Ruin and Rising Book Review

ruinandrisingTitle: Ruin and Rising
Series: The Grisha Trilogy #3
Authors: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Square Fish
Publish Date: April 18, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 427
Format: Paperback

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.

Okay, so, it’s been a hot minute since I last read the second book in this trilogy, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this third installment – which I did enjoy it! I remember not really liking the first one as much as I had hoped, but the second one was much more enjoyable, and I think that this one was even better than that.

So, as a whole, this book did really well in delivering what was to come that the plot had been leading up to and telling us would happen from page one of the first. There was fighting, loss, exhaustion, hope, and I thought that the characters themselves were doing what they could to just survive, let alone plan and plot to overthrow the Darkling.

Let me say that Alina’s character still annoyed the crap out of me. Like… I don’t know, she was very ready to not trust her friends at the drop of a hat, and I just didn’t get it? This mostly happened at the very beginning of the book in the first few chapters where she had a page of inner monologue with herself about if she should trust them over the man from the white cathedral who was creepy af. I just… didn’t get it. But I was glad that she got over that and actually took initiative a few times and didn’t rely so heavily on others.

But, you know, good things don’t last forever. I mean, I thought she did well for the situations she was in, but sometimes I wanted to slap her upside the head.

Anyway, I really liked the ragtag team of people that they had going and how they worked together through it all. Though not everything went according to plan, everyone did their hardest to keep each other safe.

I was not, however, expecting the betrayal, but when I reflected back I could see signs that would lead up to the person turning them over to the Darkling.

I also was not expecting what happened to Nikolai to actually be happening. Like, when I was reading that whole sequence, I thought it was just a dream. But nope, it was actually happening, and I remember reading it and going, “Oh shit.” Just my mouth was hanging open in disbelief at what was happening.

And Baghra. The more I got to know about her character, the more I grew to like her, and I will say that I think she was one of the best parts of this story.

And then we have the search for the Firebird. I loved the descriptions used to show the reader what the forests looked like, how there was a tale behind why the trees looked the way they did, at why the waterfalls glowed gold, and then the bird itself – it was such a great scene and one of my favorites in the book. I thought the way it was described really captured what exactly the characters were seeing and painted the picture vividly for the reader.

I also was no expecting the reveal of the final amplifier and boy, let me tell you: I was shook. But also not completely surprised? Just… okay, I was surprised, but I think judging by the back story given by Baghra earlier in the book really helped to paint the whole picture. I actually liked this part of the book and I liked how everything from previous tellings were piecing together for the final moment.

Which, speaking of, this was my biggest gripe of this book: the fight scene – the final battle with the Darkling – was incredibly underwhelming at the end. I was super into it throughout the whole thing, at how it was going down, and then… it just ended so simply? Like… it almost felt like a cop-out. I wanted there to be more stress and for Alina to be more distraught, and I just felt like it fell kind of flat there in those moments.

The scenes after were like a nice wrap up and a way to lead the reader to form their own questions and to hope for more story – which we’ll be getting when King of Scars comes out, but still.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. This book was highly enjoyable and I thought that the descriptions of the sceneries were some of the best elements.

And no, I’m not mad about the final pairing; I’m actually glad it happened because I thought they were good for each other.

If you’ve read the first books and liked them, definitely read this one. It provides a nice wrap up to an epic journey and I think you’d really enjoy it.

I rated this book 4.5 stars.

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s the holiday season once again, and I’m coming at you with another gift guide!

Okay, so I haven’t actually done one of these since 2015, but… still!

Here’s the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for bookish and writerly people!

For this guide, I wanted to focus on some of the more practical and everyday things that people can find useful in their lives, so I’ve listed five bookish related and five writerly related items below that I think you (or your favorite bookworm/writer in your life) will enjoy. I’ll include links to the various products for easy browsing!

For the Bookish

  1. Book themed planner/calendar – I actually discovered this planner while I was in Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago. It included spaces at the beginning of each month for books to read and books that you’ve read in that month, and each month talk about famous author birthdays, famous book publishing days, and more. But you can also find a ton of literary themed planners and calendars on etsy!
  2. Candles – Okay, I know some people don’t like them, but a lot of readers find that having a candle lit is not only aesthetic, but also very calming while reading. You can find literary candles all over, but check out Novelly Yours on etsy. They’ve got a lot of great candles in amazing scents.
  3. Totes, art, bedding, & more – Have you heard of Society6 or RedBubble? Well, people can create designs and sell them via this platform, and so there is no shortage of book themed items there. If you’re looking for a tote to carry your books in, or you need new bedding because yours are old and falling apart, check out Evie Seo’s shop for some cool designs! She’s one of my favorite designers, and the products from the companies are really good.
  4. Bookmarks – Let’s be clear: bookworms will never say no to bookmarks. They’re practical, even if they get lost easily, and there’s so many cool designs to choose from. Plus, they’re cheap enough, so why not get your favorite bookworm a few bookmarks? You could even take it a step further and get them a personalized one!
  5. Bamboo book holder – This is for my e-book readers, but say you’re trying to cook or workout or whatever, and you just can’t hold the book? Well, why not check out a bamboo book holder? Being made of bamboo, they’re sturdy and will be able to hold your e-reader perfectly.

For the Writerly

  1. Stationary – You can find TONS of different kinds of stationary online. They come in all sizes and colors, so here’s an example of some of the kinds you can get.
  2. Tombow pens – Okay, if your writer friend is into bullet journaling at all, then these Tombow pens are the way to go. They come in a multitude of colors and are pretty affordable.
  3. Lumbar pillow – Let me tell you, if you have a writer friend then their back is probably in pain. Hours of sitting wherever they’ve plopped to write can really take a toll on the back, so why not gift them a lumbar pillow? They’re these pillow that can hook onto the backs of chairs and provide that extra needed support for the lower back.
  4. Journal – Old school here, but I love getting journals. Even if I don’t use them, just knowing that I have them brings a peace of mind that I can’t explain. Writers appreciate them a lot because it gives us space to write our ideas when nothing else is around us and they can be much like our diaries, but for our stories. There are pocket-sized and regular sized journals to choose from, so pick one you think would best suit them!
  5. A mug – Listen, writers can stay up for hours on end just chugging away at their story, so they’re going to need caffeine (or whatever beverage of choice they want) to keep them going, so why not get them a mug? You can find cool writerly ones like this mug here that says, “I am a writer: anything you say or do may be used in a story.”

Okay, so some of these things are pretty obvious or ones that have been talked about more times in many blogs that I can count, but still: shopping for a bookworm or a writer can be easy if you know what to look for. Just think about what they like or what they need and apply that to your gift giving ideas this year.

Have a happy holiday season!

Let’s chat!

What kinds of gifts do you hope for as a bookworm or writer? Let me know!

Eidolon Book Review

eidolonTitle: Eidolon
Series: The Wraith Kings #2
Authors: Grace Draven
Publisher: Balestra Publishing, LLC
Publish Date: April 18, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 239
Format: Kindle ebook

In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis, unleashes a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by darkness. His human wife Ildiko must decide if he will give up the man she loves in order to save his throne. 

Three kingdoms on the verge of war must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king will raise an army of the dead to challenge an army of the damned. 

A tale of alliance and sacrifice.

This sequel was a great follow up to Radiance, picking up right where the first book left off and showing just what kinds of evils can be let into the world by an extremely power hungry, vile woman.

The story continues to follow from Ildiko’s and Brishen’s perspectives, the chapters being told from their perspectives respectfully, showing what each endures emotionally and mentally, as well as physically, throughout the tale. But not only do we get their POVs, we also get a new perspective from Kirigipa, one of the royal nursemaids of Bast-Haradis.

I actually really enjoyed her chapters because it showed a glimpse into the outside world away from Saggara where a majority of the events were taking place between the two main characters. It showed how the determination and duty of those that served the crown were impenetrable, and it showed exactly what kinds of threats lay just beyond the waters.

The story continued to also focus on the relationship between our two main characters and just what kind of strain can be put on them from outsiders – and how one very important question about duty versus love could shake the foundations of a relationship. Though at times I thought they handled it well, I was also frustrated because where they would communicate in the last book, they seemed to be lacking that very this in this one.

I did think that both sides overreacted a bit to the other, because I didn’t read it in the same way that the character would have heard it or reacted to it, so when I read certain reactions that one had in front of the other, I was like, “Why are you being like that? It wasn’t that bad…” But I can also understand where the characters would react in ways that wasn’t like how they were in the first novel because they were stretched thin, extremely exhausted physically and mentally, and they had such a looming threat hovering over everyone’s lives that I guess I can rationalize the reactions on their part.

The plot lead to the big finale, the final battle between the Kai and humans versus the galla – the demons brought forth into the world by Brishen’s mother. And though there were tense and soft moments, when the time finally came for the battle I was…. very underwhelmed. I wanted to see more of the battle, to see more struggle than what I got and frankly, that was the biggest disappointment in this novel.

Besides all of that, though, there was a sense of urgency throughout the novel that lead to the big battle, and afterward, I enjoyed the ending. It ended on a soft note, which I was glad for.

If you read the first book, definitely continue with this one. Though the third book was supposed to already have come out (it hasn’t as of the time I’m writing this), I think that the second book ends on a nice enough note that there’s not really any cliffhangers for me to look for.

I do, however, want a story between Serovek and Anhuset. THAT is something I definitely want to see unfold lol

I gave this sequel four stars and recommend it after the first book, which you can read my thoughts on here.

Unhauling Books & Being Okay With It

Hi peeps, so today I wanted to talk about something I recently did, which was unhaul books (duh, obviously judging by the title), but I also want to talk about being okay with unhauling books. I know a lot of us can get attached to the aesthetics or the potential for a story or whatever reason we might have of keeping those books, but let’s be real: are you actually going to take the time to read it in the future? Or are you just being stubborn?

So, I’ve unhauled a lot of books in the last two years. Last summer I brought five reusable shopping bags full to the brim with books that I knew I wasn’t going to read and brought them to my local library (to the surprise of the librarians at seeing just how many I had brought lol). And I’ve just recently unhauled another 44 books from my shelves that I’m going to donate again. Forty-four. Crazy!

This included signed books I’d gotten from book boxes, and ones that I knew I wasn’t going to get around to reading anytime soon in the near future – or ones that I just lost interest in completely.

It also included books on my shelves that I’ve had for YEARS. Like. College days. (I graduated from college four years ago now, so it was even sooner than that.) It included both young adult and adult books, fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, and fiction.

And you know what?

It felt good.

I have been staring at my shelves for a while now just overwhelmed with not only the amount of unread books I had (at the time, including audio and e-books, it was around 260+, but this also includes long manga series), but with just how cluttered my shelves were getting. I asked my husband for another tall bookshelf for Christmas so I can better display my books and use up less space (I’m using three small bookcases and one large one).

And to be honest, when I looked at some of these books, I didn’t even remember having some of them. I tried reading premises and seeing if I was at all interested, but I found myself not interested anymore.

And you know what? That’s okay.

I know a lot of us like to “hoard” books for many reasons. Some of you lovely people out there are extremely fast readers and can keep up with the amount of books that you get, while some of you are slower but still love to collect.

And there’s nothing wrong with this! I want to make it perfectly clear that I am NOT bashing anyone for having an excess amount of books or for not unhauling some or anything. If it makes you happy and comfortable, you keep doing it!

What I am saying is: if you’ve been thinking about unhauling but you’re wary for one reason or another, just do it! *insert Shia Labeuof meme here*

It honestly feels amazing.

Not only do I have more shelf space (CRAZY), but I have more peace of mind of not feeling so pressured to read all of these books I set myself to read once upon a time.

I kept books that I’ve read and loved, that I know I’ll read, or ones that have sincere sentimental value to me (one book I’ve kept since middle school and read in 9th grade and still love even though I haven’t read it since then).

Sometimes doing these kinds of things can really be helpful mentally. If you’ve been feeling like you’re overwhelmed by your shelves, take a good look at them and really ask yourself if all of those books you have are really going to be read or if you’re just keeping them for later (even when you know you probably won’t read them). Maybe it’ll help you.

Let’s chat!

Have you unhauled any books recently? How did you feel about it? Does the thought of getting rid of any of your books hurt you to your core? Let me know!

Beat the Backlist 2019 Challenge

BTBBanner_TransparentBG

Hello all! So I’ve participated (and I say this lightly) with Beat the Backlist for the last two years, so I’m going to do it again with 2019!

Beat the Backlist is a challenge hosted by NovelKnight where the goal is to read as many backlisted books of your TBR as you can throughout the year. So for the 2019 challenge, it’s to read any book published prior to 2019, and one that you started to read in 2019 (you can’t have started in 2018 or prior; the goal is to start and finish the year the challenge is being held). You can find more information on her blog which I’ve linked at the beginning of this paragraph or the image above.

Here’s my list of backlist books I hope to get to. I’m going to be very hopeful here when listing these because I don’t know that I’ll actually get to them. Mind you, this isn’t all of the books that are backlist titles that I want to get to, but just some of the ones I hope to read in 2019.

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The Burning Sky / Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki / Winter / The Well of Ascension / The Fifth Season / Strange the Dreamer / Ruin and Rising / Six of Crows / Crooked Kingdom / The Graceling

As you can see, it’s pretty much fantasy and sci-fi across the board (I mean, SFF are my fave genres, so…), which I’m perfectly fine with because I love diving into worlds that aren’t our own and reading about a lot of magical and fantastical things.

I’m also trying to keep this TBR manageable for this challenge because the last two years of reading for me were really tough and not all there, so I want to ease into it with titles I know I’m going to like.

I’ll also be participating in the Hogwarts House Mini Challenge as Hufflepuff!

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I’m excited for 2019 and hope it brings the spark and love of reading back into my life, and I hope this challenge also helps to do that!

Let’s chat!

Are you participating in BTB? What books are you going to read that are backlisted? Let me know in the comments!