Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

ImageI finished reading Shadow and Bone about a week ago and might be a little fuzzy on the details, but I needed to let this story rest for a while before I could talk about it. I absolutely devoured this book, I read it in basically one sitting and on the same night I bought it I was already looking for the next one. That’s not to say it was perfect, but I’ll definitively pick up the next one.

“It’s such an honor to finally meet the Sun Summoner.”

Shadow and Bone is about an orphan called Alina Starkov who, together with her best friend Mal, is a soldier at the First Army. While crossing what is known as the Shadow Fold, a dark and impenetrable place with creatures that eat human flesh, she unknowingly saves everyone by displaying Grisha abilities. Soon she’s swept away into this glamorous and mysterious world that is the Grisha world or, how they are also called, the Second Army. But this elite magical people hide many secrets and Alina has to deal with them all, including her dangerous attraction to their leader: the Darkling.

Let me start by saying that what first drew me to it was the cover, all that black and red and gray that becomes white; I just had to pick it up. But this book also has an impressive world building, and that it was always shown rather than told. It definitively gets points for that. I really liked the contrast between everyone else and the Grisha: we get to see the First Army (a more traditional army) which is disciplined and not at all luxurious and then the Grisha, who live on a palace beside the King’s and wear fine fabrics.

The hair rose on my arms. I had the same feeling I’d had as we were crossing the canal, the sense of crossing the boundary between two worlds.

I can’t say too much about the Darkling because that way lays some major spoilers, but while I never liked him much personality wise I have to admit I wavered between wanting him to be good and wanting him to be bad. Court life didn’t interest me very much, I preferred to hear about the army and fights, but there was some important plot development going on there that kept me reading.

One of the things I loved about this book was the names. Everything has beautiful Russian-like names and that’s one of my favorite languages. It gave Ravka, Alina’s fictional homeland, a foreign feel to me. Made everything more magical, since it’s not a language I hear much here in Brazil. Another was the different point of view she gave the prologue and the epilogue, going from first person to third, it set the ethereal feel of the whole book that much higher.

“Goed morgen, fentomen!” a deckhand shouts to them as he passes by, his arms full of rope.

All the ship’s crew call them fentomen. It is the Kerch word for ghosts.

That’s pretty much it from what I remember. One of the problems of letting a story steam too long is that I end up forgetting some of the details I wanted to talk about, but I think I covered most of what caught my attention.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

ImageThere’s been a mad hype around this book (and the sequel) and it sounds like the kind of thing I’d love, I mean: fairytale retellings, aliens, cyborgs and a charming prince (or is it prince charming? I don’t know). Before I properly go into the review zone I apologize for the lack of quotes in this, it’s because I didn’t mark any. Which doesn’t mean it didn’t have some great ones, it’s just that after every single line I was already jumping to the next, I needed to know what happened. And now I have.

Cinder is about, well, Cinder. She’s a cyborg (which means she has mechanical parts inserted into her body, like prosthesis) and in the society she lives in that’s bad. Cyborgs aren’t considered human anymore, even though they are, and there’s a lot of prejudice against them. That’s one of the reasons her step mother hates her. So her only friends are her little sister, Peony, and an android called Iko. Cinder is a very well-known mechanic, but she’s surprised when Prince Kai comes to her to fix his android. That was the first of many events that turned her life upside down, twisting everything she thought she knew.

This is a very hard book to summarize, there’s just so much going on and it goes at a break-neck speed. I was honestly heeling at one point. And it was so good, I mean it’s not suddenly my favorite book of all time, but it’s worth the read. It absolutely is. Go pick it up RIGHT NOW. There’s just something magical about seeing those characters you’ve grown up with in a different way: Cinderella and her step family, the Prince and the fairy godmother (though I’m not entirely sure who that’s supposed to be, but I have a hunch).

In the topic of characters, I hated Cinder’s step mother, hated her. She was just plain mean; there was no excuse for what she did. None of it. I’m sure I’d have hated the bad sister too, Pearl, if she’d had a more active role in the story, because from what we can see of her she’s just like her mother. There was no pity in her and no empathy of any kind. I saw no redeemable qualities in her.

I really liked Cinder, she was a strong girl even after everything her step mother put her through. But we could still see the pain in her, the brokenness, just around the corner. And since the story is from her perspective we have a much better understanding of her than any other character. We get this unfair balance through her eyes and it only makes everything much more real.

There are also some chapters where we see things from Prince Kai’s perspective, but they aren’t many. Which is good, because I don’t really like those books that keep switching perspective’s every chapter. But we see enough of him to know his interest in the welfare of his country.

Now, the aliens. They are called Lunars and they used to be humans from an old moon colony, but have long since evolved into something very different. Lunars have what is called Glamour, or magic by some people, and with it they can make people see whatever they want them to see. Their queen, Levana, uses it to make herself beautiful and will do everything in her power to marry Prince Kai.

I’m starting Scarlet right after I read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but I’m kind of scared. What if it doesn’t live up to my very high expectations of it? Waiting for the third book is going to be horrible. So, has anyone read Cinder? What about Scarlet? Wouldn’t a movie of this book be amazing?

Tchau!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

ImageI’ve heard about this book from so many different people, everyone seems to either have read it or intends to. It’s also been staring at me from the YA part of my favorite bookstore’s English books section. And it’s a bit hard to resist this title; I mean how brilliant is it? Especially after I’ve read the story.

There are lights stretched out as far as they can see, like reflections of the stars, making great constellations of the runways, where dozens of planes sit waiting their turn.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is about Hadley and Oliver (but mostly about Hadley), two strangers who meet at the airport on their way to London. Hadley is on her, belated, way to her father’s second wedding, this one to a woman she’s never met. And doesn’t want to. Oliver is the cute guy who helps her with her bag, then spends the whole flight beside her. When they reach London, they lose each other at customs, and Hadley believes she’ll never see him again. And that’s it for a mostly spoiler free summary of the book.

This is a fun, quick book about love and family. About fixing broken connections and making new ones. I breezed through it in a single day and even managed to squeeze a Doctor Who episode in between chapters, but not because it was the most amazing book ever. I liked it a lot and got to see a bit of my beloved London (how I miss thee), even though most of Hadley and Oliver’s meetings were pure luck, or fate if you believe in that kind of thing (or the author’s writing, but that’s beside the point).

So, this is a short review, because it’s a short book and pretty straightforward in its development. It made me smile, it made me cry (I’m soft hearted like that) and made me glad I picked it up.  It also made me want to read more of her novels, especially This is What Happy Looks Like. As soon as I can find it that is. My favourite bookstore is unpredictable like that.

He laughs, then lowers his mouth so that it’s close to her ear. “People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else.”