A Monster Calls | Book Review

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Fiction, Horror
Pages: 224
Format: Kindle eBooks

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

This book follows a preteen named Conor during a time when his mother is fighting cancer, and his anger and grief takes the form of a monster that he sees outside of his window one night: an ancient tree that came to life. The tree tells him four stories – well, only three, as Conor has to tell him the fourth – and with each Conor learns something, or something happens in his environment as a result of each story.

I thought that this novel was a great exploration into grief and how it can manifest itself into something entirely different if it’s not dealt with properly. The book didn’t make it something that could easily be covered up, it didn’t make light of it, but rather the story focused on how, over time, grief can become a catalyst for events to happen and take place. It can be dangerous, destructive, wild, or it can be very lonely and heartbreaking. I personally felt a connection to this due to circumstances with my own family and my own grief and how my own grief manifested, but that’s another story for another day. Delving into grief as a topic is one that I don’t often see in the books I read, so it was refreshing to see.

I personally thought that the way the monster was represented by this ancient tree that Conor’s mother always pointed out was clever. The monster would come at the same time every night – 12:06AM – and after every encounter it would leave a mess behind to show that it had, in fact, been there and been real (such as leaves or branches).

I kind of expected Conor to act a bit more…surprised or scared at the fact that, you know, a giant walking tree was at his window, but he wasn’t as wary as I was expecting him to be. Of course, the more the monster came, the less he was afraid, which makes sense.

The relationship between Conor and his mother was super sweet, and I love to see how close a mother and son could be. Even though his parents are divorced (and the interaction between him and his father was awkward), it was nice to see parental units that actually loved and cared for their son. Though, Conor’s relationship with his grandmother was very much strained until the end, I thought that it was all very realistic as far as familial relationships go.

As far as relationships at Conor’s school went, I thought that it was all very interesting to see. If it’s a small school, I could understand why everyone was acting especially careful around Conor, and even the bullies were interesting. By this I mean I found the head bully to be… almost like a monster himself. I don’t know for sure if he was really real or what. But I also think he got what he deserved in the book, so that’s that. I did appreciate the one friend that tried to reconcile and help Conor, but of course, grief can make you say and do things – and avoid things – that may otherwise be of help to you.

The story ended in a way that had me crying at 2AM for several reasons, and I loved it. It was a heart-wrenching dive into what happens when you’re losing someone whom you love more than you could ever express, and how, if handled poorly, grief can manifest into a monster.

★★★★☆

Quarterly Reading Wrap Up | Spring 2019

Hey guys! How’s it going? So I’ve been thinking about how I can be more active in the bookish community, and one way I thought about it a quarterly reading wrap up! I read a lot of webtoons and comics, and I’m slowly picking up the novel reading habit again, but instead of doing monthly wrap ups, I’d do quarterly and talk about the titles I’ve been actively reading or given a chance.

So quarter one was filled with a bunch of webtoons and some bookish goodness, and I’ve liked the majority of what I’ve read. So let’s jump into the webtoons first, shall we? I’ll show my ratings as I go, even though most of these series aren’t done yet for the webtoons.

Webtoons

All of these webtoons can be found on LINE Webtoons.

Dogged by pain and misfortune from the very beginning, Shin-Ae decides she wants nothing to do with people nor anything to do with romance. Although content with her unsocial, boring, loveless existence, her lifestyle is challenged after she ruins an unsuspecting strangers’ clothes.

I Love Yoo by Quimchee is one of my favorite webtoons to date. It’s one I’ve kept up with for a long time and I can’t wait until it picks back up again! (Quimchee is taking a well-deserved break right now.) But there’s been ALL KINDS of drama and one big reveal that will be coming up but was sort of introduced and OOF I NEED TO KNOW WHO SHE IS. And also: new best boy??? I’m 10000% here for it.

★★★★★

Witness what the gods do…after dark. The friendships and the lies, the gossip and the wild parties, and of course, forbidden love. Because it turns out, the gods aren’t so different from us after all, especially when it comes to their problems. Stylish and immersive, this is one of mythology’s greatest stories — The Taking of Persephone — as it’s never been told before.

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe is my new favorite obsession. Not only is the artwork super different and beautiful (like each character is represented by a different color and it’s lovely), but the story itself is amazing. I love, love, love myths and so the retelling of one of my favorites is just pure perfection. There’s cute moments, frustrating moments, sad moments. It’s a great story and I highly recommend it.

★★★★★

Seven boys. Best friends. Their fates intertwined through the good times together, but also the tough times, as they have gone their separate ways and suffered greatly as a result. When all is almost lost for these boys, one is given a special chance to go back in time and help his friends fix the mistakes that led them down this path. He’ll do anything to save them, but can he? Or is he too late?

Save Me by Big Hit Ent. & LICO is about BTS and, being a BTS fan, how could I say no? I mean, I was saying no at the beginning, but then I couldn’t stop my curiosity and now I’m hooked because it tells the story between their music videos and why certain things happened. It’s super good so far. If you’re a BTS fan and you’re trying to piece together the mystery of their music videos, then this comic might be a good read for you.

★★★★☆

Sori is a special young girl – kind, caring and principled well beyond her years. Unfortunately, these are NOT the personality traits generally celebrated in middle school – especially Sori’s, where she’s bullied mercilessly for defending the defenseless until she herself becomes a target. To escape, she transfers to a new school where the same old problems begin to play out all over again – that is until a mysterious trail of letters leads Sori on a magical scavenger hunt through the hidden world that exists right below the surface of her new middle school. The mail trail is the work an anonymous guardian angel, whose mission seems to be to provide a soft landing for Sori at her new school. But who is this person? And why did he choose her? With each letter, secrets are revealed and bonds are formed – as Sori learns about friendship, flora, fauna and finding the good in people in this strange new environment.

Your Letter by Hyeon A Cho is SUCH a great story so far. Seriously, not only is the artwork lovely af, but the story itself is just so pure and something that I didn’t realize I’d been wanting until I read it. Of course I’m hoping for a romance to blossom between the two main characters, but also I love how their friendship started over this one boy. It’s sweet and sentimental, but also has consequences of actions and it’s just… Just read it.

★★★★☆

Getting crushed by your crush. Coming out to your parents. Learning that your sister is your biggest dating rival. High school sure does have its share of twists, turns and moments of high drama. To get through it all with your smile and sanity intact, you’re going to need some friends. Really good friends. Friends like Johnny, Mariel, Gaby and Martina who, one way or another, will find a way to get through their teenage years together.

The Four of Them by Mai Hirschfeld_ is a coming of age story about four teens just being teens and dealing with relationships, whether they be romantic, familial, or platonic, school life, emotions, and more. It’s another sweet series that I’m really loving and the artwork is so lovely! And, as the description says, there is drama and I’m really interested to see how the different threads of drama unfold as time goes and how far into their teenaged lives we get to see.

★★★★☆

Edith is not your typical heroine. She struggles with her confidence, her morals, and life in general by not only holding herself to high standards, but her men as well. Enter two less-than-perfect men: one who may be the Prince Charming she’s been waiting for to deliver a fairy tale ending, the other a brash reality check who does NOT believe in happily-ever-after. What will Edith do? Will she sacrifice her standards? Or keep searching for that mythical white knight who may or may not exist in the first place? Funny, messy and sexy, Edith’s journey is relatable to anyone who’s ever left their heart on the battlefield of the dating world.

Edith by Swansgarden really surprised me. One day I was just browsing around the site and saw this unique art style and decided to take a peek. Well, not only do I love the art style, but this story is so different from what I’ve been reading because it deals with an older protagonist (like in her 20s or something), and there’s a lot of mental illness, tough decisions, forgiveness – or lack thereof, and more. The story is a little bit mature in theme, but it’s definitely something to check out if you’re interested.

★★★★☆

An ancient warrior created a pact to keep the world at peace. After ages, this pact still stands because of the spirit warriors who guard it. Aigon’s dream is to join these warriors, but unknown to everyone, the pact is about to get broken by a group of rebels hiding in plain sight

Spirit Warriors by Yaruno ad L.Bobler follows a group of kids who are looking to become spirit warriors (shocking, I know), and how they each go about finding their spirit and how they train and learn to master the power associated with it. Of course, it doesn’t seem to work out with every student, but it’s very early on in the series and I’m really interested to see what happens. It’s kind of cliche and predictable, but also just really good. If you like fantasy, check this one out!

★★★★☆

In school, Tooru is known as “The Prince”. He’s smart, popular, and can have anyone he wants. So why is it that he can’t think of anyone but Yamamoto, the plainest, dullest guy in the entire school?

Plain Boy & Prince by amanduur is the cutest and cheesiest and most glorious thing I’ve read. Seriously, I’ve been giggling and laughing so much and it’s just the cutest thing. It’s a boys’ love story following the Prince of the school who instantly falls for the most dull looking boy, and how the dull looking boy starts to also feel the feels, and just… go read it before I fangirl like crazy, thanks.

★★★★★

“Monsters can’t feel love” they say. Well, I think otherwise. “There’s a person I like… but other than the problem that she’s a girl… I find out she’s a monster!”

Monsters Don’t Blush! by Flowerfully is another super cute story that is a girls’ love story that follows a girl wanting to tell her crush how much she likes her, but she’s often blocked from getting near the girl to let her know how she feels. It’s very early on in this series, but I can’t wait for the next update because, just like the Plain Boy & Prince story, there’s much giggling and cuteness to be had.

★★★☆☆

Books

This is going to be separated into two parts: Book I’ve read and books I’m currently reading.

Books I’ve Read

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

You can check out my full review here!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black was a book that hadn’t been on my radar until I saw literally everyone reading it. When I started to read it, I wasn’t all that into it. I felt the writing was super choppy and didn’t really encapsulate everything that was going on in every scene. I didn’t really feel for the characters until the last third of the book. Honestly, the end of the book is what saved this from a two star rating because THAT ENDING THO. Overall it was a good read for the latter part of the book and it definitely made me excited to read the next book.

★★★★☆

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother. 

And that his best friend has a crush on me. 

And that I just moved in with them. 

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates? 

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing? 

He knows where to find me.

You can read my full review here!

The Chase by Elle Kennedy was kind of a let down for me because I really loved her Off-Campus series that I read a few years ago. I saw the main protagonist, Summer, was a pretty whiny individual. Yes, she had some mental health issues and dyslexia, which was nice to see in a novel, but her overall character was just… too… whiny. That’s the best way I can put it. And I felt like Fitz was super two dimensional. I wanted to know and see more of his computer/video game side, but alas, we only got brief glimpses of it. I’m more interested in reading the second book in this Briar U duology, but we’ll see how it goes.

★★★☆☆

The Art of War meets “The Artist’s Way” in this no-nonsense, profoundly inspiring guide to overcoming creative blocks of every kind.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a self-help kind of book that talks about ways to break through to your inner creative and really make the best use of your time with it, but, uh, I didn’t like this book. At all, or much at all.

It boasts a lot about showing you how to break past those blocks and be creative, but the most I got out of it was, “stop procrastinating and just do it.” I actually DNFed it because it was just not for me. This doesn’t mean you might not find value in it – you might! My husband liked it much more than me and said I’d like it, but alas.

★★☆☆☆

Books I’m Currently Reading

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. 

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is one of my current reads and I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have been. Not only did it hook me from the first chapter, but it’s feeding my inner vampire heart because, yes, there are vampires and they’re different from other kinds of vampires I’ve read about, and just yes, please. I’m about 35%-ish through the book right now and am definitely enjoying it, but there are some things that I’ve been questioning as it goes that I’ll talk about in my review when it comes.

I recommend it if you’re looking for an urban fantasy adult read with witches, vampires, mystery, and magic.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the 10 consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Wars were fought for them, and won by them. One such war rages on the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where 10 armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is the first book in the Stormlight Archive and OOH BOY, is it a long book. I’ve been listening to the audiobook for months now (it’s over 45 hours long), but it is SO good. The world building is phenomenal, the characters are awesome, the plot is intricate and complex, and it’s quickly (or not so quickly, given its size lol) become one of my favorite books – and I’m only 71% of the way through it! I am, however, in part four, which is the last part, so the end is coming for this first book and I am not ready for it.

If you’re looking for a high fantasy novel that you can really dive deep into and be stuck in for a while, then I definitely recommend this book. And I especially recommend the audiobook because the voice actors do a very great job with their roles.

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a fan favorite, as I’ve noticed, and I got 40% of the way through before I stopped. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it – I was, for sure! – but I just wasn’t in the mood to read it at the time. I do plan on picking it back up soon, though, so look forward to that review when it comes! What I have read so far, though, is action packed and very dark and it speaks to that darker part of my soul, so it’s very much appreciated.

If you’re looking for a heist book with a lot of unlikely people coming together, definitely pick this up.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Circe by Madeline Miller is a story that takes place in the world of the gods, and though I’m still fairly early on (only 5% of the way through) it’s really good so far. I was bored at work one day and decided to look this title up and read a sample because I’d been hearing good things about it, and boy, am I hooked. The writing style is different, but full of a life of its own. It’s got cruelty (as the gods are very cruel), loss, humanity, and that’s just within the first early section of the book.

If you’re looking for a myth retelling – or a unique myth story – check this one out!

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. 

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po. 

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. 

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a fantasy story that I’ve been interested in reading for a long time, but had never picked it up until I watched Hannah from A Clockwork Reader on YouTube recommend the book to someone who might be looking for a romance in fantasy. And, well, if you know me, you know I love both of those things, so of course I picked this up (luckily my husband owns the books so it was easy enough to get).

I’ve only read the first chapter, but I already have SO many questions! It’s already off to a fast start with many characters and abilities that I can’t wait to learn more about.

If you’re looking for a YA fantasy with romance, check out this companion series! I hear not every book focuses on the romance, so you might find a book that fits your tastes more.


AND THAT’S IT! Wow, I’ve actually been reading a lot more than I thought I was lol I’m also glad that I’ve enjoyed most of the books I’ve read so far this year. I actually find it interesting that when I’m reading lately I’ve got a more critical eye and I’m finding more faults in things than I was when I first started blogging. It’s crazy, but I’m liking that I’m being more honest with myself about my thoughts on books.

Let’s Chat!

What have you been reading lately? What was your favorite and least favorite book from the first quarter of the year? What would you recommend to me? Let me know!

The Cruel Prince Book Review

Title: The Cruel Prince
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Authors: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: January 2, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle eBook

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.


What a ride it was to be back in Holly Black’s land of Faerie. I read her Tithe series way back in the day, probably when I was in middle school or high school, and I absolutely fell in love with it. The story was so fascinating to me, and it’s really the thing that pushed me to fall in love with faeries from that point on.

Now, in this new book, it shows a much darker side to Faerie than I’m used to. I mean, I’m used to reading dark tales about Faerie because, let’s be real, it can be a very cruel place not just to mortals, but to the other Fey as well, but this story brought on a lot more betrayal, hatred, and a general sense of apathy than anything.

Let’s talk characters because there were a lot of characters introduced to us through Jude’s eyes, and I want to give some of my thoughts on them.

Jude, herself, was a very melancholic character. We were often reminded of how much she hated life in Faerie and how she loved Madoc, though he’s a monster, and how she despised Cardan. I’m not saying those points were annoying, but I did pick up just how often they were said and I kind of felt it was redundant. I also felt her character was a bit… lacking? She was very much just a ball of anger at the world around her. Any emotions other than general discourse or anger felt outside of her realm and I didn’t really feel any particular attachment to her, especially through the first two thirds of the story. More on that in a minute.

Cardan was quite the cruel prince (but not the main reason for the title of the book, let me tell you lol) who enjoyed seeing Jude suffer, but also did very, very subtle things to ensure nothing harmed her to the point of death. In the latter half of the book it felt almost like I was reading about an entirely different character? At least in some parts he felt a bit too open, a bit too friendly, even, but that familiar cruelness came right back at the very end and I was like, “Ah, yes, there he is.”

Madoc, Balekin, and Dain all had fairly significant parts to play throughout the story, and each of them played it well. Overall they all felt very cunning, very manipulative, and willing to do anything to get what they wanted. But my biggest point here in talking about these three: I wanted to learn more about them and why they were the way they were, even as fey.

Valerian, Locke, and Nicasia were friends of Cardan’s, and I didn’t very much like them. Valerian was a huge jerk, Locke always seemed like there was something more mischievous and cunning underneath everything that he did, and Nicasia… well, I actually kind of liked her, despite her being a horrible person.

Taryn and Vivienne were Jude’s sisters, and though they had their parts to play in the story, I also felt like they were just there when it was most convenient for the plot. I do, however, really like Vivi and her determination to do everything in her power to go against her father’s, Madoc’s, wishes.

Okay, now let’s talk about the plot, because I have some things I want to say about it, as well as the writing through the first two thirds of the book.

First off, the writing continuously felt like it was jumping and cutting out scenes that should have taken place. When I was reading some parts and it instantly jumped from, for example, Jude about to go somewhere, it then jumped to her having already done it. Or there was no real dive into any sort of emotions – not often, anyway – or a real look at surroundings or situations that I really craved for.

There was no middle ground, no “filler,” I guess you could say. But it wasn’t just that that bothered me, it was my desire to feel something more for what was happening to Jude and what was happening around her.

I didn’t feel as connected as I was hoping because I felt so disconnected because of the jumpy writing – at least for the first two thirds of the story.

And then? Oh man, did it kick off right at the climax of the book, and even the writing got a lot better and I felt like I was following it a lot better than I was before.

The plot was leading up to the grand coronation of one of the princes, and when the thing (I won’t spoil it) happened, and then a lot of chaos ensued, I was shocked. Seriously, I hadn’t been expecting it to go down the way it did, and there was a lot of bloodshed and just… a lot of stuff happening.

The last third of the book really held my attention and, more than once, especially in the last chapter, I had to catch my breath because I was so anxious as to what was going to happen next, how it was going to play out, and if the plan was going to succeed.

Overall, I found that the last third of the book was much more enticing and dynamic than the first two thirds, but that’s not to say it was a bad read. I actually really enjoyed the book and found myself hooked into reading it, despite the flaws that I personally found. And I can’t wait to read the sequel; it’s going to be so good. THAT ENDING THOUGH. UGH, MY HEART.

★★★★☆

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.

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.