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.

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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!

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.

On the Other Side

Title: On the Other Side
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Fantasy | Contemporary | Romance
Rating: 1.5

(I wouldn’t) Undo anything. I believe that everything I’ve done and everything that’s happened in my life has happened for a reason, and if I changed anything, I wouldn’t be the same person I am now.

Just like many other Hopefuls, I wanted this book to be one that I could adore. Not only is it written by one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, but the plot itself reminded me of a Cecilia Ahern novel and I was looking forwards to reading the same heart-warming writing within these pages. Unfortunately I’m sad to say that my blissful imaginations were just that – imagination – and the real book fell south of what I had been expecting.

After her death, Evie Snow is entered into a world of magical realism as she finds herself trapped in purgatory, which looks strangely like her old apartment block? In order to ascend past the hallowed halls and onto her final resting place, Evie must do one simple task: get rid of the secrets that have been holding her back all of her life. Sounds easy? Well, not quite.

Firstly I have to say that you definitely need to take this book with a pinch of salt. So many moments in this book had me shaking my head at how sugary sweet they were. I wanted to love the magical aspects of the book, after all I’m a fantasy lover myself! But when they were intertwined with what was supposed to be her real world it just- it didn’t work for me. Supposedly Evie is the only one who has these powers and all those she meets and I think I would understand if they were supposed to be symbols for something else but even that doesn’t work. I wanted to enjoy it but it just seemed too far-fetched in a world where everything else was perfectly normal.

Once you get past the magic and the terrible surnames (and the multiple names starting with the letter E!) you are left with the actual story, which isn’t that bad. It’s incredibly adorable the way that the two lovers meet, and kudos to Fletcher for coming up with something so unique, and from the get go I was eager to see where their relationship went. Evie and Vincent reminded me so much of Carrie and Pete, which was a bit meh for me. I also felt like they were very two-dimensional. They looked like this and they did this and he was a musician, who was poor, and she was an artist, who wanted freedom, and James was in love with his best friend and that was about it. Or so it felt. I think a bit more work could have been put into their characters to make them truly relatable.

As I mentioned earlier, I thought this book had a very Cecilia Ahern-esque feel to it, so i was expecting something similar to that when I went into it. But the actual writing was a bit of a let down. Fletcher’s writing wasn’t the easiest to follow at times and despite my original labelling of chick lit, I would definitely rebrand this on the YA or younger spectrum. The writing was simple and there seemed to be no real time frame to the novel, as you would expect in adult fiction.

Having said all that there were bits I found good. There was a strong LGBT aspect to the novel with both a gay character and a bisexual character thrown into the mix. There was some good representation here, however I felt that at times they were just thrown in to get the representation marks (bisexual) and because a plot twist was needed (gay). There was no lead up to them, they were just there. Much like with many of the supernatural features.

Overall I think if this book had been planned a little better and some of these criticisms had been resolved then this would have scored a much higher rating. For a debut novel, it could have been a lot worse but I also feel like it could have been much better as well. I’m sorry to be so negative because I love Carrie but this novel just wasn’t for me.

Enrule

Title: Enrule
Author: Holly Sparks
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Fantasy | Dystiopian | YA
Rating: 3

What little we have will soon be gone… and then what?

This sounds like just my sort of book! Anyone who knows me, knows that I adore zombie fiction. I seriously snatch them up and devour them all as if I was one of those human-munching monsters myself. So when I spotted a gorgeous picture of this one on Instagram, I just had to give it a go!

It didn’t let me down either. Firstly what a beautiful cover! I mean look at this gorgeous thing. Although I have no idea who the character is as this girl has white hair, while the main character is meant to have blonde. It’s still gorgeous though, but they definitely should have stuck the sword through a letter all Castle-esque. The blood-stained sword looks very majestic though and definitely alludes to all of the fighting that goes on in this. Because, let me tell you, this book is chock-a-block  full of action and all of the good stuff that you could possibly want in a zombie fic, feat many knives and the occasional saucepan!  There is an abundance of fight scenes though that sometimes feel a little bit repetitive, and does Ella have to kick everyone between the legs? But then that would make sense considering every guy, other than the few she decides to befriend, seem to be desperate to get into her pants. Like seriously, every guy?

In addition to that I also got a strong ‘the chosen one’ theme running through this. For starters she’s the only girl put into a room with all boys. Then she’s given private training by the second top fighter in the camp and she’s hand-picked by Kira out of everyone there. The romance is also a little meh for me. They meet eyes once and suddenly everyone is telling her how this guy has eyes for her? I’m just not a fan of the whole love at first sight thing – I prefer reading the chemistry and watching the relationship build naturally.

Following on from that, the relationships didn’t seem that believable to me. The characters too – they were a little 2D. I would have loved more of a backstory and more of a build of their friendship. Zoe, for instance, agrees to go with Ella despite the fact that she says there are people randomly walking around and killing people. Surely she would be a bit more sceptical of someone?

There were quite a few things that didn’t match up with me in this book, but it was an okay read. As it happens, I’m quite eager to see what happens next and see where the story leads after the cliffhanger we were gifted with at the end of the book. Good going Sparks! You’ve got me wanting to read more.

 

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1)
Author: Becky Chambers
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Science Fiction |
Rating:4

We cannot blame ourselves for the wars our parents start. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is walk away.

Admittedly I was expecting a little more action from this one so if you’re wanting a book that’s packed with action with laser rays shooting from ship to ship and the blood-curdling screams of space warriors as they rush into battle, then I’d suggest putting this down and picking up another sci-fi, such as Leviathan Wakes or The Iron Duke. But if you’re looking for a great character-focused novel though, with a diverse group of main characters then this is the book you want.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet follows the lives of the crew of a Wayfarer, a patched -up tunnelling ship with one heck of a crew. Consisting of 5 Humans, 1 Aandrisk, 1 Grum and a Sianat, it’s obvious that this crew is open to people of any species. One of the best things about this book was learning about the diversity of the crew. I had so much fun learning about the different species. Chambers has managed to involve so much diversity in her little crew as the Sianat doesn’t possess a fixed gender: it simply uses the pronouns they/them. There’s also an Aandrisk changes gender as it ages ! Amazing! I love how creative Chambers has been while creating all of these different creatures. There’s also got some great female characters that don’t need anyone to save their asses. All of her characters are just perfection!

And the world that she’s built? It’s easily one of the nicest worlds I’ve ever seen. Although it’s based loosely off of our own, it was so interesting to see the way that humans had migrated to different planets after the destruction of the Earth. Furthermore just reading about everything that Chambers has created is so awe-inspiring. Everything is so elegantly formulated and it’s just so interesting to read how everything has come about. There isn’t really much of a plot for the first half of the book. It’s mainly just building the characters and introducing the reader to the world, which I loved, but if you’re not a fan of that then you may find this a little boring.

Following that theme, some of the other problems I have with the book was the unexpected relationship. There was a relationship that was so unexpected it literally came out of nowhere. One minute they were friends and then it was let’s take this further. I think that could have been built up a little better but I would totally ship them if there was a little more chemistry! Also one of the side plots for one of the crew members also is completely random. I think again if it had been built up a little better with mention of the science that was behind it earlier in the novel then that would have improved it sevenfold.

Other than that I had no issues with the novel. Usually I hate long-drawn out plots but I actually really loved this one. The characters were so relatable and so much fun to read about. I’ll definitely be recommending this one!

 

Everyone Pays

Title: Everyone Pays
Author: Seth Harwood
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Mystery | Crime
Rating: 3.5

These men needed to be brought to Him. To judgement.

It was hard to decide what to rate this book as – I eventually went with a 3.5 but even now I’m not sure. The book wasn’t bad but I was raving about it either. Would I recommend it? Maybe, but it wouldn’t be at the top of the list.

As far as crime novels go, it held it’s own. There was at least one point in the book where I didn’t want to put it down, though that didn’t last all the way through the book. However, to have a reader feeling like that at some point during the novel is an accomplishment in any book (no pun intended).

Regarding the characters I don’t think I connected with any of them at all! I felt like some of them were a little too one dimensional. Perhaps if there were a little bit more backstory for some of the characters, then I might have been able to connect with them more. I think there was potential to turn the book into a series and then that way there would be more of a chance to get to know the main characters. I did find the killer very intriguing as there was a small twist when it came to finding out who he was. Because the killer was different to most killers I found that the section of the book written in their point of view was really interesting.

The story/motive behind the murders was interesting in itself, let alone the actual murders and solving the murders. The book was quite graphic when it came to describing the murders, I personally didn’t mind it but if you don’t like blood and gore I’d definitely recommend you skim that part!

Overall there were bits of the book I did enjoy, so I’m glad I read it. There’s potential there to be a great book but I do think there were things about the book that did drag it down (if that makes sense).

I’d like to thank Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book to review. This has not affected my review in any way.