Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

14061955Darkness never dies.

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

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

So this book picks up with Mal and Alina living on the run and I thought that it would be a little slow at the beginning because of it. But the Darkling shows up almost immediately. I have to say I’m really glad that it’s pointed out that they were not really that smart about hiding their tracks. I mean, obviously these kids have never had to hide before so it makes sense that they wouldn’t really know how and that they would be caught very soon.

Nikolai is literally the best. He’s honestly just so refreshing. Everything is always so doom and gloom (don’t get me wrong, I love it, please give me all the angsty, gloomy stories always) and just by virtue of being himself, Nikolai brings light to the whole story without detracting from it. I love that Alina is building relationships with him, and Tolya and Tamar, and just people other than Mal or the Darkling. Having an actual support system is A+++.

It’s interesting to see how Alina is struggling with her power. And not just her power but also herself. Like calls to like, as everyone keeps saying throughout the books. She and the Darkling are so similar. The biggest difference is in their choices. While the Darkling chose to embrace his own darkness (obviously, I mean, the man gave up his name to be the Darkling, how emo can you be), Alina, though, struggles with embracing her darkness and I’m reminded of one of my favorite Harry Potter quotes.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Alina’s choices are the things that set her apart so definitively from the Darkling. No matter the pull she feels towards him, she chooses to embrace the light and embrace the people that care about her.

“Does the bird feel the weight of its wings?”

Bardugo always has the amazing ability to make one line stick out to me the most in every one of her books. The thing that sets you free is not always easy. Every choice Alina makes weighs heavily on her. Like all “chosen ones” in YA fiction Alina has literally had the weight of the world thrust upon her and with each new amplifier she gets stronger and more in control, but the weight of the world and her responsibilities also gets heavier.

I can’t wait for the conclusion, I’d give this one 4 bards.





Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:


Release Date: December 13, 2016

MAGNUS and CLEO are forced to test the strength of their love when Gaius returns to Mytica claiming he’s no longer the King of Blood but a changed man seeking redemption.

LUCIA, pregnant with the child of a Watcher, has escaped the clutches of the unhinged fire god. Her powers are dwindling as she goes forth to fulfill a prophecy that will keep her baby safe . . . but could mean her demise.

JONAS treks back to Mytica with a plan to overtake Amara, but fate takes hold when he runs into the beautiful Princess Lucia and joins her on her perilous journey.

AMARA has taken the Mytican throne, but with no way to unleash the water magic trapped within her stolen crystal, she’ll never be able to seize glory and get sweet revenge.

And what kind of darkness will descend–and who will be safe–after Prince Ashur reveals the dangerous price he paid to cheat death?

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

hidden huntress coverBeneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Note: I “read” this novel via Audiobook on Audible (Pssshhhttt, I did it this way: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks)

I couldn’t help but buy a credit to download Hidden Huntress as soon as I’d finished Stolen Songbird, because I had to know what was going to happen with Cecile, Tristan, and Trollus.

The narrative skips forward a few months, not really dwelling on Cecile’s time at her family farm or her healing, which is understandable considering the majority of that part of the story would just be her lying in bed.

We catch up with our heroine when she is the understudy to her mother in the opera, she’s reunited with her best friend, and has Chris to hang out with and talk about Tristan and the Trolls.  No one seems to question her unlikely story about being somewhere in the south, but she’s back and successful so who cares.

Hidden Huntress

Hidden Huntress Aesthetic

Not long into the narrative, Cecile is enticed back to the mouth of the River Road to Trollus where she makes a pretty terrible promise to the King of Trollus.  ***Promises made to Trolls gives them the power to influence you and almost torture you until your promise is kept*** Guess what it is: to find the witch Anushka and bring her to the trolls. Seems like it would be a rather daunting task…and it is.  The majority of the novel shows the different ways that Cecile has to risk her humanity in order to save the lives of those whom she loves under the mountain.

In a freakish display of power and to the surprise of the still living witch, Cecile manages to free a single troll from the limits of the curse, allowing him to travel to her in Trianon.  And thus was the reunion of Tristan and Cecile.  Much like Cecile mentions, their reunion is a bit lackluster due to Tristan being a bit hurt physically and emotionally from the implications of her “rescue.” However, they are reunited and are joined in their quest to find Anushka, if not to release the trolls, but to release Cecile from her promise to the King.

Random tangent about Tristan, readers will be pleased to know that this novel includes many more chapters from his point of view, so I think it is much easier to get to know him as a character in this novel.  You get to really understand his point of view on why he chose to keep certain secrets from Cecile, more about his past with his friends and in Trollus (so that way we hear it from HIM and not through him telling Cecile who then narrates it), and how his rescue from the curse affects him directly. I really think this added so much to the story and I really hope Warrior Witch continues to split the narrative duties in this way anushka tweetrather than it be dominated by Cecile.

There’s a lot of new characters introduced and we are finally given the opportunity to meet Cecile’s mother, who is just as sketchy and selfish as she appeared in the subtext of Stolen Songbird.  I mean, the reader is treated to a scene where Cecile is drugged by her mother and questioned…so yeah. (I’m also too lazy to type out Genevieve over and over, so she is either Ginny or Cecile’s Mother) She was so sketchy I just assumed she was in league with Anushka…which turned out to not be WRONG, per say, but I’d rather not say more so you can go read and discover for yourself!

I’ve already queued up Warrior Witch on my iPhone, so get hyped and pick up a copy of the Malediction trilogy!

4 Bards





Book Review : Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

16059492Alina 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 destroy 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 was first introduced to Bardugo’s writing months ago when I read Six of Crows and fell in love with it. I finally decided to read the original Grisha trilogy for more background. I knew just a couple of things about the trilogy from tumblr: one, that it takes place just a couple years before Six of Crows; two, everyone loves the Darkling; and three, people don’t really like Mal.

I have to say I’m a little bored with the typical YA trope of a girl finding out about some power she didn’t know she had and now she’s destined to save the world. However, the Grisha world is so interesting and something I hadn’t really seen before, so it was worth it. Bardugo does a great job of setting up the world and the characters and I was just as easily drawn into this as I was Six of Crows.

I have to say, I definitely get the appeal of the Darkling. He’s intriguing. He’s charming. He’s also kind of a dick. He reminds me a little of Kaz Brekker (my poor crow son). You know he’s terrible but you can’t help hoping for some kind of redemption. Hoping that he and Alina will “save” each other. So far, I don’t understand the dislike of Mal, though. I mean, he messed up, yes, but he’s still also trying to help Alina. So, I guess we’ll see.

I was excited and also disappointed about Genya, and disappointed with just the overall lack of female friendships for Alina. At first, I was excited the Genya would be a confidante to Alina and we could see their friendship grow, which was then made difficult by the fact that she’s been working with the Darkling the whole time. But I was more disappointed with the fact that the other girls just seemed overall very catty and that Alina thought she was “not like other girls.”

It’s definitely interesting enough to keep reading, and my favorite quote still has me reeling. I can’t wait to see what the next two books bring.

“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”

Overall, I’d give this one 3.5 bards.






Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:


Release Date: November 29, 2016

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.

To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy—and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned in Mortmesne.

Now, as the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed.


Vlog 1: Introduction & a Cocktail

The vlog does have a brief cameo from Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles…as their faces are on my shirt and their eyes peak over the table fairly frequently…which is amusing.

Book Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Note: I “read” this novel via Audiobook on Audible (Pssshhhttt, I did it this way: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks)

I think that it should be something of note that this is the first audiobook that I’ve ever finished that I haven’t previously read in print.  I had trouble focusing on audiobooks in the past that I hadn’t already read, as my mind would wander and I’d lose minutes of narration that would be important to the story.  Side note: I do workout while I listen to audiobooks, so sometimes I get distracted looking around at other things.

So it is definitely saying something when I say that I not only finished Stolen Songbird, but that I actually paid attention and didn’t lose interest.  In fact, it was to the point that I ended up doing an 8 mile green way walk while listening to this novel and didn’t realize it until I was already two hours in because I was so engrossed in the story.

stolen songbird

I made this after ALL THE FEELS. Tristan x Cecile

Things that were fascinating about Stolen Songbird:

The use of Trolls (or what are seemingly Trolls–it is alluded to that they might not be *actual* Trolls, but I suppose that is something that will be addressed in the sequels) as some of the main characters, and the trolls are not stupid, or ugly, or brutish…they are calculating, beautiful, and brutal in ways. But it’s definitely a race of fantasy creatures that get relegated to the background in the majority of narratives, so it was quite refreshing to have them in the forefront.

Other than Tristan and one or two others, a lot of the main characters were women.  Despite the use of alternating point of views with Tristan, Cecile’s POV dominates the text and her friends, Elise, Zoe, Victoria, and even Anais are more present in the text than any of the other male characters bar Tristan and possibly the King.

The narrative picks up really quickly and what could possibly be considered a major climax of the story takes place within the first few chapters: Cecile is kidnapped, taken to a city that she thought was a myth, and then forced to marry a handsome prince.  ALL IN THE MATTER OF A NIGHT.  Talk about a tumultuous evening.

Other than the wonderful blossoming of friendship and love between Cecile and these creatures she always regarded as monsters, I think the class struggles were a wonderful addition to the story that I wish we could have seen more of.

Sure, there’s a lot of time spent discussing the half-bloods (troll/human) and their plight under the mountain, relegated to servant duties and other physical labor that is deigned too base for a full-blooded troll.  It is a very literal interpretation of a proletariat/bourgeoisie society, and the proletariat has their bourgeois sympathizers that help them to gain some power within Trollus.  Marx describes the proletariat’s plight as one where they “live to work and work to live,” which is exactly how I’d describe the miners in the bowels of Forsaken mountain.  I could go on and on about that, and it’s a different post!

I’ve already downloaded the audiobook of Hidden Huntress and can’t wait to get back to Cecile and Tristan’s world, because that ending broke me.

4 Bards





Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:


Release Date: November 1, 2016

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the epic conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites . . . and only one can win.

Book Review: The Graces by Laure Eve

In The Graces, the first rule of witchcraft states that if you want something badly enough, you can get it . . . no matter who has to pay.
Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident.

Release Date: September 6, 2016

This book was an easy read, and one I enjoyed reading while I was enjoying a glass of wine and while I was relaxing in the sun on Lake Norman.  But, there are some really…interesting aspects of the novel that put me off as I first opened it.

First, the summary on the back of my ARC copy is a bit different from the one above, and it focuses much more on River’s obsession with being friends with the Graces and how much she literally wants to become one.  So that’s a bit stalker-ish in an obsessive and not fun way, and the character comes off as desperately wishing for her friendship and relationship with these three kids that she came off a bit one dimensional and just so desperate for them to give her life meaning.  I imagined her annoying Roger on F.R.I.E.N.D.S with her absolute need for them to give her purpose and direction.

So, never to go against the YA trope that the main character is going to be somewhat special and plucked from obscurity in her social caste, Eve’s character, River, becomes exactly what she wanted to be: one of the Graces – or rather, someone the Graces grow to trust and bring under their wing.

Eve’s writing really excels when River is simply observing the Graces and the interactions between the Grace siblings is one that makes me wish I was closer to my own sister, you know, minus all the witchcraft.  In fact, I think that the Grace siblings having more well-rounded character traits was instrumental in showing the progression of River as a character throughout the novel.  River adapts certain aspects of their personalities into her own, and there’s a scene where the youngest Grace seemingly transforms River into almost a carbon copy of herself.

River is just such a troubling character for me, because you go into the novel wanting to root for her since she is portrayed as the protagonist.  However, by the last fourth of the novel I kept thinking to myself that River should really just break out into the song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “I’m the Villain in my own Story.” Even with her deplorable actions, I found myself still waiting and wanting her redemption. *Shakes fist at Laure Eve* How dare you make me care for someone with so many shades of gray!

The novel could have stood to have a bit more world building in the aspect of witchcraft, and the different types of witches that exist…or even some kind of explanation for River, herself, since she clearly didn’t fit into any of the definitions given to us.

Overall, I found this novel to be a fun and fast read and perfect for a lazy summer afternoon in the sun.

3.5 Bards, because I just really am torn on the main character and the need for a bit more world building, but it comes out soon and you should pre-order your copy now!  Then we can discuss.







Isn’t the cover amazing?


Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

626F6F78747265616D=7474747474727576707<7473Based 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.

Okay, this was wild. From start to finish. And I am so conflicted about it. On the one hand, I was pretty entertained throughout the whole thing. On the other, I was pretty disappointed/underwhelmed overall.

Let’s start with what I loved about it. Albus and Scorpius’ seriously unsubtle love and devotion to each other. Finally, a Potter/Malfoy love story the fans have been waiting for. Seriously though, I’m ignoring that bit at the end. The premise of the story is so outrageous that it was just so entertaining and I loved a lot of it. I was able to easily feel a connection to Albus, and Scorpius. Even in play form, you can see that they’re struggling trying to find a place for themselves in a school that holds the legacies of both of their fathers. Ron Weasley is still the best in every universe and I have nothing more to add to that.

However, for the most part I found the story predictable and the original characters to be completely out of character from their development in the canon Harry Potter books (because I for sure am not considering this part of canon). First, in no universe would Harry James Potter ever say such terrible things to his own son, or try to control him the way the Dursley’s controlled him. Second, there’s no way that Severus Snape would ever be okay with sharing a name with a Potter. Even if he did, he would never outwardly admit to anyone, let alone his namesake.

I was really disappointed with the story overall in that everything that happened was predictable, which is not ever something I would expect from a Harry Potter story. In general though, I found myself having to remind myself just to read and not think too much about it. Time travel stories sometimes really mess with my head and I start thinking about the complexities and consequences, and things overall that could just not happen even in the magical world if you’re following your own rules.

If nothing else, I got to feel the anticipation and excitement of reading a new Harry Potter story and I’ll always be grateful that I got to feel a little piece of my childhood all over again.

Overall, I’d give it 3 bards.







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