Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Review

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo 
Buy this book: Amazon  / Book Depository 

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 have such a horrible habit of putting off reading books that everyone seems to be raving about. It's not entirely my fault, hype has a habit of making our expectations for a book completely skyrocket, which can lead to the book disappointing and who would want to do that to themselves. Shadow and Bone was a book that was better than I had expected, as well as being different to what I had expected and it was also just what I needed. I'm not kicking myself for waiting so long though, now I have the ability to binge read the entire series.

Mal & Alina = Anastasia & Dimitri to me.
It feels like Leigh Bardugo has already earned herself a spot on my auto-buy author list. This book was superbly written and the writing style was one that completely worked for me. I could not put the book down, it moves along at such a fast pace that I had to keep reading because there was no way I couldn't find out what was going to happen next. The pacing worked for me because the action seems to be at a constant steady flow, there was no point where I felt bored or like the story was lacking action. You also learn more about the world as the book goes along, which means that you don't have to deal with any horrible info-dumps.

The book grabbed me from the very first page and I especially loved the world that Bardugo created. Ravka has a very Russian feel to it, which appeals to me since I've been fascinated with Russia since I was a child and I used to obsessively watch Anastasia. I actually found that a few of the characters in Shadow and Bone made me think of Anastasia characters. Alina reminded me of Anya, the orphan girls who see's herself as really plain and in no way special. Mal really reminded me of Dimitri, he had the looks and the confidence. So of course I was Team Mal all the way, Anastasia and Dimitri have to end up together! And then the Apparat made me think of Rasputin, but more like the real life Rasputin then the crazy, zombie-type from the film.

Alina was an okay heroine, but I really did get fed up of listening to her doubt herself and her looks over and over again. She started to sound like a broken record and I just wanted her to shut up already. I did enjoy seeing her transformation from normal orphan to Grisha and the journey that takes her on. She doubts her powers and her ability as much as she doubts herself in anything else, so it was good to see her work towards overcoming that. I am a total sucker when it comes to the childhood friendship turning into romance storyline (Unless you're name is Gale). So I was Team Mal from the very beginning and just wanted that ship to sail already. Mal won me over very quickly, even if he isn't the most solid of love interests.

angry animated GIF The Darkling was probably my biggest issue with this book. I HATED HIM! I am so fed up of these characters, the ones who are complete arseholes but everyone seems to love. It's not like they love to hate them, they love to love them and they ship them with the main character. NO! The Darkling was awful, creepy and I just wanted him to hurry up and die. The whole Alina/Darkling romance didn't work at all, I don't see why anyone would ship that. The characters seemed to barely have any conversations together before the Darkling is suddenly trying to kiss Alina and saying she's all he can think about. So maybe he's a fascinating villain, but he's still a villain, still a douche and in no way a love interest.

4/5 Butterflies

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I've been really struggling to review and rate this book, which is entirely my fault because I've waited until I've read all three books. BIG MISTAKE! My feelings for the series changed as I went from one book to the other and I feel it's changing my review. I feel like my review for Shadow and Bone would have been a lot different if I'd reviewed it straight after finishing it, something I will be remembering to do with books from now on. So know that I really did enjoy this book, it was a brilliant YA fantasy and gave me everything I needed. My only real issue with the book was the Alina/Darkling romance that seemed very forced and didn't work for me. But I loved the world building, the magic system, the pacing and the action. I finished the book and immediately piked up book two, something you're definitely going to want to do. 

My Year in Books: 2014 End of Year Book Survey

I'm so excited to take part in The Perpetual Page-Turner's End of Year Book Survey for the second year in a row. Not only is it a great way to look back on my year of blogging and reading, it's also so much fun and a great way to discover new blogs and books! I definitely recommend taking part, linking up and visiting other blogs. You will find so many amazing books  and make your TBR even longer, not that us book bloggers need any help with that.

I will try to not list a million books for one answer, even though I know I'll be sorely tempted. I'd also attempt to make you believe that I'll make a valiant effort not to keep mentioning the same book over and over again, but I'd be lying. It's not my fault that some books are just majorly more awesome or terrible than others, it's a fact of bookish life!

Number of books you read: 122
Number of re-reads: 13
Genre you read the most from: Contemporary, Fantasy & Dystopian

1. Best book you read in 2014?

You want me to try and pick a best book, as in just one.

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I did a post on my top ten reads of the year, and narrowing it down to ten was hard, and even then I cheated. You can find that list here. I've since read A Court of Thorns and Roses and that tops it really. I'll be good and pick a top five for you all, one that does't include my two favourites that are 2015 releases. 

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?

Looking through my reads of 2014 it was quite obvious that a lot of books I was excited for ending up being really disappointing. These two being two of the main ones:
Both were books I was almost certain I was going to love and then was really disappointed with both, The Kiss of Deception being the one I disliked the most.

3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read in 2014?
The most surprising in a good way would be Red Rising by Pierce Brown, I don't know exactly what I was expecting but it wasn't what I got. It just went in a direction I never would have imagined but it worked amazingly. A brilliant book.
The most surprising in a bad way was probably Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell or The Maze Runner by James Dashner, two books that did not live up to the massive hypes surrounding them. 

4. Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did) in 2014?

Dangerous Girls and Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas are two books I pushed a lot this year. Dangerous Girls completely blew me away and I had to keep begging people to read it, no idea if any of them listened though. Haas is definitely an author who deserves more recognition then she's getting, these are two of the best psychological thrillers I've ever read.

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke & The Bookish.

This weeks topic is:

Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

It feels like picking just ten is really hard, I kind of want Santa to bring me all of the books. I won't know what books I've gotten or how many until Christmas Day, so it's nice to kind of think about what I hope will be under my tree then.

Deciding what to put on my Christmas list was actually really hard. A lot of books I have as eARCs and just need to find the time to get to. So I saw no point asking for them when I could read them for free and possibly discover that I hate the book. So a lot of what I asked for were sequels I needed, books by certain authors, books I'd read and loved but didn't own yet and some others. And then the ten below:

These are definitely the ten I am most desperate to get my hands on. Snow Like Ashes being in the number one spot! I NEED THAT BOOK IN MY LIFE! There will be a very disappointed Charnell if that's not under my tree on Christmas Day! Some are ones I have wanted for so long but never gotten to - Unteachable, Sea of Tranquility and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Stupidly long title aside!). Those I've recently heard a lot about and really want - Doon, Of Metal and Wishes and Loop. And then The Murder Complex, Talon and Rebel Belle just because they both sound rather awesome for different reasons. 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey 
Top Ten Tuesday: Top Reads of 2014
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
My Weekly Book Haul: 20/12/2014
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

Quick note: I'll be taking a mini-break over Christmas as I'll be with my family. There won't be any posts for a few days.

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave #2): Review

Title: The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2)
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Books 
Buy this book: Amazon / Book Depository 
For Cassie Sullivan and the rest of Earth’s remaining human survivors, the situation was already desperate when the 5th Wave hit. It’s about to get worse.No one yet knows the depths to which Earth’s conquerors—the Others—will sink in order to rid the Earth of the human infestation, nor have they guessed the heights to which the human spirit can reach. Characters introduced in Book One will come to the fore—and others will face the ultimate test.Readers will watch in awe as the Others give their answer to Cassie’s defiance.
I recently reviewed The 5th Wave, which I'd put off reading for so long because of the hype, and I quite enjoyed it. I wasn't entirely won over and didn't think it lived up to the massive hype surrounding it. It was an okay read and series starter, but nothing special. My biggest issue with the book had been Cassie and Evan. She became weak and annoying once he showed up, and he was just really creepy. But the story was intriguing enough that it kept me reading, I wanted to know what the deal was with the aliens so I had to continue. I also had hopes that book two would be better, I'd heard a lot of good things.

After finishing The Infinite Sea, I'm really hoping that this is a case of Middle Book Syndrome and that book three will be a lot better. I was not a big fan of this book, I enjoyed it a whole lot less than The 5th Wave. It's a hard book to review because it was such a bumpy ride, there were moments where I was really bored and others where I struggled to put it down. But, if I am completely honest, by the end of the book I was kind of hoping the aliens would hurry up and win. I was bored and I wanted this over with.

Where I was hoping for good action and answers, I mostly got boredom and confusion. Rick Yancey would provide some answers, only for a plot twist to reveal those weren't the real answers. There were some really slow moments where I was tempted to put the book down. During the first half there would be a handful of action scenes, but they felt a little pointless. I was also struggling with the fact that Cassie was still driving me crazy and the romance aspect is just all wrong.

There was also a part of this book where I suddenly switched to the alien side and was all for the extermination of the entire human race. Someone in the book likened it to buying a new house with a rat infestation, you'd want to exterminate all the rats before moving in. We're the rats and Earth is the house. At that point I had to agree with the aliens, if that was what they were doing then I could not blame them. DEATH TO THE HUMANS!

I was all for giving up on this book before we reached Ringer's part. She saved this book for me, I was about ready to DNF before that. I think it was the fact I got to leave Cassie and my most hated character behind, I can't stand those two in this book. It's also that her section had more going on and introduced a great character. I just wish it hadn't ended in complete confusion, frustration and my head hurting from trying to figure out what the hell is actually going on.

3/5 Butterflies

I've been trying harder lately to not use half stars, I'm either rounding up or down. I have to for Goodreads anyway, so I might as well work on it for the blog. I didn't think this was bad enough to get a 2, but it definitely wasn't the sequel I was hoping for. It was very slow going for most of the book, and the character I really despise just won't die! I have my fingers crossed for book three, but that bastard seems able to survive anything and everything. This one was bogged down with far too much God talk, people holed up in buildings and supposed answers just raising more questions. Book three would have to do a lot to rescue this series for me. 

My Weekly Book Haul: 20/12/2014

It's been a beyond amazing week for me. I am finally off work and I am loving every moment. I really want to just have days where I sit indoors, read and do nothing but so far I have had something or other to do every single day. I have managed to complete the Harry Xmas To You challenge within two weeks. I reread all 7 Harry Potter books and watched all 8 movies and loved every moment of it. Although, even though I loved most cast choices, I still think Bonnie Wright makes a terrible Ginny. I'm also getting so excited for Christmas! I just want it to hurry up and get here for many reasons. 1 - It's going to be so fun, spending the day with all the family. 2 - I can't wait to see what books I've received. 3 - Going on the HP Studio Tour for the second time on the 27th.

All the Bright PlacesI finally got to post my review for All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, which is coming out on January 6th. It's one of my top reads of the year and I highly recommend it! Jennifer Niven is also so lovely and was really positive about the review. Even though I admit that I panicked and felt like I may have died when she said she'd read it.

I went out for the day with a friend this week, we went for a walk around London to some of our favourite places. I was in Foyles, near Oxford Circus, were I was spending far too long trying to decide what to buy - I wanted everything! I was reading out my wishlist to my friend when a woman interrupted and told me that White Cat is really good. After talking for a while she mentioned she wrote books and so I had to find out which ones. I was so pleased to find out it was Sarah Rees Brennan because her Lynburn Legacy has been on my wishlist for so long. She was kind enough to sign the two books in the series they had in the shop for me. She also offered to kill me off in a book because she liked my name - I would love that because I've never found my name in a book before.

I'll be linking up with Stacking the Shelves over at TyngaReviews.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Review

All the Bright PlacesTitle: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Penguin
Buy this book: Amazon / Book Depository
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. 

Not an exaggeration!
I've had a long time to write this review, months in fact, and I'm still at a complete loss for words. I really will try my hardest to find the adequate words to sum up how I feel about this book, but I'm not sure even that will be enough. It's just one of those books where I know, no matter how much I gush/fangirl over it, I'm never going to do the book justice with my review. But, trust me on this, if this book isn't on the top of your 2015 TBR pile then it needs to be. Seriously, I mean it, go and pre-order it and get ready to feel all the feels.

Finch & Violet. Violet & Finch. You can't think of one without thinking of the other, and I can't think about either without wanting to burst into tears and smile simultaneously. It's been two months since I read this book and my feels are still all over the place. I would like you to all believe that I am joking right now, but sadly it's true, just looking at the book spine on my shelf hurts me! MY EMOTIONS! I wasn't prepared for what Niven was about to do to me. I love her for it, I loathe her for it and I want you to all experience this wonderful/torturous feeling for yourself. Violet and Finch's story is touching, heart-breaking and felt so unbelievably real that I started to forget that it was fiction.

This book gets compared to Rainbow Rowell and John Green, which I feel leads to people having a lot of high expectations for it. I hate those comparisons on books - 'If you liked *insert really well known book here* then you'll love this!' - mostly because the books are usually nothing alike or the book doesn't live up to the expectations you get from the comparison. This is one of the few times where I feel it didn't just live up to the expectations, it hugely surpassed them, at least for me. This book made me feel everything I'd always wanted to feel from the Rowell and Green books I'd read. I just..... AHHHHHH! Please, tell me you didn't expect a coherent review because you're going to get fangirling, flailing and nonsensical rambling. Deal with it!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Reads of 2014


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke & The Bookish. Each week they host a different top ten topic.

This weeks topic is:

Top Books I Read In 2014

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

I was incredibly late to the ToG party, but I now completely in love with it! The last series I became this obsessed with was Harry Potter, and that is saying a lot. The romance between Chaol and Celaena is something I ship so hard that it actually hurts! I can't get enough of it and the wait for book four is actually killing me  I've reviewed all the books so far this year - AB, ToG, CoM and HoF.

Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi

I didn't know what to expect from this series, my expectations weren't very high. I actually ended up loving this series, mainly because of the fantastic characters. Rossi writes some of the best characters I've come across, I especially loved Roar because he was absolutely hilarious. I read and reviewed all the books this year, along with one of the short novellas - Roar & Liv, Under the Never Sky. Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: Review

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Books 
Buy this book: Amazon / Book Depository 
The Passage meets The Hunger Games in a gripping new series from Carnegie-shortlisted Rick Yancey. After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave. On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. Now she must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Cassie Sullivan gets up. 

Yes, I'm really late to The 5th Wave party. Fashionably so, if you ask me at least. I was actually nervous to read it, which probably explains why it has taken me so long to get to it. It feels like the hype surrounding it just gets bigger the more time that goes by, especially with a movie adaptation in the works. The more amazing things I heard about it, the more I put off reading it. Too often I feel disappointed in a read that is being seen as the next big thing. The hype doesn't seem justified and then you end up feeling like that guy, you know, the one who hates what almost everybody else loved. But, thankfully, I actually did really enjoy The 5th Wave.

I haven't read many alien invasion books, at least not many that I can remember. I liked the idea of the different waves of the invasion. Although, I must admit, the virus aspect of it had me wanting to vomit because the descriptions were too detailed for me. This book kept me reading because I wanted to find out more. No matter how much I found out, there were still questions that needed answering and I was desperate for those answers. I wanted to know why the aliens were there, what they wanted and what the end goal was.

My Weekly Book Haul: 13/12/2014


Friday Finds is something that was started over on ShouldBeReading and Stacking the Shelves over at TyngaReviews, I am in love with all of these as I love finding other blogs to follow and books to read through these! So check them all out and see what you find, Stacking the Shelves has a lot of participants as well which is great. This is basically a way for me to show what books I have received, borrowed or bought each week. All book covers and their summary come from back of book or Goodreads.

I am finally free of work, except for one shift next Thursday, for three whole weeks and I am so excited! The last week at work had been so absolutely rubbish as well, so I am so unbelievably excited that I don't need to go near the place for a whole three weeks. It's making me even more excited for Christmas to hurry up and get here!
We have fun at work!
         I'm also getting even more excited for the 27th December, which is the day that my family and I are all going on the Harry Potter Studio Tour! It's my second time going, but this time it will be all done up for Christmas. I got myself a robe to dress in for it, but got in the spirit by dressing up for work one day along with one of the guys I work with - possibly the only good thing to happen at work all month!
         I've also decided to reread all the books and rewatch all the movies before the tour. I started last week and have so far got through the first four books and films. Currently reading The Order of the Phoenix, which is a beast of a book, so may take me a little while to get through!

LobstersLobsters by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
Sam and Hannah only have the holidays to find 'The One'. Their lobster. But instead of being epic, their summer is looking awkward. They must navigate social misunderstandings, the plotting of well-meaning friends, and their own fears of being virgins for ever to find happiness. But fate is at work to bring them together. And in the end, it all boils down to love.
I just think this one looks so adorable, so I couldn't say no when I saw it for £1.