Tag Archives: Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Leigh BardugoTitle: Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: August 29, 2017 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Superheroes, Fantasy, Mythology
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 10, 2017
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1),

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

bookreview1

As always, Leigh Bardugo’s writing is so incredibly enjoyable! It was kind of weird not reading a strictly fantasy book from her — or rather, something not set in the Grishaverse — and also weird reading a stand-alone from her. I enjoyed my read of WONDER WOMAN but being an adaptation, it didn’t quiiiite have that Leigh Bardugo magic that I love so much when reading her original concepts, plots, and characters.

Mostly the reason I didn’t love it was the mythology aspect. I used to love mythology when I was a kid and I’ve sort of fallen out of love with it over the years and haven’t really enjoyed too many mythology adaptations or retellings as much as I had hoped. As we know, Diana (aka Wonder Woman) is an Amazonian princess and of course has many ties to the gods and goddesses, and really the entire plot starts to delve a little deeper into some myths. It was really interesting how everything tied together BUT mythology just isn’t that much of a draw for me anymore. I also never got into Wonder Woman in the first place so I wasn’t as connected to the book as others who are already fans might be. I’m actually not a superhero/comic person much at all (aside from catching the occasional movie) so this is a little step outside of my comfort zone but in a great way!

I loved seeing Leigh Bardugo’s writing style still shine in a totally different book/genre/world! At first I was worried since Diana is a mostly serious person but there were some amazing supporting characters (and main characters) who livened things up, delivered that classic sass & snark, and got Diana to come out of her shell. Since Diana spent all of her time on the island with her mother and sisters, away from the mortal world, she was a little sheltered and the sheltered-person-gets-hit-with-modern-day-culture-shock concept is also super hit or miss with me. I loved it in things like Sleepy Hollow but sometimes it just makes a character seem more simple and I felt like it took something away from Diana. BUT I know that’s also my personal preference as I’ve noticed with several retellings. I much more enjoy adaptations that fit a classic already within a modern world (CinderGeekerella) rather than fitting an old myth into a new setting, or retelling that story in the original time period. (Did that even make sense?) So I guess TL;DR, I don’t like mixing worlds & vibes.

I loved all of the characters, but weirdly enough, I liked Diana the least and felt like she was the least developed character. She has a very straight-forward quest and very straight-forward values and I just looooove Leigh Bardugo’s complex and morally grey characters, so that’s what I’ve come to appreciate the most with her writing! The secondary characters (the supporting friends) were always there for some banter and sass and really had their own backstories that added to the base of main character Alia. I really liked Alia a lot and it was interesting to see her character growth throughout the book!

Naturally with any Leigh Bardugo book, there were some things that I just did not see coming… and I loved that I’m always surprised! The ending brought an interesting twist and a satisfying ending. I’m just a modern adaptation kind of person but I also liked that the book stayed true to Diana’s origins since that was the whole purpose of writing this book! My own personal preferences got in the way (who is surprised here) and I didn’t fall head over heels but WONDER WOMAN: WARBRINGER is a very solid novel and a quick and fun read! I loved the variation in tone from serious to sarcastic to romantic to intense and every other emotion in between.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes. I don’t usually read a lot of superhero books but I’m not opposed to them. It was great to see a Wonder Woman story and I loved reading Leigh Bardugo to sort of introduce me to that!
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. Okay, that’s a silly thing to ask. These are teens and I know that. I just felt like things were a little dramatic at times and I could have enjoyed that more if it was less dramatic, but that’s life!

Addiction Rating
Read it

Elizabeth Eulberg is an absolute will-read author for me! I pick up pretty much anything she writes and this book was no exception. Very cute and a lot of fun!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE WONDER WOMAN: WARBRINGER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    READY PLAYER ONE

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Crooked Kingdom (The Dregs #2) Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 12, 2016

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

bookreview1

** No spoilers for CROOKED KINGDOM but there will be spoilers for book one, SIX OF CROWS so if you haven’t read SIX OF CROWS yet, avert your eyes! ** 

CROOKED KINGDOM was one of my most-anticipated reads of the year because naturally, anything Leigh Bardugo has me jumping up and down with anticipation! I actually really enjoyed this book more than SIX OF CROWS and I think part of that was because I was already so immersed in this world after being able to read SIX OF CROWS twice and then let all the characters settle in and my love for them grew as I waited for CROOKED KINGDOM!

I felt like CROOKED KINGDOM had a little more of that heist aspect which was definitely established in SIX OF CROWS, but the job in CROOKED KINGDOM really did have a different feel! The overall tone felt a little lighter and had a little more fun snark whereas SIX OF CROWS felt a little bit more serious. I also absolutely looooved the addition of the extra crossover to the original Grisha Trilogy. I won’t say exactly how it does crossover so anyone who hasn’t read CROOKED KINGDOM can still be surprised and excited, but I will say that I was just delighted by the connections made to the Grisha Trilogy in this book and how it played into the plot of CROOKED KINGDOM. It was so much fun and involved some of my favorite things from the original trilogy. It’s not something that people will miss out on if they haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy yet but it does make it more fun to see that connection!

I really just connected to this more than I did with SIX OF CROWS. I mean, I loved them both, but I think reading, and then re-reading, and then letting those characters sit with me over time really had my love grow even more and so I felt so much more of a connection. And of course, reading the second book in a series also allowed me to sink into the work and think about it for months and months before the book’s release. I just felt like I got to know everyone and everywhere just a little bit more and now that the group was established, it really felt so much more cohesive too. To be fair, they were always pretty cohesive but I loved the way the group settled and they all just belonged together.

Leigh Bardugo is just a master. From plot to romance to action, she can write any aspect of a book and totally nail it. The Grishaverse is one of my favorite places and I’m so happy to have been able to read these stories. I’m actually really glad that this was a duology and not more of a series because it closed out so well (which amazing job, Leigh!) and it didn’t need to be dragged out into one or two or more books. I would always love to read more but I like that it was wrapped up so quickly and neatly! It felt perfect.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I actually didn’t like the audio narrators as much this time around. I was really bothered by the fact that they didn’t pronounce things all the same and some were just straight up pronounced wrong. With a cast of 6 audio narrations, that’s kind of (aka really) important.
Anyway! I thought that CROOKED KINGDOM had more heists AND more humor AND more cross-over than SIX OF CROWS and I looooved it. The crossover was simply fantastic and I actually wish I had read it instead of listening because of one of the characters who appeared and the narrator didn’t to them justice.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

untitled

photo_shoot_edited-3

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Two-book series. I’ve become a pretty big fan of duologies and duets! I really like being able to get more of a story or world but not have a series drag on forever. I love how neatly this was wrapped up!
Left Me Wanting More: Crossover. Don’t get me wrong — the crossover was fantastic. I just can’t get enough! I love the original trilogy so much that I’m always up for more!

Addiction Rating
Buy it, treasure it

Leigh Bardugo is queen and her books are amazing. BUY THEM. READ THEM. LOVE THEM.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE CROOKED KINGDOM

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA    REBEL OF THE SANDS

A Non-Review: Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) – Leigh Bardugo

A Non-Review: Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: September 29, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 9, 2015
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone.…
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.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction–if they don’t kill each other first.

The “non-review” isn’t really something I intended to be a regular thing when I first posted it as my thoughts on REBEL by Amy Tintera but it felt appropriate to bring back for my thoughts about my SIX OF CROWS re-read. A “non-review” is less of a review of the actual book and more thoughts, feelings, and a bit of discussion based on how my reading experience went. I thought it would be a good thing to use for my SIX OF CROWS re-read feedback since I had quite a tumultuous time trying to write my original review.

Leigh Bardugo is one of my all-time favorite authors. I obsessively collect anything Grisha-related and just fell in love with her writing throughout the whole Grisha Trilogy. Naturally, SIX OF CROWS was one of my most-anticipated books like, ever so I was so disappointed to feel like it just wasn’t a five-star read for me (I mean, it was four stars so it’s not like I didn’t enjoy it). I read SIX OF CROWS several months before it released, immediately after I obtained a copy at BEA 2015 back in June. Since I had so many mixed feelings on how the book sat with me that pre-ordered the audiobook version so I could start it as soon as the book was released on sale to the public.

My experience with the audiobook was fantastic. It’s a cast of narrators, a different one for each point of view in the book and they pretty much all kill it. I had so much fun listening to the book and I really felt like that helped me connect to each voice even more which was something that I noted on my first read. I felt like I was left wanting more backstory and development of each character, something to pull at my heartstrings a little bit more since this crew of criminals is so hardened and tough and I really think being able to hear those voices brought a new level of connection to each one for me. I also really think that just re-reading the book helped a lot since I didn’t need to focus on the basics as much and I could shift to the details, personalities, and nuances.

Honestly, I think my biggest “struggle” with my original read of SIX OF CROWS was that I was just too excited. I’m usually complaining about the hype of a popular book that kills it for me (which really is just impossible to avoid when a community is so large and so excited), but how do you prevent your OWN hype from letting you down? SIX OF CROWS was honestly a fantastic book. I did bump up my rating from around four stars to four and a half (still not QUITE five for me yet) but I had to ask myself, what was really missing that I didn’t feel like I could give it a perfect rating? It had everything that I loved, everything was amazing… and I figured it out it was ME. I think I had just hyped the book up so much in my head (“omg a new book by my favorite author!”) that I had set it up to just totally blow my mind without even knowing how the book would feel. I spent time imagining how it would go, what it would be about, who the characters would be, etc that I essentially had an idea in my head of what the book would be and that turned out to be pretty far off. That’s not a bad thing at all — I mean, the book was GREAT and honestly better that it didn’t go the way I imagined! But I did have an expectation that just led me in a different direction and SIGH. It was my own damn fault.

The terrible thing about it all is how impossible it is to avoid hype. Whether it’s from the community or from yourself, there’s only so much you can do to avoid excitement and speculation. SIX OF CROWS wasn’t the only book to suffer from this self-inflicted hype either. It’s happened to me with more than one series conclusion this fall and I think that’s because I’m just SO excited for these books by my favorite authors that I’m just hyping it up too much for my own good.

The other dilemma I have here is that if a book is good, it’s good. If it’s hyped up and deserves the hype, you’ll still love it. It’s undeniable that QUEEN OF SHADOWS had some immense hype surrounding it and I still savored, adored, and absolutely fell in love with that book. I think I had the same amount of anticipation for QUEEN OF SHADOWS as I did for some other incredibly popular books lately, so that makes me even question if this is a valid reason or if I’m making this excuse because I just don’t want to say that I didn’t love these books from an author whose work I’ve obsessed over. I suppose it could be a mixture of both. Maybe I was okay with QUEEN OF SHADOWS because I really did have an idea of how it might happen and my expectations were closer to actuality. Maybe it was because things were still on the same track as the first three books (same characters, following the same plot, etc) whereas with SIX OF CROWS, I met all new characters, it was a different time and place, and I had a hard time adjusting to the same world but in a totally different aspect.

I’m not quite sure what the “right” answer is, but it if is me hyping up books too much for my own good, I hope I’m able to corral that a bit and quickly. I’ve still enjoyed all of these books but I do feel a sense of “that wasn’t quite what I thought it would be” and I don’t really know how to handle that. I’m not sure there is a way to avoid getting too excited for a book because that’s also what I love about being a reader! Books are a gloriously fun thing to be passionate about and it’s impossible not to catch on to that excitement and let it spread throughout the community to help support your favorite authors and push books into the hands of other people.

What do you guys think? Have you ever hyped a book up too much for yourself? Do you struggle with expectations changing your opinion of a book??

 

Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh BardugoTitle: Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: September 29, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 3, 2015
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Game of Thrones meets Ocean's Eleven in this brand-new book in the world of the Grisha by New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
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.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first

bookreview1

If you know me but at all as a reader/book blogger, you know one of my most favorite series ever is Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy. Naturally, that meant that SIX OF CROWS was one of my most-anticipated new releases of 2015 and once I got a hold of it at BEA, I didn’t even bother to wait and dance around the fact that it wasn’t coming out for another few months. I just dove right in!

Immediately, I was getting hints of adult fantasy. SIX OF CROWS reminded me very subtly of some of my favorite adult fantasy series like Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss, and the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch. Of course, since the book takes place in the Grishaverse, I also had the Grisha trilogy in the back of my head… and yet SIX OF CROWS was very much of book of its own. I really loved that Leigh Bardugo made this truly its own series. This isn’t a spin-off — it’s just a brand new series set in the same location. If you’re a Sanderson fan, think of how different his books are and yet set in his fictional Cosmere. Or really any book set in any specific state or country — the landscape and general rules are the same, you’ll spot references to historical moments, but the story itself is entirely its own. That’s what you get with SIX OF CROWS.

I immediately liked the setting and the characters. SIX OF CROWS opens in the Dregs which is exactly what it sounds like — not the best neighborhood — and I loved getting to know Crows leader Kaz and his gang. I really felt like I got a vivid picture of the setting and very much just fell into that world. It’s a much different feel from The Grisha Trilogy — it’s almost is completely different — but that was something I really appreciated.

… But at the same time, I think that was something that was personally hard for me to adjust to. I knew this book was going to be very different but secretly, I was also hoping for it to be similar. The focus is much less on the Grisha powers and abilities and much more plain cunning and survival (with a hint of revenge). We do meet a few Grisha but the book isn’t immersed in the world-building side in terms of establishing the rules of the magic system and hierarchy of royalty. It’s a completely different atmosphere so it sort of threw me and yet I liked it all at the same time.

The structure of the book is also a new thing from Leigh. Each chapter takes on the POV of a new main character and in each chapter, we get a little more of their personal story within their perspective. I really liked that I was able to obtain this information from each character themselves but at the same time, I felt like I didn’t get to spend enough time with each one to make a real connection with them. I doubt this will be an issue with a lot of people but for some reason it was just something that I couldn’t push past. I mean, you remember — one of the most-anticipated books of the year!! — so it was a very, very hard thing for me to not fall 100% head over heels for this book. Don’t get me wrong… I still REALLY enjoyed the book but I just didn’t find myself connecting with the characters as much as I had hoped.

The other hard thing for me was that everyone was comparing this book to Ocean’s 11 — a fantasy Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 11 meets Grisha, etc — and that’s one of my favorite movies, but keep in mind that when I make book comparisons, I’m not only looking at plot but also the feel of things. For me, it wasn’t an entirely accurate comparison so that was a little bit of a misconception about the book before I started. I feel like Ocean’s 11 is a very funny movie, lots of emphasis focused on humor, cleverness, and sharp tongues. I wouldn’t say that SIX OF CROWS is not those things but definitely not the in capacity that I imagined it. If you’re a fan of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, I would say that’s a more accurate “Ocean’s 11 meets fantasy” comparison. Lots of humor there (it’s a pretty important tone in those books) and while SIX OF CROWS didn’t need that level of humor for me to connect with it, the expectation was there. The book and the characters were definitely clever, sharp, and even a bit sassy sometimes but it wasn’t the humor level I expected. The Dregs is a dark place and these characters have some very serious pasts. I did love their story and I liked that it was a bit darker and I’d say a bit more mature than The Grisha Trilogy but again, my expectations were raised to a certain level. It wasn’t that the reality was a bad thing but I found myself waiting for that comparison to ring true and it didn’t quite make it. This is why I don’t like comparing books to other things unless they’re VERY carefully chosen… BUT that’s a full discussion for another time and place.

I don’t want to seem like I’m harping on the book — I’m really not. I want to reiterate that I enjoyed it cover to cover and especially loved the ending but the hype (both my own and what’s out there in the universe) had me thinking things were going to be a certain way and that wasn’t quite how the book went. I guess very long story short, go into SIX OF CROWS with an open mind! It’s a great book and really very enjoyable but just be careful of what sort of preconceived notions you have! Maybe the book will exceed them (I hope it does. Bardugo is fantastic). Maybe I jumped in too quickly and didn’t wait for anyone else to give a little feedback before I started the book. Maybe these things just happen every once in a while and we can’t all be 100% in love with the books we want to be.

Whatever the case, SIX OF CROWS really is still a wonderful book and I was always left wanting more. I wanted more of the characters, more plot… I found myself thinking about the book when I wasn’t reading it and wanted to read more. It really drew me in and I wanted to get lost within the pages. Oh, and of COURSE there are some wonderfully constructed attractions and romances that may set up these characters to be your new OTPs. Some of them are so wonderfully subtle and others achingly shippy. There’s just so much to love in this book!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

six of crows goodreads update

character_breakdown1

Something just dawned on me so I’m going to do this character breakdown a bit different… I realized part of why I struggled with the characters. In fantasy, I fell like there are always layers to characters and it seems like more a of a mystery to discover them than in contemporary. I guess in SIX OF CROWS, I felt like the character development read as a stand alone instead of a series (though I guess as of right now, it’s planned to be just a two-book series). I got to know a lot about the main characters in the book which was great but I didn’t feel like I was going on a journey with them. Of course there’s still plenty of room for growth and development in the next book but I didn’t feel pulled along to peel those layers back in the next book or guess what the histories might be. For most the characters, we find out in book one and the biggest mysteries (for me) were given answers. I guess I wanted to be pulled a bit longer by the mystery and longing and having that “can’t wait” feeling for book two. I’m still excited to read the second book and honestly, I’m probably re-reading SIX OF CROWS on audio when it comes out but I think that’s the feeling that I was lacking. I guess the answer is that I did like the character development but I never quite got THAT personally invested for some reason.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: The Grishaverse. I mean, of course. It was really neat to explore a TOTALLY different part of it too. I liked how different it was from Ravka and how you really learn that Ravka does not equal the entire Grishaverse. I’d love to see more books and series in the same universe too! It’s a fun way to explore and feel connected but be nearly entirely independent of previous series.
Left Me Wanting More: Character connection. It was the main thing I seemed to be missing and I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY. Well, I do understand. Now I do. But it was really, really hard to read this book that I was enjoying and wanted to LOVE and found something falling short for me. I feel broken. Something’s wrong with me that I felt something was missing, right? 🙁

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

My recommendation is still to buy it! I adore Leigh Bardugo and this book really was so much fun. I think now that I have a hold on things, I’ll enjoy my re-read and book two even more! (I hope.)

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE SIX OF CROWS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE NAME OF THE WIND     THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA

Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (#0.1) & Little Knife (#2.6) – Leigh Bardugo

Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (#0.1) & Little Knife (#2.6) – Leigh BardugoTitle: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: August 18, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 22, 2014
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Before he ruled Ravka, before he was the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy with an extraordinary gift. In this prequel story to the New York Times-bestselling Grisha Trilogy, Leigh Bardugo takes us into Ravka's mysterious past, when Grisha lived as fugitives and the Darkling took his first steps on the path to power. Discover new territory in the Grishaverse, as well as two chapters from the soon-to-be-released Six of Crows.

bookreview1

THE DEMON IN THE WOOD was one of the short stories I was most anticipating. While I love Leigh Bardugo’s Ravkan folk tales, I’m sure we were all dying to know more about The Darkling!

I think the thing I loved the most about this short story was of course, more information about The Darkling, but also seeing that point in his life where things really started to turn for the worst… We find out quite a few things in the epic conclusion that is RUIN AND RISING, but this delves a little bit more into the story of how he became the way he is and I love that it makes me a little bit more sympathetic to him. All evil villains have to have a reason WHY they’re evil, right?

I really loved the character interaction. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I heard that it was a Darkling short story and I felt like the characters featured and what we learned about them was just perfect. I also really enjoyed getting to know more about the origin of the First Army and the order of the Grisha. We know it was something that The Darkling started but didn’t know how the Grisha ended up where they are.

As always, I want more because I just can’t get enough of this world but this short story provided answers and rounded out characters even more than they were. All-around enjoyable and entertaining!


Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (#0.1) & Little Knife (#2.6) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: June 24, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Read for free on Tor.com
Genres: Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 26, 2015
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

In this third Ravkan folk tale from Leigh Bardugo, a beautiful girl finds that what her father wants for her and what she wants for herself are two different things. It is a companion story to the third book of the Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, and the stories “The Witch of Duva” and “The Too-Clever Fox.”

bookreview1

LITTLE KNIFE, I think, is my favorite Ravkan folk tale yet. I just loved how it felt like a short fairy tale or a fable and every time I read one of these, I just cannot praise Leigh Bardugo enough for her world building skills. Each tale shows a little history of Ravka and also seem to tie back into the most recent book and I always feel like each one makes Ravka seem more like a real place. These short stories just make it exist.

The Ravkan folk tales don’t allow as much in terms of character development but I feel like you can pluck out lessons here and there that directly correlate to a scene or a situation in the books. A character has learned that lesson or reference that folk lore or been to that place — it really just ties everything back together into one solid world.

If you haven’t read any of these shorts or folk tales, I highly recommend them if you’re a big Grisha fan!

Ruin and Rising (Grisha Trilogy #3) – Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (Grisha Trilogy #3) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: June 17, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Amazon
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 21, 2014
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Crooked Kingdom (The Dregs #2), Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

    The capital has fallen. 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.  Ruin and Rising is the thrilling final installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

bookreview1

I put off writing this review for a while. The Grisha Trilogy has been one of my favorites for the past few years and it’s hard to come to terms with it coming to an end. The Grisha Trilogy really became the first series in at least five years that I really felt such a connection to and that I was really enamored with. Leigh Bardugo was the one of the first authors I ever met at my very first author event back in 2012 after I had just started my blog, so I always had this deeper connection to the series because it also was an early part of my blogging career that I’ve grown to love so much.

I started RUIN AND RISING with trepidation — the kind where you just aren’t ready to let go of a story — but I knew that Leigh Bardugo would end the series the way it should be ended and whatever that grand finale was, I trusted her to take the story where it needed to go. Not that I had any doubt but I was definitely not disappointed. RUIN AND RISING was sheer perfection in my eyes and I felt everything was left with finality and a sense of closure as well as a perfect ending.

My favorite thing about RUIN AND RISING was all of the plot development and all of the series-long questions that finally get answered. I’ve developed several theories over the years and it was really interesting to see how that all panned out. Some were close and some were in the right realm but still totally off — which also makes me glad that I wasn’t even able to possibly guess the answers to everything. There were many shocking moments that made me wonder how things could possibly get any better… but I always trusted that the character would end up where they needed to be and I never felt betrayed in that.

Leigh Bardugo is fantastic at incorporating new characters into the mix as well. Readers fell in love with Sturmhond in SIEGE AND STORM and in RUIN AND RISING I really loved the addition of the other Grisha members who work their way into the forefront and developed a new favorite duo in Harshaw and Oncat. Oncat is in fact a cat and somehow Leigh Bardugo managed to make a cat one of my favorite new characters of the bunch. The dynamic between Harshaw and his cat was hilarious and I just loved every scene between them. I always love the banter between all of these characters and it’s so wonderful to have that bit of comic relief — even if it’s gallows humor (which I enjoy anyway!) — when it seems like the world is ending and indeed, the fate of the world is resting on Alina’s shoulders.

The ending of RUIN AND RISING is absolutely epic. The whole book really was, actually, but the second half really pushed the book forward into what I felt was the perfect ending for this trilogy. I was surprised, happy, shocked, angry, sad, overjoyed, and amazed. This book — and this whole series really — brought me through such an array of emotions. I never knew what to expect and I was always grateful for the constant surprises — both the happy and the sad — because they always brought a sense of reality to this fantasy world and really showed that the good guys can get a happy ending but it’s not always an easy road to get there and some sacrifices will indeed have to be made.

The Grisha Trilogy has absolutely been one of my favorites and having finished all of the books — including novellas and short stories — I can honestly say that it will stay one of my favorite series of all time. I hope that these books continue to stay relevant within the book lovers and reading community and that new readers will constantly be discovering these books. This is a series I hope to be timeless. I know it always will be for me.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 8.51.25 AM

character_breakdown1

Alina // Character Obsessions: Salvation, sacrifice, solutions.
Especially with re-reading the series before I started RUIN AND RISING, I was able to look back and see how much Alina has grown over the series. I feel such a fondness for her seeing where she came from and how she transformed from almost a sort of selfish brat (harsh, but she was very sassy when SHADOW AND BONE started and a little pouty) to this leader who was willing to make sacrifices and not want to even feel like she was being selfish because it could always be worse. I just really enjoyed the growth of her character and I’m so happy where she ended up at the end of this series.
Mal // Character Obsessions: Tracking, protecting, saving.
Mal was sort of an underdog for me in this series. In SHADOW AND BONE I hadn’t even paid much attention to him. I knew he was the love interest but I think at that point in time I was just more interested in the world building and the plot than why Alina and Mal should or shouldn’t be together. I started to notice him in SIEGE AND STORM and his character really started to take shape for me — something I also happened to notice more when I re-read both SHADOW AND BONE and SIEGE AND STORM again. I loved seeing him grow into such a mature character and so unselfish that at times it was hard to watch. I loved his love for Alina and his connection to her. He definitely became one of my favorites and my love grew for him throughout this series as well.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Epic series. Okay, well it’s not hard to get me hooked on epic series but I do feel like it’s hard for me to really get invested in a series as much as I have with The Grisha Trilogy. It’s a series I always want to own. It’s a series I’ve collected every possible version I can get my hands on just because I want to collect these books. It’s a series I committed to re-reading and reliving. I’ve just loved every part of this experience.
Left Me Wanting More: Of the Grishaverse. But that’s okay! We have a bit to wait but soon we’ll have Leigh Bardugo’s new series The Dregs!! The Dregs is set in the same world as The Grisha Trilogy and Leigh has confirmed that although it does NOT focus on the same characters, there will be some appearances!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT

Buy RUIN AND RISING. Buy this series. Read this series. Love this series. It will always be one of my favorites and I will recommend it forever to fantasy lovers or not. I wasn’t a big fan of fantasy when I started but I think this has absolutely helped contribute to how much my love of fantasy has grown.

book_recommendations1

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Cinder Marissa Meyer       Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Re-Read Review: Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) – Leigh Bardugo

Re-Read Review: Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: June 4, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 15, 20214
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Crooked Kingdom (The Dregs #2), Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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.

bookreview1

SIEGE AND STORM was an interesting re-read but ultimately not as exciting as the first time around – don’t get me wrong, it was still amazing, but I was in total awe when I first read this book over a year ago. (WOW, over a year!?) It was really fun being able to discover everything all over again. Some things had lost their surprise, of course, since I already knew the big twists but the best thing about re-reading – like with my re-read of SHADOW AND BONE – was that I had forgotten so many of the little details. Hell, in SIEGE AND STORM, I had even forgotten some of the BIG details and big reveals. It had been so long since I had spent some time in the Grishaverse that I had forgotten a lot of the backstories, things like the tales in the book of Saints, and how specific events actually transpired. Especially re-reading, it’s even more apparent how much SIEGE AND STORM shows off Leigh Bardugo’s writing talent. SHADOW AND BONE was so enjoyable (both times) but SIEGE AND STORM really starts to take the plot to new places, open new doors, and put the characters in even more peril until they learn how to fight their way out of the situation. We learn that not all characters are forever safe. We learn that everyone will be put under much more pressure. I felt like there were so many twists and turns and secrets to discover in this book that even after knowing how it ends, I had forgotten how we even got there. The action was stupendous as well. SHADOW AND BONE had its action sequences, but SIEGE AND STORM really took it up a notch, allowing the characters to roam much more and really develop their strengths, giving them the freedom to find more trouble and conquer it that much better. I really appreciated the intricacy of each situation that much more. This book also offered a lot more in character development. I never felt like I was missing any in SHADOW AND BONE, but this was a natural layering of characters as the series progresses. I kind of felt like Alina was a bit of a brat in SHADOW AND BONE but she really does start to mature in this book. That doesn’t mean that she leaves her cheeky attitude or sarcasm behind, which I’m thankful for because I just love the banter that occurs between her and Mal and of course, her and Sturmhond. She just really comes into her own as a leader, as a Grisha, and even just as a young adult. Leigh Bardugo really stretches her repertoire of characters as well. We all know how much I love Sturmhond and his character addition makes me wonder how the series didn’t have him from the beginning. He’s such a fan-favorite and he really adds a wonderful presence to the story. I just love how he affects the series both in plot and his own effect on other characters.

My only issue with the re-read was a personal one and that was that I was reading as an audiobook. Since my audiobook time is literally ten minutes at a time to and from work now, it was a hard book to even re-read much less read in short pieces like that. I’m so glad that I really savored it the first time around so even though my re-read was patchy, I still knew how amazing it was and the re-read turned out to be much more of a refresher than a time to sit down and savor. If you need to read or even re-read SIEGE AND STORM, I highly recommend making sure you allot enough time to really enjoy it and soak it all in!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 9.07.21 PM

character_breakdown1

Alina // Character Obsessions: Leadership, powers, Mal, sun. Alina really grew up in this book. Not only in her personality and maturity but also her abilities. She really started to take on some responsibility and also started to really understand what it was to sacrifice for those she loved. I loved watching her grown throughout this series and I feel like Alina grew leaps and bounds in this book!
Mal // Character Obsessions: Tracking, army, Alina. Mal really grew up too. This was the book in which I first started noticing him and I think his presence really grew much stronger in SIEGE AND STORM. I really grew to like Mal a LOT when for some reason I didn’t feel like he was a bit presence in SHADOWN AND BONE. His abilities grew leaps and bounds as well and they set off all kinds of bells in my head as to why his tracking abilities developed even more! (To be continued in RUIN AND RISING. No spoilers here!)

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: The Grishaverse. I just love this universe that Leigh Bardugo has created. I cannot get enough of it and I just loved learning even more about all of the mythology, history, and people within it.
Left Me Wanting More: Time to read it! Okay, that’s a cheating thing to say. But re-reading on audio gets hard sometimes! I just wanted a little bit more time to listen to it at length. I DID listen on the plane for a while… But I was also super tired and started falling asleep haha.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

You know I’m in love with this trilogy and re-reading just made it that more exciting! I’m so glad I re-read before RUIN AND RISING! This will always be a trilogy I  highly recommend.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SIEGE AND STORM

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Daughter of Smoke and Bone   A Game of Thrones

Fierce Reads Tour Summer 2014 (Chicago): Recap & Giveaway!

FIERCE READS TOUR

Leigh Bardugo, Ava Dellaira, Jennifer Mathieu, Emmy Laybourne
Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL
June 20, 2014

I always love the Fierce Reads tour. It’s no exaggeration when I say that it’s one of my most favorite book events that comes to town! The authors are always amazing, the books are fantastic, I always love Macmillan, and the tours are just plain fun. They also draw a really amazing crowd and I got to see so many friends that I haven’t even seen in a while!

IMG_3085

The event started just a bit late on account of the authors being interviewed by the book store owner for the Naperville cable access show (and somehow that made me think of The Princess Diaries and Lily’s cable show… But moving on…) so we finally gathered and started the event around 7:15! We were all just excited and buzzing with anticipating! Rachel from Anderson’s Bookshop was moderating the event and had some really fun questions for the authors! (Questions and answers will be paraphrased.)

QUESTION: Did you start out with the title of your book before you began writing or did you go through a few titles before one stuck?
// Emmy Laybourne‘s first title was “We Are ValueMart” which she ended up changing because it sounded too happy… and it would have been confusing if she kept it because the store’s name changed from ValueMart too!
// Leigh Bardugo said the working title for Shadow and Bone was just “The Grisha” but she was told it needed to “be more Googleable”. When she would tell people what the title was, they heard “the Grecians” and it didn’t seem like a book title but more like a series. She came up with Shadow and Bone and then found out about Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and tried to change it, but it was too late and Shadow and Bone was the winner! As for Siege and Storm/Ruin and Rising, those actually came pretty easily!
// Ava Dellaira thought of the title first as she was driving. Love Letters to the Dead inspired her story.
// Jennifer Mathieu‘s working title was “Alice Franklin is a Slut” and then it got sort of… “toned down” to “The Truth About Alice Franklin” which they just ended up shortening to The Truth About Alice.

QUESTION: If you could hang out with one character from your books for a day, who would it be and what would you do?
// Emmy Laybourne said Max and she would parent the hell out of him! His uncle is the bouncer at a strip club in the books and poor little Max is always around all kinds of crazy happenings so Emmy would make him grilled cheese sandwiches and take him to the playground and really just be a good parent to him!
// Leigh Bardugo said Strumhond (AND WE ALL AGREED). They would go marauding, have all kinds of adventures… you know, general activities with Sturmhond. She said with his attitude and being so cavalier, she could probably only hang out with him for a day or two though and then she would be exhausted of him!
// Jennifer Mathieu said Kurt. She said they were fairly similar in ways and he’s actually a lot like her husband is. She loved how he was a friend to Alice and he’s just one of her favorite characters.
// Ava Dellaira said she’s cheating a little bit and go with Amelia Earhart. She would love to spend time with her and maybe fly around in a plane. (Then jokes were made about how maybe that wouldn’t end well!!)

QUESTION: What’s your writing process like? Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?
// Emmy Laybourne said she outlines! With fourteen characters, she really has to in order to know what’s going on and where everyone is!
// Leigh Bardugo plots as well. She uses the three act structure and basically comes up with an outline of her whole book using this method and then fills in the gaps. She never ends up writing and then hitting a wall because she already knows the beginning, middle, and end.
// Ava Dellaira spent a long time listening to her characters and really letting them shape the book. She spent about a year getting to know her characters and then another year touching up the details and the rest of the book so everything fit well together! She took a screenplay approach and made sure all of the scenes really flowed nicely.
// Jennifer Mathieu is very organized with many things, but she sort of lets the characters guide her too. She likes to think she would be more of an outliner but sometimes her characters just take her where they want to.

QUESTION: What’s one thing from your books that got cut that you wish hadn’t?
// Emmy Laybourne didn’t really have to cut anything because she has an outline of her book that she works on with her editors and then once they’re all on the same page, she goes from there. But she’s working on the screenplay for the Monument 14 movie and she got to add something she did want, which was a funny scene between Astrid and Sahalia.
// Leigh Bardugo didn’t really have much she had to cut either, but some of her “gallows humor”, not matter how much she tried sneaking it back in there, didn’t make the final cut.
// Ava Dellaira ended up cutting a lot of details about one of Laurel’s old friends who was one of her favorite characters. The character was still in the book but a lot of her story got taken out.
// Jennifer Mathieu ended up cutting a whole character named Carmen who was one of her favorites! She really loved her but it was just too many voices. She’s hoping Carmen will be able to make an appearance in a future book instead.

QUESTION: What are you working on right now?
// Emmy is working on a new series that’s a horror/comedy! It’s about a cruise involving a whole bunch of (fake) B/C/D list celebrities that are all there advertising this new beverage but… the beverage becomes strangely addicting! Everyone drinks EVERY possible drop they can — even finding it in the materials that it’s clinging to on the cruise ship — until it’s all gone and the only place left they can smell it is… In each other’s blood! She’s also working on the screen play for the Monument 14 movie.
// Leigh is working on her new series, The Dregs! It’s been marketed as Ocean’s 11 in the Grishaverse and guys — this sounds so much like The Lies of Locke Lamora that I am DYING. It sounds amaaaaazing. Humor, heists, grishaverse. I cannot wait.
// Ava‘s book got optioned for a movie by the same people who did The Fault in Our Stars so she’s very excitedly working on the screen play!
// Jennifer‘s working on her next book which is sort of a cult-tale, but so much more than that. It’s about a girl from a very religious family and she sort of gets the chance to step outside of that and see the real world, see what it’s like, and then decide if she wants to go back or not.

IMG_3086

There were more questions from the Q&A but I don’t remember all of them! As always, the Fierce Reads ladies were FANTASTIC and I had such a good time! I got to tell Emmy Laybourne that it was so good seeing her again because the Fierce Reads tour from two years ago in 2012 was my first book event EVER and she and Leigh were at that event so it’s always very special to me to see them again as well as read their books. I was also excited to see Leigh again! I’ve met her a few times now and have almost all of my books from her personalized (except for my dang B&N special edition of Ruin and Rising which didn’t arrive in time, but got my pre-ordered copy from Amazon signed)!

IMG_3104   IMG_3105

GIVEAWAY!

I put together a fun little prize pack for a giveaway that I’m calling The Fierce Reads starter kit! I love these ladies and these books so much that I want to get one lucky winner on their way to falling in love with these books/series! The starter kit includes:

  • Signed paperback of SHADOW AND BONE
  • Signed paperback of MONUMENT 14
  • ARC of THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE
  • Fierce Reads tote
  • Fierce Reads poster
  • Some signed bookmarks
  • RUIN AND RISING and MONUMENT 14 buttons
  • SHADOW AND BONE and RUIN AND RISING nail polish
  • Other swag

IMG_3098

 

UPDATE: One more book added to the giveaway! I also have an ARC of Broken Fences, Hearts, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn! 

IMG_3111

One winner will be chosen at the end of the giveaway to receive everything in the picture you see here! Winner must be 13 years of age or older and have a US mailing address. Sorry, no international entires, please! Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notifying email before the prize is forfeited to the next person. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Re-read: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) – Leigh Bardugo

Re-read: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: June 5, 2012 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 12, 2014
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Crooked Kingdom (The Dregs #2), Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

bookreview1

This was quite the interesting re-read for me… I think this was the first re-read in which I had two totally different expectations going into it: When I first picked up SHADOW AND BONE almost two years ago (!!!), I was not a fantasy reader. I think I had read Graceling first and that was about it, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of a new fantasy book and it turned out that I loved it! I was really scared going into the re-read this time because I had since fallen in love with this series and was afraid that the re-read just wouldn’t be the same. Honestly, I did read the book entirely differently. Well, in two ways — I bought the audiobook from Audible because I’ve started to really enjoy doing my re-reads via audiobook and also because I been obsessing over the series for two years now and all of the THINGS that I know, I’m able to pick up on so much more with a re-read.

I must say, re-reading SHADOW AND BONE really proved to me how amazing SIEGE AND STORM was. As someone who wasn’t a fantasy reader before, I very much appreciated the whole revelation of having powers, learning how to use them in that almost boarding school-type setting, and the romances involved but reading all of these things a second time and especially after reading SIEGE AND STORM came across totally differently. Honestly, TOTALLY. For one, I already knew Alina had powers and exactly what they entailed, so I wasn’t as interested in the figuring out process so much as paying attention to the other details that I may have glossed over in my first read. The whole learning process actually wasn’t as appealing to me the second time around, I think because I really already knew how it happened so I was ready to dive into more character development of secondary characters which didn’t happen as much in the first book as it does in the second. SHADOW AND BONE is very much about Alina and about Mal and about their ties to the Grisha so my impatience didn’t exactly pay off haha. But of course, it was still enjoyable to go through that experience again!

I read the romance aspect of this book entirely differently the second time around. During my first read, I did not get what was the big deal about Mal. I liked him and I loved his friendship with Alina but I didn’t fall for him (or the Darkling, really, but that’s another story) the way other readers did. During my re-read. YEAH. MAL. I’M THERE. I really got to know him better in SIEGE AND STORM so that made my connection in this re-read stronger but WHOO BOY, that best friend romance thing going on there…. *fans self* How was I not more into this during my first read!? I don’t understand. Because best friends falling for each other is a trope that I luuuurve and I was totally on board with it during my re-read. I also felt less love-triangley about the Darkling because knowing what I know now, it seemed more like a power play than a romance and I had it in my head that way more happened than it actually did in the book. Since I already knew about the world-building side of the book, I did pay more attention to the romance this time around which hadn’t really seemed to play a big part for me during my original read.

Speaking of world building, that was something I really enjoyed even more. The more I read about this world, the more I fall in love with it. It’s always a little difficult to get a grasp on a new world with unique (and foreign) names so now that I know a little more about the Grishaverse, I really got a hold on what happens where and exactly what’s involved. As far as plotting and characters go, obviously now I know their connections, but even then I was formulating new theories about the Darkling and why we don’t know his name yet and what if it’s related to or connected to characters we’ve already met and don’t know it?!

I think I enjoyed my original read a little bit more than the re-read but I am even MORE anxious to re-read SIEGE AND STORM and I’m still salivating over RUIN AND RISING and dreaming about how it’s SO CLOSE. I’m still in love with this world and this series and it will be bittersweet to end in June but I still can’t wait!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 8.45.56 AM

Related but unrelated note: I wish that Goodreads let you update reading progress differently if you’ve already read a book, but such is life. (Take note, please.) You get a sneak peek at my original read’s notes in which I only updated one time. Must have been GOOD!

character_breakdown1

Alina // Character Obsessions: Mal, drawing, light, Grisha.
Wow, Alina was suuuuuch a brat when this book started! I don’t think I realized how short she was with people and even for the state she was in at the beginning of the book, she was a bit immature and selfish. That being said, I really enjoyed watching her progress throughout the book and how her instructors really pushed her and didn’t care about her attitude and were happy to give her attitude back. I think she needed that push and once she really came into her powers and started to feel confident in herself, that sour personality seemed to melt little by little.
Mal // Character Obsessions: Tracking, flirting, friendships, Alina.
MAL. How dare you go under my radar in my first read!! How did that even conceivably happen…? Sigh. I just really loved Mal in this book and I didn’t even realize it until I read it all again. I love the best friends having FEELINGS for each other and this just really killed me. So many heartbreaking things to watch that develop and almost never come into existence and then even more heartbreaking and bittersweet once it does.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: The Grishaverse. Oh, dear friends, I just love this world. I loved being able to see the introduction to it all over again and really get to know the corners of it even better. I got to see where things originally took place and picture them even better in my head.
Left Me Wanting More: Secondary characters. I do still love Genya’s involvement but we don’t really dive into secondary characters until SIEGE AND STORM — at least, not into as much detail. That was totally not an issue, really, but something I noticed looking back. They really do complement the main characters so well!

Addiction Rating
Re-read it!

Get your re-reads in! Either before RUIN AND RISING or just finish the series and start it all over again. I’m anxious to re-read SIEGE AND STORM now and I think I will fall in love with that one even MORE upon re-reading.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SHADOW AND BONE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Cinder       Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Fierce Reads Tour Fall 2013 (Chicago): Recap, Author Interview, and Giveaway!

FIERCE READS TOUR

Leigh Bardugo, Ann Aguirre, Jessica Brody, and Gennifer Albin
Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL
November 4, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013 was a magical day for me. Macmillan asked me to be the featured blogger at the Fierce Reads tour event at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL and I literally did   a happy dance when I got the offer (and immediately accepted, of course). For my super special blogger duties, I got to sit down for an interview with all four Fierce Reads authors, live tweet the event, and I have a fantastic giveaway for you as well!

I had a blast interviewing the Fierce Reads ladies! Let’s see what they had to say!
(Portions edited for time and reading purposes and will not affect the overall outcome of the show interview.)

Brittany: We’re all here for the Fierce Reads tour so let’s kick it off by talking about what your favorite fierce reads of all time are.
Leigh Bardugo: Okay! I’ve got one. The Grounding of Group 6 by Julian F. Thompson. It is out of print but this is a book about a group of kids who are problem kids who get sent to a new private school and they go to orientation except really Group 6 is every year designated to be murdered — Their parents have sent them off to be killed. (Surprised looks on our faces) YES! It’s an amazing book and when I was a kid, I was sure this is what my parents were going to do to me.
Brittany: That’s terrible!
Leigh: It would make a great movie. They don’t all die! Some of them get their shiz together.
Jessica Brody: I’m gonna go with the obvious answer which is The Hunger Games. I thought that was AHmazing. I read that in a day and I normally take like two weeks to read books. It was the only book where when I put it down I felt like I was missing something. I was like, “Don’t do anything without me! Don’t kill anyone else until I get back!”
(Penn Gilette walks by in the background (He was at a signing for Anderson’s that night as well) and we all talk about Penn Gilette for a few minutes and how he got the spot in the main store and somehow Fierce Reads ended up in the gift shop. Sidenote: This made me majorly sad because HI. Fierce Reads. More important than Penn Gilette!)
Leigh: Fierce Read?
Gennifer Albin: I’ve forgotten every book I’ve ever read now. Penn Gilette wiped them from my mind.
Ann Aguirre: Do you mean fierce in action or fierce in…?
B: In any way you want!
Leigh: Emotionally fierce?
Ann: I think one of the books that had the most impact on me was actually Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
Genn: I always have such weird answers.
B: Weird is good!
Leigh: Weird is the new fierce! Fierce is the new weird. Fierd. Weirce?
Genn: Ummm.
Ann: Just say Harry Potter and move on!
Genn: My primary reading of all time is in the 18th century and no one will know what I’m talking about!
(We move on to question two)
B: If you were a character in one of your own books — and it does not have to be a main character AND if you feel like you should be someone else, you can even invent a new one.
Jessica: In any of our books?
B: Yes!
Jessica: Well, I would like to be Lexington Larrabee in 52 Reasons to Hate My Father
Leigh: And I would like to be your friend! Your dear, dear friend.
Jessica: Well, I would want to be her after she does all the jobs… She’s got a pretty glam life. I would just like her closet! That would be enough for me.
Leigh: I would like to be a member of Sturmhond’s crew in Siege and Storm except that I get really seasick! So instead I think I’m gonna be.. I’m gonna be a Fabrikator, maybe one in charge of delicious snacks, who lives in the grand palace and stays far away from any battles.
Jessica: You’re just the snack maker!
Ann: That’s the problem I have with all of my books! I just want to stay home. I’m like Frodo… or Bilbo. I don’t want to go out and have adventures!
Leigh:  Stay in the Shire, Ann!
Ann: I guess I’d be Mama Oaks because she doesn’t have to go out and fight and I would probably cook things instead of sew things as she does, but she is a homebody character and she takes care of people.
Genn: I don’t know… who would I want to be in my books?
Leigh: Cormac?
Jessica: Yeah, I was gonna say Cormac!
Leigh: Walk around in a tux, drinking my tea…
(Genn reveals possible spoilers!)
Jessica: I want to be the secret character from the end!
Genn: Yeah, that’s actually who I would choose too.
Ann: You can’t be that character!
Genn: Well, there’s lots of reasons why I can’t be that character… Not the least of which is that (… possible Altered spoiler?)
Leigh: It’s me, I put myself in a book!
(Laughter)
Leigh: That would be the best twist! (More laughter) If like, all of sudden your character was like, “And then Leigh Bardugo walked in!” And you just wrote yourself in, Being John Malkovich-style!
Genn: “I’ve been controlling YOU the whole time while you control the fabric of reality!”

B: Your dreams have come true and you get to live in one of your favorite books or series! What’s the book or series that you would choose and who’s the one person you’d bring with you?
Leigh: I can answer for Genn! Harry Potter!! But we don’t know who you would bring.
Jessica: She’d bring her son James because he dressed as Harry Potter! She’d bring her husband!
Genn: I’d sacrifice myself and let them go together.
Ann: Would you really!?
Jessica: That is really stupid! (Laughter)
Leigh: Well I would have to say it would have been Harry Potter but I’m gonna go with Howl’s Moving Castle. As for who I’d bring with me…. I’d bring my friend Morgan. She’s very charming! She could charm everybody there. She’d be the master of charm and I’d just follow in her wake.
Ann: I would like to go into the Stat Trek universe.
Leigh: Which one?
Ann: The Reboot. The alternate universe they’re doing with Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine.
Leigh: I’ve changed my mind. Can I bring Henry Cavill? I would like to bring him.
B: Of course!
Ann: AND, I would like to bring MacGuyver.
B: Oh, there you go!
Leigh: (Laughing) You’ll end up with just the actor! You’ll end up with Richard Dean Anderson and he’ll be like, “I don’t know how to do anything! Stop handing me paperclips!”
Ann: I want MacGuyer, NOT Richard Dean Anderson. So any problem we have in the Star Trek universe he can fix with a roll of duct tape… and a pancake.
Jessica: I’m gonna go with the shallow answer and say The Uglies series so I can make myself pretty!
Leigh: Don’t they like, mess with your head!?
Jessica: Yes, I will be a bubblehead! But I will be very pretty and drink champagne every day!
Leigh: You can do that now! Who would you take with you?
Jessica: Oh! I would take… my sister.
Ann: Because she’s really homely.
(Laughter)
Jessica: No, because she really, really loves that series and I thought she might like it.

B: Lots of people like to know your favorite literary crush but I want to know your favorite literary villains.
Ann: (Answers right away) Snape!
Leigh: But he’s not a villain!
Jessica: He kind of is.
Genn: He has his moments! He’s an antagonist.
Ann: I’m not gonna lie… If I was at Hogwarts, I would be the teacher’s pet.
Leigh: You’re from Hufflepuff — he never would have given you a second look!
(Everyone “aw”s)
Leigh: You can come to the Slythern common room with me.
Ann: I would just follow him and stare at him with big eyes.
Leigh: Does it have to be literary?
B: You can venture out of literary.
Leigh: Because I’m gonna have to go with Jareth, the Goblin King from the Labyrinth.
B: Ooooooh.
Ann: If we’re doing movies, I’m gonna add Riddick!
Leigh: And I’m also going to add Flagg from Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon — not so much in The Stand. Flagg keep showing up in his work. But yeah, both of those were big influences on the characters in the Grisha trilogy. (Brittany sidenote: I’m now picturing the The Darkling as Jareth.)
Genn: I almost always root for the villains. Is that bad?
B: Not at all! One of my best friends loves the villains.
Jessica: I’m gonna be a kiss-ass and say Cormac Patton!
(Laughter)
Jessica: He’s a great villain! Oh! And President Snow.
Leigh: He’s a really good villain.
Jessica: He smells like blood and roses.
Leigh: (in a creepy voice) He drinks blood!
Jessica: They should release a perfume line.
Leigh: You know, don’t put it past them!
Ann: Scratch and sniff!
Leigh: Like, you scratch Donald Sutherland’s beard and it smells like blood and roses!
Genn: You know who is one of the most delicious villains because I actually HATE them? I hate them with every fiber of my being like my skin crawls and that makes them such a beautiful villain to me is Dolores Umbridge.
All: OOOOOOH
Genn: She’s the villain of bureaucracy!
Leigh: She’s probably the most evil character of the whole series! And she’s so plausible. We’ve all encountered somebody like her.
Genn: She’s SO well-written. She gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Ann: Is it, “The odds are ever in your favor” lady?
Genn: Nooo, she’s the one who wears the pink wool suit in Harry Potter… “I will not tell lies”…
Ann: OHHHH oh oh oh. And she takes over everything, right?
Jessica: With all the kitty plates!
Leigh: Remember that teacher I had that told me I would never amount to anything? She was my Umbridge and her office was decorated all with Scottie dogs and when I read that character, the hair rose on my arms.
Ann: I think we’ve all had some permutation.
Leigh: That’s why she’s so terrifying. Voldemort it’s like, “You’ve got no nose! Saw you coming! Kinda knew you were band news!”
B: That’s what’s so terrible. Because everything’s under a mask of niceness!
Jessica: Kitties!
Genn: I think she thinks she’s doing right and that she’s making the best decisions. I think that’s what makes a good villain a good villain.
Leigh: I would actually love to read her backstory. Like what makes a Dolores Umbridge a Dolores Umbridge.

B: Do you have any quirky reading and/or writing habits?
Ann: I am a gluttonous reader… I have to be really careful about starting a book after midnight. Even if it’s terrible, I will most like read it until it’s done and even if that takes me all night long and I’ve got no sleep and it’s time to get up in the morning and then make breakfast, I’m like “I regret everything about the decision making I’ve done for the last eight hours…” So I have to be reasonable about my start times otherwise I will get no sleep.
Genn: I do the same, but I regret nothing!
Leigh: My weird reading habit is I will never stop reading on the fourth page, or the twenty-fourth page or any page number that ends in a four.
Jessica: That is very strange!
Genn: If you want Leigh Bardugo to read your book paginated —
Leigh: I’ll never be able to stop!
B: What if it’s the last page of the chapter?
Leigh: I will go on to the next chapter.
Jessica: Where does that come from?
Leigh: Ever since I was a kid, I had a hang up with the number four. It’s not like to the extent where it’s real OCD but I’m aware of it all the time. And even if I write an email, I have to make myself — if there are four things in a list, I’m like, “I need a fifth!” or like “Number Five, because I don’t like four things in a list!” It’s pretty common actually! Number obsessions. And I didn’t know that until I was listening to this radio show one night and he was like, “I have a problem with odd numbers,” and I was like, “I have a problem with even numbers!”
Jessica:I guess my weirdest thing is that I’m obsessed with Audible audiobooks and I listen to them all at two times speed. And everyone thinks that really weird AND the misconception about two times speed is that everyone thinks it sounds like a chipmunk but they don’t actually speed up the voice — they just take out the gaps between the words so it really is just someone reading it faster.
Leigh: I wonder if the books seem more exciting because of that!
Jessica: I think they do! And anyone who gets in my car and there’s an audiobook playing, their head spins, like “What are you listening to!? I’m going to have an aneurysm!”

B: November is National Novel Writing Month! Are you working on any new projects for NaNo or  in general?
Jessica: I’m just trying to finish the third book in my trilogy so that’s my NaNo… My every day, really!
Ann: I cleared my desk before I left for tour so I got notes two days before we left from my editor and I was like, “We’re going on the road! I hope you don’t expect these revisions back any time soon!” So that’s what I’m going to be doing November is revising, before I can write new words.
Leigh: I don’t really do NaNo in the sense that I don’t post my word count and I try to avoid other people’s word counts, but I do like to use it to get things done and I knew I wasn’t going to write while I was on tour so before tour, I cranked out almost 30,000 words and I”m hoping to jump back in when I get home. We’ll see. I usually need some decompression time when I just lie around watching all the old episodes of Project Runway!
Genn: Now for me is like the holiday season? It’s like the whole year just starts over for me. It starts with NaNo and then your whole writing year starts over that’s just how it is for me BECAUSE my first book was written during NaNo. So I’m really, really eager to get home to and actually do something towards it because I kept telling myself I would write on the road… It’s really, really hard to write on tour because you’re like “Well, I’ll do it tonight because there’ll be time after the event” and then you just sit in bed and you’re like, “My brain is made of jello!” But I will be doing NaNo… We have the Night of Writing Dangerously so I do have to write something before that because I can’t walk in like, “Listen to me give you advice! I’m going to give you a speech but I haven’t written a damn word in November!” Do as I say, not as I do!

That interview was an absolute blast. Everyone was so much fun and they had really creative answers! Sorry I had such difficult questions! Another MANY MANY thanks to Leigh Bardugo, Ann Aguirre, Jessica Brody, and Gennifer Albin! They were absolutely fantastic and I had such a blast!

IMG_1903

Ann Aguirre, Gennifer Albin, Leigh Barugo, me, and Jessica Brody (sorry my iPhone takes truly terrible pictures. Time for an upgrade!)

Okay, okay, I know you want to get to the giveaway. It’s pretty EPIC if I do say so myself. Firstly, a huge thanks to Macmillan for providing all of the books for this giveaway! I got to take a whole stack of literally ALL of the featured Fierce Reads series that are currently available (and some that are not!) and get them signed by the authors. Here’s what we have to offer:

IMG_1909

UNFORGOTTEN by Jessica Brody  (Unreleased ARC!)
UNREMEMBERED by Jessica Brody (Hardcover)
CREWEL by Gennifer Albin (Paperback)
ALTERED by Gennifer Albin (Hardcover)
ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre (Paperback)
OUTPOST by Ann Aguirre (Paperback)
HORDE by Ann Aguirre (Hardcover)
SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo (Paperback)
SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo (Hardcover)

The winner will receive ALL NINE BOOKS. That’s right. ALL NINE. ALL SIGNED. How exciting is that!?! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below! Winners must be 13 years of age or older and the shipping address must be US or Canada only. Sorry, International!

Runners up will receive some various Fierce Reads swag! You could win a Fierce Reads tote bag, Fierce Reads posters, and swag from the books! If you want to win some swag, just let me know when you fill out your Rafflecopter entry!

IMG_1907

a Rafflecopter giveaway