Siege & Storm Book Review

siegeandstormTitle: Siege & Storm
Series: Shadow & Bone #2
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry, Holt, & Co.
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Purchased Paperback

Darkness never dies.

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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

As this is a sequel there may be spoilers.

This was a solid sequel filled with so much action, character development, romance, snarky responses, hope, creepiness, and darkness.

I wasn’t expecting a lot of the twists and turns that happened at the beginning of the book, as well as at the ending. I thought that the way the plot progressed I would’ve been able to see more foreshadowing, but a lot of it was a surprise to me, which I enjoyed. I thought that the action sequence at the beginning with the Darkling and Alina, Mal, and Sturmhond’s crew were all very tense, but at the same time curious because there was something about what was happening that had me questioning the motives of several people. Then it progressed into an escape, political calculations, angst, and more unhappy darkness in the end. Honestly, I enjoyed this book more than the first.

Alina, I felt, is starting to really grow more as a character and she’s really trying her best to hone her skills as the Sun Summoner, to not let her powers or her amplifiers control her. I find it interesting how she has those glimpses of darkness within her and only at the end does she realize that it’s because part of the Darkling became a part of her when he claimed her with Morozova’s stag antlers. I wished she had spoken her mind more, had made more mistakes, more slips when in the political settings because I felt she was becoming a very bland person in those situations. And outside of those situations, she still didn’t seem to know what to do, but I think she just had a better understanding of where she belonged in that moment.

Mal was kind of a little overprotective in this book, in my opinion, but I could understand and see where he was coming from in those situations. He was frustrated at the situations, frustrated that he doesn’t understand Alina and what she desires, but also he feels trapped like an animal. I have a feeling about him that maybe he has hidden Grisha powers (no spoilers, please!), but I’m not entirely sure. I didn’t appreciate when he pulled himself so far away from Alina and just went in a small downward spiral. He had a lot of control up to that point, and I understand that their relationship got complicated, but I don’t know why he didn’t try to talk it out with her (and vice versa).

Can we just talk about Nikolai because he’s my new favorite and I need him in my life and I’m adding him to my Book Boyfriend List. He has many masks that he wears, different personas for different moments of time, so you never really know if he’s being sincere or not, but every time he’d joke or say something snarky I couldn’t help but laugh aloud. I personally much preferred seeing him as a Privateer, but as a Prince he was also very much in control of the situations around him and I think that was definitely a strong point for him. I just need more of him, that’s all.

The Darkling… Oh man, he got all kinds of dark and creepy in this book. New powers unfolded from him and his obsession with Alina and power just keeps growing. I can’t tell if he actually cares for her or just wants her power, but dang. He’s kind of scary. There actually wasn’t as much of him in this novel as the last one, which was fine, but it does make me wonder just what he was doing to prepare himself for when he’d return for Alina.

The romance in this book was much more apparent and actually I wished it had developed a different way, but that’s only because I was upset that years of friendship and trust could be so easily broken because of misplaced words and hurt feelings and egos. But the small bits of it that were in there were well placed and I think that we’ll see a bit more in the next book.

The action sequences and the descriptions of the creatures in the book were amazing. I think these were some of the strongest points of the novel because they were all very vivid and fast paced. I loved thinking up the world in my mind, about Sturmhond’s flying ship, about the lands and everything in between. I think that there’s some sort of dark secret behind the creatures that live in the Fold and I hope to learn more about it in the final book.

I definitely enjoyed this book more than the first and I feel that the plot is only going to thicken more now that Alina and the others are in the situation that they’re in now.

I rated this book 4/5 stars and I highly recommend it if you’ve read the first book in this trilogy.

The Goal Book Review

thegoalTitle: The Goal
Series: Off Campus #4
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: September 26, 2016
Genre: New Adult – Romance
Pages: 350
Format: Purchased eBook

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

This review is for a companion novel, but there could be some spoilers ahead.

I love this series so much. As my first foray into New Adult, I am not disappointed.

This last book in the Off Campus companion series followed Tucker and Sabrina, a hockey player and a very serious law student. When the two make eye contact from across the room one day, they are instantly attracted to each other in a very serious way, and boy did the heat turn up.

When this story first started I knew what was going to happen eventually because it was mentioned at the end of The Score, so I knew what to expect in one sense, but I didn’t expect to be so interested in both of the characters and their lives separately and together.

Sabrina James is very serious and driven in anything she does. Her stubbornness often causes her to wipe herself out, but she wants to succeed so much and to get into the school of her dreams: Harvard. She’s working two jobs, going to school full time, and studying her butt off to achieve these dreams. I found that her resilience was very refreshing and I liked seeing someone so committed, but even I was like, “You’ve gotta relax a little, bro.” I found that sometimes she was very high strung, but I think a lot of that had to do with anxiety and how she dealt with it in her own terms.

Of course, then when John Tucker showed up, a lot of that changed.

Tuck is a very charming, smart, caring Southern gentleman and I loved him. I thought he was very mature compared to the last three guys in this series, but he was also just as horny as the others. I loved that he tried very hard to pursue Sabrina – and that he even realized he was going into “stranger danger” territory at one point and backed down a bit. But after that his pursuit wasn’t pushy, but it was something that I could definitely see happening in real life. I thought that the way he strived to be a businessman and achieve his dream was also just as awesome as Sabrina’s wish.

And then The Thing happened, and oh man, I needed to know what the two were going to do in the situation.

And this is where I’m going to drop some spoilers because I need to air a few things that bugged me and also excited me:

  • When Sabrina found out she was pregnant, she was scared, and I don’t blame her at all in her given situation. She had a craptastic home life, she was under a lot of stress, and she didn’t know what to do in the situation, but when she told her friends and her friends suggested abortion and almost tried to push it on her, I felt myself getting very annoyed because it’s not their body, therefore not their decision. I was just ruffled that it was mentioned so casually, like it was the one and only option, until a few paragraphs later they were going to totally support her. It just felt off and weird.
  • I’m glad she went through with it and everything, but I wished that we could have seen a bit more? I mean there were a lot of big instances like finding out the gender and the birth (which was hilarious), but I just wished for a little more.
  • I was like, “Sabrina, stop being so damn stubborn and worrying and just tell the guy you love him!” I wished it had happened sooner than the last 3% of the book. But I’m still glad it happened.
  • That girl is so resilient! Taking care of a baby through Harvard? That’s amazing.
  • I love her and Tuck together, I really do. They balance each other out and I think that they meshed well together.
  • I was creeped out by Ray the whole time, and I wasn’t super fond of Sabrina’s Nana, and then Tuck’s mom, though coming from a place of love, was just cruel the way she approached Sabrina about everything. But hey, it happens, and I know that.

There are plenty of sexytimes that happen in this book just like the rest of them, but I think there’s a lot more dirty talk during the act than in the previous books, but I could be wrong. Either way, it was very good.

Overall I felt that this book wasn’t the best in the series, but I’m glad Sabrina’s and Tuck’s relationship was still explored because there was just a lot there and so much developed and came from it.

I rate this book 4/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’ve read the rest of the Off Campus series.

Saga & Rat Queens Comics Reviews

Today I’m going to be reviewing three comic books! I didn’t want to keep them in their own posts because the reviews are kind of short.

sagavol6Title: Saga, Volume 6
Series: Saga vol. 6
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel – Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 152
Format: Purchased Paperback

After a dramatic time jump, the three-time Eisner Award winner for Best Continuing Series continues to evolve, as Hazel begins the most exciting adventure of her life: kindergarten. Meanwhile, her starcrossed family learns hard lessons of their own.

Compiles issues #31-36

In this volume we got to see Hazel grown up a little bit as she enters kindergarten. And it’s not exactly a picnic for her either considering all of the crap she’s been through and the fact that even though she’s with her grandmother, they’re still in jail, pretty much.

I enjoyed this volume because we got to see progress of Alana and Marko coming together to rescue their child, of Hazel’s teacher wanting to help Hazel when she reveals her wings to the teacher, and more on other side characters.

I thought that this volume really started to pique my interest again because I’m excited to see where the story goes next with all of the fun surprises that happened at the end, plus a little bit of happiness for the family.

It wasn’t the best volume, but I still enjoyed it and give it 4/5 stars.


ratqueen1Title: Rat Queens, Vol 1 Sass & Sorcery
Series: Rat Queens vol 1
Author: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Illustrator: Roc Upchurch
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel – Fantasy
Pages: 128
Format: Purchased Paperback

Who are the Rat Queens?

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.

It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

Collecting Rat Queens #1-5!

This comic had a lot of buzz floating around it and I can definitely see why. The illustrations are absolutely lovely and detailed, even if the story in this first volume felt very jumbled to me.

There are four women who are part of the Rat Queens, a group of people who kill others for a living protecting the town: Hannah, Dee, Betty, and Violet. Each one has their own distinct personality, which I picked up on right away and appreciated, and each one brings their own abilities to the group. I found that, as a group, they all worked well together and did what was necessary to achieve their goals.

Despite that, I wasn’t super comfortable with the amount of profanities in this novel. It’s actually really obnoxious because for almost all of the characters they have some profane word to say almost every other word and definitely in every sentence, which I felt took away from the main point of the story.

I also felt that the story was kind of jumbled and hard to follow at times, because the sequences didn’t really fade out smoothly all that often, but when they did I found that I liked it more.

Other than that, I really did enjoy it. I thought that this volume was definitely more of an introduction into who the characters are and just what they’re meant to do.

I rate this volume 4/5 stars.

ratqueens2Title: Rat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth
Series: Rat Queens vol 2
Publication Date: May 6, 2015
Pages: 128
Format: Purchased Paperback

This booze-soaked second volume of RAT QUEENS reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far.

Collects RAT QUEENS #6-10

I’m going to admit: I definitely liked this volume a lot more. The plot really picked up and I didn’t feel that it was as jumbled and all over the place as the last one, plus we got to see a bit of back story for some of the characters due to an evil squid. Yeah. Seriously.

The characters are all trying to figure out just who was really behind their attempted assassinations, and even though they’re given a name, they didn’t know the severity of their situation. This volume packed in a lot of story and action, and though a few sequences had me confused, I felt that it was all very smooth and much easier to follow.

I really like that we got to have a little bit more of an in depth look at Dee, who ran away from her home and religion to find answers in the world, and how what is happening in this volume encompasses her religion entirely. It was interesting to see how she dealt with the issue and that she used logic and a sound mind to go through with it all.

Again, there were a few things in the story that I didn’t appreciate, but it’s more of a preference and whatnot (drug use and the profanities again), but I really did appreciate getting to see a bit more of where Hannah and Violet came from before they were in the Rat Queens.

I rate this volume 4/5 stars.

Shadow and Bone Book Review

shadowandbonesTitle: Shadow and Bone
Series: Grisha Trilogy #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Pages: 372
Format: Purchased Paperback

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.

This story was fast-paced, stunning, and very addicting.

Of course I had heard about the hype surrounding the Grisha trilogy for a while now. There are many, many people who are rabid fans for it and I think I understand the hype now. It was so gripping and the writing was easy to read, full of fascinating world details, beautiful names, interesting magic, and characters that were… well, they were interesting.

Alina Starkov is an orphaned girl who grew up in an orphanage where she felt lonely a lot of the time and where she didn’t really know who she was. I thought that she was a good character and was trying to figure out her place in the world, but she didn’t stand out to me. She dealt with a lot of problems of being forced into a world that she never thought she had any business in and she adjusted to it pretty quickly (well, a few months time, but still), and there were, of course, some hiccups and revelations along the way. I’m more interested to see what will happen with her in the next book because I felt like she had a lot of potential in this one and it just wasn’t quite reached. Like, she was there, but not quite. Her power was interesting and developing and I wanted to see more of that development and how she felt about it. I was very impressed with her and being able to reclaim herself in the end over the Darkling’s powers because, oh man, let’s talk about him next.

The Darkling is a mysterious figure who’s ability is to create darkness. I was wary of him in the beginning because I thought he couldn’t be trusted, and then when he was trying to gain Alina’s trust as time went on, and the kiss? I was skeptical of him after that. I’m all for romance, but that felt rushed and out of place even for me. And then we learn a bit more about him from Baghra and I’m like, “I KNEW IT!” I’m not sure where he truly stands, if what he’s thinking and doing are truly to bring Ravka peace, but I do like the line, “Make me your villain.” Because it’s true. He’s probably the most interesting character in that regard because I want to know more about his side of the story from him.

Mal grew up with Alina as an orphan, and he grew into a very good looking young man with a cocky attitude. He ends up in the First Army as their best tracker, able to “find a rabbit out of a rock,” and he is probably my favorite. He wasn’t overly complex or anything, but he touched a place in my heart and I’m rooting for him in more ways than one. As a human, he doesn’t have any powers, but I like that he uses his smarts and instincts a lot more than the Grisha do and I’m interested to see where it’ll lead them in the next book.

There were other side characters, such as Genya, whom I really liked and I thought had many sides to her. She understood court politics and I think was really becoming a friend to Alina. And then there was Baghra and I wasn’t sure what to make of her and, frankly, I’m still unsure. The Apparat is a very mysterious character and I’m wondering what he’ll do or be in the next books.

The biggest downside I had with this book was the pacing. I felt the pacing was really off, for some reason, like it was all being very rushed. I felt like I didn’t get enough time with Alina, that I didn’t get to see enough of her explore her powers, explore herself, and explore the world. I wanted more, and I felt that the pacing resulted in there not being enough to really grasp in regards to that.

And, like I said, I felt that all of the characters didn’t reach their full potential that I was so hoping for in this novel. I felt like they were so close – just a sentence or two away from really doing something amazing – but I felt like I didn’t see it. Not to say that I didn’t love the characters, because I do, but I just wanted more.

The other thing was I felt like the first half of the story wasn’t as memorable as the second half. I mean, it was still good and it obviously built up to what the rest of the plot lead to in the story, but I just haven’t grasped it fully like I have the second half.

I think the strongest element this story had going for it was the world. The world building was absolutely phenomenal and I loved it. From the vast lands, the magic, the cities, the Fold, everything was well thought out and described. It was very richly detailed and very easy to picture. I also like the map and referencing back to it because there was a lot of traveling going on, so it was nice to see just where cities and locations were.

Overall, I really enjoyed this first book. Though I had a few minor problems with it, it was still highly enjoyable and addictive and I can’t wait to read the next book.

I rate this 4/5 stars and recommend it!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue Book Review

bluelilylilyblueTitle: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal
Pages: 391
Format: Purchased Paperback

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.

Mothers can disappear.

Visions can mislead.

Certainties can unravel.

As this is a sequel, there may be spoilers!

Trying to get my thoughts together for this one is proving to be a serious challenge right now. I loved it – truly – but I don’t know if it was worthy of five stars? I think I’m still digesting it.

This third book was so vastly different from the last, but at the same time not that I feel like I may have missed something or I didn’t let it soak in. Maybe Cabeswater is affecting me, too?

The plot in this story grew and flowed continuously from the second book, following Adam, Gansey, Ronan, Blue, and Noah as they continue their search for Glendower, but there’s so much going on behind the scenes with Maura’s disappearance, with threats from outside sources, with Cabeswater wanting to speak to them with urgency, and with three sleepers: one to wake, one not to wake, and on in between.

I think that the concept for this series is fantastic and I loved how it was delivered in this book. Each of the characters continued to play their major roles and were learning more and more about themselves and each other, even when they felt that they didn’t know anything about one another.

Blue, I think, is really coming out of her shell and showing the boys that she’s capable of so much more than what she seems, and I think that she learns that about herself as well in this book. She does have a bit of an anger problem still (which I still don’t know how/where it stems from in situations?), and they reflect on the others around her, and either the boys understand and diffuse the situation, or sometimes things escalate too far. I felt that she really tried to take the initiative a lot more in multiple ways in this novel, from seeking out trying to find out where Glendower is, to the budding romance between her and Gansey, to trying to save her mother. There’s so much more beneath the surface of her and I love her for that. Blue really got a handle on her powers in this book in many instances and I thought that that showed great progression for her.

Gansey had a lot more inner turmoil when it came to Blue and I think a lot of his walls were let down around her, which made him much less uniform and polite and more wild and young. He felt more genuine in those moments, which I highly appreciated. He tries his best in many situations in this book to remember his stance in his relationships, for sure, but I think we also learn a few things about him that may not have been present in the past books: he does have fears. I was surprised when I read these parts, but when I did they felt so real and genuine that I couldn’t help but feel for him. I think he, like Blue, is really coming out of his shell and showing many different facets of himself and who he is.

Adam grows the most out of anyone given the situation he thrust himself into, but also because of what happens around him and how he can’t ignore it. Cabeswater calls to him in many ways and when he ignores it, it doesn’t end well for him. I think that he definitely grows in this book as he learns more about his powers, himself, and what kinds of things he can do with and through Cabeswater. He’s stronger than he lets himself on to be, and though it may not be totally evident, it is seen in small pieces in different situations such as when he scrys, or when he faces his father at the courthouse (by the way, did he win that case?).

Ronan is Ronan, though and through, and I wish we had perspectives from him in this book. He was in a lot of scenes, don’t get me wrong, but he didn’t directly have any sort of chapter from his perspective alone. I will say, though, that I feel like he’s getting to be a little softer? As in, he may still be his kind of jerkish self, but he’s also showing more care for his friends (and that little bit of feelings for a certain someone, though nothing’s been spoken aloud). He’s vengeful, but doesn’t act on it; he’s protective over his friends and Chainsaw; and he knows his limitations. I just love him, honestly.

Noah, though present in this book, didn’t have as much presence as the last book. There was a lot going on with him in this book, though, that was caused from the ley lines and the powers around Henrietta. A lot of times it was kind of creepy what was happening to him, and a bit unsettling, but eventually things became a bit more steady for him and how he acted.

The romance is there, it is. And that one scene was so intense and intimate and oh man, I just wish they could kiss, but death is imminent, and ahhhhh. It makes me sad, but also happy?

And then there’s things that happen with other characters, like The Gray Man, Greenmantle, Malory, Jesse, Persephone… Oh man, so many emotions.

The overall plot of the three sleepers was an interesting take in this book and I think it was part anti-climatic and part brilliant because the one who was in between seemed like the anti-climactic bit, while the one who was to be awake was kind of really entertaining, and then the one who’s not supposed to wake? Oh man, I’m interested to see how that plays out in the last book. It’s definitely going to lead up to it.

This book definitely had a lot going on and though my brain is still trying to wrap around it, I can say that I really enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite. I do still think that it has a lot of story behind it and a lot that was learned and lot that will unfurl in the last book, though.

I rate this book 4/5 stars and highly recommend it.