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BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW:  The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black
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Synopsis:

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

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

I see why people call Holly Black ‘Queen of the Faeries’. Hoooly wow. What a delightfully dark, twisty novel.

If you know anything about me, I’m all about the court politics & intrigue, villains & anti-heroes, and schemes within plots within schemes. This book had my name written ALL over it.

Okay so here’s the basic rundown without giving away too much. Jude and Taryn are twins. Vivi is their older sister. It turns out, Vivi’s real father, Madoc, is fae. When the girls are young, he comes for Vivi, kills their parents, and sees Jude and Taryn as his responsibilities since their mother was his… ex. To put it lightly. He whisks them away to Faerie to be raised alongside his family. Having grown up with Madoc as the only father they knew, Taryn and Jude have come to love him like a father, while Vivi promises to always hate him for what he did.

Being the general’s daughters, Jude and her sisters are raised alongside the High King’s sons and daughters. Each sibling has their own group of friends, spies, etc.

Enter Cardan.

Cardan is the youngest prince, and on the surface, the cruelest. Anyone who gets in his way, annoys him, or disrespect him, ends up paying dearly. Jude hates him with a passion, to say the least. He has that whole ‘school bully’ syndrome and is impossibly arrogant (all the makings of a delicious prince, amirite?)

Jude just wants to belong. Unlike her sister, she loves the land of Faerie. She wants to belong. Her dream is to become a knight. She wants a position of power that will earn her freedom and respect. But after being bullied and harassed by Cardan and his lackeys, Jude is fed up.

“My good intentions evaporate on the wind. My blood is on fire, boiling in my veins. I do not have much power, but here is what I have – I can force his hand. Cardan might want to hurt me, but I can make him want to hurt me worse.”

So we have a bit of a prank war, but a life-threatening one. Jude stops trying to control her temper, and she starts fighting back. She gets in a few good swings at Cardan, which royally pisses him off in the most delightful way. It catches the attention of the rest of the royal family, including Prince Dain. He meets Jude in secret and offers her a position of power if she spies for him. Dain is the chosen son, the one that will inherit the crown via his father’s favor.

So Jude accepts his offer and becomes part of his ‘Court of Shadows’.

Political games insue. Jude gets in over her head. (Or does she?)

I don’t want to say more than that, but that’s the general idea of the opening. Only, it becomes so much more. Jude discovers secrets within secrets about the court, and with the coronation coming up, things get especially intense. Not to mention, her twin sister says she has a secret lover but she refuses to reveal his identity.

When shit hits the fan, oh man, it gets SO good. The ending was phenomenal, and the sequel is set up to be AMAZING and I dont know how I’m going to wait… *screams into the void*

That. Epilogue.

Help.

Bah, ok. Anyway… Jude is a fantastic main character. She’s cunning, witty, and so supremely dark. Perhaps darker than Cardan himself at times. She’s complex (so is everyone else) and relatable and easily has one of the strongest voices I’ve come across in a YA novel. I loved how complicated things get with her sisters and Madoc’s family, and how buried some of the secrets are. Oh man. What a cool (and awful) family dynamic. I also looooved how vivid the royal family is. Of course, Cardan is my favorite, because I am utterly helpless when it comes to characters like him. Is there ever something between him and Jude, you ask? I admit nothing, but if you could pass me your fan…

Ugh, and the world. Holly Black’s writing is lush in every way imaginable, and she excels in bringing such a fantastical world to life. None of it felt made up. She doesn’t shy away from anything dark, either. This isn’t a pretty fairie land, folks. Here be monsters.

BOOK REVIEW: Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW: Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly BlackBlack Heart (Curse Workers #3)
by Holly Black
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Synopsis:

In a world where Magic is illegal.

Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object - including a person - into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he'll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?

For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She's the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can't stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn't keeping Cassel's mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can't remember where she put it.

The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?

Time is running out, and all Cassel's magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all.

Girls like her, my grandfather once warned me, girls like her turn into women with eyes like bullet holes and mouths made of knives. They are always restless. They are always hungry. They are bad news. They will drink you down like a shot of whisky. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs.What no one told me, with all those warnings, is that even after you’ve fallen, even after you know how painful it is, you’d still get in line to do it again.

Awwwwwwww!! I cannot believe how perfectly perfect that ended. I really wanted to write this super long review and make it an absolutely amazing ending to my reading spree of this series but…I dunno. It kind of feels right to just put down a few quotes and call it a day. After all, I don’t want to beat a dead horse, right?

A few closing thoughts:

Cassel is unbelievably, undeniably, without even the slightest doubt the cutest conman ever. Loyal, in love, terrified to make the wrong decision….and utterly hopeless. I would follow his story anywhere-he’s adorable.

“I thought you wanted us to be good guys.” He grins a too-wide grin. He’s enjoying needling me, and my reacting only makes it worse, but I can’t stop.
“Not if it means hurting her,” I say, my voice as deadly as I can make it. “Never her.”

The perilistically (my new word, you like?) pleasing ending. WOW. I did NOT expect that. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I was paralyzed because of how scared I was for Cassel. I couldn’t see any possible positive outcomes for my favorite little liar at the end of this one.

If I have to die tomorrow when the Feds come for me, then this is the last request of my heart. This. The sight of her lashes brushing her cheek as her eyes flutter closed. The pulse in her throat. Her breath in my mouth. This.

Cassel…oooohhh errrr awkward….But wait! His heroic actions were amazing and they made me fall in love with him even more. I’m utterly obsessed with him, the unreliable little shit.

I think of not knowing what compelled me to strike a gun out of the hand of a killer. Of how satisfying it was to hit Kevin. Of how I want to do it again and again, want to feel the bones snap and blood smear. Of how it felt to stand over him, my skin on fire with rage.

The Romance. Ahhhh not much to say, but can I just express my undying shipping of Lila and Cassel?? ‘Cuz I caaan’t stooooop, I wooon’t stooooop… Hmmmm….anyway….

I love love LOVED this installment and I am so sad it’s all over. It’s beyond depressing that I will never read about Cassel and his fucked up life again. I put my Ipad down last night and felt a pang of sadness after I finished this story because I was smiling so big and so overwhelmed with happiness and it was just over. But it ended where it should have and all is right in the world. I won’t mess with that. I am so glad I picked up this random series, because it was amazing and so unlike anything I’d ever read. I will never forget it and I hope you give it a chance, too. 🙂

Now I know why people are afraid of transformation workers. Now I know why they want to control me. Now I get it.
I can walk into someone’s house, kiss their wife, sit down at their table, and eat their dinner. I can lift a passport at an airport, and in twenty minutes it will seem like it’s mine. I can be a blackbird staring in the window. I can be a cat creeping along a ledge. I can go anywhere I want and do the worst things I can imagine, with nothing to ever connect me to those crimes. Today I might look like me, but tomorrow I could look like you. I could be you.

BOOK REVIEW: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly BlackRed Glove (Curse Workers #2)
by Holly Black
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The cons get craftier and the stakes rise ever higher in the riveting sequel toWhite Cat.

After rescuing his brothers from Zacharov’s retribution, Cassel is trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy in his life.

That was never going to be easy for someone from a worker family that’s tied to one of the big crime families—and whose mother’s cons get more reckless by the day. But Cassel is coming to terms with what it means to be a worker, and he’s figuring out how to have friends.

Except normal doesn’t last very long. Soon Cassel is being courted by both sides of the law and is forced to confront his past—a past he remembers only in scattered fragments, and one that could destroy his family and his future. Cassel will have to decide whose side he wants to be on, because neutrality is not an option. And then he will have to pull off his biggest con ever to survive….

The smell of Lila’s skin, the way her eyes shine with mischief, the low rasp of her voice. It hurts to think of her, but I can’t stop. It ought to hurt.
After all, hell is supposed to be hot.

Hmmm. Well, I just have to say it-If you, for whatever reason, have to put a book on pause and you come back to it and feel like you are still strongly a part of that book’s world…then you have an excellent book in your hands, folks. I have had a busy few weeks, book wise. Blog tours, catching up on a favorite series for said blog tours, keeping up with ARCs…and now here I am with a little bit of ‘me’ time on my hands. So why not pick up where I left off in this wonderful little story?? It was so much easier than I ever expected and I didn’t once feel like I didn’t know what was going on. It’s such a fun, wonderful, dark story with loads of heart seeped onto every page-you can’t help but to fall in love with Cassel and all his shenanigans.

I jump up and take off toward her, yanking the panty hose down over my face. That slows me down some, because there is no way in hell these things are sheer. I can barely see.
People start yelling. Yeah, because a guy with hose over his head is never the good guy. He is, in fact, the stereotype-maybe even a archetype-of a bad guy.

I can’t say this was better than the first, yet I rated it a solid 5. Why is that??? I think it’s because my enjoyment level skyrocketed after my hiatus from the series. As soon as I began to read from where I’d left off, my mood was instantly uplifted and I felt a sense of peace and contentment. I started to laugh and smile like a deranged loon. Reading about Cassel never gets old and certainly never gets boring. He’s a sweethearted con who only wants to do good…but always ends up doing bad. But he’s getting better! Or, at least, he’s trying to.

I wonder if that’s my future. Bad choices. It certainly feels a lot like my present.

And that’s where we are in this book. Something terrible has happened in the first book. (view spoiler) Which means that no matter how tangible, how wonderful, how real it seems…it isn’t. It’s a con. And there lays the dilemma: How can Cassel possibly fight the one good thing he’s wanted his whole life?? It’s right there on a silver platter….All he has to do is reach out and take it. But he can’t. He won’t. And that’s why he is, ultimately, good. It wouldn’t be right and it wouldn’t be fair, but it’s sure hard to fight.

I should stop, but there’s no point in stopping. Because I’m not strong enough-eventually, I won’t stop.
I thought the question was “Will I or won’t I?”
But that’s not the question at all.
It’s “When?”
Because I will.
It’s just a matter of time. It’s now.

That’s why this book is so so heartbreaking. I love Cassel. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s sarcastic, and he just wants to be accepted for who he is. And I love him for it. He has lived a fucked up life surrounded by fucked up people, yet he tries to stay above it. And, more than that, he would do anything for them. He’d cover up any number of their crimes just because he loves them. Yet, they still try to hold him under their thumb even though he’s 50 times more powerful than they’ll ever be. It tore me to pieces each and every time he would resist (view spoiler) because how could that ever really be true?? How could (view spoiler) It broke my heart.

At the window to my room, I catch my reflection in the glass. Shaggy black hair. Sneer. I look like a hungry ghost, glowering at the world I am no longer fit to be part of.

The relationships formed in this book were probably my favorite part-it was so heartwarming to see Cassel embrace his new friendships he began to form at the end of the last book and to begin to trust them enough to accept their help. But, then the writing is a close second favorite thing about this story. Black’s writing leaps off the page and sucks you in so you don’t ever want to stop reading. Simplistic, witty, and sarcastic tones seep off of every page and you can’t help but to smile at how dire the situations are that Cassel gets himself into. I don’t know how he does it, but somehow he is always in trouble and it is always funny, for some reason. I don’t quite know why I find such humor in this dark little series, but I do and I love it.

I sink down to the grass. It’s damp with dew. I feel sick, but self-loathing has become a familiar sickness. I was a monster before. A monster with the excuse that he didn’t know details so he didn’t really have to think about it.

So….There’s much more I can say but it would be very spoilery to do so. Do you know how hard it is to write a review for such a mysterious series without spoiling anything? Well, I’ll tell ya-it’s hard. So I will stop here and let you make your own judgements. Cassel is a wonderful character to follow: flawed, insecure, but somehow cocky, we have quite the enigmatic character. I only hope you can give this wonderfully weird series a chance-it’s excellent.


Only a monster would do this, but I already know I’m a monster.

BOOK REVIEW – White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW – White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly BlackWhite Cat (Curse Workers #1)
by Holly Black
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn't fit in at home or at school, so he's used to feeling like an outsider. He's also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.

“I hate that I love this. I hate that the adrenaline pumping through the roots of my body is filling me with giddy glee. I’m not a good person.”

This book was full of charmsSee what I did there?

Charm ⁂1 : I do love me some liar

Beware of Cassel Sharpe, professional liar and Master of the game of make-believe. You’re going to love him.

“Being a con artist means thinking that you’re smarter than everyone else and that you’ve thought of everything. That you can get away with anything. That you can con anyone.
I wish I could say that I don’t think about the con when I deal with people, but the difference between me and my mother is that I don’t con myself.”

Charming, deceptive, untrustworthy, sarcastic, selfish : Of course I loved Cassel, what do you think? Since he was fourteen and well, hmm, killed his best friend and first love, Cassel learnt that to survive he has to become a Master of pretending. All the time.

Friendship? Nothing more than an exchange of goods. Who’d want a killer of a friend? Yeah? No hands raised? That’s what I thought.

Love? Yeah, sure. A good way to fake normality.

Family? You mean the curse workers who always kept him in the dark and fed him with snippets of affection? Them?

“I’m not good at having friends. I mean, I can make myself useful to people. I can fit in. I get invited to parties and I can sit at any table I want in the cafeteria.
But actually trusting someone when they have nothing to gain from me just doesn’t make sense.
All friendships are negotiations of power.”

Don’t get fooled, despite the fact that he basically tries to con everyone, we can’t avoid seeing the extreme vulnerability that all his tricks can’t hide, and then… Then we ‘re dealing with a charming and hopeless male-lead we can’t help but care about.

Charm ⁂2 : Of course I’m lost! And I love it.

What a multi-layered mystery! Each time I thought I finally got it the truth slipped through my fingers. There are many subplots in this story and that’s for the best : we never know who Cassel can trust, damn, we don’t even know if we can trust Cassel most of the time! Everything can be a con and this makes every decision or action suspect – try to overtake Cassel’s shenanigans and you’ll see.

“Marks think they can get something for nothing.
Marks think they can get what they don’t deserve and could never deserve.
Marks are stupid and pathetic and sad.
…..
Marks forget that whenever something’s too good to be true, that’s because it’s a con.”

As for the writing, I have to point that I was pleasantly surprised by Holly Black. Indeed it’s my first book from this author and I must admit that I was really wary at first. What a fool I’ve been! It was a captivating page-turner that never bored me.

Charm ⁂3 : Why can’t I be a curse worker, huh? Why?

Never ever forget your gloves, otherwise you are likely to experience one of these delightful experiences :
✔ To find yourself somewhere without any idea how you came
✔ Be changed in a cockroach. Yeah, that sucks.
✔ To start sobbing in remorse for something you didn’t even do.
✔♪♫♬ Beware of the music you hear. ♪♫♬ Just sayin’

Charm ⁂4 : Applaud the cat. Just do it. He’s got claws.

BOOK REVIEW: White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW: White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly BlackWhite Cat (Curse Workers #1)
by Holly Black
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn't fit in at home or at school, so he's used to feeling like an outsider. He's also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.

Lie until even you believe it-that’s the real secret of lying. The only way to have absolutely no tells.
Too bad I’m not quite there yet.

When I try to think of a word that reminds me of this book, the most forthcoming is just this: Weird. This book was all kinds of weird. But, when I take the time to really delve deeper and actually peel back the layers of this intricate story-line, I begin to ‘see’ so many more words pop into my mind: Haunting, clever, mesmerizing, addicting…sweet. There are so many ways to look at a story and if you filter all the mystery out of the words, then it does, in fact, come off as a super weird book. But when you totally immerse yourself and ask ‘Why is this happening?’, ‘What triggered this?’, ‘Where the hell is this going?’, I swear that you’ll find yourself racing through the pages and before you know it, you’ll be closing the book. It’s that kind of story.

I don’t want to be a monster, but maybe it’s too late to be anything else.

Cassel is one of those characters that really gets under your skin. You don’t quite know why you like him, but you find yourself laughing at his sarcasm, feeling pain for this kid who grew up feeling like the most insignificant member of his family. You find yourself smiling at his charm and your heart breaking when he thinks of Lila, his childhood best friend (and only friend), and the girl he killed years ago. This sounds shady as fuck, I’ll give you that, but in this world, everyone wears gloves to hide their ‘curse’ and to prevent their touch from doing irreparable damage by making contact with someone’s skin. This is a world where children grow up around con workers as mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. Even if you aren’t involved with the con work, there’s still a chance you’ve been ‘cursed’ and are considered a worker. This simply means you might have a touch that causes selective memory loss, luck, death, etc. But with each of these ‘gifts’ there is ample cost-No gift in their world comes without a price.

I hate that I love this. I hate that the adrenaline pumping through the roots of my body is filling me with giddy glee. I’m not a good person.

You’re probably still wondering about how he murdered his best friend and the girl he’s always been in love with, right? I didn’t know how I’d feel about it, personally. But, for whatever reason, I found myself identifying with him, sympathizing for him, hoping it was all a misunderstanding and that he had been worked. See, Cassel is the only one in his family without a gift-he is the only non-curse worker. I think this made him a really sweet and relatable character, and all the more identifiable as someone who had significantly screwed up in his past. And, more than that, it was devastating to see how much he just wanted his brothers to love him and accept him, but instead they grew up stomping him under their foot as if he was an insignificant piece of trash, just because they could. Now, I can’t say nothin’ about anythin’ but I will say this-If you grew up with a deplorable family that did deplorable things…what keeps them from conning you?

Marks think they can get something for nothing.
Marks think they can get what they don’t deserve and could never deserve.
Marks are stupid and pathetic and sad.
…..
Marks forget that whenever something’s too good to be true, that’s because it’s a con.

At times I found this to be very dark and even somewhat disturbing, but that was more at the beginning. Once I began to see everything unwind, it all started to make sense and I became fully immersed in figuring out what was wrong with the distorted picture we were being given. Lies upon lies, and betrayals on top of betrayals, we don’t get a clear picture until the end-and even then it’s like looking through fractured glass. It was excellent.

The easiest lies to tell are the ones you want to be true.

Altogether an amazing story that I couldn’t put down even for a minute. More than once I was covering my mouth with my hand to stifle a gasp and begging for a better end than what was coming for Cassel. In a way, this book was almost told through an unreliable source’s eyes and we are left wondering what’s reality and what’s make-believe. I loved this aspect. Each time we learned something, we realized there was so much more to the story and it never really stopped growing as a plot, it never really and truly ended. So, I absolutely cannot wait to start book two. If it’s even half as good as this one I will be ecstatic…but more than that, I can’t wait to see what becomes of Cassel and his new-found ‘friends.’ He’s still trying to figure all that out. And that cliffhanger-agh!!!

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