The Review Marina


Ruin and Rising (The Grisha 3) by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha 3) by Leigh Bardugo

Brief Summary: Third and final book of the Grisha Trilogy. The capital has fallen, the good guys have lost and gone into hiding, while the Darkling now sits on the throne. Alina and her allies must discover how to find the last amplifier, to increase her power in order to defeat the Darkling and destroy the Fold. But is she willing to make the sacrifices it will take?

Read my reviews for Book 1: Shadow and Bone and Book 2: Siege and Storm.


Possible Spoilers for All Three Books.

Ruin and Rising was a great finish to the trilogy. While I have my gripes with the language use, I thought that overall, The Grisha trilogy was a fantastic series. It was original basing it’s world on Russia instead of England. There was humor, which I adored, and the characters were amazing. The Darkling is by far one of my favorite villains, and Alina is a pretty great heroine. Mal redeemed himself a bit in this book, though I did not like him in the first two, so it’s a little too late. This was the first time that I did not support the canon pairing. Nikolai, the prince after my own heart, all the way. The supporting cast of characters, while sometimes tropey, were all enjoyable. 

Overall, highly recommend.

Savage Drift (Monument 14 #3) by Emmy Laybourne

Savage Drift (Monument 14 #3) by Emmy Laybourne

Brief Summary: 3rd book in a series. The kids finally reached safety, all of them except one. The one who kept them together in the beginning. Now, they have to go band together and save her before it’s too late. 

Read the reviews for book 1 Monument 14, and book 2 Sky on Fire.


A somewhat lukewarm end to a great series, that leaves a bit too many questions unanswered, but at least gives its readers a happy ending with the gang together and happy at last.

Spoilers for the Entire Series

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Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) by Emmy Laybourne

Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) by Emmy Laybourne

Brief Summary: Sequel to Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. After being trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters that bring on the apocalypse, the 14 kids that survived, have gone their separate ways. Half are on their way to Denver to be rescues, and half have stayed behind to wait for them. Both are about to fight for their lives like they’ve never done before, including those that stayed in “safety”.

Read my review for Monument 14, the first book in the series.

Possible Spoilers Ahead.

This is a great second installment in the Monument 14 trilogy. This was so much more intense than the first book, because not only are the kids separated, but they face new dangers, and things go wrong almost right away, so you gotta keep turning pages to find out what’s next.

I thought that separating was real stupid, but I couldn’t decide what was better, leaving or staying. Especially since neither of groups make the smartest decisions. Which was the most frustrating parts.

The characters develop in their own ways, and are forced to make difficult decisions, and sacrifice a lot. We’re forced to say goodbye to a couple, but we also meet someone new. Max is definitely my favorite. 

The ending of this was insane. Gah, you’re definitely going to want to have the last book handy when you’re done.

Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1) by Emmy Laybourne


Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1) by Emmy Laybourne


Brief Summary: The apocalypse is here. 14 kids are stuck in the superstore while the world is falling apart with no way to get out and not knowing if people they love are still alive. But can they manage to survive the apocalypse without killing each other first?

Possible Spoilers

A great start to a series, Monument 14 is a gripping story about fourteen kids of varying ages stuck together in a superstore during an apocalypse. First a hail storm, earthquake, then a chemical plant leak that affects causing paranoia, blisters, murderous rage, or sterility depending on a person’s blood type. The concept seemed really original to me. The fact that it’s kids of varying ages, some as young as five, make it so much more intense than if this was just teenagers. 

I liked most of the characters, but since there are so many of them, not all of them get a lot of screen time, and it takes awhile to get them all straight in your head. Dean was okay as a main character, a little whinny, and a bit too infatuated with the love interest, Astrid. Who for some reason, isn’t even there for most of the book. I really liked her, but I was just unhappy with the way Dean sees her as person, and the way she’s written. All Dean can do is think of how hot she is, even though she has a boyfriend. Some of the little kids, like Max and the twins were my favorites. Dean was the best when he was interacting with the little kids. When the focus was on the relationships (everyone has to be in one) and the cattiness between the girls, it was just annoying.

Overall, this was good start, original, interesting, and well written. 

Sekret (Sekret 1) by Lindsay Smith

Sekret (Sekret 1) by Lindsay Smith

Brief Summary: Growing up in the post-WWII Soviet Russia, Yulia knows how to survive, especially since her family fell out of favor with the government. But then Yulia is captured by the KGB and forced to confront another secret, her newfound psychic powers, which the KGB wants to use in the Cold War against the U.S.. 


I had pretty high expectations for this novel. A lot of my followers know this because I wouldn’t shut up about it. And the book started off really well, but then kind of petered out towards the end of the book. 

Sekret is a dystopia set in Soviet Russia. Which was probably one of the things that drew me to it. Not just because I’m Russian myself, but finally, there was a dystopia set in a country other than the U.S., although America was mentioned a lot. 

The setting was Soviet Union in the early sixties, right after WWII, during the Cold War, space race, I think a little after the Cuban Missile crisis, during the Kennedy assassination. America and Soviet Union are competing for landing on the moon. But the book is set around psychics, which is based on the real experiments both Americans and the US did with LSD to develop psychic powers. In the novel, those powers are real, and the KGB and CIA both use psychics as spies. Yulia is one of the kids captured to be trained to become a spy. Except the Soviet Union is falling apart, Krushev is failing as a leader. And Yulia just want to get out. As far as plot is involved, this is really exciting.

The other thing that excited me greatly was the fact that the main character is Georgian, that is to say, a character of color—and so is her love interest. 

As far as the whole Russian to English, at first I was really impressed. The language is incorporated well, the references are all good (she got Krushev banging his shoe fiasco lol), but there were a few [glaring] mistakes towards the end of the book, where I’m guessing the editing got slack or the research got tired.

I’m not sure how I feel about Yulia. She starts off good; she’s smart, driven, and loyal to her family. She tries to run, but then decides to work the system to get what she wants. Except, it’s a bit weird. She gets annoying at times with the whining, and her constant flitting trust. One minute she decides she trusts someone, a paragraph later she’s all ‘no, I can’t trust anyone’. There is some unspoken character development, but mostly in terms of her powers, I wouldn’t say Yulia herself grows as a person or a character. I suppose she accepts her powers and learns how to use them.

I wish there was more to the plot. Which was what made the novel really lackluster towards the end. The novel really needed more action and espionage sequences, especially towards the end. I mean, she’s got psychic spies, hard to make it boring, but it honestly sometimes was. 

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking 3) by Patrick Ness


Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking 3) by Patrick Ness


Brief Summary: The war is on. Three armies, two species, one couple trying to keep everyone from tearing the new world apart. Todd and Viola are the only ones keeping the humans armies from killing each other, with the treat of the spackle army ready to wipe them all out. But who will keep Todd and Viola from turning on each other?

This is the third book in the series; read my review for the first book The Knife of Never Letting Go and the second book Ask and the Answer.

Spoilers for the Entire Series Under the Cut

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan 


There is a plot for every book, plus the overarching plot of Kronos trying to rise from the pit of Tartarus and take over the world. Some of the plots were better than others, some better and more interesting than others. But each book tried things together and so that things well into place for the final battle. 

World Building/ Setting image

I really, really liked how Riordan modernized the Greek gods and their mythologies into the modern world. A lot of the times it was really witty, clever, and interesting.  I do wish more gods got screen time, and sometimes it was easier to recognize certain characters than others. But overall, I think Riordan did an awesome job. Especially since he didn’t sensitize them and they’re still their nasty, selfish, conniving selves.

Main Character(s) image

I liked Percy. He’s a down to earth kid who fights for his friends and always sees the best in people. He’s kind and funny and extremely loyal. Most importantly his heart is in the right place. I’m not sure if Grover and Annabel fall into the main character category since sometimes they were there for the entire book, and others they were mostly absent. But either way, they were great friends and companions. I love that Annabel is smart, but her ambitions sometimes hampered her. I love how much Grover’s confidence grows through the series. I think they’re the best friends anyone could ask for.

Side/Supporting Characters image

There were a ton of side characters. Most of them would appear for about one or two books and then largely stay in the background, mentioned once in awhile. I loved of most of the characters, but especially Tyson, Zoe, and Thalia, Luke, and Hermes.

Diversity of Characters image

There were a few character of color, but mostly in the minor-side character roles. Also, seeing as how there are monsters and Greek gods and stuff, it wouldn’t have hurt to have more diversity. Though props for including disability in terms of dyslexia, ADHD, and troubled youths. Also awesome feminist boy characters!


Seeing as how the books are aimed at younger teenagers, I think Riordan did a great job of writing simply, but without dumbing it down. There was a certain complexity to the plot and characters that while simplified, didn’t feel like you were being spoonfed. There was a bit too much telling sometimes, but I think Riordan improved with each novel.

Overall Grade image

This is a great series. It’s not too serious and certainly not literary, but I’d still say that Riordan wrote an enjoyable story to read if you’re looking for something that can be both fun and lighthearted most of the time, but serious and poignant when it needs to be. I would recommend it for a more younger audience, but if you’re an older teen or an adult looking for a light read, this is definitely something to check out.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Brief Summary: Two cancer ridden kids fall in love. But you can’t have a happy ever after with just one person, and that’s the fault in their stars.

Possible Spoilers Ahead

Re-read review.

It’s very hard to review a book nearly everyone loves and it’s even harder to downgrade a book about sick kids. Yap, I took away one star after re-reading.

My biggest problem with this book is the dialogue. It’s very John Green. I mean, if you watch any of his videos, it’s exactly how he talks. Except this is a bunch of teenagers. And to hear them spew philosophical, existential prose about oblivion and life and death, you just couldn’t help but roll your eyes. I’m not saying that teenagers are incapable of talking that way or there aren’t any teens like it. But I found that it was somewhat… inconsistent. Because Hazel is sometimes downright childish and immature. And Augustus seems like a typical jock boy, except instead of telling fart jokes, he talks about metaphorical resonances of different objects. What the fuck does that even mean?

I also found it strange how fast things moved. I understand it might be cause these kids live in a numbered amount of days. And that it’s the whole infinity in the numbered amount of days kind of thing… but really? they know each other for maybe a couple of weeks before Augusts asks her to go to Amsterdam with him. They spend three days there. And then maybe they have a month during which things are bad. I also think it’s creepy that Hazel looked like his old girlfriend in sickness. 

I did enjoy the dark humor in the midst of tragedy. I enjoyed that it was Hazel’s Dad who cries. I liked that Monica broke up with Isaac (yes it was mean, but realistic). I liked that Hazel’s best friend calls her and checks up on her, even though Hazel gave up on that friendship. I like how her Mom is firm with her and won’t let Hazel walk all over her. 

Overall, it’s a good read. But it could have been better.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


Brief Summary: A Beauty and the Beast retelling with Greek Mythology mixed in to create a new tale. Except beauty isn’t a kind girl and Beast isn’t an ugly monster. Nyx has been trained sense birth to kill Beast, who’s been tormenting her town since before she was born, to avenge her mother’s death, to fix her father’s mistakes, and keep her sister safe.

Possible Spoilers


I didn’t like it. But I didn’t hate it. I just wanted it to be better.

The writing was beautiful and lyrical. Hodge has created a wonderful, scary, magical world. Both of the main characters  are unlikable-but-yet-likable characters. Neither of them is good. Nyx reminded me of Scarlett O’Hara, in that she’s kind of bitchy, bitter, and out to get what she wants no matter the cost to others, but she’s an amazing character. In fact I kind of loved how imperfect the main characters were. The fact that both of the main characters were kind of nasty to each other, yet they loved each other. Again reminds me of Scarlett and Rhett. Or maybe they remind me of Koschei and Maria from Deathless, they certainly had the same kind of sexy dynamic. Honestly, I felt like their charged, hostile, and sexy relationship was the only thing I really liked in the book.

I wasn’t too keen on the way the Greek mythology was mixed in with the fairytales. I don’t know, it just… it was really interesting and very original, but it just… it felt weird.

Kind of Mildly Spoilery

I didn’t like the “love triangle”. It took me like two seconds to figure that out. The fact that Nyx was making out/in love with both Shadow and Ignifex, like a day after she gets there was really annoying. Besides the whole premise “she was trained since birth to kill him” is false. First of all it said in the book that the training didn’t happen until she was nine, and two she wasn’t trained to kill him in a physical sense per say but some magical spells that would take too long to explain. Basically she was taught to be complacent enough to go and die. In fact it does take the Beast about two seconds to disarm her and for her to plead for her life.

I hated the melodrama. “I love him. I must kill him. I love you, but I must kill you. Let’s make out for ten minutes. Oh, I hope you don’t mind the knife in your back.”

The end sequences of forgetting and remembering, history changing, blah. blah. I hate when they do this in books, because your brain has to adjust to the change of scene/setting/character, but it’s hard to do right away, so you’re always confused first. I feel like this works only in movies.

I wanted this book to be so much better.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles 3) by Marissa Meyer


Cress (The Lunar Chronicles 3) by Marissa Meyer


Brief Summary: Cinder and her ragtag crew are the only ones who can save the world and the moon, from crazy Queen Levana. Especially now that Prince Kai is engaged to be married to her. But when they try to save Cress, a Lunar hacker who saved their butts, things go terribly wrong and they get separated. Now not only must they figure out how to stop the wedding and save the world, they must find and save each other, too.

This is the third book in The Lunar Chronicles series, read my reviews for the first book (Cinder) and the second book (Scarlet).

Possible, but minimal, spoilers for all three books.


Another amazing book in a great series. Each book has been getting better and better.

I love the team dynamic. Cinder is an awesome heroine and I love that she’s the one who gets to rescue her Prince, who’s stuck in his palace unable to do anything.

Cress is adorable and innocent and lovely, but I love that she’s a kick-ass hacker/cracker and can pretty much destroy an empire’s security system while looking cute as a button.

I didn’t like the whole hero worship with Thorne though. I know she’s had the crush on him forever and barely sees his  flaws, but I think she deserves better. I actually think that maybe Thorne either doesn’t think he’s good enough for her or thinks of her as a little sister or something.

Iko is the cutest and I love her dynamic with Cinder and Thorne.

Poor Wolf and Scarlet. I wish they were more present in the novel. But I guess sacrifices must be made when you have like ten main characters. But they were my favorite :( I hope the next book brings them back.

Can’t wait for the next book.