Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 384
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

4 Stars

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This one took me a while to get in to. But not in the way it usually takes me a while. This book wasn’t slow-paced or overcomplicated. We didn’t find info dumping and it was actually interesting and easy to get through. It took me a while to care. About the characters, mainly.

The book’s namesake, the “cruel prince” was kind of useless for most of the book. In fact, I’m pretty certain the book is only called that because of what Carden, that’s his name, represents to Jude, the protagonist. And you could say that Jude is the main reason I had problems.

She’s not a bad character; she’s very well-written, but not my kind of person. You know, the kind of person I could get behind or root for. The main reason for that is that she’s not yet the person she’s supposed to be. It’s easy to get mad at her for some of her really rash decisions. And it’s easy to dislike her for her flaws. I did dislike her for her flaws and bad decisions, despite coming to know the reasons behind everything.

Jude hasn’t had a good life. She was only seven when she and her sisters were taken away to faerie to live with the man who’d just killed both her parents. And while some people might find a way to overlook the nature of the court, she couldn’t ever forget the reality of her situation.

Faerie is terrifying place full of dangerous and deceitful creatures. A young mortal, despite the protection of her new “father”, is still susceptible to fae influence, and Jude spent a decade living in fear and helplessness. But she doesn’t want to escape faerie. She wants to fit into the world and she wants enough power that no one will ever be able to use her like a toy. After so many years in fear, she’s kind of… unraveling. The only solution in her mind is to become powerful by any means necessary. Which leads to some poor decisions.

She needs time to come into herself and we see characters development throughout the novel. And I have a feeling we’ll see a lot more in the upcoming books. But anyway, maybe because of her lack of likeability or maybe because of the setting-up-for-the-end-and-sequels nature of the novel, it wasn’t until the final third that I started to get excited about stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still happy reading it. This is a well-written novel and the world is quite fascinating. I just wish that we’d gotten more deceit and cleverness. But so much setting-up was to be done that we didn’t get truly involved in faerie until near the end. And then the book ended, which was a total bummer because I was really liking it. All the different aspects that’d been set up were coming together, I was getting more into the story and the characters and now I have to wait a year (maybe more) for the sequel. *frowny face*

As a whole, this was a good book and I have a very good feeling about the rest of the series. I’m excited to know what will come next and, even though I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped, this was still a good read.

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New Releases: February, 2018

As I said in my January releases post, I had to leave out a few of the books and transfer them to this one. All the book come out on the 30th Jan so they’re still anticipated reads. I’m gonna start with them and them jump to the actual February releases. As always, covers linked to the GR pages.

 

35133826Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry – Jan 30

This is a YA, Contemporary Romance which follows Drix, a guy looking for a second chance after being convicted for a crime he didn’t commit; and Elle, the daughter of a governor looking to follow her own path. When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate …and so are their problems. But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

 

36061072A Crack in Everything by L.H. Cosway – Jan 30

This is part one of the Cracks Duet. Both books follow the same two characters and the second one come out on Feb 6 (a week later). We have Evelyn, a city girl with humble dreams. And Dylan, who showed her how our world is a contradiction of beauty and ugliness. He built an empire from what they learnt together. But before that there was love and happiness, tragedy and epic heartbreak…

 

35068738Moonlight Sins by Jennifer L. Armentrout – Jan 30

Julia Hughes has always played it safe until she learned a very painful lesson. Now she works for the de Vincent brothers, who share a massive fortune and a dark reputation. Her job is to care for their sister for their sister. Lucient de Vincent, seeing her compassion, can’t help but fall for her. But de Vincents have secrets that he’d rather not share with Julia. Not that he’ll have much choice, with someone trying to use her to come after him.

 

23197837The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – Feb 6

This book wins the ‘Most Hyped Book of February’ award. It’s a YA fantasy set in a world where people are born gray and the only way for them to be beautiful is with the help of Belles with their transformative abilities. Camellia wants to be the chosen Belle of the Queen of Orleans. But in the palace, she finds things not as glamorous as it’s rumoured and finds out that a Belle’s power me be far greater than all have been lead to believe.

 

36989216The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon – Feb 13

There once were three best friends. One boy and two girls. One girl lied about her love for him for the sake of the other. She was the best friend, the bridesmaid, the godmother, the glue. She was there for the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs, the biggest moments and the smallest parts. And she was there when it all came crashing down. This is the tale of the girl who didn’t get the guy.

 

35495083Sightwitch by Susan Dennard – Feb 13

This is a companion novella (with illustrations), set before Truthwitch. But I’m not sure if you can read it before Truthwitch, since it’s supposed to set up Bloodwitch, the third book of the series.
It tells the story of Ryber Fortiza, as she treks deep underground to rescue her missing best friend. While there, she encounters Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is. It’s the story of their friendship which might grow into something more.

 

37940505Gentleman Nine by Penelope Ward – Fen 19

This is also a story of three best friends. Two guys and one girl. They both loved her but made a pact that she was off-limits. But then one of them broke the pact, then broke her heart.
Now the heartbroken girl is staying in our guy’s spare room. Then he accidentally finds out that she’s looking into an escort company. She’s chosen Gentleman Nine. But when she goes to meet him, she finds our protagonist instead, who has an offer for her.

 

36682619Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levensteller – Feb 27

The sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King and the last book of the duology. The story of the series is that we have a girl who is the daughter of the king of the pirates and she wants to prove herself to him. She pretends to be a captive on an enemy ship for a mission. But the captain’s clever second in command seems to be intent on figuring out her trick and thwarting her plans.

Review: Forever Right Now by Emma Scott

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Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 299
Series: None
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace

Star

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I love kids. I love books with kids. And single fathers are infinitely better. As long as you’re not using children as a plot device (though occasionally even then), I’m good. So of course, if there’s a book about a guy who loves his little girl as much as Sawyer loves Olivia, I’m going to at least like it.

Sawyer is studying to be a lawyer. And between his classes, the dozens of upcoming tests and taking care of his thirteen month old daughter, he’s kind of drowning. He’s wound up tight trying to balance everything and he does not have time for distractions, even if they come in the form of a great girl who’s full of life and might make his life better. That girl is Darlene.

Darlene has a history with bad decisions but she’s been going straight for a while. Moving into a new town is just another way to be better. Though dating a new guy is most certainly not part of the plan.

But, despite both of them wanting to avoid the other, they can’t. They’re both really great people and they like each other. And I can’t tell how happy I am just to type that. I feel like I don’t even remember the last time two people wanted to be together just because they got along and liked each other. I mean, I’m sure it happens often, but the situations are very different.

Sawyer and Darlene want to be together. They enjoy each others company, Darlene adores Olivia and they just work. But they have personal issues they need to deal with. For one, Sawyer really doesn’t have time. He barely sleeps, and he’s short on trust after what happened with Olivia’s mother. He’s very protective of Olivia. With Darlene, she has a past that she’s ashamed of but she can’t start anything with Sawyer until she tells him about it. She also has this thing where she uses relationships as an anchor instead of learning to love and accept herself.

All that makes for a really heartening read. Sawyer and Darlene are two people who aren’t perfect. But they try so hard and I’m really proud off them. I love these two and Olivia. Also, I love this story. I was afraid it would be predictable but it surprised me. And the characters, once again. They’re so great. And this is a great novel. I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Review: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Pages: 297
Series: None
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse

4 Stars

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Andrew Brawley lives in a hospital. Ever since his family died in a car crash a few months ago, he’s told himself that he will never leave the hospital, just like they never did. He’s adamant that he’ll wait for death. The authorities are looking for him but he’s good at hiding. He has friends and a job, he’s fine.

Then another boy comes in, Rusty, who’s suffered a great trauma, and things change for him. Now there’s a new person in Andrew’s life who he’s pulled toward. Andrew wants to help Rusty. And in the process, he finds himself opening up about things that he’s kept locked up ever since his life turned upside down. They feel a kinship, these two kids who are both afraid of the outside world. Andrew because of his guilt and his belief that he doesn’t deserve to live. And Rusty because of the pain the outside world holds.

This is a sad book. Andrew is shoving down so many things. And, in his mind, he’s made up reasons for why he’s doing what he’s doing. At first, you’re confused at what’s going on with him. Then, as you get to know him and what happened to him, you understand his feelings and his methods of coping.

And while Rusty seems like a very important part of the novel, and he is, he’s not the only important part. Rusty is going through his own problems and he matters to Drew. But we also have Drew’s two friends who live in the pediatric ward. We have Drew’s boss in the cafeteria and three ER nurses who he’s befriended. They all play an important part in Drew’s life and they’re all developed well. Usually, with quite a few character, you find yourself mixing them up but here, it didn’t happen even once. And I liked all of them too. I cared about them and what they meant to Andrew.

The story pulls you in through its characters. I do think that, at one point, the book became too sad. Like, you’re supposed to build up to the big, bad moments. But when it’s one after the other without much ceremony, it’s not as effective. And I feel like the author started slacking a little toward the end. The emotional punches stopped landing. Also, I’m just not sure how I feel about the ending.

I liked this novel. I thought it was well-written, easy to get through and with really good characters. But toward the end, things went a little wrong. Maybe it was rushed… I think it might have been. But overall, a good book.

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

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Genre: Young-Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Pages: 335
Series: Unwind #1
Release Date: November 6, 2007
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Star

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After Scythe and Thunderhead, I knew that I had to read more by Neal Shusterman. And I’ve heard so many great things about Unwind, which got me even more excited. Then I found out that you can read it for free on Riveted (until 29th January) so my definitely-reading-soon plan changed to definitely-reading-right-now. And I’m very glad for that.

Unwind is a much darker story than Scythe. It’s very much not set in a perfect world. Any parent can donate/sell/throw away their child, as long as he’s between the age of 13 to 18. But not in a simple way, no. Those kids are taken to harvest centers and every single part of their body is transplanted to another individual. And it’s all legal. Hell, it’s not even frowned upon that people are killing children! Of course, they don’t call it “killing” (such a bad word, isn’t it?), they call it ‘unwinding’. They claim that the individual is still alive, simply in a divided state.

At first, I was shocked. I mean, how can something like this happen? But the more you read the book and learn of the situation, the more plausible it seems that people could actually do this. The process of unwinding is the consequence of a war. And there are so many benefits that most people are happy to look the other way.

We have three protagonists. All unwinds. Connor is a troubled teen whose parents gave him up. Risa is a ward of the state and is being unwound because of budget cuts, and Lev is a Tithe. Now, Tithes are special. They’re raised to the age of thirteen for the sole purpose of unwinding. They’re told their whole life that they’re serving a higher purpose. It’s really fucking messed up and, with Lev, you see how it’s affected him to the point that he’s proud to be unwound.

Connor, Risa and Lev are all on the run. They need a safe place to lay low till they reach eighteen, which is not gonna be easy. They’re kids who can’t ask anyone help because that person is likely to turn them in. They don’t have resources or connections. All they can do is keep moving.

I liked all three characters. Connor is the problem child. He’s impulsive, has a quick temper and has a tendency to get himself in trouble. Risa is smarter and she helps Connor to try using his head instead of just jumping into things. Lev is complicated. He’s angry at Connor and Risa for taking him away from his execution, he’s confused by the events that lead up that point, he’s proud of his status as a Tithe, he’s unsure of what to do, but, most importantly, he’s a thirteen-year-old, who’s been brainwashed and has not clue what to do.

His journey was the sad to read. And that’s what this book is, everyone’s journey. It’s a pretty straight-forward plot set in a messed up, broken world. Three teenagers trying to survive. Of course, we meet other kids. One is Cy-Fy. Even though I can’t say anything about him, I had to mention him because his story was the most touching.

Despite the “simple” plot, there are a lot of things going on, the pace is fast, and there’s lots of emotion. If there’s one small thing I have, to complain about (and it’s not really a complaint, per se), it’s that I would’ve liked to know more about what lead to the passing of a bill which dictated that you could unwind your ward. Like, we know the basics but I wanted more depth to it. How could people agree to this? I’m hoping we’ll get more insight in the sequels, which I will most certainly be reading. As for this one, I highly recommend reading it.

Review: Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary Romance, Novella
Pages: 176 (it’s shorter actually, since the end has a sneak peek for another book)
Series: Hopeless #2.5 (Can be read as a standalone)
Release Date: October 14, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books

4 Stars

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FIRST AND FOREMOST! While I really like this novella, there’s one thing about it that bothers me so fucking much that I’m almost temped to shun it.

We have two protagonists, Daniel and Six (that’s a nickname. Her real name is Seven). They meet, feel an intense connection, start falling for each other, but Six has a secret that could change everything… blah, blah, blah… You know, the usual Colleen Hoover stuff. That’s not what bothers me. I mean, it kinda bothers me that she uses the ‘big, dark, secret’ trope in basically every single book, but that’s not the point here.

Six has some issues. The novel isn’t from her perspective but we can still tell. Anyway, because of that she frequently refers to herself as a slut. Because she was, a year ago, someone who had sex with six different guys in little over a year. Now I know she’s in highschool and she was seventeen at the time and six different guys is a lot for her. Still, it’s was in over a year! But again, I get self-hatred. It doesn’t always makes sense. Hell, it almost never makes sense. The real problem is that when Daniel tries to comfort her, he doesn’t say that it’s her choice to sleep with whomever she wants and that it doesn’t make her a slut. He tells her it doesn’t matter what she did in the past and that she’s not that person anymore.

It pisses me off so much because he’s basically telling her that while she’s not a slut, she used to be. And what makes it worse is that Daniel is a great guy. He’s funny, he’s caring , he’s goofy and he’s honest. What he says makes so fucking sense because that’s not like him. So I’m blaming Colleen Hoover. It’s going to be a while before I even consider reading anything by her again.

Rant over. Now for the reason I really like this novella. It’s funny. I know that’s not supposed to be a big deal but, for me, the fact that the conversations in the novella were fun is important. All the interactions, not just between Six and Daniel, were funny, in a sweet and heartwarming way. They endeared you to the characters, who I really like. And they kept the novel light, for the most part. I’m pretty sure this novella has more humour that four of Colleen Hoover’s novels combined.

Daniel’s narrative definitely helped. I wasn’t kidding when I said that Daniel’s a great guy. I really like him. And the writing was obviously good, which is one thing you can rely on with the Colleen Hoover.

Overall, this was a really sweet and enjoyable read. If it weren’t for that really infuriating thing I mentioned above and the fact that Six and Daniel’s relationship got a little too intense a little too fast, this would have been an easy five stars. I’m kinda bummed out that it isn’t. Also, I’m still mad. I mean, all she had to write was that it didn’t matter how many guys Six slept with, or that Daniel’s probably had sex with plenty of girls too and no one was calling him a slut but… ugh! I don’t want to start another rant so I’m just gonna stop.

Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

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Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 504
Series: Arc of a Scythe #2
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

For those who haven’t read the first book, Scythe, there are spoilers.

5 Stars

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In my review of Scythe, I said that it was a rollercoaster. Well, this was a way bigger and badder rollercoaster and, even hours later, I’m still reeling. I’m gonna need a few months to fully process everything, which is great because the third, and final, book isn’t coming out for at least another year. Yay… Not!

At the end of Scythe, Citra becomes a Scythe while Rowan escapes with Scythe Faraday. That means the Scythedom is looking for him. And instead of lying low, it turns out that he’s decided to go rogue. He goes by Scythe Lucifer and ends corrupt Scythes (burns their bodies and everything). And before reading, I was afraid he’d had a psychotic break or something but no, he’s quite sane. But he loves the Scythedom too much to let the corrupt Scythes poison it. This is his way of helping. Citra is helping too. But she’s taken a diplomatic approach and introduces new ideals while being part of the system.

Then we have the Thunderhead, who’s a big part of the book. You know how in Scythe, we got excerpts from the journals of various Scythes? Well, in this book, the excerpts are from the Thunderhead. We get to know it a lot. Even the chapters highly feature the Thunderhead. And I freaking loved it. The Thunderhead is such an interesting addition. It’s an artificial intelligence that’s pretty-much perfect and all-knowing. It’s also concerned, most of all, with humanity’s welfare. It’s law-abiding but won’t hesitate to use a loophole or two for a good cause.

But, while it’s supposed to be perfect, I don’t trust it. I guess, after AIs like Skynet and Ultron, it’s difficult. But it’s different from them, it truly cares about people. Though that could also be a problem. We don’t know. And that’s the beauty of it.

There another character we’re introduced to. Greyson Tolliver. Love him too but I don’t wanna give everyone away so you’ll have to get to know him yourself. Basically, we have a lot of characters: Citra, Rowan, Scythe Curie, Scythe Faraday, Thunderhead, Greyson, and others. And they’re amazing. There’s not a single character that I’m supposed to like that I don’t (meaning villains don’t count). I didn’t even hate Rowan’s friend, who is too dumb for his own good.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, the character game in this novel is on point. So is the writing, Seriously, Neal Shusterman does such an amazing job of writing from each characters perspective. He balances the changes in tone perfectly to build tension and drops just the right amount of hints.

The pacing is also perfect, and faster than it was in Scythe. And I can’t talk enough about the world building and the story. We delve deeper into a world that I already love, and we out why things are the way they are, from the Thunderhead. And it’s all so believable and so <em>human. This series truly is a study in human nature and we can see how much effort the author has put into understanding people. The story is… so good. It’s fast and it’s clever, and so nerve-wracking that I spent the last 300 pages in ‘please tell me this isn’t really happening’ mode. And that ending! Oh my God!

Overall, I can safely say that this novel is perfect. It’s better than I could’ve imagined and I cannot wait to see how the series will conclude. If you loved Scythe, then you’re obviously reading this one. But even if you didn’t, please give it a shot. You won’t regret it.