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”

The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

BLOG“Kaz leaned back. ‘What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?’
‘Knife to the throat?’ asked Inej.
‘Gun to the back?’ said Jesper.
‘Poison in his cup?’ suggested Nina.
‘You’re all horrible,’ said Matthias.”

Six of Crows was one of those books that sat on my bookshelf for a while. Purchased amidst the praise and rave reviews, and even though I was eager to experience the story for myself, the reading mood was never quite right. Recently, however, when I saw that a friend was going to read it, I finally grabbed it off my bookshelf and dove in. I do love a good heist story, so the premise of this one completely had my attention: Kaz, a leader of one of gangs of the city of Ketterdam is offered an opportunity that would bring him immense wealth, but the deadly and near impossible heist requires a skilled crew of individuals. Being a skilled and resourceful criminal himself, he knows just the people he will need to achieve the impossible. What we get is a team of compelling characters that makes this such a page-turning read:

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Continue reading “The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo”

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

BLOGThe Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

The Seven Prophets that served to guide humanity disappeared one hundred years ago, leaving behind an uncertain world and one final prophecy. The prophecy, kept secret by a small group devoted to the Prophets, foretells the rise of an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet. With the world in chaos, five individuals with an interconnected destiny are on a path to collide.

The question is, which one can save the world and which one is set to destroy it?

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

“Those who cannot own their choices will always be mastered by fate.”

There Will Come A Darkness is an intriguing multiple perspective Young Adult fantasy that follows five character perspectives, and does so brilliantly. I felt connected to each character’s story and was eager to see how they interconnected. The relationships and connections shifted throughout and kept me guessing where the overall story was going to go. There are parts in the middle section of the novel that lagged slightly but the action really picked up in the third and final section. The author does a wonderful job of creating a foreboding atmosphere. There is this constant feeling of unease, uncertainty and danger that looms, which sets the perfect stage for the five main characters. This is the first book in what is set to be a trilogy, with the second book, As The Shadow Rises scheduled for release September 1st, 2020.

A very impressive debut novel, perfect for readers who enjoy character driven stories.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

BLOG“Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.”

As the daughter of a revered general, Kestrel has two options in life: join the military or get married. Neither appeals to her as she does not posses a natural skill for combat, and any marriage at this point in her life would be purely out of obligation. During an outing to the market she stumbles across a slave auction and on impulse and instinct she places a winning bid on a young man she feels an unexpected connection to. Over time, the bond between Kestrel and Arin grows, but there is much left unsaid. Arin has a secret and once events are set in motion, there will be no turning back.

I have to admit that I love a good YA fantasy novel. Especially during cold winter days, when a cozy blanket, a hot drink, and an escape into a fantastical world is a recipe for a wonderfully relaxing evening. The Winner’s Curse has been popping up on my Goodreads page quite consistently, so when I was looking for a new fantasy read I decided to finally give it a go. It is an easy read, and one you can absolutely breeze through, however, it is not one that is particularly memorable for me. I enjoyed the writing in this novel, and it is obvious that the author is very skilled at what she does. Overall, the story just fell flat for me. Not a whole lot happens in the first half of the story, which I wouldn’t mind if the connection between Kestrel and Arin was better developed. I found myself not connecting to either and didn’t really buy their connection. So, once the story really takes off, I was not at all invested in the events that were unfolding. Which is a shame because the latter part of the novel does have a level of intrigue and entertainment that I would have loved had I at all felt invested or interested in the characters. Ultimately, I am glad I gave this book a read, but I will not continue on with the series.

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

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“For the longest time, I thought the power of positive thinking would get me by. And it helps, that’s for dang sure. But it takes more than thinking and hoping and wishing and praying. You need a whole lot of doing.”

After being completely charmed by the movie version of Dumplin‘ I couldn’t help but pick up Puddin‘, the companion novel that follows two supporting characters from the first novel. In Puddin‘ we follow Millie Michalchuk and Callie Reyes. Mille has decided that this is the year she pursues her secret dream and what she wants to do rather than following her mom’s expectations. Also, to kiss her crush. Callie is a popular girl in school, and is aiming for the dance team captain spot next year. While the two girls live separate lives at school, an incident brings them together, and over time they find common ground and an unexpected friendship develops. Continue reading “Puddin’ by Julie Murphy”