Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

14061957Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo   

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: Kindle edition, 2014 by Orion Children’s Books (first published 2014)

Pages: 369

Star Rating: 3/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as Alina begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction – but claiming it could cost Alina the very future she is fighting for.

 

The final book in the Grishaverse trilogy was, unfortunately, a little disappointing. While I liked the book, it didn’t pull me in, not in the same way the first two books did.

There were too many inner monologues for Alina that just felt repetitive. Her thoughts and emotions could have been written better in places. Elsewhere, the writing was good though, and I continued to enjoy the world building. I thought it was interesting how Alina was viewed as a Saint. It’s not something I’ve really seen in fantasy before, but totally makes sense for someone with ‘magic’ to be viewed that way by some people.

Bardugo is pretty mean to her characters in this book, things rarely go the ‘heroes’ way, which I liked. It showed how the characters had to keep getting back up and fight mentally to keep persevering. Though Bardugo seemed to be taking this book in a dark direction, it somehow ended up being too soft in the end, which I don’t mind, except the lead up led me to think it was going a different way. Like the author wanted to take it in a darker direction at the end, but dipped their toes in and decided to back out. Perhaps I’m wrong, maybe she wanted a touch of darkness, but was always going to end it in a less dark way. The fairy tale framing does suggest there would be a happy ending of sorts.

There were some surprising twists and exciting scenes, but between those I wasn’t hooked. One of the twists also came totally out of the blue, a bit too much so. It was a bit of a stretch. But I liked how it took the last quarter of the book in a different direction to what I was expecting. It certainly wasn’t predictable. Though at times it was very simple. There weren’t any subplots or complexities outside of the main thread.

There was a lot of build up to the ‘final battle’ but then it seemed to be over very quickly. There could have been a lot more tension and emotion in the battle. If it had been developed more, it would have had more impact.

One thing I disliked is how one of the character’s deaths was dealt with. A secondary character dies in the ‘final battle’, but it’s sort of randomly mentioned afterwards in a totally detached way. Alina doesn’t even seem upset, yet she is totally distraught by deaths of other secondary characters in the trilogy. This character’s death was totally skimmed over, almost like an afterthought – ‘oh by the way and this character died in that battle’. It seemed like the character was killed off just to tick the box, since it’s unrealistic for everyone to survive. I thought that character’s death was handled badly.

This book was disappointing compared to books one and two. It just seemed to lack the spark the first two had. I did like the epilogue though, it was satisfying. I’m glad I finished the series and would pick up another of Bardugo’s books in future even though I didn’t love this book as much as the others.

Author Interview: Lynden Wade

A Bit of Magic is an upcoming fairy tale retelling anthology, and will be the fifth collection of stories published by the Just-Us League. One of the authors, Lynden Wade, joins me today for an interview about her contribution to the anthology – ‘Reed Girl, Fire Girl, Cloud Girl’.

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LYNDEN WADE AUTHOR PHOTOLynden Wade was home schooled in a village in West Africa, giving her lots of time to read. The bright colours of illustrations to fairy tales, legends and medieval history – worlds away from the dry grasslands and termite hills around her – inspired her to write her own stories. Her muses include Joan Aiken, Diana Wynne Jones and Rosemary Sutcliff. She has had stories published in The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3 and in the JL Anthology From The Stories of Old. Two more stories are due to be published in 2018 in addition to ‘Reed Girl, Fire Girl, Cloud Girl,’ her contribution to A Bit of Magic. She is working on a historical novel. She loves tea shops, book shops, period drama, castles and trees. You can find her on quillsquotesqueensquests.wordpress.com, on lyndenwadeauthor.weebly.com and on Facebook.

What inspired your retelling?

One of my favourite books as a child was ‘The Kingdom under the Sea and Other Stories’ by Joan Aiken, illustrated by Jan Pienkowski, who drew delicate silhouettes that entwined the text. I particularly loved the story ‘The Reed Girl,’ but I also felt quite impatient with the Prince, who kept letting the reed girls die because he didn’t get to them fast enough to give them water. It needed a retelling!

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Cover Reveal: A Bit of Magic

This comes to you a day late as I wrote down the wrong date! Never mind. The next release from the Just-Us League writing group is A Bit of Magic, a Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings. The anthology will be released on the 31st May. Today I bring you a reveal for the gorgeous cover, created by Louis Rakovich at Indigo Forest Designs. Each story in the anthology is accompanied by an illustration by Heidi Hayden.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Disliked/Hated but Am Really Glad I Read

Some of these are books I disliked but am glad I read because I learnt something from them. As much as we can learn what makes a great book, as a writer you can learn what not to do from what you don’t like about books you’ve read.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

y648A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin  

Genre: Fantasy

Publishing Info: 2011 by HarperVoyager (first published 1996)

Pages: 806

Star Rating: 4/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

Kings and queens, Knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones.

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond.

The Game of Thrones. You win, or you die.

Book one of A Song of Ice and Fire begins the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age.

 

This book has been sat on my shelf for many years, and finally I’ve read it. It was probably the great length that put me off before now. I stopped reading humungous fantasy novels, but I’m back into them now. For contextualisation, this is my first time reading the book and I haven’t watched any of the TV series either.

I don’t know what it was about this book, but I just wanted to keep reading. That’s something hard to achieve for a book so long. It really held my attention and I didn’t want to put it down. That’s something I’d expect from a fast-paced novel, not an almighty tome. I often feel bogged down in long books, even the best ones. I get restless and distracted. I didn’t get that feeling with A Game of Thrones.

The novel is told from many characters’ perspectives and alternates between them. This is partly what helped keep the book moving. Some people wouldn’t like the constant switching between characters and locations, but I think it worked for this book. It meant the momentum kept going. All of the perspectives were important as well. I didn’t feel like any of them were a waste of time as each one provided a different insight into the story. It was interesting to see how different characters’ viewed events, and how all those plot threads fit together.

The world building in this is really strong. I was totally immersed in the world. This is also helped by Martin’s brilliant writing. He gets the balance just right. There’s enough description for me to visualise the scene like I’m watching a film, but not too much description as is often the case in fantasy novels.

This series probably isn’t for everyone. It’s not the fun adventure most other fantasy books I’ve read are. There’s violence, gore, executions, sex and incest. I’m not too keen on strong violence. Fortunately there wasn’t too much in this book, for my tolerance levels. Besides, my enjoyment of the story easily outweighs my dislike of any violent scenes.

Having finished the first book, I am totally invested in the characters and want to read the rest of the series. I can see why this book, and the TV adaptation, has garnered so many fans. The story pulls you in, and it doesn’t let go the whole way through.

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Books with my Favourite Colour on the Cover

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

This week’s topic is books with your favourite colour on the cover or in the title. My favourite colour tends to vary a bit from year to year, at the moment I’m partial to purple so that’s what I’ve chosen for my list. This was a fun topic to research. Without further ado, here are some resplendent purple covers for you to enjoy…

1) Shadow and Bone Leigh Bardugo

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April Wrap Up

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April was a slow month for me. I only finished reading two books. I’ve been spending time practicing my driving as I have my test next week (eek!) so haven’t been reading or blogging as much this month.

The month started out well – I finished reading a book I loved! The Young Elites by Marie Lu really gripped me. I kep12394068t turning the pages and couldn’t believe it when I finished it. I wanted more. I have the second and third books in the trilogy on my shelf and I don’t think it will be long before I read them.

While on holiday I got a copy of A Street Cat Named Bob. I love cats and I saw the film a few months ago, and remember it being a really interesting and moving story. It was good reading the book as there was obviously stuff the film left out.

y648So, the other reason I haven’t done many reviews this month is that I’ve been reading the tome that is A Game of Thrones. I’m about 2/3 of the way through now. It feels like I’ve been reading this book for ages, though it’s only been a few months. I’m loving it so far. Review will be coming when I finish it, which may be another couple of weeks at the rate I’m reading at the moment!

Hopefully May will be a better month for both reading and blogging!