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review 2018-12-15 13:17
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone - Jaclyn Moriarty 
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of... The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone - Jaclyn Moriarty

So much win.  It's kind of amazing how much I love Moriarty's books. I really liked how it all came together. Interesting universe with so many pirates and dragons and water sprites, but also committees and dull trips and people being late to pick one up at the station. I only had two tiny quibbles: it's weird to read about a girl living in a more-or-less-contemporaneous setting who wears dresses or skirts all the time. It's just a slight thing, but it pulls me just the tiniest bit out of the story every time a dress or skirt is mentioned because I so rarely see girls or women in them anymore. And also, this is a very white world. Not that everyone is explicitly called white, but because no one isn't. The illustrations reinforce the white-is-default impression. It's a good thing that I've become so accustomed to reading books with a diverse cast that I can't stop noticing when there aren't any other characters.

 

Despite those two issues, I loved the book. It's my favorite middle grade in I don't know how long. Highly recommended for white readers.

 

Library copy

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review 2018-10-23 13:29
River Marked by Patricia Briggs
River Marked - Patricia Briggs

I just love Mercy Thompson series. 
I've waited for a long time for Adam and Mercy to have some quality time together. And it was absolutely amazing - Adam is such a sweetheart - and at the same time scary as hell. There have been very intense moments in this series but vampires, fae, and werewolves have never frightened me as this creature in the river did. I was so scared during Mercy's dream and when she discovered herself by the river at night, I was actually hyperventilating. 

I also realized that I have a strange habit while reading Mercy Thompson series. I read the first half of the book very quickly and then I start stalling because I don't want the story to end.

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review 2018-09-16 23:48
Fairest - Gail Carson Levine for A Grimm Tale
Fairest - Gail Carson Levine

Meh. There were some nice changes from the standard Snow White, and I  quite liked that she wasn't beautiful at all, but downright ugly. But it will never be my favorite. Weirdly, whereas the musical aspect of Seraphina really engaged me, the constant singing just kind of annoyed me, and that is huge.

 

It's written for a middle grade audience, there's no sex, or drugs, or actual  murder, and the resolution is elegant. But it felt watered-down to me, way more so than the Disney version. It's first person, so there's no worry for the reader, but it goes beyond that: there is reference to revolution but I didn't believe it. The stakes felt really minor. Or maybe I'm bothered that the heroine only twice showed any initiative. She never made decisions she just did whatever she was told. At least Snow White comes up with the housekeeper idea, even if it is a stereotype.

 

Or it could just be that I've been tired and cranky all day despite the lovely rain.

 

Library copy 

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review 2018-08-19 15:34
The Cruel Prince
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black

A dark whimsical read full of deception in a bizarre and interesting way. This book honestly lived up to the hype and I need the sequel as soon as possible.

Faerie might be beautiful, but its beauty is like a golden stag’s carcass, crawling with maggots beneath his hide, ready to burst.

Some Fae are wicked at best. They lure you to the woods with their otherworldly beauty and manipulate your thoughts that will drive you to your own doom. The Cruel Prince rightly depicted what Fae folks really are like to humans: cruel, manipulative, and has a never-ending lust for power.

 

This book is not your typical story about a damsel being reluctantly brought to faerie land just to fall in love with a powerful Fae and get brainwashed to desire to become one herself. Holly Black offered us a different twist to this Fae-centered books stereotype. She owned the genre and I like how she made her female main character embrace her humanity and show the Fae folk who they are dealing with. Wow, I just mentioned a lot of  fae  there.

 

Devouring this book in one sitting was an easy task considering the combined world of magic and its problematic politics. Moreover, the characters sparked my interest since there’s just no way of saying who the bad guys really are. Every character has their own mask and to wait for the finale until they take it off was “letting out the breath I didn’t know I had been holding” worth it.

 

Holly’s writing style is so easy to grasp, no over the top descriptions, and no unnecessary fillers. Her words alone made me feel a lot of emotions like sympathizing with Balekin – their murdering Fae dad (even though he don’t deserve it) – feel like I want to carry Oak in my arms and pinch his cute cheeks. It also made me feel like I’m Jude myself and whenever she was bullied by Cardan and his posse, I just want to punch them in their faces and give that so-called cruel prince the worst wedgie of his life.

 

I also love how Holly just carelessly tossed in the bloodshed in the story. Seriously, I can hear her evil laughing while writing these parts. Well it did contribute a lot to the eerie feeling of the book overall.

 

I can give this book 5 stars straight up but I would like to ponder on these cons I noticed hours after my fangirling died down a wee bit.

 

•• We only witnessed mind control and no other form of magic. No – don’t count the magical horse the three sisters flew with into the human world.

 

•• Why the hell did Jude and Cardan kissed at the Court of Shadows when the entire book tells us they mutually oathe each other.

 

•• The Court of Shadows also known as Prince Dain’s assassins could have been given a better group name and aliases. Like don’t expect me to be serious when I read The Roach or The Ghost or especially The Bomb in every fight scenes.

 

•• Jude and Taryn should have had this connection that can’t just be broken by a cheeky playboy named Locke and his human chess scheme.

(spoiler show)

 

In spite of these cons, the enjoyment I experienced in this journey wasn’t affected even the slightest and I am very eager to have my hands on The Wicked King once it’s released. I want to find out what Cardan means with that last sentence in the book – about when his 1 year contract with Jude ends. I also want to know if Cardan really is the entitled Wicked King or maybe sweet innocent Oak is? Oh beats me.

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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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