The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

BLOG“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina” He said. “You and I are going to change the world.”

The nation of Ravka is but a shadow of its former self, torn apart by the creation of the Shadow Fold, a section of complete darkness inhabited by monsters. To destroy it is impossible, but hope rises in the form of a young girl, Alina, whose once dormant power comes to light under a vicious attack. In the blink of an eye her life is completely changed as she is whisked away to the royal court where she is to study and learn to master her newly discovered power, under the guidance of the enigmatic Darkling. But as Alina soon learns, there are many more questions that need to be answered and  an underlying darkness that threatens.

After reading the Six of Crows duology, I was eager to read more books set in that universe so I didn’t hesitate diving into the Grisha Trilogy. I got into the flow of the story right away finding it to be an enjoyable and easy read. There is a quality to Leigh Bardugo’s writing that completely works for me and it was really pleasant to be swept into this fantastical world and to keep turning those pages. Where it all fell apart for me was the main character of Alina, who I found to be uninspiring and far too whiny. With each page it became more and more of an issue, as the hope that she would grow and evolve completely diminished. For the most part she is rather bland and I completely forgot her name while reading the first novel in the series. The most frustrating is her cluelessness and lack of common sense. I wish there had been more to her, but the effort to have a fish out of water story once she is in new and extraordinary circumstances leaves her coming across as an overly weak and naive person. Too much of her revolves around her feelings for one boy or the other. There is a great moment in Shadow and Bone where she has a realization of her own power and a moment of letting go of the past, but sadly just ends up slipping back into her patterns. Because the story is told from Alina’s point of view, it does affect the whole reading experience. Continue reading “The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo”

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset“Call it what it is: monster racing.
Forget that, and you die.”

In Becar, who you are in this life determines your fate in the next. The purest souls, known as the augurs, can read auras and see your path; who you are and who you will become. For the darkest of souls there is only one outcome: to be reborn as a kehok, a monster, and that is all you will ever be, with no hope of redemption. The only way to ever be reborn as anything other than a kehok is to win the Races. Tamra was a top rider before being sidelined by an injury and becoming a professional trainer. After a miscalculation led to tragedy on the track and damaged her reputation, she is in desperate need of funds to prevent her daughter from being taken away. In a search for a new kehok and rider, she comes across Raia, who is running away from domineering parents and a cruel fiancé. The prize money from winning the Races would mean freedom for Raia and a secure future for Tamra and her daughter. With plenty of obstacles in their path, they embark on achieving the impossible and changing their future, with a new kehok that can lead them to victory. Continue reading “Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst”

The Hercule Poirot Reading List: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

BLOG“No, my friend, I am not drunk. I have just been to the dentist, and need not return for another six months! Is it not the most beautiful thought?”

Poirot may be the world’s greatest detective, but he fears the dentist as much as many people do. So it is with great hesitation and plenty of nerves that he enters the offices of celebrated Dr. Morley. Following the examination he is relieved, never once imagining that he would be back at the dentist’s only hours later examining the body of Dr. Morley, apparently dead by suicide.

Having been in contact with the gentleman earlier in the day, Poirot cannot believe that the facts are exactly as they appear. Why would a celebrated dentist decide to kill himself that day? What may have occurred following Poirot’s exit from the office? A thorough investigation follows, as Poirot interviews the other patients and step by step starts to reconstruct the events of the day. But unexpected twists and turns lead to more questions and an even bigger mystery.

This was an interesting mystery that had my attention with every question posed and every unexplained occurrence. I wanted to know the why and the how and who, every step of the way. The piecing of a puzzle is always intriguing to me, and this book takes it up a level as it not only seeks answers to the original questions but also introduces a new mystery into the mix that is just as odd. It does feel like everything gets more and more complicated and at a point I stopped trying to figure things out and just went along with it. There are aspects to the story that walk the line between complex and convoluted, but I did not mind that so much. Overall a solid, cozy mystery.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

BLOG“They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense. But now I knew that every mad word was true.”

Nyx has lived for many years knowing her fate. Betrothed to the evil ruler of the kingdom, once she turns seventeen she is to marry and move into his castle, far from her family and everything she holds dear. She is intent on carrying out a plan to kill him and free the kingdom once and for all. But once she is behind the castle walls nothing is as she had imagined. The mysteries of the kingdom begin to compound and more questions arise. Most perplexing of all is her charming new husband and fairly soon she is uncertain of what the truth is and who she can trust. She knows that her kingdom depends on her defeating the sworn enemy she can’t help but be drawn to. And the longer she stays, the more difficult her mission becomes.

“If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart.”

I love fairy tale retellings, Greek myth retellings, basically any new spin on a well-told tale. Cruel Beauty is a blend of a Beauty and the Beast retelling and Greek mythology, which I found intriguing. The novel creates a magical yet eerie atmosphere that is compelling. As the main character, Nyx is strong and complex while the villain proves to be witty and beguiling. Initially I was drawn to the story, however as it progressed it started to feel somewhat meandering and difficult to follow. I love the idea of what the novel tries to achieve but much of it was confusing, particularly the ending, but by then I was truly disconnected from what was happening. Thinking about it, I feel that the writing style is perhaps just not for me. Absolutely a good option for fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings, unfortunately it did not work for me.

The Many Reading Moods of Isolation

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“The first thing that reading teaches us is how to be alone.” – Jonathan Franzen

As far back as I can remember, one of my favourite ways to spend time was reading. I could happily sit for hours at a time, on my own, immersed in a new adventure, a different world. As an adult, reading became a relaxing pastime, a break from the demands and worries of the day, a calming exercise for a busy mind. A couple of months ago when the world shifted, and the foundation of the things in my life I believed to be solid altered, I was left with a great deal of spare time. Many hours of the day to be filled. In theory, this would seem pretty ideal to a fairly introverted bookworm, but that has not been the case. Everyday has been different and everyday has brought a new mix of emotions that act as a reminder of the uncertainty and fragility of this time we live in. So there have been days when reading has been relaxing, when it has been entertaining and fun, providing a much needed blurring of reality. And there have been days where it has felt impossible to focus. Continue reading “The Many Reading Moods of Isolation”