Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Summary: 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 unlikely 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.

My Thoughts: Shadow and Bone has been popping up all over the YA/fantasy blogs recently and I finally got my hands on a copy from my library. I finished it in less than 12 hours and I’m eager for the sequel, so that tells you a bit about how much I liked it.

I think this is Bardugo’s debut novel, and she did a great job taking the traditional high fantasy genre and putting her own twist on it. There’s some great new world building here that was very well done, explained smoothly and  naturally, and made a lot of sense to the plot, which honestly doesn’t always happen in fantasy novels. I also liked the sort of old Russian influence on a lot of the language and the culture in Bardugo’s world–that’s something I haven’t really seen before in YA fantasy.

I especially, especially liked the way Bardugo book-ended her story with the prologue/epilogue-type chapters, where the style and narration switched slightly and opened and closed her story to great effect. Bardugo’s story here has just the right amount of action mixed with mysticism and the unknown.

I’m glad to have a new fantasy series to follow; I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel when it comes out! Also, the cover is one of the more awesome book typography and design combinations I’ve seen in awhile.

Author Website: http://www.leighbardugo.com/

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65 books so far! 35 left!

So I’ve read 65 books so far this year in 2011! I really want to make it to 100 though, before December 31st, which means I have 35 books left to read. Hm. I’m not sure if that’s possible, seeing as how it’s already December 6th. Either way I’m going to try my best.

I have been doing and will be doing a lot of traveling so that means lots of plane rides and bus rides where I’ll be putting my time to good use towards this goal!

RIP Anne McCaffrey

I only just found out about this 😦

I feel like so many of my favorite authors have passed away recently–Anne McCaffrey, Dianna Wynne Jones, Madeleine L’Engle. The end of an era.

It makes me sad in a way other things don’t make me sad. It sounds cheesy, but I feel like these authors were my friends growing up. Even though we never met or talked in real life, I knew them through their novels.

Mm 😦

Hiatus; recently read

Back to school means less time to read, less time to write reviews. These are the ones I finished just before returning to school and during school:

An Earthly Crown by Kate Elliott – Sequel to Jaran. Loved it.
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal – A magical Pride & Prejudice. Very charming.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – I’ve been hearing about this series for years and finally decided to try it out. Outlander was a great adventure and I am looking forward to reading the rest in the series.

An Explanation of Sorts

Fall quarter of my sophomore year in college was the most brutal, time-consuming period I’ve ever spent in school.

Which explains the total lack of updates since October 3rd, which was about 4 days after I began the school year. Soon after that, everything in my life not related to my studies basically shut down.

I did read a bit, but had no energy to write reviews for these books:

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham – Graham is fairly good historical fiction.
Quatrain by Sharon Shinn – lovely set of stories.
Pegasus by Robin McKinley – I was slightly bored.

I also re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in preparation for the seventh movie.

Now that I’m on winter break hopefully the books I’ve placed on hold at the library will arrive soon and I’ll be able to inject a little life into this blog before I return to the Land of Never-Ending Studying.