Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha #3)

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)
Title: Ruin and Rising -The Grisha #3
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: June 17th 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt
More Reviews at: Goodreads - Amazon - Book Depository

Leigh Bardugo created one of my all time favourite YA epics with The Grisha Trilogy, and this final instalment offers up a very satisfying conclusion.
Shadow and Bone (2012) began the tale with two childhood friends growing to know more about their strengths and weaknesses, whilst discovering love. Sequel, Siege and Storm (2013) offered a grittier tale filled with political intrigue and the seduction of power, and in this conclusion Bardugo offers the reader all that went before and so much more. 
Mal has proved his loyalty and stands by Alina's side, together with the handful of faithful rebel Grisha who aided her in the failed overthrow of Darkling. However, when they decide they must get out from under the Apparat's thumb to seek out tsarevich Nikolai and the fabled firebird (the third amplifier that will make Alina invincible), we begin to wonder whether Mal will ever see go back to seeing Alina as anything other than Ravka's saint and saviour. 
The obstacles Alina and her friends must overcome go beyond the physical, they test the characters minds and emotions to the very brink. Will Alina make a practical match with Nikolai, for the good of a nation? Or will she choose Mal when every day he seems further away from her? Is Alina's search for the third amplifier truly just to defeat the Darkling, or is that connection she feels for him as bone deep as to make her understand his desire for power above all else.  All these questions create a tension that makes this a page turner from start to finish.
If you've read any of the books in this trilogy I'd love to hear your thoughts.

My Bookish Bucket List - #1

A few years ago, The Guardian newspaper put together an article about The World's 10 Best Bookshops, and one of those shops -  Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht  - stuck in my mind. 
The old Dominican church in Maastricht was being used for bicycle storage not long ago, but thanks to a radical refurbishment by Dutch architects Merkx + Girod it has been turned into what could possibly be the most beautiful bookshop of all time  (
It was the first time I questioned why a bookworm who loves to travel hadn't - intentionally -visited any places featured in books, or focused on books. The article inspired me to say I could, and would! I made a bookish bucket list, populated with things to do and places to visit.

Six years passed by, and aside from a local book festival, my inspired list stayed nothing more than a list. Without my passion and immersion, the words on my list were impotent. So earlier this month, when I visited my family in The Netherlands, I logged on to my sister's computer, searched Google Maps and... nearly had heart failure! The bookshop in Maastricht was listed as 'permenantly closed'. Whaaaaaaaaat!!! Sure I'd procrastinated, but I was ready now! 

A call clarified everything, sadly Selexyz bookshops ceased trading, but thankfully booklovers everywhere rallied and raised 200% of the funds sought to keep this particular shop trading. With no time to waste, we (moi and a bemused friend - "An urgent trip to a must-see bookshop?" Really?)  hotfooted it to the bus-stop and dashed across Tilburg train station for the next train to Maastricht. 

I can give you all the thumbs up on the fab state of public transportation in The Netherlands - I thought my sister's car would be a great test subject for my theory that driving on the right side of the road might come naturally to me, but she disagreed. So I discovered superfast wifi at the stations and on the trains too - apparently I'm easily pleased, but it really is fabulous, and I know I'm not the only social media buff to find this congenial. 

Once in Maastricht we power-walked ignoring anything and everything unrelated to our finding the bookshop - some sort of monument in the middle of the road, who cares what it's about? Several interesting church spires, just how many ancient churches are in Maastricht? Who cares? Independent chocolatiers, patisseries, traditional restaurants, and all sorts passed until we finally walked into the most fabulous bookshop :).

This trip was so worth it! Beautiful architecture, the fabulous new book smell so many book lovers will appreciate, and a cafe that makes some of the best coffee and cakes I've ever had. Bookshops always put me in a good mood, and this shop enthused my non-bookish friend too. Most of the books on sale are in Dutch, but there's a great selection of books in English *I picked up Brandon Sanderson's Words of Radiance).

My photos haven't done the Dominicanen Boekhandel justice; for fabulous images of the bookshop visit this Flickr list.  Highly recommended by me, but w
hat do you think? Will you be putting this bookshop on your list of places to visit? Or have you been to a fabulous bookstore you think should be on my bucket list? Let me know :) 

The Book Thief - Book vs Film

Goodreads Blurb: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

My thoughts: The book was well written, cleverly narrated, and populated by compelling characters. It was easy for me to rate the book a strong 4 out of 5 stars. The film, however, has left me with mixed feelings.

On the one hand Ben Schnetzer seemed like the perfect Max - the Jewish man hidden in Liesel's basement -

Top Ten Tuesday - My Top Ten Books in the Fantasy Genre

Top Ten Tuesday by The Broke and The Bookish
Fantasy is one of my favourite genres! In no particular order, here are my top ten fantasy books:

  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore -  Third in series, this book simply reminded me why I love the world of the Gracelings.
  • Crown of Embers by Rae Carson What can I say, this book has strong characterization, vivid world building, action, adventure, romance and humour. Kapow! What more could one want?
  • Reckless by Cornelia Funke. There's a lovely switch of pace throughout this book, one moment

Welcome Back to the Beginning...

Hi Everyone,

Hello, and welcome back to my blog on blogger. A year ago I moved to Wordpress and loved my site over there, but I don't get to post as often as I would like and so this year, rather than pay for my blog, I'm going back to a fee-free site. Whilst I could use the free version on Wordpress I find the free tools on Blogger more intuitive - so we're back where we started! :)

This month I'm reading: Sharon Shinn's Royal Airs, Marissa Meyer's Scarlet,  and Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings. What's on your reading list? And are there any must-reads, you'd recommend I pick up this year?

Life Updates Affecting my Reading and Blogging:
  1. My new job is going well, even if it is eating up a lot more time thanks to the commute - 10,017 miles in five months. Which leads me to...
  2. and Naypong
  3. I had a car accident on a busy motorway at rush-hour, and got my little Hyundai i10 wedged between a massive jeep and an estate (family car). This happened three weeks ago and I was lucky to walk away with a stiff neck, and bruised and swollen knees. My car, however, was not so lucky. The image to the right is actually a stock photo, and my bonnet ended up higher up than that, but the last thing on my mind was to take a photo of it...oh and my accident happened in the evening, so it was pretty dark aside from the lights of the traffic rushing by. Back was fine after a week, and swelling to the knees went down in a couple of days. Driver of the jeep said he heard the bang more

Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

Secret Brigid Kemmerer
EARTH. FIRE. AIR. WATER.Blurb on Goodreads

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He's trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won't get in to college. He's trying to keep his brother's business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He's trying to keep the secret of where he's going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel - or he fears he'll lose his family. And he's trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his 'girlfriend's' partner.And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.SECRETS IN THE WIND. DANGER IN THE AIR

My thoughts

The writing in this series has always been compelling - the drama and character development do a great job of sucking the reader into the world of the Merrik brothers. In my opinion, Secret is the most well written book in the series. I felt the flow of events in the other books was fine, but not refined, and now I can't pick a single fault with this latest instalment.

Nick has always been my favourite Merrick brother, and he played a great supporting actor to all his brothers up until he began to take a leading role in his own story, with the novella Breathless. As I mentioned before, the other stories have all been entertaining, but with Secret we

Writers' Wednesday: Interviewing Julia Kavan...


For my second article in Littleport Life - the local community magazine -  I interviewed horror writer, Julia Kavan, who has spent most of her life living in Cambridgeshire. Julia has taught creative writing classes locally for over ten years, whilst writing screenplays, novels, and short fiction. Her website is:

Julia, you're no stranger to Littleport and The Fens. As someone familiar with the area would you say that it inspires your work?

I find the atmospheric location the perfect inspiration for ghost stories My current work in progress is partially set in Ely; the original idea coming from the tales of ghosts haunting the area around the cathedral and Cherry Hill. A walk in nearby Thetford Forest inspired my short story, Dreaming, Not Sleeping.

What attracted you to horror as a genre?

Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

Troubled Waters (Elemental Blessings, #1)Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood—and the secrets of the royal family—she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.
How have I not come across Sharon Shinn before?! This book could well turn out to be the reading gem of December for me. If you're looking to lose yourself to a great read with vivid world building, compelling characters and an interesting plot, then this will be of interest. Romance features too, and complements the storyline rather than dominating it.

Zoe is a strong main character, a woman in her early twenties who has lived her life on default for the love of

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard


Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.

Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

The Almost Girl caught my attention with it's futuristic cover of a beautiful kickass heroine, and a blurb made me believe this was a must-read.

After the fantastic first impression the actual read left me with mixed feelings. This is fast-paced read, and
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