Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Blog Tour: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins | Review

Blog Tour: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins | ReviewSummer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
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4 Stars

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom.

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

picadillyblueWhen I heard that Stephanie Perkins was editing (and contributing to) another collection of young adult short stories, I was beyond ecstatic.  I was a fan of My True Love Gave to Me and I’ve really come to love collections like this one.

This is a little hard for me to review since if I had the time, I’d review each story separately.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get around to doing that eventually but today I’m just going to touch on the book as a whole!

Pros:

  • Authors: Summer Days and Summer Nights has a wide variety of authors, some I’ve read before and others that were new to me.  It’s also great that it’s not just one genre represented.  It didn’t hurt that a few of my favorite authors were included here (Leigh Bardugo, anyone?)  I feel like readers who already love these authors will enjoy getting even a little bit more from them and if the book includes new authors for you, maybe you’ll find some new books to check out.

Okay, that’s really the only point I can make in a pros and cons review.  The rest is just going to have to be more traditional.  I tried but I just don’t know how to word it to make things fit with all the stories.

Let’s break it down here:

My favorite story would have to be Stephanie Perkins’ (no surprise there) but I also loved Brandy Colbert’s and Tim Federle’s and I’ve never read any of their books.  I also really enjoyed Nina LaCour’s and look forward to reading more of her work.  A few others that were up there on my list were Lev Grossman’s, Jennifer E. Smith’s, and Jon Skovron’s.

Stories that were right in the middle for me were Libba Bray’s and Francesca Lia Block’s.  I’m not really a huge fan of either author so I didn’t know what to expect with these two which actually helped me like them more, I think.  I went in with no expectations so they couldn’t really disappoint me.  I know that’s sad but it’s true.  I think if you enjoy either (or both) author you will like these stories from them.

I was let down a bit by both Leigh Bardugo and Cassie Clare’s stories.  I think for Leigh Bardugo’s it had more to do with the subject than the author.  I still love her writing but I wasn’t impressed with the story and just didn’t get into it.  As for Cassie Clare, I think I’ve just read too much of her work and need a break from it all.  I find her stories to be really fun and that’s what I expected from this one but it just didn’t hit the right note with me.

Overall, while Summer Days and Summer Nights had a few stories I didn’t love, I really did enjoy it as a whole.  Overall, take some time to read through this one.  Not only did I get the chance to read some new things from some of my favorite authors, I got to read a couple new authors (Lev Grossman is a new one for me) that I’ll have to check out more from now.  Summer Days and Summer Nights really is the perfect book to take out with you on a summer day!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | Review

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | ReviewSix of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Published by Henry Holt and Company on September 29th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 465
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

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Leigh Bardugo has done it again.  She made me fall in love with the world, the characters, the story, everything, and then she ripped it all away!  Six of Crows proved to me that I will love everything she does.  If you were a fan of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, then Six of Crows is definitely for you.

Let me start off by saying, yes, there are references to the Shadow and Bone trilogy but to be completely honest, I feel that I would have been okay even without reading those books first.  That’s not to say I don’t recommend those books (very very much) but if you haven’t read them and you’re dying to start Six of Crows, I say go for it.  The references were mainly names and some incidents and sure they might spoil your experience with the Shadow and Bone trilogy but to each his own.  It’s up to you to decide which you read first.

When I started Six of Crows, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like it.  It took me a long time to really get into the story.  The book is told from six different points of view and it made it harder for me to really get to know the characters and fall in love with them.  That’s not to say that that didn’t happen eventually, it just took about 150 pages.  I really had to spend some time with this book and push through the beginning to get to the good parts.  And when I say good, I really mean great.  When things get going, they really get going.  Kaz and his crew do not mess around.

Kaz is the leader of the Dregs, a gang located in the Barrel, the lowest place in Kerch.  He’s in charge of the group that’s meant to take on the biggest heist possibly ever.  It’s an almost impossible job and it requires a very skilled crew.  Kaz (nicknamed Dirtyhands) brings everyone together and his skill set is wide.  He’s great at coming up with crazy plans and he’s willing to do anything it takes to get what he wants.  Hence his nickname.  He’s also got a past that haunts him and influences everything he does.  He’s got secrets and my heart broke for him every time a new one was revealed.  Then there is Inej.  She’s his Wraith, his righthand woman.  She is sneaky and brave and cunning and just plain badass.  She’s also got a past that is pretty much the only reason she’s stuck doing what she’s doing.  But she’s also got plans for a future and nothing is going to stop her from reaching it.  Jesper is another of Kaz’s crew, also part of the Dregs.  He’s got a serious gambling problem and a love for guns.  I feel that there’s more to him than meets the eye and I look forward to finding out more about him in the coming books.  Also, he’s pretty dang funny.  Nina is the Grisha in their crew.  She’s a Heartrender who is stuck doing things she doesn’t want to do because Grisha are totally taken advantage of everywhere now.  She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get back to Ravka but she has some wrongs to right first.  Matthias is one of those wrongs.  He’s not part of the Dregs but he doesn’t really have much of a choice when it comes to this heist.  He took a lot of work but he wasn’t all bad.  Last but not least, there was Wylan.  A relatively new member of the Dregs (and I’m not even sure if he was a full member) but he had other uses.  He was smart and funny and willing to put up with all of Jesper’s crap.  The two of them together might have been my favorites.

The heist is totally crazy.  I had no clue how Kaz and the crew were planning on pulling it off and even if I thought I knew, I would have been wrong.  Things were popping up every other page that put a damper on their plans.  Like I said, Kaz was great at coming up with plans which was good because they needed a new one practically every other page.  Once the Dregs really start in on their heist, the book never slowed down.  I was hooked and I wanted to do nothing but read.  It was pretty much perfect from that point on.

Oh and there may have been some romance.  It was more of a slow burn and there wasn’t a whole lot of payoff this time around.  I’m definitely hoping for some of that in the next book.  I don’t want to give anything away but I honestly don’t know who my favorite couple would be at this point.  They all have their moments.

Overall, Six of Crows has solidified my love of all things Leigh Bardugo.  Take your time with this one.  Don’t let the beginning fool you.  It’s a fabulous book that deserves every bit of praise it has been getting.  I’m already dying to get my hands on the sequel.

What others are saying about Six of Crows:

The Book Addict’s Guide’s review: “I found myself thinking about the book when I wasn’t reading it and wanted to read more.”

Reading Books Like A Boss’ review: “Set in the same imaginative world as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, this action-packed spin-off left me in an abyss of despair because I need more of these characters!”

There Were Books Involved’s review: “There was so much potential for attachment and shipping (the ships! so much potential there) and feelings, but Six of Crows never crossed that line from “potential” into actual, full-blown attachment, for me.”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo | Review

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo | ReviewRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Published by Henry Holt on June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

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.

picadillyblueRuin and Rising, the final book in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, lived up to all my expectations.  I couldn’t have asked for more from this debut series!  I wasn’t a fantasy fan when I started the first book but Leigh Bardugo has definitely turned me into one now.

Leigh Bardugo wastes no time diving right back into the story.  Ruin and Rising picks up shortly after the ending of Siege and Storm.  Readers will immediately recognize the situation that Alina is in.  I’m normally a little confused when I dive back into a series but Leigh Bardugo gives just enough information about the previous books that I knew exactly what was going on.  While the story is a bit slow to start, it’s made clear very quickly how high the stakes are in this final installment.

Alina has taken her role as the Sun Summoner very seriously.  She doesn’t consider her a saint like the Apparat does but she knows that she is the only one who can possibly defeat the Darkling.  However, the power has also gone to her head a bit.  She knows this and she worries constantly about what the third amplifier might do to her.  She’s willing to sacrifice her own life for the lives of others though.  Alina is a very selfless character and while she may not be a saint, she sure is willing to be a martyr.  There wasn’t a page in Ruin and Rising where my heart didn’t break for the position Alina was stuck in.  The day she was discovered as the Sun Summoner, her life was pretty much forfeit.  That girl from the first book, with a crush on her best friend and hope for a future together, is no longer there.

Speaking of the best friend she had a crush on: Mal is not the same either.  It’s clear he and Alina love each other but what isn’t clear is what their future holds.  Mal has become a huge part of Alina’s force against the Darkling.  He may just be human but he knows how to fight and he’s willing to give up his life for Alina.  He’s just as lovely as he was in the first book but it’s clear how much he has grown since then.

As for the Darkling, he really hasn’t changed much since the first book.  He’s still evil and unnecessarily cruel to everyone that means something to Alina.  However, he does show that he has a heart in Ruin and Rising.  He comes across as cold and heartless for most of the trilogy but there are glimpses beneath his exterior.  I still can’t see why people would want Alina to end up with him but I was pleased to see more to him and his backstory.  Also, I did get the special edition from Barnes and Noble which included a prequel story featuring him and Baghra.  If you have the option, get that version because that short story showed a very different side to him.

While the ending didn’t come as a shock to me there were plenty of times throughout the book that I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.  Leigh Bardugo managed to throw me for a loop more than once in Ruin and Rising.  Leigh Bardugo is an author who does not shy away from killing off her characters.  I won’t say any more than that but just be prepared for tears.

Overall, Ruin and Rising solidified my love of Leigh Bardugo’s writing, characters, stories, etc.  I can’t wait for more from her.  If you haven’t started this series, now is the perfect time to binge read them all.

What others are saying about Ruin and Rising:

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “Thank you, Leigh Bardugo, for such a wonderful adventure.” 

My Friends Are Fiction’s review: “What a bitter sweet feeling to have upon finishing Ruin and Rising; on one hand I’m completely thrilled with the choices Bardugo made in her story but at the same time I’m distraught that we have to say goodbye to these characters we’ve grown to know and love.”

Carina’s Books’ review: “I just cannot describe how much I loved Ruin and Rising. “