Thursday, 7 August 2014

Book Review: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha, #1)

Title: Shadow & Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha (#1)
Published: 5th June 2012
Publisher: Indigo
Rating: 4/5
Source: Library

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 fulfill 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?

I didn't have any expectations for this book, surprising as it may seem. I was aware of generally mixed-positive reviews but when I turned the first page of this book, I knew that I would be swept up in a fantastical world of magic and blue keftas.
“This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.” 
One of the many things I loved about this book was the writing style. Leigh Bardugo's writing is so beautiful and wonderfully poetic but isn't hard to follow. The second was the plot, a plot so fast paced and enthralling that you didn't know you had just finished this book. It wasn't rushed but wasn't slow either, Shadow and Bone was as perfect as fast paced novels can be.

I also loved how our main protagonist, Alina Starkov, wasn't your typical female protagonist. Her character development is to be taken by example. She started out as a scrawny girl with a sharp tongue and grew into a, both physically and emotionally, strong kick-ass lead.

“And there's nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.” 

The Darkling is defiantly the character that intrigued me most. He's very dark (which is so very surprising) and mysterious and everything you'd expect with a title like his. I didn't know what his intentions were at all and that added to his image. I want to know more and more about him!

I'll be honest in saying that I didn't really enjoy Mal's character until the end, which I hated. 

At first, I found the world and it's terms hard to follow but I soon caught on to this Russian inspired culture and loved every moment. I'm glad that this novel wasn't based in the US or UK because that just wouldn't work and it's always refreshing to read a novel in a different culture. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will for sure read Siege and Storm! 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (#1)
Published: 27th September 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Source: Library

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. 

It did not end well.”
This book has been on my TBR List for the longest time and while on a recent trip to the library, I found it just sitting in the corner, just waiting to be picked up. Little did I know that I would be picking up a unique gem.

My first thoughts while reading this book was "wow, this world is quite extraordinary". Ms Taylor has created this fictional world so full of life and fantasy with a grungy, alternative touch. I loved how we saw the world through the eyes of the devils, with the angels being the antagonists. This fantasy world is so different to ones I've read about before.

 “Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?”
I loved our main protagonist; Karou. She's very quirky and different. She's unlike any other characters I've read about, and I saw myself in her countless times. There's little I can say about her that's annoying, or that isn't a spoiler but I thought she was the perfect protagonist for the series and her choices aren't annoying or unjustified.

Ms Taylor's writing style and sequencing is beautiful and poetic and is a very unique way to tell this story.

 “It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry 'Monster!' and looked behind him.” 
The plot of this book was very interesting to read about and I did not expect any of those plot twists. I admit, in the first few chapters I was like "woah what's going on" but Ms Taylor does a nice job of weaving it in and everything will click at the right moments.

I loved everything about this book (if that were even possible) and I will for sure continue with this series.

Hagar Manssour

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Book Review: Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)

Title: Girl of Nightmares
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna (#2)
Published: 7th August 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: Library

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

I enjoyed this book, I really did, but it didn't meet the level of enjoyment I had reading Anna Dressed in Blood. I don't really know what it was, maybe it was the lack of Anna Korlov, but I did enjoy it.

The characters were hilarious yet kick-ass as ever. I laughed out loud so many times reading this - not recommended in public. I really liked the new characters we were introduced to, I think Jestine was my favourite of the newbies.

I loved how I couldn't really tell where the story was going or how the characters were going  to react. But I think my favourite thing about this book was how realistic the characters were, especially Carmel and Gideon. Nobody did anything that was unbelievably stupid, or unjustified, they all had realistic and believable reasons for their actions and I praise Ms Blake for that quality.

All in all, I enjoyed this book but not as much as I enjoyed the previous one. 4/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour