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
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