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.

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!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: YA | Contemporary | LGBT | Romance
Rating: 4

One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe has one heck of a title so I’m just going to call it Aristotle and Dante is one of the books that I have heard so much about. Everyone seems to be raging about how good it was and admittedly I got it a few months ago but was reluctant to start it on account of hearing so many good reviews. I’m always worried that the book will be a bit of a let-down after, but this one thankfully wasn’t.

Aristotle and Dante is about two teens, funnily enough named Aristotle and Dante, who are polar opposites. Aristotle is a silent, lost boy, who knows even less about his family than he does about himself, while Dante is a happy swimmer with a loving family and a positive outlook of the world. They’re nothing alike and yet somehow they come together, colliding into each others worlds as they attempt to make sense of their own. And as the story moves on and their lives develop, we see the layers that have been built upon their relationship and how much their lives have intertwined.

This book isn’t just a coming of age novel, but it handles topics of self-discovery even if it takes some of the characters longer to do this than others. It also handles a very serious split down the middle of Ari’s family that’s so interesting to read about. Both his father and himself are haunted by their past and left to deal with it on their own and Sáenz does a great job at representing the struggles that they face with one and another. One of my first criticisms was that although Ari’s parents and Dante’s parents play a huge huge part in this book, Ari’s sisters barely make an appearance at all. And although his brother is mentioned repeatedly, the same statement applies .That would have made this a little more believable for me. Considering everything that Ari goes through, I think his sisters would have been a little more involved than they were, regardless of the excuses that Sáenz gives.

I also wasn’t a fan of the writing as such. It gave me a Perks of Being a Wallflower feeling, but it just didn’t work as far as I was concerned. There were a few parts that had me frowning and rereading just to make sure I had read it right, and I don’t like doing that. It jolts me out of the story and leaves me floundering for a few seconds. It was easy to bear though and not that much of an issue

Altogether this was a really touching book. There are parts of it that are emotional, prepare yourself for drama because this isn’t as sweet as everyone is quoting, and other parts that leave you feeling sad. But I would recommend this. I’m not singing the praises for this book like I have with others but it was definitely good and I did find it a good book. It just didn’t live up to the emotional lingering love story that I was promised.

Lady Midnight

Title: Lady Midnight  (The Dark Artifices #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: YA | Fantasy | Romance
Rating: 4.5

“I always wanted a parabati,” she said a little wistfully. “Someone who is sworn to protect you and to watch your back. A best friend forever, for your whole life.”

When I read Clockwork Angel, I believed that I’d found the best Cassandra Clare book. I didn’t think that she could ever one up that story. But then Lady Midnight came along and just completely destroyed that thought. Lady Midnight wasn’t just about the war between good and evil, as is usually the case, but it contained a great murder mystery (and I adore murder mysteries) and one of the most perfectly written families that I have ever come across. I thought that the Weasley’s were good but the way that Clare wrote the Blackthorns just impressed me beyond belief .They weren’t just words on a page but it was possible to see real people and real relationships in all of them. THEY’RE SO PRECIOUS. Each of them are so special and I found myself getting so attached to all of them that I was unable to put down the book towards the end because of the danger that arose! OH OH OH! And Clare managed mental illnesses as well. She just keeps surprising me by writing about topics that most don’t tend to go near and she deal with it so well. It makes me so proud to see how far she’s come from the first mortal instrument novel.

Not to mention Julian is amazing. For all of you people that complained that Julian was just going to be another sarcastic asshole that the poor MC is going to fall for will find yourself brutally debunked. Julian is smart and quiet most of the time and so incredibly loyal to both his family and his parabati! The things he goes through to ensure that everyone is as happy as they can be is beyond amazing. He will do literally anything to look after the people that he cares about and it’s so admirable. But don’t be deceived, he can still hold his own in a battle when he has to; he’s not Emma’s parabati for nothing!  As for all the people who complained that Emma would be another boring MC, who doesn’t know she has powers will also be in for a rude awakening. Emma has powers and is well aware of them because she is so EXTRAORDINARILY KICKASS. Emma is so stubborn and wild and somehow that makes her ultimately better. She doesn’t follow the rules and is likely to bend them to get her own way and her drive – to find out what happened to her parents – is obvious throughout the entire novel.

And don’t even get me started on the romance. It was hinted at throughout the novel and when it came to a climax it was great. My only complaint was that the ending was the worst idea! I’m not giving spoilers but I hate books that follow that path. If you cut out the last chapters then this would have been brilliant!

BUT THE PLOT TWISTS WERE SO GOOD. I had my suspicions as the book went on but when it actually happened I was more surprised than anything! I would really recommend snatching this up just because of how good the murder mystery was. And the twist with the Herondales was so surprising and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The best thing about Clare is that she also has little candid appearances from her other characters and it’s so refreshing to see them all still a part of the story and to see where their lives have taken them now that their series are over.

If you can’t tell from my LOUD GUSHING, I adored this novel. It was everything that I wanted from Clare’s new series and more. Honestly I finished the book, started rereading it and I need the next one now. Like right now.

Flawed

Title: Flawed
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: YA | Dystopia
Rating: 3.5

I am girl of definitions, of logic, of black and white.

Truthfully, I thought I was done with dystopia novels. They’re just too overdone now with the same repetitive tropes and shockingly similar main characters and then I heard Cecelia Ahern was writing a YA novel and I just had to get my hands on it. Disclaimer: I love Cecelia Ahern novels. I was beyond excited until I found out that it was a dystopia novel, but I decided to go into it anyway, in the hope that Ahern would create something unique on account of never having written for this genre before.

The concept for the plot really intrigued me at the beginning. To me it’s a toss up between Scarlet Letter and Divergent, but reminds me oddly of Uglies as well. However it’s really something else entirely. The idea is that when someone breaks the law, or hurts someone else, then they become flawed and they become branded with an F to let everyone know. Or at least that’s what I thought when I went into the novel. Turns out that they can get branded for pretty much anything. Told a lie? Take an F. Making a risky business move that fails? You deserve an F as well. Releasing a work-out DVD, but also secretly having a tummy tuck. You definitely need an F. What had started as such an interesting premise, rapidly became the most confusing concept to grasp. They got branded for the craziest things and, naturally, all those with higher-powers got away with everything.

This is when Celestine comes in. Without ruining the plot, she becomes a near Mockingjay, love triangle and all, whilst also being essentially one of the most perfect characters I’ve ever read. Perfect as in boring. Perfect as in she did everything right. She followed the rules. She got straight A’s. She never stuck a toe out of line. I found it so hard to stumble through the first few chapters just because I got nothing from Celestine. I couldn’t connect with her in the slightest.

One of the things that this book did well was that it was actually a dystopian novel. At the beginning when her second love interest was first introduced, I became instantly worried that this wouldn’t be as much of a dystopian as romance and her having to chose between the two lovers. I’ve read these before and while I love a romance as the next person, I like knowing that I’m going into a romance. Instead the plot got exciting and I found myself staying up until the early hours to power through those last chapters. I think Carrick made the entire thing more bearable for me. While he was obviously a potential love interest, one of my favourite things is a good mystery and I wanted to find out everything that I could about this mystery man.

Altogether I thought this book was good. It was a quick read and I did enjoy it towards the end. Cecelia Ahern will always be one of my favourite authors, her writing style is lovely and I can’t wait to read whatever her next release is.

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

A Darker Shade of Magic

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Fantasy | Adventure | YA
Rating: 4

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still”

Why have I never heard about this book before? I love anything that involves elemental magic so really I should have been on this book in seconds. It was only when Benjamin Tomes tweeted about it, that I realised I was missing out. So naturally I bought the book and started it the next day and I was so excited to get reading, especially when it began immediately with an introduction into the fantasy world. Kell, the first character we are introduced to, is so inventive from his position in this world to the clothes that he wears. I don’t want to give anything away, but he has a pretty cool coat.

From the get go, I was beyond interested in this book and, as more characters were introduced, I realised what an adventure it was really developing into. The introduction of Lila, a tomboy pirate with so much passion, and the loving Rhy just entertained me beyond belief. As each new character was added, I just found myself becoming more and more interested in the novel and the worlds it presented. Especially when Rhy brought the elemental magic into the mix. My only problem with this novel was that there wasn’t as much elemental magic involved as I wished, it mostly appeared to be focused around Kell and the Twin’s abilities rather than the 4 elements.

However there were so many other things about this novel that more than made up for that downer. The setting of a Darker Shade of Magic is beautiful. Her creation is so insane, so far-fetched, but I just can’t get enough of it. The way she has formed the different worlds and the description that builds them for the reader is are astounding. I’ve never read a world creation so good since the days of Eragon, and even then these words are so incredibly far-fetched but somehow possible with Schwab’s words. Somehow she has created not just one London for us to explore, but 4, each with a combined history to explain how they came to be how they are in the novel’s time frame. It’s such a pleasure to read.

I really don’t have many faults at all with this novel. There’s no forced love stories and the tale captures you up and makes you run with it as it winds it way to its conclusion and naturally, it just leaves you wanting more! I know that I want the second one and I can’t wait to snatch it up the second I make it to a book store!

Are You Still There?

Author: Sarah Lynn Scheerger
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Romance | Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | YA
Rating: 4

‘Stupid me for entertaining the thought that someone would care enough to stop me. Apparently, no one can. Because I still float, invisible as dust. Lost. Forever.’”

When I stumbled across this book on Netgalley, it was the cover that drew me in but it was the blurb that made me stay. The plot for this novel just sounded so thrilling and such a nice change to the mystery novels that I usually read. I was looking forwards to something fast-paced and engaging and it didn’t let me down, most of the time anyway.

Scheerger dived straight into the action with the opening chapter of Are You Still There. Most authors would choose to put the school lockdown and bomb threat towards the end of their novels, but Schreeger throws the readers straight in to the deep end within the first few pages. Because of this, the novel is gripping right from the first few pages and I thought it was brilliant that the story was instantly engaging and managed to maintain this level of excitement for a large part of the novel.

I did find that there were a lot of points where the novel became less about the mystery of the identity of the ‘Stranger’ and more about Gabriella’s social life and her problems with relationships and coming out of her shell. I also found that a lot of the friendships formed through her volunteering programme were created fairly quickly, considering they were apparently all from completely different cliques. There were also a lot of parts where I felt like she made terrible decisions and some that just seemed pretty unbelievable, such as the bomber’s attachment to Gabi as I don’t think we’re ever given a reason as to why the bomber chose her over someone else. However I thought that Scheerger’s idea for a Student Crisis hotline was great and it was worked really well into the plot with the bomber.

One of my favourite bits was the Stranger Manifesto! It was so well written and it managed to be beautiful and poetic as well as being quite worrying. I think these small glimpses into the mind of the terrorist definitely made everything a lot more thrilling and truthfully I don’t think the novel would have been nearly as exciting without these small sections throwing contrast into the parts flooded with Gabi’s teenage angst. By the end of the book, I was actually starting to feel sorry for the Stranger, to be honest, because I could definitely understand where they were coming from. Although I probably wouldn’t have taken such drastic actions.

Altogether I really enjoyed this novel and managed to read it all in one day because I was so desperate to find out the identity of the Stranger. I was rather disappointed by the ending and the identity of the killer (mainly because all of my guesses were miles off) but it was quite fun trying to weigh up all of the different characters and attempt to work out who the Stranger was. This book actually reminded me quite a bit of Thirteen Reasons Why, so I think fans of that should definitely give this one a try.