Fantasy · Fiction · Short Stories · Young Adult

Book Review: How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5)

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue.

Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone. Holly Black reveals a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan. This tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective.

Cardan is one of the most hated faeries in all of Elfhame. This made me a little sad in the other The Folk of the Air books, as it seemed to me that Cardan was simply misunderstood. Sure, he says and does terrible things, but when you consider his upbringing, can you really blame him?

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a collection of short stories, taking us deeper into the life and mind of Cardan. We get a glimpse of Cardan’s childhood, when he first meets the troll, Aslog. She tells him a story, which we soon realize, sticks with him throughout the course of his life. We also get to relive some moments that we’ve already seen, only this time they’re through Cardan’s eyes and not Jude’s. Telling the story this way definitely changed my perspective of certain key moments of Cardan and Jude’s relationship (in a good way).

I liked the way that each story was told in a faerie tale-esque manner, complete with beautiful and whimsical illustrations. Like with most fairy tales, these stories remind us that not everything is as it seems and that (sometimes) the villain really isn’t all that bad.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Sci-Fi · Young Adult

Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer…

Emika Chen is pretty down on her luck when she accidentally glitches into the biggest Warcross tournament in the world. To her surprise, her small mistake is a ticket to the streets of Tokyo and a personal relationship with Hideo Tanaka. Emika was a great protagonist, with her badass hacking skills and funky appearance. She made some really good decisions and didn’t get overly wrapped up in the potential romance blossoming in front of her, which made me appreciate her even more.

Hideo is a fascinating character. The chemistry, the frustration, and the mystery surrounding him made it hard to tell if you were supposed to love or hate him. (I’m pretty sure this was intended though.) I enjoyed getting to see his relationship with Emika unfold and present some unexpected surprises. I liked the other characters of the story, also, but to be honest none of them blew me away. We didn’t get to know any of them particularly well, but it didn’t seem to hurt the story.

This was such an intriguing read. The way Lu blends the modern world (at least, I’m guessing it’s somewhat modern. We’re never really told this.) with a world set in a virtual reality really blew my mind. At times I found myself envious of Emika, wishing that my own life paralleled that in which she lived.

The ending surprised me and left me yelling at the book. You know, because I didn’t want it to end yet. I may or may not have already rushed out to the bookstore and purchased a copy of Wildcard. 

Books · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: Warcross

It’s been quite a while since I did a First Impression Friday post. Now that I’m getting back in the swing of blogging after my unplanned, sorta-hiatus, I figured it’s time for another one.

First Impression Friday 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.

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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer…

I’m only about 60 pages into this one so far, but I already love it. Emika is very different than a lot of female protagonists that pop up across the YA genre. She’s run into a whole lot of bad luck and trouble with the law, but her heart seems to be in a good place, which makes me want to root for her. Plus, she’s got rainbow hair and tattoos, which is always a plus in my book.

I love the futuristic, tech-heavy world that the author has created. It’s not that far off from the current world we live in, but Warcross is an integrated part of society. I’m finding the whole concept of basically being able go about your daily life, while actively engaging in virtual reality quite fascinating. (Although, I’m predicting that there will be some pitfalls to this.)

I don’t know much about the other characters in the book yet. I’m guessing Hideo Tanaka will have some secrets up his sleeves…probably some that will be dangerous to the players of Warcross. Or maybe not. Maybe he’ll be the smart millionaire who becomes the love interest of this story. I kind of hope not, but I guess we’ll see.

I’m predicting that whatever Emika gets hired to do for Hideo, there will be other people out there, other hackers like her, who will be trying to thwart her endeavors.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

After finishing City of Bones, I couldn’t wait to pick up the second book to see how the series holds up. I feel like there was potential for the story to become overly cliche, but, thus far, it hasn’t happened.

Everything is a little more complicated the second time around. The character’s feelings and emotions are all over the place, loyalties change, fingers are pointed, and there are demons everywhere. It doesn’t take long for the action and drama to pick up in this book.

I really liked some of the character development in this story, especially for Jace. Jace was a bit of douche in the first book, which made him hard to like. Jace deals with some pretty heavy stuff, after finding out that Valentine is his father. He’s been torn in a lot of different directions and for that reason I found it a little easier to sympathize with him. I still find the whole situation between he and Clary pretty weird, but, hey, I’m not judging.

Simon’s character also went through some major changes. I don’t want to reveal too much and spoil it for anyone else, but I will just say that I guessed it was coming. I’m still not sure if I like this new development, but it could definitely make the story more interesting later on. I really wish Clary would stop being a turd and realizes how perfect Simon is for her. Teenagers. Le sigh.

Overall, this was a great sequel. There’s still so much that can happen in the rest of the series. (I’m still waiting for the Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires, and faeries to finally join forces.) The cliffhanger at the very end has me eager to start the next book ASAP.

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Recently Added to the TBR Pile

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Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

via Goodreads

I’ve been wanting to read this one since hearing Zoraida speak on the panel I attended at BookCon. She talked about the recently released sequel Bruja Born and the history behind it. I was somewhat intrigued by her talk of brujas (witches), superstition, and keeping true to the folklore than inspired her story.

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The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost…

via Goodreads

To be honest, I’d never even heard of this book until everyone started posting reviews of the sequel, Ravencry, recently. Both books sound fantastic (and a bit dark) and I look forward to reading them.

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Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

via Goodreads

This doesn’t sound like one of my usual reads, but it sounds like it could have some potential. I’m hoping J is really a Dalek or The Master in disguise. 😉

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Hello! I have returned from vacation, a year older and slightly tanner. Despite all my trepidation about turning thirty, my birthday was pretty good. A huge thank you to those of you who wished me a happy birthday. I really do appreciate it. 🙂 I promise I will be posting pictures and details from my trip soon, but for now you’ll just have to settle for this book review.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Despite the trepidation I shared during my FIF post about this book, I enjoyed this one. It was definitely not the YA-dystopian-romancey read that I was anticipating. I guess it was kinda silly of me to think that go begin with, given that Victoria Schwab doesn’t exactly stick to stereotypical characters/plots.

Kate and August were great protagonists – flawed, broken, and wanting nothing more than to find peace in a world of chaos. Kate was a difficult character to like at times. She was a bit reckless and naive, which got on my nerves. I suppose this made her more human and more relatable though, so it’s not really a bad thing. Of the two, August felt like the more well-rounded and level-headed one, which was ironic, given that he’d been pretty sheltered for most of his existence.

The way that music was used (as a way to lure victims), was interesting. I do find this tactic slightly impractical though. How are you expected to carry around a musical instrument all the time? Seems like it would be an inconvenience, if you ask me.

One of the main premises of this book is that violence breeds violence. The monsters in the story were all born from acts of violence, only to go forward and cause more violence in the world. It’s such an intriguing and haunting concept, and quite different than the usual monster backstory. There were a lot of villain-type characters in this book, not all of them actual monsters, so you never knew who to trust. I even found myself questioning the main characters a few times.

The horror and bleakness of the world Schwab created definitely made this a unique read. It gets two thumbs up from me.

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! 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.

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Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I’m going to be honest, if I didn’t hear so many good things about this book and didn’t already love the author, I probably wouldn’t have picked this up. The blurb on the back makes it sound like it’s going to be a dystopian romance, which isn’t usually my forte. BUT, there’s monsters involved, so I figured I’d just give it a shot.

So far, the story is interesting, albeit a little slow paced on revelations. It goes back and forth between August and Kate’s POVs, so you don’t get too much all at once. Perhaps this is the author’s way of building up the suspense? I’m interested to find out more about the characters, especially the “monsters.” I’m also curious to see how music ties into all of it, since, judging by the title, it’ll obviously play some big role in the story. Maybe they’ll play the Monster Mash and have a giant flash mob scene! 😛

Whether I’ll enjoy this one or not is still up in the air. I guess we’ll find out later!

 

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

I enjoyed this one, but it was nothing spectacular. The time travel + pirate thing is a pretty cool concept. It’s like Doctor Who, but at sea. (Why weren’t there more pirates on Doctor Who?) Something that really bugged me though was that there wasn’t much of an explanation for Navigation and how hey actually got from time/place to time/place. The explanation we are given is super vague and didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The characters were okay. Truthfully, I found some of the side characters to be more interesting than the main character, Nix. Her crew mate and close friend, Kashmir, was probably my favorite character, as he had more personality than everyone else.

As I predicted in my First Impression Friday post, there was some romance happening (although not necessarily in the way I expected), which I didn’t care for. Romance in adventure stories don’t always work, in my opinion. My other predictions were incorrect, although I see the potential for them happening in the sequel.

Overall, the story wasn’t bad. If you like light adventure with some romance/love triangle stuff thrown in, then you might enjoy this one.

 

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! 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.

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Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination. As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crew mates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

This book was part of my BookCon haul. I hadn’t heard too much about this book prior to getting it, but it advertises sea adventures and time travel, so obviously I was sold.

The premise is interesting so far, as is the main character. I don’t feel I’ve gotten enough info about any of the side characters yet to say whether I like or dislike them. Hopefully that will not be the case throughout the entire story. There’s a little bit of flirtation between Nix and her crew mate, Kashmir, which I suspect is going to lead to some romance. (I’m kind of hoping there isn’t too much romance, because I have mixed feelings about romance in adventure stories.) There some few things I’m still hoping get explained more thoroughly because right now there are some major plot holes. There’s definitely some potential there though, so we’ll see what happens further along.

A few predictions:

  • Nix and Kashmir are going to team up and go off in search of their own adventure
  • Nix’s father is going to try hunting them down
  • Someone else is going to be hunting them also
  • They’re going to get stuck in a particular place/time for an extended period
  • Romancey stuff

 

Have any of you read this book? Did you you enjoy it?

Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Monday. How YOU Doin’?

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Hello and Happy Mo….I mean, it’s Monday, again.

I acquired some new books this weekend! I didn’t plan on buying any, you know how it is when you’re a bibliophile with zero self-control. *shrugs* Check out what I got:

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The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure.

via Goodreads

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Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

via Goodreads

How’s everyone doing today? Get any new books this weekend?