Cover reveal: Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn

Montag, 2. April 2018


   As you guys know I love Pintip Dunn's writing ever since I first read Forget Tomorrow. I've loved that trilogy and everything else she wrote, so when I heard she had a new book coming out later this year and that I could help reveal the cover, of course I couldn't say no. So, thanks to Entangled Teen, I am bringing you the amazing cover for Star-Crossed:


Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn
Expected Publication: October 2nd 2018 by Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)

   Only one can survive...

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Amazon | B&N | iBooks

About the Author

   Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. Pintip's debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. In addition, it is a finalist for the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, the Japanese Sakura Medal, and the MASL Truman Award. THE DARKEST LIE was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other books include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, the novella BEFORE TOMORROW, and GIRL ON THE VERGE. She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. 

Excerpt and giveaway: True Storm by L. E. Sterling

Mittwoch, 28. März 2018


   Today I'm bringing you a short but very exciting excerpt from L.E. Sterling's upcoming release, True Storm, which is the third and final book in the True Born trilogy and comes out May 1st 2018. Additionally, if you live in the US, check out the giveaway below for a paperback copy of True Born, the first book in this trilogy!

True Storm by L.E. Sterling
Expected Publication: May 1st 2018 by Entangled Teen
Number of pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)

   Lucy’s twin sister, Margot, may be safely back with her—but all is not well in Plague-ravaged Dominion City. The Watchers have come out of hiding, spreading chaos and death throughout the city, and suddenly Lucy finds herself under pressure to choose her future: does it lie with her handsome new friend, Alastair; her guardian, the enigmatic True Born leader Nolan Storm; or the man who makes her heart trip, her savage True Born bodyguard Jared Price?
   But while Lucy ponders her path, fate has other plans. Betrayal is a cruel lesson, and the Fox sisters can hardly believe who is behind the plot against them. To survive this deadly game of politics, Lucy is forced to agree to a marriage of convenience. But is the DNA of her will stronger than the forces opposing her? Can she turn the tide against the oncoming storm??
   As they say in Dominion, can rogue genes ever have a happy ending? (goodreads.com)

   And now, are you ready for the excerpt...? Well, here it is:

   His hands still on my face. “I’m sorry,” I manage to say, trying to control a nervous need to giggle like a hyena. “Are we fighting? Maybe I didn’t notice because it’s all we ever seem to do.”
   A wicked grin lights his features. “That’s not all we seem to do,” he whispers, seconds before he replaces his thumb with his lips.
   It’s a soft kiss at first, tentative. Like someone asking your name. But it lights me up, sending fire shooting through my body, heat curling through my belly. I must sigh because Jared pulls back for just a moment, a question in his eyes and hunger written all over him. Then he claims my lips again, holding my face in his hands as the earth spins away from me.

GIVEAWAY


Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of True Storm by L.E. Sterling today!
add-to-goodreads

About the Author

   L.E. Sterling had an early obsession with sci-fi, fantasy and romance to which she remained faithful even through an M.A. in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature – where she completed a thesis on magical representation. She is the author of two previous novels, the cult hit YA novel The Originals (under pen name L.E. Vollick), dubbed “the Catcher in the Rye of a new generation” by one reviewer, and the urban fantasy Pluto’s Gate. Originally hailing from Parry Sound, Ontario, L.E. spent most of her summers roaming across Canada in a van with her father, a hippie musician, her brothers and an occasional stray mutt – inspiring her writing career. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Sonntag, 18. März 2018

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Expected Publication: April 24th 2018 by Wednesday Books
Number of Pages: 352 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.
   Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
   Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
   She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating. (goodreads.com)

* Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing me with 
an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion *

   That cover, along with the description and the fact that it's a viking inspired YA Fantasy story? I was immediately hooked, and very happy when I saw that I got approved for an ARC. I've never read a book like this before, one that stepped away from your typical fantasy setting of kings and castles and witches, and instead followed two different clans and their beliefs and mentalities.
   Unfortunately I didn't love this nearly as much as I hoped I would, which isn't to say that I disliked it, which I didn't, but certain parts just fell really flat for me. I enjoyed finding out more about the Aska and the Riki, about what made them different, why they fought each other, about Eelyn and the pain she felt over losing her brother, Iri, the bond between her and her clan and her god, Sigr. It was fascinating, and felt different from the stories I've read before this one.
   The world building was intriguing and lush, filled with little details that made the world feel full and lived in. The different rituals and traditions were interesting to read about, as well as the Scandinavian inspired setting.

   A problem I did have was that basically the first half of the story felt like the plot was just kind of happening around Eelyn and she was just kind of dragged along, angry and crying, wanting to do something but not really doing anything to achieve that. It simply felt very reactive. In the last 40% of the book that did change, at least to a certain extend, but something just didn't click for me about Eelyn and her character for a while. She was interesting, don't get me wrong, but there was just so much crying and anger that didn't really do anything much. Of course you can be a fierce warrior and cry, that's totally fine and normal, everyone has a wide range of emotions, but just the sheer amount of it kind of contradicted what she was trying to be portrayed as.
   Fiske was an interesting character, very stoic and hard, harsh and quiet. I liked the scenes between him and Eelyn, as well as Iri. Finding out about how Iri even ended up with the Riki to begin with, how he survived and what happened across the years, it was nice.
   I also liked some of the secondary characters, but most I really didn't care about or didn't trust because of certain signs, that ultimately didn't lead anywhere which was a bit unfortunate. The romance was subtle enough and felt fine, not really the type of romance I'd scream about and swoon but that's okay. The story wasn't about the romance, it was about the clans and fighting and action.

   Speaking of which, Sky in the Deep was very action packed with a lot of fight scenes and blood and chaos. I will admit that at some point I felt tempted to skim some of them because some of those fight scenes just stretched a little too much for my liking and to hold my attention, but I didn't do it. I still read them.
   The writing style was very nice and I enjoyed it a lot. I liked some of the language that was used in the story, the Scandinavian sounding names and places. It made everything come together nicely.

   All in all I enjoyed Sky in the Deep and I would recommend it, even though it wasn't quite what I hoped it would be. I read most of it in one sitting since it's not that long and a relatively quick read. So if you're interested in some YA fantasy with a viking setting, this might be for you.
I give Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Cover reveal: Echoes

Montag, 12. März 2018


   I'm beyond excited for this day, I can't even begin to describe how much I've been waiting to finally be able to reveal the cover for ECHOES. Eleven months ago I signed with Entangled and now the cover is finally here. 
   The cover is honestly everything I ever hoped for and so much more. It fits the story perfectly, the color scheme and general aesthetic is perfect and it just mirrors the mood of the story wonderfully. The cover designers at Entangled Teen did a brilliant job and I honestly couldn't be happier.
   So, without further ado, here is the cover for ECHOES, my YA Thriller!


Echoes by Alice Reeds
Expected Publication: August 7th 2018 by Entangled: Teen
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Paperback)
Genre: YA Thriller
Pre-order: 
Amazon US / DE / CA 
Book Depository
Barnes and Nobel

   "Fast-paced and thrilling. ECHOES is a heart-pounding and addictive love story." —Mia Siegert, author of Jerkbait
   They wake on a deserted island. Fiona and Miles, high school enemies now stranded together. No memory of how they got there. No plan to follow, no hope to hold on to.
   Each step forward reveals the mystery behind the forces that brought them here. And soon, the most chilling discovery: something else is on the island with them.
   Something that won't let them leave alive.
   Echoes is a thrilling adventure about confronting the impossible, discovering love in the most unexpected places, and, above all, finding hope in the face of the unknown.

   What do you think? Let me know all your thoughts about the cover in the comments below, or via twitter (@Alice_Reeds), because I'm super curious to know if you love the cover just as much as I do. I honestly can't wait for you to read the book in August!

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Samstag, 10. März 2018

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Published: June 27th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
Number of Pages: 513 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: Yes, #1 in the Guide duology (?)

   Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
   But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
   Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores. (goodreads.com)

“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed 
from having words instead of friends.”

   Whenever there is a lot of hype around a book, I'm weary of picking it up. Usually extremely hyped books are either a complete flop for me, or prove to be worth every praise. I was prepared to not really be into this, since historical fiction isn't my thing at all, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself hooked after just half of the first chapter.
   The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is hilarious and filled with twists and turns, adventures, action, and cute moments, as well as some that make you want to shake some sense into Monty, the protagonist and POV character. As we follow Monty, his best friend Percy, and Monty's sister, Felicity, across Europe the story turns more and more intriguing and we get to know the 1700's version of Europe, so different than now yet so much more interesting than I honestly expected when going into this, lots of characters and settings that were fascinating and fun to read about.

   "Just thinking about all that blood." I nearly shudder. "Doesn't it make you a bit squeamish?"
   "Ladies haven't the luxury of being squeamish about blood," she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.

  I picked up the audiobook version of this, since I was sick and my eyes hurt, and it was the best choice I could've made. The narrator, Christian Coulson, did a brilliant job of nailing Monty's personality and giving all the other characters distinct and fitting voices. It made everything even more fun and Monty seemingly even more snarky and sarcastic than he already was.
   Speaking of which, Monty was such a fun character and he went through quite a bit across the story. Finding out more about his relationship with his father, piece by piece, was heartbreaking yet it explained so much about him. His relationship with Percy was amazingly developed and transformed quite a bit from the beginning to the end of the story, and his pining was honestly everything. Definitely one of the cutest romances I've read about in a while, hands down. Felicity was also a brilliant character, and I'm so happy there will be a sequel with her as main character. She was strong and smart in ways I hadn't seen coming at the start of the story. She went and smashed through all social norms for girls at the time, a fierce feminist, and I was so here for it. The secondary characters were very well developed, for the most part, and I would've loved to find out more about some of them, especially the pirates.

“Against the sky, the stars crown him, marking the edges of his 
silhouette like he is a constellation of himself.”

   The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is an amazing read, but despite its air of hilariousness, quick wit, sass, and adventure, it also deals with more serious topics such as child abuse, illness, ablism and racism. As much as for Monty it's no big deal that Percy has dark skin, since they grew up together and everything, it was sad to see how other characters looked at, treated, and spoke to Percy, see Monty slowly realize that not everyone thought the way he did and that the lives of non-white people were so very different than the life of privilege he grew up in.
   There was also the fact that Felicity was interested in medicine, wanted to go to school and get a proper eduction, but school for girls didn't really include any of that eduction she craved. I loved reading about how Monty got to know a side of his sister he didn't think she had, realize that she wasn't reading stupid romance novels but actually soaked up anything about science and educational she could get her hands on, hiding it behind the covers of romance novels so she wouldn't be questioned about it.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to go courting trouble, is all.”
“We’re not courting trouble,” I say. “Flirting with it, at most.”

   All in all The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue was more than worth all the hype it received and I don't know why it took me so long to finally read it. It was the perfect blend of a brilliant lead trio, an adventurous and intriguing plot, a historical setting, and just a whole lot of fun. I never thought I'd love a historical fiction book just this much, but this one completely blew me away and I couldn't stop listening to it. So good! I definitely recommend it!
I give The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee 5 out of 5 stars!

Most Anticipated 2018 Reads (Part 1)

Donnerstag, 1. Februar 2018

   Hey everyone!
   As always, to no one surprise really, I'm totally late to the game and posting this about a month late but, hey, at least I am posting it so that should have to count for something. Anyway, today I want to talk about all the releases of the first half of 2018 that I am looking forward to. In typical me fashion most of them are either YA contemporaries or sci-fi, which just goes to show once again how those two might be my favorite genres currently.
   Among all these books there is of course one that I am looking forward the most, for totally none obvious reasons *loud coughing*, which is a YA Thriller that you should totally consider checking out and maybe even pre-order.
   Anyhow, lets jump right into my list:

Published: January 9th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion
Number of Pages: 336 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Sci-Fi

   I really, really enjoyed These Broken Stars from this amazing duo so I can't wait so see what they've come up with this time. I mean anything YA sci-fi from this duo is basically a must buy tbh. 

* * *
Expected Publication: February 6th 2018 by Entangled: Teen
Number of Pages: 300 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Fantasy (?)

   I've been meaning to read some kind of circus related or centric book for ages and this seems like a good one to start off with. Curses/charms and traveling across Texas, figuring how to break said curses etc, sign me up! It definitely sounds like a fun read.

* * *
Expected Publication: March 6th 2018 by Delacorte Press
Number of Pages: 352 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Contemporary

   This one sounds absolutely fantastic and that color is amazing, so colorful and pretty. A story containing music as its central piece and some kind of tragedy sticking and almost tearing a group of friends apart? Now that's guaranteed to be an emotional read and, honestly, I'm all about that.

* * *
Expected Publication: March 8th 2018 by Electric Monkey
Number of Pages: 352 Pages (Paperback)
YA Contemporary

  This one sounds amazing, exciting and just like a truly intriguing read I certainly want to get my hands on. Also that cover is, again, gorgeous and I am simply weak for books with pretty covers (than again, isn't everyone?).

* * *
Expected Publication: March 13th 2018 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 608 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Sci-Fi

   It's absolutely no secret that I LOVE The Illuminae Files trilogy so I cannot wait to have Obsidio in my hands, have it on my shelf next to Illuminae and Gemina, and to read it, obviously. I'm always a bit weary of trilogy finales since there is a lot of room for left down expectations, accidentally left unanswered questions or not sufficiently or convincingly, but I have A LOT of faith into Amie and Jay that this will be just as brilliant as the previous two books, easy.

* * *
Expected Publication: March 20th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 480 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Magical Realism

   A story set in Taiwan containing magical realism, angst, and feels, sign me up. Usually I'm not big on magical realism but this one sounds absolutely amazing, and reading books set in countries I've never been to, getting to know different cultures and lives, if that doesn't sound great, I don't know what does. I'm definitely very intrigued.

***
Expected Publication: April 10th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion
Number of Pages: 368 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Contemporary

   This sounds absolutely amazing and I simply need it. Family secrets that get uncovered and friendships that might potentially be more than that, hi, yes, I'm in need! And that cover, yes!

* * *
Expected Publication: May 1st 2018 by Freeform
Number of Pages: 384 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Contemporary

   Now THIS one just speaks straight to my fangirl heart and grabbed my attention immediately. It just sounds like such a fun story that's inspired by probably every fangirls dream--meeting the cast of whatever you are a fangirl of--but also nightmare--things turning out to be different than your shipper heart thought. I'm definitely curious how the show will handle the discussion of fannon vs cannon, and generally the whole issue of fans having certain expectations and how the show runners deal with the moments when expectations aren't met or things just go downhill for whatever reason. I need this like yesterday, tbh!

* * *
Expected Publication: May 15th 2018 by HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 432 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Contemporary

   A story about a group of teens being fans of a certain author and somehow ending up in said author's next book with horrible consequences, and all that told through interviews, diary entries and more? Yes please! I love books that use alternative narrative methods, and honestly this one just sounds fantastic!

* * *
Expected Publication: May 29th 2018 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 416 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Sci-Fi

   While I'm not into the cover, the book itself sounds so interesting and intriguing, and also pretty damn epic. Besides I have a lot of faith in Jay Kristoff and his writing after loving The Illuminae Files (even if those were co-authored).

* * *
The Body Paradox by Natasha Neagle
Expected Publication: June 4th 2018 by Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: TBA
YA Sci-Fi

   This sounds pretty damn amazing if you ask me, and also I certainly am bias towards the enemies to lovers trope (obviously) so that only adds more to this. Also the idea of sharing a body with another person, hi, I'm intrigued, so I need this like today.

* * *

Expected Publication: June 5th 2018 by Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: 400 (Paperback)
YA Thriller

   ECHOES is the story of two high school enemies finding themselves stranded on a mysterious and deadly island where nothing is quite as it seems, not even reality. I am very much bias, since this is my own book, but this is definitely the book I'm looking forward to most and I seriously cannot wait for you guys to pick it up and read it. This story has been my brain child of years and I just truly hope you'll love it just as much as I do.

* * *
Expected Publication: June 7th 2018 by Orchard Books
Number of Pages: 300 Pages (Paperback)
YA Contemporary

   As someone who loves PaperFury's blog (and twitter) I am really curious for her book. I have really high hopes for it and can't wait to read it! Also it contains music and has a pretty cover, that's already two very convincing arguments for me, plus it surely also has all the feels and is an emotional read, so basically all my favorite things in one place (which sounds awful, doesn't it?).

* * *
Expected Publication: June 12th 2018 by HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 432 Pages (Hardcover)
YA Contemporary

   I loved Lovely, Dark and Deep, and Amy is basically a auto-buy author for me because of it, so like me being excited for this one is basically a given. I need it in my life asap even though I'm sure it'll be just as much of an emotional read as her debut.

* * *

   And that's it! If I actually manage to read even half of these in 2018 I'll be very proud of myself tbh. Which books are you looking forward to the most? Let me know down below or via twitter (@Alice_Reeds).

Cover Reveal: True Storm by L.E. Sterling

Montag, 29. Januar 2018


   Hi everyone!
   Today I am bringing you the amazing cover for the final book in L.E. Sterling's YA Sci-Fi trilogy, True Born, called True Storm. I've been loving the trilogy so far (review book #1 and #2) so when I got the opportunity to help revealing the cover and getting word out, of course I had to do it!
   Anyway, without further ado, here is the beautiful cover for True Strom!

True Storm by L.E. Sterling
Expected Publication: May 1st 2018 by Entangled: Teen
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)

   If you can't beat them, change them...

Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of True Storm (True Born Trilogy, #3) by L.E. Sterling today!


add-to-goodreadsAmazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled Publishing


About L.E. Sterling:


   L.E. Sterling had an early obsession with sci-fi, fantasy and romance to which she remained faithful even through an M.A. in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature - where she completed a thesis on magical representation. She is the author of two previous novels, the cult hit Y/A novel The Originals (under pen name L.E. Vollick), dubbed “the Catcher in the Rye of a new generation” by one reviewer, and the urban fantasy Pluto’s Gate. Originally hailing from Parry Sound, Ontario, L.E. spent most of her summers roaming across Canada in a van with her father, a hippie musician, her brothers and an occasional stray mutt - inspiring her writing career. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Freitag, 5. Januar 2018

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Company
Number of Pages: 427 Pages (Paperback)
Series: Yes, #3 in the Grisha Trilogy or Grishaverse

   Since this is the third and final book in this trilogy I won't post the summary here, since it certainly contains spoilers, so head on over to goodreads if you want to read it.

   I was more than ready to love this book, hoped that the ending would live up to all the positive reviews I'd seen on YouTube and on goodreads from bloggers and booktubers I trust. But, unfortunately, I was left feeling disappointed and annoyed at a lot of what happened. I will try to talk about my opinions in a way that won't contain any spoilers, or at least I'll try.

“I hope you weren't looking to me to be the voice of reason.
I keep to a strict diet of ill-advised enthusiasm and heartfelt regret.”

   Siege and Storm, the second book in this trilogy, already left me feeling more neutral and underwhelmed than I expected after I'd LOVED Shadow and Bone (review). I truly hoped that things would change in the finale, that the answers we'd hopefully get would make the mediocracy of the second book okay, but unfortunately that didn't happen.
   The beginning, as in about the first 100 pages or more, were very slow. There was just a lot of nothing, just some conversations, sitting around, thinking, some more conversations that didn't really amount to anything much. Then the plot finally picks up once Nikolai shows up.
   To be quite honest, Nikolai was the reason I didn't give up on Siege and Storm, and I hoped he would once more play a bigger role in this book, but that wasn't the case. We get a lot of tension between Alina and one of the main male characters, a lot of angst and emotional struggle, which I found just a bit annoying after a while, though not quite as bad as in Siege and Storm.
   Just as I hoped we did get some background informations that did explain some things, some relations between characters and history, and that was great. I liked how everything was tied together and how it certainly explained a few of the key things. It showed that all those things hadn't been just said along the way but that there'd been a purpose all along, hints that now finally made sense and created the big picture we'd waited for.

   Unfortunately the story did a great job of having amazing characters, and then just not using them, sending them away or other, and that was just really a shame. There were so many other ways in which those characters could've been used more effectively for a bigger impact than this. When the first major character related plot twist happened, I know we were all supposed to probably be shocked and sad, but I was just very annoyed. I liked that character, damn it.
   Ironically later down the line we had another major character twist (I'm avoiding actually saying what it was but I think once you'll read it you'll know what I mean) and, again, I'm pretty sure we were supposed to be sad, feel the pain of that event. Well, I don't know what it says about me, but I was pretty happy and smiled, though my happiness was short lived.

Na razrusha'ya. I am not ruined. E'ya razrushost. I am ruination.”

   Then there is generally the ending of Ruin and Rising, and thus also the trilogy as a whole. Did I like it, did it live up to my expectations and leave me satisfied? Nope. I really didn't like the ending and I'm not sure if I feel like it made sense in the grand scheme of the characters but I know others loved it so theres that. When I started Shadow and Bone I was in love with this world Leigh Bardugo had created and these really intricate characters, yet the ending of Ruin and Rising left me wondering if maybe I should've just stopped and only read Shadow and Bone. That isn't to say that Ruin and Rising, as well as Siege and Storm, didn't contain any awesome stuff, because they most certainly did. The writing was brilliant, the world building very interesting and (at least some of) the characters were well characterized and great to read about. Some of the secondary characters fell a bit flat and I probably didn't care about them as much as I should have.

   Speaking of which, let's talk about the main characters. Alina, who seemed like such a strong character most of the time, had so many emotional struggles because of a certain someone that I was just amazingly annoyed by (even more when I spoiled myself on with whom she would end up). Seeing darker sides manifest inside of her, this desire for more power, for something that the old her would've thought was wrong or too greedy, that was amazing. I loved how caring she was about the people she traveled with, her friends, and she tried to do whatever she could to save her country. In the end she was ready to sacrifice everything to do it, though I hated how torn she was. On one side she was ready to sacrifice so many people, but on the other side she wasn't ready to sacrifice a single specific one to save everyone else. HM.

“I'm the Sun Summoner. It gets dark when I say it does.”

   If you've followed my updates on goodreads you know that I REALLY didn't like Mal. From the moment on that it was said that he has feelings for Alina back in Shadow and Bone, until the very last page of Ruin and Rising. He was whiny, jealous, controlling, and sure he was a great tracker and he meant well, was ready to give his life for Alina, but most of the time I just wanted someone to punch him. He didn't fit in, he wasn't like Alina and the Grisha, and, wow, he truly had to obsess over that, behave so incredibly annoyingly because of it like your average typical 'I don't fit in with the crowd and I don't want to' teenager reminding us of that again and again.
   When it comes to his relationship with Alina, I truly felt like what they had was more of a best friends vibe, and not a romantic one, which was probably why I just couldn't with their romantic relationship. I felt like Alina had much better chemistry with other characters than with him.

“You never know," said Nikolai. "I've been busy. 
I might have some surprises in store for the Darkling yet."
"Please tell me you plan to dress up as a volcra and jump out of a cake."
"Well, now you've ruined the surprise.”

   Nikolai was simply brilliant, snarky, intelligent and just an overall fascinating character from the moment he entered the story until the very last page. I loved him and just whenever a scene contained him, whenever we saw him interact with Alina, it was just so much fun! I could honestly read an entire separate book just about him and his crazy adventures. Unfortunately I feel like his potential as character was completely wasted in Ruin and Rising which was a shame and, once again, left me annoyed.

   (If you'd take a shot every time I said annoyed in this review, I think you'd probably have quite the problem, I'm sorry.)

   Then there was the Darkling, whose real name we've finally found out. As someone who usually favors the evil characters, I was quite fond of the Darkling. Yes, he was a horrible man who did horrible, unspeakable things, I am not denying that, but as character he was just incredibly intriguing and fascinating. He was so well characterized and had this certain something about him that I just loved. Did he deserve what he got? Hell yeah.

   All in all, even if Ruin and Rising left me ultimately disappointed and annoyed for the last 100 pages, it was still a good read and I enjoyed parts of it greatly. This is a great trilogy and probably the first fantasy trilogy I've enjoyed in a very long time. I adored the fact that Ravka was inspired by old Russia, though some of the last names drove me insane because they didn't follow the 'rules' for last names in Slav countries. If you're a Slav like me, Morozova would be a female for you, right, because of the -a ending. But in this universe it's a male last name, or maybe last names don't even make an ending distinction like they do in real life. ANYWAY, that isn't really important, just a little something I thought I'd mention. Oh and also all the traveling that happened in this story, that just got a bit boring after a while.
  Despite all of this I still recommend this trilogy, especially to people like me who usually don't really enjoy fantasy because this story doesn't contain any elves or witches or orcs or any of that.
I give Ruin and Rising 3 Stars.

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Samstag, 2. Dezember 2017

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Company
Number of Pages: 358 Pages (Paperback)
Series: Yes, #1 in the Grisha Trilogy or Grishaverse

   Alina Starkov doesn't expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal--and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
   Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina's extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart--and her country--in two. (goodreads.com)

   I've heard a lot about this book and the trilogy over the years since it came out. It was all over booktube and bookstagram, and everyone recommended it, but despite buying it surely two years ago, I hadn't gotten around to picking it up until the end of November '17. Oops. I didn't really know much about the story before going in, purposefully avoided reading the synopsis, so I just kew that the world was inspired by 19th Century Russia (present me with a book set in Russia or a world inspired by Russia and I will read the shit out of it) and that it contained a character called Darkling and 'magicians' call Grisha. That's it.
   I got sucked into the story easily after maybe two chapters or less and finished the entire book in like two or three days (I mostly got around to reading for an hour or two at night) and loved it! The world was intricate and captivating, the characters three dimensional and interesting (at least most of them), and Leigh Bardugo's writing simply amazing. The way she led certain scenes or moments in the story, it was brilliant. I can definitely understand why everyone was so obsessed with this trilogy because honestly same.

   Alina was a really interesting and fun protagonist and experiencing the story and world through her eyes was great. We got to watch her go through quite the transformation across the story, make mistakes and try to fix them, navigate a society she never thought she would ever be part of, and somehow survive even if the chances were minimal to none. (As slavic person myself and used to how last names work in Russia, the fact that Alina's last name is Starkov instead of Starkova will probably never stop irking me even if it's such a small, unimportant detail.)
   The Darkling was a fascinating character that I'd easily read an entire book about, just have him narrate his everyday life and I'd still read that asap. His particular brand of evil was well crafted and I cannot wait to see how things will develop across the entire trilogy. The Darkling is the sort of evil character that you know you shouldn't like but you can't resist because he is interesting and captivating and marvelously written.
   Out of the three people caught in this love triangle (yes the story unfortunately contains a love triangle, I wasn't a fan when I realized that while reading, I'll admit that) was Mal. It wasn't that he was a bad character or not well written, I just didn't particularly like his sudden change of heart when it comes to Alina. I guess I'll probably warm up to him as the story will continue, or at least I hope so.

   Even though I'm not the biggest fan of magic in books, the way the Grisha were portrayed and explained was amazing, that it was science instead of actual magic, just manipulating the elements around them instead of making things just happen out of thin air. I really enjoyed that a lot. The whole part about the Shadow Fold and how it came to be and what it does, the scenes set within it, now those were amazing and creepy and really creative.
   Leigh Bardugo definitely wrote a brilliant beginning to what promises to be a marvelous trilogy and I honestly cannot wait to continue with Siege and Storm, the sequel to Shadow and Bone, as soon as my copy arrives in the mail. 
I give Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 5 out of 5 stars.

Grand Prix Series - Internationaux de France de Patinage 2017

Dienstag, 21. November 2017

   Welcome to the fifth events of the Grand Prix Series in Grenoble, France. If you watched the Grand Prix last year, you know that Trophee de France (as this event was called before this year's name change) was a bit of a mess. Somehow the French organizers managed to make it even more of a mess this year.
   After witnessing the Internationaux de France de Patinage I truly wonder, along with basically everyone else on twitter, why the ISU is still giving this event to France even though they have shown, time and time again, that they really shouldn't be hosting a Grand Prix event. In one of my tweets (here) I've summed up a few of the differences between this year and last year, how this event continues to be a mess time and time again.
   My list went a little something like this:
  • Last year - No flags at all (yes, the national anthem of the winner was played simply played just like that, no flag to look at, nothing. Everyone was rightfully confused)
  • This year - shitty animated flags on a screen (It seemed like the organizers decided that it was easier to full flag gifs off of the internet instead of spending a very small amount of euro to buy a handful of different flags. What even.)
  • Last year - Paper medals (yes, as far as I've heard, the organizers hadn't managed to get the medals ready in time, so as substitutes the medalists received what seemed to be laminated paper with what the medals would look like printed on them. It was ridiculous.)
  • This year - Plastic stars in four different colors and three different sizes (I have a billion questions starting at have they just reused the 'medals' from some novice or junior competition and hoped no one would notice, or did they hire some French hipster designer who wanted to be edgy and different and thought that handing out pink/magenta stars to the ladies, blue to men, yellow to ice dance and green to pairs seemed like a good idea. I think not.)
   Personally, as well as many other people, I really think, and in a way hope, that the ISU will look at all of this and reconsider if France really is the right choice for this Grand Prix event. Maybe giving it to a different EU country would be a better idea, like maybe Spain or Germany or something, just not France.
   But, enough about what went wrong when it comes to the organization, let's instead talk about the medalists.

Men

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   During his final season, Misha Ge of Uzbekistan finally managed to win his first Grand Prix title with an outstandingly beautiful bronze performance during both the short program and free skate. Misha is one of those skaters who might not have the quads but instead have the artistry that reminds you of what figure skating is really about. When you watch Misha perform you feel everything he wants you to feel, you see that thoughts went into the programs and choreographies, that every move and gesture is perfectly timed with the music, and it is just such a delight to watch. I am very happy that he got onto the podium and received bronze for this, though I truly would've wished that he would've gotten an actual medal instead of a plastic star.
   Javier Frenandez on the other hand continues to be something like a problematic favorite of mine. I know he is a really damn good skater, he has the technical skill, he can perform beautifully if he wants, but both of his programs are still simply not it for me. I thought that maybe, as the season would continue, I'd warm up to them, but that just isn't the case. His short continues to be goofy and comical, appropriate for the fact that it is Charlie Chaplin themed, and his free skate tries to be comical too, but instead of giggling and smiling, enjoying watching it, I just sit there and cringe. The costume is awful too just saying. He has the technical abilities but I think he tries too much to be like Nathan Chen (all quads and chasing the points) instead of like Misha Ge (more artistry and fines instead of quad gambling) which is a shame.
   This, unfortunately, is also slowly the case for Shoma Uno. I love him to pieces. He is a fantastic skater and I love both of his programs, but as the season continues I begin to find it exhausting to watch him because you worry, every single time, if he will make all the jumps, if he will hurt himself somehow and hinder his own success in this very important Olympic season, or will he make it. I think, if he would switch out some of his quads for triples and put more of a focus on presentation, he could still win and it would be less of a nervous train wreck for the viewers, and possibly also for him.
   With all the quad chasing and point grinding in the men field, it does make me wonder how healthy all these jumps are for their bodies and what the long term effects might end up being cause I can't imagine anything good coming from it.

Ladies

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   The ladies were a mess during the short program, then again everyone was because of the (as far as I heard) bad ice quality and even practice time issues because great French organizers, but the free program brought things back closer to the level you'd expect during the Grand Prix of an Olympic season.
   Personally I am happy for Alina Zagitova that she won this event. I like both her Black Swan short and Don Quichot free, her balleteque tutu costumes and the music choices. I've already once complained about how backloaded her free program is with all the jumps in the second half, but somehow this time around I didn't mind it quite as much. I definitely think she is very talented and has a lot of potential and could, in the future, really challenge the current reigning Queen Evgenia Medvedeva.
   Maria Sotskova, there is something about her programs and her skating that I struggle with. For this event she had new costumes, which I dubbed pink candy princess and blue boredom, but they didn't help much either. Maybe it's the fact that Maria seems to have much longer limbs than many of her competitors, maybe it's how awkward it looks when she has her arm raised during some of the jumps, I don't know, but I can't really warm up to her, though I think she has good chances to make the Russian Olympic team.
   Finally, taking bronze, we had Kaetlyn Osmond from Canada. As the season progresses I am actually starting to like her. She is definitely a good skater and I can't wait to see her in competition when all the ladies will be present, see how her scores will compare to the other top competitors etc.

Pairs

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   I am still very, and I mean very salty about the fact that Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France were basically robbed of their gold medal, or rather big green star. Their performances were amazing, even with Vanessa two footing (I think) the landing of their quad throw. They definitely deserved that top podium spot and I won't get over that any time soon.
   I can't stand Tarasova's and Morozov's free skate. Their costumes are hideous with their yellow and black polka dot aesthetic, and the music cut and selection of it, don't even get me started on how questionable and in poor taste that is. I don't know if maybe the person who chose it just didn't pay attention to the lyrics, or if maybe they didn't completely understand it, but honestly those are not lyrics I thought would be appropriate for something that will be skated during the Olympics, if these two will make the team. Not a fan, at all.

   And that is, all my saltiness and a few nice words about the Grand Prix event in Grenoble, France. I am very excited to see how the final event, Skate America, will be and who will make it into the Grand Prix Final!