Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Snagged a signed copy from Mysterious Glaxy bookstore in San Diego!

Snagged a signed copy from Mysterious Glaxy bookstore in San Diego!

If you are active on bookish social media, you have undoubtedly seen or heard about The Cruel Prince by Holly Black in some capacity. This is the first book in the Folk of the Air series. It seems that most readers either love it or hate it. The premise was interesting enough - sisters stolen by their parents’ murderer to be raised in the land of Faerie. Get ready, because the Slytherin energy is turned up to 100 in this book.

The “youngest wickedest” son of the High King is, of course, arch-enemy number 1 to our main protagonist, Jude. The book starts with darkness and violence and never really lets up in that regard. The idea is unique and interesting enough but fell incredibly flat for me for the first half of the book. It wasn’t difficult for me to continue reading, and I attribute that to Black’s writing. The world-building wasn’t amazing, and I felt myself wanting more. I did not enjoy the way Black intertwined the human world with Faerie — all of the Target references had me loling, and not in a good way. I did find myself speed reading, hoping for something to happen. Thankfully around page 200 things begin to really pick up and unfold in a unique and intriguing way. The twin sister feud felt random and forced for me, and I still think that was one of the flattest and least interesting parts of the book. Twins, best friends….immediately turned enemies? I won’t say anything more as I want to keep this pretty spoiler free, but I would love your thoughts on the matter if you have read this.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3 stars from me. It felt a bit boring for quite a while, but thankfully picked up towards the end. I’m interested enough at this point that I would read the second book. Jude and Cardan are annoying but intriguing in their own way, as with most of these characters. The plot left me a bit wanting, but we will see if the second book doesn’t find a better pace.

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I cannot put my finger on one singular reason that this wasn’t a great read for me, but here we are. This was my first Holly Black book. 3 stars overall, and I will be reading The Wicked King. I have hope that it will be better than the first, as the second half really did deliver in ways the first half just couldn’t seem to. Have you read The Cruel Prince - what did you think?

Book Review: Strange the Dreamer + Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Every edition of this book is beautiful

Every edition of this book is beautiful

This is a bit of a two-for-one review, of both Strange The Dreamer and Muse Of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I read them one after the other and it felt fitting to review them in one place. No spoilers!

Strange the Dreamer sat on my shelf for months. I took photos of the beautiful cover but never made the time to start it. I had heard so many rave reviews that I was hesitant and didn’t want another disappointing read. There was no reason for the hesitation, from the first chapter I knew I was in for a treat. Taylor’s writing style is exquisite. The world-building is unique but thorough. The characters are relatable and realistic. The plot is intriguing, and fresh while still feeling familiar in a welcoming way. There is a magic system introduced, and Taylor builds it over time in an easy-to-understand way.

I love a subtle cleverness and banter to an author’s writing and oh, Laini Taylor, she is the queen. There are so many funny, witty, and clever nuggets tucked away in these pages. She also does a really beautiful job of using symbolism to tackle important and relevant issues, and for me, that’s what really sets a good story apart from a great one. There is forbidden love, tackling racism, and how can we resist a passionate love story with a deeper purpose? You find yourself rooting for certain characters, exasperated with others, and outright yelling at the pages at some points (Okay, just me?). Will there be a happy ending? Who knows.

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Share this on Pinterest to read later, and follow me on Instagram!

At the start of book two, Muse of Nightmares, we find ourselves in a different time and place. It felt a little confusing at first, but Taylor does an excellent job at making sure the reader has the information that they need to keep them up to speed. Is it weird if I say I loved every sentence? Well, I loved every sentence. I loaned this one from the library and had to stop myself from annotating every page. The emotion that Taylor is capable of evoking is a true gift. The personalities of these characters feel like they jump off the page, surround you, and become living and breathing people telling you their stories. Laini Taylor reminds us that people are usually more complicated than we wish they were, people are usually rude, mean, violent, or generally negative because of their struggles. She reminds us through her characters and these stories that we don’t always have a choice, but when we do, choose the light.

5 gleaming stars for both of these books! I can confidently say these will be re-reads for me in the future, and that is a huge deal because very, very few books make it onto that list. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Have you read them? Connect with me on Instagram, and let’s discuss our thoughts!

Review: 'People Like Us' by Dana Mele

A review of  People Like Us  by Dana Mele

A review of People Like Us by Dana Mele

Another Boarding School?

I don’t quite remember where I first saw this book recommended. It could have been on social media or on someone’s blog at one point or another; wherever it was, the title had stuck with me. People Like Us is a young adult mystery/thriller set at, you guessed it, a boarding school. If you aren’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, you may not know yet that one of my guilty pleasures happens to be YA fiction set at boarding schools. A multitude of books are set at boarding schools, and it seems that I have read at least half of them. At some point it just became a cliche, and yet I still go back for more. If you are like me in this way, you’ll enjoy the blend of predictable prep school elements with unpredictable suspense.

People Like Us brushes up against the likes of Mean Girls and Thirteen Reasons Why and lands somewhere in the middle. The characters felt nuanced and complex while simple enough that the long list didn’t feel overwhelming. Kay, our main protagonist, has pretty one dimensional relationships with her friends, but there are a couple exceptions to this: she is potentially in love with her best friend Brie, at the very least attracted to her. A ways into the story we meet Nola, a classmate who has always been seen as weird. I very much appreciated that Mele treats the main character’s sexuality as just a fact of the story, and that all of them seem to be fairly sexually fluid.

From the onset, i felt drawn in. Dana Mele does an excellent job with her pacing and atmosphere, and my attention was rapt from the start. Peppered throughout are quotes like, “I gaze into her eyes and look for my shadow self somewhere”. I mean, come on. How can’t you highlight the hell out of lines like that?

Mele brings up some interesting points about the human condition. We all make mistakes, some of us do bad things. Does that mean we deserve bad things to happen to us? Overall this is quite a dark psychological thriller, and I wouldn’t recommend it for immature audiences.

As I said, the pacing was great throughout, but it’s almost as if Mele ran out of steam at the end. It just felt like things fell a bit flat, like it was a rush to the end. Details are revealed about Nola that needed to be further fleshed out, or not even mentioned at all. And once we do finally get to the motive, it’s almost as if it’s mentioned in passing.

Something to take note of, if suicide if a trigger for you, please know that before reading. Mental health seems like it should be a big topic in this book, but somehow isn’t addressed properly, and for that I was disappointed.

Who This Book Is For

Overall, a good read. Dana Mele is on my radar for the future. If you enjoy Mean Girls, Thirteen Reasons Why, Riverdale, etc. I am sure you will enjoy this book as well.

Have you read People Like Us? What did you think?