Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm for me is hard to rate. On the one hand, I am loving this GrishaVerse trilogy overall so far. I think that the world building is good, the characters are well-built, and the overall story line is really great.

35529904I still am not all that impressed with Alina as a main character and heroine. To me she is just okay. She doesn’t do anything that really annoys me–she’s not a whiner or a weakling, but she isn’t particularly brave or outgoing or really trying to go anywhere either. She’s just….there. And, of course, all of the boys like her. So then there’s the boys. In book one, I thought Mal was also pretty useless. The first half of this book, he was still pretty useless. Finally, though, he started to show some personality and some life so maybe Mal can actually be a contender! We meet Nikolai in this book and he completely steals the show. Nikolai I love. I mean, how can one not love this guy?! And then, of course, there’s the Darkling. *swoon* He isn’t in this book as much but he’s still as dark and alluring as always.

Aside from the characters, I felt like the plot moved way slow in this installment as well. We saw some action in the beginning, and then really nothing for a long time. The gang sat in waiting (or did some travelling) for the majority of the book with a couple little rifts in the middle, or maybe a couple little discoveries along the way, and one big skirmish at the end….and then the book is over. Maybe that’s how most books are but I expected so much more out of this one!!

So that is my take on book 2 of the Shadow and Bone trilogy from the GrishaVerse. Of course, by the end of the book, I’m left SO ready to go into book 3 but if I go straight into it, I will have a book hangover so bad! So I’m going to wait at least another week until I start the third book. But I will be back for more. Stay tuned!

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Book Soundtrack: “Undefeatable” by Young Rising Sons

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Wow. Just wow.

So first of all, my surprise comes because I was not a big fan of Carry On. It was my first Rainbow Rowell read and I felt like there was so much hype around it. I gave it 3.5 stars and just didn’t get into it. I expected all this world-building and excitement like Harry Potter because I heard it was moderately based/inspired by HP and it was sort of fan fic of HP and it was very, very different from it.

fangirlHere I am a year and a half later giving Rainbow Rowell another shot because its almost Valentines day and I’m trying to read books that I have for a challenge and my edition is pink and what the hell? I’ll give RR another chance. Well surprise, surprise. I freakin’ LOVE this book!! Cath is totally me my first year away at college. I would have rather starved than ask strangers where the cafeteria was! ha! I was shy and awkward and classes and just about anything specifically college-related intimidated the crap out of me. Oh, and “freshman time.” Yeah, that was definitely a thing.

tumblr_mti8miwcni1qhz2h3o1_1280The only things that I didn’t appreciate in this book were Cath’s stubbornness (aka stupidness) about her writing project and the ending. I felt too empty at the end. Where is book 2?!?! There is so much detail in every other aspect of the book! There were so many other conflicts that occurred in the book where it felt like “Oh, after this happens and gets resolves, the book could end”….oh but wait, the book still has 225 pages yet. I’m not done!! So that was nice, but then we finally do get to the end and I don’t feel resolved hardly at all! Its not a cliffhanger by any means, but its not exactly a neat little bow either. Its just an ambiguously wrapped gift without a label or a ribbon or a tag or a bow. So that’s my little schpiel on all of that!

In the end, I’m coming away with Levi being one of my absolute favorite book boyfriends. I’m not usually the nice guy book BF type, but somehow the guy just had me under his spell and swooning. I loved all of the characters and I really appreciated the college setting. Great read overall–I’m so glad I gave Rainbow Rowell another shot!

Listening to: “Paranoid” by Kanye West

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Fantasy Friday: Everless by Sara Holland

3232066135883046Heck YES, I just made that up off the top of my head! Fantasy Friday(TM)!! This week I’m talking about Everless by Sara Holland. This book dropped on January 2nd but I got my copy in my Fairyloot subscription box in December. Being a YA fantasy book by a debut author with not just one but TWO super-beautiful covers and a sweet synopsis, there was a LOT of hype around this one. So what was the actual turn-out after reading? Let’s discuss.

The unique piece of the book is the ancient story of this world about the Sorceress and the Alchemist, who turned blood more or less into time. Time, of course, is precious currency. Most people in this world it seems are poor and working as servants, tradesmen, or soldiers. They settle their debts by sacrificing their blood to be made into coins to be given to the Gerling family, who offer protection to the land. Personally, I didn’t find the land/setting to be very unique, developed, or exciting, but I liked the looming Sorceress/Alchemist legend and the time currency.

ben-white-199953Main character Jules did not impress me much. Everything that I would have done she didn’t do. Everything a main character should NOT do…you guessed it! She did. It was one of those “My father told me to stay away from the Queen and never let her see me but I have no idea why. Well that means I should work for her and be her slave! Great idea!!” **Lindsay begins banging book against her head** Whywhywhy?!?!

Let’s talk about pacing, because this was big for me this book. I felt that the book was slow from the beginning. Everless begins in Jules’ small town and then she decides to leave to home when it is announced that the Queen and her daughter, Ina are coming. Things are moving slow. Maybe they’ll pick up at the Gerling estate! Jules is reunited with her childhood BFF, Roan, and she begins work as a servant girl. As time goes on, secrets about Ina and the Queen come to light…and the pace really doesn’t pick up until the VERY. END!!!!! So that was a bit (a lot) frustrating.

HOWEVER. THAT ENDING THO!!!!! For that reason, I WILL be reading the next book!!

Book soundtrack: “Turn to Dust” by Wolf Alice

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On the eleventh day of #blogmas … Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

34220850 I would call this book a cute, sweet, but relatively forgettable YA holiday romance. Charlotte is on her way back to London with a broken heart when her flight is cancelled due to a blizzard. Anthony is planning on surprising his girlfriend at the airport, but he is the one who is surprised when she breaks up with him after she gets off the plane and runs into the arms of another guy. Together, Charlotte and Anthony make their way through a book called (something like) Ten Ways To Get Over Your Ex, all the while–you guessed it–falling for each other.

Of course, this is all set in New York and occurs on Christmas Eve. The book seems to not mean much because these are high schoolers so how long can a relationship like this really last? The two promise to reunite, as Charlotte is trying to decide what college to attend.

So like I said, the book was super-cute. It was easy to read–I sat down and read the entire thing in a day. It was quotable and cliche, but that’s what Christmas is all about isn’t it? ;P

Book soundtrack: “A New York Christmas” Rob Christmas

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Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

23113602So this is a NetGalley ARC I have had on my shelf for a while now. A few things about this book right off the bat: first of all, it took me a long time to read. My attention just wasn’t held the way I hoped it would have been. Especially because it felt rather like it was going to be a YA historical/almost-cozy mystery, which would have been right up my alley. Still overall regardless of exact genre, the plot moved very slowly.

Secondly, the magic in this book was not very exciting, widespread, nor well explained. Was it unique? Yes. You will never find Harry, Ron, and Hermione sewing glamours. However, that is the only magic in the book and its not shiny magic, its really not magic that Annis is really confident in or that she learns from some great wizard or a secret family recipe or anything like that…she hardly practices in any big, adventurous, fun way except for exhausting herself to save herself from bankruptcy. It was a bummer.

daniel-garcia-418370Third, the characters were unextraordinary to me mainly because I never trusted any of them. I never felt like we got a good enough glimpse into any of them because there was just too much going on with Annis and her cherades.

So those are my criticisms. All of that being said, I did enjoy other aspects of the books. I did like the setting of the book and the genre in general. There are not many YA historical mysteries out there. I would LOVE to read more books like this! Especially with young women at the center. The Jackaby books are good as well! I also thought the ending and the resolution in general saved the book in general. I wish the pacing would have been better throughout the book, but I have to say that I thought the ending was well done and I hope there is another book because I would pick it up.

Book soundtrack: “Skyfall” by Adele

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Fairest by Marissa Meyer

22489107THIS. BOOK. (!!!)

If you have read/are reading this series, this novella is a must read. I have completed the entire series and I am so glad that I went back to read Levana’s story. The book is numbered “3.5” but really it takes place before any of the series take place, when the main characters of the series (Cinder, Winter, etc.) are being born and Levana is first rising to power. It does cover a long time span, I suppose, and ultimately, it leaves off during the book series.

Here is what you really need to know about <u>Fairest</u>: It is the story of how the ‘villain’ of the Lunar Chronicles (Marissa Meyer’s 4 book series) becomes the villain. As always, Meyer’s writing is beautiful as she describes Levana’s sordid childhood as the bullied younger sister. She grows up and falls in love with a man who never loves her back, and is barren her entire life. In a nutshell you can see why she’s bitter. Other things we learn (very generally, without giving any details): how Levana got her scars and why she wears her glamour, why Lunars decide to unleash a devastating disease on earth and how it originated, why Levana is so seriously twisted, and much, much more!!

Honestly, I cannot understand how the author crammed all of this information into a mere 222 pages. I never felt like I was bored or restless, I was just so interested in the characters and the story. Also, the audiobook is great for this as well. I definitely recommend it!

Book soundtrack: “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence

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Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

22663629All righty, I’m a little bit torn about this book. First off, I listened to the audiobook and I feel like that always throws my rating off a little bit. Was it the book I did/didn’t like or was did the reader throw my bias a bit? I actually thought the reader was pretty good on this book. She has a dramatic voice without being over the top or whiney or overdone or anything like that. I thought she was right where she needed to be. So great job to the narrator, in my opinion.

It is important to go into this book with an open mind. Just read the synopsis and go with it–don’t assume this or that, just let the story unfold. I’ve read several of the other reviews on this book and trust me, readers who expect one thing or the other only set themselves up for disappointment and this book truly is unique.

What Kali Wallace has done with Shallow Graves–in my opinion, at least–is create a unique kind of story. I don’t think I have read a book quite like this, where the main character wakes up dead and not remembering why. The mystery is who killed her, what type of creature she is, what other creatures actually live in the world, who is friend and who is foe, and how is she supposed to move on from here. There are several creep factor moments and then the book has its lulls…but overall, I was pretty entranced with the book so I recommend as a good fall/Autumn book!

Book soundtrack: “Graveyard” by The Devil Makes Three

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Bride of Glass by Candace Robinson

**This book was provided for me from the author in exchange for an honest review – Thanks so much, Candace!!**

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Book 1 – Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault

In case anyone is reading this and doesn’t know, The Bride of Glass is the sequel to Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault. Yes, you must read book #1 first AND I recommend reading both books back to back, or at least fairly close to each other because the stories are very closely related and if you wait and forget details, not much time is spent rehashing the plot in book 2. So either read them together (I, personally wouldn’t have minded having them just being one long horror book, myself, though the cover art is vivid and gorgeous!) or take good notes for when you come back to book 2 later on. Just some friendly advice!

 

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Book 2 – The Bride of Glass

Ok, moving on. If you read my review for the first book, my favorite part was experiencing the characters’ travels through the different fairy tale displays in the Glass Museum. I felt the first book lacked very much character depth, however. Enter: book two and voila! I get my wish, but the roles are switched. Much more characterization and some back story, which was great, but much less (and still the same as before, and much less) display movement. We finally see real relationships form or mend; we see flashbacks from before our heroes (and antiheroes) are in the Glass Museum.

As for the ending, I almost felt a little unsettled by it. I think I was meant to? In some ways the events of the Glass Vault served as an apocalypse, wiping out part of the population. All of the main characters basically have to start their lives over again, (hopefully) in peace.

*Conclusions* I will say that these books are certainly unique, creative, engaging, and colorful, considering that they are dark horror/fantasy. They walk a fine line between YA and adult and contain some violence/gore and suggestive sex. That being said, I am not opposed or afraid of these themes or genres AND its October so this book was completely welcome and appropriate for me at this point in time and it was a great read. Thanks again to the author, Candace Robinson for providing me with a copy! I’m looking forward to reading more from her(you) in the future!

Book soundtrack: “Alive” by Escape the Fate

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

13578987This book has been on my TBR since it first released I’m pretty sure. I remember seeing the description and thinking “Wow, that sounds really neat!” I remember buying it as a Kindle daily deal at some point quite a while ago and just never got around to reading it until now. There has been so much hype lately around Leigh Bardugo, I just couldn’t put it off anymore and I’m glad for that because I really enjoyed the book.

So just in case you are one of the people left in the world who still has not read Shadow and Bone, the book is centered around our orphaned heroine Alina. She is a map maker in the king’s First Army along with her best friend, Mal, who is a soldier in the army as well. The author does a pretty good job with the world building, as the world is meant to more-or-less parallel/alternate Russia. However, in the middle of it all is The Fold, a dark epicenter filled with winged beasts called the Volcra, that will show mercy on no one. When the Army travels through The Fold, Alina must save Mal’s life and unknowingly calls upon a light within herself that turns out to be a rare Grisha power. The Darkling, and many others, take notice of this gift and whisk Alina away to the Little Palace. Here she settles into what should be a life of comfort, but in stead is hard training and (spoiler) meetings with the Darkling, who is filled with secrets.

36315977That’s about all I can say plot-wise without going into bigger spoilers. Regarding my character impressions thus far, I will say that I am not 100% impressed with Alina but I am not disappointed. Orphan-to-Princess/Powers isn’t my favorite trope so that might be part of it. I definitely don’t dislike her though, I’ll say that. She’s just not my Katniss (my favorite heroine ever). Mal–the best friend–is pretty ok as well. Thus far he is pretty stubborn and he was a little “I didn’t notice you before but I see you now” and to me he loses points for that. The winner of the book, however, is the Darkling. I love dark characters with secrets. I’m sorry, guys. Other examples: Jean Claude in the Anita Blake books. The Darkling has the good one-liners, the moves….oh man, I’m sorry, but if we’re making him the villain, he’s my favorite villain because….yeah. Just, yeah. Its all up in the air as to what direction the series is going to go at this point and I am definitely reading on!

Book Soundtrack: “Over” by Portishead

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Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

I LOVED this book. I know that not everyone who reads it will love it in the way that I did, mainly because this book hit my two main teenage/college hobbies: camping and singing. Not only that but Ingrid’s journey and trials were told through her experiences in these activities, making her connections with the outdoors and with her life in music even stronger. If you’re thinking about reading this book, let me give you a little bit of a synopsis:

257521542Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined is told from Ingrid’s point of view, but through two different timelines: one as she is growing up with her opera star-gone wrong mother, and one in the present on a month long wilderness survival-turned disaster trek she wasn’t quite expecting. Growing up, Ingrid and her mother lived a wonderful life, with Margot-Sophia Lalange performing in the spotlight of the great opera houses until she does exactly what she knows not to do–she over sings and does not take care of her voice thus resulting in vocal nodes and the end of her career. Ingrid’s mother becomes bitter regarding music and theater, and the glamorous life ends. Ingrid struggles to fit in at school and she grows up taking care of her mother. Eventually, a role in the school play and (of course) a boy will change many things for both Ingrid and her mother.

5-star ratings are very difficult to earn from me, but I’m feeling generous today and I will round up a 4.6 rating on this one to a 5 for a few reasons. First of all, the wilderness survival camp is one for at-risk teens and while Ingrid didn’t feel that she wasn’t “at-risk” so she didn’t need to be there, she still toughened up and took it like a champ. I think that a lot of her thought processes were exactly like mine would have been (I won’t really give more information than that because it’s part of the humor and charm [lol…sass?] of Ingrid). Second, the way that passion for music and performing on stage is described. How you get up on stage and more or less don’t always know if you did well or not. Or Margo-Sophia’s phrases like “You did well last night but today you must be better. Always better.” In some ways she often comes across as self-centered but her career and that state of mind was her entire life. It was her state of mind for years. It was hard to see her discourage Ingrid from pursuing music but she was completely horrified for her. The one thing I did NOT like was how Ingrid treated Isaac after the show and the incident with the other girl. I didn’t think that blaming him so strongly was fair at all and I hated that. I thought that was the big chink in the book for me. And the end, of course, is a cryfest and my biggest weakness in books. It could have been more played up but I think it was just the right amount considering the characters so I say it was very well done. Overall, wonderful book. It is one that I highly recommend.

–I was given a copy of this book by Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review–

Book soundtrack: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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