Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

Book Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

26032912._sy475_

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

More of a clash of Faerie and the mortal world in this book

After devouring the first two Folk of the Air books last year, I was dying to get my hands on the third and final installment. While I enjoyed reading this one, I have to admit that it did not suck me in the way the first two did.

The plot of The Queen of Nothing started off solid, but everything moved along too quickly and the pacing felt off. I suppose that this was due to the shorter length of this book. I did like the fact that the story intertwined the faerie world with the mortal world more than the first two books. I also liked that Jude’s sister, Vivian, became a more prominent character this time around. Sadly, despite being Jude’s twin, I always find Taryn a bit lackluster. Vivian is far more interesting and engaging than Taryn. (Sorry, Taryn.)

It was fun to experience Jude’s character development from book one to book three. I was surprised at how much less dark her personality was this time around, especially considering the events that happened at the end of book two. I felt like the author did a great job at weaving both Jude and Cardan’s personalities together into a very convincing, albeit bizarre, relationship.

The familiar plot twists and character betrayals that we’ve all come to know and love from Black’s books were present in The Queen of Nothing. I just wished there had been a little more meat the the story and a little more time to devote to some of the other characters.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

34723130._sy475_

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period…

Goodreads

I wasn’t expecting a lot from this book, to be honest. I was never a huge fan of the show growing up (although I probably was a little too young to appreciate it) and I never read the comics. I’m not even sure what possessed me to pick this one, but I’m glad I did, because it was a fun read.

Nina is an unlikely candidate for the role that is thrust upon her, especially when her sister Artemis has been preparing her entire life. She grapples with her own feelings towards her newfound role and the life she has come to know. Given the upbringing and neglectful mother she had, you can’t really fault her for being so bitter and confused. I liked the shift in the two sisters’ relationship. It’s definitely not a cliche, “we’re such a happy family” one, but a rather messy one. I appreciated this a great deal, as family relationships are not usually all they’re cracked up to be. Some of the secondary characters, like Leo and Doug, were great, but a lot of the others fell flat for me. Even Artemis, felt a bit too predictable and it grated on my nerves at times.

I wasn’t super familiar with all the lore and background of the Buffy series prior to reading this, but the author does a good job of giving you enough detail without it being overwhelming. I’m tempted to dive into some of the comics now, just to see how what I’ve been missing out on.

Books · Mystery · Young Adult

Book Review: Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

17873946

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars 

In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts…

His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father Germán Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.

When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.

(Goodreads)

I’d never even heard of this book when I picked it up, but I knew right away that if it was written by author Carlos Ruiz Zafon that it would be a fun ride. (I highly recommend checking out the Shadow of the Wind  books, if you haven’t already) Marina was a thrilling and often unsettling read, filled with mystery and macabre events that will make your stomach do the flips.

It’s no secret that Oscar isn’t very complex or interesting on his own. Marina even cracks jokes about how simple-minded he is. That’s totally fine, however, because the story and other characters make up where Oscar lacks. Marina is a strange and serious girl living in a creepy old mansion. There’s a mysterious woman in black visiting an unmarked grave every month. A shady doctor and his daughter, washed up detectives, and sinister coachmen. Every one of them weaves a story that all lead back to a maniacal man who they should try to just forget about. Of course, Oscar and Marina can’t forget about the things they’ve seen and decide to pursue the mystery that decided to pursue them first.

As usual, the author tells this story beautifully and poetically. He transports you onto the streets of Barcelona and makes you see and smell everything that Oscar is seeing. Every twist and turn keeps you guessing and checking over your shoulder from time to time. Despite the complexity of the story, this one didn’t take me long to read at all because I couldn’t put it down. If you’re a fan of Gothic literature, you’ll enjoy this one.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

23734628

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Meet Simon Snow, Mage extraordinaire. Actually, that’s not true. Simon is a pretty terrible magician, despite the fact that he has more power in his pinky finger than all the other students at Watford combined. It’s Simon’s last year at school and nothing seems to be going right – his roommate, Baz (aka his sworn enemy) hasn’t shown up, his girlfriend dumps him, magical families are at war, and the Insidious Humdrum is still out there threatening to end it all. What’s a Chosen One to do when he can’t even use his wand correctly?

I’ll be honest, for the first third of this book I was really confused. There are a lot of similarities to the Harry Potter series. So many, in fact that I actually Googled whether or not this book was supposed to be some kind of fanfiction crossover.

-Orphaned teenager who goes to a school for magic folks
-Nemesis who’s family thinks they’re better than other families
-Cryptic headmaster who tries to protect Simon
-The Chosen One (as foretold by the prophecy)
-Villain who repeatedly tries to kill Simon
-Magical war

A lot of the boxes are checked off. By the time I got halfway through the story, however, I began to see the differences in the characters and story and could appreciate them on their own.

Simon was okay as main character, although I wouldn’t call him overly complex or anything. He seemed a bit thick-headed at times, especially considering he’d been at Watford for 7 years at that point. I didn’t love Simon, but I did love the relationship between him and Baz. Baz was a bit of an ass, but he was complex and had a lot of shit going on his life, so who can blame him? Personally, I wouldn’t mind having a vampire/mage as a room mate who could kill rats and stuff. Sounds like a win all around. (Except for the rats. They definitely aren’t winning in this scenario.)

I would have liked a little more exploration of the other relationships in the book, but I don’t think the story is lacking without it. Overall, this was a fun read and I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. If you like stories similar to Harry Potter, this is a good one to read, especially if you don’t feel like investing time in a long series.

 

Book Reviews · Books · Young Adult

Book Review: I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

17408897

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure. That is, until Libby died in a tragic car crash, taking Princess X along with her.

Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X?

There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon—her best friend, Libby, who lives.

Part novel, part comic book, this one was a quick and easy read. Not that quick and easy is a bad thing. In fact, by the time I was halfway through this one I found myself wishing that the Princess X webcomic empire existed in real life. (Can someone make this happen, please?!)

The premise of the story is fantastic, being the perfect blend of crime and fangirl fiction. I found the way Libby’s past unfolded via webcomic, under the guise of Princess X’s story, to be incredibly clever. Telling this story this way made it feel like the princess was an actual character, rather than just a gateway to May discovering that Libby was still alive.

Despite the short length, the story was rich with detail and intrigue. The cast of characters was a colorful  blend of pretend princesses, heroes, hackers, and rogue punks. I wish we would have seen a little more from Trick (May’s hacker neighbor) because he and May made an unexpectedly good team. But that’s just me being picky. One thing that I did really like was the lack of romance in this book. You don’t see that very often anymore in YA literature.

This was a great read about the power of friendship and not giving up hope. Two thumbs up!

Books · Fiction · graphic novels · manga · Young Adult

Struggles of a Lazy Book Blogger

I’ve been somewhat lazy the last few weeks in terms of my book reviews. In my defense, my laziness is stemming from the fact that I’ve been utterly exhausted by the time I get home from work in the evenings. We’re in the middle of a huge office move/renovation and I’m pretty much in charge of making things happen…but you really don’t want to hear about that. What you want to hear about is the books. I feel a tad guilty for not writing reviews of any of these, but there’s no use in worrying about it, is there?

Here are a few that I’ve read recently, but have been too lazy to review:

  • Warcross by Marie Lu (Rating: 4 out of 5 stars)
  • Death Note (I and II) by Tsugumi Ohba (Rating: 4 out of 5 stars)
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Rating: 3 out of 5 stars)
  • Preludes & Nocturnes (Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman (Rating: 5 out of 5 stars)

Here’s what I’m currently reading (that I do plan on reviewing):

34594037

~

Let’s chat! Have you read any of the above books? What’s the best book you’ve read recently? 

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Young Adult

Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

26032887

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

I enjoyed The Cruel Prince when I read it last year. Now, having read The Wicked King, I feel like first book pales in comparison. Jude’s grows from an angry, mistreated mortal living in the faerie world to a scheming, manipulative, powerful player in the fight over the throne. She’s not only determined to seize power from those who wish to steal it from her brother, but she’s determined to use every and anyone in the process. Jude is a freaking badass. (Although, I admit, I was still doubting her at the end of the first book.)

Not only do we begin to understand Jude better, but we see a different side of Cardan, as well. I liked him much better this time around than I did in the first book. While I’m normally indifferent to most hate-to-love relationships in YA books, I was totally on board with Jude and Cardan’s blossoming romance. Or hate-mance. Or whatever the hell it is. It’s a perfect mess.

We got to see a bit more of Taryn this time around, but never enough that I really developed much of an opinion of her. Throughout both books she’s kinda just felt like she was there as filler, which is weird, considering she’s the protagonist’s twin. That’s the only real complaint I have.

I loved every little twist and turn Black threw at her readers. By the end of the book, it’s clear that you can’t trust anyone. It’s faerie versus faerie. Human versus faerie. Faerie versus the sea. Sibling versus sibling. Father versus daughter. WHO IS GOING TO WIN!?!

I have no idea, but I want more!

 

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

37570566

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away.

This book was not what I expected it to be but I still enjoyed it.

Anouk is a sweet, innocent beastie, serving the witch who created her, Mada Vittora. Having only been in human form for one year, Anouk is rather naive to the ways of the world and the ways of magic. For this reason, I found her to be rather charming, especially in contrast to her companions who had already become hardened and jaded by life. I liked the other beasties and the way they all looked out for each other. Beau was the only one who I didn’t love. While his affection for Anouk was nice, sometimes it was a bit overkill.

I like the magic hierarchy that Shepherd created in the story. Even more so, I like that it was blended into modern Parisian society. The Haute were pretty awful, with all their politics and scheming. The Goblins were spectacular, with their glitter, high fashion, and penchant for partying. The diversity between all the different groups balanced out nicely.

Before purchasing this book, I didn’t realize that it’s loosely based around Cinderella. Even once I figured that out, it never really felt like a re-telling. There is enough substance and difference here that it becomes it’s own fairy tale.

At the end, magic and mayhem aside, it’s a story of  a girl and her friends who want nothing more than to live normal human lives. Who can’t relate to that?

 

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Friday, at last! You know what that means. Monday is just around the corner. 😛 I mean…time for another First Impression Friday! (For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.)

6752378

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

I’m not going to lie, I was hesitant to keep reading this series. I enjoyed the first three books so much that I was afraid if I kept reading them they might not be as good and then the whole series would become tainted. Obviously, I got over it, because I started reading City of Fallen Angels, , the fourth book in the series, this week.

So far, I’m glad I picked it up. There’s more Simon in this book! I love Simon, the nerdy vampire. Simon’s life sounds like it’s about to get even more complicated in this book. He’s been given an interesting proposition to help take down Raphael, which sounds great in theory, but I’m sure all of it is going to come with heavy consequences. I’m guessing that Camille isn’t really working for herself and that somehow she’s trying to trick Simon into joining the New York vampire coven.

It’s weird to have Clary and Jace actually in a relationship, rather than just fighting and/or pining for each other. Given their history, I am one hundred percent certain that their relationship is going to have a lot of ups and downs. I expect Jace to continue struggling with his identity and major daddy issues. Meanwhile, Clary is going to be all “Omg, what if he hates me?!”, in typical teenage fashion. 😛

I have no idea what’s going to happen as far as major plot points are concerned. The blurb on the back says that Shadowhunters are being killed. I suspect it has to do something with Sebastian. I don’t think he really died in the last book. Nobody ever seems to just die one time in this series.

Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Young Adult

Book Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

3777732

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?

You guys, the next time I put off reading a series for a long time, please kick me in the ass and remind me of this post. I freaking love the Mortal Instruments and I don’t care who knows it. So there.

After being super impressed by the second book, City of Ashes, I couldn’t wait to see where the series headed. Honestly, even though I had some guesses, I did not anticipate even half of the plot twists and events that transpired in City of Glass. (Hence the reason for my post earlier this week.) Cassandra Clare sure knows how to take a story and turn it upside down on its head.

I loved the way each of the characters grew and developed over the course of the three books that I’ve read. Jace, in particular, matured quite a bit and it’s made his character way more likable. I had no idea what was going to become of Clary and Jace’s “tricky” relationship, but I like the way it’s panning out. I’ll admit, I was really disappointed that Clary and Simon didn’t end up together in the last book, but now I see why it was for the best. Speaking of Simon, I freaking love vampire Simon. I just love his personality and how he’s becoming so much more confident in himself now that he’s one of the Night Children.

It was interesting to finally learn a little more about Clary’s mother and see how learning the truth about her past has affected their relationship. She wasn’t in much of the story, but from the glimpses we got of her, I’d say she seems pretty cool. I’m looking forward to learning more about her in the other books.

Enough of the positives, let’s talk about the negatives.

There weren’t any.

I must get my hands on the next book.

2a5xrt