The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black is the first book in a new YA series.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she, her twin and elder sister were whisked off to Faerie. Ten years have passed and although Jude hates the man who killed her parents–now her step father–she wants nothing other than to belong. But mortals are looked down upon in Faerie, if they are even looked at, at all. And Jude has caught the cruel eye of Prince Cardan, the youngest son of the High King.

Jude will do anything to win her place in Court and give up more than she realizes. And so begins Jude’s journey into the intrigues of Faerie, where politics play and secrets rule. But Jude has one talent that the fae do not… she can lie.

Will Jude find her place among the fae? And as she journeys down this path, what will she learn of herself and what will she do with that knowledge?

I read this book in two, spaced out, sittings. And for some reason, both times, I was hesitant to start. I’d heard great things about this book but wasn’t so sure it was up my ally. When I finally started, I got sucked in but my loan expired and I had to wait for the book again. Three weeks later, I knew I liked what I’d read so far but still was hesitant. Then I started reading again and got sucked in again. I don’t know what it was about this book but even though it took me a while, it was worth the read. Especially, the last quarter of the book.

I liked this book. I think a lot of people will like this book. BUT I don’t have much else to say about it. I did really like this book and a lot of the reviewers I follow are saying some really great things about it but not much else comes to me other than “I liked it.” I’m not really sure what that says about the book but hey, I’m still giving it 4 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is the first book in a new West African inspired fantasy series.

Zélie Adebola was only a little girl when magic was taken from Orïsha. She was only a small child when her mother was taken away in chains and murdered for her maji blood. But she was old enough to remember the way the world was and what was lost.

Zélie and her people are treated like “maggots;” they are taxed just for breathing and when they can’t pay their taxes they are thrown in the stocks. More than ten years later Zélie and her family are still living with the consequences of “the raid” and under the thumb of a ruthless ruler.

When chance–or fate–leads Zélie on a journey to restore magic, will she be strong enough to be the hope her people need? With her brother and rouge princess in tow, Zélie must trust in the gods and in her own abilities to save the maji from persecution and death.

Children of Blood and Bone is really unlike any other. I’ve been really interested in fantasy books that take place in different settings lately. Recently, I’ve read ones that take place in Russia, the Middle East, Japan and now West Africa. I just love the diverse settings and the different feel these settings give to the genre.

The world building here was well done, although I felt that some history was lacking. Lots of allusions to the past but not many “facts.” One of the things I like to know, when entering a new world, is hints to how that world came to be. Maybe we will get more of a backstory in book two.

The plot is action packed and racially charged. The pace feels quick to go along with the plot and the violence, persecution and more can relate to today’s society–which if you listen to the author’s notes, was the intent.

My only hesitation with this book was the romance. The story started out so great and then there was this all consuming romance that I was really scared would take over a stellar plot. Fortunately, it did take a back-burner but for some reason this is a series where I want the romance to be in the margins.

The narrator of this audiobook was great. I think she really helped to create this world of Orïsha in a way that just reading might not have done. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Ever The Brave

Ever the Brave by Erin Summerill is the second book in A Clash of Kingdoms.

After saving King Aodren, Britta finds that her channeler powers have connected them, forging a bond between the two that keeps pulling them together. All Britta wants to do is live out her life in her father’s cottage with the man she’s loved since she was a girl. But now that life is threatened and Britta is now the one being hunted.

Evildoers want Britta, so they can control her powers and make her do unspeakable things. Britta must learn to harness her power and control them before she loses herself and the ones she loves.

Can Britta save herself and help the rest of her fellow channlers? And what repercussions will this bond to the king mean for her?

I will admit, I was not the biggest fan of the first book in this series. Ever The Hunted didn’t wow me and neither did this one. In my opinion this series suffers from the old show/tell problem. I felt like I was being told how to feel rather than being able to feel it for myself. The emotions of our characters were either really high or really low, there was never this middle ground where many of our most interesting feelings lie.

I said in my review of the first book that it felt like the romance was forced and made it feel like the story took second place. I feel exactly the same way with our love triangle in Ever the Brave. The plight of the kingdom and the Channeler’s didn’t really matter as much as who Britta would choose to love. And what information we got about this world wasn’t nearly fleshed out enough.

That being said, I love the titles of these books. They are just fun to say. And I think many will find this an entertain read. It just had too much in some respects and too little in others. Will I read the next one, yes. Am I looking forward to it, not really.

This one gets 2 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage is the first book in The Book of Dust series by Phillip Pullman. This series is a companion trilogy to Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and the first book is set 10 years before “The Golden Compass.”

Malcolm Polstead is a very observant boy who doesn’t bring too much attention to himself; this makes him the perfect ally for a spy. Malcom and his daemon often overhear the latest gossip and his curious nature and friendly face tend to lead Malcom to information that many would prefer to be kept secret.

It is one such secret that sets Malcolm on a course that will change him forever. Malcom must save baby Lyra from a religious order, a madman, natural elements and unnatural ones too. Along with a kitchen girl, Malcolm must embark on a dangerous quest to save this child of prophecy and return her to her father.

Can Malcolm brave the dangers and get Lyra through this storm?

Other than watching the movie version of “The Golden Compass,” I am going into this series blind. I’ve never actually gotten around to reading Pullman’s His Dark Materials, but I know a lot of fans of the series, so I figured I’d give this one a go. I also wanted to be able to tell the kids in my library what it is about and where it takes place in regards to the original series, as I see this being a question.

I actually went with the audio book for this one. I recently had a baby and I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books while taking care of her. I really enjoyed the audio but the second half of the book does get just a tad complicated/involved and I found myself a little lost on the details, since I wasn’t always giving it my whole attention. So I think I would recommend reading vs listening to this one.

For this complicated world of daemons, dust and secret societies, the story itself wasn’t overly complicated. The world building was done in such a way that the reader knows there is more to come but we are not overwhelmed with information right off the bat. And for those of you who have read Pullman’s other books, you won’t feel bogged down with information you already know.

Even though I got a little lost–my fault–this one still gets 4 stars from me. I like Pullman’s writing a lot and the story is interesting.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

The Girl In The Tower

The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy.

After surviving a night of nightmares and putting her town back to rights the best she could, Vasya finds herself once again at the Frost Demon’s door. Vasya has been labeled a witch by her village, she doesn’t know what to do or where to go–she knows only that she wants to see the world and be more than the wife and mother she was expected to become.

When chance finds her in Moscow, masquerading as a boy, Vasya must learn to blend in or risk revealing herself. Now Vasya must guard her identity and navigate a society of rules, politics and drink or risk losing the freedom she has gained as a man. All the while, dark forces are at work and Vasya is at risk of losing a game she didn’t even know she was playing.

Will Vasya ever be able to face the reality of who or what she is? Will she ever understand this powerful connection she has with the Frost Demon and the world of the demovi? And what will she be willing to sacrifice to protect those she loves?

The first book in this series was so complete that I was actually very surprised to find that there was going to be a second book, let alone third. I absolutely adored the first book. The mixture of myth and folklore, Russian culture and scenery were just extremely well done. Now in The Girl In The Tower we get a little less magic and myth and a little more society and the political culture of the time. And I think it was because of this that I wasn’t as enamored with the book.

This book does, however, achieve second book status in my opinion. In a trilogy, you usual get introductions and backstory in the first book, build up and intrigue in the second, and action and resolution in the third. Vasya and the demovi world were laid out for us and we met our core characters in the first book; in this one we learn more about why this secret world is fading and we learn that there is much more at work behind the scenes.

The Girl In The Tower addresses a lot of themes as well. We get gender roles and inequality, political turmoil, family roles and reversals and more. There is also just a feeling a magic and fairy tale-esq qualities in this book that gives it a very authentic feel.

Overall, this was a book that I enjoyed and I can’t wait to get more Vasya and Morozko in the final book. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The City of Brass

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty is the first book in a new fantasy trilogy set in the middle east.

Nahri grew up on the streets of Cairo, surviving using her wits and her talents as a thief and swindler. Nahri has a strange gift for healing; she can immediately tell what ales a person and can often heal them. Not knowing anything about this power or where it came from, Nahri’s only goal in life is to save enough money to bribe someone into training her to become a professional healer.

But Nahri’s life is changed forever when she accidentally calls a powerful djinn warrior, Dara, to her side and she learns that all the mythical stories were true and that a part of her belongs in this world of marid’s, bird-men and djinn. With Dara as her captor/escort, Nahri travels to the mythical city of Daevabad where court intrigue rules, politics are played with blood and warring tribes threaten to tear down a peace that is shaky at the best of times.

Will Nahri learn who she truly is and will she be able to adapt to a life beyond her imagining?

I really liked this world behind the curtains. A world of magic; a world where myth and folklore come to life. The world building in this book is just so complete. From the politics to the history, to the character development and setting there just are not any glaring loose ends.

There was actually almost too much world building to the point where the story came second. There were a few times where I was wondering where the book was going and how certain chapters related to the plot. But I think the author is spinning a web to carry though the rest of the trilogy. This book felt more like a build up to the action to come.

I found myself rooting for each of our main characters in turn. First, Nahri with her sass and mysterious past. Then Dara with his lost memory and hard brand of caring. And finally Ali, with his family drama and conflicted moral code. Even the side characters were interesting and well developed.

The ending also really left you wondering… what exactly is going on and who is the one with all the power. I like this in a cliffhanger. You aren’t dying with the cliffhanger but you are definitely intrigued enough to want to know more.

I’ll be interested to see where this one is going. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Language of Thorns

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo is a collection of six short stories that takes place in the Grisha-verse. Paired with stunning artwork that transforms with each page, this book takes you inside the sometimes dark and fantastical world of folklore and myth.

I was actually a little hesitant to pick this one up. I kinda felt like I was done with the Grisha-verse and this being a standalone of short stories, I wasn’t overly interested. But I am glad I picked it up. One does not need to be familiar with Bardugo’s Grisha universe to enjoy these fairy tales, although if you are, you will be able to tell from which books these myths stem from.

If you are familiar with myths or folklore at all, then you will be able to spot some of the inspiration for these six tales. The little mermaid, beauty and the beast, the nutcracker and more. It was really neat to re-imagine some of these tales and I really enjoyed the dark, almost gritty spin Bardugo puts on the stories. Even the ones with a happy ending, have this edge to it that I kinda loved.

Ultimately, this book is worth picking up for the illustrations alone. If nothing else, check it out and flip through it. The book is just stunning and the fact that the images that surround the text change and grow as you read, is just another little treat for the reader. I had several people asking me what I was reading while I was flipping through the book at the library one day. Definitely a talking piece.

My one negative comment about this one is that it did take me a long time to read. I tend to find it easy to stop and start short stories; putting them down and picking up something else. This is probably just me though.

This one gets a very high 4 stars from me. Probably would have gotten 4.5 if I read it straight through.

That’s all for now!

-M-