Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and StormSiege and Storm
by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Published: 04 June 2013
Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: Library

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WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SHADOW AND BONE.

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. 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.

Rating: ★★★★★

I was so afraid that Siege and Storm would be one of those books with the much feared second-book syndrome, especially as I progressed towards the middle of the book. I personally felt that there was quite a bit of fillers, but I suppose it was necessary to help progress the story and to build up the intensity of it.

For those of you who intend to read it, fear not! This book is totally worth your time, especially with the amazing beginning and EPIC ending. And the FEELS! Oh gosh. My heart was ripped out and stuffed back into my chest so many times, and I couldn’t agree more with Alina at some parts!

*spoiler alert* Before I dive into the part which kicked my FEELS into overdrive, only highlight the following paragraph if you want to know what happened!

The part which got me all emotional (i.e. wanting to whip out a few knives and slash around wildly) was when Mal was sparring in the stables, and when he won the round and Zoya went up to him and kissed him. AND HE KISSED BACK. Leigh Bardugo did an excellent job of making me feel how Alina felt right then, especially the part about wanting to punch Mal in the ribs and worsening his injuries, yet wanting to get him to a Healer at the same time. And the epic ending, where Alina looked like she was offering herself up to the Devil himself, the Darkling! It was terrible, falling apart on the inside.

Also, it’s amazing how Alina grows so much, yet I didn’t really notice the changes until Mal pointed it out along the way. It’s rather scary, though, how a person can change so much and it being so subtle at the same time.

Oh, yes. Sturmhond is so annoyingly attractive, and it just makes loving/hating him so difficult. What’s more, he’s actually really intelligent. I always have to pause to take in how much meaning his words actually have when I want to wring his neck.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Leigh Bardugo was able to incorporate humour into the story all while keeping the tone consistent. I’ve read books which have humour coming in random and short bursts, which is pretty odd. Not in the case of Siege and Storm, though. Mal and Alina were able to make me smile through the way the interacted (they have such natural chemistry!), even in public. I probably looked crazy smiling at words on a book, but who cares when you’re reading a good one?

Ruin and Rising is sitting right in front of me, so I’ll be off reading that! And, as I quote Adel: “My survival is not guaranteed.”

Signature--JZ

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

shadow_bone_sketch_both3Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo
Series:
 The Grisha #1
Publication Date: 05 June 2012
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), Hardcover, 356 pages
Source: Library

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Rating: ★★★★★

You know those type of stories where an unlikely hero is actually really special and is whisked away into a whole new world where they have an epic adventure? I’ve read quite a few of those from the fanatsy/adventure selection on Wattpad, but I could never seem to find one that was up to standard.

That was when I found Shadow and Bone – or more like it found me, thanks to Adelena’s constant pestering for me to read it. I’ll never regret picking up that book as I LOVE it to bits! (I finished it in 1.5 days (!!!), which is really surprising as I just got out of a terrible reading slump) Of course, Shadow and Bone is definitely of higher standard than the other stories that can be found on Wattpad. It’s the ultimate adventure story, I’m telling you – one that I’ve been searching far and wide for.

Beautiful – that’s the one word I think of when it comes to the story. Just about everything has this air of elegance to it! And magical. Shadow and Bone is so magical. From the kefta of the Grisha to the world it was set in, everything is simply stunning. It’s like the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) decided to give birth to the book.

Not only that, the map of Ravka is drawn with so much detail! Plus, the chapter art for the book is so gorgeous you can stare at it for hours and still be fascinated with it. This brings me to the structure of the book – it starts with the prologue, before, continues on with the story and ends off with an epilogue, after. What makes the prologue and epilogue of this book so special is the fact that they’re both written from a third person’s POV, whereas the rest of the story is from Alina’s POV. Also, the writing in the prologue and epilogue has a unique mix of nostalgia and something else (it’s quite hard to describe), and I really like that the particular style was used to start and end the book.

I found Alina likeable as the way she acted and spoke felt real. Although she kept denying her powers during the inital stage of discovery, which was rather irritating, I decided to let it slide as after all, realising that you’re the only one with powers that can save the universe is pretty damn crazy.

And for some odd reason, I kept envisioning Mal as Kristoff from Frozen. Except that he’s much more attractive and probably doesn’t walk in a clumpy manner. I totally ship Mal and Alina! THEY’RE JUST PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER OKAY. Yes, the Darkling may be handsome and all powerful and charming, but he can take a step back and let the Malina ship sail!

Also, I really liked how Leigh Bardugo dealt with the Zoya-Alina drama – it wasn’t dragged on longer than it should have lasted as Zoya wasn’t one of the more important characters. Yay for less unnecessary drama!

I don’t have much else to say, except that Shadow and Bone should be the next book that you read. So go on, head down to the library and borrow a copy or maybe get one of your own! It’s really worth it. :)

Signature--JZ

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm
by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Published: 04 June 2013
Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: Library

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

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. 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.

Rating: ★★★★★

My mind is not working. I’m so hungover Siege and Storm. Why, Leigh Bardugo, do you do this to us? I actually tweeted her that and well, the answer was that our tears keep her young. I never expected to love this second installment of The Grisha trilogy so much. It took the Second Book Syndrome, threw it on the ground, stomped on it, cut it into tiny pieces and burnt those pieces to ashes. It also stole my heart and chewed it up.

I simply cannot comprehend the greatness of Siege and Storm. The action picked up right from the start and it did not stop  until the end. It’s like a 432-pages long emotional roller-coaster and by the time you get off, you’ll be a snotty wreck. Everything in the story was compelling, mysterious and nail-bitingly adventurous. As if that’s not enough, the romance just had to be perfectly heartbreaking too.

Remember how I said Alina was a little annoying in my Shadow and Bone review? Scrap it all. She’s utterly amazing in Siege and Storm. Her struggles were real and I love how she’s not all good and angelic simply because she’s the Sun Summoner. Alina’s battle against her power-hungry dark side created such a perfectly imperfect protagonist because well, don’t we all have an ugly side we want to banish but can’t?

As for Mal, I felt so bad for him. A relationship between a Grisha and otkazat’sya (human) would undoubtedly be turbulent but when Alina’s not only a Grisha, but the Sun Summoner too, it’s definitely not easy for Mal. I love that he’s patient with her but won’t put up with her when she’s being all power hungry. Sure, later on in the book they both did some unwise and hurtful things but they are after all still young adults. I can completely relate to them about making rash decisions at certain points of time, especially in their stressful situation.

Moving on to the Darkling… Sometimes I feel so alone when shipping Malina. After discovering the truth about the Darkling, I could never ever see him in a romantic way. Probably because of my repulsion to bad boys. Then again, the Darkling’s not just bad, he’s downright evil. Definitely not my cup of tea. Or well, not my sort of anything. However, I do agree he might be sorely misunderstood and hope that maybe, just maybe, he’s still salvageable. Because I got to admit, in the earlier parts of Shadow and Bone, he was downright charming.

Speaking of charming… There’s a brand new character in Siege and Storm who swept me off my feet immediately with his charm, honor, genius and yumminess. I shan’t say who because this is one of those things best experienced without warning but let me just reveal that this character, is by far my favorite in the trilogy. He’s one of the best male characters I’ve ever come across. Intelligent, witty, ambitious, confident and hilarious yet cunning, manipulative with a shady, ruthless side. All I ask for is that Leigh Bardugo don’t kill him of in Ruin and Rising, the final installment. Because my heart will be shattered and I might as well turn into a volcra and eat myself.

No, that wasn’t supposed to make sense. I’m a jumble of nonsense when it comes to pondering the maybe-death of that particular male character.

Now that I’ve got the character feels off my chest, lets get on to the story! I found myself shouting incredulously in shock numerous times throughout the book. It was completely unpredictable and so intriguing I wanted to scream at anyone or anything who dared interrupt me while reading it. Regarding the ending, everyone, just read that at home or somewhere private. I had to stop halfway through the end and continue on at home because sobbing on the subway would be pretty awkward.

That ending. THAT ENDING.

I feel as though Leigh Bardugo loves to play with our hearts. Maybe she’s secretly a Heartrender! I wouldn’t be surprised. Because what happened to Genya at the end… I can’t even think about it without my heart wrenching. And Alina… Oh, Alina. What she did and the result it had on her… I want to curl up in a corner and weep. The consequence of her actions made me wonder if Mal would still stay by her side. Even more woeful is the fact that Alina’s actions had good intentions. Someone hand me the tissues!

So what am I going to do now? Probably live a miserable life until Ruin and Rising comes out next summer. Or until there’s further news about the Shadow and Bone film. Yes, you read that right. There’s going to be a Grisha film! Thus far, I know they’ve hired a producer who also produced the Harry Potter films. Lets pray & hope that’s a good sign!

To wrap this up, I have 4 words for you. Read this trilogy now.

Adel