Leigh Bardugo Book Signing | King of Scars Book Tour

That’s right, my peeps: I went to Leigh Bardugo‘s book signing for King of Scars at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA on January 30th, and it was a great time!

So I happened to be perusing Twitter one day some time in December and saw that Leigh was going on a book tour for King of Scars. Well, authors don’t always come to my state, so I was like, “There’s no way she’s going to come here.”

And then I looked on her website and, lo and behold, there was a tour stop date listed for not only my state, but also for my favorite independent bookstore. Of course I had to go! I’d be stupid not to. (Plus it was my half day at work, so I didn’t have to rush around to get out to the Boston area on time).

So I drove to Alewife, which is a parking garage in the city, and took the train in (which I love doing; I’m such a tourist). Mind you, the polar vortex was coming in that night, so I knew it was going to be cold, but wasn’t expecting what came once I left the store. Anyway, I’m enjoying my trip in, and I get there about quarter after 5PM, which was when people could line up to get in.

I saw a few cosplays as I made my way around toward the end of the line… which was wrapped around the block and down the street a bit. Fun stuff.

It might not look like a long line, but trust me, in 10 degree Fahrenheit weather standing outside for over a half hour? It was long enough.

So once I finally got into the store, the way they had the lines sectioned was by group: group one had green wristbands and were guaranteed seats downstairs where the Q&A and signing would be, the blue wristbands would be in the standing section of the downstairs, and then orange bands would be in a line upstairs, but still hear all of the event going on and such.

I got a blue wristband, which meant I got to stand in the back for when the event took place. Whoop whoop!

So when I finally get into the store and grab my book, there were SO many people! It was crazy! The photo doesn’t really do justice to show how many people were in there, but it was a lot.

There were stations set up around the store where you could find out which Grisha Order you fall into, as well as pins that correspond to the orders (and a Darkling one). I took the little quiz on the card and discovered I’m Etheralki! (I was secretly hoping for Corporalki, but I’ll take this one, too.) My heart says I’d be an inferni, but I’d probably be more useful as a tidemaker, who knows? I also took one of each pin because, well, why not?

If you want to take the fun little quiz yourself, here’s the card! I posted the questions below it.

Tally up the amount of A’s, B’s, and C’s, and then check to see whether you’re a member of the Corporalki, Ehteralki, or Materialki!

Mostly A’s: Corporalki, the Order of the Living and the Dead.
Mostly B’s: Etherealki, the Order of Summoners.
Mostly C’s: Materialki, the Order of Fabrikators.

The next two stations included a polaroid that you could take against a King of Scars backdrop, and then have it taped into the passport you could get at the station after that! I thought it was really nifty, and you can use the passport at other Leigh Bardugo events and get the stamp that corresponds to that event! Pretty exciting, not gonna lie.

So then I go downstairs and I’m waiting for the event to start, and, well, let me just show you where I was and how quickly it filled up:

Yeah… I was at the very back by the employee door. It was fine, though, because Leigh actually walked out from behind me through that door, and all of us in that area were awestruck and I said hello, and she said hello back, and I was super fangirling internally at that point. XD It was great.

So then the Q&A starts and it was so much fun! The staff did a great job of maintaining the crowd and having the event run smoothly, and Leigh was so funny! She’s got a great personality, and even when she speaks it’s like she’s telling a story. We laughed, we gasped, we made sure that no spoilers were given (one almost was for Crooked Kingdom, but Leigh asked if there were still people that haven’t read it ((aka me and a few others)), so she refrained from saying anything too spoilerly, thank god).

It was a really fun time. I ended up getting King of Scars signed and personalized, as well as Leigh’s other new release, The Severed Moon: A Year-Long Journal of Magic, which is a journal that consists of prompts and quotes for 365 days to spark your creativity in writing, and I also got my passport signed.

And even though I didn’t get these signed, I also bought the paperbacks of the Shadow and Bone trilogy in the new covers because I think they’re gorgeous and I’ve been debating with myself for months on whether or not I should get them, soooooo, here were are.

All-in-all, it was a very fun event and I had a really great time. I plan on finishing Six of Crows soon, then Crooked Kingdom, and then jump into King of Scars.

Let’s Chat!

Have you been to a book signing recently? How was your experience? Are you excited to read King of Scars? Which Grisha Order do you belong in based on the quiz? Let me know all of the things!

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.

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.

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!

September 2014 Book Haul

I have a book buying problem. Thanks Booktube.

No, but really, I’ve heard a lot of great things about all the books I bought and can’t wait to read them all. I have seven books in this haul, so it’s not a huge haul, but it’s still something!

Here are the books I got:

  • Sabriel and Lirael by Garth Nix. These two books are companion novels in the Abhorsen series and do not have to be read in the order in which they were published, but Sabriel does make an appearance in Lirael, so maybe you should read them in order… Anyway, Sarbriel is about a girl with magical powers who can use bells as her weapons. Each bell holds its own power, including bringing others back from the dead. Sounds interesting, right? And Lirael is about a girl who has to become a guardian in the magical library, but this is a very dangerous task and only the most skilled people can work there due to the dangers that lurk behind the shelves.
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. This is the first book in the Grisha trilogy and it’s about a girl named Alina who was orphaned at a young age and then taken to the royal courts to become part of the Grisha – the magical elite. There is action, romance, and mystery within this book, and I am very intrigued by it.
  • Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. This is a story about survival in a world where the water has been tainted and only very few sources are left clean. A girl named Lynn lives next to one of these sources and guards it against any who might come looking to steal some to drink. Sounds like a realistic type of dystopian that could happen in the future, so I’m curious to see what happens in it.
  • The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. One, the cover is gorgeous. Two, this book is about a girl named Ioanthe who has some of the greatest magic in the world (or so she’s told) and she is sent on a quest to defeat the Bane, and to go with her is Prince Titus, who does end up falling for the girl. It’s a fantasy novel mixed with romance, so what’s not to love?
  • A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin. This is the fifth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and I got it to complete my collection of the series thus far. I have only read part of book one, and haven’t seen the show yet, but I do plan on either marathoning it or taking my time through it because these books are massive, but really well written. No, I don’t know what the fifth book is entirely about, so please don’t tell me!
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This book has been on the high side of the praise line lately and has since been turned into a TV series on Starz. It’s about a woman named Claire who is a former combat nurse in World War II, and during her second honeymoon with her husband she is somehow transported back in time to Scotland during another war in 1743. She has to learn the culture and save her own skin, all the while having her heart torn between her love for her husband and the Scots warrior whom steals her heart. It sounds very intriguing and beautiful, and I can’t wait to read it and watch the show (eventually).

That’s all I have for my book haul, but all of these books sound fantastic. I have a good feeling about all of these books and can’t wait to dive in. In the meantime, I’m going to be finishing what’s out in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas before starting a new one. If you have any suggestions as to what I should read next, let me know! But I might start one of my “scarier” books for the month of October.

Accompanying video: September 2014 Book Haul