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review 2018-07-26 23:15
Beautifully Brutal and Peculiarly Predictable | The Cruel Prince
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black

This is not a story about Tinker Bell. There is no Neverland where all of the fairies happily live together. There isn't any pixie dust, but there is a lot of blood. Holly Black's faeries aren't tiny wisps of whimsy who endeavor to help humans. This is not a fairytale but a faerie-tale.


Black's tale is tangled with the a beautiful darkness that accompanies magic. The separation between faeries and humans is blurry, with the main character Jude and her family falling in between the cracks. The story follows Jude's journey to fight the monsters that killed her parents, stole her from her home, and gave her a new, magical life or to become the same monster.


Just like all of Black's books, The Cruel Prince is a complex book that goes beyond the basic look at faeries. There is the conflict between family, faeries, and Jude against herself. There are rules of conduct, violence, and rules for lawlessness. There is a complex code of propriety, which was explored and broken with the addition of Jude's humanity into the hierarchy.


I loved the brutality of the faeries, with nothing spared for the faint of heart. Faeries are the walking contradictions of extreme beauty and relentless cruelty and sometimes I couldn't even tell the two apart. The writing was versatile enough to beautifully emphasize the gruesome violence and the ethereal magic of the faeries. The world-building was my favorite part, constructing a complete culture (even more than one with the different Courts) of faeries with their rituals, beliefs, and excruciating details of their lives.


However, the characters were not as good as the world-building. Characters drive the plot, but it just seemed like Jude was driving on the wrong side of the road for most of the story. The pivotal moment was so predictable to me and not to Jude which undermines her whole persona as the strategist and cunning hero. In the end, she redeemed herself by hatching a plan that I didn't (fully) predict, yet I am still not convinced of her all-knowing, confident persona that the book hinges on. I will grant that she is an interesting morally gray character who doesn't cry at the sight of blood, even if she is the reason it was shed, but I couldn't buy the tough girl act.


In addition, I couldn't see the focus on family that Jude emphasized so much. Her twin disappears after the first fourth of the novel, only to reappear briefly for shock value in the plot twist. Taryn was used more as a plot device than as an actual character. Jude's relationships with Oak and Vivienne were more fleshed out and I enjoyed the conflict between Madoc as a weird surrogate father to foster child relationship.


My final hesitation with The Cruel Prince lies with the romance(s), if I can even call it that. The romance is not the central conflict, which separates it from some of the other YA books dealing with faeries. The romantic encounters were full of desire, playfulness, danger, and confusion, which is consistent with Black's branding of faeries. The relationship (and I am being vague on purpose to avoid spoilers) is messy and ambiguous, but I did not fall for it like I believe the book wanted me to. Regardless of my wariness, I will give it a shot in the second book. I have a feeling that a piece of the story that we are missing and Black is just preparing to properly pull at my heartstrings later on in the series.


If you are looking for a faerie story that doesn't sugarcoat anything or rely on romance as the only plot point, then The Cruel Prince might be the book for you. The portrayal of family is not as complete as I wanted and the twists were not particularly surprising, but the world-building and writing are worth acting surprised at the "plot twist". 

 

 

This review was originally posted on my main blog, Crazy for YA.

 

See the original post here to join in on the conversation!

Source: 4evercrazyforya.blogspot.com/2018/07/beautifully-brutal-and-peculiarly.html
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review 2018-04-18 09:36
Wings
Wings - Aprilynne Pike

I really enjoyed this book. The beginning is pretty fast, but I feel it's needed just to get David in the picture.

David, while being the main love interest, is actually a decent guy. He doesn't want to control Laurel, he's there for her when she needs him. He's not over protective. He's both an "alpha male" and not. He's a "true alpha male' in that he cares for Laurel and genuinely wants to be there for her. He's understanding and patient and really feels like a brother. He's not the "fake Alpha Male" often found in many paranormal romance books. You know the ones.

Laurel overall wasn't a protagonist that wanted to make me throw the ereader across the room. She's smart, quick thinking, and has to save David at one point or two. She's never simpering and takes action for herself without the men in her life telling her.

Tamani on the other hand, rubbed me all sorts of wrong way. He's possessive. He wants to make Laurel 'his'. because they had some form of past together, or that she's a faerie. While Tamani was there when it counts, he does pull the "I got hurt for you, so why won't you be mine, uwu." Doesn't fully respect Laurel's choice to stay with David. He however, was never wholly terrible. Just annoying in that possessive way.

Really it'd be best for her to end up with both of them, but I'm siding with David.

 

Overall the book pacing is on an even keel and focuses a lot on Laurel and her being a fairy. The whole plot is about her trying to save the land that has been in her family for generations.

 

The romance was not heavy at all and I really appreciated that. They did go over faerie biology, which doesn't make sense from a evolutionary point. However they at least went over it. Which does explain why Laurel doesn't have her period. Lucky.

 

I'm hoping the future novels will continue to build on this one and not jump the rails.

 

While light on the faerie stuff this book, it's a good read for people that don't want to be confused about the Seelie and Unseelie court and tons of fae folk being name dropped. It's nice and light and might delve into that bit later.

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text 2018-04-16 14:11
Reading progress update: I've read 79%.
Wings - Aprilynne Pike

Wow a moment in a book the author can "show just how evil the bad guy is" and... doesn't take it. Really refreshing to see. We get to see how evil the big bad is in other, better ways.

 

Also David is still turning out to be OK. Our hero is also being smart. Though she has got that whole "I just can't kill anything" going on. It wasn't produced as inanely as I've seen it before and she does hit the guy.

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review 2018-04-11 14:18
Emma and the Silverbell Faeries (book 3)
Emma and the Silverbell Faeries - Matthew S. Cox
I’m go glad to be back with Emma and her family. In her last adventure, Emma and her sister were taken by the Banderwigh’s but they are now safely home and trying to overcome their fears and nightmares. Living next to the forest, Emma begins to feel a presence within the forest which when asked, her mother also feels. After what happened with the Banderwigh’s, Emma promised that she wouldn’t run off alone again but as she gathers water for their stew, Neema approaches her and begs for help.
 
Neema, a fairy from the forest, informs Emma that the faeries are getting hurt and they urgently need her assistance. As they exchange words, Emma tells Neema that she must tell her mother before going with her but Neema insists that they leave immediately and that Emma will only be gone a few minutes. Being a druid, Emma knows that she has a responsibility to protect the forest and everything in it and since time is of the essence and it will only be a few minutes, she leaves with Neema. I sense danger right away but then question: are faeries dangerous?
 
Emma is magically shrunk so she fits into the fairy realm. Emma discovers more about the attacks upon the faeries as she talks to the faeries and to the Fairy Queen. It’s hard to understand some of the faeries as they speak, as their words are scrambled. The beginning of the sentences is at the end and some words are not included to make a full sentence so, I just went with what I thought they meant to say as I read their remarks. It’s an amazing world that Emma has walked into.
 
It’s not long before Emma personally experiences an attack and while using her druid powers, she brings the situation under control. The attacker is Mawr and he provides valuable information and becomes a memorable character for the remainder of the novel. Emma with Neema beside her, must confront the powers who are conflicting evil upon the faeries. As a young druid, Emma has much to learn, but she has heart and compassion and those two things push Emma through when times get tough.
 
I thought this was a fun, entertaining children’s chapter book. I liked the relationships that Emma built while in the fairy realm. I liked how she was worried about how much time she had been gone from home, how she was worried about how much trouble she was going to be in and then, how the faeries kept trying to convince her that she had only been gone a few minutes. Emma knew that she had spent days in the fairy realm, so how could what they were telling her be true? I loved the ending of this novel, it was outstanding and I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Curiosity Quills Press in exchange for an honest review.

 

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review 2017-06-12 02:49
Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts
Jewels of the Sun - Nora Roberts

Surprising herself and nearly everyone who knows her, Jude Murray quits her job as a psychology professor, rents out her Chicago condo, and flies to Ireland to live in a little cottage once owned by a relative of hers. She hadn’t even reacted this drastically when her husband asked for a divorce only a few months after they’d gotten married. All she knows is that she’s stressed and unhappy with her current life, and she has no idea what to do about it. She intends to stay at the cottage for six months, write an academic paper about Irish legends, and somehow figure out what to do next.

The village of Ardmore awakens a part of Jude that she’d thought long since squashed out of existence, a dreamer willing to believe in romance and magic. She’s baffled and pleased when two local women, Brenna O’Toole and Darcy Gallagher, decide to befriend her. Then there’s her attraction to Darcy’s charming and gorgeous brother, Aidan. And the beautiful and sad ghost who seems to be residing in her cottage.

This was a reread. I loved it when I first read it: the cozy Irish village and welcoming villagers, the Gallagher and O’Toole families, and Jude learning to just do things without worrying so much about the possibility of failure. I still enjoyed it this time around, although my enjoyment was a little more measured.

The main thing that kept me from completely sinking into this story was how painfully obvious it was that Jude came from a fairly wealthy family. She’d have to be, in order to suddenly quit her job, fly to another country, and spend six months working on a paper that, on its own, would probably never pay any bills. At one point, she went on a shopping spree with Brenna and Darcy and spent 2000 pounds on lingerie, plus who knows how much on purses, shoes, and outfits. Just thinking about it made panic well up in my throat - I couldn't help but remember how I'd felt when I paid $100 for a nice coat to wear to job interviews back when I was job hunting. Jude was also a bit shocked at her shopping spree, but whereas I kept thinking about her spending that much money without knowing when she’d see another paycheck, I had a feeling that Jude’s reaction was primarily inspired by her having done something so out of character for the person she’d been back in Chicago. Chicago Jude was practical and wouldn’t have spent so much money on sexy things.

I have a really nice life, but I can’t imagine ever having the kind of safety net that would be required for something like Jude’s story. When it dawned on her that what she really wanted to do was write stories, she worried about failure, but not about how she’d pay her bills if she failed. I could relate to aspects of Jude’s personality quite a bit - I, too, have a tendency to avoid risks and drama - but not so much her background.

That said, I still consider this one to be of Roberts’ better books. It was a quick and cozy read. Aidan was great, a guy who used to be a wanderer but who’d since matured and settled down. The gift-giving bit was lovely and sweet. The way he tried to handle Jude near the end of the book was more than a bit boneheaded, something he probably should have figured out sooner, but I could mostly understand how he’d gotten those idiot ideas in his head. And the groveling at the end was nice.

There were lots of other moments I loved that weren’t directly related to the romance. The way Jude’s mother, who up to that point had been painted as stiff and unemotional, got angry on Jude’s behalf. The hints of Brenna’s unrequited feelings for Shawn. Molly O’Toole’s steadiness, and the surprise Molly’s husband and Brenna had lined up for her. The way Darcy panicked when she realized that she might have had a part in setting Aidan up to be deeply hurt. Darcy wasn’t my favorite character, and I recall her book being my least favorite one in the trilogy, but I did like the way she’d get into snarling fights with her brothers and yet still clearly care about them. (Although her asking Jude for details about sex with Aidan seemed weird. Do sisters with brothers ever really do that? I only have a sister, and I can’t imagine wanting to discuss her sex life.)

The book’s supernatural aspects weren’t too bad either. This is one of the few “Nora Roberts trilogies tied together by something supernatural” that I can stand. The supernatural aspects are well-integrated into the romances and aren’t too hokey. Basically, a long time ago a mortal woman named Gwen fell in love with a faerie prince named Carrick. However, she doubted that her feelings for him and his feelings for her were real and ended up marrying the perfectly nice man her father lined up for her. She had kids, a decent marriage, and a nice but not passionate life. All the while, Carrick tried to woo her but made one big mistake - he never actually told her he loved her. At the end of Gwen’s life, he essentially cursed himself and Gwen not to be able to move on until three other couples fell in love. It was a bit silly and lacking in details (Carrick never actually specified which three couples, so it could have been anyone falling in love, not just the Gallagher siblings) but not too bad.

Jewels of the Sun hasn't perfectly stood the test of time for me, but it still made for a good reread.

 

Rating Note:

 

The me prior to my big job hunt probably wouldn't have had a problem rating this book. It would have been an easy 4 stars, possibly even 4.5. This reread left me debating between 3.5 stars and 4. In the end I settled on 4, because I mostly enjoyed myself and could see myself rereading it again sometime in the future.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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