Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – Book Review

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – Book Review

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.

“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time,every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.”

This book…

This book has been on my TBR list since it first came out. It was initially published back in 2012, and only now, at the very end of 2016 did I get a chance to finally read it. This is actually the case with a lot of other books that I have been meaning to read for years and just never got the chance to. Whether it was because I could never find a copy of the book to buy or borrow, or too many books that I wanted to read came out around the same time and I ended up forgetting about them until the next time I saw it again. Either way, I’m just glad that I was able to finally get my hands on the entire series and start with the first book.

One of the first things that I noticed when I was reading this book was the Russian influence in it. Granted, when I really felt like I was in some sort of alternate universe Russia, I took some time to read one of the reviews on GoodReads where it basically said that Bardugo didn’t do her proper research on Russian culture and messed up on some things throughout her book. If you want to read more about it, just let me know, or a quick search on GoodReads under the review section of this book, and I’m sure you will find it the same way that I did. Either way, since I read any bonus material until after I finished the book, it was at least nice to have it confirmed that I wasn’t going crazy, and that the reason why I felt like I was in some sort of Russian world was because Bardugo made it that way. If you haven’t read it before, the moment you look at the map, you’ll see what I mean.


This was definitely an exciting book for me to end the year with. Honestly, I don’t even want to read another book until the new year starts so that I can end 2016 with a really good story. It was one of the books that I just could not put down, and I really wish that I could have started this book sooner. Years sooner.

To start, Alina and Mal are both orphans, who grew up together under the care of a rich Duke that liked to adopt other orphans. I honestly don’t know if it was a play to be popular among the people, or if he genuinely didn’t want any of these orphans to grow up alone. It wasn’t like they didn’t have to earn their keep. They were working along with the rest of the house servants, as if he was just adding to his personal work force but didn’t have to give them money. I still can’t tell, especially when Alina ends up seeing him again sometime later. Well, Alina and Mal end up growing up together and end up serving in the First Army together, with Mal being an excellent tracker and Alina being a somewhat good cartographer. Well, their unit was sent to cross into the Shadow Fold, this extremely dark curse on the land that is filled with man eating creatures named volcra. Mostly anyone who has tried to cross the Fold winds up torn to pieces.

So when Alina and Mal are forced to cross over with members of the First and Second Army, it should come as no surprise when they get attacked and almost die. In fact, they would have died if it wasn’t for Alina, and that’s where the story really begins.

The Darkling, such a mysterious character that you don’t know whether to trust or run away from, ends up taking Alina under his wing, trying to make her stronger so that she can save her war torn country and bring peace to the lands. But is that really what his end goal is? His beautiful eyes and merciless behavior both draws people in and keeps them at bay. Even Alina can’t seem to resist his pull, and a part of her wants to be by his side, almost like the Darkling’s queen. With the Darkling as the most powerful Grisha in existence and Alina… well on the verge of becoming something great, there really wouldn’t be anything to stop them. But are they good or bad?

Will they save the world, or destroy it?

The different twists in this book had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t put this book down except to go to sleep and go to work. It was amazing. The world was one that I could really see in my mind, and Alina and Mal are two of my favorite characters in the entire book. I also liked another character, Genya, which if you’re someone like me, you’d like her too. I can’t wait to continue this series. My review probably didn’t sound like much of a review, but trust me when I say that I thoroughly enjoyed this ride.

Rated: 5/5 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne – Book Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne – Book Review

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016. 

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

“How many people have died for The Boy Who Lived?”

It’s been years since we last saw Harry Potter and the Golden Trio, and they had saved the world from the likes of Lord Voldemort. They won the Battle of Hogwarts, even though there were those that didn’t survive the attack. And nineteen years after that final battle, after Voldemort was finally defeated, we see the future where Harry and Ginny are taking their kids to Platform 9 3/4, their son Albus Severus Potter’s first year of being a student. But what happened afterwards? Was all truly well like Rowling promised it would be? This original play says different, and with it being Harry Potter, we all should have known better.

When I first found out that there was going to be another book about Harry Potter, I was in shock. I swore that Rowling was done writing about him, and that she would be going into other aspects of the Wizarding World (like Fantastic Beasts for example). Then I found out more information and was a little disappointed to find out that it was necessarily a new book, but a play. A play that I would never get to see because I wouldn’t have the means to see it. Would it have the same magical effect that the rest of the series had on me all those years ago? I wasn’t sure, which was probably why it took me a few months to actually get the book, let alone read it.

The premise is basically what we remember from the epilogue of Deathly Hallows. We start on Platform 9 3/4, with Harry and Ginny taking their oldest son James, and their youngest son Albus to the Hogwarts Express, with daughter Lily in tow. It’s Albus’ first year and he’s afraid that he will be sorted into Slytherin because his big brother James has pretty much put that fear into his head that it would be bad to end up in that house. I guess 20 years hasn’t changed kids’ perspectives on Slytherin. Harry basically tells him that he was named after a Slytherin (Severus Snape), and he was one of the bravest men he knew. So if he was sorted into Slytherin it wouldn’t be so bad.

Of course, Hermione and Ron are there as well, with their daughter Rose and son Hugo (who isn’t really mentioned much, not sure why) also going to Hogwarts. We see Hermione in her daughter a lot, even to the point that Rose doesn’t think that Albus should make friends with Scorpius Malfoy, all because of who his family is and the rumors about who his real father is. Cruel, I would say, to think that Hermione’s daughter would show such prejudice to someone who can’t help who he comes from. And with that, Albus and Scorpius becomes the best of friends and Rose and Albus aren’t even friends, just cousins that keep up appearances for their parents’ sake.

There were a few issues that I had with this book, mostly because it just wasn’t the same as what I was expecting. I definitely wasn’t expecting the bad guy being… well who the bad guy ended up being. Also, messing with the timeline always makes this worse, and the alternate reality that Scorpius ends up going to just made my heart hurt. Imagine if it was what really happened? I couldn’t take it. I’m glad that it was just an alternate universe, let’s just say that right here and now. Also, Albus was a jerk. Definitely not worth being named after Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. Scorpious was an actual sweetheart, and I think we needed to see more of him.

I liked seeing the original gang throughout the book, but it also showed me that Harry and Ron hasn’t grown up as much as I thought they would, and why did they make Ron seem so dumb? Or silly? He’s not just a comic relief, even if he wasn’t the best at spells like Hermione was. He did have some substance to him throughout the series so why not bring that into this book? It just wasn’t the same for me, and I usually love Harry Potter.

Rated: 3.5/5 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer – Book Review

Heartless by Marissa Meyer – Book Review

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”

Origin stories have always been stories that I am fascinated by. Especially if it’s a new take on the specific villain that the story is based on. I believe this is the first book that I have come across that dealt with The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, and I’m so glad that I was able to have the opportunity to read this, thanks to my Owlcrate subscription. What was it about the Queen of Hearts that made her such a horrid person? And why was she so obsessed with decapitating everyone that got on her bad side? This book did an excellent job delving into that story, as well as incorporating elements of the original Alice in Wonderland into this original piece.

Let’s start with Catherine, or as her friends like to call her: Cath. Loving the nickname, although it reminds me of Cather in Fangirl since Cath was her nickname as well. The image that I got of her was that she was probably a little bigger than most of the women in Hearts because she liked to bake so much. But I also feel like the only reason why she was probably bigger in my mind than I anticipated was because of the constant jabs from her mother and how she would have food taken away from her mid-meal or straight up not allowed to eat at all on certain occasions. Cath’s mother, the Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove was a real piece of work, and I definitely did not like her at all. If there was anyone truly mad in this book, it had to have been her.

Then there’s the amazing Jest, who I have added to my never-ending list of fictional boyfriends. The first time we meet him, he has a sway over the citizens of Hearts with his riddle and magic tricks. Even Cath can’t seem to keep her eyes off him, and is curious to find out who he is and where he’s from. With the Kingdom of Hearts being small enough that everyone knows everyone, a stranger that nobody has seen before is always going to be the talk of the town, Jest being no exception. My heart beats for Jest, and apparently so does Cath’s.

This isn’t just a love story though, definitely not. There is love involved, between Cath and Jest, two strangers that seem to have some sort of attraction between them. But there’s also a real danger out there in Hearts, in the form of the Jabberwock. It’s been many years since a Jabberwock has been seen in Hearts, and if the entire kingdom hadn’t seen one in front of them with their very own eyes, they probably would have been find pretending that it was just a silly rumor and forget it ever happened. But no, the Jabberwock is real, and threatens the lives of everyone in Hearts if someone doesn’t do anything to stop it.

You would think that the King of Hearts would do something, but don’t expect it to happen. Like we’ve seen of him in Alice in Wonderland, he’s a kind-hearted fool, one who would rather have parties and eat treats than actually defend his kingdom and its citizens. That was a complete turn off for me, although I should have known based on the previous versions of him that we’ve seen. No wonder he’s still not married, but who does he have his eyes on? The one and only Cath, probably because he knows that she’s the best baker in all the land. Everyone knows it, and to think if he made her Queen, she could make him treats all the time! That was probably what he was thinking when he wanted to propose to her, because there was nothing that Cath did to make it even remotely a question that she liked him romantically. Either that or he’s just an idiot. I still don’t know which one is more true.

The world of Hearts is one that we have seen before, with talking animals that have human like qualities, special food and drinks that have the capability to change you into something else, and magic. It’s the norm in Hearts, and while some of it is fun, others certainly aren’t. Some of it is actually quite painful, and dangerous. It is Wonderland, after all. What did you expect?

While I won’t spoil the story, we all know that it was bound to have a terrible ending. Terrible in this case meaning that Cath was going to be the vicious Queen of Hearts that we grew up knowing her as. And to think that she started off as someone with such passion about something other than beheading, well we know that something really really bad had to have happened to make her change. I can say that, if I were in her shoes, I probably would have reacted the same way, probably worse than what she ended up as. I feel for her, my heart breaks for her, and a part of me wonders if it really is better to be heartless or not. By the time you get to the end of the book, maybe you’ll have the answer for yourself.

Rated: 5/5