Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo Review

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Hardcover, 368 Pages
Published by Henry Holt & Company
Published: June 5, 2012
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository |
Rating: 4/5 Stars


Synopsis: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Shadow and Bone was a refreshing change of pace from the other novels I have been reading recently. It's plot is pretty unique along with it's world, even it's own language to come along with it. Unfortunately for me, the language is partially based on Russian which just makes me giggle while I'm reading. Anyway, I think that this book's plot is very well executed and interesting. 

Strengths/Likes: 

1) The characters were so well written, I liked all of the characters except the ones the reader is meant to dislike. Even characters that are only briefly mentioned I felt attached. 

2) The plot was very intricate, and the twists and turns fit in perfectly and successfully moves the book forward. 

3) I liked how Mal and Alina start out as friends, I really think that brings the characters so close together. With the little snippets of their past together, it just paints a whole picture of their relationship that make them seem so perfect one another..I'm not biased or anything..heh. 

4) Neither of Alina's love interest are the typical gorgeous, desperate, love-sick puppy that are common in YA novels. Don't get me wrong, I love those guys like Alex Sheathes, Noah Shaw, Aaron Warner, etc. Mal is similar to Four from Divergent, he's tough, edgy, and spunky (and sexy as hell in my mind). 

5) This is the first love-triangle where I don't have to think about what a slut the girl is because she falls for the Darkling when she is not in any type of relationship with Mal. 

Weaknesses/Dislikes:

1) I didn't understand exactly what a kefta is, in general I know it's this pretty robe, but at some points it's like, now it's robe, now it's a coat, and now it's a gown. It's a little confusing. 

2) I was really confused by the Apparat, I couldn't tell if he was a friend or a foe, or what exactly he was trying to tell Alina throughout the entire book. I'm still confused if he was bad or good. 

3) There is a lot of terminology that is thrown on you in the beginning and it's a lot to take in. I had to reread the beginning because I kept mixing up the terms. 

Favorite Moments/Quotes: 

1) "'You know I'd be lost without you.'
'You've never been lost in your life,' I scoffed. I was the mapmaker, but Mal could find true north blindfolded and standing on his head.
He bumped his shoulder against mine. 'You know what I mean.'
'Sure,' I said. But I didn't. Not really. " 

2) "I patted her hand reassuringly. 'He'll come around. He's just shy.'
'Maybe I should lie down on a table in the workroom and wait to see if he welds something to me.'
'I think that's the way most great love stories begin.' " 

3) "'I'm not like you, Mal. I never really fit in the way that you did. I never really belonged anywhere.'
'You belonged with me,' He said quietly.
'No, Mal. Not really. Not for a long time.' "

4) "I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me by surprise. I'd catch myself walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I'd seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I 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." 

5) "Here's my answer captain. She's the thing that made this all okay-The threadbare coats and the old boots and the guns that jams when you most need them to fire, the loneliness of knowing that you don't matter, that you will never matter, the fact that you're just another body, another uniform to be sent into the fold or the frost, another good boy who knows his place, who does his job, who doesn't ask questions, who will lie down and die and be forgotten. What is she? She's everything, you dumb son of a bitch."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Keira Cass ARC Review (SPOILER ALERT)

The Elite by Kiera Cass
eARC, 323 pages.
Published by HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Buy It: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | BAM
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Synopsis:  Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

This book was filled with a lot of drama...I mean a lot of drama. There were certain instances where I just had to put the book down and walk away from it because it was painful to read. I ship Maxon and America, but I would not hold against her if she choose Aspen, but in general throughout this entire book I was like "She doesn't deserve either of you! You two should just get together and leave her for the Southerners." I think that America's feelings for both of these guys are too wishy-washy and change at the drop of a hat. 

Strengths/Likes:

1) All the details given about Maxon's family, the palace staff, and even the history of Iléa was very interesting. I felt that I gained more of an understanding of the world that Cass has created. 

2) I absolutely love Marlee, I think that she is a very strong, and interesting character and after finding more about her secrets just made me like her even more. 

3) Maxon continues to attract me, he's a character that is definitely more than meets the eye. He's not just a naive, innocent, inexperienced boy. He has a lot of depth while Aspen is a flat character in comparison. Also, no matter what crazy, irrational, hurtful, and stupid thing that America does, Maxon stands by her without judgement. 

Weaknesses/Dislikes:

1) How easily America saw fault in Maxon, he didn't do anything or gave her any reason to believe that he would do anything that would hurt her in any way, and yet she judged him so harshly while she was the one playing with his emotions and seeing her ex-boyfriend behind his back. 

2) The hierarchy in this novel doesn't make any sense, it seems like there are enough rebels that could easily take out the palace, and if the palace is that weak in comparison to the peasants, how does King Clarkson maintain any type of control over Iléa. On a side note, it's called a moat, a lot of palaces had this for one sole purpose, security. King Clarkson should look into it. 

3) I book sums up the very reason I hate love triangles, the main character's feelings always seem like a big joke. I mentioned this before, but the constant back and forth between Maxon and Aspen, makes it hard to believe that America loves either of them. I believe that she has strong feelings for both of them, but her actions are not that of someone who loves either of these men. 

Favorite Quotes/Moments (SPOILER ALERT): 

1) "'I've seen the world--admittedly mostly through bulletproof glass or from the tower of some ancient castle--but I've seen it. And I have access to the answers of a thousand questions at my disposal. But this small hand here?' He looked deeply into my eyes. 'This hand makes sounds incomparable to anything I've ever heard. Sometimes I think I only dreamed that I heard you play the violin, it was so beautiful. These calluses are proof that it was real.'"


2) "Darling? The word, so tender and personal, enveloped me. In that moment, any desire I had to fight my feelings for Maxon disappeared. I wanted to be his dear, his darling. I wanted to be Maxon's alone" 


3) "'Mer, do you think I'm smart?'

'Of course.'

'That's because I am. And I'm way too smart to be in love with a stupid girl. So you can drop that right now.'"


4) "I can't read you anymore. I used to be able to see it in the beginning when you didn't really care for me; and when things changed between us, you looked at me differently. Now there are moments when I think it's there and others when it seems like you're already gone. I'm not asking you to say you love me. I'm not asking you to suddenly decide you want to be a princess. I just need you to know if you want to be here at all." 


5) "Sometimes I feel like Maxon and I are in our own version of the Selection. It's just him and me, and one of us will get you in the end; and I can't decide who's worse off. Maxon doesn't exactly know we're competing, so he might not be able to try as hard. But then I have to hide, so it's not like I can give you everything he can. It's not really a fair fight either way."