Monday, August 31, 2015

Ruin and Rising

Book: Ruin and Rising
Series: The Grisha #3
Author: Leigh Bardugo

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.-Goodreads

Review: After the second book, I wasn't sure what to expect with this third and final installment. I'm happy to say this was great on almost all fronts. I loved the third amplifier storyline, Alina and Mal were likable again and we had more Nikolai, yay! The only thing I wasn't thrilled with was the ending (it was a too 'red bow' for me) but overall, a satisfying read. 

Grade: 4/5

Siege and Storm

Book: Siege and Storm
Series: The Grisha #2
Author: Leigh Bardugo

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.-Goodreads

Review: I loved the first book in this series and was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately, the only thing that worked was the introduction of a new character, Nikolai (imagine a young, debonair Richard Castle). Other than the first few chapters, the Darkling (who is def full on 'bad' now) was barely in the book and the few scenes he was in, didn't seem necessary to the story. Most of this book was teenage angst with Alina and Mal, both of whom were incredibly annoying and boring.  

Grade: 2/5

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy the Shocking Inside Story

Book: The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy the Shocking Inside Story
Author: Ann Rule

Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting.-Goodreads

Review: This was an extremely creepy, disturbing read about Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. I've watched a lot of documentaries on him over the years and while this didn't add that many new details, it was interesting read. Ann Rule worked with Ted Bundy (in his mid-20s) for several months at a suicide hotline and states that they saved lives together. Even though Ann reported him to police as a possible suspect, she had trouble believing her 'good friend' Ted was a killer. They kept in contact for many years, including during his trials. 

Like any other true crime novel, this is a rather dry, non-emotional book. There are a lot of facts and backgrounds on the victims, but it wasn't too graphic. Ted Bundy was a high functioning sociopath and it's frightening how many people he fooled. I couldn't put this down and I was seriously freaked out for several days after finishing it. 

Grade: 5/5

Cold Burn of Magic

Book: Cold Burn of Magic
Series: Black Blade #1
Author: Jennifer Estep

There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .-Goodreads

Review: This was a fun, predictable read. Lila Merriweather is a young thief who inadvertently helps save the life of Devon Sinclair, the son of a power Family in their magical town. This decision changes the direction of her life. Lila reminded me of a young Gin Blanco and she has a lot of potential as a character. I will definitely read the next book in the series. 

Grade: 3/5

The Other Typist

Book: The Other Typist
Author:  Suzanne Rindell

New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.

Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.

But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist's spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls' friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose's fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.

But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?-Goodreads

Review: This book was a delicious mix of Single White Female, The Great Gatsby and the Talented Mr. Ripley. Rose Baker is an uptight typist who develops a fast friendship/obsession with another typist, Odalie. Rose is not particularly likable and the author does way too much foreshadowing throughout the book so readers are not surprised that we are building up to some unfortunate event. This book was a slow burn but I loved it by the end. 

Now, let's talk about that ending (while being spoiler free). Readers will either love or hate the ending. It's open ended and the author won't even say how readers are supposed to interpret it. Personally, it worked for me and made me think about the book for weeks after I finished it. I cannot wait for the movie to come out!

Grade: 5/5

The Girl With All the Gifts

Book: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.-Goodreads

Review: This book started out with a bang and immediately got me hooked. I really loved Melanie and her journey. The pacing slowed down mid-book and I grew a tad bored, but overall, I really enjoyed this. I think the movie will be excellent (Glenn Close!) and I can't wait to see it. 

This was my first read by this author and I will def check out more of his books. 

Grade: 3/5

Damage Done

Book: Damage Done
Author: Amanda Panitch

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .-Goodreads

Review:  Julia Vann's life is forever changed when her twin brother commits mass murder at their high school. She now has a new name and a new life in a town where no one knows her past. This is a book you can't take too seriously. There are a lot of plot holes and the end was incredibly ridiculous but I thoroughly enjoyed every page. It was fun being in Julia's head, even though one of the 'big reveals' was projected too much throughout the book. I think YA readers will love this. It's dark and fun!

Grade: 4/5