Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh BardugoRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
on June 17, 2014
Series: Grisha series
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
5 Stars

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.


I have been in love with the Grisha series since sometime around the end of the first chapter in Shadow and Bone. It’s such an incredible fantasy series. One that I feel like I could read over and over. Ruin and Rising was a dark conclusion, but a magnificent one.

To be completely honest with you, I did feel like the first half of the book was a little slow. That could’ve just been me. Since I was a little fuzzy on the way the Siege and Storm ended, I had some catching up to do. Once the story took off for me, it really took off!

Ruin and Rising is filled with the same imaginative places as the previous two books. I love the Grishaverse so much. It’s definitely not an easy place, but Leigh Bardugo has done such an amazing job of bringing it to life.

The boys in this series just seem to keep getting better. Well, except for The Darkling. He just gets more evil. I’ve always sided against Mal for some reason, but Ruin and Rising made me forget why. That’s all I’m going to say. That and Leigh Bardugo sure knows how to writes swoony boys.

There’s been so much turmoil and heartbreak in this series. It’s hard to fathom how it could end. I would’ve never guessed what happened. It’s not often that I read a book that takes me completely by surprise but this one did. It broke my heart and then mended in the last chapter. What an amazing conclusion to a extraordinary series. I couldn’t be happier with how it ended.


Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rea Carson
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
on March 3, 2015
Series: The Winner's Trilogy
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
5 Stars

Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.


I was so completely enthralled by The Winner’s Curse last year. It was such a unique world and an amazing premise. That’s why The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski has been at the top of my want to read list for a long time. I’m so happy to say that it didn’t suffer from the sequel syndrome and it did not disappoint!

I’m not sure how much I can say about The Winner’s Crime without giving something away. Everything that made us love the first book, the politics, the romance, the deception, is very much alive and well in this follow up. Kestrel is juggling so many important pieces. I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire book just hoping that she didn’t drop any.

The tension and romance is still a main story line, although maybe not as prevalent as in the first book. I did get just a tiny bit frustrated at Arin and his inability to see obvious things. But that really just made the tension better.

Then there’s the ending. I woke up randomly at 3am the night I finished the book and could not stop thinking about that ending. The wait for book 3 is going to be a very hard one.

This is an utterly stunning series. I can’t recommend The Winner’s Trilogy enough to everyone. Not just fantasy lovers. It’s beautifully written and so addicting.


The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Release Date: March 4, 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Publisher

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


2013 marked the end of a lot of my favorite series. That meant lots of holes in my heart, but thankfully Marie Rutkoski has written a new series to add to my favorites list. I hadn’t heard much about The Winner’s Curse when I received it, but after seeing all the advance buzz I quickly moved it to the top of my TBR pile. I’m so happy I did. This book was my first read of the year but I will wager that it will make my favorites list at the end of the year.

The Winner’s Curse is a sweeping fantasy novel with a heart wrenching romance. There were so many unexpected layers to the story. Marie Rutkoski really explores right and wrong and the gray area between. I loved seeing how far the characters would go for love and loyalty. The push and pull between Kestrel and Arin was remarkable.

There were no easy answers in The Winner’s Curse. Nothing was simple for these characters. I never knew how things were going to work out and I loved that. I was on the edge of my seat from the very beginning.

I love a good high fantasy with intricate world building, but this world is beautiful in its simplicity. It’s very well fleshed out but not overly detailed. I look forward to learning more about it but I was very pleased with my first look.

I hope I’ve conveyed just how much I enjoyed The Winner’s Curse. It was a captivating a gorgeous story. I highly recommend it.

pi5You Might Also Like

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson


Release Date: August 27, 2013
Series: Fire and Thorns #3
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Edelweiss
IBSN: 9780062026545

“Rae Carson has proved she’s a master and has shaken up the YA genre.”

The epic and deeply satisfying conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

“Carson joins the ranks of writers like Kristin Cashore, Megan Whalen Turner, and Tamora Pierce as one of YA’s best writers of high fantasy.”-Locus magazine

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy.


I’m always sad to see one of my favorite series come to an end. I’m also usually scared they won’t end the way I want. That seems to happen often. The Bitter Kingdom was nothing short of an incredible ending to an incredible series.

The Crown of Embers left us all with our hearts in our throats. I didn’t know if I could survive the wait for The Bitter Kingdom! But survive I did, thankfully, because I had to see how Elisa and Hector’s story ended.

It was action packed from page one. It’s a testament to Rae Carson’s writing that I had a baby about 30% into the book and I was able to pick it back up about 2.5 weeks later and never lose an ounce of interest. I probably never would have picked any other book back up.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot since this is the 3rd and final installment in the series. I was just as swept away and in awe of Carson’s skills as I was with the other books, if not more. The whole book was just incredible. I know that’s not a very original statement, but that’s all I’ve got. There were so many story lines entwined. Just when I thought things couldn’t get more exciting they did.

To sum it up, The Bitter Kingdom was everything I wanted. This series is intelligent and utterly unique. Even if you aren’t a fan of fantasy you would find something to love on this trilogy. I’m sad to see its end, but I’m beyond thrill with how things turned out.


Be sure to check out my reviews for The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers.

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo


Release Date: June 4, 2013
Series: The Grisha #2
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Publisher

Darkness 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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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.


I raved about Shadow and Bone last year.  It was definitely one of the best YA  fantasy novels I’ve came across. Siege and Storm was an incredible follow-up to a hard to follow book. Just like its predecessor this one starts off quick and doesn’t let you go until the end…if then. I was somewhat rusty on the details of the first book, but Bardugo does a wonderful job of catching you up without an annoying information dump.

In the first book I loved seeing Alina overcome so much. Her character growth was extraordinary. She’s so capable and strong, but in Siege and Storm she has an edge. She’s walking a very fine line between good and bad. I loved that her character didn’t stop developing after book one. She still has so much to reveal to us. I think we’ve only scratched the surface on her character and I’ve very anxious to find out more.

There’s some new characters introduced in this edition. My favorite was definitely Strumhond. I just might be a little in love with him. He can’t replace The Darkling in my heart, but The Darkling is kinda…evil and I suppose that’s a negative on his part. Mal is very present as well, but I just don’t love Mal like I should. Strumhond definitely overshadowed him. Leigh Bardugo certainly has a knack for writing impossibly swoon-worthy boys.

That’s really all I’m going to say. I don’t have a extensive enough vocabulary to express my love adequately. Just read these if you haven’t. You don’t have to be a fantasy nerd like me. If you’re a fan of extremely well written books then you should like these.


Here’s my review of book one, Shadow and Bone.

Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Dark Triump by Robin LaFeversRelease Date: April 2, 2013
Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Amazon Vine
IBSN: 9780547628387

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

reviewtagGrave Mercy was an unexpected gem for me last year. I went into it with some hesitation, but promptly devoured it and then added it to my favorites of 2012 list. I was so blown away by the world that took fantastical elements and added them into a historical setting. The idea is genius and so readable. I’m not the biggest historical fan, so I was just absolutely thrilled with the execution of Grave Mercy and I’ve been anxiously awaiting Dark Triumph ever since.

Dark Triumph is a companion novel that takes place right after the first book, but with a different main character. I was the tiniest bit sad when I found that out. I adored Ismae and Duval. Their romance was sooo swoonworthy and Ismae’s growth was fabulous. I guess that leaves little room for another story from her point of view, right? I was excited to get to know Sybella better and to learn more about her mysterious past.

Sybella wasn’t as easily likable as Ismae for me. She is very rough around the edges and harsh. She has an excellent reason to be. With her upbringing and family it’s a wonder she was even half as well adjusted and nice as she was. She does kick a lot of ass and has less qualms about it than Ismae, which I really liked.

There were just a few things that kept me from OMGLOVING this one like I did the first book. The biggest thing was the romance. It doesn’t show up until you’re well into the story and then it shows up suddenly and without much warning. One minute they were disdainfully helping each other and the next Sybella was utterly in love. It moved way too quickly for me and without much logic behind it. After the warm and fuzzy swoon fest in Grave Mercy I was pretty disappointed with this romantic story line.  There’s also a lot of angsting about things that obviously aren’t going to matter on Sybella’s part. I definitely think that some of her emo worrying could have been removed from the story and it wold have been better.

All of that being said I still really enjoyed Dark Triumph. It has all of the same political intrigue and incredible fantasy elements as the first book. I was pulled right into the story from the very first chapter. These are sweeping epic fantasies and I really can’t recommend them enough.



You Might Also Like

Grace Mercy by Robin LaFevers
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Deerskin by Robin McKinley
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Review: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta


Release Date: April 23, 2013
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #3
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Friend

The climactic conclusion of Printz Award winner Melina Marchetta’s epic fantasy trilogy!

Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi and his companions travel through Charyn searching for Quintana and building an army that will secure her unborn child’s right to rule. While in the valley between two kingdoms, Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other. The complex tangle of bloodlines, politics, and love introduced in Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles coalesce into an engrossing climax in this final volume.


Oh guys, where do I even start? You know I looove Melina Marchetta, right? You know that Finnikin and Froi were two of my favorite books from 2012, right? Well, if you didn’t you do now.  Quintana of Charyn has been a very anticipated read for me. I picked it up right away and although it’s been a year since I finished the last book I had no problem finding the rhythm of the story again.

Quintana starts almost right where Froi of the Exiles left off. There’s tons of action and suspense right from the start. All my favorite characters have big roles once again. You get to see plenty of Finnikin, Isaboe, Froi, and of course Quintana. I think I grew to love Lucian and Phaedra even more in this one.

One of the things I love most about fantasy novels is the epic journeys that are usually taken. There was lots of traveling in Finnikin of the Rock, but Froi took place mostly in one area. I’m pleased to report that there’s lots of traveling about in Quintana of Charyn. We get to explore Charyn and learn new things about it right alongside Froi.

Since this is the third and final installment of this amazing series, I don’t want to say too much about the plot.  It was just and sweeping and incredible as the first two. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I had no idea how things were going to work out. Melina Marchetta makes you ache for these flawed, but extraordinary characters. I urge you to read these books. Even if you aren’t the biggest high fantasy fan. There’s something for everyone in this trilogy. It’s one of my favorites.

pi5My gushing reviews of Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles can be found here.