BOOK REVIEW: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Romance
Series: The Grisha Trilogy

Ruin and Rising: ★★★★

Summary: 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

Review: I love when a series ends exactly how you wanted except like nothing you thought. While some plot twists had me dying and rolling around on my bed, I did see the HUGE plot twist coming. If you read my review on “Siege and Storm” (Book 2), I mentioned a twist that I suspected and I WAS RIGHT. Sometimes I hate my wandering mind when I read because it ruins the omfg moments. But, I still enjoyed it all the same. And I will say though, I didn’t know how everything was going to play out. Bardugo did an amazing job tying all the loose ends and really bringing the whole trilogy back to the beginning. The connections tied from “Shadow and Bone” all the way to the last page of “Ruin and Rising.”

For the record, I finished this book in two days. The first night, I really just meant to read it for an hour or two before I went to bed, but who was I kidding, I ended up reading it for FOUR hours! It was that amazing. You never want to stop reading because the plot is always moving forward. No scene is superfluous and every scene shows growth in one or all of the characters.

The depth behind each character was just right for my taste. You got enough background story to relate with the minor characters, just enough to care about them. It was nice to see the very human development of the relationships in the epic adventure that they risked their lives for. In regards to the romance, it’s sort of a love squarish thing. I thought it was done very tastefully though: a marriage of counterparts, a marriage of young love, or a marriage of power. I do like who she ended up with, and I know there were a lot of 1 star reviews out there because she didn’t get with *cough*cough* but I think I would have still been happy if she ended up with either of the three love interests because I loved the book mostly for it’s plot.

ALINA: In the first book, she was weak and unsure. In the second book, she had a stronger resolve, but was afraid of the powers growing inside of her. In this book, she owns up to the life she was born to live and remains true to herself until the very end. She knows what has to be done even if there were times she wavered (You can’t blame the girl, she had more weight to shoulder than most of us do). What I loved most about Alina was that even though she was the second most “powerful” Grisha, the talents and powers of her companions were much more valuable; she leaned on them and they leaned on her, and that’s what friendship and loyalty are all about.

MAL: Oh my Mal. I love how even though he’s otkazat’sya, he did everything in his power to make up for it and ended being more powerful than some of the Grisha. He is the living proof that hardwork and a strong resolve are all you really need to succeed in an environment that you were meant to fail. At the end, I had a mini heart attack, but I’m glad Bardugo wrote it out the way she did, because I thought it was perfect!

NIKOLAI: I still LOVE all his dialogue. I really want Nikolai all for myself. He’s such a genuine and pure person that even when “darkness” was thrust upon him, he remained somewhat himself still. The fact that he’s not “true” royalty, but instead earned the position as King through his experiences and service is even more admirable and meaningful. Bardugo mentioned that she mightttt write a book dedicated to Nikolai and I really hope she does because he was my FAVORITE character in this entire trilogy.

THE DARKLING: I actually really loved the Darkling. Yes, he’s the bad guy trying to destroy the kingdom, but really he was just a lost child trying to fix things through his own skewed means. I really felt for the Darkling at the end of the book and I’m glad Alina grew to understand him and accept how he had turned so wretched for the generations he’d lived. I think if I lived for so long that I saw the people I love die, kingdoms rise and fall, and retarded kings believing they know better, I would have gone a little crazy too.

Overall, I am definitely a Leigh Bardugo fan. I never thought I would be the type of reader who goes to author meetings (not saying there’s anything wrong with those type of readers, I actually admire their dedication), but I think I would actually want to meet Leigh Bardugo if I had a chance. I love her writing style and her storytelling abilities. There’s a natural flow that doesn’t seem forced and makes the world seem so real. I actually wanted to leave this life and live in that book if I could (despite how messed up it was for most of the time). GAH. Seriously, I recommend the Grisha Trilogy for ALL readers–it’s amazing. (It’s so amazing that even though I own the trilogy in paperback, I’ve begun purchasing it in hardback too hahaha)

They are making this trilogy into a movie and I FREAKING CAN’T WAIT. The last movie adapted from a book that I waited in line for a midnight showing was Twilight (hey don’t laugh. but really that movie was so cringe-worthy…biggest disappointed by far for books adapted to movies). Anyways, you can’t bet that I’m going to buy my tickets on presale or somehow get myself into an advanced showing to go and watch “Shadow and Bone” when it comes out. I cannot wait to see who they cast. EEEK.

Safe to say, THE GRISHA TRILOGY WAS THE BEST READ OF 2015 for me. It was literally EVERYTHING I look for in a book. Please go read it!

BUY IT ON AMAZON!

BOOK REVIEW: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: The Grisha Trilogy (Book 2)

Siege and Storm: ★★★★!!!

SUMMARY: 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.

Book 2 did not disappoint! Wow. Siege and Storm was an amazing read. There was so much development in the characters and the story that I found myself immersed in its tangled plot from page one. I finished the book in two days and probably would have finished it in one if I hadn’t forced myself to stop reading it because my copy of Ruin and Rising hadn’t been delivered yet.

Bardugo really has a way with weaving her words so seamlessly that you fall into this pace while reading that just flows. It’s a natural rhythm that allows you to completely concentrate on the story and its characters. Her descriptions are stunning and haunting: the representation of darkness, the struggles and humor of characters, and the rising tension. Throughout the book you find yourself expecting, waiting for this one thing to happen and then BAM when you least expect it, it happens.

I’m sure there are some readers who may find that the middle section of the book was lagging, but I think every scene was essential to building the tension and developing Alina and her struggles as well as the building relationship with the other characters. I really felt her fears and concerns as she’s thrust into a high position that her former self never would have even fathomed. She doesn’t have instant success and it is apparent that she is working toward a goal that seems so far away. So in my opinion, the build up, the preparations, the meetings, all made the situation very real and believable. A+ (Plus, I just wanted to keep reading more and when the pages started dwindling at the end, I got more and more anxious heh)

ALINA: The main character. Her inner turmoil had her questioning almost everything she thought and did. In the first book she was tentative and very unsure of herself, but in book 2 she really came out of her shell and did the best she could even when she knew she wasn’t prepared for it. I loved that her flaws were so apparent; it makes her real, because nobody is perfect.

MAL: Oh Mal, Mal, Mal. I still love him and I totally understand why he acted the way he did. I was heartbroken for him and I have my suspicions about how his role in the story is going to unravel in Book 3, but I’ll keep that to myself because if I’m right, then it’s going to be a major spoiler.

NIKOLAI: I love Nikolai too! I’m a fickle girl. Some part of me wants Alina to end up with Nikolai, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Nikolai is a myriad of personalities and I’m still not sure who he really is, but that’s his appeal. Every dialogue that he was a part of brought a smile to my face. The book ends without really saying what happened to him, but knowing him, I’m sure he’ll make a flashy return into the story.

THE DARKLING: Still the evil darkness, but I feel like he’s this tortured soul that actually really cares about Alina and feels the strong connection to her. Like calls to like. I’m really looking forward for the mystery behind him to unravel in the last book.

So, while I was reading this book, I can’t remember at what part it was, but something in my mind just clicked and I think I figured out a huge plot twist that’s going to happen in Book 3. It makes so much sense in my head and I’m like 110% sure that I’m right about it, but I’m not going to say it, because again, I’ll be ruining it for anyone who wants to/is reading right now (And those who ruin endings of books must be excommunicated). However, I still have no idea how the whole story is going to be wrapped up. There are a lot of loose ends that need to be tied. One thing I have no idea about is who Alina is going to end up with, or maybe she doesn’t end up with anyone…DUN DUN DUNNNNN.

I cannot recommend this series enough. It’s definitely a contender for my FAVORITE series to date. I can’t find a flaw that bothers me and I’m literally obsessed with it. I love how complex the characters are and how they’re so consistently portrayed throughout each book. Did I mention this series is going to be made into a movie??? UGHGHGH I’m literally bouncing off the walls just thinking about it. But really, I finished this book at 4 a.m. last night and couldn’t fall asleep because of how good it was. (I almost contemplated on just staying up to write this review). Addiction at its best!

I want to start Book 3 so bad, but I’m going on a retreat this weekend, so I’m forcing myself to wait until I come back. READ THE GRISHA TRILOGY! (And then discuss with me your suspicions!)

Buy it on Amazon!

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: Grisha Trilogy (Book 1)

Shadow and Bone: ★★★★!!

SUMMARY: 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.

HOLY SHIZZ! This book is seriously the best book I have read this year. Red Queen was the first book to really get me out of my reading slump, but SHADOW AND BONE seriously dug up my passion for reading fantasy books that I hadn’t noticed I buried for so many years. I LOVED IT. First off, I have nothing bad to say about it. It’s the first book of a trilogy and I have Siege and Storm (Book 2), but I refuse to start it until I have Ruin and Rising (Book 3) because I don’t want to be antsy waiting for it since I’m sure I’ll finish the second book even quicker than I did the first one. Okay enough fangirling, I’ll write my review now (hopefully without spoilers!)

I loved Bardugo’s writing style. Technically, it was simple and I felt like there was the perfect amount of variety in sentence structure. It didn’t feel as much as reading as it did the words flying into my head into a visual tizzy (if that makes any sense–I’m a very visual person). I thought there was just enough foreshadowing and I’m not sure if certain points of the plot were intentional, but the flow of the book was spot on. There’s this one part (by the lake) that when it happened, I had to reread it because it was so sudden and random that I thought it was a poor choice of a plot point, but then once I finished the book, I thought back on it and realized how ingenious it actually was.

World building. Perfect. I didn’t get bogged down with unnecessary descriptions and I never felt like the book was dragging. Everything was believable from the characters to the setting of the world. Page count wise, it’s actually a pretty lengthy read, but while I read it, I never even noticed; if anything, I noticed how fast I was flying through the pages. It was absolutely fantastic.

There are similarities to other young adult fantasy books I’ve read recently (from what I know, this one was written first sooo….) but it was definitely original enough for me to not care. Just to give you an idea, here’s an example:

Red Queen: The main character is a Red (person with no special powers) but in a life threatening situation she discovers she’s special and actually does have powers.

Shadow and Bone: The main character is a seemingly normal girl but desperate to save her childhood crush, she discovers she’s special and has a power that rivals the strongest man in the world.

(Each novel has their own reasons why the powers exist in each individual and both are unique so it didn’t bother me too much. In my opinion, I think Shadow and Bone is more original than Red Queen, though.)

I had so many emotions reading this book. I’m sure my sister found me annoying, because while I was reading in my room I would be yelling, groaning, and squealing more often than someone, who could be considered sane while reading words on a page, should be. But, seriously that’s how engrossed I was while reading this book. It’s been a SUPER long time since I felt this way about while reading anything. And I typically never reread books, for whatever reason, but I honestly would consider reading this one again. Obsessed I am.

ALINA: She has her faults, but I’m glad because no character, especially the main character, should be perfect. She was definitely a likable character and an honest to good girl, who got lost here and there (but who doesn’t?). She discovers who/what she is and what she is capable of. Every choice she makes is understandable because you read enough about her past that helps to really form her into a living being. Making a choice that haunts her in the end makes me look forward to how she’ll overcome it in the next book.

MAL: wahhhh I love him. Can I have him? He’s the childhood friend/crush. He’s absolutely adorable and while his physical presence is absent the majority of the book, it makes his return that much sweeter. Even though he doesn’t have special powers like Alina (or does he?) he’s reliable and not whiny. He is the naive boy next door, who becomes a man by the end of the book. There were hints of a love triangle going on, but at the end you feel like that possibility is squashed, but I’m staying on my toes because I really don’t know what Bardugo has in store for them.

THE DARKLING: Ok, so I’m still on the edge about this character. I really don’t know what to expect because in the beginning he intrigued me, then I started to like him, and then I was like “what the hell…” But I feel like there is so much more to this character and I know he’s a complicated fellow because at ~120 years old, how can you not be complicated?

They’re making Shadow and Bone into a MOVIE. YESSS. Because, seriously I was able to picture every single detail in my head. And as much as I love to create the image in my mind, I love it when I can actually see it come to life. I. can’t. wait. Fantasy movies are the best, I don’t care what anyone thinks. They are.

SHADOW AND BONE gets a standing ovation of 5/5 stars from me. And if this book is on your TBR list, then move it up to the top immediately and start, because it’s fantastic and you will not regret it. Comment what you thought, I need someone to talk about this book with!! HEH.

Buy it on Amazon!