Book Review: Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone#3) by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone#3) by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Genre: Fantasy and Young Adult

Release Date: June 17, 2014

Pages: 422 (Hardcover)

good

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

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 she 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—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

The Shadow and Bone series has it all (or did). Great dialogue, gruesome fights, and some of the finest humour out there. With this said, I had very little expectations for Ruin and Rising the third and final novel in the series. The Darkling plays such a large role in this series. Not only as the villain but as an ally and a lover, and I just…I didn’t see his importance here. To be completely honest, I didn’t see anything, no growth from the most beloved characters. Although I admit, Bardugo is the queen of twists and turns, I got very few twists except that one fucking huge one that made my eyes water.

Because in all actuality, what the hell happened? There was so much tension, so much build up in the first book that completely fell flat by the end of this one. This love triangle is just getting out of hand. It’s stupid and I hate it now. Bardugo used a great twist and something unique, to tie everything in a nice, sloppily done bow. How the war goes down is just not logical. It really isn’t. Moreover, the actual ending is not anything special. It’s so unlike the story that I think a lot of her fans are having an extremely hard time with it.

Nonetheless, Bardugo did put in one large plot twists, showing her brilliance through beautiful writing. I do like some of the secondary characters a lot more than before. Like Zoya, who has a great sense of humour and Nikola–everything about him, he’s kind of amazing.

It’s the classic ‘last book in the series’ syndrome. Many second books are cursed with being boring but the last book is always cursed with leaving many readers unsatisfied. And I am apart of that group of readers. I actually had to re-read the war because it was so fast, so clean, I just couldn’t believe it. Shadow and Bone is still an amazing series, just keep your expectations of this book low.

3.5 Interesting Clouds

Click here to see my review of Shadow and Bone.

Click here to see my review of Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone#2).

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Book Review: Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

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Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: June 23, 2015

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

good good

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

opinion

I actually don’t know what to say about this one. It’s not a bad novel, it’s just…childish. Or at least it is during the beginning. Emmy and Oliver’s relationship has this huge ten-year gap because Oliver’s kidnapping and I think this is why I had such a hard time liking the story. Since he left when they were still little children, it just picks up where they left off. It’s all, “Emmy does this” and, “Oliver does that.” If stuff like this doesn’t bother you, it’s actually a great novel that’s very sweet, however if it does, maybe just skim until the middle.

Or even skim the first chapter because it’s the summary only more in-depth. Oliver left, there was a note, Emmy misses him. And although the story is Emmy’s, I feel like there should have been more to it. Like, Oliver talks about his life, about what he did during those years however, it’s hard to truly picture it since he only says snippets and then that’s it. I did feel for him and his pain however, I wanted to know more so that I could relate more to him. Also, the blow-ups that happen between Oliver and his mother happen too quickly. As a person who has gone through bad shit and seen my friends go through bad shit, parents just aren’t that quick to ground people over small things. Another thing that’s lacking is the town. Like, what town? There is no town. I didn’t get the small feeling of people watching his every move, the ‘think this way,’ or anything. It just fades into the background so whenever Emmy mentions something about their town, it’s always confusing because WHAT TOWN IS THERE?!

But Emmy & Oliver is a sweet novel. The characters are strong and witty, especially Drew who honestly killed me every time he opens his mouth. The relationship between Emmy and Oliver is cute. It’s more of a friendship than anything else and I enjoyed reading about it. I also liked the relationship between Oliver and his father. It’s not your typical one, it’s a strange and realistic relation between two people who need time to figure out their feelings. I got that and I loved it. One of the best relationships ever. The small in between chapters that tell of secrets and memories between Emmy and Oliver also helps paint the picture of how close these two were when they were younger. It put me in a memory of my own childhood where I would always make up weird sayings that only my friends and I understood. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think any of us actually knew what we were saying to each other but we still understood, deep down.

Would I recommend this book? Yes I would because it’s focused on more than just romance and I love that about books. Although the execution at times is sloppy and annoying, it does get its footing and tells an amazing story about time. So, yeah. Go pick this one up it’s cute and sad and summer friendly.

3.5 Interesting Clouds

3.5 Interesting Clouds

Book Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog#1) by Anne Blankman

17668473Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog#1) by Anne Blankman

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Historical Fiction and Young Adult

Release Date: April 22, 2014

Pages: 401 (Hardcover)

good good

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Balzer + Bray for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

It’s extremely important for everyone to understand our pasts so that we can hopefully never repeat them again or at least to the same extent. Prisoner of Night and Fog is a great novel in the sense that it’s a retelling of most of World War two and the build-up towards it. This series is pretty much going to be the WW2 part of any history class (hopefully) and I actually enjoyed it a lot. Not only did I like the fictional, but the non fictional ones as well. I’ve never been a fan of historical fiction and much less of anything non fiction yet I couldn’t put this book down.

Although it takes a lot of work working with non fictional characters, Blankman does a great job. However,  in the beginning with the Jew that her brother wanted to beat up. The whole incident felt really forced to get the story going. Another thing that felt forced is the second half of the novel where the romance is so clichéd and contrived that I wanted to puke. Gretchen went from this badass girl who was uncertain about her family and willing to get answers to this girl who needed her ‘man’ almost all the time. The mystery aspect of the novel is actually really boring, there’s a lot of planning and searching but not enough of anything else until the end of the story.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is still an excellent book. The relationship between Gretchen and Hitler is very well done and shows the decline of their trust in one another. Moreover, Blankman did a lot of research for the story and it really shows. Small details that most people overlook play big roles in the not only this story but the actual war. Despite disliking Gretchen during the last quarter of the story, I really liked her. She was strong and brave, using her clever wit to get past the people who stand in her way.

Overall, I do recommend this book to everyone. It’s historical fiction yes, but it’s also about one of the worst cases of genocide the world has ever seen. It’s not all that gory but it’s intense and I have a lot of faith in this author to get really in-depth with the whole series.

3.5 Interesting Clouds

3.5 Interesting Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.

Book Review: The Accidental Highwayman by Ben tripp

20519011The Accidental Highwayman by Ben tripp

Publisher: Tor Teen

Genre: Fantasy and Young Adult

Release Date:October 18, 2014

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

good good

 In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher,Tor Teen for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Growing up as a kid, I would watch some classics with my sisters. It was our bonding time and I loved it. The fact that The Accidental Highwayman is compared to The Princess Bride grabbed my attention at once! I love that movie! And in a few ways, this novel is like that movie (sorry guys! Haven’t read the book!). There’s a ton of action, helping the story stay interesting and on point with the potential of never-ending danger.  The different types of mythical creatures that Kit and his friends face are all creative and unique.

Despite how fun this novel is, The Accidental Highwayman has a lot of info-dumping that only drags out the story. I found myself skipping a bunch paragraphs because they went on and on and on about random crap. Kit, the protagonist is adorable, however, he sounded more like a ten-year old boy than a sixteen year old one.

Still, Kit and Morgana’s relationship is beyond adorable. It’s a roller coaster of emotion, them constantly getting angry with the other yet trying to move forward. I felt for them and their little crushes! In addition, the little notes in the margins are great and makes the story feel realistic because I don’t know phrases and words used in the 19th century and getting summaries on them helped me understand. The illustrations are beautifully done. Tripp knows how to artfully draw readers in with his visuals. I kept skipping the pages, looking around for the pictures, the full ones that have so much detail and so much emotion, and then I would gawk at them all before returning to the page I was on.

The Accidental Highwayman isn’t a bad book. It does have a few similarities to The Princess Bride with the action, the friends and foes and I loved it. Still, it does feel a bit odd with the abundance of information and the characters feeling too young and things working out just…too well in some cases. I recommend this story to anyone looking for something sweet and fun, with great illustrations, an old yet well described setting and love when the good guy wins! (Sort of). I’m so tempted to go watch every classic movie with villains in it now…hhmmm.

3.5 Interesting Clouds

3.5 Interesting Clouds

Book Review: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

20493997100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

good good

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinionOkay, despite the fact that the summary makes this book seem like a huge cliché, it’s really awkward and cute. 100 Sideways Miles starts off stiff and ends sweetly with a funny twist. Andrew Smith has a unique way of creating awkward main characters in a way that makes everyone connect with them as well as root for them to get over whatever obstacle is in their way. Finn is a great character. I know that a lot of people dislike him because he acts like an asshole and blames it on his black outs but not being able to control your body, especially for a teenager who’s still trying to figure out their life, would make almost everyone pissed off after blacking out. Moving on, I did love this story even though it’s not as amazing as Winger, it’s still an awesome read.

With any type of book, I can’t stand when there’s a ton of info-dumping that happens throughout the book. It starts from the very beginning about really random or boring things that haven’t even been brought up in a realistic way yet. In the beginning, it’s more like the history of Cade and Finn, really. I also had a problem with Julia. I would have liked to have been able to know more about her and her past. She doesn’t seem as real to me as she could have been.

Nonetheless, 100 Sideways Miles is great. Finn is very unique especially with his heterochromatic eyes and relatable. Like I said before, most people would be pissed off put in Finn’s position. Cade is another great character who seems to always be horny but is pretty humorous. It’s all of the characters. They are, for the most part, relatable and interesting with their mini adventures to Aberdeen Lake and the university that are both well described and still meaningful yet still light enough to cause some humour.

100 Sideways Miles is relatable book that I think a lot of people would like despite its few flaws. It’s a light read but it’s interesting, making people realize that a lot of authors use real people in their books and sometimes they like it, but sometimes they don’t. Plus, the ending is pretty creepy and ends the book with a fun twist which is always good!

3.5 Interesting Clouds

3.5 Interesting Clouds

Book Review: Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

22605745Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Pages: 432 (Hardcover)

good good

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back,

Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good . . .

Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it’s never been this bad before.

When her parents split up, Don’t touch becomes Caddie’s mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn’t make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama’s humidity, she’s covering every inch of her skin and wearing evening gloves to school.

And that’s where things get tricky. Even though Caddie’s the new girl, it’s hard to pass off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who’s auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she’ll have to touch Peter . . . and kiss him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn’t sure she’s brave enough to let herself fall.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, HarperTeen for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinionFor many people, touching others or being touched really freaks them out. Even for myself, there are times that I cringe whenever a friend comes in to give me a hug which isn’t as severe as what Caddie has however, it does make her easy to relate to. Rachel M. Wilson’s début is quite touching, (no pun intended) and obsessive disorder that has gone too far and a friend who is intent on proving that it’s not everything. Don’t Touch is a lovely story that I really liked with characters that are hilarious and kept my entertained.

Although Don’t Touch is a great debut, it does have a few flaws for instance, the romance. I really hated just how big of a role it plays in the book because for half the book, it’s the reason why the plot keeps moving. I wanted Caddie to get out of her comfort zone not because she has a crush but because she misses and needs her best friend. Another problem that I had with Caddie is how much she rushes through talking about her dad. I get that talking about someone who has hurt you is very hard, but the only way for a reader to completely understand the pain is by telling us a few stories about it, about the past and the memories that were shared, yet I never got the chance to experience this because it’s rarely showed.

Anyway, I really could connect with Caddie on most things, she’s realistic and her story is quite touching, something a I think most kids want when their parents split up. The way and process that Caddie uses to play the role of Ophelia as well as to get through life is amazing and beautifully done in a way that’s pretty moving. Moreover, I liked her group of friends because they are so funny.

Don’t Touch is a story about a girl with an illness. Believe me, I know how much of an overused story idea this is but Wilson takes a different approach that make it this book refreshing. I didn’t feel too annoyed with it. I recommend this to anyone who likes this story idea or is interested in books about plays.

3.5 Interesting Clouds

3.5 Interesting Clouds

Book Review: Play Me Backwards by Adam Selzer

18852053Play Me Backwards by Adam Selzer

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: August 26, 2014

Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

good good

Leon Harris isn’t exceptional and he isn’t popular. He’s the kind of guy that peaked in middle school, when once upon a time he was in the “gifted” program and on the fast track to Ivy League glory.

Now, a high school senior, he’s a complete slacker who spends his time hanging out in a third-rate ice cream parlor with his best friend, Stan, a guy who (jokingly, Leon thinks) claims to be Satan. Committed to his sloth, Leon panics when he finds out that Anna, the love of his life aka middle school girlfriend, might be moving back to town.

Determined to get his act together, Leon asks Stan for help. Stan gives him a few seemingly random and mysterious assignments. Date a popular girl. Listen to Moby-Dick, the audiobook. Find the elusive white grape slushee. Join the yearbook committee.

As each task brings Leon one step away from slacker city and one step closer to Anna, he starts to wonder if maybe he shouldn’t have promised Stan his soul after all…

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinionAlways assume that a person named Stan is actually named Satan. That’s probably the first thing I picked up from this book. Oh, and that the Dark Lord is a complete ass. Play Me Backwards is a fun book about love, friendship, and knowing the difference between being a teen and an adult. I had a lot of fun reading this, and I really really REALLY want to go on a slushee adventure now. Definitely going on my high school grad bucket list to do. This book actually made me look back to what I was like when I was fourteen and all of my goals and expectations. I’ve changed a lot in those almost four short years but not in the way that I would have thought. This is one of the reasons why I could connect with Leon and why I think a lot of other people will be able to as well.

Right off the bat though, the book jumps into an albeit humorous, very long info-dump on the relationship between Leon and  Stan/Satan and how they became friends in the first place. And it’s not the only time that readers are forced to chew down a lot of information in one bite. It happens kind of a lot but I liked that even though Adam Selzer had a has a hard time expertly putting in some of the characters’ pasts into the story without boring readers, he at least makes it funny. If it weren’t for the humour, I really do believe that I would have skimmed through just about all of the references to the past. Another thing that I didn’t like is the middle of the book where everything just seems to kind of stand still. Things happen, sure, but it’s not things that matter. I truly did not care about Leon’s relationship with Paige though it took up a huge chunk of the story.

Play Me backwards is still a fun novel. I loved the writing. I know I say this a lot, but I usually love reading books in a male perspective better than a female solely because the writing is a hell of a lot more relaxed with a dash of humour in it. The random but awesome assignments that Stan gives Leon are great. I loved how much fun Leon has going around doing them. Moreover, the relationship between Leon and Stan is well done. I loved the journey that Leon goes through to improve himself and just how willing Stan is to help him. The characters are full of personality and enthusiasm (or lack of) that’s really realistic in teens. Adding onto this, Stan is amazing. He’s mysterious and plays his part well as the Devil.

If you don’t have a bucket list already, I suggest that you start one. Especially if you’re not a teenager. You must go on a slushee adventure and do at least one disaster dinner from an old cookbook. This book inspires random, weird, and awkward but in a way that’s relatable to most, if not all teens concerning their parents, friends, and grades. It was easy for me to love the book and laugh along with it. I recommend this one to everyone to read even if it’s just to pass the time. It’s kind of a jem, guys.

3.5 Interesting Clouds

3.5 Interesting Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.