Tuesday, 5 March 2019

#62 The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Right, no idea where to start with this. Ive read a few Holly Black books, shes a well loved author in the YA community. So far she hasnt been for me so when i saw this book being released early last year i didnt bother picking it up. The hype took over though and it was pretty cheap for kindle so i picked it up. 

The story follows Jude, a mortal girl whose mother and father are murdered (literally happens on the first page, not a spoiler!) she is then taken by her parents murderer Madoc to the fairy world. Jude finds out that Madoc is her older sisters real father so they live with and are raised by him along with her twin sister Taryn. 

The fairy world is ruled by a king who is coming to the end of his reign and will be passing the throne to one of his children. One of his youngest children is Prince Cardan who is 'the cruel prince'. Cardan goes to school lessons with both Jude and Taryn and he tortues them for being mortals as he thinks they are not equal to the fey people. 

As the story progresses there are many twists and turns as we follow Jude try to navigate her way through fairy land as shes constantly viewed upon as weak, shes bullied and has to watch over her shoulder the entire story as she cant trust any of the fey people. Many characters try to kill her as they view it as fun. Throughout all this torture Jude longs to be one of them, she wants to be respected and loved within this society. Jude is amidst a difficult relationship with her siblings, her older sister Vivi refuses to let go to her links to the mortal world even though she is half fey and everything that Judes wants and Taryn is so content to keep her head down and not bother the fey even when they kick dirt into their lunch and berate them constantly she believes its better to ignore them. Jude is unable to do so as she is strong willed and wishes to fight back against Cardan and his troupe. 

The fairy world and books about fairies has never been something that ive been into. I tried so hard to get into The Iron Fey series but couldnt :( but this was different, it was a very dark take on a YA fairy story and the characters are written to be unlikable which is so unusual that it really added to the overall effect. I really enjoyed the politics behind the story, the writing was very lyrical and the descriptions were spot on. As a reader you really root for Jude as she is so badass but you also enjoy the love to hate relationship with Cardan, i hated him so much. I enjoyed Judes narrative of loving Madoc but also hating him for ruining her life, it was interesting watching her internal struggle with despising the world so much but also doing anything possible to fit in. 

i really disliked Taryn as a character as she was so weak compared to Jude and she didnt stand by her sister at all. I thought the writing was quite clever in the fact that she faced the same internal struggles as Jude but she dealt with it in the complete opposite way to Jude. She was more than happy to put her head down and get on with it. She wants to fall in love and marry a fey boy whereas Jude wants to become a knight and yield and sword and learn more about strategy and defence. The sibling rivalry was written so well and was so believable. 

The plot was fantastic, the fey are so unpredictable and it was so hard to predict what Cardan would do next. Jude is so strong willed and admirable as a character but shes also a hot mess who has no idea what shes doing the majority of the time. Her struggles with decision making was so interesting to read about and she really does make some poor choices at times. The plot is jammed back with the political side of the fey world and who will be the next king which was really interesting throughout. I loved the fact that the next in line to the throne wasnt the eldest as is traditional in these types of stories and also throughout history. That made it slightly easier to have my own theories of how it would be. I did figure it out as the second book just came out before i read this and i could figure out the ending from the title of the second and last book in this duology but oh well.   

I will be reading the second book for sure!

4/5 stars 

Thursday, 21 February 2019

#61 An Anonymous Girl

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

So last year i read 'The Wife Between Us' it was one of most anticipated books of the year and after i saw it was nominated in the Goodreads choice awards i picked it up straight away. Alas i was SO disappointed by it, dont get me wrong it was an ok read but nowhere near the 5 star read that i was anticipating. Saying that i was a little nervous to pick this one up but im glad i did, it was such a thrilling read.

The story begins with Jess a young makeup artist living in New York, she inadvertently finds herself amidst a morality and ethics anonymous study held by a renowned professor Dr Shields. The study offers substantial financial reward which is very appealing to Jess as she is struggling to pay her rent monthly and worries about her family back in Philadelphia.

Jess arrives at the study and faces some questions on a laptop in an empty clinical style room. The questions are not what Jess was expecting, questions that make her admit doing things that she has regretted. Jess continues with the study as shes being paid $500+ for each session. When Dr Shields gets in touch with Jess to see if she is interested in continuing the study and meeting for face to face sessions Jess agrees. Boyyyy does she not know what shes getting herself into. In the weeks that follow Dr Shields manipulates scenarios for Jess to 'accidentally' bump into her husband Thomas, to see if he will cheat on his wife. As Jess gets closer to Thomas she immediately realises the link that he is married to Dr Shields but she is unaware of the danger she is in.

Dr Shields continues to manipulate Jess into going along with her plot to see if her husband is cheating but supplying her with unlimited money and gifts picked out specifically for her. What ensues is an absolute shit show, i couldnt stop reading, it was so cleverly written. When Jess tries to pull back from the study and Dr Shields and Thomas' life Dr Shie
lds begins to interfere in every aspect of Jess' life.

The characters were so believable and the back stories were well constructed which is sometimes a down fall with these types of books.

My favourite thriller of 2019 so far! I dont want to say too much more about the plot of side characters as i dont want to give anything else away. I love domestic thrillers over the last 2 years they have become my favourite book genres. I get so obsessed with the stories and cant put them down and this was so exception. I will be more willing to pick up their next book now for sure!

Monday, 21 January 2019

#60 An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

This book is about April May, a 23 year old design graduate who accidentally stumbles across a metal statue in the middle of a New Year street at 3am. April calls her best friend Andy who has been failing at becoming a viral sensation. They make a gimmicky video in which April pretends to interview the statue that she names Carl. Overnight the video goes viral and they wake to discover that there is a Carl in every major city worldwide.

At first when i read the premise i thought 'hmmm great idea but how will that span over 300 pages', but there were so many twists to this tale. This book massively took me by surprise. It was SO Hank Green, i even in parts read some of it in his voice. At first i was afraid to pick this book up as ive been so invested in John Greens books for years and if i didnt like Hanks then id be letting not only myself but my favourite vlogbrothers down. Im so glad that this wasnt the case. This read as so realistic, you can tell Hank is writing it as he knows what its like to be internet famous and for your videos to go viral. He probably knows a thing or two about trolls and people hating you for no reason also so it really added another dimension to this already fantastic story.

I have noticed a correlation to my some of my favourite books specifically sci-fi type books and that is that they need to have a few pop culture references to it, if a book mentions something geeky that i like it automatically has me on side and unsurprisingly Hank really delivered in this area. A few things that were mentioned in this book that made me fan girl it even more:

  • NaNoWriMo
  • Reddit
  • Pokemon
  • A female president! (off topic but still!)
  • Pokemon
  • Pop Tarts
  • Queen

I thought John Green was the king of writing a relatable, realistic quirky geek girl but April May was just perfect! Way to go Hank! 

The dream sequence reminded me a little of Black Mirror Bandersnatch, it has similar vibes to a chhose your own adventure story which was really cool, I loved the idea that everyone was having the dream and were trying to figure out the sequences. it was so clever and well done. 

I loved the idea that the Carls were alien life forms that were on a mission to get humans to work together to figure it all out. It left me with so many questions though which i really hope he touches on in the next book! Is this book a metaphor for how the world responds to things we dont understand? Is this Hanks interpretation of humanity? One of my favourite quotes from the book is 'This is what humanity is, solidarity in the face of fear', I think he was verbalising (through April May) that we shouldnt be so quick to assume that something is evil just because we cannot understand it. It is a very strong and beautiful message.   

5 stars from me and i can already see this book making my top books i read in 2019 list and its still only January! Oh and dont worry Hank, i forgive you for getting a Carly Rae Jepsen song stuck in my head for days! Can we discuss that ending cliffhanger? I need the next book now! So far we have no title or release date *cries*

Friday, 18 January 2019

#59 Beartown

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

So i heard a LOT about this book towards the end of 2018, everyone that read it on my GR seemed to give it 5 stars. All i knew was that it was about a rape that happens in a small hockey town and how everyone in the town deals with it.

I was very pumped to start this and 150 pages in and NOTHING had happened except a bunch of teens played hockey, which at this point i should mention i know literally nothing about. There is a lot of characters introduced and some have more back story than others but it was quite tricky to remember who was who and how they were relevant, in the end i had to do a bit of a 'family tree' type drawing as i was so confused.

So the main players (excuse the pun) in this story are:

  • Kevin- 17 year old star player on the junior hockey team, probably the best hockey player that Beartown has ever seen. He is an only child, has grown up in an affluent home but his parents really dont know how to be parents
  • Peter & Kira- Peter is the GM of the hockey team and is so very invested in getting Beartown back on the hockey map. Kira his wife is a lawyer, they have 2 children together Maya and Leo.
  • Maya- 15 year old who nearly died as a little girl, she is close with her parents and her best friend Ana
  • Amat- also 15 years old, he is on the younger hockey team but is put on the junior team before the semi-final as he is the fastest player on the younger team. His mother is a cleaner at the ice rink and raised him alone. He is also in love with Maya.
  • Benji- Kevins best friend. His father committed suicide in the forest of Beartown when he was younger. He is an aggressive player on the junior team. He is very close to his 3 sisters and mum. Also has a drug problem.

The story kicks off around the 184 page mark which is ridiculous that it took that amount of pages for something to happen but wow did it pack a punch. It made for very difficult reading. One thing i will say is that Backman has handled this topic very very well and a massive kudos to his translator Neil Smith as this was written in Swedish originally i believe and was translated impeccably.

This was really difficult to read as a mother of a daughter. I was so conflicted as i understood a lot of view points, some wrong and some right. The characters were written so perfectly, they were so real and you could imagine Beartown existing. A stand out character for me was Amat, hes impoverished but he loves hockey. He has to choose between doing whats right and hockey and for the majority of the second half of the book i really didnt know what he would choose.

Benji is also an amazingly complex character that i fell in love with, he was so rough around the edges but possibly the only character in this whole book that did the right thing from the very beginning regardless of what it cost him.

I honestly could gush about this book all day, it was just so well done. The ending is beautifully wrapped up, i was actually very shocked to find that it had a sequel (which ive already downloaded) but i can only hope that it follows a few of the characters 10 years later but we will see.

My first 5 star read of 2019!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

#58 Muse of Nightmares

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor 
(Strange the Dreamer #2)

'I would have chosen you, it they had let me choose'

This review will be hard to write as im trying to keep it as spoiler free as possible.

Ok so i was nervous going into this, i loved the first book and knowing that this was a duology and this book was the ending worried me, i thought if i didnt like it then it would ruin the first book. I needn't of bothered worrying though as it was pretty epic. I listened to this on audio book and it surprisingly really added to the story.

This story picks up right where Strange the Dreamer leaves off with the introduction of 2 newbies, Kora and Nova which at first i wasnt sure about this but their story became so important to the overall story. We also get our fill of Lazlo and Sarai as well as the majority of our other beloved characters from the first book.

There was so much character growth particularly in Minya, i was shook! Taylor took this character to another world that i really didnt expect. Never did i think i would actually sympathise with her.

I love how the story is split into parts, it flows so well this way and there are so many beautiful quotes throughout. The writing is SO stunningly beautiful, the world building is second to none and crafted so amazingly and every character is so intriguing. I just loved it, i could gush about it all day.

There were so many heartbreaking moments that it really tugged at the heartstrings. I dont think i will be over this book for a long time, i hope this is not the end!

This is definitely a contender for my favourite book of 2018.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

#57 The Leaving

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The Leaving is the story of how six children are taken on their first day of kindergarten and eleven years later and five of them return with no recollection of where they have been for all those years. The story is told in three perspectives, Lucas and Scarlett who are two of the five children to return and also Avery who is the big sister of Max who is the sixth child that didn't return. The multiple perspectives works really well for this type of story as you get drips and drabs of each characters back story and what they remember from the eleven years. 

Each of the six children begin to remember bits and pieces as theirs memories begin to come back and the story of what really happens slowly unravels. This was a fascinating read and such a page turner! i read it in two sittings as i needed to know what happened especially what happened to Max and why he didn't return with the others and really struggled to put it down. 

This wasn't a 5 star read for me as there was a few things i didn't like. Mainly Avery as a character, i found her highly annoying. Also the notes she was receiving that she believed where from Max? Not sure why that didn't unravel or wasn't touched upon more. 

I love mystery YA books that are not thrillers and this is the only one ive read in that genre that ive enjoyed! I thought the writing style was interesting especially in Scarletts chapters where the words are often reflective of how Scarlett is feeling and they are scattered on the pages to show or mind set or they will spiral to show her panic or if shes confused. 

I enjoyed Lucas' perspective as he tries to understand his thoughts and memories and tries to figure out if he is violent or has committed any violent acts. His chapters are very thought provoking and heartfelt, it reads like a confused boy that doesn't know how to begin life again now that hes home after eleven years. 

This book has some of thee worst parents in YA and im a big fan of family themes in YA books but honestly there wasn't a single redeeming adult character in this whole book! Not sure how realistic that is? Also the romance in this book was completely unnecessary and really didn't add anything to the story!  

The ending wasn't disappointing to me but i felt like there could have been SO much more and it really wasn't what i expected but i was glad that after all the build up that it wasn't a total let down. 

I've seen a LOT of negative reviews for this on GR and booktube, im not sure why as it wasn't a bad story and im glad it was kept as a stand alone story as we dont have enough stand alones in YA. 

Monday, 10 September 2018

#56 The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


This really isn't my type of book, id heard and seen the hype and did my very best to ignore it as i assumed this was a fluffy romance. A couple friends of mine on GR read it and rated it quite highly so i thought screw it, im going to check it out! Never have i been more surprised, i loved this story!

The plot follows Evelyn Hugo who is your 'Marilyn Monroe' type icon, Shes a vintage movie star when women were first up and coming in Hollywood. At the time of her fist successful film the media portrayed her as scandalous and they document every poor decision she ever made with a focus on her many marriages.

As you can probably tell from the title of the book Evelyn has been married seven times, when all of her husbands are dead and Evelyn in her late 80's decides to tell her story in the form of a biography, she enlists the help of Monique who is an up and coming writer at a magazine company. Monique is shocked to be chosen by Evelyn but goes along for the ride hoping it will advance her career.

The two begin meeting at Evelyn's Manhattan apartment to discuss the ins and outs of each marriage. Monique warms to Evelyn and her no nonsense attitude to life. The story also followed Moniques life as a struggling writer who is going through a divorce. You really grow to love both Monique and Evelyn as the story progresses. The twists and turns are amazing, i didn't see any of them coming!

Each husband is split into their own section in the book which makes it so much easier to understand. The way the story is intricately woven together is masterfully done. Some marriages were short whereas some were much longer. I thoroughly enjoyed the newspaper cut outs that were included as they showed the outside worlds view on Evelyns life whilst she went through the actual truth at the same time.

Evelyn married her best friend Harry Cameron to cover up the fact that they were both in gay relationships. Evelyn was in seeing her co-star and fellow actress Celia St James whilst Harry was in a relationship with Celia's husband John. This was her longest marriage lasting over 15 years and resulting in the couple having a daughter Connor. The four lived together and did everything together until Celia leaves and divorces John. When John prematurely dies of a heart attack Harry is left a broken man and turns to alcohol to numb his pain. A few years pass with Harry drinking more and more, he eventually dies whilst drink driving. Evelyn then marries Celias brother in another fake marriage to hide her lesbian relationship and they all move to Spain. Celia is very ill at this point and has limited years left to live. When Celia eventually passes away Evelyn then is left alone with Celias brother and the 2 remain married until he dies as well. Connor is then diagnosed with breast cancer which also kills her. Its all very real and very raw.

When everyone has died that Evelyn has ever loved she then plans to tell the truth after so many years of constant lies and cover ups.

This book made me laugh but it also made me ugly cry, the last 50 pages very nearly killed me. Evelyn lost her daughter to breast cancer and is auctioning off her old Hollywood dresses to raise money for breast cancer research. This was particularly hard for me to read as i have a daughter myself and can never ever imagine the pain of losing her so i found myself fully sobbing when Evelyn described her loss. The LGBT representation in this book was fantastic and so subtle, it was in no way in your face which i think happens in a lot of YA but i guess thats the difference between YA and adult fiction.