Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Synopsis by Goodreads

I’ll admit it. I didn’t enjoy Siege and Storm nearly as much as its predecessor Shadow and Bone but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I just loved how Bardugo established Grishaverse in Shadow and Bone. She wrote an incredible universe that generated intense feelings for me. Like most second novels, attempting to replicate first novel feelings without bringing something big to the table is pretty hard. I neither liked nor disliked Siege and Storm. Considering that it took me over a month to post this is a testament to my neutrality.

Genuinely, I enjoyed a lot of moments from Siege and Storm. There were just a few things that put me off from adoring it. Or I should say, there was only one character that put me off…

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Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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 lonely 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.

Synopsis by Goodreads

Shortly after Mother’s Day, I took my thoughtful gift (from the hubby) on a trip to Barnes & Noble. I thought I’d begin buying new copies of Harry Potter but my local store didn’t have the Kazu Kibuishi editions I’m dying to get. As I was walking by one of the many display tables, Shadow and Bone caught my eye. I quick scan told me all the books on display were part of the same universe. It looked familiar, even the universe, Grishaverse, sounded familiar. I picked up Shadow and Bone to read the back cover when realization dawned on me, of course, I’ve seen these books. Like Sky in the Deep, the series is littered through bookstagram.

That’s when I hesitated. I picked up Shadow and Bone then placed it back on the table not once but twice. To be honest, I was intimidated by how many books were already in the universe. I had no idea where to start plus I really wasn’t sure I wanted to start another young adult series. I eventually did push the hesitation aside and I’m really happy I did.

I’ll admit, initially I was not impressed and I felt the map was confusing AF. Literally thirty pages later, I was eating my words. As soon as Alina hit the shadow fold my interest piqued. That said, I never actually read the back cover during my hesitation, I picked it up solely on Instagram recommendations. Though it says it on the back cover, I still easily guessed that Alina was a powerful Grisha and the only one of her kind too. I suppose if I had bothered to read the back cover the guesswork would have been taken out of the equation.

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