Showing posts with label Leigh Bardugo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leigh Bardugo. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fierce Reads Tour: NYC Stop Recap

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Fierce Reads event held at McNally Jackson on Tuesday, June 18, featuring Leigh Bardugo, Jessica Brody, Anna Banks, Emmy Laybourne & Gennifer Albin. I'd heard about the event a couple of months earlier and had immediately marked it down, eager to meet the authors. Thanks to Ksenia, I was able to spend a little time with them and ask them some fun interview questions before the event proper, as you're going to see below! 

(The people at McNally Jackson were gracious enough to lend us a small office space, which is why we had to do the interviews in two groups. Still, the authors were wonderful about answering all my questions, even when I was flustered or random interruptions would occur.)



The video coverage of Leigh, Gennifer & Anna got cut off, so allow me to include the transcript of the rest of their interview below:

Alexa: If you could live in any fictional world, which one would it be? And which character would you be in it?
Leigh Bardugo: Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood. Yeah, I mean, doesn't everybody want to go to Hogwarts? I mean, I love Westeros...
Gennifer Albin: Westeros?
*everyone laughs*
GA:  I want to be alive for two days in my fictional world...
LB: but I don't want to live there... I would like to go to a nice bathroom. I would like to brush my teeth. I would like to eat delicious snacks and I would like to do magic! I feel like I just adore Luna. Although I guess Hermione is more on point. But I feel like I'm not organized enough to be Hermione, so Luna.
GA: Which is a great reason to be Hermione... I was gonna - I'm gonna live with Leigh in Harry Potter. I'm not gonna lie -
Alexa: Are you going to be Luna too?
GA: I'm not gonna be Luna though. I like Luna but... I don't know who I would be.
LB: Tonks!
GA: Tonks?
A: Actually, that sounds very accurate.
[insert Harry Potter spoiler here]
Anna Banks: Do we have to be one of our own characters?
A: No, no.
AB: I want to live in the Hundred Acre Wood.
*everyone makes sounds of agreement/awws*
AB: I would be Piglet -
LB: Aww!
AB: Everyone's always looking out for that little guy. What a great world!
LB: I love that!
A: I don't think I've ever heard anyone answer like - answer that answer. That's a great answer!
AB: I mean, you've got all these great friends around you.
LB: Nothing really bad ever happens. Like the worst thing that happens is you get stuck in a tree.
A: Or in a rainstorm.
LB: I'll be Eeyore. *uses Eeyore voice* Okay...
*everyone laughs*
AB: I probably would be Eeyore, but my preference would be Piglet.
A: What are you current favorite TV shows or movies?
AB: The Walking Dead.
GA: Doctor Who.
LB: Game of Thrones. I'm also really loving Elementary, and Hannibal has been surprisingly good. And Chopped. I watched Chopped all of the time.

After my time with them, the authors spent a few minutes relaxing before the event started. They each talked about their books, and then answered questions from the audience. If you missed my tweets, here are some of the Q&As that cropped up during this part, as edited into text format:

Question: How did your characters/story come to you?
Leigh Bardugo: Some characters show up fully formed, while others take a little longer to find their voice.
Anna Banks: She was watching a documentary about giant squid. It made her wonder what else could be out there.
Jessica Brody: She saw a newspaper article about a 14-year-old who survived a plane crash.
Gennifer Albin: Her characters pop into her head and start talking to her. And all of them have secrets!
Emmy Laybourne: Characters appear to her too. But she also lurks in streets or in malls to find people who resemble her characters.

Question: Who's your favorite lit hero?
EL: Harry Potter
JB: Katniss Everdeen
AB: Scarlett O'Hara
LB: Jaime Lannister
GA: Lyra Belacqua

Question: Describe your method/tips/quirks when writing.
LB: She goes on walks, puts her Bluetooth in her ear and talks about what she's going to do for the day.
AB: She has to get up, get dressed and leave in order to write.
JB: She's trained her brain to think coffee is a "creative juice".

Question: Can you imagine writing a novel on a typewriter?
LB: She can imagine writing longhand, but not on a typewriter.
EL: Fun fact - Emmy had someone from the Philippines (!) type something up for her.
General Consensus: Typewriters are great, but not for writing.

Question: Which character from a book would you be?
EL: Fire
JB: Whoever ends up with Maxon in The Selection
AB: Piglet
LB: Luna Lovegood
GA: Anne Shirley

Question: Do you ever feel like you are the character in your book?
JB: When you're writing in the first person, it's hard to feel like you're not in the scene.

Question: Book recommendations?
EL: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
LB: Coda by Emma Trevayne
AB: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
JB: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
GA: Anything by Stephanie Perkins and Gillian Flynn

Question: Favorite genre?
EL: Post-apocalyptic. (Random tip: Buy a salt lick. All the deer will come.)
LB: Non-fiction while writing. Romance novels. High fantasy.
AB: YA sci-fi. But they must have a love story!
JB: Dystopian, like The Jenna Fox Chronicles.
GA: Contemporary YA, like Stephanie Perkins, John Green and Kody Keplinger

Question: Scariest part of writing process?
EL: February. That's usually the time she wonders if she'll make the page count she needs.
JB: She actually has an Excel sheet to chart her progress and feelings.
AB: Coming up with endings! (Random: She has never solved a Scooby-Doo mystery on her own.)
LB: She always has a beginning, middle and end. But she worries about how she'll keep up with writing.
GA: The moment when the return phone call or email comes after submitting a draft

The night ended with the signing, of course. I waited in line with my friends Rachel, Gaby, Rachel, bumped into Heidi and Ash who got in line behind us. Other blogger sightings include the West brothers and Hannah & Jackie. As the line inched forward, I took the liberty of showing Rachel my favorite part of Siege & Storm (spoiler: it features Sturmhond!). After getting books signed and grabbing some swag, Rachel and I ducked out to grab dinner at MacBar, which was delicious.

It was definitely a very fun night! All of these authors are very friendly and really funny, plus they go out of their way to make you feel at ease and to show their appreciation. It was honestly just a lot of fun to listen to them chat, especially when they'd veer off into random tangents! I'm so glad I was there.

But don't you worry! If you can't make it to any of the Fierce Reads tour stops, I've got just the thing for you: a giveaway! Yes, thanks to the lovely people at Macmillan, I have the following prizes up for grabs:

Fierce Reads 2013
a set of Fierce Reads books: Crewel by Gennifer Albin, Of Triton* by Anna Banks, Siege and Storm* by Leigh Bardugo, Unremembered by Jessica Brody and Monument 14: Sky on Fire* by Emmy Laybourne (Note: books marked with asterisks are second books in series)
a Fierce Reads poster
a Fierce Reads tote
To enter the giveaway, just use the Rafflecopter form below:
*This giveaway is US only.*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo (Review)

Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

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. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. 

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. (from Goodreads)

I’ve read my fair share of fantasies, but I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a novel quite like one of The Grisha novels. While the concept of light and dark has certainly been done before, the way Bardugo manages to make it her own is quite admirable. The way she tackles it in Shadow and Bone is fascinating, but the way that it’s developed in Siege and Storm was incredible. This novel took elements introduced in book one, and wove them into a story that was definitely more interesting and a whole lot stronger than its predecessor. I enjoyed it tremendously, if you can’t tell.

Alina may have experienced growing pains in the previous book upon discovering that she was Grisha. But that’s nothing compared to how she battles with herself in this novel. She mentally debates about everything - her magic, her feelings, her loyalties, her plans. While it’s certainly trying to witness her argue with herself repeatedly, I appreciated that it felt authentic for her to do so instead of just accepting everything or being led in one direction or another. In the end, her strength and her sense of right and wrong prevailed, and I admired her for that. 

Mal has a much stronger presence in this story, which I absolutely loved. His relationship with Alina is sweet, in spite of the trials they face. His bravery and his strength come into play during this story, and his quiet resolve often felt like a good foil for Alina’s confusion. This is not to say that he didn’t have his own share of insecurity, because that was certainly present too. I loved that he felt more well-rounded to me in this one, with good traits and bad. And seriously, it was just hard not to swoon over him.

As for the Darkling, if I thought I loved him at all in the first book, that’s been (nearly) destroyed. It’s hard to fight the attraction to his commanding presence and his mysterious looks, however. Reading about him felt like a delicious, forbidden thrill, even though he doesn’t appear all that often in this book.

My new favorite is Sturmhond, a new character. He’s easygoing and funny, but strong and intelligent too. I enjoyed seeing him demonstrate his abilities in handling politics, and seeing him tease his friends. He added a lighthearted atmosphere and a sense of humor to the novel, and I really wish he existed in real life because we would totally be friends. 

This book ran the gamut story-wise, going from really intense highs to surprisingly average moments. I mostly enjoyed the combination, though there were certainly times that I felt my attention would waver as I read. Still, the exciting, action-packed scenes really got my attention whenever they happened! Bardugo was able to craftily make it so that there was a balance of sorts between the action-heavy and dialogue-heavy scenes, though my favorite part has got to be the latter third. I adore that she was able to shock and delight me at many turns, and I totally did not expect how things would play out.

There are many questions left unanswered for me in this novel, and that leaves me eager for the next book. Bardugo’s development of this novel, and all the intricate, tenuous relationships in it, is very well-done. I won’t be able to tell you what will happen next, but I do know that whatever it is, it’s going to be a grand adventure. Bardugo has yet another strong novel under her belt; Siege and Storm has certainly proven that this series is unique, interesting and one that’s definitely worth taking the time to read.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shadow & Bone - Leigh Bardugo (Review)

Shadow and Bone book cover
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.)
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

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. (from Goodreads)

I finally had the opportunity to read Shadow and Bone on my long flight to the Philippines, and the first thing I need to say is this: I get why everyone is crazy about this book. Leigh did a wonderful job creating this world and its characters, and telling their story. Though it did admittedly take some time for me to really become invested in it all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Alina, to me, a typical fantasy heroine. She's strong-willed and smart, and is eventually discovered to possess special abilities that mark her as a Sun Summoner. Her story follows the arc of outcast-orphan-who-is-actually-a-special-person-with-awesome-powers. While I've certainly encountered similar arcs in other stories, it didn't take away from my enjoyment at all. There definitely were certain moments she irked me, but I consider them simply growing pains, as I was totally rooting for her to gain control of her abilities. When she finally did, she was simply amazing and I cannot wait to see what she does in the next book.

I loved Mal! The fact that he and Alina have known each other since they were children is an absolute bonus in my favor, and it was lovely to see how their friendship eventually blossomed into something stronger, something more. It admittedly took a long time for it to get there, and Mal was a bit of a jerk at the start, but when it finally clicked, the sparks that flew between them were lovely. I like them together for the moment, and am hoping that they stay that way!

But my favorite character from this book is, without a doubt, the Darkling. He's set up to be a villain, but he's one that I both loathe with all my being... and love with all my being. There are so many despicable things that can be attributed to him, and those things leave no doubt that he has power and a lot of it! There is, however, also evidence of how he can be kind and gracious and easy to like, as we witness during Alina's stay in his palace. I'm not certain of his motives, but I can't wait to see and learn more about him in the next book.

There's no doubt in my mind that Leigh is a wonderful writer, as the writing is absolutely gorgeous. I found it very lyrical and rhythmic, and I reveled in that feeling as I read it. There was a lot of description to be found, but I thought the amount included was enough to whet the appetite of fantasy fans but not overwhelm newer fantasy readers. 

The world, in particular, is really cool. It's inspired by Russian culture, which is a pretty large point in its favor because I feel an overall lack of Russian culture in most YA literature. Though the inspiration is clear to me, it is also apparent that Leigh really makes it her own by adding touches like the grisha and their particular way of life. While there's certainly a lot going on in this world (politics and magic and mayhem!), I never really felt like it was hard to keep track of what was going on.

The story, in the end, is what takes the cake for me. At the beginning, I was a little bit confused by the terms and the names being tossed around. But after getting my bearings, it was so easy to fall into the story and to completely enjoy it. The political intrigue, the magical mayhem, the budding romance - each of these things were woven together so wonderfully that I can't imagine the book without each of these parts.

Though I'm well aware there's more books in the series, I actually think that this could also have been a standalone novel. I am perfectly alright with seeing more of the Darkling however, so I'm glad that Siege and Storm will be coming out this year! Leigh Bardugo has crafted a novel that's easy to read and fall in love with, and I'm certain that the rest of the series will continue to be as appealing as this one is.

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