The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Week 4

If you’ve been following along you’ll know that the end of chapter 30 saw Ailsa follow a horse into the woods only to find a mysterious stranger and realise she is not alone…DUN DUN DUN *dramatic musical interlude*. I couldn’t wait to race into this week’s reading!

During week 4 we have, again, found out lots more about the writing and inspiration of this book from the author herself, Caroline Logan. This week we’re talking more mythical creatures and fears.

Week 4: Chapters 31-41

Summary

These chapters started off with Ailsa being attacked by something whilst she was separated from the guys. We then followed her recovery from this ordeal holed up in a cute (or at least in my brain) rural tavern. We also have a traditional ceilidh, which is lovely to see in fiction, followed by the trio walking headlong into more danger.

My favourite part of this section

In one chapter Ailsa has a dream about her past where we get to learn a little bit more of her family life as a child. I’m really enjoying getting to unravel this backstory and seeing the true depths of hatred, fear, and prejudice experienced by and directed towards those that the communities of citizens perceive to be changelings. This chapter also shows the strength of Ailsa’s mother who ensured her daughter was able to live despite the villagers trying to knock the door down to take and murder her. I’m really intrigued to find out more about Ailsa’s mother and brother as these flashbacks feel very significant, more so than for character background purposes.

I also loved the development I saw in Harris. His personality is beginning to unravel and we’re starting to see just how much he cares for Ailsa. As I said previously, I AM SO HERE FOR THIS.

what i’m looking forward to in the next section

More Harris and Ailsa. More cuteness with Angus; I love that the two of them have such different relationships with him.

Don’t forget to join us reading along!

The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Week 3

After Caroline shared some visual inspiration for the characters in her book during week 2, week 3 has seen some very specific scene inspiration, and some writing methodology.

I’m loving all of these ‘beyond the page’ updates!

Week 3: Chapters 21-30

summary

Walking and angst! Questing and cuteness. Ailsa, Harris, and Duncan head out on their quest to retrieve the Stone and bicker like an old married thrupple and I loved it. We also learnt a bit more about Prince Duncan and the life of a ‘spare’ in this world. Ailsa began to open up to the guys too, and there’s a definite hint of romance in the air between her and Harris. Let me tell you, I am HERE FOR IT.

What did i enjoy most?

The mic-drop at the end of chapter 30! I’m trying to be very strict with myself and write my next post at the end of reading the block of chapters. The final page of chapter 30 made it very hard for me not to race straight ahead.

I’m also loving that there are so many great redhead characters in this book. Growing up a redhead, I’ve often found in films/tv/books that redheads are the villains or ‘evil’ characters which bothers me. However I feel like the way Caroline is writing Harris and the other redheads is healing those little wounds. I don’t mean to sound all sentimental.

Only a short update for this week as I’m keen to race ahead into week 4’s chapters!

Join us with the read-along on Twitter!

The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Week 2

In week 2 of this read-along of Caroline Logan’s first book The Stone of Destiny, we read chapters 11 – 20. I’ve also learnt lots more about this book as Caroline has been sharing insights of character inspiration over on her twitter page. My favourite discovery this week is the process of naming places in this fictional world.

Week 2: Chapters 11-20

Summary

In these few chapters we get to learn a little bit about the workings of court. We see how the court functions, including a ball and the King’s council. We also meet the Royal Family who are charismatic additions to the character list.

Most Promising new character

My favourite new addition to the book is without a doubt Prince Duncan. If Harris’s cheeky personality wasn’t already enough, Prince Duncan adds to this in bucket loads. He’s clearly the life and soul of the party and so much fun. Harris and Duncan bounce off of each other and their budding bromance is possibly my favourite relationship of the novel so far.

Stand out world building moment

I love how we’re slowly learning more about this world and I loved a subtle hint of the world beyond Eilanmor’s borders. The Crown Princess, aka pregnant Queen in waiting, is from another island in this world. When watching the prejudice that Ailsa experiences due to her birthmark and perceived status as a mythical changeling, the Queen retorts that in her land people believe the mark shows the child has been touched by the Gods. I love that this clearly means we have more mythological interpretations from the different populations in this world. I’m really excited to find out more, and it looks like Caroline is going to explore these things as the novel and series moves forward.

what am i most looking forward to in the next section?

This is slightly spoilery so skip the next couple of paragraphs if you haven’t read this far.

With Ailsa, Harris, and Duncan heading on a roadtrip/quest, I am fully anticipating this being so much fun. I sense a love triangle. I’m going to love the bromantic banter between the guys. No doubt our trio will also run into some trouble which will mean more badass Ailsa to enjoy. I really think the action is going to ramp up in the next block of chapters and I can’t wait! Bring it on.

You can catch up with the first part of the read-along for The Stone of Destiny by clicking here. Follow Caroline Logan on Twitter for more background information on the book as we continue reading!

The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Week 1

The Stone of Destiny by Caroline Logan is the first book in YA series The Four Treasures. Ahead of the publication of book two, The Cauldron of Life, towards the end of this year, Caroline is hosting a read-along with bloggers and readers of the first book. She will be giving us insights along the way, and we will all be celebrating Scotland and the myths and legends that inspired this story.

Thank you very much to publisher Cranachan Books for sending me a copy to read.

Without further ado, let’s get into my first impressions of this novel and week 1 of the read-along. Visit Caroline’s Twitter to follow along and learn a little bit more about this series. Here she is to introduce you to her books!

Video originally tweeted by Caroline Logan 3,011🌈📚 (@bearpuffbooks) on August 3, 2020.

Week 1: Chapters 1-10

Summary

In this first part of the novel we meet the protagonist, Ailsa. We find her alone and living off the land. Very quickly she stumbles across a woman in trouble and saves her and her brother from attack. Whilst they are recovering from the attack the mysterious woman, Iona, convinces Ailsa to accompany herself and her brother Harris on their mission to offer them protection. Having nothing keeping Ailsa where she is, she agrees and the trio begin their quest by first heading for the capital city of the land.

What do i think of the characters?

I really love all three of the principle characters so far. Ailsa is a certified badass. She is ballsy and can handle herself. I’m really enjoying her snippy comments and her dynamic with Iona and Harris. I’m intrigued by the snippets of her life that we’ve learnt so far and I have so many questions about her past that I can’t wait to unravel. Iona is great too. She seems like the guiding light of this novel, all wisdom and grace. Harris is the comic relief and his witty remarks and comebacks are everything. The banter between him and his sister, and the arguments with Ailsa are everything. His personality oozes off the page.

What did i enjoy most?

I love the mythology element in this story. It lead me into a research spiral, which is always a good sign. In these first few chapters we learn that Ailsa is seen as a Changeling by the village she grew up in due to a birth mark on her face. It’s also quickly clear that Iona and Harris are Selkies, mythical shape-shifting seal people. I’m hoping we get to learn more about all of this as the novel moves forwards.

What am i looking forward to in the next section?

As well as seeing where the mythology develops, I’m looking forward to seeing what life is like in the capital city. I love world building so I can’t wait to see what this world has to offer, especially with such a stunning map in the front of the book!

Picture from Caroline Logan on twitter (@BEARPUFFBOOKS)

That’s it from me for week 1 of The Stone of Destiny read-along! Let me know if you’re joining in.

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha – book 2)

Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 435

Published: 4th June 2013

⭐️ 3.5 / 5

This book (and the entire series actually) has been on my shelf and my TBR for a long time. I bought all 3 books in the series several years ago and they’ve been sat on my bookshelf ever since. Towards the end of 2019 I finally got around to them, after uni destroyed my love of reading almost irreparably, and I am so glad I am now on this bandwagon.

Whilst I really enjoyed book 1, Siege and Storm actually had me rolling my eyes quite a lot. Here’s what I thought.

Plot

Just when you think Mal and Alina might have it a bit easier, at least for a little while, they get caught again. Guess who? Shock horror, yes that’s right, The Darkling is back – and only a handful of pages after they shook him off. That’s a theme of this book to be honest, escaping and then being caught again almost immediately by someone or another. The Darkling initially drags Alina with him whilst looking for the sea whip, AKA yet another Grisha amplifier, which he can use to further control her. Naturally they succeed because tracker extraordinaire Mal is on the case. He and Alina kill the sea whip themselves and then escape…

I couldn’t resist 😂 – I apologise to the non-Brits who probably won’t catch this reference.

The new band of escapees drop themselves straight into more trouble in the last place that Mal and Alina want to be in. It is capture disguised as freedom as they can’t really freely leave. Alina essentially doesn’t escape for the whole novel as The Darkling keeps appearing to her and causing problems. It’s exhausting and doesn’t seem to serve a purpose except to irritate the reader. Yes it causes conflict between certain characters but I don’t think it actually adds anything of value to the novel.

There’s lots more questing, when Alina discovers there is actually a third amplifier, which allows for a fair amount of world building. I loved that we were able to learn more about Mal and Alina’s childhood which gave us some adorable fluffy moments (yes I ship it please don’t judge). However the similarities in embarking on a quest where so strong for me that it made this feel like a carbon copy of Shadow and Bone, and makes it difficult to judge this book on its own. For me, the characters really made this novel as there were some excellent additions to the series.

Characters

I love lots of the new cast of this book. One is notorious privateer, Sturmhond. What a sassy, wonderful, pain in the ass he is. I adored him, his particular brand of humour, and his cutting remarks. His interactions with the characters we already love are brilliant.

Twins Tolya and Tamar are also standout characters of this book who should be protected at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mal becomes even more whiney in this book. I mean honestly, he needs to get a grip. He starts fighting Grisha and just generally being an angsty, miserable, moaning idiot who puts other people in danger as a result of his actions.

To top it all off The Darkling gains some interesting and horrific new powers that just keep growing and developing into greater horrors…

Lots of the newer cast are from other regions in the world this series is set. As such we are able to learn more about nations such as Shu Han. This is definitely a strength of this book and I loved how this added depths to certain characters’ actions.

Final Thoughts

I did enjoy this book for the most part however I did find the repetitious plot frustrating. I also feel like the conclusion of the novel was such a horrific low that I can’t see how this is going to be resolved in the final book. It left me very despondent and seemed like a ridiculous conclusion after everything that Mal and Alina had worked for. I can understand the final fight, a common fantasy trope but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go from here…

I guess I’ll have to work that out in Ruin and Rising.

Blurb:

Soldier, Summoner, Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long. The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army. But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

Review: Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

Only Love Can Break Your Heart, by Katherine Webber

Pages: 400

Published: 2 August 2018

⭐️ 5 / 5

This review is LONG overdue considering I got an early copy at YA Prom and read this book 2 weeks before its publication… What can I say? Life just got away from me.

This novel was, at the time, one of the first contemporary YA novels I had read and was a large part of the reason I have continued to enjoy the genre. Only Love Can Break Your Heart was beautiful and heart breaking and I adored it.

Plot

I laughed, I cried, I screamed at the actions of the characters. This book had a bit of everything. This is a love letter to the Californian desert and a reminder of how important self-care is. It was really interesting to read a book written from the point of view of the popular girl at school. Usually, the YA novels I read follow the misfit finding their way in the world, but I liked this new angle.

Reiko’s struggle with grief is complex and Katherine Webber portrays this wonderfully. It was so real and tangible and heartbreaking. This book really showed how easy it is for life to get on top of you and for everything to unravel. This was the most honest portrayal of the sort of thing I went through during my ALevels and I would really have appreciated having this book at the time. Webber really illustrates the importance of having good friends and family around you to help build yourself up when you’ve reached a complete rock bottom.

I did find the plot a little slow to begin with however once I realised the direction we were heading in and things began to happen, the pace picked up and the novel was excellent.

Characters

For large parts of the novel I found Reiko and Seth to both be extremely unlikeable characters. However this allowed for some excellent character development and I experienced a complete turn around in my feelings towards the characters. The plot was so character driven it’s really hard to say more than I already have. I loved that about the book though.

Final Thoughts

This book was so much about the people and a gorgeous coming of age story I really wish that I’d had when I was 17 or 18. I’d highly recommend everyone to read it. With each novel Katherine Webber writes, she gets better and better so I cannot wait to read whatever she publishes next!

Blurb:

From the author of the acclaimed Wing Jones comes a ‘break-up’ book about a Japanese-American teenager, set in the Palm Springs desert, California.  Sometimes a broken heart is all you need to set you free… Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colours of the Californian desert.

It is a refuge from an increasingly claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets. Then she meets Seth, a boy who shares a love of the desert and her yearning for a different kind of life. But Reiko and Seth both want something the other can’t give them. As summer ends, things begin to fall apart. But the end of love can sometimes be the beginning of you…

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson

Pages: 448

Published: 2 May 2019

⭐️ 5 / 5

I LOVED THIS BOOK. One of my favourites of 2019 and possibly my favourite YA thriller ever – so far anyway. Twists and turns galore, a very likeable protagonist, set in the UK school system(!!-instead of an American high school which as a Brit I still don’t fully understand)…this is a very clever novel and an enjoyable read. It’s also a big beefy paperback at roughly 450 pages which I really appreciated.

I’d highly recommend anyone who is enjoying YA crime/thriller/mysteries at the moment and schedule a (re)read before Pip is back in book 2 in April 2020!

Plot

A teenaged girl creating a school project to re-evaluate a local murder case? YES PLEASE. I was a bit apprehensive going in as it looked like a massive book for what is a fairly straightforward premise. I was expecting parts of the novel to drag but I was so wrong. The novel is structured around Pip’s school project which means there’s some really fun CSI-style fact presentation interspersed throughout the book. This meant I could keep up with all of the different plot threads, lines of investigation, and the many different characters. Interviews were often written in transcripts which, although I wasn’t too sure about at the beginning, I really enjoyed towards the end of the book and found it fit really well with the way the rest of the story was constructed. I felt that the novel was paced really well and that there was a great balance between investigation, school project, and tense drama. Tension and suspense was also built really well, especially towards the end. I loved that Pip was able to fit things together with her knowledge of school gossip and social hierarchies – the sort of techniques I used at school to figure out the gossip.

I was able to guess at a part of the outcome. I predicted it about halfway through (well, one half – a second half jumped out of nowhere and caught me unawares). However, just as I was revealed to be right, BAM. Sh*t hit the fan and it got SO. GOOD. I know plenty of people probably wouldn’t have seen the twists coming

Characters

Pip and Ravi are the main characters and they are both so damn likeable. Pippa is tenacious, intelligent, and utterly brilliant. Ravi is an excellent addition to the novel because he brings a whole new take to a murder mystery. He embodies the human element and reminds the reader that a murder isn’t just something to be solved for entertainment purposes. I love the relationship between Pip and Ravi because they are like two sides of the same coin: complete polar opposites, yet they work together as a dream team.

The rest of the characters, you can’t really call them ‘side characters’ because they’re all integral to the plot, are also really interesting and excellently 3-dimensional. Each of them became a possible chief suspect for me at some point of the book and Holly Jackson uses each of them very well to fulfill their full literary potential.

Final Thoughts

This was a very enjoyable read that really made me think and I can’t really say too much more without spoiling. To be honest, that’s a good thing as this is definitely a book you’re better off going in knowing next to nothing about and enjoying it with no preconceptions. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.

Keep an eye out here on my blog as I’m planning a re-read or read-along feature in April on A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder ahead of the publication of the sequel.

Good Girl, Bad Blood will be published on 30 April 2020

Blurb:

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

Review: One Of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Next, by Karen M. McManus

Pages: 382

Published: 9 January 2020

⭐️ 5 / 5

YEESSSS. I’ve been waiting (very impatiently) for this book ever since it was announced. This is the sequel to Karen M. McManus’s debut novel, One Of Us Is Lying. This, as McManus writes in her acknowledgements, is the ‘Maeve book’, and I adored it! This is definitely my favourite out of the two One Of Us novels and I devoured it in 2 days. Here is my non-spoilery review – and I apologise in advance for the amount of shouty capitals I’m probably going to use. Grab a cup of tea and read on.

Plot

I was mildly concerned about how this book was going to pan out, mainly I didn’t think there was anything left to say after the conclusion to the first book. How on earth is a book like that supposed to be followed. I didn’t want a rehash with new characters – like the nightmare that is Grease 2…I had absolutely nothing to worry about! The mix of new characters is balanced perfectly with checking in on the Bayview Four and co. This allows us to catch up with our favourites to see how their life has moved on after the Simon drama, whilst also allowing One Of Us Is Next to stand on its own. This also builds Bayview more as we move away from the high school and further into the society and local community, which was really great.

We follow 3 point of view characters who start off as friends and/or loose acquaintances, and steadily become a firm friendship group with all the peaks and pitfalls that come with that. Maeve (Rojas! Yes, Bronwyn’s little sis), Phoebe, and Knox feel different to the Bayview Four as these 3 consciously choose to be friends whereas the Bayview Four were total strangers simply thrown together. (I promise I’ll try to stop the comparisons soon but it’s so difficult when the story doesn’t follow straight on). Their friendships really are at the heart of the plot as there’s a lot more ‘downtime’ for the characters in this sequel. Another thing that shines through and really sculpts the plot is sibling relationships in all of their forms. We see every spectrum of what that looks like from joined at the hip, to suffocated, overwhelmed, intimidated and feeling like you’ve got a tough act to follow, and siblings who cannot stand to be in the same room with one another. This book also radiates love. Sibling and family love, platonic friend love, and of course the mushy kind of love which made me CATCH ALL THE FEELINGS.

I really liked the premise of the school-wide truth and dare game, although I do question how on earth everyone’s phone numbers were retrieved and compiled – unless we assume everyone is able to access the school register as was used in One Of Us Is Lying. American readers, tell me: is this a normal thing?? In UK schools there’s no way anyone could gain access to student phone numbers except the school office and data prevention stops that kind of information from being shared. Honestly this is my one niggle with One Of Us Is Next because this isn’t answered even when we eventually find out the culprit. The truth or dare game builds suspense well in the first quarter of the novel, then the pace and tension fizzles out until all of a sudden it rears its ugly head and bites back. The London commuters who witnessed me finishing this book on the bus can attest to that following my very audible reactions…

The plot is very cleverly done and I don’t think I fully appreciated it until all the threads suddenly started dropping into place. At the end of chapter 28 I had it all figured out (still squealed my way through it despite heavily suspecting what was going on. Holy sh*t it was TENSE). And I almost got it completely right. Until one final twist. Damn Karen M. McManus and her genius. SO GOOD. Honestly this book is a masterclass in YA thriller/mystery and I NEED ANOTHER BOOK RIGHT NOW PLEASE.

Characters

I really enjoyed our trio of POVs equally. They all had such different lives, personalities, and personal struggles and I loved exploring all of it. Maeve was a stand out favourite for me, but there was a reappearance from a minor One Of Us Is Lying character who steps up to not only become an almost key player but he’s shot straight up my list of fictional boyfriends 😂. It never fails to impress me how many of the side characters are complete, tangible, 3-dimensional characters. Even the parents of the new characters, who may only get a couple of scenes. We have a very good idea of their lives and what sort of people they are. The only exception would be one boy’s father who drops off the page for no apparent reason after stirring a hint of trouble, but I’m probably just being picky now.

I’ll also say it again: SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS. Love, love, love all of it. It’s wholesome and emotional and raw and it’s glorious.

Final Thoughts

PLEASE. READ. THIS. BOOK.

That is all.

Back to your cup of tea. ❤️

Blurb:

Welcome back to Bayview High… It’s been a year since the events of One Of Us Is Lying.But nothing has settled for the residents of Bayview. Not now someone has started playing a sinister game of Truth or Dare. Choose truth? You must reveal your darkest secret. Choose dare? Well, that could be even more dangerous. Even deadly. When the game takes an even darker turn, suddenly no one at Bayview High knows who to trust. But they need to find out who is behind the game, before it’s too late.

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop

The ‘Maeve book’, the sibling book, the ‘YOU MUST READ THIS’ book! #OneOfUsIsNext

Review: The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie

The Paper & Hearts Society, by Lucy Powrie

Pages: 400

Published: 13 June 2019

⭐️ 4 / 5

I do not mind admitting that I was very apprehensive before reading this book. I was concerned that yet another YouTube star had managed to infiltrate the book industry purely because an audience virtually guarantees sales. I was wrong. Very wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. More so than I think I’ve ever been about any book ever.

This book was my biggest surprise of 2019 and I will certainly be re-reading it in the run up to the release of book 2, Read With Pride, in the spring. Lucy Powrie is a refreshing new YA voice and has written a relatable book I desperately needed as a teenager (and it certainly hasn’t done me any harm as an adult either).

Plot

Two words: ROAD. TRIP. This book has given me so many ideas for literary trips this summer. Clearly a lot of thought had been put into this and we were able to see each of the characters completely nerd-out with such a range of literary interests that every reader could be catered for. This was very cleverly woven around each of the characters’ own personal plots and provided a joyous backdrop to what were some important life lessons. The heart of this story lies with friendship, and this beams out of every page. This is also a story about the dangers of online bullying and how difficult it is to grow up in this new digital age where moving towns isn’t enough to escape your school tormentor. I really enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it to teens, young adults, and all book lovers of any age.

Characters

These characters are the perfect fictional besties (for the reader and each other)! Olivia is a total bae. She has everyones best interests at heart and has always got everyone’s backs. She’s a ray of sunshine. She’s intelligent and tries to make everybody feel like part of the crowd and honestly we all need someone like that in our life. Cassie is guarded and dealing with a whole host of life mess but once she can trust someone they are a friend for life. I really appreciated that Lucy was able to portray a character like this because I think it’s far too much of a stereotype that people who are guarded do not have friends and this simply isn’t true. The boys are the sort of characters I wish existed in real life because I am yet to come across any guy as decent as them 😂. Tabby is a very likeable protagonist. She’s flawed, and struggling, and brilliant, and strong. Each of the characters are so different yet what brings them together is their love for the written world, no matter how different their tastes are, and that is really beautiful.

The dynamic of the friendship group and all the joy and pitfalls that come with it, is done really well. Lucy easily tackles complicated teen issues that I think many of her readers will be experiencing, or have experienced during their teen years. She has also ensured that her characters are diverse, including a demi-sexual character making this this first book I have read which represents this section of the LGBTQ+ community. This representation is done without the bells and whistles and box-ticking I have seen in other novels (looking at you specifically, Miss Fletcher). Instead, Lucy includes this in the way it should be; like its the most normal thing in the world and therefore doesn’t warrant a song and dance to prove its existence in the book. There are several authors I can think of that could do with taking a leaf out of her book in making novels inclusive in such a thoughtful, common-sense fashion, without shoehorning elements into a narrative just ‘because’.

Final Thoughts

This book was joyous, thought provoking, and a celebration of books and reading and friendship. It’s the love song to awkwardness and never changing yourself to fit in. It’s a warning of the dangers of online bullying. It’s golden.

GIVE ME THE NEXT ONE PLEASE AND THANK YOU.


Read With Pride will be published on 28 May 2020.


Blurb:

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book. It’s like she hasn’t found her people …Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body. But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it’s the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed’s fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself … Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha – book 1)

Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 352

Published: 5 June 2012

⭐️ 4 / 5

This book (and the entire series actually) has been on my shelf and my TBR for a long time. I bought all 3 books in the series several years ago and they’ve been sat on my bookshelf ever since. Towards the end of 2019 I finally got around to them, after uni destroyed my love of reading almost irreparably, and I am so glad I am now on this bandwagon.

Warning: technically there is a small plot spoiler below in the form of a relationship but honestly if you don’t see it coming from the first page, I don’t know what to tell you…

Plot

This is a novel about discovering yourself and carving your own path. When Alina discovers a magic (and by extension, a strength) she didn’t know she had, she’s whisked away with people she doesn’t know to a place she doesn’t know where she doesn’t fit in and is not accepted. She is forced to leave behind the only person she knows, her best friend Mal, and it’s like she’s orphaned all over again. The fact that Alina has to learn about herself as one of the Grisha is really effective in terms of worldbuilding. The reader is able to learn as Alina is forced to learn. This is the first book I’ve read in a while that has a magic system, which I really enjoyed. It’s been very well constructed considering in theory the Grisha can only control one of 3 different things but their own grasp of their power dictates just how much they can do. Another thing I really enjoyed about the worldbuilding is that there was mention of other countries meaning the world extends beyond Alina’s immediate environment. It feels like we are going to explore some of this later in the series, which I really hope is the case.

The description of the Fold is really striking and I love that the metaphorical darkness seen in most fantasies is a literal threat in this series. It’s interesting to explore this concept and the reason the Fold exists. I think it gives the opportunity to remind ourselves of the child-like vulnerability that comes with being afraid of the dark, only this time there really are monsters lurking beyond your vision.

We do get to see a fair amount of Ravka in Shadow and Bone as Alina (and eventually Mal) head out on a nation-wide quest. One strength of this being done is that the reader was able to see ‘normal’ life in this world as opposed to the military or magic lives we’d experienced before. This also meant the reader was able to get to know these characters fairly well as, for the most part, they were alone. I did feel that some of the difficulties they faced on this journey were unnecessary though. Each of them should have been for a specific character-building or story arc purpose however a couple of instances felt like they were just included to give them something to do and to distract them from the slow-burn realisation of their feelings towards each other.

Characters

I found Alina, our protagonist, to be very relatable. She really struggles with wanting to fit in despite being literally born to stand out. She desperately wants to cling on to anything familiar and can’t handle how much her life is changing. She feels crushed by the pressure of failure and letting others down, which is mostly her own exacerbated impression of what her role in Ravka’s future could be. Mal flits between irritating me and being the character I enjoy most on the page. He’s a moody sod and an utter gem. Part of me thinks he is unfair to Alina, part of me understands because she is not exactly the model character in her behaviour either. I love that they’re both so messy and both trying so hard. Bardugo writes them both beautifully and I love that she has created two characters that I can absolutely root for.

I really enjoyed The Darkling as a character. He is so complex and layered. I loved to love him and I loved to hate him too. He has far more potential than we saw in this book so I am really excited to see where he goes in the rest of the series.

I also have to give a special mention to Baghra. What a babe. She has so much more depth to her that just the grumpy old woman she is on the surface. Her wisdom runs deep and I have to say she really surprised me. I hope we see more of her as the series progresses.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great start to a series. The ending left me desperate to read the sequel straight away which leaves me thankful that I waited so long to start this series. There’s nothing better than a book binge if you have the patience to wait years for a series to end before you start.

Let me know what you thought of this book/series below! Keep an eye out for my review of Siege and Storm soon.

Blurb:

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed. Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation. Welcome to Ravka . . . a world of science and superstition where nothing is what it seems.

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.