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BOOK REVIEW – The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW – The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) by Leigh BardugoThe Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Limited collector’s edition of the final book features an exclusive Darkling prequel story!

Before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy of extraordinary power. Get a look into the past that forged a brutal and brilliant leader.


{spoilers for Ruin and Rising, I guess, if there are still people who do not know}

This novella was torture for my heart. I REGRET NOTHING.

1) Here’s something I can say for sure : I will always be divided over The Grisha Trilogy.

2) Here’s something I read a lot and that tends to awake my annoyance pretty fast (= that pisses me off, alright) : “people gave the last book a bad rating because they couldn’t cope with the ending, how ridiculous, haha”

You know what? Perhaps some readers did – and that’s their absolute right – but let’s not forget all of those who only wanted for the story to reach a better development and were disappointed. I was definitely one of those.

Indeed I gave both Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm a 3 : a rather good story unfortunately spoiled by a Mary Sue and her knight in (not so) shining armor (let’s not talk about Mal, okay?), an uneven pacing but pretty good writing and dialogues.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t be back on my ranting about Ruin and Rising, so I’ll just say this : the problem isn’t the ending per se, even if, MY HEART. The problem is a story that didn’t live up to its expectations, as far as I’m concerned. The problem is THIS BIG FAIL on character’s development, with MCs who run round and round on circles (the point?!). The problem is, also, and that’s still a sensitive issue for me, the misleading marketing that surrounded its release – to this day, I’m not over the fact that the character who was showcased the most in teasers was MIA for most of the book.

I call this slighly dishonest. But moving on. I’m not one for holding grudges.

Today, I’m giving my highest rating in this series to a 30 PAGES NOVELLA (the kindle version stops at 40%, just so you know), but really, who’s surprised? Certainly not me.

Two Words : THE. DARKLING.

The Darkling was the SOLE reason for my decision to continue this series, and not only because he’s charming and tortured and deliciously evil and fascinating and GAH MY HEART. Above that, FOR ME, he is the only complex and multi-layered character in the entire series. Even here, in a 30 pages novella, he manages to interest me one million times more than Mal & Alina ever did, the little peasants (sorry, I couldn’t help).

I mean, HOW COULD I RESIST? The Demon in the Wood pictures him as a child, back when his power wasn’t his best advantage yet…. but was his downfall already. The suffering. The loneliness.

The yearning for a place to finally, finally be safe.

Evocative and beautiful writing, captivating premise, and of course that’s way too short, and of course I’m partial and absolutely not objective, but EXCUSE ME WHILE I’M CRYING.

STRAIGHT TO MY DYING HEART.
_______________________________

Leigh Bardugo & The Darkling –

BOOK REVIEW – Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW – Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh BardugoShadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something I wanted to tell you about, or because I just wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely. He was very close now, and my heart was suddenly hammering in my chest. “I’m sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.”

A few months ago I read a fantasy book (without even realizing it was supposed to be fantasy) and was totally turned off by the completely over-the-top character/animal developments and the mixture of the two. It was both odd and hard to picture, so I told myself I would either stay away from fantasy or be more careful when choosing another candidate. When I saw Shadow and Bone blown up on GR, I started to become curious. Again, I didn’t realize it was fantasy per se, but when I did start reading it didn’t bother me one bit.

I think that’s what makes someone tick-even though a book or something might be out of your comfort zone, all that matters is how the story is developed and what the author does to make you forget it’s genre at all. It’s what makes you happy and what appeals to your taste. (I’d like to point out that while this was fantasy, there were no humans with animal heads present-thank God.)

Alina and Mal are orphans who grew up together and were dubbed unextraordinary with no Grisha talents to speak of. Being a Grisha provides you with a lavish way of living and would ultimately change, say, an orphan’s life forever. But not if an orphan just wanted to stay with their only friend, not if they push whatever talent they possess to the backburner to be with the only person they care for. All these years later, Alina still feels unnecessary and as if she doesn’t belong, while Mal has grown into an expert hunter who could have any girl he wishes.

“I’m not like you, Mal. I never really fit in the way you did. I never really belonged anywhere.”
“You belonged with me.”

Then one fateful night when the settlement has to move across the dangerous Fold (where it is always dark and winged creatures circle above waiting for easy prey to cross) and many lives are most likely to be lost, Alina’s hidden away talent that she had all but forgotten about resurfaces and saves the lives of numerous people-including Mal, the guy she has loved her entire life.

I absolutely adored this story. We have Alina, this mousy, insignificant girl who has never really fit in. This girl who holds the key to possibly destroying the one thing that all colonies/towns/settlements/whatever fear, and she doesn’t even realize her potential. And with newfound power comes new enemies and new friends, some more pure than others, while some have a hidden agenda. You will fall in love with characters so fast it makes your head spin, and you will be quick to despise other characters-but be careful, those you chose to love might be corrupt, while the characters you chose to dislike might just be Alina’a only true allies.

“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”

I can’t even begin to express how ecstatic I am to have read and fallen in love with this utterly captivating and off the wall book. In all honesty, it reminds me of a magical Hunger Games, which is my favorite series of all time, mixed with a paranormal dystopian. And maybe that’s why I decidedly fell for this book so quickly. It contains all the elements of my favorite stories/genres, and the characters were so fun to obsess over. Once Alina is summoned by The Darkling to both strengthen and showcase her abilities, it all starts to move at a fast pace and you become so engrossed you don’t even realize you’re almost finished. Almost as quickly as I picked up my ereader, I was putting it back down again because I was finished.

Witty, fast-paced, and all around fun, I will be sure to re read this again soon-it was just that good.

BOOK REVIEW – Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW – Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh BardugoSiege and Storm (The Grisha #2)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


“If you ever get tired of skin and bones,” she called to Mal, “I’ve got something to tempt you.”
I stiffened. Mal glanced over his shoulder. Slowly, he looked her up and down. “No,” he said flatly. “You don’t.”

Okay, so, I absolutely was stunned by how much I loved the first book, Shadow and Bone. I couldn’t believe I had made room on my favorites shelf for a fantasy!! There was just something so compelling about each of the characters that inexplicably pulled me in. And while I still really, really enjoyed this second installment, I didn’t feel that same drawl that made me fall in love with S & B.

I think that some of my reservations are due to the fact that there was just so. Much. Information. To. Retain. It was just a little mind-boggling. And more than that, a lot of the characters were going through extreme changes that not so subtley changed their attitude and caused them a lot of inner turmoil. I fell in love with Alina’s innocence and need to fit in, Mal’s withdrawn attitude formed from jealousy and loyalty to Alina to save her at any cost, even his life, and I even fell in love with the Darkling’s, well, dark attitude in S & B….

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BOOK REVIEW – Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW – Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh BardugoRuin and Rising (The Grisha #3)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


Gently, he took my face in his hands. “I would have been different too, without you. Weaker, reckless.” He smiled slightly. “Afraid of the dark.” He brushed the tears from my cheeks. I wasn’t sure when they’d started. “But no matter who or what I was, I would have been yours.”

Well, for a girl who forgot almost everything, I grew incredibly attached to this story and all these characters all over again. Very rarely will you hear me praise all the male leads in the story, especially if all the male leads are after the same thing: the female lead’s heart. But, in this trilogy, I loved each and every male who was a contender for Alina’s affections. And I think this is why I love this trilogy so much-how often can you say, with absolute certainty, that you would be happy no matter who she ended up with? This is the first time that has ever happened to me. I loved two very much, and one even more for his fearless and noble heart, but I loved all three enough that I swooned for each of their comments, trials, misfortunes, and declarations of love-and not in that order.

Ruby was talking to Mal, her smile broad, her expression avid. But Mal was watching me. In the ghostly light of the cavern, his eyes were a deep and steady blue, the color at the center of a flame.

Three males, you ask?? Well, I believe there was only ever one right outcome for Alina, but that’s not how life goes. We don’t always get that fairy-tale ending where everything ends as it should….but there are many variations that can lead to a happy life, it just might not be what you’ve always wanted.

“We’re going to be traveling together for who knows how long. Eventually, you’re going to have to talk to me.”
“I’m talking to you right now.”
“See? Is this so terrible?”
“It wouldn’t be,” he said, gazing at me steadily, “if all I wanted to do was talk.”

Alina’s life has changed drastically over the last year-once an abandoned orphan with no one to call mom or dad, with only Mal by her side, she is now a powerful Grisha-a Sun Summoner who people follow and claim to be a saint. And there are even bigger stakes on the line than she could have imagined…with the Darkling after her, Mal, and Nikolai, the race to the firebird is crucial-she already has the sea whip and stag, but where is that third amplifier? Does it even exist? And, most importantly, is she willing to risk possibly the only thing she’s ever loved for this final amplifier that will give her the power to destroy the Darkling? Is she willing to pay the price for that sacrifice?

“It’s true,” I said softly. “You are stronger, wiser, infinite in experience.” I leaned forward and whispered, my lips brushing the shell of his ear. “But I am an apt pupil.”
His eyes flew open. I caught the briefest glimpse of rage in his gray gaze before I severed the connection.

I think that’s been a large part of these stories-what is she willing to sacrifice in the name of power and the ability to take down the evil that has plagued their world since before she was even born? Why her? This little orphan that no one knew is now one of the most powerful people of their time….why her?

I wanted to scream, so I did. I tossed my kindling to the ground, pressed my fist to my mouth, and screamed until my throat was raw. I couldn’t stop. I’d managed not to weep on the Bittern or at the mine, but now I sank to the forest floor, my screams turning into sobs, silent, racking gasps. They hurt, as if they might crack my ribs open, but emerged soundless from my lips.

I’m horrible at re-capping fantasy novels with their special words and phrases and summarizing the battles and the towns/cities/countries they occupy-even above I don’t know if I labeled Alina correctly, mind you-but what I DO love to do in my reviews, is talk about da boyz…I’m a GIRL, okaayyyyy?

“I need to keep you safe, Alina, to stay focused on what matters. I can’t do that if…” He let out a long breath. “You were meant for more than me, and I’ll die fighting to give it to you. But please don’t ask me to pretend it’s easy.”

As I mentioned, there were three guys scattered throughout the series and they all had a special meaning or purpose. Mal was her longtime friend from back when they were orphans-they grew up together and she was always in love with him…but until the day she was taken away by the Darkling, Mal had never ‘seen’ her. It took her being taken away for him to realize what she meant to him. Mal is so sweet and loyal and above all-madly in love Alina. Then there’s the Darkling (Is the T in ‘The Darkling’ capitalized or not, damn it?? GAWWWWD I suck at these fancy terms, lol) who whisked her away for her undiscovered talent-he took a liking to her and seduced her countless times…seducing me right along with her with his dark, whispered promises and sultry, dark persona-I loved him and his evil self. And then Nikolai-we met him in book two. I don’t think he’s a person people expect her to end up with, but every time he enters a scene, he does it with a style and flare that no one can match. His wit, banter, and altogether sexy persona were enough to make me laugh every time he entered, but he also had a kind, sweet side that I don’t want to pass over. All these guys were so great in their own ways…dark and tortured, sweet and tortured, hilarious and sweet and tortured….doesn’t matter-I don’t see how anyone could hate any of these awesome men.

Nikolai considered this, then said, “Very well.”
“That’s it? No sage words? No dire warnings?”
“Saints, Alina. I hope you weren’t looking to me to be the voice of reason. I keep to a strict diet of ill-advised enthusiasm and heartfelt regret.”

One thing I didn’t expect from myself, and I will be abundantly clear-I bawled. I bawled at the end of it all, for the good, the bad, the sad, the inevitable….I cried for it all. And I totally didn’t see it coming. I cried so hard when (view spoiler) Oh, but I SOBBED when (view spoiler) gave me the hardcore feels. Everything about this book was perfection, and I couldn’t have asked for a more emotional conclusion and beautiful ending.

He laughed then. “I know I’m supposed to say something noble-I want a united Ravka free from the Fold. I want the Darkling in the ground, where he can never hurt you or anyone else again.” He gave a rueful shake of his head. “But I guess I’m the same selfish ass I’ve always been. For all my talk of vows and honor, what I really want is to put you up against that wall and kiss you until you forget you ever knew another man’s name. So tell me to go, Alina. Because I can’t give you a title or an army or any of the things you need.”

I’ve waited and waited and waited for this conclusion and here it was… I got so nervous as I started reading because, DAMN THOSE INTRICATE DETAILS I FORGOT, I couldn’t think of a damn thing when it came to names that weren’t Alina or Genya or Darkling or Mal, lol. But as I REALLY immersed myself into the story, those little details didn’t matter as much because the story re-capped and spoke for itself-Thank God, because I would have been depressed if I hadn’t been able to enjoy the story because I was too lazy to re-read the first two. I think it would have helped, sure, right off the bat, but as it was, I truly loved the story and couldn’t get enough. I’m so glad the conclusion was as epic as I’d hoped it would be, because no matter how many tears I shed, I will always remember these characters and their story.

In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.

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