Tag Archive | book review

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan | Book Review

34388244_1801622533236972_7326360831334023168_nBook: Archer’s Voice
Author: Mia Sheridan
Series: Standalone
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

“You brought the silence,
The most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.”

I’ve seen Archer’s Voice around for years while going on hunts to discover captivating romances to read. Yet for some reason I always breezed past it, never acknowledging that it could potentially be a story in which I would enjoy. It wasn’t until recently when a spark hit and I realized I needed this book, needed this new adult romance in my life immediately. But going into it, for the most part, blind, I wasn’t expecting it to be different, to be refreshing, to stand out from all the other romances I’ve read in the past.

Haunted by the dark event that changed her life, Bree Prescott needed to get away. A road trip and a fresh start far from home was what she believed was her cure. This is how she found herself in the small town of Pelion. A town that has ignored a tragic event and an isolated boy for too long. Then Bree arrives, she asks questions, she breaks the silence. And she falls in love. Archer is alone, feels unworthy, and is scared to break free from a life he’s always known. Bree is the first person to show him he is capable of more.

“Try to believe that maybe more light shines out of those who have the most cracks.”

To start, I thought it was funny how this romance gave me thriller vibes in the beginning. I mean a girl enters into a small town, lives in a cottage alone, the town has secrets. Not that I have ever picked up a thriller book to know what signs to look for, but I had to remind myself that I was reading a romance, not something chilling.

As I’ve already pointed out, this was a refreshing read in the new adult romance genre. Why? Because we were given an untraditional relationship. This basically means that from the romances I’ve read in the past, this one stood out because it didn’t follow a formula that I’m used to. The roles were reversed.

I appreciated Archer’s character because usually the male protagonist in romances are not like him. He’s a virgin. And I appreciated the fact that his virginity and lack of skills in that area was a plot point for him and not for Bree. Because really, how many male protagonist virgins do you read about in romances? Where the female protagonist takes the lead and shows him the ropes? Seriously, I would love to know. He’s sensitive, shy, sweet, nervous, and yes, I was definitely swooning for him. He was also highly insecure. And I was insecure about Archer’s insecurity, if that makes any sense, because I completely connected with him in that aspect.

“This is that burden I was talking about, Bree. This is what the burden of loving me looks like.”
“Loving you isn’t a burden. Loving you is an honor and a joy, Archer.”

Bree, she was an easy character to love, but I was cringing a little at how forward and eager she was to know about Archer through other people. As if she had any right to his secrets before she properly met him. It just felt a little off to me.

Obviously going into any new adult romance, I know to prepare myself for cringy dialogue and description. And yes, this book did not “disappoint” me with a lack of  cliché phrases. When I tell you they were everywhere, I mean it. Especially when Bree described her relationship and feelings towards Archer.

“Owned by body and soul – some kind of primal connection that must have been there before I existed, before he existed, before he or I ever breathed the same air, something written in the very stars.”

When phrases like this are constant, it begins getting a little too dramatic and over-the-top for my taste.

So much of the same cringy descriptions graced my eyes. “I smiled then grinned and laughed through my grin then smiled.” Obviously this is not a direct quote from the book. I’m just being extra. But descriptions along this line existed throughout. It played a significant role in my reading experience and the outcome of my thoughts on this book.

I hate expecting things when reading, but in the middle of this book, when things were going well, I dreaded it because it was a given that a downfall was coming. This book had a fast start, but a slow middle and end for me. I lost interest in the characters. I just stopped caring.

I wanted to end this review with one last thing this book did that I appreciated. There was no love triangle. Bree weeded out the asshole early, choose the man she wanted, and stuck to him through all the good and the bad.

“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. I wish you could read my mind so that you would know how much I want you, no one else. There could be three hundred men after me right now, and it wouldn’t matter. Because none of them are you, Archer Hale. None of them are the man I love.”

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien | Book Review

33343107_1790792460986646_870650223779643392_nBook: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Series: Standalone/Middle-Earth Universe
Genre: High Fantasy/Middle Earth
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

The Hobbit, a well-known and beloved middle grade fantasy adventure from the 30’s, finally found itself in my possession. Not by choice of course, as this was a read I had to pick up for a class, and not with much joy either as it took me a month to read. This book was a struggle, a slow-paced struggle, as I added annotation, marginalia, and what looks like a thousand sticky note flags, all for the sake of analyzing Bilbo’s character. All I can say now is that any other prof who adds The Hobbit to their course reading list, I’m beyond ready.

This adventure story follows Bilbo Baggins, a respectable hobbit due to his lack of adventures. But that all changes when Gandalf chooses him to be the official burglar for a group of dwarves desperate to travel to the Lonely Mountain and take back the valued treasure that once belonged to them from the dragon, Smaug the Magnificent. Bilbo, left with no choice but to tag along and accept his new role, finds himself in dangerous, thrilling, and life-threatening events that have the power to change him forever.

“To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick… leaving his second breakfast half-finished.”

I want to start with the writing style first, because it took a toll on my reading experience. Obviously The Hobbit is not from my time and it was written for children, so it’s to be expected that I had some issues regarding the writing. One thing being that it breaks the fourth wall multiple times throughout the book, taking me completely off guard and out of the story every time.

“I imagine you know the answer, of course, or can guess it as easy as winking, since you are sitting comfortably at home and have not the danger of being eaten to disturb your thinking.”

We are acknowledged as human readers, inserted into the story about hobbits and dwarves. I understand this may be the case since it’s written for a younger audience, but to me it was just strange.

Then there was:

“It was not very long before he discovered: but that belongs to the next chapter and the beginning of another adventure in which the hobbit again showed his usefulness.”

When I say foreshadowing Tolkien, that’s not what I mean.

The writing even did a weird switch up where the point of view would leave Bilbo’s head and an outside narrator would say something that Bilbo didn’t know:

“The truth was he had been lying quiet, out of sight and out of mind, in a very dark corner for a long while.”

Besides all that there were run on sentences, time jumps, little detail, telling instead of showing (they did this, then this, then this…). I can go on, but I think my point is made.

Regarding the dwarves, I honestly thought that the majority of the adventure party was useless. There were a handful of dwarves we could acknowledge past their name, but the rest were just background characters with little to no use. If the party was cut in half nothing would have changed besides Bilbo having to rescue less dwarves.

Reading through The Hobbit I realized that the adventures were epic but I didn’t enjoy them because of the way they were executed. There were so many trials throughout the book, but they were really disconnected from each other. It was a list, like many little adventures in the big adventure. It didn’t flow and it seemed to be repeating itself. It was like finishing a book and moving on to the next book when one trial ended and the other began. And let me tell you, it was long. Just like Bilbo’s journey and how he was happy to finally go home at the end, it was like I was finally set free from my own agonizing adventure when I read the final page.

We were thrusted into action that had no action. Just playing off the fact that Bilbo is a very lucky character, it seemed to be the card he played all throughout the book, so nothing exciting happened. It was too easy for him with that blasted ring.

Don’t even get me started on the battle of the five armies. What did Bilbo do during the battle? Nothing. Was there an epic showdown between Bilbo and Smaug, you know the reason Bilbo was dragged along in the first place? Nope. Smaug became someone else’s problem.

I don’t understand the hype. I don’t understand how this is considered the be all and end all of fantasy.

But I can’t factor out the small things that I actually enjoyed.

I flagged so many quotes throughout the book where the dwarves were not being fair to Bilbo, not appreciating what he did for them. Just the never-ending complaints toward him. So when Bilbo finally stood up for himself, I was wiping tears and clapping my hands.

“Well are you alive or dead?” asked Bilbo quite crossly…“Are you still in prison, or are you free? If you want food, and if you want to go on with this silly journey – it’s yours after all and not mine – you had better slap your arms and rub your legs and try and help me get the others out while there is a chance!”

Then of course there had to be a line thrown in there that actually gave me feels. That actually made me reminisce on this long adventure I took part in.

“And turning towards the Mountain he added: Farewell Thorin Oakenshield! And Fili and Kili! May your memory never fade!”

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

31900679_1771391786260047_5221924107238506496_nBook: A Court of Frost and Starlight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

“To family old and new.
Let the Solstice festivities begin.”

I don’t even know how to start this review. This was everything I needed and more. A Court of Frost and Starlight was fluffy, it was seeing my favourite characters be domestic, it was the Inner Circle and their constant, hilarious banter, it was about family, love, lose, celebration, and heartbreak and I’m too emotional to know how to take that all in and process it. I didn’t write notes when I was reading so I have no idea what will pour out of me as I try to coherently write down my thoughts.

A Court of Frost and Starlight, which has been explained by Sarah herself as a long novella that acts like a bridge from the trilogy to the spinoff books, is a gift.

The war has ended, but everyone is still working hard to heal themselves and the world around them. There are so many things to right, to rebuild, to ensure. But with Winter Solstice approaching, it opens an opportunity for a well-deserved break. We follow the Inner Circle as they balance preparations being made for their intimate celebration with the call to right the effects of the war and potential poison brewing. And perhaps a broken soul who can barely hold herself together.

I can’t even tell you the amount of times I laughed, squealed, and put down the book to take a breath. My experience reading A Court of Frost and Starlight was truly a joy. I am counting down the days for the next book. The concept of it has me pumped.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

I want to start with the fluffy stuff.

“Dangerous words, Rhysand,” Amren warned, strutting through the door, nearly swallowed up by the enormous white fur coat she wore. Only her chin-length dark hair and solid silver eyes were visible above the collar. She looked— “You look like an angry snowball,” Cassian said.”

The Inner Circle has been, and I believe always will be, the best group of characters that I’ve ever read about. They are so loving and supportive of each other, but most of all, I love their banter. Yes, each one of them was responsible for making me laugh during this read. I’m always craving for more with these characters, and it was so refreshing to be able to read about them not going to war. To be able to read about their normal lives in Velaris was such a beautiful sight, and I’m so happy that Sarah gave us this opportunity to experience it.

One of the most fun parts of this to me was them gift buying and figuring out what to get everyone. I just saw my friends and I and how it’s sometimes a battle to figure out what to get each other. I just loved reading something so relatable.

Now this is the last time we will be reading from Feyre and Rhys point of view. We will of course see them again as side characters, but after reading their story for three book and a novella, this end to their chapter was bittersweet. I don’t have much to say about them that I already haven’t said in the past. But I feel so grateful towards them because they represent such a healthy relationship. It has really opened my eyes in that aspect, which is one of many reasons why Sarah’s books are so important to me. I really wish to see more healthy relationships in future books that I read.

“A memory. Of me on the kitchen table just a few feet away. Of him kneeling before me. My legs wrapped around his head. Cruel, wicked thing. I heard a door slamming somewhere in the house, followed by a distinctly male yelp. Then banging—as if someone was trying to get back inside. Mor’s eyes sparkled. “You got him kicked out, didn’t you?” My answering smile set her roaring.”

I’m sure the whole neighborhood heard me squeal when I turned to chapter three and saw that it was from Cassian’s point of view. As much as I love Feyre and Rhys, my interest has piqued immensely in regards to certain side characters and their journey, not just as background characters to someone else’s story. I think it’s no surprise that those characters, for me, are Cassian and Nesta. Of course I’m all for Nessian and they as a potential romantic couple has turned into my biggest priority, but it’s so much more than that. Them as individual characters, now there’s something complex to analyze. Especially Nesta. Especially after the glimpse we got into her new life and how her journey is about to develop in the next book.

Something that I’ve always appreciated about Sarah J. Maas and her stories is how she showcases and deals with mental illness.

Nesta broke my heart in this book. I was devastated to see her so isolated, unwanted, and hollow. Can I saw I was surprised by her coldness? No. I expected it. But I was surprised by how her loneliness, her PTSD, her depression, her addictions, were enabled, were not helped, were left alone in hopes that it would go away by itself. This was enabled by her own family. I know Nesta is not the easiest to deal with, but it won’t get better if they leave her alone. I mean A Court of Wings and Ruin is proof that it is possible to crack Nesta’s coldness. Unfortunately, the war made her retreat back into herself, perhaps even worse than before, and no one stepped up to help her. And I know first hand that this situation should not be dealt with in isolation. I honestly don’t know what they expected by leaving her alone, but,

“I want you out of Velaris,” Feyre breathed, her voice shaking. Nesta tried—tried and failed—not to feel the blow, the sting of the words. Though she didn’t know why she was surprised by it. There were no paintings of her in this house, they did not invite her to parties or dinners anymore, they certainly didn’t visit— “And where,” Nesta asked, her voice mercifully icy, “am I supposed to go?” Feyre only looked to Cassian. And for once, the Illyrian warrior wasn’t grinning as he said, “You’re coming with me to the Illyrian Mountains.”

As hard as this is, I see hope for her future. I see her gaining a purpose. And I’m beyond excited to read about it.

A concept in this that I thought was beyond beautiful and really impacted me in a way I can’t describe is the idea of creating.

“I have to create, or it was all for nothing. I have to create, or I will crumple up with despair and never leave my bed. I have to create because I have no other way of voicing this.”

It’s as if this is voicing something in the back of my mind that has never fully formed on the surface. I’m in a point in my life where I am desperate to keep busy and I’m scared if I stop. Because I don’t know what will happen, who I will be if I let nothing consume my life. I just really wanted to bring it up because I thought it was a good reminder of that.

I want to end this review with a highlight. The line that had be roaring with laughter. The line that forced me to put down the book and take a breath.

“Cassian had named about two dozen poses for Nesta at this point. Ranging from “I will eat your eyes for breakfast” to “I don’t want Cassian to know I’m reading smut.”

This was everything and more. Nesta reads smut and she tries to hide that from Cassian. This is the stuff I live for. Maybe Cassian and Nesta can have a romance book club in the Illyrian Mountains. I need the next book already.

And I Darken by Kiersten White | Book Review

31437282_1765251450207414_8085592250471415808_nBook: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror’s Saga #1
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

“The last time she was up here, she had been… staring up at the sky and dreaming of stars. Now, she looked down and plotted flames.”

Much of what I was expecting going into this book did not come to pass. This read was surprising, brutal, and heartbreaking. I’m excited for more.

And I Darken is the origin story of a gender bend Vlad the Impaler; Lada Dragwlya. A historical fiction where Lada and Radu, her younger and completely opposite brother, are neglected by their father and sacrificed to the Ottoman Empire. This is where they meet Mehmed, third in line to be Sultan, who quickly accepts them as friends. Together they experience the cruel world, together they cleverly learn to survive. But because of this they grow up too fast. Lada and Radu, in their own ways, are met with challenges to protect Mehmed at all costs, challenges that are capable of tearing down what they have built, challenges that are fated to destroy their relationships forever.

I guess I can explain here what I expected; the first chapter with little Lada, the second chapter and onwards, sixteen year old Lada ready to kill and destroy. But no, we got about two hundred pages of Lada growing up, alongside Radu, who also had his own chapters. At this point, while I was reading, it was like I was trudging through strong currents as I flipped the pages. Younger protagonists are not my thing. I rarely pick up middle grade because this age range for characters doesn’t appeal to me. But this was different. Sure, Radu acted like his age, but Lada was something else. She was a brutal twelve year old who said things like this:

“On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”

I mean… Yeah I forgot she was twelve.

At the same time, the story picked up for me after two hundred pages, when the characters significantly aged to late teens.

The pacing of this book very much relied on time jumps to move the plot forward and get to the point. Time jumps that could range from a week to years. They were constant. Though as much as I appreciate not going on and on about plot points that don’t play a significant role in the story the author wants to tell, I felt as if certain points were a cop-out? “Oh it’s no problem that Lada was severely injured, let’s skip ahead a week to when Lada is way better. We don’t want to see her recovery, or anything crazy like that, we want to see her be her brutal self again.” Let us see her struggle, she doesn’t have to be strong all the time.

Not to mention, a lot of smaller issues throughout the story were being resolved fast. Lada walking into the Harem to “kill” Mehmed. No action. Lada proving she can lead seemed too easy. Lada and Nicolae wanting to run away because Mehmed was sick but he was actually there. They started off as “oh this is going to be good,” moments, but ended with nothing happening.

Both Lada and Radu idealized Mehmed, in their own ways, and ultimately romance was involved. I honestly don’t understand what they saw in Mehmed. Maybe he was the first person that ever made them feel secure, the only person who secured them a home. Though Lada was stubborn in that aspect. He is not someone who is easy to love, in the sense that being Sultan demands so much of a person, has expectations to have relationships with multiple people. They were setting themselves up for heartbreak.

It’s always difficult reading a book with dual perspectives because if you don’t enjoy one character’s chapters, in this case Radu, then there really isn’t a proper way to avoid it without skipping half the book. Yes I loved Lada’s chapters, I loved Nicolae’s character more than I was expecting, and yes I love his friendship with Lada.

“Do you want to kiss me?”
“Please take this in the kindest way possible, but I would sooner try to romance my horse. And I suspect my horse would enjoy it more than you.”
“Your horse deserves better.”

They are definitely the two characters I’m excited to read about in the sequel.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton | Book Review

29829194_1734968696569023_1874611559_oBook: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Series: The Belles, #1
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 2.25/5 Stars

“No one is a prisoner. Even you have the power to make your own choices.”

*I was sent an e-ARC of The Belles by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Taken aback by the rich and vivid writing that Dhonielle Clayton weaved together in order to produce this story about beauty and what it means to a society obsessed with it, I was slowed down in my progress as I was getting used to the intense descriptions and imagery that Orléans had to offer.

In a society where people are grey, The Belles are a blessing to all as they are able to physically alter that fate and make people beautiful. Camellia Beauregard, one of six Belles from her generation, is vying for the position of a lifetime; the opportunity to be chosen as the Queen’s favourite. When her expectations are shattered, her talents gone unnoticed by the people who matter, Camellia feels a lifetime of preparation for that one moment was taken from her. She deserves to be on top. But there’s an eerie secret that has been going on without Camellia’s knowledge. A chorus of crying through the night, a sadistic princess, a cursed heir to the throne. It all begins to unravel as time goes on.

This book is about beauty, but it turned into something darker than I expected. It was contrasted with the innocence of the Belles, who only wanted to spread beauty to the people. Camellia grew throughout this book from an innocent giggling girl who danced in circles with her sisters, to a Belle who constantly had to deal with and discover evil at court.

In terms of my thoughts on this book, I quickly realized how much I was not a fan of this concept and obsession of beauty. In the physical sense at least. I was horrified at the mention of infants changing their appearances, at a little girl forced to endure the pain of change because her mother was desperate for her to be the most beautiful. It was hard to read about what people went through in order to portray and live up to their standard of “beauty.”

There was a chock-full of characters that contributed so much to the build-up and pacing of the story. My favourite being Rémy. I was not expecting him to have such a significant role in this story, which I was pleasantly surprised with. As the story went on, that was more and more apparent.

Then there’s Sophia, who surprised me in an unpleasant way. She added that creepy tone to the story, the kind that was chilling, unsettling, and difficult to read about. Her actions were manipulating, abusive, and just outright terrifying. But I must admit, it actually gave the story some substance, something that motivated me to want to turn the pages in order to see what happened.

Camellia, as I’ve said before, was motivated to grow into a less childish character as a weight of responsibility was put on her. She discovered the darkness hiding behind the flowers, Belle products, hair textures, fancy dresses, and overall creation of beauty. She was forced to perform acts that were wrong, forced to see the impurity behind her passion, forced to endure questionable relationships. Her development allowed me to like her character more, but she was honestly not the best protagonist I’ve read from. I feel as though she lived in a bubble until it was too late. I needed more action from her, so did the characters who relied on her. 

Overall, this book was not for me, but at the same time I’m happy I read it because it still moved me. Beauty is not something that is significant in my life. I rarely wear makeup, I rarely style my hair, I rarely buy new clothes. That doesn’t mean I don’t have days where the way I look on the outside affects me. Beauty is valued in one form or another to each individual person, we define it differently. And it’s scary to think about the lengths these characters went through to transform into their perfect look and how without it they were nothing, they were not valued. Their desperation was absolutely chilling.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

29133542_1714523955280164_3821196437195063296_n

Book: Renegades
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Renegades, #1
Genre: Sci-fi
My Rating: 3.25/5 Stars

“One cannot be brave who has no fear.”

Nova is an Anarchist. Adrian is a Renegade. A villain and a hero shouldn’t get along, but with the help of secret identities, such a thing is possible. Nova has spent the majority of her life as an Anarchist, seeking revenge on the heroes who failed to save her family. Adrian has dedicated his life to be a Renegade, a difficult title to avoid when his dads are part of the Renegade’s council, and he wants to be more than just a patrol. When Adrian adds Nova to his Renegades group he has no idea her true identity is the villain he desperately wants to find. This allows Nova to enter Renegade Headquarters, learn about their system, and plot their demise.

It’s difficult to go into a book by one of your favourite authors, anticipate the best, and come out feeling let down. The superhero trope is not something I enjoy to begin with, but of course I put that aside because of my love for Marissa Meyer books. It’s disappointing to realize that it’s not possible to love every book by your favourite author.

What threw me off was the amount of cheesy dialogue. That typical back and forth between a superhero and a villain.

“Your days of villainy are over, Nightmare.”

And their alias were on another level of cringe, to the point where I couldn’t take them seriously. It was hard to believe that they were set out to actually kill each other when all I was picturing were kids playing make-believe.

What I appreciated from the story though was how we got the perspective from both the heroes and the villains. This way it didn’t allow the readers to automatically pick the hero side. Going further than that, it also revealed how both sides were corrupt. I can say a lot about the Anarchists and their questionable morals, but somehow my heart was warmed when I learned about their family dynamic. Nova cared about her family, they raised her and took care of her when she had no one left. Even evil Winston gave me feels when he recalled the shows he would put on for Nova when she was little.

As for the Renegades, as a whole they weren’t the side I was rooting for or enjoyed reading about, what with the council never showing up when needed and being completely useless. Though I did adore both Adrian and Max. They were honestly adorable characters and I loved seeing how their relationships developed with Nova. I kept imagining what it would be like if we only read from Adrian’s perspective, not knowing Nova’s true identity, and how much of an intense plot twist that would create. Nova’s perspective held my interest more so I can’t imagine getting through the book without her. Though this would have significantly cut down the length of the book, which should have been considered when so many pages had nothing happening. 

Overall, I’m intrigued to continue this story in Archenemies and I hope my disappointment from Renegades does not make its way to the sequel.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

28380993_1690784727654087_1052668646_nBook: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grishaverse, #2
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars

“Watch yourself, Nikolai,” Mal said softly. “Princes bleed just like other men.”
Nikolai plucked an invisible piece of dust from his sleeve. “Yes,” he said. “They just do it in better clothes.”

Going into Siege and Storm, the sequel in the Grishaverse trilogy, I had expectations that had me craving for every word, phrase, and chapter laid out on the pages. I was far from disappointed, in fact I was overjoyed to discover that Shadow and Bone wasn’t alone in making me fly through the book. It seems Leigh Bardugo has the talent to keep this characteristic consistent in her sequel as well. Of course it wasn’t entirely perfect, I had some problems with it that I will talk about below. Though I’m excited that I finally found a series I can obsess over, especially when it comes to the variety of characters who are both intriguing and complex.

Right at the beginning this book plunges into a new world for both Alina and Mal as they fight for as much normalcy as possible. They are eager to leave everything behind and begin anew, but that dream is short-lived when they find themselves in the hands of their enemy once again. Losing hope to ever be free, Alina and Mal are unexpectedly rescued by a privateer who leads them right back where everything began. Alina is left with a choice; run away to lead the normal life she fought so hard to maintain or fully embrace her role as the Sun Summoner and save the world.

This book was gripping from start to finish but I still had some problems with it throughout. Firstly, this happened in Shadow and Bone too, I’m growing tired of the slaughter of these beautiful, mythical creatures who don’t deserve to die so Alina can obtain more power. I imagine this will continue in Ruin and Rising with the Firebird, which I am already dreading. This leads me to another problem, Alina starving for more power. With the stag, I mean I can look past it because a lot of Grisha do get one amplifier. It makes sense that Alina would get one too. Then she claims the Sea Whip and continues to complain about the fact that she doesn’t have the Firebird. At this point I’m asking where is the limit here? When will it be enough? It made me nervous how power hungry she was and I was pleading with her not to turn into another Darkling, to not let this promise of unlimited power blind her. Then there’s Mal. Oh boy is he ever the definition of picking which parts of Alina to love and despising the rest. How is that healthy? How is their relationship going to last if this continues? I just need him to stop brooding, stop being selfish, accept, move on, and get a grip. Life is evolving, he needs to stop living in the past.

I know all that sounds like I’m giving this book a low rating, but that is far from the case. Moving past everything I just listed, I seriously enjoyed this book and I thought it was a great sequel to Shadow and Bone. It went beyond what the first book gave us in terms of world building and it introduced us to a new cast of characters that I’m so excited to talk about. The main ones being Nikolai, Tamar, and Tolya. Nikolai, the ever swoon-worthy privateer who had me laughing and hanging on to his extremely dramatic words and phrases but who also intrigued me because of the many layers to him that slowly were revealed throughout this book. As for Tamar and Tolya, they were just fun characters to get to know and I’m happy Alina and Mal have them as allies and friends now.

I have to say though, I wasn’t missing The Darkling’s absence one bit, which I imagine is an unpopular opinion. I guess I’m into the good guys in this case because once his sketchy motives were revealed my love for his character slowly ceased to exist. Though I am definitely anticipating the final book and how it will wrap up his and everyone else’s arcs.