Review: Lightbringer by Claire Legrand

Alexis:

It’s official—I’ve been destroyed by this series. This book gave me my first book hangover in a good while.

Legrand went ham in this last book. Like in Kingsbane, the characters go through so much trauma in Lightbringer. 

The first half was a little slow. Rielle was insufferable. And I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending. Yet…I was so caught up in the story.  I loved the plot twists!

If you’re looking to read a fantasy trilogy with flawed and morally gray characters, time travel, angels, powerfully magical women, elemental magic, and super high stakes, then this is the series for you.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TW: Blood, depression, gore, grief, murder, self-harm, suicidal ideation, torture, violence, and war

Review: Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco

Alexis, wearing a black jumpsuit, stands in front of a fence, holding a hardcover copy of Kingdom of the Cursed.

Alexis:

I knew this series would be New Adult! I kept hearing other readers call Kingdom of the Wicked YA, and I was confused because I definitely thought it was NA. But this one…it definitely has steamy scenes and adult themes. 

What I didn’t know was that this wasn’t a duology…but a trilogy, I believe. So now I have to wait for a third book?!

I liked this one much more than the first one! Both Emilio and Wrath had great character arcs. Emilia is still a little naive; however, I found her character development was much better, and I enjoyed reading from her perspective. I also enjoyed learning more about Wrath, his identity, and his role.

I liked the plot more than the first book, too. There was one main plot point that I guessed, but also two great plot twists! Even Maniscalco’s writing and imagery are better in this sequel, even more atmospheric than the first, and I devoured this book while reading it. 

While this was a five-star read for me, there was one scene that made me uncomfortable to read, and it takes a lot to make me feel uncomfortable when I’m reading. It involved a strange questionable consent/mind control scene, and while yes, it did technically make sense with the plot, and yes, this book is full of morally grey characters, I think it could have easily been avoided, and the point would’ve still come across.

This book is not for the faint of heart, and deals with some heavy themes; the point of the story is Emilia going down the path of vengeance and accepting her anger and sexuality.

If you’re looking for a good series to read this October, with plenty of sexual tension/romance, dark fantasy elements, and themes of vengeance and love, then you might like this!

VERDICT: 💀💀💀💀💀

TW: Blood, gore, violence, murder, sexual themes, mind control/questionable consent

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Alexis: Read 2/20/19

Ruin and Rising was certainly the best book of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. I disliked Alina’s character in the first two books, and I felt like she became a more complex character in this one. Additionally, Mal had zero personality in the first two books, and he felt more real to me in Ruin and Rising, as well.

Everyone can agree with me here: Nikolai is still the most vibrant character. He has a sparkling personality and he knows what he wants. He echoes the beginning of Bardugo’s masterfully crafted characters in the Six of Crows series.

As for the plot, I feel like the first half of the book meanders. There’s a whole host of secondary characters that I didn’t really care about, except for Genya.

And time for an unpopular opinion: I don’t like the Darkling. He’s creepy, manipulative, and honestly rapey. His beauty doesn’t make up for that.

SPOILERS BELOW:

Okay, so I really enjoyed the plot twists in the second half of the book. Mal being the third amplifier? Nikolai getting turned into a monster? I didn’t see either of those coming, and it made the book more exciting!

The ending felt very Hunger Games to me: boy and girl get together and live a nice, normal life together, where they can grieve together forever. I honestly didn’t mind the ending, as I think it was the happiest ending for Alina and Mal. But Alina losing her power was anticlimactic and confusing. It felt unnecessary. Plus, she had such a good character arc by Ruin and Rising that I felt it was unfair for her to return to how she was in the beginning of the series.

Despite some of my issues with this book, I really enjoy the Grishaverse and I couldn’t put this book down. I enjoyed seeing Bardugo’s writing style evolve!

VERDICT: 4 out of 5 books

Review: Shadow and Bone; Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Alexis:

I’ve dedicated this past week to reading the first two books in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, and hopefully I can get the last book from the library next week!

I read the Six of Crows Duology last year and I absolutely loved it, so I was looking forward to reading the first books in Bardugo’s Grishaverse.

I seem to agree with everyone else (at least on Goodreads) that the second book in the trilogy is better than the first. I was surprised to find that the first book relied on some tropes, the most prevalent of which is the love triangle. However, I thought that Shadow and Bone did a great job when it came to worldbuilding and introducing the Grisha’s powers. 

The second book’s plot is much more intricate than the first. It honestly reminds me of The Hunger Games. Politics come into play, and Alina starts to become a powerful symbol of hope. I enjoyed the new characters that were introduced, but I felt like Mal’s character wasn’t as strong as he was in the first book. However, Bardugo’s keen sense of humor comes out more in the second book.

Minor spoilers below:

One of the biggest issues I have with the two books is the way that male characters interact with Alina, which, unfortunately, only gets worse in Siege and Storm. Multiple male characters touch and kiss Alina without her consent, and the way the Darkling interacts with her makes me sick. In Siege and Storm, no one respects that Alina and Mal are in a relationship, and she gets kissed and even gets marriage proposals. I understood all of this happens for plot reasons, but here Alina is, in a different love triangle than in the first book, and she even enjoys the attention from Nikolai.

I feel like I say this in every review, but despite my issues with the books, I did enjoy reading them. I love the Grishaverse and I’m interested to see where the third book goes. I just can’t help comparing this series to the Six of Crows Duology. It’s interesting to see how much Bardugo’s writing has evolved.

Shadow and Bone: 3 out of 5 books

Siege and Storm: 4 out of 5 stars