Tag: New Release (page 1 of 10)

BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince
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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: The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

BOOK REVIEW: The Midnight Dance by Nikki KatzThe Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When the music stops, the dance begins.

Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.

But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.

I’m… not quite sure how to feel. On one hand, the writing was absolutely lovely, but I think the story was a bit of a miss for me personally, though that might be due to personal preferences! But let me say this first- this would make an incredible film! Can someone please make this into a movie? Thanksssss.

Penny is one of many dancers held up in the Master’s estate. At the beginning, she starts to realize her memories are off kilter and something is very wrong. Despite being drawn to the (very handsome) Master (the owner of the estate), Penny discovers he’s doing something to manipulate all the girls. (Sounds cool right?)

I was super into the first few chapters. The plot takes no time to dive you in deep, and I was totally into the whole Master concept. So much in fact, that I think it set my hopes too high for the end. I was expecting some majorly cool plot twists and while there were a few small ones, nothing really caught me off guard. So that’s probably my fault-my expectation levels with the whole mystery thing were sky high, so I was sad when there were no big surprises. I DID like the few small ones though. I also felt like there were quite a few loop holes, but it could be that I missed some important details.

The concept was strong, but the characterization fell a bit flat for me. The focus was much more on the present circumstances and mystery vs the character’s pasts or personalities, so I had a difficult time connecting to anyone, especially at the beginning. I get it, everything was supposed to be a mystery, but since the mystery aspect didn’t have many surprises, I just had a hard time with it.

The Master totally had ‘Darkling’ vibes, and I LOVED that bit, but he kinda disappointed me in the end. It was cool that we saw bits of his story in the past but it didn’t feel like strong enough motivation for him to become who he was. I’m SUPER particular about my villains though, so I doubt anyone else will feel the same.

Now I know that all sounds a bit negative, but trust me, those are all personal opinions that I doubt others will share. This book had MANY redeeming qualities. For instance, the setting was SO COOL and the writing (which I mentioned earlier) was absolutely lovely. While the mystery aspect was a bit of a let down for me personally, the story was still really cool and I really enjoyed several bits. I would definitely read another book by Nikki because she’s an extremely talented author.

So all in all, If you’re in the mood for a mystery/semi-thriller with hints of romance, check out this book!

BOOK REVIEW: Roar by Cora Carmack

BOOK REVIEW: Roar by Cora CarmackRoar (Stormheart #1)
by Cora Carmack
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Okay, so there was A LOT of really cool elements and honestly the sequel is set up to be even better than the first, so I’m not looking forward to a year of waiting. On the same note, definitely some corny elements, which is to be expected. All in all though, it was definitely fun!

I’ll start with Aurora, or ‘Roar’. I actually really liked her. She’s a weak heroine, and to be honest, she DOES grow but her character development is far from finished, so by the end of the book, she still had her weak elements. I think some will get annoyed at her for it, but I appreciated it. Not every heroine has to be 100% badass 100% of the time.

At the beginning, she’s a princess who is held in isolation inside her castle by her mother in order to prevent people from finding out she doesn’t have storm magic, which is a hereditary thing in the royal family. So yeah, kinda a big deal that she doesn’t have it. She’s being forced to marry Cassius (more on this lovely chunk of words later) as quickly as possible so she can keep her kingdom before others find out. But as you can tell by the synopsis, Roar runs away, and I won’t say much more than that. I love the direction the author took her in because book two should be GREAT as I said above. Anyway, she has a cute little temper but a good heart and wasn’t overly spoiled by the whole palace life thing.

Now for Cassius, our resident dark and very questionable prince… YES. I am so here for him. He needed MUCH more screen time and I’m hoping he gets it in book two because asldkfja;lsdkjf. The beginning was SO STRONG when he first met Aurora. Like what even, can we please talk about chemistry? But then Roar overhears him and realizes he only plans to use her to get the crown. Whatever guys, I know that is *kinda true* but there’s also a lot more about him that we don’t understand, and he DEFINITELY has a good side too. I’m labeling him as an antihero and you can’t stop me. I have such high hopes for him. He’s kinda like… a baby Darkling?? Yes? Anyone?? (Dearest Cora… please please more Cassius…and Cassius and Roar…)

I kina have a feeling the author was hinting at something between Cassius an Nova but nooooooo aldskfja;ldkfj I need Cassius and Roar.

I’m also super interested in Casimir an the rest of Cassius’s family.

Once Roar runs away, she ends up with a new gang of storm hunters (which are super cool). Actually, let me stop there for a moment. The whole storm fighting and storm hearts thing was really neat and took this from being a typical fantasy book to a super unique magic system and storyline. As I mentioned above, there are definitely some cliches and cheesy parts that you find in most fantasies (especially in the romance egh) but the A+ world building kept me invested even during those times.

That bring me to Locke (resident head storm hunter broody guy). I liked him, but I didn’t fall head over heels with him. I think it was because he was the sole focus for Roar in, and by the end of the book, he kinda felt like a typical overprotective boyfriend who gets angry at anyone who even looks at his girl wrong. I don’t know. I mean, he and Roar did have some chemistry and I didn’t mind him, and I did feel for him and his story, but Cassius is just so much more interesting and I liked his dynamic with Roar more. I CAN’T HELP IT.

To summarize…

The Good:
-really cool world
-freaking cool magic system
-um the storms have personalities? SO COOL
-CASSIUS
-likeable yet weak heroine
-excellent villain development
-A+ set up for the sequel

The ‘eh’:
-romance got cheesy later on
-cheesy writing in the whole ‘love declaration’ blah blah stuff
-Cassius didn’t get enough book time
-not much resolution for things I wanted to see before the sequel (more below)

Before I get into spoilers below, I’ll just say definitely give this book a go if you’re in for a unique fantasy/world and don’t mind romance being the main focus (because it is) – but even if you aren’t huge on that part of it, there’s for sure hope for the sequel.

******SPOILERS BELOW******

Anyway, about 70% of the book is Roar traveling with Locke and his crew, and I did enjoy it and the pacing was pretty good, but at the end, I expected a cliffhanger, but I felt like there was way too much left open. I mean, Cassius never even gets close to her or gets any clues, and I was super disappointed because I was totally on board for a cat and mouse thing (I’m so lame) and Locke never finds out who she is… so we literally had no resolution in this book aside from Locke and Roar getting feelsy. We get a glimpse at Roar’s ‘ability’ which is cool, but not much else. Berlghhg I just need the second book please and thank you.

OKAY OKAY AND WHAAAT CASSIUS IS THE FIRST BORN OGMARGHER YESS I AM HERE FOR THIS.
(Are you guys tired of me talking about Cassius? Sorry.)

All the while Locke and Roar and their gang are doing their thing, there’s another villain being set up in the background so I’m super interested in that. Especially with the last paragraph of the book.

Anyway, is it too early to beg for an ARC of book two? Yes? Poo.

BOOK REVIEW: Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

BOOK REVIEW: Windfall by Jennifer E SmithWindfall Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
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Synopsis:

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Part of this is a ‘it’s you, not me’ thing, because the writing was lovely. The author clearly put her heart and soul into this book. Some of the conversations and inner monologue is breathtakingly heart-achingly beautiful.

A certain type of reader will probably hug this book to pieces and cry over it. For me, I’m not exactly a contemporary reader, and this book kinda reminded me why. I have a really hard time dealing with modern day issues because my own life has so many right now – so it’s just one of those things. For some reason, I was thinking this was more of a light hearted book, but it really wasn’t. It deals with loss, death, some aspects of poverty, and the romance part of it was just really sad IMO. I mean, the ending was cute and all, but I just feel kinda sad and depressed?

I’m not going to retype the synopsis or even summarize it aside from saying it’s about a girl who is a ‘do-gooder’ and her best friend Teddy (whom she’s in love with) wins the lottery and basically changes into a total jerk face (even if he realizes it eventually).

65% of the plot is basically us seeing the MC get her hopes up only to be shoved off and brushed over time and time again by Teddy. We watch him make a million dumb asshole mistakes before he finally comes around. SO much of me was raging at how selfish someone could be with the money aspect and the relationship aspects. It literally hurt to read.

There were definitely some pacing issues too. I read the book really fast because I did feel emotionally invested at some points, but over all, not a ton happened to be honest. It’s very much about the inner struggle vs. big events happening.

Trigger warning for anyone who has a hard time diving into the aftermath of painful deaths/etc.

It did have a great ending, but all in all, I just feel kinda empty after having read it. I’m glad the characters make some amazing discoveries and decisions, but blah. It just isn’t the type of story that works well for me.

I still recommend it to those who love contemporaries who make you think about life/etc.

Thank you to the publisher & blogging for books for giving me a copy of this book to review!

BOOK REVIEW: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

BOOK REVIEW: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh(Flame in the Mist, #1)
by Renee Ahdieh
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

“The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.” 

Holy guacamole. This was wonderful.

HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME THIS IS A SERIES AHHHHHH. I WAS NOT PREPARED….

Alright. I wasn’t that into the first 30-40%. It wasn’t bad at all, but I just wasn’t really connecting. Mariko is on the way to her betrothed (the prince) when she gets attacked by who she believes is the Black Clan. She manages to escape (as told by the synopsis), but she refuses to return home and tell of her survival until she can figure out who paid the Black Clan to kill her. So, she infiltrates their camp and attempts to gain their trust. 

Mariko has quite the aversion to men, being that men predominately rule in their society and women are left to please men. I totally get that, and Mariko was justified in feeling that way, but she does bring it up quite a lot. Almost too much, but whatever.

Anyway, about half way through, once we’re into the Black Clan hideout, things start to get interesting. And they just keep getting better and better. I literally could not put it down past the 70% mark. Like holy wowza… SO GOOD. It was non stop, action packed, with so many fun turns. AND THE END AHHHHH WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!

I TOTALLY GUESSED THE TWIST TOO. And I don’t even care that I guessed it because it was so great. I was actually hoping I was right because just.. yes. So good. 

Some of the highlights for me were:

1. Japanese inspired culture. Lush and gorgeous.
2. Okami. And he the fact that he has long hair.
3. Topknots.
4. The scene where Mariko falls from the… cliff thing.
5. Gorgeous quotes, like the following…

“A blossom can split through a rock, given enough time.”

I did have a few small complaints – one being the magic system. It was really confusing and not really explained at all – no rules were mentioned and it seemed very random. I’m assuming this will be explained much more in the next book, but it was odd to me that it was so sporadic. 

The only other thing was the writing- not that it was bad. It just felt a bit dry and hard to follow at times. I felt the same way about Ahdieh’s other series too – ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’. Whatever, the story here is amazing.

All in all, I totally recommend this. I’d read it again in a heartbeat.

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