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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Traitor Born

Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol is the second book in the Secondborn series.

We pick up where we left off in book one. Roselle is torn between her duty as a second born, the gardeners who want to change the fates by instilling her as firstborn sword or the gates of dawn, a rebel group who wants to tear down the whole institution. Any move she makes could mean her life or the life of one of the people she cares about.

As factions scheme and plot for power, Roselle must pick a side but is she strong enough to do it? Will she cave under the pressure or will she rise up and play the role everyone seems to think she is destined for?

This was one of those audiobooks that I couldn’t stop listening to even though I kept telling myself what I didn’t like about the book. It’s in no way a bad book but it’s more of a guilty pleasure in that I can’t stop reading the series even though the merit isn’t quite there for me.

For one thing, I was so certain that Roselle was going to be in the Secondborn trial by the end of the book. I was so sure that was where this was going. There was such a focus on the trial that you knew something was going to happen and even though I didn’t mind what did happen, I was still disappointed.

My MAJOR problem with this series, but this book in particular, is that Roselle is described as this strong woman. She’s basically Xena Warrior Princess in her fighting skills and we are told that she will do what she wants, that she can change the world, that she’s brave and strong…I could go on. BUT she isn’t. She is surrounded by men who are constantly making decisions for her. She is manhandled more often then she kicks butt. And she basically goes weak in the knees for every male… Oh and ever male in the book is super hot and basically irresistible… sigh. That being said, I was sort of getting into the Raken / Roselle ship but I need her to give him a good beat down first, to really get on board.

I will say, there was a twist at the end that I didn’t expect but after it happened, I could actually remember the hints that Bartol gave throughout the book. This is something I really like and rocketed this one from a 2 to a 3 for me.

This one gets a grudging 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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-

Hero At The Fall

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton is the third and final book in the A Rebel of the Sands series.

In this third and final book we pick up where we left off in book two. Amani and the rebels are in dire straights. Several of them have been killed and many captured, including their rebel prince. The rebels that are left are trapped in a city with a blood thirsty sultan, who wields unnatural power and a mechanical army, all while their friends and leader are dragged away to a mythical prison.

With only a the skeleton of the rebellion left, Amani has taken over as leader, a job, it seems, only she can do even though she doesn’t want it. Now Amani must make hard decisions that could forever change the course of this war.

Will Amani be able to lead this rabble of rebels who are quickly losing hope and heart? Will she fine the rebel prince and be able to put him on the thrown? And when everything is on the line, will Amani be able to give up everything she loves, even her own life if necessary?

I wasn’t total sure about the first book in this series. The second picked up speed and the third was the conclusion. I don’t know if it is just me but I felt that each of the books in this series had a different narrative feel/pace in the first half and the second halves of the books. Each book I started, I was like “womp, womp” but after a hundred pages or so they pick up and get a lot more interesting. It is almost as if the author took awhile getting into the flow of things. But I made it through the series and it wasn’t a made read.

One of the things I did like about this book was how the author handled myth. This story was like a myth in the making and how myths and legends don’t always meet the reality of what happened. It was also kind of neat to see who was telling the “story” at the end of the book.

I actually don’t have much else to say about this one, which may tell you more than anything. It was a read that kept me entertain but not one that is going to stick with me for the long haul. This one get’s 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Thunderhead

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series.

In this book we pick up where we left off in book one. Rowan and Citra have each gone down their own paths in regards to the Scythedom, setting them against one another even as they long to be closer.

Citra has now become a junior scythe under Scythe Curie and sees the corruption of the Scythedom from the inside. The Scythe’s are split between the new order and the old guard and Citra has found herself in a political struggle to keep the Scythedom pure. But will it be enough? And how far will she be willing to go to fix a floundering institution.

Rowan has taken another path, going rouge and becoming both judge and jury in the damnation of corrupted Scythe’s. Now wearing the taboo black robe and going by the name “Scythe Lucifer,” Rowan is gleaning those power hungry Scythe’s whose thirst for violence and terror goes against the pure intentions of the founding Scythes.

And witnessing it all is the Thunderhead–the all power AI whose only rule is not to impose or influence the Scythedom… at least not directly.

What will become of this world on the precipice of disaster and who will be there to pick up the pieces when it falls?

At first, I thought this book was going to suffer from second book syndrome. Good but not great. But I was pleasantly surprised with how much this book added to the overall plot of this series. When starting out, I thought we were only going to get this struggle between Citra and Rowan, wannabe lovers who are doomed to fight. But we get so much more. This story isn’t just about these two Scythes. It is about the world as a whole–it’s corruption, the hope and despair, the fight for better. And we are left wanting so much more.

One of the things I like about this book was that every time I expected one thing, another thing happened… or at the very least things happen in ways I didn’t expect. I love be surprised in ways that make sense.

There is so much going on in this book and yet you are not overwhelmed or burdened by the extraneous. Schusterman does a really great job of building this world that feels real but isn’t bogged down with minutiae.

This one gets 4 stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is the first book in a new YA fantasy series about evil fairy tales.

Alice and her mother, Ella, have lived a life on the road–running from the bad luck that seems to always be just a step behind them. But when they receive a mysterious letter telling them that Alice’s grandmother, a renowned and reclusive author of cultish fairy tales, has passed away, Ella decides it’s time to stop running.

Almost a year later with no accidents and the two finally feel safe, until Alice returns home one afternoon to find out that her mother has been kidnapped by the Hinterland–the setting for all her grandmother’s stories. Now Alice must rely on the help of Ellery Finch, an obsessed fan of her grandmothers, to track down her mother and steal her back from the nightmares they thought were only stories.

What will Alice do with this new knowledge of the world and will she be able to fight the unknowable to get her mother back?

Gosh, I love a good dark fairy tale–I like dark anything if I am being honest. The maidens who turn out to be the monsters, trees that bite and princes who do anything but save the day. The Hazel Wood is a book about what happens when those dark fairy tale creatures are set loose and what happens when you fall through a door onto a world that isn’t all pixie dust and rainbows.

I don’t want to give anything away but I really liked Alice’s storyline. For those who have read the book, it was unique and handled pretty well. You kind of fall into the fairy tale halfway through the book, which was kind of neat.

I’ve read a lot of really fantastic books lately that have sort of let me down in the end. This book really should have been 5 stars but I can only give it a 4 because of the disconnect between the pace in the beginning and the pace at the end. I just feel like the endings of the books I’ve been reading lately have been so rushed.

This is supposed to be the first book in a new series… I hope the series is about the world of the Hinterland and not necessarily following Alice’s story further. I felt like her story is done and now it is time to follow another. 4 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-