Sunday, May 1, 2016

Review (Part #1): The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

The Grisha trilogy had been on my TBR forever. I read the spinoff- Six of Crows- first, and fell in love with Ms. Bardugo’s fictional world of the Grisha and otkazat'sya alike. There was something terribly alluring about cunning conman Kaz Brekker and his crew of misfits. Their daring and perilous journey to pull of the greatest heist in the world, written in such an enchanting way, prompted me to finally give the Grisha trilogy a chance.

And boy, was that the best decision ever!

The trilogy was mindblowing in all senses of the word, with a richly woven story set in the backdrop of an elaborately crafted fantasy world, with all the ingredients of a perfect YA series chucked into it. There was nail biting action, unpredictable plot changes, subtle but toe curling romance, swoonworthy heroes, badass villains and a intriguing plot. There is so much I want to say about these books that it's almost impossible to decide where to begin! Starting from the beginning sounds like a good idea though. 

So, this review will be in two parts. The first one will cover the first book in the series and the second one will be about the other two. 

Book 1: Shadow and Bone

Published: June 5th 2012
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Goodreads Synopsis

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

My Review

Starting off on a positive note...

Things I adored:

1. The concept of Grisha magic/The world building

“Everything in the world could be broken down into the same small parts. What looked like magic was really the Grisha manipulating matter at its most fundamental levels.
Marie didn’t make fire. She summoned combustible elements in the air around us, and she still needed a flint to make the spark that would burn that fuel. Grisha steel wasn’t endowed with magic, but by the skill of Fabrikators, who did not need heat or crude tools to manipulate metal.”

Ms Bardugo came up with an interesting explanation for the existence of magic. It was quite possibly one of the most plausible magical theories I've read in fantasy books. 

“The grounding principle of the Small Science was “like calls to like,” but then it got complicated. Odinakovost was the “thisness” of a thing that made it the same as everything else. Etovost was the “thatness” of a thing that made it different from everything else. Odinakovost connected Grisha to the world, but it was etovost that gave them an affinity for something like air, or blood, or in my case, light. Around then, my head started swimming. One thing did stand out to me: the word the philosophers used to describe people born without Grisha gifts, otkazat’sya, “the abandoned.” It was another word for orphan.”

2. The Darkling

AAghh! For the love of droolworthy antagonists everywhere! The Darkling's character was so spot on- dark, dangerous, broody,  shrouded in mystery, with a hidden softer side. Also, I cannot be the only one who thinks that the title- The Darkling- seems deliciously badass! He was an irresistibly hot mess of awesomeness. He's the kind of guy most sensible girls (including me) would shy away from in real life, and yet he makes the pages of the book come alive. It was impossible for me to hate on him or make way past his ruthless, shrewd and sexy avatar. A well deserved entry to the Book BFs list for sure! 

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

3. The Plot

A plot is to books what dessert is to a multiple course dinner. A book can have great characters or excellent writing style, but the presence of an intriguing plot is what makes it complete. 

Shadow and Bone didn't disappoint in terms of story at all. Although the book started out slowly, it picked up pace somewhere near the middle with an unpredictable plot twist, and gave way to an excellent action-packed storyline. 

Things that seemed meh:

1. Alina Starkov

It seems a like a big drawback for the protagonist of a book to be unlikeable. Fortunately, Alina Starkov was possibly the only major thing wrong with the book. She was whiny and needy. I understood that these traits stemmed from her upbringing as an orphan but having such low self esteem got real old real fast. She was kind of obsessed with her looks, always whining to herself about how very plain and unattractive she was. I also understood her desire to be cherished and loved, but her flitting from Mal to Darkling to Mal etc just made her seem fickle and impressionable. 

2. Obsession with beauty 

Now this is one thing that YA books are filled of. I won't lie; attractive characters do draw in the readers but there is a balance authors need to find to avoid making it look extremely repetitive. It seems highly unrealistic that every major character in the book has to be drop dead gorgeous. Imperfect characters with imperfect looks can also be very loveable indeed. 

Shadow and Bone had too much emphasis on beauty- whether it be Grisha good looks fuelled by the use of their power or Mal's otkazat'sya magnificence. Even the protagonist, Alina, seemed hopelessly fixated on beauty as well. 

Overall reaction:

But inspite of these little grievances, the book was a downright unputdownable treat from start to finish. 

Highly recommended to all fantasy/fiction/romance lovers out there! Rating: 4/5 stars!

Book Trailer:
Look at this awesome book trailer with such a catchy soundtrack!

Comment about the fancast that you envision for the book! 

I think that Theo James would make a wonderful Mal. Choosing the Darkling seems difficult though, because he's so irresistible in the books. And perhaps Chace Crawford as Nikolai?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Blog Hop: Feature and Follow #4

The Feature and Follow is the premium BLOG HOP of Book Bloggers. Running for over five years, the Feature and Follow’s goal is to promote the book blogging and author community to join together and support each other – even if it is just through a simple follow. The FF also promotes creative post options by offering interesting topics we can all talk about and comment on! Come join us.

This site would love to have:


It was difficult to choose just 3 but here they are (in no particular order):

1. Celaena Sardothien (The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas)

I loved Celaena's character. She was everything I love in a female protagonist- cunning, brave, decisive...a bit cocky and arrogant (but I guess she's allowed that liberty by virtue of being THE most feared and revered assassin of the Kingdom). She is definitely not a damsel in distress and and can kick butt of men four times her size. I liked that she was clear about her priorities and wasn't afraid to take a stand for what she thought was right. Her impulsiveness and straight forward behaviour were also appreciable. I loved that being a badass in no way stopped her from being distinctly girlish- what with her love for parties, beautiful dresses, music or boys. 

“My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name's Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I'd still beat you, no matter what you call me.”

2. Scarlett O' Hara (Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)

Scarlett is possibly one of the most flawed heroines of all time. Then you must be wondering that what the hell is she doing on my list! Well, it is precisely because she was so flawed. Her character was so beautifully and painstakingly crafted by Miss Mitchell- be it her extreme stubbornness, her innate selfishness, her bitchiness, the love that she bore for her family, her obsession with a married man, the love she had for her own husband...

There is no one way to describe her complex character. Yes, I despised her for a major portion of the book. I felt bad for her. I admired her And then I loathed her again. I wanted her to be punished for her selfishness. I wanted her to get rewarded for her resourcefulness and bravery. She was courageous and manipulative, thick skinned and pigheaded. She was a rollercoaster of emotions! One of the best female protagonists of all time!

“Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach again and she said aloud: 'As God is my witness, and God is my witness, the Yankees aren't going to lick me. I'm going to live through this, and when it's over, I'm never going to be hungry again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to steal or kill - as God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again.” 

3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by JK Rowling)

Need I say much about this awesome character? Let's just say the the wizarding world wouldn't have been freed from the tyranny of one noseless douchebag if it hadn't been for this beauty with brains. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Published September 10th 2013 by St. Martin's Press

“To really be a nerd, she'd decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.” 

Goodreads Synopsis

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Review

“There's nothing more intoxicating than creating something from nothing. Creating something from yourself."

It's not very often that I come across books that show me a reflection of myself, books that are so eerily relatable that it almost seems as if the author was thinking of me while writing it. This was one of those books. Every single fanboy and fangirl will be able to relate very strongly to the quirky protagonist Cath and the entire general theme of the story. 

“I'm the kind of girl who fantasizes about being trapped in a library overnight.” 

“The whole point of fanfiction is that you get to play inside somebody else's universe. Rewrite the rules. Or bend them. The story doesn't have to end. You can stay in this world, this world you love, as long as you want, as long as you keep thinking of new stories.” 

Cath's fascination with the Simon Snow franchise, her compulsion towards fanfiction, the bond she shares with fellow fans even when they're complete strangers, queueing up outside book stores hours before the book release to get a copy of the novel, the truckloads of Simon Snow merchandise that is the pride of her collection, having a completely different online persona amidst a fandom and getting teary eyed at the mere thought of the end of her favourite series- all of this and more made me nostalgic of the Harry Potter days. It wasn't long before I was reminiscing about that time in middle school where my little world revolved around JKR's franchise and the biggest problem in my life was the return of giant douchebag Lord Voldemort and his masked-and-pretentiously-named cronies. 

In short, this book was unlike anything I've ever read. The story of Cath begins with her arrival at college- a world completely different from the one she's used to. Her beloved twin sister no longer wants to share a room with her, her new roommate is an intimidating badass, her roommate's boyfriend constant presence is unnerving (especially since she's weirdly attracted to him), her fiction writing class is a disaster as it appears that the only thing she wants to write is Simon Snow fanfiction, her long absconding Mom wants to reconnect and of course there is the whole big issue of socialising. Out of her depth and comfort zone, Cath tries to flounder through it all, learning new life lessons along the way. I loved her bizarre analogies and the unconventional way in which she described things. Her peculiar adjectives had me conjure vivid imagery in my mind throughout the course of the novel. 

“Levi's eyebrows were pornographic. If Cath were making this decision just on eyebrows, she would have been "up to his room" a long time ago.”

“God, his chin. She wanted to make an honest woman of his chin. She wanted to lock it down.” 

“His mouth was small, but bowed. Like a doll's. She wondered if he had trouble opening it wide enough to eat apples.” 

The writing was natural and engaging, the characters were absolutely adorable and while there wasn't much plot development to the story there was a certain realness to it that made the book unputdownable. Highly recommended with 5/5 stars!