Thursday, 29 June 2017

SIEGE AND STORM (The Grisha #2) - by Leigh Bardugo

SIEGE AND STORM - Leigh Bardugo
Published: 2015 - by Henry Holt and Company.
Pages: 435.
Genres: Young adult / romance / epic fantasy / action /
Source: Library.

Darkness never dies. Alina and Mal are on the run. Hunted and haunted, but together at last, they can't outrun Alina's past or her destiny forever. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and he needs Alina to realise his dangerous plan. There are others who would like to use Alina's gift too. And as her power grows, somehow, she must choose between her country, her power, and her love - or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.




I buddy-read this book with the wonderful Di @ Book Reviews By Di, and the awesome Uma @ Books.Bags. Burgers. We had such fun chatting about this book, and it was fantastic to get three different perspectives coming through!
Check out Di's review HERE, and Uma's review HERE.


Much like they were for the first book, my feelings are mixed. I'm still not sure if I prefer Siege and Storm to Shadow and Bone, and I'm having a hard time deciding what I think of it individually as well.

“The less you say, the more weight your words will carry.”

The world building is stronger than it was in the first book. The atmosphere's darker, more distinct, and I got to hear and see more of the Grisha world. The whole tone of the book is chillier, and it seethes with foreboding as the characters themselves battle their own inner darkness.
The plot's much more intricate and complicated. There's a lot more action, and the romance is a fluctuating light amongst it - offering an exhilarating balance.
In addition, the last 10% of the book is INSANE. I was utterly gripped.

The character development is rich and natural. I loved watching Alina wrestle her demons and grow more confident and assured as a person. The only thing I didn't like about her is that she's too passive. She doesn't lead the story, and it's characters like Nikolai and the Darkling who actually move the plot forward.
Then there's Nikolai. The Nikolai, who every fangirl seems to be in love with it! Personally, I only liked his character - didn't love him; yet I think the main reason I didn't warm to him was because I've seen his sort of personality so many times in YA, and as a result his wit and charm just got tiresome for me.
I still hate the Darkling, and I'm disappointed with how little - if any - of his back story we were given. I feel as if there's still so much to him, and I hope Bardugo sheds light on that in the 3rd book. He's obviously got secrets, but it's about time we saw them.

“I have loved you all my life, Mal," I whispered through my tears. "There is no end to our story.”

The secondary characters are mostly unmemorable. I did love the twins, and I liked how Genya's story went, but no one else really made an impression.
Mal is a love-hate character for me. I still ship him with Alina, but he's very annoying and frustrating in parts of the book. I could see his perspective and I felt for him, but he needed to sort himself out. He's also become a bit too much the stereotypical protective good guy.

The romance is strong. I liked Mal and Alina's relationship arc, and how the struggles they face come across naturally and realistically. It's also unpredictable, and caught me pleasantly off-guard a few times.
But I hated the love shape. I say shape because I'm not sure whether it's a triangle or a square or something else entirely. Basically, I hated how almost every main male character either proposed to or flirted with or actually loved Alina. Seriously, there were like four guys who wanted her, or least hinted at it. I hated that.


Siege and Storm is a dark, chilling epic fantasy with great dialogue and lots of action. The character development is good, but the writing and the book as a whole remain unremarkable.


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #39: SPIDERMAN: HOMECOMING (film)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.




Release Date: 7 July 2017.

Cast: Tom Holland / Robert Downey Jr. / Marisa Tomei / Micheal Keaton / 

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker attempts to balance his life in high school with his career as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man.



I AM SO HYPED FOR SPIDEY!! Although I'm kinda sad too - I'm sure Tom will be amazing (he definitely was in Civil War) but I'll always miss Andrew's Spidey and Emma's Gwen :( 
(I'm also thrilled to see Iron Man again. I can always count on RDJ to deliver a terrific performance). 




Anyone else looking forward to Spidey?! 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

PASSENGER (Passenger #1) - by Alexandra Bracken

PASSENGER - Alexandra Bracken
Published: 2016 - by Disney Hyperion.
Pages: 496.
Genres: Young adult / time travel / romance / adventure / fantasy / historical
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now. Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not. Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.


I remember coming across an excerpt from Passenger years ago after it had just been released. After that, I heard the hype, saw the glowing reviews, and it's been on my TBR ever since. It looked like an amazing book.



It's certainly well written. The prose is poetic, melodic, and flows beautifully, evoking every sense. The detail is exquisite (sometimes too much - hence the boring parts) and the descriptions are incredibly poignant and well imagined.
But there's a heck of a lot of info-dumping as well. Especially at the start when things are extremely slow and boring, the info dumping doesn't help. And throughout the whole book it never goes away. Which brings me to....
Although the story's beautifully written, it's also frequently boring and tedious. It improves a lot towards the end (and gets exciting), but there's still the info dumping and tiresome exposition. I really struggled to keep going, and sometimes it didn't feel so much like an adventure than it did a fight against an opposing current.

I loved how the time travel was done. It makes sense, it's clever, it's original, and it works. When reading other time travel books, I've often found the specifics to be a bit off, but Bracken handles it brilliantly in Passenger.

“It's our choices that matter in the end. Not wishes, not words, not promises.”

The characters are boring. Sophia's the most interesting person in the book, but she's absent for most of the story.  The antagonists are vague and entirely forgettable, and the whole Alice story is impossible to relate to. I could not sympathise with any of the characters, especially when it came to Alice's "incident" (to avoid spoilers) and Julian's death. Those two "incidents" impact Etta and Nicholas hugely, but I didn't feel as if I got the time to know the people they mourned before I was expected to empathise with them. 
Etta's a very inoffensive heroine. And perhaps as a result, I found her boring, dull, and hugely inconsistent. She keeps saying how she doesn't need a protector and that she's perfectly capable, but she's still rescued by Nicholas in almost every chapter.
Nicholas has a lot of depth, which I loved. He's a typical old-fashioned gentleman, overprotective, and with a painful back story. But he's also too much a protective, proper gentleman, and that gets eye-roll worthy and annoying at times.
However. I loved that Bracken chose an African-American for her hero. That's an unfortunate rarity in YA fantasy, and it's a delight to see a coloured hero getting the girl and having a huge role in the story.

I didn't ship the romance at all. There is no chemistry whatsoever between Nicholas and Etta, and their relationship borders dangerously on Insta-love. Right from the moment they meet each other, they feel a pull towards the other, and it's almost too "fate induced".



Passenger is a beautifully written book, and it's a sweeping romance epic for those who can fall for Nicholas and Etta's love and enjoy slow pacing and lengthy descriptions.
But unfortunately I couldn't get into the romance, and the characters bored me.


Monday, 26 June 2017

JACKIE (film) is muddled and awkward

JACKIE - 2016
Director: Pablo Larrain.
Cast: Natalie Portman / Peter Sarsgaard / Greta Gerwig / John Hurt
Content Rating: R for strong violence and language (That's IMDB's rating. I personally think it could've been PG.)  
Source: Rented.

Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband's historic legacy.






About a year ago I read a captivating book: Jackie After Jack: Portrait of the Lady. Ever since then I've been spellbound by Jackie's story, and so when I saw that they were making a movie starring Natalie Portman, I was thrilled. And when Portman was nominated for an Oscar, I was even more excited.
I expected a lot from this movie. But it was a mixed blessing.


The film is basically a select biography focusing on the events from JFK's assassination to his funeral and how Jackie was affected by them. It's also got a mesmerising, dreamlike quality to it - I half expected Jackie to wake up at the end and say it was all an illusion.

The shaky camera work and intensely intimate angles offer a very tender look at Jackie. They're trying for intimate, and yes, the film does feel rather personal. They seem determined to get up close with Jackie and expose her emotions and reactions following the assassination.
The use of colour is stunning. The scenography is intelligent, and the costumes are elegant and striking. The music is atmospheric and reminiscent of the time as well, and instills a gorgeous nostalgic parallel to Jackie's journey.

The pacing is messy, and the story's muddled. I also don't think the start of the movie captured the story in the right place, nor did I like any of the scenes between Jackie and the journalist. They felt awkward and forced, and I don't think they worked at all.
And is it just me, or did those journalist scenes outside look green-screened? Both actors looked cut out of the picture and removed. It was badly done.


Jackie's story is gut-wrenching. Her ordeal was horrific, and the film brought tears to my eyes. Natalie Portman looks so fragile and lonely in the role, and I ached to give her a hug.
But I wanted more. I wanted more of Jackie's back story, more of her history......just more about her. I feel as if the film skims the surface and gives us an haunting - moving - but shallow view of a woman whose story is truly magnificent and dynamic. Or perhaps the movie just focuses on the wrong aspects of her life. I got a delicate and painful view of Camelot, but no real substance. The film gives us deep visual intimacy, but little in the way of information.

The acting isn't extraordinary. Natalie Portman's "Jackie voice" does not work, and she comes across silly and childish at times. Her acting's solid but not amazing, and she looks too breakable and naïve to be a convincing Jackie. I felt for her character, but I didn't love her in the role.
Portman's also awkward. Especially at the beginning, I couldn't help but cringe at the way her lines were delivered. She just looks uncomfortable in Jackie's skin, and some scenes are excruciatingly awkward.
Peter Sarsgaard looks nothing like Bobby Kennedy, but his acting's decent. His chemistry with Natalie is beautiful and genuine, and that repeatedly holds the movie together.



Jackie's story is heartbreaking, powerful, and even inspiring, but I don't think the film managed to capture that. The acting and scenes are too awkward, and the script doesn't dig deep enough into Jackie's story.
But visually, it's ethereal.


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Weekly Round-Up: Reading and Watching


It's been a busy week, and I feel like I've spent most of my time rushing round. But it wasn't a bad week: I read a lot, and I changed my room around and got some new furniture. Yay!! I obsess over changing my room around - it's SO FUN <3 
(And tiring. Very tiring).  

As for watching, I saw Jackie on Friday night.  I hope to have my review up tomorrow. 


Posts of the week: 

Book Review: A GLEAM OF LIGHT
Book Review: SHADOW AND BONE


Almost finished Passenger, buddy-reading Siege and Storm with Di and Uma, and taking it slow with The Darkest Part of the Forest :)  


I got an e-copy of You Don't Know My Name, and I am SO HYPED TO READ IT! As most of you probably know, I literally never read e-books, but I just couldn't past up on this book. It's one of my most anticipated reads of this year, and if I have to read a digital copy, I WILL DEAL OKAY.




Di reviews Shadow and Bone

Olivia reviews Dark Places


Angela reviews River At Night





How's your week been? Watched or read anything amazing?! 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

"Here's To The Fools Who Dream"


A few weeks ago - NO WAIT IT'S BEEN A MONTH.....WUT THE HECK - I watched the beautiful La La Land. (You can read my review HERE.) It's an amazing, captivating, brilliantly produced film, and blew my mind in so many ways. But it was its profound and gut-wrenching message that truly touched my heart.

A lot of bloggers have done posts of La La Land, sharing how it spoke to them, and so I'm not going to do quite the same. Basically, I just want to share the lyrics (and the video) of one of the most beautiful songs in the film, which portrayed so spectacularly the heartache and dissolution that so many of us face in life: whether it's in acting, singing, writing, or anything else.  It speaks to the dreamers - the ones who've been beaten down by failure after failure and don't think they can get up again.  It says that there's something beautiful in our mistakes - in our so-called failures. Because we learn from them, and because we grow. And it tells us to never, never stop dreaming. 

Hope you love it as much as I do <3  

Here's To The Fools Who Dream 



My aunt used to live in Paris. 
I remember, she used to come home and she would tell us 
these stories about being abroad 
And I remember, she told us that she jumped into the river once. 
Barefoot. 
 She smiled... 
 Leapt without looking 
And tumbled into the Seine 
The water was freezing 
She spent a month sneezing 
But said she would do it again 

Here's to the ones who dream 
Foolish as they may seem 
Here's to the hearts that ache 
Here's to the mess we make 

She captured a feeling 
Sky with no ceiling 
The sunset inside a frame 
 She lived in her liquor 
And died with a flicker 
I'll always remember the flame 

Here's to the ones who dream 
Foolish as they may seem 
Here's to the hearts that ache 
Here's to the mess we make 
 She told me: "A bit of madness is key 
To give us new colors to see 
Who knows where it will lead us? 
And that's why they need us" 

So bring on the rebels 
The ripples from pebbles 
The painters, and poets, and plays 

And here's to the fools who dream 
Crazy as they may seem 
Here's to the hearts that break 
Here's to the mess we make 

I trace it all back to then Her, and the snow, and the Seine 
Smiling through it 
She said she'd do it again




- Music by Justin Hurwitz and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
- Performed by Emma Stone 
La La Land (2016)  


Have you watched La La Land? What did you think of it? Did this song speak to you? 

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part 15


We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions. 

 A MAGICAL WORLD OF WORDS - AmyNikita 
 BOOKS.BAGS.BURGERS - Uma K 
 BOOK REVIEWS BY DI - Di Hewlett

How do you handle review requests for a book series? 


I actually get a little scared when someone offers me a book that is a part of a series or I want to request a book that is a part of a series! Starting ANY book is quite a large commitment, right? A series even more so. Now we’re talking about an ENTIRE series for review? WOAH!! 

If an author or publisher contacts me about a series for review I’ll always ask them if I can take just the first book and see how it goes. There have been two exceptions to that and thankfully, both have turned out remarkably well. 

The first exception was the Poison Study series where I actually requested a book that was #6 in the world that Maria Snyder had built. Poison Study had been on my TBR forever though and when I got accepted to review Dawn Study I binge read the ENTIRE series to read and review. 

The second exception was the Red Winter Trilogy. I actually only MEANT to request the first book but I think I made a mistake and actually got the entire trilogy from Xpresso Books… BUT I AM SO HAPPY THAT I DID. Another firm favourite in my ‘best series of EVER’ list.



Good question! I always get a mini heart attack when that happens. Like Di, I mention that I’ll read book 1 and then decide if I want to continue with the rest of the series. Taking on an entire series is a huge deal even if you aren’t reviewing the books! I’d hate to receive an entire series from an author only to find out I don’t enjoy book 1 and plan not to read the rest. 

Once after i received book 1 from the author and was still in the middle of it, she mailed the rest of the trilogy too and honestly speaking I was annoyed. And now I haven’t read the final book because I didn’t enjoy book 2. And even though she sent the books without me asking, I feel bad that I haven’t read or reviewed book 3 yet! I hate leaving things incomplete! 

So basically I’d prefer if authors would just request book 1 to be reviewed first and depending on how I like it, offer or not offer the rest of the series.


Do you think it's okay to DNF a review copy? 


I actually do… If you have, in all fairness, given the book every chance you can and you still can’t do it? If it doesn’t matter how much you read and your rating will still be negative - don’t force yourself.

The reason that I blog is that I enjoy reading and even if I’m given a book for review I still want to keep that fact in mind and enjoy the ‘work’ that I’m doing. Sometimes it’s worth pushing on with a book that isn’t something you might normally pick up, but only if you can still rate and review it objectively. 

Publishers and authors are people too and they generally do understand that not every book is going to be for every reader, especially if you take the time to explain to them that the book just wasn’t the right fit for you and either you will review it negatively or not at all. 

That being said I’ve only ever DNF’d one book so far and while it was unfortunately a review copy I knew there was no way I could enjoy the book.


I think every reader has the right to DNF a book, review copy or not. That being said, I’ve literally never DNF-ed a book in my life as a reader and that’s because i HATE leaving things incomplete. So even if I don’t like a book, I end up completing it. I have DNF-ed serieses though!

But yes, that’s just my weird ‘gotta complete’ attitude but otherwise hell yeah, you can DNF review copies. If you don’t want to complete a book, why try to just because it’s a review copy? I think authors and reviewers alike should understand and accept that not everyone is going to love every book. There are going to be different opinions and unpopular opinions with every book. If you’re like me and HAVE to complete the book, then go ahead complete it and review it but if you are not so and feel like DNF-ing it, go ahead and do that instead of torturing yourself to plough through because it’s a review copy.

How do you handle writing negative reviews for review copies? 


I always send in my reviews, even if they are negative. If the author/publisher wants me to remove it from my blog I normally will but I’ll let the review stand on Goodreads. 

What I don’t ever want to do though is tear the author or the book apart, even if I didn’t like it. The author spent a LOT more time creating and crafting their book than I did reading and reviewing it. 

If I’ve actually been approached by an author or publisher to review a book (as opposed to requesting it from them myself) and the review will be negative, I like to go back to them first with the news of the negative review and ask if they would prefer it if I don’t put the review on my blog. Sometimes they still want the publicity because if the review is polite and I put forward the reasons that I personally didn’t like it, it’s still garnering attention and getting their book out there which is the actual purpose of giving out review copies.


Thankfully, so far I’ve never had to write any 2 or below stars review for any book I’ve got from authors. I’ve had to write super negative reviews for books I received from NetGalley but that doesn’t feel so hard considering you aren’t directly conversing with either the author or the publisher! 

But even in my negative reviews I don’t just say “Guys I hated this book. Don’t read it.”. I don’t bash books or authors. I explain why I didn’t like the things I didn’t like in the book and I also make sure I mention the things I did like about the book. 

It hasn’t happened yet but if I someday receive a book from an author and end up rating it less than 3, I believe I’ll let the author know how I feel about the book and let them decide if they want me to publish or not publish the book on my blog. But as Di says, the Goodreads review stays whether the author likes it or not.



Come check out my answers over at their collab posts!: 



 We hope you’ve enjoyed Part 15 in our series of discussion posts! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? 
 If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #38: FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS - by Julie C. Dao


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.



Publication Date:  10th October 2017. 

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny. Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

This looks so amazing!! I love the idea of the world and the characters, and it sounds so fascinating and unique and eerie!! And I LOVE re-imaginings and retellings!!!
AHHHH I SO desperately want a copy!! 

But the cover makes me nervous. Snakes. I really really hate snakes. Please let there be no graphic descriptions of snakes in this otherwise beautiful book. 



Anyone else excited for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

SHADOW AND BONE (The Grisha #1) - by Leigh Bardugo

SHADOW AND BONE - by Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 2012 - by Indigo.
Pages: 308.
Genres: Young adult / epic fantasy / romance
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 fulfil 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 buddy-read this book with the wonderful Di @ Book Reviews By Di. Since it's Leigh Bardugo, we ended up racing through it in under a week! Check out her review HERE.


My feelings are incredibly mixed. For more than half of the book I thought it'd end up being a 2.5 flower read for me, and that killed me. I loved Six of Crows SO SO MUCH that my expectations for this book were very high, to say the least, and eventually I just had to force myself not to compare them. This is Bardugo's debut novel, after all, and although I think Six of Crows is a million times better, this book isn't a bad start to a promising trilogy.
But I was still disappointed.

“I'm sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.”

The writing is mediocre, almost amateurish (although that feels sinful to say considering it's Leigh Bardugo). I didn't think first person worked at all, and I struggled to get into Alina's head. The narration is awkward and extremely dry, and there's too much of Alina saying "I felt" - instead of just going with the emotion. That infuriated me.

The world building is achingly limited. To put it metaphorically, if the Grisha world is a huge patchwork quilt this book feels like it's happening in only one of those tiny squares - it's distant, removed, and although it improves as the story progresses, by the end I still felt like I'd been given an extremely cramped and restricted view of the world.
However, I did love the nods to Russian folklore subtly intertwined into the story.  The Russian elements are rich and unique, and Bardugo clearly did her research.

Then there are the incidents in the novel. For most of the story, everything just seems like a petty non-event with little significance. There's no real drama. Every incident feels underwhelming and the stakes extremely weak - or at least weakly portrayed. BUT: it did improve a lot towards the end, and for the last half quarter of the book I was riveted. I'd never been bored, but towards the end everything got so much stronger.

“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I'd catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I'd seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I'd realize that you weren't there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I've risked my life for you. I've walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I'd do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don't tell me why we don't belong together," he said fiercely.


The characters are okay. Bardugo manages to pull off the Chosen One trope, and I also loved how blunt, normal and average Alina was. (The only pitfall is the first person narration which I struggled to connect with.) I didn't love her character (she's too much of a damsel) but I didn't dislike her either. She's an ordinary, plain, flawed girl, and that appealed to me. I just wish she'd had more fire.
As for the other characters, most of them came across flat and even a bit stereotypical. The Darkling's supposed to be "the bad boy" but he really doesn't come across that dark or strong a character. Admittedly, at this stage there's still a lot of unknowns regarding his back story and character, but I just didn't find him very compelling or frightening.
The secondary characters easily fade into the background; however, I did love Genya. She's a clear, strong character, and I hope I'll see more of her in the second book.

The romance is beautiful. I definitely ship Mal and Alina, and their relationship arc is probably the strongest aspect of the book. It's beautiful, gut-wrenching, swoony and realistic. I loved them together, and had tears in my eyes towards the end when things got tough for them.




Shadow and Bone is a decent and original fantasy novel, but I struggled to connect through the first person narrative and found the writing and characters very unimpressive. 
But I loved the romance, and considering it's Bardugo, I have extremely high hopes for the second book! 

Monday, 19 June 2017

A GLEAM OF LIGHT (The Survival Trilogy #1) - by T.J. and M. L. Wolf

A GLEAM OF LIGHT - T. J. and M. L. Wolf
Published: December 2016 - by Createspace.
Pages: 331.
Genres: Speculative fiction / adventure / contemporary /
Source: Thank you to the authors for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
In 1995, at the age of eight, Una Waters survived a terrifying encounter at 30,000 feet aboard Flight 564 from Dallas to Las Vegas. It changed her forever. After 21 years, and a decade away from the Hopi Reservation where she grew up as a child, a surprise plea for help brings Una back, to solve a mystery that threatens their traditional way of life. The U.S. Army's sudden interest regarding a cave discovery in the Sacred Peaks has triggered alarm, leading to violence. With the help of friends, new and old, Una must confront her painful past, seek proof to qualify the ancient site for protection under law, and stand up to a stiff-necked general, whose agenda is more concerned with retrieving a mysterious power source.


This was a fun book! It's quite different from the books I usually read, and although it didn't blow me away, it was a fun, solid novel that kept me entertained.


The writing is good, and although it's in third-person the narration is smooth and very engaging. The scenes are strong and easy to place, and there's just the right amount of description for them to be vivid but not overwhelming.

It's a sparkling story. Richly, deeply researched, and overflowing with diversity and a side of history I've personally never heard about. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into Hopi culture and way of life, and the story makes the facts interesting. But it is a very complicated story, and in part due to the structure (which I'll get to in a bit) it does get very confusing towards the end. I honestly struggled to understand the ins-and-outs of Una's mission.
One of the biggest issues with this book is the structure. It's a mess, with no clear plot points and terrible direction.  There's also far too much exposition, and the info dumps unload information that's cluttered, complicated, and hard to follow. I was frequently confused.

The dialogue glows with characterization, but unfortunately it's also rather on-the-nose. That gets distracting as the story goes on, and it personally irritated me.

The main characters are clearly defined and Una is a strong and capable heroine. She grows a lot throughout the course of the book and has a nice heap of back story, but I also felt like she was missing something. Maybe I would've liked to have seen more of her childhood and relationship with her parents (which is so frequently referred throughout the story) instead of it just being mentioned and addressed in the story. I needed the hint of back story, and I needed to see it in action. I didn't feel like that was properly balanced.
The romance is basically nonexistent, and that left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, it's nice to see Una's motivation so focused on her people, and yet it's also hard to believe Jack and Una's friendship is so completely clean. Their relationship lacks even the commonplace male-female sexual tension, and is so completely neutral that it feels unrealistic. That was something I struggled to understand.



A Gleam of Light is a rich, solid story sparkling with engaging writing and historical detail. But the structure is a mess, and the plot itself could use a lot of work. It's a good book, but not an amazing one.


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Weekly Round-Up: Reading


It's been another slow week blogging wise, and I'm feeling a bit guilty about that. But this coming week will be a lot busier because I have reviews to get up. 

I haven't done much writing this week, and have mainly been reading. Last night my family started watching series 3 of Broadchurch, and it's AMAZING. Almost as good as the first season and definitely better than the second; we're so gripped, and can't wait to see what happens. 


Posts of the week: 

Book Review: THE FOURTH MONKEY
 I'm still slogging through Passenger, although perhaps that's a bit harsh. I do like it, but it's also disappointing me in a lot of areas.   



Finished this week: 

Di and I raced through Shadow and Bone and finished it on Friday night :) 
Both reviews will be coming this week. 



Next Up...

Di, Uma and I are starting a threesome buddy-read of Siege and Storm sometime this week! I'm so excited! 

And I also got The Darkest Part of the Forest from the library, so I'm starting that today :) 






Melissa asks Where is the Light?  in writing. 

Audrey talks Perfectionism in Writing  




The Blog Squad is a series of discussion posts Di, Uma and I do every Friday, and if you have any bookish or blogging related questions for us to feature, comment below! 


Did you have a good week? What are you reading or watching?