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.

Obsidio Book Review

obsidioTitle: Obsidio
Series: Illuminae Files #3
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Illustrator: Marie Lu
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: March 13, 2018
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Pages: 615
Format: Hardcover

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken. 

I. Loved. This. Whole. Trilogy.

This whole book was a whirlwind of emotions: anxiety, fear, anger, happiness, sorrow, joy, you name it, I probably felt it. The only thing that could’ve made it better was it actually playing out like a movie in front of my eyes because Jay and Amie brought the visuals again (literally and literary [ha, see what I did there?]) and I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to a trilogy. And as this is the third book, there will probably be spoilers ahead.

Alright, so, where to even begin?

After the events of Gemina, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Obsidio when it came to the plot because how could it possibly live up to that? Well, it brought on another level of many questions and action that had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning.

We’re introduced to two new main characters: Asha and Rhys. They were once star-crossed lovers, so to speak, and so totally in love, but events caused them to be separated by time and space (literally), and one went to become a medical intern (Asha), while the other got shipped to military school and went to work for BeiTech (Rhys).

Now as this was the third book, there was a lot going on. I don’t know that I’m as attached to these to as I am to Nik and Hanna, but I still loved their characters. They were just trying to each do their jobs, to look humanity in the face and question it, and to really put to the test about morality and how the decisions you make can really affect everything around you.

Asha is Kady’s older cousin and a strong, brave woman. She’s pretty ordinary, but she has a fierce love for others and she isn’t about to put up with anyone’s bullshit when it comes to that love. I loved one of the lines in one of the surveillance footage chapters where it says how she doesn’t have anything special about her like Hanna and Kady do, which probably makes her the bravest of all – and, frankly, I have to agree. She’s not a martial arts or tactician like Hanna, or a computer whiz like Kady; she’s just a young woman trying to survive on a planet much too unforgiving with people even more unforgiving than that.

And then we have Rhys who’s a tech whiz from the spaceship Magellan with the perfect quiffed hair that seems to defy all laws of physics. The part about him that I loved the most is that he never stopped questioning the morality of what was happening on the planet Korenza IV. He never stopped asking why the BeiTech soldiers did what they did, why they killed for some stupid reasons, etc. I think that even though he was a trained military soldier, he was still so fresh and human compared to the other BeiTech soldiers that it pushed some other characters to really reflect on their own decisions.

When they managed to work together despite their past, they really managed to do so well. I liked their dynamic and how one was looking out for the other while also trying to look out for others.

And then we have everyone else that was important coming back full force and there was a lot of death, a lot of pain, but so much to look forward to.

Kady and AIDEN were two of my favorite aspects of this story, in particular. AIDEN is actually one of my favorite characters in any series, and he’s an AI system. A monster. And I can’t help but feel attached to him because despite all of that, he was still… human. It’s hard to explain, really, but his character was one of the best I’ve read. And Kady was fighting so hard and showing that she wasn’t going to back down for anything, even the few times that AIDEN showed how unstable he was and how weak he was becoming.

Nik, Hanna, Ezra, and Ella were all key players in this story, as well, but not as much as in previous books (obviously, because we had two new main characters). There were a few times that they brought a lot of humor to tense situations, which I found to be a nice buffer in all of the chaos.

Also, shout out to Dr. Isaac Grant for being the best dad ever and caring not just for his own daughter, but for all of our main heroes aboard. My heart. It weeps.

Okay, but the plot? ACTION. PACKED. Like I seriously felt like I didn’t have a break from someone being shot or yelled at or AIDEN being all “I am a monster,” or anything because holy crap, this plot moved fast. But like, it was a good kind of fast like the other two books. It encompassed so much in its 600+ pages that my brain is still wrapping around it. There was a lot of death and destruction, yes, but there were also moments of tenderness, of grief, of solitude and togetherness, of mutiny and anger. There was so much wrapped up into this plot that I felt so much a part of it.

I think that’s one of the main reasons I loved this trilogy so much. It really brings you into the story – and not just because the formatting of the book is awesome and very visually stimulating, but also for its characters and the lives they’re trying to lead.

Overall, this book was a great conclusion. I didn’t know how it was going to end. There were twists and turns, places where I gasped, where I wanted to cry, where I was shocked, laughed out loud, angry. It brought out a whole well of emotions, and I’m beyond happy I read it.

As for the trilogy itself, it’s become one of my all-time favorites. From page one of book one it’s had me hooked. I can honestly say that this series is one I would recommend to anyone, especially if they’re look for a visual stimulating, high stakes, whirlwind of an adventure.

If you haven’t read this trilogy yet, what are you doing?

I rated this book 5/5 stars, and this trilogy 5/5 stars.

Gemina Book Review

geminaTitle: Gemina
Series: Illuminae Files #2
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Illustrator: Marie Lu
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: October 18, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Pages: 659
Format: Hardcover

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Guys.

Guys.

I LOVED this sequel. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick it up because I remember loving the first book so much that I couldn’t wait for this one to come out.

Well, here I am, sobbing into the void that is Gemina because wow, was it amazing. As this is a sequel there might be minor spoilers, but I’ll give you my general thoughts about a few things, but just know that you should definitely read this book to find out all of the things that happen!

Okay, let’s talk about the aesthetics of the book before I jump into anything else. Like the first book, Illuminae, Gemina‘s pages were filled with files and chats and pictures that encompassed the story from different points of view, and I think that that really helps you to get into the story. Seriously, the format with which the pages are in just bring this storytelling to a whole new level. I especially loved toward the end of the book the dual perspectives. That’s all I’m going to say about that because I thought it was SO cool and very well done.

Now, for the main characters we have Hanna, the Commander’s daughter, the “Princess” of the ship, if you will, and Nik, a criminal who lives with a family of criminals. Hanna, I thought, was actually not like I was expecting her to be as the story progressed. I was expecting a sex-driven, gets-what-she-wants, piss-poor attitude of a girl, but instead what I got was a sassy, funny, strong, unafraid-to-kick-ass girl with military and martial arts training, who did have a sex drive, but it wasn’t the focal point of her character. Many times I was surprised by her wit and comebacks and I loved that about her. As the story progressed, I could see her struggle with the situation unfolding around her, but that never stopped her from trying to do what needed to be done.

Nik was also not what I was expecting, either. Yeah, he was kind of a smartass like I was expecting, but even through his sexual flirting he had a heart of gold, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love that in the “bad boy?” I wasn’t as surprised with his character and his development, but I still found that his family-oriented pride was really in the right place, and that he was willing to do anything for those that he deemed family or those he deemed close.

There were also important side characters, too, such as Dr. Grant, Ella, Jackson, and the BeiTech SpecOps people, and I found each of their character unique and compelling and hiding so many facets that I wanted to see uncovered throughout the story – especially those of Ella and Jackson, and I was not disappointed.

Ella, especially, was my favorite side character. She’s a 15-year-old hacker genius who was disabled due to a plague, but her dad spent a fortune on the best medicine and medical treatment he could to save her (she’s Nik’s cousin, so the family thing is also on her side). She’s super sassy and smart and so not putting up with anyone’s bullshit when it comes down to it, and I love that about her.

The story was action packed from pretty much beginning to end. Not only were there human threats and space-type threats, but there were also parasitic threats. Like. Creepy parasitic threats that will give you the creeps kind. Honestly, I thought that was a nice touch and really expanded upon this being a science fiction novel. Plus the way they were written was believable for the setting that they were in, which I thought really sold it. They also just added to the atmosphere of “oh shit we really need to save these people now.”

We get some surprises throughout the story that I had to dig into my memory banks to remember because it’s been forever and a day since I read Illuminae, but OMG THE PLOT TWISTS. When I read certain scenes, I felt myself confused and trying to click what exactly happened when I read it, and then something happened later and it clicked and I was mind blown. Seriously. This book had so many twists and turns, and I’m usually pretty good at catching onto those things early on in books, but this one? Not so much, which I thought was executed really well.

I was on the edge of my seat reading this book to the point where when I reached a certain scene in the book, I literally couldn’t stop reading. I finished this in practically one day and I have no regrets about it. It was fast paced, heart wrenching, mind blowing, fun, and there is so much to look forward to in the final book of this trilogy that I cannot wait to start reading it.

Overall, I highly recommend this second book and I rate it 5/5 stars.