Saturday, May 30, 2015

Review - Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

 Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)

Series: Grisha #3 (Final) 
Genre: Fantasy 
Hardcover - 422 pgs (June 2014)
Source: Purchased
Add it // Buy it 
Rating - 4/5 

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Two months after finishing this book I still don't know if I want to hug it or crush it. Maybe a little of both?

There were a lot of elements I loved about this book. We delve deeper into Alina's powers and her struggle with becoming darker as her powers continue to grow. Her relationship with the Darkling becomes even more complex. There is ever more information about what kind of darkness the Darkling controls. Plus the politics and court drama returns and there is some strong justice served to certain parties in this conclusion. All of these elements were fantastic and I was ready to put this series in the list of my favorites! I was enjoying all the elements. Alina's character arc was so strong and I was impressed with how far she had some since book one.

Then we came to the end of the book and the wheels came off. The ending wasn't bad. It was far from terrible. The writing was excellent and it wrapped up nicely. Everything was good, but I had expected spectacular. I expected so much more. When it came down to the finale I didn't believe it. I didn't believe Alina would make those choices and be happy.

Obviously, I am not going to agree with every author's choice. They make their decisions about the direction of the book and that will differ from what I think should happen sometimes. Most of the time it isn't a deal breaker for me in a book. This time it was for me! The choices Bardugo made at the end of this book made me feel like Alina regressed. It felt like all the character development and amazing things she did over the course of this book were just thrown to the side! Those final pages just really threw a wrench in how much I liked this entire series. However, this doesn't make me dislike the entire series and I will be checking out Bardugo's next series.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review - Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

    Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)
Series: Grisha Trilogy #2
Genre: Fantasy 
Hardcover: 435 pgs
Published by Henry Holt and Co. 
Source: Purchased
Add it // Buy it
Rating - 4/5 

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

It seems like a lot of people have finished off this series recently. I heard Sam from Thoughts on Tomes raving about this series in one of her videos. Her glowing descriptions made me want to revisit this series and finally read the final two books!

I was a little hesitant because I read book one a couple of years ago. Even so, I thought I would remember enough to make it through. (TBH I should have at least read a review or something before picking this up. I couldn't remember who Alina's friends vs. enemies were and all I could remember about the Darkling was his actions at the end of the novel.) It took a little time for me to get my footing in the story, but Bardugo did a lovely job helping me remember what and who was important.

Because I have finished this series, I can say with confidence this is my favorite novel of the trilogy. There is a lot of plot and character development in this book that just blew me away! Alina is incredible throughout this book. Her growth from the start to the end of this book is a process which really impressed me. She is forced to change and adapts but with flaws and some resistance. She has awkward moments and struggles with new responsibilities which really pulled me into the story and made me root for her.

Plus we get new characters who are pirates! Pirates will win me over in almost any situation and these have a dashing charismatic leader! I liked how this installment really made progress in the overall story. Second books often feel like they are the low point, but this book really started to get into the meat of the story and didn't stall the action.

Personally, I was rooting for the new contender in the love triangle/square?/shape? I'm not convinced by Mal and less than interested in the Darkling's claim on her. So I loved there was a new option introduced. The social and political complications are also so well planned out. Bardugo did a great job keeping you informed of Alina's story and the bigger picture of Rivka's troubles.

When I finished this book, I was so glad I had book three to start immediately. There is a lot of suspense at the end of this book! I'll have a review of book three and my thoughts overall on this trilogy up soon.

My thoughts on the finale of this series will be up at the end of the week.

Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ten Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer

This week for Top Ten Tuesday we are talking about summer reads! I love to take all sorts of things to the beach with me. Personally, I can't take 10 contemporary romance books with me to the beach. I want a good mix of things when I head off on vacation. These are all books I own right now and I want to try and read these before the end of the summer. I can't wait to start all these summer reads!

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception (Books of Faerie, #1) Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) Daughter of the Forest  (The Sevenwaters Trilogy, #1)

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1) Spark (Elemental, #2) Meant to Be

Willoughby's Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistible Temptation A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) Falling into Place

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)

My Last TTT ---------> Freebie! Characters to Catch Up With

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jane Austen Book Tag

Today I'm kicking off the week with the Jane Austen Book Tag. I love Jane Austen's works and this tag is themed around her novels. The questions were a lot of fun to answer too!

Original Tag -

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review - A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

   A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Genre: High Fantasy 
Source: Purchased
Add it // Buy it 
Rating: 4.75

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Look at me! I'm writing up a review within days of when I finished it! I wish I could find more books where I cannot contain my glee enough to write the reviews immediately. After finishing Heir of Fire last month, I was craving some more Sarah J. Maas writing. I jumped into this book wholeheartedly.

Overall, this is a stronger first book than Throne of Glass was. I wasn't sure if this was a series when I finished the book so the story was much more solid and complete. One of my favorite parts of Maas' books are the characters and of course these did not disappoint. There is a lot of grey area for all the characters (good, bad and indifferent). I liked how Maas used the immortality of the Fae to create even more complexity in her characters. Even the human characters had great depth and background characters grew and changed.

Maas does an incredible job interpreting the Beauty and the Beast tale. Her original storyline has an undercurrent of the original tale, but it is so easy to forget about it. In fact, I forgot about the curse element of the tale and was surprised by it. The retelling was even more unique because she adds fae into the mix! The combination of fae and fairy tale really worked out well.

I'd be very interested to see what the publisher classifies this book as. I think it is New Adult, but I think this will really surprise people who read New Adult often. There are quite a few sexy moments and a lot of violence within this story. Fae are not lighthearted, carefree or kind in this series. The topics are handled so well though and Maas' writing (while it was always great) is very mature in this book. I though Feyre's sexuality was handled so well and made her an even more powerful character. Her strength comes from many places and she is a fierce heroine. Plus her romance built in such a believable way that I was very captivated by it. (I was also fanning myself a few times because there are some steamy moments!)

My experience actually reading this book was different than I was expecting. I had some issues when Feyre first went to live in the Fae Kingdom regarding Feyre's relationship with Tamlin and Lucian. Things just seems a little too friendly. Also later on I thought the curse was a little too constructed even though I know phrasing and specifics are important to Fae lore. This was the only part of the book that pushed me out of the story. It made me really look at a few relationships as well. Overall those are small beans compared to how much I enjoyed this story.

I'm very happy with this initial book and cannot wait to see what is coming next. I'm curious if we will continue to follow the same characters or different ones as well. 2016 come faster!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (Freebie!) - Characters You Want to Check in With

A few weeks ago this was a topic and I missed posting for it! Since this week on Top Ten Tuesday is a Freebie week, I decided to use my ideas from this one! I love this topic because I think about it often actually. Characters stick with me and I often wonder what would happen to them after the story ends.

1) Sabriel (Sabriel by Garth Nix) -  She was my favorite character in this series. Even though Lirael was awesome, I loved Sabriel.  I would love to see what kind of progress she made in the Old Kingdom and how her life is going. She would have so many adventures and I would just love to see what they were.

2) Amy Fleming (Heartland Series by Lauren Brooke) - Amy was the main character from the Heartland series and the release for each one of those books was an important date in my childhood. The series ended with Amy starting a new chapter in her life and I would be anxious to see how that worked out.

3) Percy and Annabeth (Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan) We could get a glimpse (hopefully more than a glimpse) of these two in the upcoming series. I just want to know what happens to them and what they decide to do after the events in the Heroes of Olympus!

4) Elizabeth Darcy (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) - There are a lot of adaptations of P&P, but I would love to see what Jane Austen's take on what would happen to Darcy and Lizzie.

5) Mark Watney (The Martian by Andy Weir)  - I don't want to give away anything about this book. However, this book ends on a great note, but I would like to see what happens next!

6) Ginny Weasley (Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling) - Ginny was always one of my favorite characters, but I'm appreciating her even more while I'm rereading the series. I'm very curious about her life after Hogwarts and what she would be up to.

7) Samantha Reed (My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick) - I'd love to see how this romance is working out! They were so cute!

8) Eragon (Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini) - This series ended so open ended. There was some explanation about the future but not a lot! I'd like to see what the future of the whole world was especially Eragon.

9) Sydney and Kyler (Frigid by J. Lynn) - These two! I want to know where they go from the end of this book! Again cute couple that I just loved.

10) Cas Lowood (Anna Dressed in Blood) - Cas was left with a lot of open possibilities at the end of this duology. I'm curious how he would handle all of them and what his life would be like now.

I loved all these characters while I read the books they were in and I just wish I could catch up with all of them to see how they are!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What is Currently Reading??

A few weeks ago I filmed this video about my currently reading habits and basically what I consider myself to be currently reading. Then I lost the footage! Obviously, I found it and put it all together. It is a little out dated because I've finished most of the books I mention in the video. However, my thoughts about currently reading are still true!

Please let me know what you think of this topic! I'd love to discuss it with you especially if you have  a unique definition of currently reading like me!

Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review - Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe, #1)

Series: Stand Alone! 
Genre: Fantasy 
E-book - 336 pgs
Source: Purchased
Add It // Buy It 
Rating - 2/5 

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

My thoughts about this book are all over the place so I am going to attempt to sort them out over the course of this review. I was conflicted even starting this book because A Court of Thorns and Roses comes out next week and I didn't want to compare the two retellings in my mind. They both are based, at least somewhat, on the fairytale of Beauty and the Beast which is one of my favorite tales. Plus it wasn't on my TBR for the readathon I was starting the next day! It didn't work and I was glued to this book for an entire day.

Unfortunately, while I read this read this book very quickly, I didn't like this it as much as I was hoping. The fairytale of Beauty and the Beast was woven into this story nicely. It wasn't overt and there was a lot of original content, but you could tell it was an underlying thread of the story. I especially appreciated the touch of adding the ring! Overall though, the whole story felt shallow and underdeveloped. I just wanted more! There was a really interesting dynamic of Greek gods and fairytales. I liked all the elements but it just did not work as a whole for me.

There is a lot going on in this book. The main character is very conflicted about her family, her duty and her husband. We touch on her struggles with these things, but I felt like they were never fully explored. Nyx felt set up to be a strong main character, but it never panned out. She has skills and knowledge but cannot make up her mind about who to use them against. The love triangle didn't convince me about either choice Nyx had as a love interest. Nyx also constantly changes her mind about who to trust which is understandable to some degree. However, her fickleness was excessive and frustrating.

So at this point I know things sound terrible. It wasn't all terrible. I did have fun reading this book, but things just did not work for me. Personally, I think the author tried to fit too many storylines into the book and they all suffered for it. Towards the end especially there was so much going on without a lot of explanation or detail. I was very confused about what was going on. Honestly I've been thinking about rereading this story to see if my opinion changes, but right now I'm just not impressed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Three Reasons Why You Should Read The Abhorsen Trilogy and #SabrielDay

Last summer my best friend introduced me to the Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix. She begged me to read it after she learned I had missed out on it as a teen. When I picked up the books, I devoured them! They completely blew me away and I haven't been able to stop talking about them. Since I love this series so much and I rarely see people talk about it, I thought I'd try to convince some people to read it. So here are three reasons why you should check out this series!

Funny story! I actually purchased a copy of the final book , Abhorsen, in middle school unknowingly because I thought the cover was cool. I always thought I would eventually get the other books, but it wasn't a priority to me. I should have made it one! Silly younger me!

It is also #SabrielDay today! It is the 20th Anniversary of the publication of the first book in this series. I did not plan this. It was just a happy coincidence! So go read the book and celebrate this well-loved series!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day - Favorite Moms in Literature

Today is Mother's Day! In life and in literature I have great moms to turn to when things are tough. When I'm reading books with great mothers, the book is even better. I try to thank my mom every day for the things she does, but I love that we take this day to make it all about the moms and mother figures in our lives. I've found some moms in books over the years that have been teaching a lot of the same things my own mom did.

1) Every Mom or Grandmother in Harry Potter - These ladies rock the world. They saved the world! Lily, Molly, Mrs. Longbottom, Narcissa, Tonks and so many others in this series just amaze me. I'm crying already just thinking about all these Moms do in this series. 

2) Mrs. Bennet - I know! I know. Mrs. Bennet is so annoying and she doesn't make her daughters behave. She is a very flawed person. However, she loves all her children and tries very hard to make them happy. (Even though she thinks the only way to happiness is a good marriage.) 

3) Natalie Prior - Mrs. Prior was actually one of my favorite characters in the Divergent Series. She was an amazing lady and her influence was so important to Tris. She made a huge impact on how 

4) Maura Sargent - Maura is a really interesting mom. She tries so hard to protect Blue and keep her from getting involved in danger. However, she doesn't force Blue to stay home and avoid the danger which in my opinion makes her pretty great. She respects her daughter. She's a good Mom and all the ladies of 300 Fox Way are amazing! 

5) Kyoko Honda (Fruits Baskets) - Tohru's mom was such an important character in this series even though she passed away before the series even started. Plus I think she took such amazing care of Tohru. She is a great mom and Tohru's memories of her are so strong. 

Happy Mother's Day!! Go give your mom a hug!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ten Books I Will Probably Never Read

I have been out of the picture to say the least. So please forgive me if I'm a little rusty!

This week on TTT we are talking about books we doubt we will ever read. There are a lot of books on my TBR pile both physically and within my mind. So there are some I doubt I'll ever read even though I want to or they are really popular. These are just a few!

1) Les Miserable by Victor Hugo - This book is SO BIG! and I want to read it but we don't always get what we want. I doubt I'll get to read this book at least in the near future, If ever.

2) Half Bad by Sally Green - I'm really not into Witches even though people like this series!

3) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - I could not get into Gone Girl and so many people compare these two books so I doubt I could get into this one.

4) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman - This series has never appealed to me and I don't know if I'll ever pick it up.

5) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - Again, a series I didn't pick up in childhood and I doubt I'll get into now as an adult.

6) House of Night Series by P.C. Cast - This series is such a time investment so I do not think I'll ever start it.

7) Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - I have owned this book multiple times in my life and have given it away multiple times without reading it.

8) Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier - This series has been out a while and I've heard such mixed things I don't think I want to pick it up.

9) Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White - There was some buzz about this book when it came out. However, I was never really excited about it.

10) The DUFF by Kody Keplinger - Even though I've heard some great things about this book, I didn't even go see the movie. I don't read contemporary that often so I doubt I'll get my hands on this one.