Siege and Storm is the much anticipated second release in The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. The first book, Shadow and Bone, topped many "Best of 2012" lists for its creativity and fresh approach towards fantasy, including mine.
Alina and Mal have fled the Small Palace and the Darkling. Hiding in secret, the two are trying to forget the past, but Alina is haunted by her life as a Sun Summoner and by the magic of the Darkling. Taking refuge on a whaling ship under the Captain (and privateer) Sturmhond, Alina's past quickly catches up to her. The Darkling has come to reclaim her for Ravka and steers them all onto a path to attain his ultimate goal - retrieving Alina and making her the most powerful Grisha in the world.
Alina's journey through this book is best described in one word - bittersweet. With every step forward as the Sun Summoner she abandons pieces of herself, her past, and her future. Her relationship with Mal is tried and tested even as she forms new ones with new characters. Sturmhond, and his crew, become key elements in this book, forging a path that Alina must walk upon. She also cannot forget the Darkling who shadows her waking, and sleeping, thoughts.
But of course everyone is dying to know who Alina ends up with, and as to that my lips are sealed. Rest assured that Alina's relationship with the man she loves is just as fun to read as the first book was. The moments between the two are sweet, and tragic, and absolutely riveting. I read the better part of this book with my toes completely curled. I loved the romantic dynamic in this series. I rarely get so sucked into a triangle but I love the one in these books. It actually works, for one thing, leaving the reader so torn in who she wants Alina to choose - the good boy, Mal or the ultimate bad boy, the Darkling.
And who doesn't love the Darkling? Come on... he's the quintessential bad boy.
And, of course, just when I thought it wouldn't get any better Bardugo threw in a twist. Scratch that, she threw in about ten twists, and then directed the plot from there. It's one of those books where you think it's going one place and fifty pages later you've had three different epiphanies about the story. Which is phenomenal. Bardugo always had me guessing. I really loved what she did with the mythology in this particular book. Again, just when I thought I knew where it was going it when another ten turns down the road.
I can't wait to see what happens in book three. We'll see if it continues to remind me of Catching Fire in Ruin and Rising. It definitely had moments where I thought of Collins and Katniss, though it's nothing at all like it (in tone). It's still fantasy, and it's still very much Bardugo.
The Ugly Duchess is the fourth book in the Fairy Tales series by Eloisa James. As with the previous books in the series this one follows the romantic...more The Ugly Duchess is the fourth book in the Fairy Tales series by Eloisa James. As with the previous books in the series this one follows the romantic escapades between two people with a fairy tale twist - this one being The Ugly Duckling. I picked this up because I am knee deep in Gothic literature and I needed a quick distraction. This was a great read to throw into the mix.
Theodora is not beautiful, but she is striking in a handsome way. What she has going for her is a large inheritance. When longtime friend James Ryburn proposes to her Theo thinks her luck has finally turned, until she learns the truth after their wedding. James only married her because his father was embezzling money from Theo's inheritance to settle his exorbitant gambling debts. Theo's heart is crushed and she throws James out, vowing to fix the damage to her estate and never be reliant on a man again.
Years later Theo is a successful business woman and the talk of the town. Meanwhile, James has become a seafaring pirate desperate to escape his mistakes. She is waiting for the seven year anniversary of his disappearance to legally claim him dead. However, Theo is in for the biggest surprise of her life.
I enjoyed this one quite a lot. It's romance, so there are the expected tropes and trite situational dialogue to expect, but it was still a fun read. It was exactly what I needed at the time that I read it, and that's all you can ask for a book. I really enjoyed the characters - Theo was opinionated and feisty. James became very interesting as he grew up. It was a really good coming of age story for the both of them. The fairy tale element was minimal, but it did allow for some character development on Theo's part. It felt like a great comment on women and self esteem and complexes developed from feeling underwhelming in the looks department. The metaphor was very obvious, but well done. I won't pretend it's perfect. However, it was entertaining on a long car ride.
**spoiler alert** Tiger Lily is a much anticipated young adult release coming out by NYT bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson. I had not heard of it...more**spoiler alert** Tiger Lily is a much anticipated young adult release coming out by NYT bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson. I had not heard of it until a copy showed up in my ARCs from Harpercollins. However, the premise immediately intrigued me - a retelling of Peter Pan focusing on Tiger Lily of the Indian tribe? Yes! And with one fell swoop it was placed in the priority pile. Today finally afforded me the chance and, what's more important, the mood to read it. So I cracked it opened and prepared to be amazed.
For the record, I love Peter Pan with a big, giant, throbbing heart of love. It's one of my favourite books from my childhood. It's something I've read a lot, and it's inspired a future book related tattoo (that I will get when I can afford to). I love Peter Pan. He was my first literary boyfriend after all... him and his thimble kisses.
This book was a disappointment in so many ways. Frankly, I can't say how I really feel about it without offending some people in the mix... so I'm going to tone it down a bit from my initial angry, swearing, hate-filled rant. I have only ever been so thoroughly offended by two other classic retellings in quite the same way as I am with this book... like, to the point where I slammed the book shut in annoyed frustration and just declared outright that I was done. This is the third one ever to hit my STOP button with such unmitigated force. Wow, this one was so not for me.
* Spoilers ahead for those of you who are looking forward to this.. you may want to stop reading *
I'm going to presume that you all know the plot of Peter Pan, so I'll spare you the recap. This one follows Tiger Lily of the native tribe as she grows up and befriends Pan and the Lost Boys. Where this differs from the original is in the fact that the boys and Pan are not magic in the least, and seem to be growing up on the island of Neverland. The Pirates also appear to be aging. Whether this aging problem is explained elsewhere in the book I couldn't tell you, because I didn't finish the last 150 pages. These details were the first indicators that I would be unhappy with this book.
Aging? In Neverland? What?!
So where else did it fail? Well, there's the shoddy narration from Tinkerbell, the non-speaking fairy. The story is told in observances from her, which is fine and good, but she frequently switches POVs from third person (when she is talking about Tiger Lily and other characters) to first person (when she is talking about herself). These switches confused me and I lost sight of who the book was about in these intervals. I would actually forget that Tink was narrating until she suddenly had something occur to herself that distracted me from the story at hand... and then I would mistake her voice for Tiger Lily. It would have been better served if she had stuck to one point of view throughout the entire book because this technique just seemed haphazard and unwieldy.
So, what sealed the deal - the handling of the details from that book to this one... The "turning Peter Pan into a YA romance book" factor... I'm thinking specifically of the kiss. The infamous, beautiful kiss scene that we all know and love from the original story; the kiss that Wendy gives to Peter which he mistakes for a thimble. Well, at one point in the book Peter kisses Tiger Lily... a full, on the mouth, lingering, make-out scene worthy of any YA contemporary ... and that's where I shut the book. I could not in any way disassociate what was happening with what I already know about Pan... sweet and innocent Peter who doesn't know kisses from thimbles and wouldn't be able to execute one if his life depended on it... and here he is snogging Tiger Lily? Wrong, it's just wrong... wrong like in March by Geraldine Brooks where Mr. March cheats ON MARMEE OF ALL PEOPLE... wrong like in Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys where the psycho-sexual/culture judgmental relationship between the two is what drove Bertha mad... bull. Plain and simple. I didn't buy it in those two books and I'm not buying it now... Turning Peter into a non-magic, hormone driven 15 year old? Wrong. Just wrong.
So, clearly I disconnected. I think that is obvious. Retellings are always fraught with peril but in this case it was SO different than what I was expecting and SO not what I wanted it to be. The tone of the novel was not doing anything for me up until that point so it was very easy to put it down. Perhaps the fault lies in me? Perhaps I expect too much and shouldn't... part of that "favourite book" syndrome. Retellings of certain things have got to be really..damn... good... in order to get away with revisiting certain stories. This, however, did not work. It didn't work as a YA book and it has no place in Peter Pan fandom at all. I can't have this book ruin for me what is otherwise a perfect reading experience.
1 out of 5 stars. The only thing redemptive about this book at all is Tiger Lily's transgendered adoptive father, Tik tok... and that's the only reason it gets a star at all.