeana over the assassin’s knowledge of her native language. After that a friendship blooms and it’s one that I enjoyed reading about. The scenes with Nehemia may be some of my favourite and I can’t wait to see what happens with her in later novels.

All in all I’m a bit sceptical about continuing to the rest of the series but I’ve heard those books are better. But I might take a break before I do it. Also, by any chance, (potential spoiler but I don’t know because it’s a guess)

Continue reading

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 4.5

Ronan kept going, his voice louder. “No. Do you hear me, Cabeswater? You promised to keep me safe. Who are we to you? Nothing? If you let him die, that is not keeping me safe. Do you understand? If they die, I die, too.”

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)

THIS BOOK WAS STILL AMAZING. I have no idea how Maggie Stiefvater is doing this. Usually series drop of after a while, or not every book is that great but so far this series has been A+ through every book. I cannot put these down. I cannot tear my eyes away from the page and at 2am when I finished a chapter and complained to Paige that I had work in the morning, I still found myself turning the page and continuing. I just had to find out what happened!

That was probably the worst idea to be honest because this book took such a dark turn, I thought, and I dread to think what the last one will be like (but I’m still definitely going to be reading it).I thought that the Night Terror was scary, but everything takes on an even creepier level of frightening in this one and I wasn’t prepared. But it was still so so good! After the reveal of Ronan’s abilities in the first novel and then the development in the second novel, reading about his magic in this one is beyond amazing. Learning about him honing them in the second book was so interesting but seeing his ease at which he controls his dream world now is unbelievable.

Again I felt like this book dragged a little bit and the introduction of enemies at the start of a book and then vanquishing them or turning at the end is feeling much to comic book for me. But other than that I had nothing bad to say about this novel.

In fact I have a lot of good to say, such as the character development is unreal! I thought that we had discovered all that could be discovered in the last one, but then Stiefvater threw a whole lot more mystery and surprises at me and I was floored by it. It’s all starting to add up though and I’m so terribly excited for the last book! There were times when I was reading and things would click into the first place and I would wonder how on Earth I had been so oblivious to these developments in the first place. Surely it was obvious that that would happen and why didn’t I realise that that happened so that they could do that? IT WAS SO GOOD.

Then there’s the relationships, the relationships! Because Pynch is so close that I can almost reach out and touch them but they’re just not there and it’s like hell waiting for them to finally click. But it’s so good at the same time because it’s slow and building and we get to see them watching at each other and testing the waters and watch it all building. And the dam is so close to breaking! Not to mention Blue and Gansey who are still not my favourite but are growing on me with their late night phone calls about birds and the devil’s number and it’s terrible and brilliant at the same time. One relationship I didn’t expect to like was Piper and Colin because they were so evil but they were just so terribly perfect for each other. They were both so bad that they worked and some of their conversations were hilarious.

Part of me also feels like I should mention the psychics because there were a lot of developments for them in this one and gosh I never expected some of the things that happened to happened. There were a lot of surprises in this one, don’t get me wrong, but that one just- I had to stop and put the book down for a moment. I couldn’t believe it.

There’s so much I want to say about this novel but so much that I could give away by accident. If you haven’t read this series yet, please please please start it. Then come and fangirl about Pynch with me.

The Dream Thieves

Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2013
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 5

And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) review

I JUST CAN’T WITH THIS SERIES. I thought that the first book was amazing and within minutes of turning that last page I was scrambling to order the rest so that I could continue reading. Then I read this one and how is it even possible that this was better than the first? How? Everything I hated in the first book (namely Ronan and how useless and annoying he was) literally turned on head and showed me just how wrong I’d been. And boy was I wrong! Trust me no one is more surprised with me that I actually like this stupid idiot but this was the book that I fell for Ronan Lynch and I’m now clinging onto him for dear life as my fingers inch towards the next book. How is it possible to care this much about a character?

But enough about Ronan. This book was almost everything that I wanted it to be but at times I felt like it was dragging it’s feet to stop getting to the actual plot. One of the things I did realise shortly after going into these books was that the entire series takes space over a year. That’s about 3 months per book, which could be a lot of time but given book terms isn’t really that long at all. So yes, I did feel like this book dragged a bit but that might just be because I was mainly in it for the Glendower plot and there wasn’t much of that in this.

What there was a lot of was character development. There was a heck of a lot of that. There were so many gasp moments when you discover things about the characters and so many moments where I just had to sit back and take in what I’d just read because it was so beautifully thought out and it just took that last push for all the dots to join together and it was so fricking well-thought out. I didn’t even see it coming until it happened and then it seemed so obvious! Stiefvater is so good at this thing, man. These characters were like a mystery onion with so many layers of secrets and lies and discoveries about themselves! I have no idea where half of these things are leading to but I have my ideas and I pray that some of them come true!

Also in my last review for this series I said I wasn’t a fan of love stories and that I was pleased when Stiefvater didn’t really involve romance in her book (despite the blurb). Then I read this one and I’m on the train, I’m on all the ship trains! Stiefvater manages to write so many amazing relationships without them even needing to kiss and I’m just reading all of them and they’re so amazing. And Ronan is so so so subtle and I love him for it! This had to be one of my favourite quotes:

She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged on, Gansey clearly wished he had one.
Ronan wasn’t a fan of lamps.

And after that my ships were sailing. I’m so invested in these books. I’m invested in Gansey finding his Glendower and Ronan finding himself and Blue saving her true love and Adam getting to the person that he wants to be and Noah finally being able to look at all of his group and finally being at ease enough to take the next step. This series has gotten me hooked and I am literally picking up the next book now to start reading and see what happens to his bunch of misfits!

P.S Where’s Nevee? I expected her to come back but she’s still MIA. I’m sure she’s going to come back and mess things up.

The Raven Boys

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: Fantasy | Romance | YA
Rating: 4

Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.

Okay, I admit it, I’ve never read a Maggie Stiefvater book before. I know, I’m sorry! I can hear you all gasping now but it’s true! Shiver didn’t speak to me, nor did the Scorpio Race, and it wasn’t until I saw some of my bookstagram friends discussing it that I finally heard about the Raven Boys. Just 4 years late! I ordered the book after reading through their discussion and started it days after it arrived, only to finish it all within the space of 24 hours!! I have a thing with books, where sometimes I can read them slowly over the space of a couple of days but other times I just devour them in a matter of hours. This was one of the latter.

I’m not a fan of love stories. Okay, that makes me sound cold and horrible and I’m not I promise! What I mean to say is that I’m not a fan of cliche love stories and for me this sounded like one of them. For starters all of this is over a kiss. A kiss? There’s a lot more to relationships than just kissing so I really don’t see what the big deal is here? Then there’s the whole she-loves-him-but-can’t-be-with-him trope that is sweeping YA literature, which annoys me almost as much as the stereotypical love triangle (and low and behold this book has one of those too!), so I almost skipped this. But I heard about a treasure hunt and treasure hunts are my guilty pleasure! 

Any book that involves searching for someone or something is my passion! I can’t get enough of he Dan Brown novels, the Tolkien adventures and even spy novels. I just adore them. When that’s tossed into a crazy cauldron of paranormal and fantasy, I can’t imagine anything better! It’s like all of my favourite things packed into one book series and it’s left me dying for the next book in the series.

Gansey’s quest is by far my favourite thing about this whole novel. Watching them work out all of the different points of the mystery was beyond interesting, especially when it came to exploring the ley lines. It was just made better by the haunting atmosphere that Stiefvater managed to create. As I said earlier I’ve never read a Stiefvater book before, but after reading this one I really want to. I was utterly enthralled by it all. Her omniscient third-person made it almost too easy to get to know the characters and her writing was almost as magical as her story. The effect it created was tremendous.

Not that the characters were too hard to get to know, because Stiefvater created some great characters and I’m eager to see how they develop in the future. At first I hated them, the boys that is. I couldn’t get enough of Blue and her crazy house of psychics (how cool is that? A group of strong, independent women living together!) but the stuck-up rich Raven Boys weren’t my style. They were too cliche. And then we got a bit deeper and well, I sort of started to appreciate them as well. They’re different, definitely unique, and who knows what will happen to them next? I did have one small issue when it came to the characters though, and that was that Stiefvater was a bit tell and don’t show about their personalities. She told us what they were like right at the beginning, rather than letting us to learn ourselves. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to get to like them.

This book definitely amazed me. It was cliche at times but it definitely was original as well. Some of the plot twists were incredible and I didn’t see so many of them coming. I did see a lot of quotes though that caught my eye and, as I’ve heard a lot about foreshadowing, I have a few suspicions for the later books.

If you ask me, Stiefvater should have rewritten the blurb for this one because there’s very little romance involved in this first book. Yes its clear from the first chapter that the Gansey/Blue relationship is going to be a thing (or maybe it’s a mislead oooh) and the other leg of the triangle is present as well, but there’s not a lot of love. It’s more adventure and fantasy and, boy, am I down for that. I just hope the other books follow the same path.