2019, Books, Favorites, reviews

The Grisha Trilogy (aka Shadow and Bone Trilogy)

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2012
These covers were published in 2017

Synopsis: Alina’s dormant powers awaken after a near-death experience in The Fold with her best friend Mal. Alina trains with the Grisha that are led by The Darkling, however, secrets and mysteries are about to unravel and create chaos across Ravka.

Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2013

Synopsis: After a battle in The Fold, Alina and Mal barely escape across the sea. Believing Alina to have died, the Apparat sets up a cult that follows Sankta Alina, the Sun Summoner. However, Alina and Mal return to try and save Ravka with the help of the Privateer Sturmhond.

Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2014

Synopsis: The Darkling is set on destroying Ravka and it is up to Alina, Mal, Nikolai and their armies to stop him. Histories and secrets are revealed that may change the tide in their favor, but at what cost?

I love this series! It’s my second time reading it and I think it was even better this time around. There are two spin-off duologies so far, a plethora of short stories, and a tv show that is currently in production!

The world is so interesting and built very well. The magic is believable and described easy enough to understand, even if one isn’t an experienced fantasy reader. The histories, mythologies and backstories are very intriguing and are one of my favorite parts about this series. It creates a rich world and this has a lot of potential as a tv series. I hope they do it well!

What I liked: There are tons of action scenes and each book moves pretty fast. I’ve often found that trilogies slow down in the second books and sometimes appear as filler, but this doesn’t do that. There is a lot happening and the characters are constantly kept on their toes. The magic is really interesting and it continues to change and improve throughout the books. Bardugo uses actual science phenomenons like light bending to make it even more realistic, which I think is cool. Additionally, the weapons are a combination of modern and historic items, giving this world the unique feel that it’s not medieval nor futuristic. Finally, the characters are funny, the banter isn’t cringey and the relationships are dynamic. Often I’ve found YA novels to include lots of silly dialogue but this was fun and I enjoyed it. The romance was a big part but it also moved the plot along, which was nice. By the way, Nikolai Lantsov is one of the best characters and I am so looking forward to his duology!

What I didn’t like: There isn’t much but most of it is based on overused character tropes. You’ve got the sickly, plain, boring, sad, little peasant girl who is The Chosen One. Her best friend is gorgeous and she doesn’t see why he likes her and keeps questioning it, which does get a little tedious and obnoxious. You’ve got the giant, strong warrior who is actually a softy; you’ve got the beautiful but super mean girl; the nerdy scientist; the shallow and beautiful slave who actually has more depth; the shallow prince; the evil king; the villain who has good intentions; etc. They just get old after a while. However, I still like each character and the way Bardugo wrote them wasn’t groan-inducing or distracting.

Final thoughts: I just love this series and I encourage everyone to read it. With Bardugo executive producing the show, I really hope it stays true to the series and brings it all to life for us. Go read it!

TV series announcement: https://deadline.com/2019/01/netflix-orders-shadow-and-bone-series-leigh-bardugo-grishaverse-fantasy-novels-1202532783/

Spin-off duologies:

2017, 2018, 2019, Books, Favorites, reading, reviews

Warcross Duology Review

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2017
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Emika Chen, a skilled hacker, accidentally glitches herself into the opening championship of Warcross. Impressed with her skill, the owner of Warcoss, Hideo Tanaka, offers Emika a job to track down a mysterious figure that could jeopardize the entire company.

Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Published: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Taking place right after the end of the Warcross Championship, Emika is embroiled with a secret organization. With a price on her head, she now fights for survival and what she believes in.

Many have compared this to Ready Player One and while it’s similar in the Virtual Reality aspect, I think this is more modern and fun. The NeuroLink technology they use in this book not only allows for VR gaming, it overlays and affects the world outside of the game as well. The characters are fun and Emika isn’t an annoying heroine like your typical YA novel. Of course she’s smitten with Hideo, the young and handsome genius billionaire, but she’s also smart and driven.

Images by https://twitter.com/thenocturnalfey/status/1000032678614192129

Most of the first book takes place in Tokyo and the Warcross Championship world, as we learn about the technology, the game, and the players. Emika is part of the Phoenix Riders and is helping them defend their honor and title.

Team Phoenix Riders by Marie Lu

The second book definitely increases the action level and world as we move beyond the game and more into the underground world of Tokyo and the Dark Net equivalent of Warcross. I found it very entertaining and thought the world was described well. There are cool artifacts and power ups that would make for a cool visual if this was ever adapted to a movie.

While the story was action packed, it also dealt with a lot of great issues like immortality, the limits and breaches of technology and personal ethics. Additionally, there are lots of betrayals, double crossings and action happen and the game scenes become even more intense! Also, there is a corgi, so she automatically won my heart! I love these types of stories and while this is a duology, the ending set the tone for a continuation! Go read it now!!!

2018, Books, Favorites, reviews

Arc of a Scythe Trilogy Review

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: 2016
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: In a perfect world with no death, some are chosen and trained in the art of taking a life to keep the balance of the world.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Citra and Rowan come to understand the complexity of this world and have their own ideas on how to fix it.

Book #3: COMING SEPTEMBER 2019

There is a ton of political intrigue, mixed with our own history that make this world really interesting and possible. Many questions on what is ethical, how our society might be if we no longer experienced natural death, and how to navigate a society that has seemingly everything, are explored and analyzed.

In book one, we are introduced to Rowan and Citra, two teenagers chosen to become apprentices to Scythe Faraday, in a futuristic and seemingly Utopian world centuries after our time. Having discovered immortality, death is no longer something to fear in this world. This is where the Scythes come in: they are chosen to glean people to keep the population balances through statistics or past events that would have eliminated people via natural selection. However, some don’t follow this rule.

VERDICT ON BOOK #1: I loved this story. The ideas and historical knowledge that appear and are intertwined within the story give it a rich and totally possibly future we could experience, which I think enhances the story and makes it feel that more involved. We deal with love, friendship, loyalty, pain, immortality, ethics and a society trying to make the best of their situation (as well as some of those who take advantage of said situations). Highly recommend!

In book two, we follow multiple points of view – Scythes Anastasia & Curie, Rowan, the Thunderhead, and Grayson, with an additional few sprinkled throughout. We pick up shortly after the end of book 1 and learn more about the world of the Scythes, the workings and thoughts of the Thunderhead and a lot of conspiracies and troubles that plague our main characters. There are tons of plot twists, surprises, great character development and the cliffhanger was intense!! I want to know what happens next, as I have my theories.

VERDICT ON BOOK #2: While I also loved this one, I felt it was a tad bit long and some of the parts were dragging for me. While I understand the need for world building and learning about all of the characters and their impact on the world, there was a few times I was bored and just wanted the story to move along. But overall, I really enjoyed the story and am looking forward to the next book!

There is no cover for book three yet, but I am looking forward to it!

2017, Books, Favorites, reviews

A Man Called Ove Review

Title: A Man Called Ove
Original Title: En man som heter Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Translated by: Henning Koch
Published: 2012
Country: Sweden
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: A young family moves in next door to the grumpy, old Ove. He thinks they are the family from hell but when he gets to know them, we get to know him.

I absolutely loved this. I laughed. I cried. I wept! The story was written so beautifully and the characters felt so real that you joined in their laughter, their thoughts and their despair. Mr. Backman uses a great amount of sarcastic and witty writing that resonated well with me and that made it that more heart wrenching when something sad happened to any of our characters.

Ove reminded me of a friends’ grandfather from back home and the grumpy, pessimistic attitude he would have against changing times. But Ove was so much more than an old grumpy man – he experienced great loss and forgot how to live until life brought joy back into his world.

A gorgeous story with gorgeous characters that show that people are on their own journey and that sometimes getting to know someone and showing them kindness and love can be the one thing that someone needed in their life.

Verdict: I must watch the movie and I must read more by Backman!