Monday, July 28, 2014

REVIEW - SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm 
by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher -  Indigo
Release Date - June 6th 2013
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository 

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

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
As the read-along of the Grisha series continues with the lovely ladies, Glass and Tanja, of Ja čitam, a ti? I am once again entranced by this beautifully written YA fantasy. We all know that we suffer with the sequel syndrome, when it doesn't quite live up to the debut in the series, and lacks any plot-line and character development. My time in reading I can probably only count on one hand how many series have totally lived up to my expectation and that of the series too, I am pleased to say that Siege and Storm has passed with flying colours. 

Together we have discussed and created a group review, which you will be able to see Glass & Tanja's review here. 

What do you think of atmosphere and pacing change in this book?

When we entered into the magical realm of Ravka, in Shadow and Bone I was truly awed and transported into an entirely new dimension. However, Siege and Storm still held that atmosphere but at a controlled pace if that makes. The novel itself was more focused on the character development and the introduction of new characters  Reading them together as a trilogy, I don't stray away from this new world, so changing the focus really progressed the novel as a whole. Siege and Storm is driven by the intense power and Alina's survival from the Darkling! 

Your thoughts on Sturmhond? 

Oh Sturmhond or Nikolai, whomever you are, you are just a joy to read. The multiple personalities was somewhat refreshing for the novel. You could say that the character relationships are quite serious when it comes to the likes of Mal and Alina (more on that in the nest question). So having Nikolai on board brought some fun and humorous side. If I was to pick between the 'Privateer' or 'Prince' then personally I prefer Sturmhond. 

The development of Mal and Alina's relationship.

I found that the relationship between Mel and Alina grew more frustrating and fragmented as the plot-line went one. Granted I did agree to some extent that Mal was right in some situation when it came to Alina's power driven focus of the amplifier and the Darkling. However, I did feel that they couldn't catch a break either. At times I wanted to scream at Mal and Alina, or bash their heads together to see some sense at least. Given that I niggled about them individually, I felt that this sequel provided us with more insight into their lives and hints of their childhood and parentage. 

Love-triangle. Yes? No? Maybe? 

Maybe/Yes. (Can I choose two, girls!?) If I'm honest I somewhat expected it. With the likes of Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series. Although I felt this wasn't a problem, actually rather enjoyed it as a distraction of Alina's focus. 

Which book did you love more? 

Shadow and Bone. A very strong sequel but the introduction to a new magical fantasy, I loved more. 

Describe Siege and Storm in one word? 

(Can't think of one apart from) A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

What do you expect from Ruin and Rising?
An embrace of power, love and glory!

Rating - 4.5

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

REVIEW - TEMPEST by Julie Cross

Tempest (Tempest #1)
by Julie Cross
Publisher - Macmillan Children's Books
Release Date - August 30th 2012
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository 

Jackson Meyer is hiding a secret. He can time-travel. But he doesn't know how he does it, how to control it or what it means. When Jackson, and his girlfriend Holly, find themselves in fatal danger, Jackson panics and catapults himself two years into his past, further than he's ever managed before, and this time he can't find a way back to the future. All the rules of time-travel he's experienced so far have been broken and Jackson has no choice but to pretend to be his younger self whilst he figures out a solution. Jackson is tearing himself apart with guilt and frustration, wondering if Holly survived. He's also become the target of an unknown enemy force and it seems even his dad is lying to him. Jackson is racing against time to save the girl he loves, but to do that he must first discover the truth about his family and himself.
Time Travel, is an odd thing, it's amazing in it's scientific capability both on screen and off. Like all of us we have no doubt been influenced and captivated by Doctor Who (Tennant era), Back to the Future, Jumper, and recent works like All Our Yesterdays. But for me it can be a difficult genre to get into in the written element. However Julie Cross surly didn't disappoint. Whilst reading it with the lovely Jasprit from The Reader's Den, It was certainly an enjoyable read. 

Nineteen year old Jackson from LA in the year 2009 (just in case you get confused) is just your somewhat average teenager, but can jump back or forward in time. Along with Adam, who I'd like to think his companion (like Rose from DW), they test the theory of time and how to master his talent. Finally, his girlfriend, Holly who holds the shred of reality together, the person he will always come back for. After a traumatic event, Jackson is forced back to 2007, which now becomes his new home base. In a way he has a second chance at everything, to stop any future event from occurring, and finally uncovering things closer to home. With the EOTs (Enemies of Time) on his every move, he has no where or time to got too. 

Jackson, an impulsive yet caring character. Jackson is rather a difficult person to pin point, from a male POV he is quite a plain character, there was no real interest in him aside from his ability to travel in time. Without giving away spoilers, there were moments in the novel that really brought out his emotional side as well as my own. However, what I enjoyed the most were the secondary characters; Adam (both 007 and 009 Adam's) brought the scientific yet humorous qualities to the book. What I loved was the friendship and relationship between him and Jackson, they were The Doctor and Rose but in opposite places. The appearances of Courtney, Jackson's sister, really shows his personality and I wished there could have been more memories, or moments with her in. Finally, Jackson's father, he's a slippery character, distrustful, secretive, and yet sparked my curiosity. 

With a rocky start to the novel, I found myself going through the motions, not really quite connected. Until I finally reached the middle of the book, that's when the plotline thickened, it was the mystery, the pace, after that I couldn't stop myself from turning each page. In the beginning I felt that the romance was more of a plot device. By fault it inspired Jackson's character as a time traveler, not necessarily as a person. If anything I would've loved Cross to use alternate POVs between timelines, with Adam and Jackson to really highlight their relationship both in the past, present and future.

As you can see there are some similarities between the scientific genres that have encouraged and inspired time travel. Overall I felt that Cross created an enjoyable and plot-driven beginning to the series. I felt that the secondary characters with the likes of Adam and Jackson's father really fueled the novel. With an exception to the beginning, I was hanging on to every second of the end and I can't wait to read Vortex.

There is just one question that I wondered... We've seen male time travelers but what about a female one? I'm not being sexist or biased but is there a YA novel with a female time traveler because that would be kick-ass and I would read that in a heart beat. Let me know in the comments! 

Rating - 3.5

Saturday, July 19, 2014

REVIEW - SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher - Indigo
Release Date - June 6th 2013
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository


Originally published as The Gathering Dark.

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free? The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
Shadow and Bone, a highly acclaimed fantasy of 2013. Now, I reread it with the lovely ladies Glass and Tanja from Ja čitam, a ti? and I enjoyed it even more. Could that really be possible? As all three books of this series are released we decided to read them all, so right now I'm reading Siege and Storm and I can say that reading them together is so much better rather than waiting a year for it to be released. I can say that I've never been lost in book like, Shadow and Bone.

So as a group read we have structured our review a little differently. So without further ado here is my review:

How did you feel about Mal and Alina's relationship?

(Don't hate me) Alina's and Mal's relationship wasn't perfect. It felt very fragmented. Their progression in their friendship didn't quite connect with me, even when Alina would go back on a memory or write him a letter. What I liked was how they grown up together in Keramzin, that they never left each other's side especially at the Duke's. They were stronger together than they ever realised, and that was only explored towards the end of the novel. One part of the book could have been developed more when three Grisha came into the orphanage to be tested... Not just for their friendship but specifically for Mal's character development. Although that goes without saying that by the end, I was convinced as they were truly amazing together. 

Was the world building well developed?

WOW! For me this was the highlight of the book! The world building sent you to a different place, a different world. It's fantasy after all, so although there were some Russian influence and folklore to it, combined with the magical elements, it created an epic vision of originality. The imagery and colours were what caught my attention, the cover of the book to the colours of the Kefta's they are stunningly beautiful, from a Summoner's Blue to The Darkling's Black, both described with such delicacy that I couldn't help but imagine that I was surrounded by them. What also loved (even though I had to download them) was the map illustration of The Shadow Fold. It wasn't complete without knowing where your escaping to. 

What elements of the novel did you enjoy the most?

The magic! Alina's ability and reputation as the Sun Summoner reminded me of scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry done the Patronas Charm in the forest against the dementors. That burst of light is how I imagine, Alina's light and how she flourished throughout the novel, her control, her power. 

What did you think of The Darkling?

I fell for him. Is that a bad thing, we all asked ourselves. But there was something very attractive in his evilness. The name, Darkling screams a lot of things, don't you think? It also says a lot for his reputation and the stories that he was told of him.  But it is his body language and dialect that really leaves you wanting more. His character development throughout the novel was seamless, controlled and dark. Elements of his character shone through with Alina and their relationship, although twisted to a certain extent was how his character explored his redeeming qualities. 

Describe Shadow and Bone in one word.

Enchanting

Rating - 5!


“The moment our lips met, I knew with pure and piercing certainty that I would have waited for him forever.”
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