Tag: romance

Sunday Series Review: The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Today Kim is reviewing The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. This was yet another series she enjoyed! 

Books in the Series:
Shadow and Bone
Siege and Storm
Ruin and Rising


Shadow and Bone
Published: June 5, 2012
358 Pages

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

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

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

Siege and Storm
Published: June 4, 2013
432 Pages

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Ruin and Rising
Published: June 17, 2014
422 Pages

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.


Kim’s Rating of the Series: 4 Stars

Kim’s Review:

I am such a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo; she is a flippin genius! I first read the Six of Crows duology and fell in love. (My review is here). I found the Shadow and Bone trilogy at Books a Million for cheap so I got all 3 books. They sat on my shelf for quite a while, mostly because I didn’t want to somehow tarnish my love for the Grishaverse. But, I read Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Bardugo and she didn’t disappoint . . . So I dove in.(My review of Wonder Woman: Warbringer is here).

I’ll start with my limited bit of criticism. At first, I felt like I was missing something. Had I not read Six of Crows, I would have been completely lost. That was a bit disappointing to me. I also felt like the stretches between the action got a little slow. Unfortunately, a little teenage drama was thrown in to try to fill some empty spaces and that got annoying. However, neither of those things ruined the series. All the crazy action was unpredictable and scattered throughout.

I liked the characters pretty well. Alina was not the most likable but she grew and matured through each story. Mal was great! He was mostly supportive and very interesting and quite the badass!  I think my favorite of everybody was Sturmhond . . . But I can’t say much because I don’t want to give anything away! 🙂 The general plot was similar to many other books in YA, but Bardugo added enough unique detail to keep it from being conventional. I was happy with the resolution of the series and I ended up wanting to go straight into Six of Crows again. I like the continuity of the Grishaverse without the same story being told over and over again.

Overall, I really liked this trilogy. It’s a great introduction to the world of Grisha and I’m very excited to see the new things Bardugo is writing!

Purchase Links for the Series:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Leah on the Offbeat

Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: April 24, 2018
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 13-16, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Jessica’s Review:

The whole gang from Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda are back for their senior year of high school and all the drama that will unfold with that important year: picking a college, prom, and for Leah: should tell my friends that I am bisexual? This time the novel focuses on Leah, Simon’s bff.

It actually surprised me that the focus was Leah, as of all the friends, she was the one I connected with the least, but that might have been because she was more of an afterthought in  Simon.  But we get to know her through this novel.  And even when I was done with Leah,  I still found her my least favorite character of the group.  She is an angry girl, who is also petty and uses excessive foul language.  I did enjoy how Leah is a self-taught drummer and there were constant musical references throughout the novel, including the title.

The one character I really had empathy for was Garrett, the poor boy was so clueless but no one would help him out.   I had some sympathy for Nick, but not as much due to his negative attitude. I wanted more Simon and Bram moments, they are just adorable! 

As the gang goes through their senior year they experience the changes that inevitably will come which includes growing apart and moving on by attending different colleges. The novel was just an ‘ok read’ for me until the ending.  The ending is what made me award it 3.5 stars vs 3.  The ending had me ready to see what happens next for the gang when college starts. Hopefully Albertalli will continue with their story. Now, in the same universe as Simon and Leah is The Upside of Unrequited.  In Upside the focus is Abby’s cousin Molly.

Due to the mature themes and constant foul language used, I would say this one would be for older teens.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda Book Review/Love, Simon Movie Comparison

Author: Becky Albertalli
Published:  April 7, 2015
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: December 26- December 30, 2018
Jessica’s Rating:  5 stars

Book Description:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Jessica’s Review:

I absolutely adored this novel! I think it helps that I live in Georgia, the author lives in Georgia, and the novel also takes place in Georgia.

I adored Simon from the beginning. Somehow Albertalli captured the voice of a teenage boy in his situation brilliantly! I always say there are not YA books out there from the male perspective, added to that from the gay perspective. You can really see how Simon feels about everything and are rooting for him. I also liked Simon’s close knit group of friends, though I least connected with Leah. I was surprised to find out the second book in the series focuses on her. Despite the lack of connection to Leah in Simon I will give the second book a shot as I would like to see what happens next in all of their lives. 

Being this novel is YA, surprisingly for me the teen drama is not ‘full in your face’ like I expected it to be. Yes there is teen drama, but it is all part of the story with the sequence of events. Various social media and the constant need for their phone is all over this novel as it is a normal part of teens lives now. 

I would say this would be for older teens as there is foul language used in the novel, which includes the F word.  There are also mentions to masturbation and there is underage drinking. But it all feels like a real situation.

There is also a bit of a mystery as to who Blue is.  And once we finally find out the answer the story keeps going. 

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is highly recommended.  This was my final audiobook I listened to in 2018 and was glad I ended the year with it.


Movie Perspective of Love, Simon:

I watched the movie Love, Simon before listening to the audiobook and  also really enjoyed it!  I adored Simon and his friends and also liked Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel as Simon’s parents. There are some changes in various parts of the film, which I actually enjoyed. There was one part of the novel I enjoyed that was not in the movie and wish it was. I surprised myself and started to feel sorry for Martin after the football game…until he did what he did. 

Nick Robinson played Simon brilliantly, especially when it came down to a certain very emotional scene.  This particular scene felt 100% real and I wanted to knock some sense into Martin myself! I would be very tempted to ground my kid for life if they ever did what Martin did to Simon.

I would say watch the movie first as the movie ends while the novel keeps going. It was a fine ending for the film but we get more in the novel. 


Purchase Links:

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Love, Simon
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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