THE WICKED KING (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black | Review

Amazon | TBD | Goodreads

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

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

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 have to say that I remember really enjoying The Cruel Prince. I re-read my review of it, and while coming across a little harsh, I still stand by it. I felt, in short, that I just really didn’t like the main character, Jude, but the surrounding characters, mainly Cardan, were really well written, and that’s what kept me interested.

So, naturally, my expectations for the second book were relatively high, hoping for some character correction with Jude. But, unfortunately, I just don’t think we got that.

In fact, I think we added on another issue — the pacing. I understand that some people want to go into a book where one thing after the other happens sentence by sentence, but this sequel, to me, just seemed so poorly paced, it was almost ridiculous. I feel we spent a good 150 pages getting aquatinted with everyone again, while having 20 pages for conflict build up, 30 pages with the actual conflict, and the rest just winding down to the ending.

Cardan, again, was the best character, but I felt we hardly got to see him. Jude remained annoying, and the story ended with a “cliffhanger” that, I will admit, I didn’t see coming. But with such major pacing issues, as I felt this book had, I’m just not sure I want to continue with this series. We’ll see. The thing is, is I don’t really know if I should be blaming Black here or her editors.

In the end, this book was enjoyable, just not Black’s best.

Rating


Have you read The Wicked King? What did you think? What’s your favorite Holly Black book? Let’s chat int he comments!

Advertisements

THE WITCH ELM by Tana French | Review

Amazon | TBD | Goodreads

528 Pages

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life: he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.


I don’t think it’s any surprise to say that I absolutely loved this book.

First, let’s address some things:

  • this is a standalone
  • it’s a “slow burn”
  • but it’s absolutely bloody brilliant

Standalone — The Ending . . . ? (no spoilers)

Yes! This book, unlike the rest of French’s work, is a standalone. I was slightly nervous about this. The idea that there would (probably) be no more of these characters or “world” once the final sentence was read kind of scared me. What if she didn’t wrap it up well?

Why did I ever doubt?

This book . . . let me just say that this book has one of the tightest, most mind-reeling endings I’ve read in a very, very long time. There could have been a more perfect ending for this work.

Slow Burn

This book was not her best rated on Goodreads, because a lot of people complained that the plot didn’t start or pick up until page 250 and because the main character is an ass.

I would argue that they are wrong and that it being a “slow burn” (though I wouldn’t say that, and I’ll explain why in a second) is what makes this possibly French’s best work to date.

The first part of this book is a very, very deep character development-type device that French is a master of. Sure, she could have condensed everything you read up to page 250 into a cool 50 pages, but, I will scream this so the people int he back can hear, YOU CANNOT BUILD A HOUSE WITHOUT A FOUNDATION!!!! I will tell you that I was never once bored when reading this book. Getting to know Toby, his family and the people around him are what make the rest of this and the ending so impactful.

French is a master at this, people! Trust in her skills.

This Book is Bloody Brilliant

No, I am not British.

BUT THIS BOOK IS ABSOLUTELY BLOODY BRILLIANT.

Am I biased since I have a previously liking to the rest of French’s works? I don’t think so.

This book is so smart, from beginning to end. Even if you figure out the “who”, I guarantee you will not figure out the “why”. And, if for some miraculous reason you do figure that out, I bet you won’t figure out what happens at the end.

French is setting you up. The second you read that first paragraph, you’re trapped, because the last one will have you screaming.

This could possibly be French’s best work to date. If you have not read anything by her yet, please, what are you doing?!?! I implore you: READ THIS ONE!

Rating


Have you read anything by Tana French? Have you read The Witch Elm? Let’s chat in the comments!

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell | Review


Amazon | TBD | Goodreads

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan.

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


This is one of those books where I really have to step back and remind myself that I’m reviewing this on my blog and not as an academic. Because from an academic point of view, this story hardly had any plot-line, and even if you counted it as a plot, it hardly moved, there was hardly any climax, the characters hardly got anything done. It’s a mess, really.

But, then I have to step back and be like, “Daniel, this is for your blog. Did you enjoy it?”

And the answers to that is yes. I enjoyed this book so, so much. Do I wish that it had had more of a climax? Yes. But, in the end, I just really loved all of the characters, the romance, the everything.

This is definitely one of those, feel-good, we’re all in the same boat kind of reads that’s just really relaxing.

I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to read a Rowell, haha.

Rating:

VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab | Review

Amazon | TBD | Goodreads

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. 

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end? 


I found myself at the end of my sophomore semester in college having nothing to read, and I was having a stroll around the library and decided to pick this one up. For as long as I can remember, this has been on my TBR, and I’m glad that I decided to pick this one up!

I found myself actually liking Victor’s motives, and I understand this is supposed to be like a “villain v villain” type of story, but I actually felt sympathy for him, while having absolutely no remorse for Eli.

While I really enjoyed all of the stories and characters, my one critique would have to be the extremely short chapters. While I prefer short chapters over extremely long ones, I just felt that the short chapters in this one made it hard to really get into the story. The story just seemed chopped up so much.

But, overall, I really enjoyed the story and would recommend picking this one up if you haven’t already.

Rating:

The Mystery Blogger Award | Take #2

Hey everybody! I was tagged by one of my favorite bloggers, Ally!


WHAT IS THE MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD?

It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion. –Okoto Enigma


THE RULES FOR THE AWARD ARE:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Things About Me

  1. I have a godcat — Aubrey! :’D
  2. I’m going to Rome this year, and it will be my first time going abroad! I am so excited about it!
  3. I have seen Lorde in concert 3 times (one of which I practically waited in line for 86 hours to get front row . . . but that’s another story, and it was totally worth it).

Questions from Ally

  • Who was your favorite childhood author?

I used to love love love Andrew Clements. I remember walking into the library sometimes and seeing his new book on the shelf and getting to the edge of my seat so I could grab it before anyone else could.

  • What’s your favorite dessert?

I can’t really choose a favorite! I love to bake, so anything that I bake for that day is my favorite!

  • Which fictional character do you relate to the most?

A character who keeps coming to mind is probably Kvothe from the Kingskiller Chronicle. His drive to achieve his dreams is something that reminds me of my mind set — to never give up.

  • What book would you recommend to your younger self?

While I can’t think of a specific book, I would have told myself to pick up ERAGON by Christopher Paolini sooner, so I could get into fantasy at an earlier age. It is now one of my favorite genres.

  • Tell me your very specific coffeeshop order.

A grande, carmel, latte machiato with almond milk OR an americano, no cream.


Tagged

Hamad | Rebecca | Tshepiso | Jessica | Alyssa


5 Questions for Tagged

  • What book has been on your TBR the longest?
  • What color shirt are you wearing right now?
  • Where’s the last place you visited?
  • What was, to your recollection, the first chapter book you ever read?
  • What was your favorite holiday gift this year — giving or receiving?

LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff | Review

Amazon | TBD | Goodreads

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.


(Jay, if you’re reading this, please know that I still love your work, and it pains me greatly to write this.)

I really did buy this very randomly, though it’s slightly shocking it took me so long to, since Nevernight and Godsgrave have been some of my favorite books this year. Unfortunately, this one was not.

The first thing I thought when I started reading this was of The Lunar Chronicles, probably the only sci-fi series I’ve ever read. Maybe it was the constant comparison to that or the fact that this really didn’t feel like a “book one” to me and more like a prequel.

I felt the Kristoff’s skill in world building for some of his other novels just didn’t come through with this, and that’s probably another reason this fell flat for me. And the fact that I just didn’t really care for the main character.

Another issue I had with this is that, in general, Kristoff seems like a very non-censored person, and this just seemed to held back. I understand that this is YA, but would I have liked it more had it been intended for the adult audience? While I can’t answer that accurately, I can say that the answer is, most likely, “probably”.

On the good side, I really enjoyed Lemon’s character, and her alone is what kept me reading.

In the end, maybe it’s just that sci-fi isn’t my thing or that I just felt this world was described as a heaping pile of metal and nothing else that made me not like this that much. The story is fun and I can see the audience that would really read and enjoy this, but unfortunately that just wasn’t me.

Rating:


Do you like sci-fi? Have any recommendation? Let’s chat in the comments!

HOMECOMING S:1 | Podcast Review

Download here.

The first scripted series from Gimlet Media, starring Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris, and David Cross. Homecoming centers on a caseworker at an experimental facility, her ambitious supervisor, and a soldier eager to rejoin civilian life — presented in an enigmatic collage of telephone calls, therapy sessions, and overheard conversations. The result is an innovative, immersive audio experience — a mystery unfolding across the twelve episodes of Seasons One and Two.


The drive back to my home town is about two and half hours, and I find that listening to music only tires me. So, I decided to give podcasts a try, and this was one of them.

Let me say that this is, so far, the best story podcast I’ve ever heard. Every time I listen to it I feel like I’m in on a little secret — like I’m the only one in the world who knows what’s happening to these people.

The acting is superb. The leading actress really does remind me of Sarah Paulson’s voice, and I swore it was her at first. But, everyone does an amazing job in this.

It’s spooky, suspenseful, and has characters you really get to know and love. Season 1 was fantastic, and I’m excited to see what season 2 brings.

Rating


Do you like listening to podcasts? Let’s chat in the comments!