☄ Friday, March 6, 2015

DNF ARC Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas (Sophia is Cheesed)

A Wicking Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

A Wicking Thing #1
Author:
Rhiannon Thomas
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reviewer: Sophia

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.
Advanced Review Copy provided by HarperCollins originally for the tour via Edelweiss – thanks!

My all-time favorite Disney movie (in VCR) – along with Pocahontas and Mulan, to which there are literally zilch retellings to my knowledge – while growing up was Sleeping Beauty. I even reenacted it... for fun and on my own (expected of a four or five year old).

And perhaps it is also one of the most difficult tales to be retold. There's a princess who has a curse placed on her that she would prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel before her sixteenth birthday and die – not entirely too much to take a spin on, is there?

No pun intended.

Much as I give props to Rhiannon Thomas for taking Sleeping Beauty on another path, A Wicked Thing is certainly not a book I would enjoy even for the pleasure of reading. In fact, truth be told in maybe a harsh way, A Wicked Thing was funny. And while funny typically means a good thing, I honestly had a field day reading the first three chapters in between chess matches and poking fun at the book (aka making sassy comments that will make no appearance whatsoever in this review aside from a big basket of mozzarella sticks).

A Wicked Thing is almost a sequel to the original Sleeping Beauty. Some time has passed, and then the prince kisses Aurora – all that jazz is pretty much the same aside from maybe happily ever after, to which I won't bother finding out. Perhaps there is a happily ever after by the end of the book – I'm still not going to go and find out because I'm too focused on making it to at least the top 10 in the class now that I'm extremely close to it.

But let's start with the prince kisses Aurora. She wakes up and screams. It probably makes sense to scream when you wake up to a random stranger hovering above your face and actually kissed you. Honestly, a pretty fantastic opening scene – and I'm serious – aside from the part where the "boy" (we don't know he's a prince YET) says, "I did it. I actually did it."

Then I get a sled and start laughing gleefully (read: found it absolutely amusing) while sliding down a hill (read: continuing the book just see how it all plays out because I haven't found reasons to throw this aside yet and then I do).

Prince Rodric, the "boy," is pathetic. The royal family, in my opinion, is a little pathetic and cheesy. Are they actually pathetic? Perhaps not when you really get to know them and perhaps they're marvelous rulers and the people love them oh-so-dearly, but from the little bit of the book that I read and met the royal family, I find myself disappointed. Particularly disappointed in Rodric the princeling because he will obviously make a huge appearance throughout the rest of the book and I've got to at least like the main characters to enjoy the book.

The dear prince blushes at almost every single sentence he speaks to Aurora. I'm pretty sure the amount of blushes will be the equal amount of election commercials soon (Vote for me! Vote for me!).
He stopped and blushed again.
Princeling probably stutters as well, and is most likely a descendant of Romeo.
“I mean, you always look beautiful. But you look especially beautiful tonight. Is what I mean.”
The king is overly cheery, and while there seems to be a probable reason (my son woke up a slumbering princess!), "overly cheery" really means "exuberantly happy-go-lucky."
“Please send out the heralds. A little extra pomp and circumstance, if you please. It is hardly a normal day.”
No... definitely not a normal day. That much I'll agreee with. But isn't celebrating as soon as Aurora wakes up a little overboard? The chick just woke up from a hundred plus years of slumber and everything literally comes crashing down over on her head upside down! I'm not sure Aurora appreciated that – she was quite confuzzled when she woke up (whoa... what's going on here?!) and even protested a little (not that anyone heard her).

Betsy the maid babbles in excitement and is worse than the king.
“I was so honored, Princess, when they asked me to assist you. I never expected it! But then, I never expected you’d be standing here, if you don’t mind me saying. Not that I didn’t think Rodric could be your true love, because of course he’s wonderful, but it always seemed too much like a dream to ever happen while I was here. Things will be amazing, now, you’ll see. Everyone loves you already. How could they not?”
Reasonable babbling of excitement, seeing as she's a humble servant.

But she and everyone else aside from Aurora is also a little naïve with the assumption that everything is going to be fantastic and happily ever after Aurora and Rodric marry, simply based a fairy tale.

Aurora, however, might have been a character that I would actually like had I continued the book. But by that point in the novel, when Rodric and Aurora are first dining together, I was quite cheesed (it was the constant blushing and cheeriness). While I normally feel guilty for throwing a book aside really early, I don't think I feel too guilty in A Wicked Thing's case.

1 Owl
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☄ Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: Grandmaster by David Klass (Keep Calm and Play Chess)

Grandmaster by David Klass

Grandmaster
Author:
David Klass
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Reviewer: Sophia

Freshman Daniel Pratzer gets a chance to prove himself when the chess team invites him and his father to a weekend-long parent-child tournament. Daniel, thinking that his father is a novice, can’t understand why his teammates want so badly for them to participate. Then he finds out the truth: as a teen, his father was one of the most promising young players in America, but the pressures of the game pushed him too far, and he had to give up chess to save his own life and sanity. Now, thirty years later, Mr. Pratzer returns to the game to face down an old competitor and the same dark demons that lurk in the corners of a mind stretched by the demands of the game. Daniel was looking for acceptance—but the secrets he uncovers about his father will force him to make some surprising moves himself, in Grandmaster by David Klass.

Being one of the little gems hidden in the teen shelves at the library, Grandmaster is apparently one of the few books about chess that's fiction and not a how to book or a book about the best moves to smack your opponents down in chess.

It is also a book that I have completely mixed feelings about – a book that I completely relate to as a chess player (I AM a girl, thank you very much), Grandmaster deals with the darker side of chess at the higher level competition in a thriller-like fashion. As the book goes from start to end and the tournament gets closer to the final round, you can literally tell from Klass' writing that the tension among the competitors are growing along with the excitement at the possibility of seeing two rival grandmasters from several decades facing off each other in the final round.

Grandmaster did have a few imperfections, much as Klass' writing was engrossing and highly interesting – there were quite a few clichés and stereotypes, and the majority of the characters were so annoying, I had some tendency to not finish the book simply because of the characters.

Everyone makes this particular tournament a whoppingly huge deal and we have players from all walks of life, particularly the extremely snobby ones from the rich and wealthy. Of all the rounds Klass talks about, almost all of the players faced someone snobby – every once in a blue moon there would be a player who was at the very least friendly.

Most of the characters are extremely competitive and have a temper of sorts – Dr. Chisolm and Mr. Kinney throw insults at Grandmaster Pratzer, and Brad and Eric (the stereotypes of playboy and lazy bum superstar) make fun of Daniel. Mr. Kinney in particularly is the most competitive of all and probably the next Christian Grey with the way he orders people around – don't get me started on that.

And each time the characters lose, all of them (aside from Daniel) are literally on the verge of losing control. From stomping out, turning angrily red, huffing and puffing – Klass might even be sending a subtle message about having good sportsmanship.

As the tournament and the book draws to a close, the book does get better – the characters finally get their act together and make some changes (though they don't change so much that it becomes unrealistic). The ending is a happily ever after, a nice comparison to the high stakes and pressures of a chess tournament that Klass reveals throughout.
If you're up against a strong player get him off the book and make him think for himself.
4 Owls
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☄ Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

PERSEFoNE #1
Author:
Michelle Gagnon
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reviewer: Sophia

In Michelle Gagnon’s debut YA thriller, Don’t Turn Around, computer hacker Noa Torson is as smart, tough, and complex as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander.

The first in a trilogy, Don’t Turn Around’s intricate plot and heart-pounding action will leave readers desperate for book two.

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her hacking skills to stay anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in a warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life in no uncertain terms. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.

Where there's walking, there's bound to be running. Ironically enough, it wasn't too long ago that I read a book mainly focused on walking.

Michelle Gagnon's first young adult thriller goes straight into the action as soon as the book starts – Noa wakes up to find herself on a table in a warehouse with an IV in her arm and no clue of how she got to that table in the first place. Noa manages to get away from the warehouse and eventually teams up with fellow hacker Peter to find out more about a company called AMRF (who starts threatening Peter's life randomly for reasons of the unknown and attacks the hacktivist group he founded called ALLIANCE).

Don't Turn Around is basically about two hackers on the run – not necessarily together – and being chased by or threatened by an armed group of men. Running and being chased isn't typically my favorite book to read, but walking around and not being chased is much more boring to go through. In this particular case, an exception might have to be made – Gagnon reveals more information about the two hackers as they're on the run and trying to find out the reasons why they're being attacked or got swooped up from somewhere and experimented on in an abandoned area.

Noa is also an interesting character and has officially landed in as my favorite characters of 2015 – even though she didn't have a great childhood, it's amazingly admirable how she manages to remain a cucumber as everything around her falls apart. Noa actually reminds of that one chick (Sarah?) from Tabula Rasa – a fearless female character. What's different between Noa and Sarah, however, is how Noa admits she's scared but doesn't appear to be scared even after she is eventually caught by the bad guys originally going after her and Peter from the beginning of the story.

Similar to the likes of Alex Rider and James Bond, Don't Turn Around is a slow (though fast-paced) yet sure beginning to a series – Gagnon seems to be setting us up for better things to come in the future of the series, and I'm hoping it won't fail when the end finally comes.

4.5 Owls
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☄ Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Blast: Winter in the Soul - Excerpt + Giveaway

Title: Winter in the Soul
Author: Jennifer Novotney
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | iTunes | Smashwords

In a world divided by power and greed, seventeen-year-old Lilika harbors an intense desire to return to Winter in the Soul, the place her family left to escape the darkness that was manifesting from a coldness of the soul.

When she meets Talon, their connection is evident right from the start, and together they travel through the Black Kingdom to recover Lilika’s stolen locket. And in search of an answer to the mystery behind Winter in the Soul.

Lilika holds the key to stopping the darkness from spreading. The fate of their world lies in her hands. Will she stop the Black Kingdom before its darkness overtakes them all, or will they succumb to the darkness that is spreading across the land?


Book Trailer


Excerpt:

     Pulling her blond locks away from her face, Lilika headed outside her cozy house to do her morning chores. When she hit the doorway, she stopped and lifted her face skyward, soaking in the sun’s beams. She reveled in the heat beating down on her and the feeling of warmth that bathed her skin.
     She walked to the garden and sat down. Lilika pulled the weeds with the sun shining on her. Her fingers ran across something smooth.
     “What is this?” she muttered to herself, digging quickly to try to see just what was in there. She exposed something gleaming from underneath the brown soil.
     What could be under the dirt here? She pulled out a gold heart locket from the garden bed. It glittered in an almost magical way, like nothing she’d ever seen before.
     “Lilika!” Jet yelled through the open kitchen window. “It’s almost time for school.”
     She shoved the locket in her pocket. “Okay! I’m coming.” Her little brother could be such a nuisance sometimes. She would have to wait until later to inspect her find up-close.
     “Hello,” a female voice came from behind her.
     “Hello?” She jumped up and turned around, shielding her eyes from the sun.
     It was so bright, all she saw was a figure blocking out the light, a black silhouette outlined by the sun’s rays. As her eyes adjusted to the change in light, the figure became clearer and clearer: A beautiful, golden-hued woman stood before Lilika.
     “Lilika,” the woman said.
     How does she know my name?
     “Lil! It’s time to go,” her brother yelled again.
     She whipped her head around. “Okay, I’m coming.” By the time she turned back, the golden woman was gone.
     She stood, walked to the side of the house, and peered around the corner, but the golden woman wasn’t there. She swiveled her head to each side, but didn’t see her. Could this all have just been a figment of her imagination? Maybe sitting in the sun was affecting her. Butterflies danced in her stomach at the thought of the locket she’d found, and she hurried into the house to get ready for school.
***
     The mile-long walk to school was a quiet one except for Jet humming to himself. Children said goodbye to their parents and walked out of their rural homes surrounded by lush green grass and foliage, through the center of Spring Bloom. Boys in button down shirts and long pants and girls in light colored, pastel dresses lined the walkways when Lilika and Jet got closer and closer to their destination. Lilika walked along with a solemn expression on her face.
     She couldn’t help but think about the golden woman, whether she’d simply imagined her or if their conversation had really happened. What did it mean? She couldn’t tell Jet or their mother or father. They wouldn’t believe her. Something was actually happening to her for a change.
     The sun cast bright light over all the individual stone cottages and gardens.
     “Good morning, Lilika!” Mr. Woodland waved from his garden.
     “Good morning.” Lilika hurried toward school.
     “Lil! Slow down,” Jet said.
     “Come on,” she said with pursed lips, “we’re going to be late.”
     More and more residents filtered out of their houses, tending to their gardens, trimming their bushes, and cleaning windows of their homes. With every stone cottage Lilika passed, the people smiled and waved. She greeted everyone with a wave and picked up her pace once she reached the hill.
     Standing in front of the school, she paused and caught her breath before opening the classroom door.
     “So, do you want to do something after school? Maybe we can go for a walk or something.” Bryony stopped her just outside the door. Lilika had been friends with her for as long as she could remember.
     “Oh, I can’t.” Lilika sighed. “I have to do my chores right away when I get home since I didn’t have time to do all of them this morning.”
     “Well, I found something I thought you might be interested in.” Bryony pulled out a big book from her backpack and wiped the dust off of it.
     Lilika whipped her head around. “What? What is that?”
     “It’s called The History of Winter in the Soul.” Bryony moved her fingers along the raised gold title on the front. “It’s all about Wits.” Bryony opened it and read from the book. “It was a cold that could only manifest out of the coldness in the soul. That is how Wits got to be known as the Winter in the Soul.”
     “What are you doing?” Violet butted in. Great, she was always putting her nose where it didn’t belong.
     “Nothing. Keep your voice down.” Lilika glanced toward the window to make sure no one was looking. Leave it to Violet to try and join in with them when they were trying not to bring attention to themselves.
     “What do you have there, Bryony?” Violet put her hand on Bryony’s shoulder to get a glimpse.
     “Nothing.” Lilika shook her head.
     “Well, what is it? What’s so interesting?” Violet leaned in closer.
     “Oh, please,” Lilika whispered, “just stop. Someone’s going to see, and then we’ll all be in trouble. Just mind your own business and leave us alone. Go, go on.” Lilika waved her hand at Violet.
     “Fine.” Violet rolled her eyes and stormed off.
     “Bryony, you really shouldn’t have that book. Where did you get it anyway?”
     “I found it under my parent’s bed. Aren’t you curious about Wits?”
     “I am, but…”
     “But what?”
     The golden locket popped into Lilika’s head. Who was she to tell Bryony not to ask questions about Wits? She had questions of her own.
     “Nothing, come on, we’d better get inside. We’re going to be late.”
     Bryony shoved the book back inside her backpack and followed Lilika into school.

Author Bio


Jennifer Novotney was born in Burbank, California and lived in Los Angeles for most of her life until settling in North Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter. She attended California State University, earning a bachelors degree in journalism, and Northern Arizona University, earning a masters degree in English. After college, she spent several years writing and teaching, including at Pennsylvania State University.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Giveaway

  • $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash
  • Ends March 22, 2015
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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☄ Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: Henge by Realm Lovejoy

Henge by Realm Lovejoy

Le Fay #1
Author:
Realm Lovejoy
Publication Date: November 13, 2014
Publisher: Self Published
Reviewer: Sophia

Modern-day Camelot. Where knights no longer carry swords. Magic is dangerous. And those who seek control are not to be trusted.

Sixteen-year-old Morgan le Fay is a fire user. An ordinary girl with an extraordinary skill, she has the ability to create and command fire at will. Her dream is to become the Maven—the right hand of the future King Arthur. In the chance of a lifetime, Morgan is selected to join Arthur’s Round, an elite group of young magic users from which the new Maven will be chosen.

Along with the other fire, water, and wind users in Arthur’s Round, Morgan is rigorously trained and tested. The handsome Merlin, a brilliant water user, takes a particular interest in her. Is his friendship to be trusted, or is Merlin simply trying to win the position of Maven for himself? Among the many rivals Morgan faces is the current Maven, Mordred, who seems determined to see her fail.

But Morgan has a secret—years ago, her mother was executed for using fire magic, and Morgan’s desire for justice makes her more than ready to take on the challenge before her. Can she prevail in Camelot’s tests of survival and magic? Only time—and Morgan’s powerful fire—will tell.
Review copy provided by the author originally for the blog tour

If I weren't so allergic to classics, I may have read the original stories just to see how Morgan became bitter in the first place. In all of the retellings I've come across so far, Merlin and Morgan are always connected in some sort of way, but everyone fails to tell how Morgan became so bitter and cold in the first place (or maybe it just doesn't pertain to the plot and no one cares too much about Morgan aside from making her an integral part of all things magically evil).
Keeping that thought in mind may prepare me to read Camelot Burning's sequel.

Henge doesn't start out terribly interesting – Lovejoy has Morgan competing in a magical competition to join Arthur's Round without her father's knowledge (then getting in trouble), meeting Merlin at the competition, and giving readers flashbacks to Morgan's past that have little to do with the entire competition aside from setting us up for the overall plot of the entire story.

For awhile in the beginning, the writing was a bit impassive and the book didn't seem like something I would end up liking in the long run, despite the idea and the mere fact Morgan IS the main character – when has that happened? Morgan's typically depicted as someone who's cold, bitter, ambitious, and has a major vendetta against the world (and Merlin). The only thing I did keep in mind from early on is how Lovejoy integrated the magical world of Camelot into the modern world with its technology while keeping Camelot's traditional medieval ways – lords, ladies, knights, oh my!

As Arthur's Round continues on toward the end and we get closer to finding out who the Maven will be, Henge gets better – Lovejoy's writing becomes more interesting, Morgan becomes more bitter as she finds out the real reason why her mother was executed a decade ago (thus becoming more like the Morgan Le Fay highly known as today), and us readers are left hanging precariously on a cliff at the very end until the next book in the series graces the world with its presence.

(I'll even battle Rundus for it if I have to. And most likely lose in the process.)

4 Owls
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☄ Sunday, February 22, 2015

Blog Tour + Giveaway: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Tour Schedule
A Wicking Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Title: A Wicked Thing (A Wicked Thing #1)
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Links: Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | iTunes
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Read an Excerpt

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

Author Bio

Rhiannon Thomas is a recent graduate from Princeton University, where she studied English and Japanese, and smuggled bubble tea into the library on a regular basis. She now lives in York, England.

As well as reading and writing YA fiction, she runs the blog FeministFiction.com, where she discusses TV, books, and all kinds of fannish things from a feminist perspective.

I don't hang out on Goodreads much, so if you want to contact me, please swing by my personal website or message me on Twitter.

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube

Giveaway

  • US, Canada, UK ONLY
  • 1st Prize - Signed Copy of A Wicked Thing and Spinning Wheel Charm Bracelet from Etsy
  • 2nd Prize - 2 Signed Copies of A Wicked Thing
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☄ Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Sophia May Be Scared of Reading the Sequel)

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha #1
Author:
Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: 2012
Publisher: Square Fish
Reviewer: Sophia

Alina Starkov doesn't expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal--and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.

Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina's extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart--and her country--in two.

Shadow and Bone could have been better – a lot better.

What annoyed me: Alina Starkov.

There is this thing about characters: there are lots of different types – the desperate ones, the annoying ones, the mopey ones, the overly happy ones, the sassy ones, etc.

Alina is the mopey one for – wait for it – a whopping half of the book. It takes her literally half of the book to realize that maybe she should stop being so mopey over Mal, or stop being so insecure about herself and comparing herself to a Grisha of what? Ten plus years? Really, it almost stalls the book as the character tries to get her bearings and a love triangle developing (I've pretty much decided if one couple happens, I'll have a field day.).
I didn't belong in this beautiful world, and if I didn't find a way to use my power, I never would.
She's also the desperate one – a very dangerous combination to put with mopey. Certainly not as desperate as Eon(a), as Alina doesn't resort to doing anything stupid or harmful to herself. She's more of the, "I can't do this, I can't fit in with the others, why am I doing this, etc." type of person rather than, "Hey! Here's how I can fit in and be more manly: pump myself up with sun drugs!" (Admit it – that was totally Eona in Eon. Alina doesn't dress up as a guy to be a Grisha in Shadow and Bone if anyone's wondering. That would certainly be a fun plot twist to see though!)

What actually kept me reading, aka what kept me from throwing my arms up in exasperation: the idea and the setting.

Based off Imperial Russia, Bardugo's depiction of Ravka seems magical – the Grisha and the Shadow Fold seem to fit in nicely into the story without many hiccups if there's even any.

The Grisha idea is pure genius – no guide needed, even though it took me awhile (okay, 30 pages) to actually figure out how to tell which Grisha from Grisha (in common, sensible terms that I understand). As much as it may sound really complicated, it's actually pretty simple.

The first in the Grisha trilogy has a fantastic idea set in a mystical version of Russia, but it really could have done better (I'm probably sounding like a broken record now). With the fear of the sequel being worse than the first one (or any terrifying possibility), I'm almost afraid to pick up the second book.

3.5 Owls
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