Sunday, April 22, 2018

Review Sunday: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black


The Folk of the Air #1

Blurb:
"Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself."


Review:
Weirdly, and kind of horribly, part of me is disappointed with this book.  I usually try to keep myself away from hype but I was very unsuccessful in that regard with this and I think I got a little carried away.  Nonetheless, I still enjoyed it immensely and I'll be eagerly awaiting the sequel.

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”

1.  The characters.  The big draw for me to this book was the promise of incredibly morally grey characters and it did not disappoint.  One of the best examples I can give is the Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu because that's how grey these characters are.  In so many other fey stories, the humans are the ones who want to escape that world but in this story, Jude (and to some extend her twin sister Taryn) want to be a part of  that world because of the promise it offers.  This forces them into some tricky decisions and compromising positions.  Because of this, it's so interesting to see their interactions with each other.  You get such a clear view of each character (Madoc is one of my favorites for sure!) but their interactions always bring surprises.  More on a technical note, I found each character to be well drawn and not even side characters were neglected when it came to development.  To use the words of Meredith Grey, everyone is very dark and twisty.

One thing I found myself wishing for, though, was a cast of characters and their positions/affiliations.  There are quite a few introduced at the beginning and while it's by no means an overwhelming number, I found myself struggling to keep track of everyone's place within the court which would, undoubtedly, made the story much more satisfying and interesting.

“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.”

2.  The plot.  This is also where a bit of disappointment set in.  For some reason, I just couldn't get myself truly invested in the story until about the halfway mark.  What kept me going until then was interest in Madoc's actions and the curious hints the author left behind.  There isn't too much of an overall plot arc to speak of.  However, once the plot really got going, it was going.  The ending especially is so incredibly intricate and beautiful.  The author also build up a lot of plot lines towards the end and surprisingly, it wasn't at all overwhelming.  As I said, it all just wove together for a beautifully planned ending.

“If you hurt me, I wouldn't cry. I would hurt you back.”

3.  The romance.  I'm not going to say too much about this because it's part of the major ending twist but I will say that I thought I was expecting it but it turns out that I wasn't at all but the twist perfectly exemplified the involved character's attitudes and I can't believe I didn't see it coming.  That doesn't happen to me too often (YA and fantasy can get remarkably predictable if you know where to look) and I immensely enjoyed it.

“I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. If only there was someone to congratulate me.”

4.  The setting/atmosphere.  At first, I found it hard to find my way in this new, reimagined land of the fey.  I've read a few books that take place in the land of the fey and they've always been based on the same basic mythological roots and haven't really strayed from that.  However, this book cleverly reimagines the entire scope while bringing in touches of familiarities as cornerstones (i.e. keeping the basic groups as the Unseelie, the Seelie, and the wild fey).  I came to love this new world and while it isn't the most atmospheric book I've ever read, it worked very well with the complex plot and characters.

“Let's have a toast. To the incompetence of our enemies.”

The Final Verdict:
While I do have some minor grievances, I did enjoy it overall.  The Cruel Prince is full of startling twists, complex characters, and brilliant plotlines. Also, quick side note, this book is incredibly quotable.
4.5 stars

Friday, April 13, 2018

50/50 Friday (80): Favorite/Least Favorite Short Story

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!


Today's Topic: Favorite/Least Favorite Short Story

I'm going to be limiting this to standalone short stories (meaning no novellas or short story collections that together form one large story like I, Robot) although that does mean that I'll have a smaller pool to pull from.

Favorite:


Part of The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding collection of Poirot and Marple short stories

Released: 10/24/1960
Rating: 5 stars

Blurb:
"Agatha Christie's seasonal Poirot and Marple short story collection, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (a.k.a The Theft of the Royal Ruby)
The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
The Under Dog
Four and Twenty Blackbirds
The Dream
Greenshaw's Folly
"


The Spanish Chest mystery in this collection was definitely my favorite.  It had all the hallmarks of an excellent Christie mystery: impossible circumstances, intriguing cast of characters, and a beautifully painted backdrop.  Normally, I'm not a fan of short stories because I just like a little more development and complexity but this short story was well done.


Least Favorite:

Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang

Standalone to date (inspiration for the movie Arrival)

Released: 1998
Rating: 3 stars
Review: To come!

Blurb:
"Dr. Louise Banks is enlisted by the military to communicate with a race of aliens, after they initiate first contact with humanity. The story revolves around Banks, woven through with remembrances of her daughter.

This short story is the basis for the 2016 feature film Arrival."


Don't get me wrong, I loved the movie Arrival but I just didn't like the style of this short story.  The incidents of prolepsis (glimpses into the future) that are so seamlessly incorporated into the movie were just chunks in the story.  That and the ending irritated me to bits.  But more on that in my review.


Have you read either of these?  What did you think of them?  What are you favorite and least favorite short stories?  Make a post and link up down below!



Next Week's Topic: Favorite/Least Favorite Harry Potter Novel

Friday, April 6, 2018

50/50 Friday (79): Best/Worst Book Read in March

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!


Today's Topic: Best/Worst Book Read in March

Best:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Standalone to date

Released: 2/28/2017
Rating: 5 stars
Review: To come!

Blurb:
"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life."


So I know I'm a little late to the party with this book but if you haven't read it yet, I HIGHLY recommend it!  It's such a heart-wrenching story with very real, very deadly, real-world implications and basis.  With the current media situation, sometimes the wrong details can become distorted and can change the narrative in an instant which is absolutely horrible.  This book was just so touching and awful and wonderful.


Worst:
I'm not going to list a book for this category because every book I read in March was either 4 or 5 stars!  I have three 4 star books and I couldn't choose between them because they were all so good.  They are Trumpet, Strange the Dreamer, and Beneath This Mask.



Have you read any of these books?  What did you think of them?  How was your March reading?  Make a post and link up below!



Next Week's Topic: Favorite/Least Favorite Short Story

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Blog Tour: The Call of the Rift: Flight by Jae Waller (Excerpt and other fun things!)

Today I'll be participating in a blog tour for this upcoming fantasy novel!  After reading the blurb, I seriously need to read this ASAP.


The Call of the Rift #1
Fantasy
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018

Blurb:
"Philip Pullman meets Avatar in a new epic fantasy series

Seventeen-year-old Kateiko doesn’t want to be Rin anymore — not if it means sacrificing lives to protect the dead. Her only way out is to join another tribe, a one-way trek through the coastal rainforest. Killing a colonial soldier in the woods isn’t part of the plan. Neither is spending the winter with Tiernan, an immigrant who keeps a sword with his carpentry tools. His log cabin leaks and his stories about other worlds raise more questions than they answer.

Then the air spirit Suriel, long thought dormant, resurrects a war. For Kateiko, protecting other tribes in her confederacy is atonement. For Tiernan, war is a return to the military life he’s desperate to forget.

Leaving Tiernan means losing the one man Kateiko trusts. Staying with him means abandoning colonists to a death sentence. In a region tainted by prejudice and on the brink of civil war, she has to decide what’s worth dying — or killing — for."


Excerpt:
Chapter 1 Excerpt

I flumped back onto my bed and stared at the vaulted ceiling. The house was too big. Too empty. Its one room could fit eight, maybe ten families, who would gather around the fire in winter to share food and stories under the gaze of wooden figurines on the mantelpiece. But it was just the four of us and the row of carved birds and bears and wolves.
Sometimes, during windstorms, it sounded like the figurines were howling. Isu said it was the voices of people who used to live in our plank house. I said they should find someone else to bother. They made it impossible to sleep.
Fendul interrupted my thoughts. “We should keep busy. There’s a lot to do before dark.”
I sat up and looked for Behadul, but he was gone. “It’s barely afternoon.”
“If we finish early, maybe we can go set some snares.”
An opportunity to escape Isu. I ducked my head so he wouldn’t see the smile that tugged at my lips. A thought surfaced that I’d rolled around until it was worn smooth. I hadn’t planned to bring it up yet, but I couldn’t wait any longer. “Fen, I need your help.”
“With what?” He sank to the ground, sitting cross-legged with his elbows on his knees.
I dug my fingernails into the packed dirt. “I want to visit the Iyo-jouyen.”
“You can’t. You know the route to their territory is ruined.”
“The storms were six years ago. It can’t be that bad.”
Fendul studied me, his dark brows drawn together. “Who’s going with you?”
“Nili. Her mother already agreed. And . . . Isu said I can go if you come with us.”
“Kako, you don’t know what you’re asking.” He pinched his temples with a thumb and a
forefinger. “What do you want? To see the ocean? You always complained your parents never took you.”
I flicked dirt out of my nails. “It’s not about that. I haven’t seen Dunehein, my own cousin — my last cousin — since he married into the Iyo. Don’t you want to see all the Rin who left?”
“It doesn’t matter what I want.”
“Then do it for us. You’re the okoreni, the future leader of the Rin-jouyen. You’re supposed to help with this stuff.”
My gaze brushed over Fendul’s tattoos. The kinaru on his left arm was wreathed by black huckleberries from his mother’s crest. One day, the interlocking lines around his upper right arm, a finger-width shy of a circle, would be joined just like his father’s.
He shifted his hand over his okoreni tattoo. “We can’t go south, Kako.”
“I need to get out of here, Fen. Something happened this morning. I saw the sacred rioden whole again. There’s only one place dead things come back to life.”
“Aeldu-yan.” He was silent while it sank in. “We should feel fortunate to see it.”
I snorted. “To glimpse a sliver of something, not enough to know if it’s real? That’s how people go insane.”
“Then we’ll find a way to prove it’s real.”
“I don’t want it to be. Aeldu-yan never changes, but what about the aeldu? Burying my parents and cousins was bad enough. I don’t want to see them after they’ve been dead for six years, wounds, rot, and all. I want to see my living family again.”
He chopped a hand through the air. “No. My father will never agree.”
“Fine,” I snapped. “I’ll figure out some other way so you don’t have to get involved.” I brushed chaff off my legs and stalked off.

Excerpted from The Call of the Rift: Flight by Jae Waller. © 2018 by Jae Waller. All rights reserved.
Published by ECW Press Ltd. www.ecwpress.com


Meet the Author:
Jae Waller

Jae Waller was born and raised in a lumber town in northern British Columbia, Canada. She was involved in local punk music and didn’t plan to attend university. Inexplicably, she now has a BFA in creative writing and fine art from UNBC and Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

She also studied Japanese and French, and briefly attended UBC to study linguistics. Her life goal is to be quintilingual. Most interesting past job: streetside florist with a charity for homeless citizens in Vancouver.

Currently, she lives in Melbourne and works as a novelist and freelance artist.

Friday, March 30, 2018

50/50 Friday (78): Best/World Book You Read for School

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Best/Worst Book You Read for School

Best:
I'm going with books that I've read before my college career because, as an English major, I've had the opportunity to read some awesome novels and it would just be too hard to choose!


The Giver #1
Release date: April 26th, 1993

Blurb:
"Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community."


I am so, so, SO glad my fourth grade teacher had us read this.  It's become one of my favorite books of all time.  I recently bought the box set of the whole quartet and it's SO gorgeous!  They also made a movie a couple of years ago and if you haven't seen it (it's on Netflix) you MUST!  The story is simply beautiful and speaks to the fundamental elements of a meaningful human life.




Worst:
This was relatively easy to pick.  I was going to go with Brave New World (as I mentioned in the last 50/50 Friday, it's one of my least favorite classics) but honestly, that was so much easier to get through because it was relatively short and sweet compared to this.  And, honestly, I typically enjoyed all the books I was required to read for school (weirdly enough).



Standalone to date
Release date: June 8th, 1949

Blurb:
"In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be."


This is one of those books where I'm really glad I read it (and I got a lot out of it) but I would never, ever read it again.  It starts off okay but once you get into the second and third part, it gets really weird for lack of a better word.  With the recent political situation, it's been enjoying a reboot and while I definitely recommend that everyone read this, it remains one of my least favorite favorites (if that makes any sense!).


Have you read either of these?  What did you think of them?  What are some of your favorite and least favorite books you had to read for school?  Make a post and link up down below!



Next Week's Topic: Best/Worst Book Read in March

Friday, March 23, 2018

50/50 Friday (77): Best/Worst Classic Novel

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!


Today's Topic: Best/Worst Classic Novel

Best:
I actually have SO many favorites for this but if I have to pick just one...


Standalone to date
Release date: 1925

Blurb:
"Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby - young, handsome, fabulously rich - always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing for the one thing that will always be out of his reach. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel."


I absolutely adore this book.  While it does help that it's one of the shorter classics I've read (just under 200 pages), it's also the one with such a tragic story that reveals a facet of humanity that I hadn't seen before.  Highly recommend!  (Little Women was a close second as well as The Hobbit, The Handmaid's Tale, Lord of the Flies, and Animal Farm but I couldn't resist Gatsby!)


Worst:
This actually was actually harder than my favorites because there are so many classics that I disliked for a number of reasons.  But I have to go with:


Standalone (to my knowledge)
Release date: -750

Blurb:
"The Iliad is one of the two great epics of Homer, and is typically described as one of the greatest war stories of all time, but to say the Iliad is a war story does not begin to describe the emotional sweep of its action and characters: Achilles, Helen, Hector, and other heroes of Greek myth and history in the tenth and final year of the Greek siege of Troy."


This is one of those classics that I really wanted to read because it plays into do much mythology and war theory (War and Peace, here I come!) but I just couldn't get into it.  I felt my attention waning and my eyes glazing over while I read it.  I'm thinking I'll attempt it again in a year or so and take it in more manageable chunks.  You can get it free (the digital version) in many outlets because it's such an old book!  Also vying for this title were Brave New World and Pride and Prejudice.


Have you read any of these?  What are some of your favorite classics (and not just the old ones!)?  Make a post and link up down below!


Next Week's Topic: Best/Worst Book You Read for School

Monday, March 19, 2018

Music Monday (9)


Music Monday is a weekly event hosted by Lauren over at Always Me.  Every Monday, you share one or two of your favorite songs you've been enjoying that week to help other people discover new music!  Here are my picks for this week:

Writing's on the Wall - Sam Smith
From the soundtrack of Spectre (James Bond)

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of Sam Smith (I don't know what it is, but I just don't like his style of music or his voice) but I LOVE this song and I think he does such a great job capturing the desperate edge to it.  I've been listening to this on repeat for weeks!


I Write Sins Not Tragedies - Panic! at the Disco

I always love Panic! at the Discos' videos and this is no exception.  Do you ever just go browsing around your old Spotify playlists and you find those songs that you loved forever ago and you had forgotten that you loved?  This song is one of those!


Imagine - John Lennon

Do songs ever just kind of pop into your head into nowhere and then you get obsessed?  That's this song.  I've heard it before, of course, and I liked it, but I just hadn't listened to it in a good two years.  Then, suddenly one day a week ago, I just thought of the song and it's been in my head ever since!



Have you heard any of these songs before (I hope you've heard Imagine!!)?  What have you been listening to recently?
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