Monday, March 18, 2019

Book Review: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)

About The Book:

  Title:  King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) 
  Author: Leigh Bardugo 
  Pub. Date: January 29th, 2019 
  Publisher: Imprint 
  Pages: 527 
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy 
  Rate: 4/5 stars 

Synopsis :

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.


"They would build a new world together. But first they had to burn the old one down.

King of Scars is the first book in the new 'Nikolai Duology' by Leigh Bardugo.  King of Scars picks up pretty much right after the ending of Crooked Kingdom. With that being said, while this is being marketed as new duology, I feel that if you read this without reading the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology, you will be supremely lost. Which I feel is different from the Six of Crows duology, which you could most certainly read without reading the Grisha Trilogy first. Ok so anyway, King of Scars is basically just a continuation of the Grisha world we love. We get perspectives from Zoya and Nikolai, as well as from our favorite dreg, Nina Zenik! 

Getting to read these characters again was comforting in a familiar type of way. I enjoyed seeing their development. I once hated Zoya and now came to love her (which was probably what Bardugo was intending). We not only get to see her strength and determination, but her vulnerability as well. As for Nikolai, he was just as likable as he was throughout the Grisha trilogy but we do get to see another side of him, namely a more modest side. I didn't care much for the new characters in the book, I was mostly focused on Nina/Nikolai/Zoya and when that fourth perspective was added, I routinely found myself bored with that character. 

"Who would speak for Liliyana, for Genya and Alina and Baghra if she did not?
Who will speak for me?" 

As far as the story goes, I like that it entwined plots from both Ruin and Rising and Crooked Kingdom. Nina is trying to track down some Grisha parem victims in Fjerda while Nikolai is struggling to maintain control of Ravka and the beast within himself. The pacing really varied in this book and some of the plots did seem a little messy and directionless to me. So, the characters were definitely the highlight of this for me, which really surprised me because plot typically shines for Bardugo.  

All in all, I'm a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo and all that is Grisha. I wouldn't say that King of Scars is my favorite book from the Grisha world, but I loved it all the same. It was great seeing some of our favorite originals we haven't seen since Ruin and Rising. I will definitely be pre-ordering the next book in the duology because I am so invested in the characters and can't wait to see what happens next! 

- Jocelyn

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Review: Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons, #4)

About The Book:

  Title:  Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons, #4) 
  Author: Matt de la Pena 
  Pub. Date: March 5th, 2019 
  Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers  
  Pages: 336 
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Comics, Retellings 
  Rate: 3/5 stars 

Synopsis :

When the dawn breaks, a hero rises.

His power is beyond imagining.

Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger--better--than everyone around him. But he wasn't raised to show off, and drawing attention to himself could be dangerous. Plus, it's not like he's earned his powers . . . yet.

But power comes with a price.

Lately it's difficult to hold back and keep his heroics in the shadows. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and discovers a dark secret lurking in Smallville. Turns out, Clark's not the only one hiding something. Teaming up with his best friend, Lana Lang, he throws himself into the pursuit of the truth. What evil lies below the surface of his small town? And what will it cost Clark to learn about his past as he steps into the light to become the future Man of Steel? Because before he can save the world, he must save Smallville.


"You have found refuge on Earth, where you will love and protect. 
But you must never forget where you came from. And who you were meant to be." 

Superman: Dawnbreaker is the (to my knowledge) final book in the DC Icons series. I was looking forward to teenage Clark Kent more than I was for Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne, and Diana Prince mostly because I couldn't wait to get in his quiet, good-natured head. We know Selina and Bruce dabble in some illegal extracurricular activities, but all extraterrestrialness aside, Clark can be described as the boy next door! 

In Superman: Dawnbreaker, the town of Smallville is all getting riled up when residents start to go missing, particularly those of Hispanic descent. When some questionable businesses also move into town during the same time, Clark and Lana start to explore the possibility that they are linked together. The plot had very good pacing and I was never bored while reading. 

As far as characters go, this is where I would have liked to see more. Clark's perspective was great, but I was hoping that de la Pena would make it more of a teenage Clark as opposed to calm, cool, and collected adult Clark. A teenage superhero without angst? I mean... most teenagers have angst! I wanted an angst-y Clark! I loved the name drop of Lois Lane towards the end of the novel. I thought it was really remarkable but still subtle enough (unlike Luthor). 

Lex Luthor played a minor role in this novel, which was definitely fitting seeing as how this is more of a Superman origin. Everything portrayed from his character was very characteristic of him, but I felt as though he was just there for show (oh look, here's Clark's arch nemesis  Lex Luthor). He really didn't sway the storyline and honestly his appearance made no difference. His name could have been exchanged with anyone elses or his character deleted entirely and it wouldn't have changed the outcome or the story that much. With a character of that caliber, I would have liked to see him do something other than be a placeholder. The secondary characters were ok - but let's be honest, we all really loved hearing from the famous DC characters we are already familiar with. 

Overall, I would have liked to see a more unique spin on Clark Kent. Everything in this novel was what I could have already assumed of Clark. I wanted a more personal take on school, family, and friends. I am sad that this is the last DC Icons novel because I really was a fan of the series as a whole. While this one didn't necessarily jump out at me, I wish there would be more of these books because I truly did enjoy reading about these classic DC characters. Have you read any of the DC Icons series? Which has been your favorite? 

- Jocelyn