[Review] Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

 

Siege and Storm
(The Grisha #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication Date: June 4th, 2013
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – Fantasy

Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

I was very excited to read it – not only because of the reviews but I loooved the first book so much I was willing to buy this in hardcover. (Mind you, I rarely buy hardcovers.) Not a bad decision though, because that cover is sooo strokable and the book itself was as amazing as the cover! *HUGS SIEGE AND STORM*

I adored Leigh Bardugo’s writing in Shadow and Bone. However, reading Siege and Storm only solidified my love for her. I can’t do justice for her writing though – basically, it is absolutely remarkable and made me wanna slow down in order to savor her words. I didn’t want the book to end but at the same time I REALLY want to know the ending. Can anybody understand my dilemma?? >w<

The worldbuilding is as magnificent and as gorgeous as ever. Has anybody invented a plane or portal that can take us to fictional worlds yet? Cause I would really love to live here and be a Grisha. Things in Siege and Storm become even more complicated with a few shocking discoveries and OH MY GOD the introduction of  *cue drumrolls* a hot and swoon-worthy guy new interesting character!!

As for the main character, Alina undergoes some changes after, uhm, the event in Shadow and Bone. She gains darker sides, she doubts herself, she starts to fear what she might become and that only makes her perfectly flawed, more . . . human. Character development is definitely there. Some characters from the previous book return – such as Baghra, Genya and David – and it’s great to know how the events in Shadow and Bone affect not only the protagonist but also the side characters.

Speaking of the love interests, I didn’t really like Mal in this book. He becomes so insecure and I just realized how dull he is. Whenever he appears I would just start mentally screaming at him to go away already -_- I’m hoping he will be more likable in the last book. On the other hand, the Darkling could still charm me despite his lack of appearances. I swear this guy radiates a chilly aura even from the pages!!

Mal crossed his arms and considered the privateer. “I can’t decide if you’re crazy or stupid.”
“I have so many good qualities,” *insert the new character’s name* said. “It can be hard to choose.”

But for me, the man that steals the show is obviously our favorite privateer!! <3 Cause who on earth can hate an attractively fascinating guy that’s always able to lighten up the situation with his humors and sarcasms without being a complete jerk? None. NONE I TELL YA. This is my man, people.

The pacing is a bit slow compared to the first book. Nevertheless, I was fully captivated by everything in Siege and Stormthe characters (no, not Mal though), the impressive writing and fabulous worldbuilding. Siege and Storm was a solid sequel and I cannot wait for Ruin and Rising. There’s a benefit of reading this late cause that means the wait won’t be too painfully long *evil smirk* Hopefully we’ll get more of Alina’s badassery and TONS of the Darkling and of course, *insert the new guy’s name here* ^^ LEIGH BARDUGO IF YOU’RE READING THIS PLEASE DO NOT KILL HIM. I’M BEGGING YOU WITH ALL MY HEART. Uhm, I think the draft is obviously done but a girl can dream right?

By the way, Ruin and Rising cover was reveal on Valentine’s Day and OH MY GOD WHAT A PERFECTION IT IS:

THE FIREBIRD THE RED THE PRETTY CURSIVE FONT I CAN’T WAIT ANYMORE <33

[ARC Review] Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Witch Finder
(Witch Finder #1)
Author: Ruth Warburton
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2014
Pages: 374 (Paperback)
Genres: YA – Historical, Fantasy
London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.
Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.
Thank you Netgalley and Hodder Children’s Books for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review in any ways.

Review

I haven’t heard much of Witch Finder actually but I was quite excited for it because witches, people. How cool is that? Turns out, it was horrible. It was like my experience with Reboot all over again — only this time it’s less infuriating and more like a trip to Snoozeville.

So Luke is facing an initiation to join Malleus Maleficorum Brotherhood — some sort of secret organization that hunts witches. He has passed the first two initiation, the trial of knife and the trial of fire. He only needs to face the trial of hammer and that is killing a witch he has chosen blindly from a book. The witch he has to kill is Rosamund Greenmood.

Witch Finder is written in 3rd person perspective and there are double POVs. Honestly, I could barely stay awake reading this. Both characters are very one-dimensional and for the whole time I felt nothing toward them. The pacing was unbelievably slow I was on the verge from DNF’ing it but I decided to carry on and I couldn’t help but to skim the second half of the book. Plus, there are too many names introduced in the beginning without any further explanations, making me confused most of the time.

To make matters worse, the romance seems to pop out of the blue for no absolute reasons. I mean, Rosa and Luke barely interacts with each other and yet suddenly Rosa kisses him and Luke doesn’t want to kill her because she’s oh-so-pretty and kind-hearted. Well, maybe they’ve spoken for a few times but that’s certainly not enough. I didn’t feel any tension between them — where art thou chemistry?
The synopsis seems to be misleading too. There aren’t many witch actions and to be honest I wouldn’t mind so much if the book was actually still enjoyable to read like The Chaos of Stars. At least, the main character’s personality in The Chaos of Stars shines through the writing but THIS. -_- Truthfully, Luke and Rosa’s POVs sounded practically the same to me.

I feel like I have wasted my time reading Witch Finder and I truly have no interest left to read the sequel.

[ARC: In Bullet Points] The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

The Almost Girl
Author: Amalie Howard
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: January 7th, 2014
Pages: 416 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Science Fiction, Dystopia

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. But coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.
Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.
Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?
Thank you Strange Chemistry and Netgalley for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review at all.

 

In bullet points…

What I liked:

  • The main character. Being an ex-general, Riven is a very cold and brutal character. She doesn’t let her walls down most of the time. What I’d like to appreciate is the consistency of her character. When you have this tough kind of protagonist, usually she will transform right away into the typical kind of teenage girl. However, Riven still shows a considerable effort to focus on the task at hands instead of melting to goo every time the love interest appears. She does eventually give in to hormones, but luckily the couple isn’t too lovey-dovey.
  • The plot isn’t as predictable as Howard’s other work called Waterfell. Although the beginning didn’t immediately grab my attention, I managed to gradually enjoy it.
  • I think the ending emphasizes how responsible Riven is compared to the other female protagonists once they have got together with their love interests. (For those who have read it will understand what I’m talking about lol.)
  • I really liked how tense and action-packed the book was. There were plenty of gory and excited battle scenes plus some unexpected twists.

What I didn’t like:

  • I found the romance pops out of the blue at first because the two barely interact with each other yet the guy seems to be in love with her after only meeting her for a few times.
  • The love interest is pretty bland and it seems like he’s too perfect.
  • There is a very confusing explanation near the ending and I failed to understand that even though I read it for a few times.
  • Please do not make out when you’re in a dangerous place and need to escape quickly. Duh.

Conclusion:
Despite having some flaws I couldn’t ignore, The Almost Girl was better than Waterfell in many areas. Overall, I thought the book was decent and enjoyable, but I would still recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a tense and action-packed science fiction.

 

[ARC Review] Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy
(Defy #1)
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 7th, 2014
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – High-Fantasy, Romance

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?
Thank you Netgalley and Scholastic for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinion or review at all.
 

Review

When I first read the blurb, I thought Defy was going to be a kickass fantasy with awesome protagonist despite of the love triangle. But as the book progresses, sorry to say that I am very disappointed with this.

“I’d been doing it for so long, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Trying to sound like a boy was natural to me now.”

The concept is actually something that I’d never heard of in YA: a girl disguising be a boy to save her life. And when I started the book, I was so in love with it I was like “OMG this is going to be a favorite!<3” However, after Alexa’s brother death in the first 50 pages, Defy quickly went downhill.

I already knew from the blurb that there would be a love triangle – and unfortunately a predictable one at that. The love interests are Prince Damian (a lazy prince with – wait for it – secrets whom Alexa initially hates but the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes that he is far more than that) and Rylan (the loyal type of guy who has befriended Alexa and her brother since the very beginning). You can guess which one will win, it’s very obvious.

Moreover, I don’t like the fact that in page 100+, it’s revealed both love interests have known that Alex is a girl. Too convenient. I assume it’s made that way so that the love interests can get started to, you know, basically get closer to the girl without having to pretend that she is a guy and the girl doesn’t have to keep disguising as a guy anymore and just. Do. What. Hormones. Say.

My main issue with Defy is how the romance takes over the plot. In the middle part until the last page, Alexa spends her time being confused and going back and forth between two guys, resulting in very little actual plot development. PUH-LEASE. Also, I was irritated how in one moment Alexa gets mad at the prince for keeping secrets and next second she already forgives him. (That happens quite a lot.)

The prince is obviously the more dominant one in the love triangle and the romance between him and the protagonist is a bit of insta-love. However, I feel like Rylan is just thrown here. . .I think he’s barely in the story and I must admit that I like him better. When I was reading, sometimes I felt bad for him because it seems like everything he does can never please the MC. For example when Rylan offers Alexa help and she goes like “dude, I need no help I am strong enough!” but when there is Prince Damian she just throws herself at him and I was like. . .

In the later part of the book, something other than the romance FINALLY happens and there this baffling explanation about politics, lies and other stuff I didn’t quite understand. But at that point I was too bored and too fed-up with the romance, thus everything fell flat for me.

There is a huge potential in the concept but too bad the execution is dissatisfying. Apart from the infuriating romance, almost non-existent plot and inconsistent protagonist, the only things I like in Defy is the ending and a couple of characters (Marcel and Rylan). I do appreciate the ending – it is unlike what I had expected. The ending portrays a realistic consequence of wars and I suppose it is accurate enough.

Although I was either frustrated or disinterested most of the time, I will still give Defy 2 stars considering how much I enjoyed reading the beginning.

*Lol, look, my thoughts on the romance takes over my review! xD

 

[Mini Reviews] The House of Hades & Allegiant

I have been putting off writing reviews for these books because 1)I didn’t have time 2)I was too lazy 3)I was pretty much speechless and I had no idea how to write more coherent reviews. My feels were all over the place >_< Now that I’ve calmed down… here they are!

The House of Hades
(Heroes of Olympus #4)
by Rick Riordan
MG – Fantasy, Greek Mythology

House of Hades…boy you are definitely not a disappointment. This is, people, what I call a perfect balance between plot progression and character development. *HUGS BOOK*

Let me just go straight to the point. Compared to the previous installment, House of Hades has the most character development. It was, in fact, the book with the best character development I have ever read. I am not exaggerating but when you do read the book, you can’t help but to notice the changes that are happening to the characters.

Percy, the boy we have known as the loyal and kind type, seems to gain some darker sides. Piper has learned to kick some serious ass. Annabeth is showing some vulnerable sides and Jason is starting to discover himself – his identity. Hazel has a pretty important role in this one and Frank has matured SO MUCH! There are also Nico and Leo but I AIN’T TELLING ABOUT THEM ASDFGJKL:GFSDFGH AND >_< The main characters are all three-dimensional and each stands out in their own way. The spotlight isn’t focused to only certain character but everyone has the same chance to be the hero.

Additionally, there were moments that made me laugh, moments that made me relieved because the characters are okay, moments that made me terrified and worrying about the characters’ safety, moments that made me almost shed tears and obviously moments that made me swoon! SO. MANY. FEELS. I feel like I am not doing this book’s justice through this review but I just wanna say:

If you haven’t started this series…I URGE YOU TO DO SO <3

***
(Divergent #3)
by Veronica Roth
YA – Dystopia
A few days right after the release date, there were so many backlashes toward the book the average rating for Allegiant was actually around 2 stars and that made me so nervous and hesitant to read the book. And later I accidentally saw spoilers about the controversial ending and I was sure that it was the cause of the low rating. However, I am so glad that I decided to dive into this book with an open mind and you know what? I love the ending. I love the relationship between Four and Tris.
To be honest, I wasn’t impressed at first. The beginning was okay but I was having a hard time getting into this book. But when I picked it up again, the monotonous writing didn’t bug me anymore and I just went with the flow. Sure, the revelation of the worldbuilding was confusing as hell but what I loved the most in Allegiant is how Tris’s character has matured so much since Insurgent.

The second half of the book was very thought-provoking and it gave me a lot of things to ponder on. Each chapter builds up into the painfully magnificent ending. It was truly the most powerful ending I have ever read and it shows just how much Tris has grown since the first book. I don’t think there’s a better conclusion other than THAT and I genuinely respect Veronica Roth, for being such a Dauntless since there aren’t many authors who are willing to go to that direction.

***SPOILER AHEAD***

Although the ending had been spoiled to me, it didn’t take away my enjoyment or reduce the pain at all. I really liked how Tris and Tobias eventually trust each other and oh my god when Tris says, “I didn’t want to leave him,” or something like that I was like ASDFGFDSDGFKD T_T  

And Tris’s last moment with Caleb was sooo touching my face my eyes they were like a freaking waterfall — it was totally impossible to hide the tears from my mom. And then post-Tris Tobias is trying to live without her and until the last page of the book I couldn’t stop crying literally *sniffles* 

I first cried when Uriah is announced unrecoverable. It was another pool of tears when they unplug him.

***END OF SPOILER***

Overall, Allegiant left me thinking a lot, about the meaning of sacrifice, forgiveness and moving on. I know this book has its own flaws but considering what an emotion explosion the last 100 pages was, it will definitely be very memorable for me.

***
Oh man, I just realized that my mini reviews are actually quite long .__. Blahh I am too lazy to write separate reviews so anyway, I hope you don’t mind! 😀