Review of ‘Shadow and Bone’ by Leigh Bardugo

shadowandbone

 

Title: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 416
Blurb via Amazon: 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.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.


This is a book that I have heard a lot about either on BookTube or other books blogs, since its release in 2013. Then books two and three were released and there was more and more buzz about the trilogy. However, I still did not read any of them! I was not reluctant in anyway to read these books. In fact, from what I knew about them, they were right up my alley. I just never got round to reading them, probably due to my already suffocating TBR list (now I just read whatever I like).

I was immediately struck by the wonderful setting in which the book takes place. It is not secret that Leigh based Ravka off of Tsarist Russia. I liked this, especially after reading an interview she did about the book. In the interview, she said that she was inspired by the contrast of Russia’s beauty and its brutal history. I loved this. As well as a reader, I am some what a history buff. Nothing extreme, I just find it interesting. Having read the book, I would say that she captured this not only accurately, but perfectly and beautifully. Leigh also mentioned how she wanted to stray away from the conventional medieval fantasy setting, which I think she did in creating Ravka. You really get the sense of a divided country in Shadow and Bone. For example, when Alina is being transported to the Little Palace, she passes through a run down courtyard and then is suddenly thrown into a world of gold and well made keftas.

Anyway, enough about the setting. Now on to the main character, Alina Starkov. Going against unpopular opinion (emphasis on opinion, guys), I half expect the main female character of a YA fantasy or dystopian novel to be really annoying. And when I say annoying I mean like whining a lot or making awful decisions, like Clary Fray. Don’t get me wrong, I am the biggest fan of TMI, but come on Clary! Anyway, I’m now going of on a tangent; back to Shadow and Bone. Alina was not annoying in anyway. She wasn’t vain, indignant or any of that bad stuff. She was probably one of the most natural and human character I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Take a leaf out of Alina’s book. Alina’s book would be called ‘How To Be The Chosen One and Not Screw Everything Up All The Time’.

One of the things I didn’t like was the sudden ease in which Alina gained control of her powers. I felt as if the process she went through should have been more of a struggle, because, as a character, she would have been all the better for it.

The Darkling is genuinely one of the most despicable villains I have ever encountered while reading YA, or in general to be honest. He is the horrible mix of charming and evil to the core. Also, the plot twists that surround him in this book are almost jaw dropping. The only thing that got me is that when watching BookTube videos on this book, I encountered comments saying that at first people trusted the Darkling. Firstly, his name literally has the word dark in it. They is a pretty big clue he is bad news. And he dresses in black. Usually when a character dresses in black, they are either a badass warrior or they’re evil. I guess Leigh’s writing is just so good that it managed to fool them.

Lastly, the romance between Mal and Alina towards the end of the book gave me life. This was especially after they had their argument back at the Little Palace. I was left shouting “No!” at the pages, begging him myself to come back to her and embrace her or whatever. Thankfully, we got that in the end. After finishing the book, I felt that I would be perfectly happy if it was a stand alone. Everything was relatively okay and there were very few unanswered questions that really caught my attention. Unfortunately, I have to read the next books, where I have no doubt the sense of uncertainty will return. Fortunately, I get to delve back into Leigh Bardugo’s brilliant writing.

4.5/5 stars for ‘Shadow and Bone’ by Leigh Bardugo.

Review of ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell

carryon

Title: Carry On

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: Macmillan

Date: 8 October, 2015

Pages: 528

Blurb via Amazon:

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his room-mate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savour anything.

Based on the characters Simon and Baz who featured in Rainbow Rowell’s bestselling novel Fangirl,Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.


WARNING SPOILERS!

I’m going to go straight into this and say that this is my favourite books of all time. And trust me, I do not say that lightly at all.

I enjoyed the little excerpts we got of Baz and Simon in Rainbow Rowell’s other novel ‘Fangirl‘, but did not automatically feel the need for more of them. So, when I heard we were getting a whole book of them, I was not excited. At first glance, it is just a rehash of Harry Potter and I genuinely did not think that Rainbow could make a whole novel out of it. Boy was I wrong…

If you say that ‘Carry On‘ is just Harry Potter, it is not. I used to be naive like you, but I have seen the light. So, for those who do not know, here is a comparison between the two:

Similarities:

  • The main character is a boy who goes to a school for wizards.
  • A clever female main.

Differences:

  • Simon was the problem, Harry was the solution.
  • Open homosexuality.
  • Hero/nemesis relationship.
  • More than one point of view.
  • Flashbacks.
  • Dumbledore figure = Simon’s father.
  • Voldemort was an actual person, the Humdrum was not.
  • Harry Potter does not have wings and a tail.
  • Harry Potter could actually do magic properly.
  • The magic systems were completely different.
  • The list goes on…

Okay, now that is the way and you are all educated let’s move on. My favourite character has to be Baz. I know that is the general view, but you can’t resist his charming aura and witty one liners! Resistance is futile! I love Baz and Simon together. They are my new book OTP. At first I was kind of ticked off that it took half the book for them to happen. I was like “maybe the next page…” Again, I was being naive to the fact that Rainbow was focusing on character development. And it was worth it. When I reached the scene in the forest with the burning trees and they get so close. It all feels really romantic and I’m rocking back and forth with excitement for what is to come and then Baz is just like “mouth breather.” I loved that. Classic Baz. But after that came the kissing and the hotness and oh my Jesus. I loved it.

The magic system in this book was magical in itself. I found it really beautiful that the magic focused on the power of words. And when Simon was using his sword, but wishing he could use magic, I was like “the pen is literally mightier than the sword.” You never really think about how often you use certain words and phrases, but I started to when reading this book. Rainbow Rowell you are a clever lady.

So, everyone who has not read this book, go do it now. DO IT!

5/5 stars for ‘Carry On‘ by Rainbow Rowell.

DW ❤

 

 

Sorry!

Apologies everyone who may have been waiting for a post recently. I know that is not a lot of you, but still… I have been on hiatus, but I was so busy that I even forgot to announce it. Anyway, I’m back now and you can expect a post once or twice a week. Again, I’m sorry I’ve been away, but I really am glad to be back. Hopefully I’ll have a post up in the next few days.

DW ❤