The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel PRince

goodreads-synopsis

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

commentary

Ten years ago, a 17 year old Michelle bought a copy of Tithe by Holly Black at Borders. This version of myself was excited for this book, and I hated it. I vowed to myself to never read another Holly Black book ever again. Yes, I was immature. And here I am now, finding myself finished with The Cruel Prince. 

Perhaps it was the hype and bookstagram that led me to read The Cruel Prince. This book has received phenomenal love and praise, but I found it to be problematic. Let’s just say that I am not the biggest fan of Jude and Cardan’s romance. I can see why others may love it since it is a slow burn romance.

Beginning with what I did enjoy from this book. Each character was flawed, and it was hard to like anyone, but it works well for this book. Jude was a bit irritating, but endearing for me. Jude has ambitions and goals, and she knows that she is limited as a mortal in the fae world. Jude seeks power in order to overcome the challenges of being human. She knows that in order to best the fae, she has to become better than them. Jude does love the fae world, while in the mortal world, she does not fit in. Jude has been shaped by her childhood growing up in a different world. Though Jude and Taryn do not belong with the Fae, they do not have a home to go back to in the human realm. Whereas, their older sister Vivi, she loves the mortal world more than anything else, even though she is half fae and is supposed to have a stronger bond with her fellow faeries. Though the story is told in Jude’s pov, I would say that Vivi is the rebel of the family because she longs to be in world with humans and does not comply with the traditions of her people. Taryn seeks assimilation to the faerie world by trying to be in her best behavior with others. Taryn wants to fit in, and does not seek trouble unlike her sister Jude.

Reading this book, I liked the relationship of the twins. Jude is tough, strong, and does not back down. She is emotionally driven, especially when it concerns the safety of Taryn. While Taryn is softer, and kinder. I did like how both sisters were mirror image of each other. Though, I would have liked to have read some of Taryn’s pov. My favorite non-romantic relationship had to be the dynamic between Jude and her adoptive father Madoc. Madoc murdered her parents, but Jude still loved him. Due to his beliefs, he shaped Jude to be fully a good adversary. He trained Jude, but he loved her back. He had his own interests that he sought for himself, and yet, he thought about the safety and concern for his family. Madoc wanted the best for his daughters despite having no blood relation.

What I really loved was the scheming royals and their political plans. Let’s just say that the buildup to the coronation and the events that take place afterward is the stronger half of the story. The first half of the story is not as great as the second half. Let’s just say that it’s dark, intense, and reminds me a bit of Game of Thrones. Ha ha. Honestly, I feel that the title of the Cruel Prince belongs to Balekin rather than Cardan.

My issue with The Cruel Prince is the constant bullying that Jude endures coming from the entourage of Cardan. The romance between Jude and Cardan is not the best. I would have love if Cardan was more of the stoic type that ignored Jude rather than allowing his friends to have free reign to torture and nearly kill Jude. Honestly, it was really difficult for me to root for Cardan and Jude. Jude was placed under a lot of danger especially when dealing with Cardan’s friends. I get that Cardan is a victim of abuse, but that does not justify his behavior towards Jude. I am a bigger fan of Jude getting the power she deserves. I like Cardan as well, but shipping him with Jude, I am not seeing it. Since this is the first book, my opinions can change with The Wicked King. 

Anyways, Locke was a trash character. I had a feeling that he was manipulating the romances between him and Jude. I don’t like that Locke was the figure that was tearing the relationship between Jude and Taryn. Learning about Taryn in the later half of the book changed my view on her. I did like her, but after finishing the book, not a fan. In a way, it can be argued that Taryn sought her own power to marry a fae. Though, I don’t like the message that she chose a boy over her sister.

My last issue with The Cruel Prince was the pacing. I felt that some parts needed to be fleshed out more such as Jude’s training under the Court of Shadows. Because The Court of Shadows does play a big role in Jude’s life, I would have at least liked there to be more interactions between her and the other members. It felt that she instantly became this fully equipped spy. I felt some areas could have been explained more. The pacing felt odd. For example, it was implied that Jude was strategic throughout the book, but the author could have written how Jude was strategic to begin with. It did a lot of telling, but not showing. Though, it was not my favorite book, it was entertaining. I want to see how the events will play into The Wicked King.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.5)

ARC: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

miragegoodreads-synopsis

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

commentary

When I first picked up Mirage from my tbr pile at home, I had no idea what I was expecting. I can best describe this book as the female version of The Prince and The Pauper in Space with hints of forced colonialism and imperialism. The first chapter had me hooked on the story, and normally, it takes a couple chapters before I become invested in a book.

Mirage was quite different from what I have read. To begin, it seems like not much happened, that was my original thought when I first finished the book. After letting my thoughts marinate for a couple days, this book does not bring the action, but it builds up to potential conflict that the characters will encounter in the upcoming sequel.

To begin, Amani is not the chosen one, nor is she a Mary Sue character. Amani dreams of having her life with far less restrictions, she and her family live in a village. She has a passion for reading books, especially poetry. She and her brothers live in a society where the Vathek Empire has subjugated other planets into submission, and Amani’s planet is one of them. When Amani’s village is celebrating a special cultural practice, robots serving the empire take Amani by force away from her people and family. Amani is forced into a position in which she has no control over her body, nor her fate.

Amani shares a close resemblance to Princess Maram. Amani is presented as a fragile when compared to Maram’s vicious nature. Amani becomes the Empire’s puppet in order to protect the princess from any danger. Given the tough situation, Amani does get agency. Though being Maram’s body double did give Amani fright at first, she learns that she can wield her own power given her position. Amani obeys and listens to her orders, but, she also learns to manipulate her situation.

The relationship between Maram and Amani is complicated. The princess is shown to be as a morally grey character. As a reader, you question Maram’s ideals. Was she influenced by her nature, or her nurture?  At the same, you can’t help but feel sorry for the princess. She was been raised by her Vathek family, and it has served as a factor to why she behaves in a cruel, and unjust manner.

As for the love interest, I will admit, it was definitely a insta-love situation, and usually I loathe insta-love relationships. But, I found myself digging the relationship between Amani and Idris. It was a forbidden love, and both characters are forced into positions that they have to comply to. Though, I am interested to know how Idris and Maram are in a relationship, because it’s vague and left to the imagination. The ending left me craving for the next book immediately. The very last chapters has the suspense and action that it was lacking in the first portion. I came with little to no expectations when it came to Mirage, but I wholeheartedly love it. It’s science fiction, fantasy, has the drama you need, and I think I might ship Amani and Maram more than Idris and Amani!

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wunderkids: (Part 1: Wildwood Academy) by Jacqueline Silvester

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15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and… two very different boys.

However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal.

Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run.

I was contacted by the author to give an honest review of Wunderkids.

Hey, so it has been a while since I wrote my last book review on my blog. One of my goals for this year is to read more indie books just to mix it up. When I read the synopsis of Wunderkids, I was really intrigued. Based on the synopsis, the book seem to have a creepy atmosphere. So I agreed to review the book and here is what I thought.

The book had an interesting premise don’t get me wrong. I loved the ideas that the author had for the book. I felt the execution was not well done. As I was reading the book, I felt that there was too much emphasis on Nikka’s school life and her boy problems rather than the dark mysterious secret that was promised. When I reached 60% of the book, the action finally kicked in. The climax of the book was the best part in my opinion. When it came to the action, the book moved at a quicker pace. It was exciting knowing that finally something was going to happened! I was thrilled with how the book was handling each character and their actions. Honestly, the last 40% made me give Wunderkids a higher rating. The book ended on a cliffhanger that made me want to have the second book ASAP!

Wunderkids introduced a variety of characters. Nikka is the protagonist. She does have a rebellious attitude at times and it takes her a while to learn how to trust the environment around her. She is mostly used to moving from place to place, never really settling down and making permanent friends. It is only till she accepts her scholarship to Wildwood Academy that she finally makes friends. I loved how Nikka’s best friend was a guy and they had no romantic feelings for each other. Thank God. Sums is the nerdy sidekick that is very supportive of Nikka. He was not popular at school, but once Nikka and Sums became friends their bond was irreplaceable. There is also Stella, who is Nikka’s roommate, that longs to be popular and is bit envious of Nikka’s talent. The book does have a love triangle. Izaya is the brooding rich bad boy of the school while other love rival is Tristan, who is rich Irish boy with a mischievous personality. Though Nikka does not pick who she wants to be with from the two, I have an inkling that she will choose….ha ha . I didn’t want spoil it since you have to read it for yourself in order to find out.

Overall, Wunderkids was a decent book with some good elements, and it was hard to get attached to the characters. The book was mostly description and it did get a bit tedious when it came to certain areas of the book. As I’ve mentioned, I found the last half of the book to be stronger than the first part. It did take me a while to really enjoy the book. That being said, Wunderkids can be a hit or miss with some readers.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

ARC: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

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goodreads-synopsis

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

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I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me an ARC of Blood Rose Rebellion. All opinions are my own.

Let’s talk about Blood Rose Rebellion. What a book. I literally don’t have any words to describe this one. My first warning sign should have been for fans of Red Queen, but I did not want to immediately judge the book. I was in the mood for historical fiction. I saw Blood Rose Rebellion on NetGalley and it had a unique synopsis. Now, I’ve never read a YA fantasy/historical fiction book set during the Hungarian Revolution. It was something new. Something exciting. Something fresh. Blood Rose Rebellion was not. Well, once again I have no words to describe how I about this book.

What I appreciate is that the author took a lot of time educating herself with Hungarian history. Kudos to her. But though her hard work was put into her book, I cannot say this book was terrific. It was very underwhelming.

Anna Arden is manipulated easily. People tell her what to do and she does it! She does not think for herself! Throughout the whole story, she was manipulated by her peers and friends. It was frustrating reading about a character who could not make up her own mind. She was foolish when to came to deciding on who was right or wrong. She did not take time to analyze the situations presented to her. I really had a difficult time warming up to Anna because she was so reckless and destructive to everyone around her.

Folks: EVERY DECISION ANNA MADE RESULTED IN HORRIBLE EVENTS TAKING PLACE!

A lot of tragedy could have been avoided if the girl had used her reason. Besides having a puppet mentality, she was driven to do certain things because of boys. Not saying that being boy crazy is a bad thing, but she put any guy she liked on a pedestal over her family. In the beginning she is head over heels for a man named Freddy. Though Freddy is a jerk and an irrelevant love interest, Anna would do anything for Freddy. She even sabotaged her sister’s magical debut. I found myself not liking the relationship Anna had with her sister. No sisterly love whatsoever. Instead, both sisters competed for a guy who did not chose either of them. As I mentioned Freddy is irrelevant compared to the other love interests.

Talk about boring love interests. By the way, one of Anna’s love interests is her second cousin. So yeah, there’s incest in this book. I was not a fan of both love interests. The love interests were not fleshed out. It seemed like all the boys were attracted to Anna, and I was shaking my head. No, no, no, no. Another case of a special snowflake that everyone loves, but I just hated. The romance was pointless because the guy characters were as bland as toast. Neither guy was great for Anna. And she was not great for them.

Many characters are introduced throughout the book. Luckily there was a glossary at the end of the book that served as a reference guide when I felt lost. The only likable characters from Blood Rose Rebellion were her cousin Noemi and her grandmother who were the voices of reason. Those two characters wanted to keep Anna in check from committing dumb decisions. Yeah, they tried in keeping her safe, but did not succeed. Unfortunately.

By the way, this book starts off really slowly. Nothing was happening and then everything became extremely dark near the end. The book had great concepts such as introducing demonic monsters and incorporating true historical events into the story. The mythology was cool as well just because it was new to me. But even though all those story elements were great, it did not work with Blood Rose Rebellion. Too much information and explanations that dragged on and on. Oh my goodness, I had to put this book down several times. I felt that I was mostly skimming through some of the chapters.

The most entertaining sections were the overly dark chapters that were added too late into the game. After reading Blood Rose Rebellion, I am not picking up the other books in the series. I can see potential of more books, but after reading this book with no plot and flat characters, and a pointless romance, I would just stop and move on with my life. I did not like it, but maybe anyone else will.

Final Rating:⭐️⭐️

Aisuru by Anma Natsu

aisuru

goodreads-synopsis

“You told me before that you’d never regret meeting me. Do you still feel that way now?”

Eighteen-year-old Sakura has spent her high school years living in self-imposed isolation. She’s carefully perfected her role as a cold, stuck up snob at school to keep her classmates, her teacher, the world at a distance so they will never learn the truth: about the night her father’s mental illness tore her world apart, leaving her an orphan and living on borrowed time.

To help her get through the pain, the kind man who adopted her would spin fantastical stories about his childhood friend Kazuki, a magical yokai from another world. Harmless fairy tales to take her mind off things, or so she always thought…

Until the night she finds Kazuki lying wounded in her garden. With the handsome yokai now sharing her house, a jealous young tengu living in her cherry tree, and new friends pushing their way past her walls, Sakura’s stoic acceptance of her fate is slipping.

But is she only opening herself up to further heartache and regret or is she opening the door to a happiness she never imagined possible?

 

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I received Aisuru  on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of Aisuru. I haven’t seen many reviews on the internet, but I decided to go ahead and read it. What got me to read the book was the synopsis since it sounded like a blend of contemporary and fantasy. I was intrigued by the characters, especially Sakura. Aisuru reminded me a bit of Inuyasha and Kamisama Hajimemashita, just the whole human-yokai romantic relationship, but that’s just it.

What I was expecting was an action-paced book filled with a lot of magical scenarios and political drama. Now what I got was different than what I expected. It was good, but it wasn’t bad. I was a tad disappointed that most of the book focused on Hakodate, Japan rather than the magical kingdom of Throklana.

Alright, basic plot of the book is that Sakura is dying and has less than a year of life left. Sakura tries to be an ice queen to those around her. Most of her classmates have invented rumors about her due to her cold personality. Though Sakura puts on an act, she is actually sweet and caring. She has hidden her illness from everyone; she wants to be treated like a normal girl. She wants to do many things in her life, but knows she can’t achieve those goals. When I was reading Sakura’s pov, I did tear up. Sakura was very accepting of her fate in the beginning of the story. As chapters progressed, it became harder for her to accept her death. Though Sakura has little character growth in the book, she at least tried to live as a normal girl. She got to accomplish some of her goals on her bucket list. One of my favorite moments of the book was the introduction of Sakura’s classmates that eventually became her friends. I have to say that this book did really great when it came to friendship.

I was actually surprised that this book was a bit dark at some times. Sakura’s past was extremely sad, especially what happened to her parents. Though she was adopted into a loving home after the traumatizing events of her childhood, she grew up mostly independent. That’s one thing that I really liked about Sakura, she always did her best no matter her limitations.

Moving on to Kazuki, I felt okay about him. Kazuki is the yokai prince who is supposed to take over the kingdom while his father is on his pilgrimage. Kazuki never wanted to be king. He is the oldest sibling, but he knows that his younger brother is far more capable of being the next crown king. The author didn’t really give a great description of his features besides his long claws and white hair. So I imagined him like this that whole time:

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Though Tomoe is a far more better character than Kazuki, just saying.

Kazuki was a good guy, but a horrible leader. Here’s the thing: his kingdom is in turmoil and his brother turned against him. What does Kazuki do? Reside in the human realm and leaves his kingdom in hands of his advisors. He abandoned the throne, and though his duty is to the kingdom, he never really does anything to contribute anything. I can see why he is fascinated with the human world, but it annoyed me that it wasn’t till 75% of the book that he decided to take action. As I’ve mentioned, he was a good guy…he did have some cute moments especially with Karasu. Now Karasu was one of my favorite characters in the story. He is a yokai as well and very devoted to his master. He initially hates Sakura and doesn’t trust her whatsoever. I found Karasu to be an adorable jealous little brother. He had a sad backstory that I wish got expanded more!

Anyways, I thought that Aisuru was going have a lot of action, but I got more of a contemporary vibe. Most of the book was spent on Kazuki and Sakura doing normal errands such as cleaning, or cooking. It seemed that this was going to be a book filled with insta-love, but I am glad that the author tried to build up the romance. There wasn’t much tension between the two characters and the kiss happened out of nowhere.

As for the whole plot, I thought it could have been great if there was no conflict in the yokai realm. Since most of the book took place in the human realm, it felt a bit too much to have two conflicts because Sakura was the main focus throughout the book. The conflict in Kazuki’s realm was ignored till the end!! But, despite Aisuru’s flaws, I did find myself enjoying the book. The book did have a villain! Surprise, surprise it wasn’t the brother. I assumed it was another character…since the villain didn’t get introduced till 50% of the book. I won’t give much away, but just wow.

What I liked:

  • Sakura’s pov
  • Karasu
  • The ending was cute

I feel that Aisuru could have made a good graphic novel since the author is inspired by Japanese culture. I was mostly thinking of anime when reading this book!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

miriam-michelle

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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goodreads-synopsis

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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I received Three Dark Crowns in my October Owlcrate box. I didn’t have an opportunity to read it back then, but I finally got around to reading it and well, it was an interesting story…Most people loved it, but I felt it was okay.

Alright, so Three Dark Crown is about three identical sisters who have been separated for years and each one has an equal claim to the throne. The catch is that only one can be queen, and the other two sisters have to be eliminated. Each sister has a unique magical gift, so the readers are led to believe. Mirabella is the strongest rival for the throne. She controls the elements, and she has a strong following of priestesses. Though she seems most likely to become queen, she cannot bring herself to depose of her sisters because she is the only one to have childhood memories of her two sisters. Then there is Katharine who is a poisoner. She can handle any poison…or so readers are led to believe. She’s the most fragile compared to the other two sisters. The poisoners group wasn’t well explained…but what I got is that before they (the poisoners) were healers. It makes sense. For example, removing poison from patients. Maybe I’m reading too into the book. Anyways, moving on. Lastly, there is Arsinoe who does not have a gift at all. She’s supposed to be a naturalist. A naturalist is someone who controls both plants and animals. She constantly admits to other characters that she won’t make it when it comes to the tournament.

The world building was weak. I had many thoughts when reading this book since the author didn’t explain much. There were references to the mainland, though the story takes place in the island of Fennbirn. All that I know is that the people of the mainland don’t have magical gifts. Other than that, I want to know if the islanders of Fennbirn were exiled into the island, and what type of mythology they have to explain the gifts. There were some references to a goddess, but the author didn’t elaborate on it. Yeah, I know I’m going a bit off topic, but I honestly want to know what type of world the characters are living in.

Moving on to the three queens. I was initially drawn to Katharine because she’s the most physically weak, but she’s sweet. I really liked how she started becoming more confident throughout the book. As I kept reading, I ended up liking Arsinoe much more than Katharine and Mirabella. Here are the reasons why Arsinoe is the best from the three sisters.

  1. She is very supportive of her best friend, Jules.
  2. She is hardworking
  3. She is tough and brave

Other than that, I wasn’t a big fan of Mirabella. Now, one of the most interesting characters is Jules. She’s the strongest naturalist on the island. I really love how Arsinoe respects her friend, and doesn’t have jealously at all. There is something special about Arsinoe, but I’ll just wait and see for the next book.

As much as I liked the book, it did have its faults.

  • Information overload during the beginning: Since there are multiple povs in this book, it took me a while to get used to all the characters. So many characters were introduced.
  • Weak world building
  • THE WORST LOVE TRIANGLE: I’m just going to leave this gif here…

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  • It was boring: I understand that this is the first book in the series, but there were several dull moments. A lot of flirting happened during most of the book. I felt the book focused a bit too much on the romance. I assumed the sisters were going to be far more scheming…but the minor characters took care of that. The book finally got exciting near the end with an awesome cliffhanger.

Three Dark Crowns had moments of creepiness, which I highly enjoyed. If you are in the mood for a spooky book, I’d say go with this one. Have patience for Three Dark Crowns…a lot of patience till you get to the second half. That cliffhanger was really good!!! After finishing the book, I’m not sure who will become the next queen. I’m not sure how many books will be in this series, but I am looking forward to the next installment.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

i'm not your manic pixie dream girlAuthor: Gretchen McNeil

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Links: Amazon | Goodreadsgoodreads-synopsisBeatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?he-he1

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Imagine the movie you really like right, and it gets a sequel that no one asked for, but the sequel is sort of good. I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil felt like that to me. It’s a standalone, contemporary, young adult novel that was released earlier this month.

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According to Urban Dictionary, a manic pixie dream girl is:

A Manic Pixie Dream Girl or MPDG, is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin after seeing Elizabethtown. It refers to “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” A pretty, outgoing, whacky female romantic lead whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives.

Guys, I really didn’t know how to feel bout this book. Let’s start with the cover art. Not my favorite, and yeah, I judged the book by the cover. My sister looked at the book and said it looks bad. She didn’t read the synopsis. Anyways, I decided to read it. Honestly, this book is extremely cheesy…to the max. Like an extremely cheesy version of a Disney Channel Movie. (Not bashing on Disney Channel Movies, I actually like watching them.) As for my reading experience, oddly enough I couldn’t put this book down. It became a guilty pleasure despite how stereotypical it was.

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Beatrice is known as the “math girl” in her school. She has a passion for math and hopes to win the scholarship to MIT. She and her group of friends aren’t popular.  There’s Gabriel who is the ambitious, “nerdy” journalist friend, who happens to be hated by jocks because his article fired the football coach. There’s also Spencer who is sarcastic, moody, and an artist. It’s obvious that he is in love with Beatrice but the girl is oblivious. She starts dating Jesse who constantly drops hints that she should be more outgoing and try to more social. I thought he was somewhat sweet, but I still didn’t trust him.  Beatrice hopes for a better senior year. Unfortunately, she and her friends are still being bullied by the most stereotypical jock bullies who are irrelevant.

Beatrice the genius she is, comes up with a wild idea that will guarantee popularity for her friends and stop the bullying. Beatrice applies math to solve her situation. She knows numbers like there’s not tomorrow. The formula is useful for Beatrice because she decides to use it as an experiment in order to win the scholarship for MIT.

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Only she and Gabe are thrilled about applying the formula for instant popularity, while Spencer is against the idea. Long story short, all three friends apply Beatrice’s math formula. Gabe, who is gay by the way, becomes the most stereotypical version of himself by being super flamboyant, and Spencer doesn’t do much to his image besides advertise his art to people. Beatrice becomes a stereotypical version of herself by offering free tutoring to the popular folks, but she’s the only one that does not become popular.

Remember Jesse? Beatrice’s boyfriend. There’s a new girl in school that is a manic pixie dream girl. Her name is Toile Jefferies, and she steals Jesse away from Beatrice. Beatrice applies the same formula to herself and becomes a manic pixie dream girl, who ends up being Toile’s rival.

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Alright, so I summed up pretty much what happens during the first half of the story. Beatrice becomes Trixie who becomes one of the most popular girls at school. Beatrice becomes confident and far more outgoing in her Trixie persona. Everything seems to be going great for her and her friends, but what Beatrice did not expect her formula to fail her. Spencer is the voice of reason throughout this whole ordeal. He constantly reminds Beatrice that what she’s doing is foolish. He was a jerk, but the boy was being honest. He didn’t want to “change”, but did it to support Beatrice.

What ends up happening is that Beatrice becomes obsessed and competitive towards Toile. Girl literally forgets that the reason she changed her persona was to win her boyfriend back. Although Trixie is popular among the students, she almost loses her friends in the process by constantly hurting them even though she feels she’s doing the right thing. I called the ending and I didn’t stumble upon spoilers if you’re asking, it was very obvious from the moment I started the book.

What I liked from this book:

  • Spencer. The made the most sense from the cast of characters. Yeah, there were moments where he was a jerk, but he was being honest.
  • Supportive friends: It took Beatrice a while to understand she was hurting everyone, but her friends still loved her despite everything.
  • The romance: I admit that it’s not so great, but Beatrice realizes who she loves and she doesn’t get with him till the very end.
  • The comedy: This book reminded of Mean Girls. Ha ha. There were some moments that had me laughing. I enjoyed reading Beatrice’s pov, especially the situations she put herself into.
  • The rivalry

What I didn’t like:

  • Jesse….bye-felipe
  • The nerdy rival…I forgot his name, but he was so unnecessarily extra. Hated that he got a happy ending because he was a pie-hole.
  • How stereotypical the book was. This book is geared to a younger audience. I rolled my eyes a lot, but I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
  • The cover

Overall, I was mildly surprised by I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Final rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

 

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth LostAuthor: Zoraida Cordova

Website: zoraidacordova.com

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

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 boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Praise for Labyrinth Lost:

“Zoraida Cordova’s prose enchants from start to finish. Labyrinth Lost is pure magic.” -Melissa Grey, author of The Girl at Midnight

“Magical and empowering, Labyrinth Lost is an incredible heroine’s journey filled with mythos come to life; but at its heart, honors the importance of love and family.” -Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix

“A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.” -Daniel Jose Older, author of Shadowshaper

“Labyrinth Lost is a magical story of love, family, and finding yourself. Enchanting from start to finish.” -Amy Tintera, author of Ruined.

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I received Labyrinth Lost in exchange for an honest review on Netgalley.

When it comes to young adult books, there is a lack of diversity when it comes to the main characters. I was so thrilled that I finally encountered a Hispanic, urban fantasy, young adult novel that not only has a diverse set of characters, but is also LGBT! Let me just say that the book community needs more diversity! I cannot stress that enough. Also, it’s Hispanic Heritage Month and Labyrinth Lost was the perfect choice for me, a Latina.

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Alex is a bruja who loathes her magic, and she is one of the most powerful brujas in her family, but she hides her magical abilities from everyone. Many say that it is a blessing, but not for Alex. Alex wants to live a normal life, but she hates the complications of having to live a double life of being a bruja and a teen. An event triggers Alex to use her magic, and she can no longer hide her magic from her family. Preparations start for Alex’s Deathday, which is similar to a quinceañera. Alex tries to get rid of her magic, and it all backfires on her. She instantly looses her family to another dimenison by using her magic.

Alex grew on me. I’ll admit it.  I didn’t like her early on, but the more I read, I noticed how much changed Alex for the better. She’s responsible and studious, and only wants a normal life. She doesn’t want to be seen as a freak in school and tries her best to conceal her magical ability. She learns to become powerful from the event she faces, especially when she crosses to Los Lagos. Alex does whatever it takes to save her family. She wants to redeem herself from her mistakes. On the journey she learns to accept her fate, and she becomes far more wiser because of it.

Moving on to the love triangle. Alex is best friends with Rishi, and has romantic feelings for her. Rishi has no idea that Alex is a bruja. Rishi is makes Alex feel comfortable and safe. There is also Nova, a brujo, who has a love-hate relationship with Alex.  Nova is the opposite of safe. He’s somewhat of a bad boy. What I loved is how the love triangle reminded of Pearl and Greg from Steven Universe.

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I loved how Rishi and Nova didn’t get along at all. They seemed to be competing over Alex which I loved. Personally, I preferred Rishi over Nova, but that’s just me.

One of the best aspects of the book is not the romance, but the love Alex has for her family. I loved how Alex’s family plays a huge role in her life. They weren’t just background characters. Throughout Alex’s whole journey, they helped her in any way they could. I loved how all the women in Alex’s family were strong. Especially the part where Alex was speaking to her dead great-grandmother. Also, may I just say that Alex’s family was very accepting and forgiving.

Reasons to read Labyrinth Lost:

  • Diversity. Diversity. Diversity.
  • LGBT
  • Brujas
  • Awesome mythology
  • Good character arcs
  • Strong female characters
  • Fantastical creatures

As for the whole journey, I loved it. Labyrinth Lost reminded me of Alice in Wonderland and Pan’s Labyrinth. A perfect spooky package. If possible, I would love this book to get adapted into a movie, preferably an animated movie. I had high expectations for Labyrinth Lost and I was so pleased that I loved the book. It has a special place in my heart, and this is the book that has helped me get out of my book slump! This book is ideal to read for Halloween and Hispanic Heritage Month!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5)

Withering Rose by Kaitlyn Davis

Withering Rose

Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Genre: Romance, Retellings, Fantasy, YA

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: What if Beauty was cursed, and the Beast was the only one who could save her? Don’t miss WITHERING ROSE, a dystopian romance from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis that reimagines the classic fairy tale of Beauty & The Beast.

“As the heat finally disappeared, I felt the bloom blossom in the very core of my soul, a rose just like my name–a ticking clock hidden behind a façade of beauty. From that moment on, my life would become a countdown, and all I could do was wait and watch as the petals of time slowly started to fall.”

Omorose Bouchene has a secret–magic. There’s only one problem. At the age of seven, an earthquake struck, catapulting her into a new world. A land made of skyscrapers and cell phones. Fast cars and fluorescent lights. A land where magic isn’t supposed to exist and anyone who wields it is the enemy.

But after ten years of hiding, she’s desperate to find a place where she can be free. Because all magic comes with a curse, and her curse is time–every ounce of power she uses strips days off of her life. The clock is winding down, and the only option left is to escape to the realm of the Beast. But the king of monsters isn’t what he seems. And the more Omorose opens her heart, the more she comes to realize that the only person she may need to fear is herself.

*This is the second book in Once Upon A Curse, a series of interconnected stand-alone novels all set in the same fantasy universe.

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I don’t know how to quite describe Withering Rose. Let me first start off by saying that it’s the second book in the series, but you don’t have to read the first book since the stories are standalone, but interconnected. 

Alright, so when I saw that Withering Rose was available on Netgalley, I wanted to read it so, so badly. The synopsis is what won me over. I’ve read a couple of Beauty and The Beast retellings and I was in the mood to read another one. I was hoping that Withering Rose was going to be the “one”. Oh, I was wrong.

I hated it. I’ve been going through a reading slump, and this book did not help whatsoever. I can’t believe I actually managed to finish reading it, because it felt like I was reading this book for months. So, the story begins with a huge earthquake as Omorose and her father are traveling to another kingdom. They find themselves transported to another world because of the earthquake, in a world without magic. Omorose is forced to keep her powers hidden because the people of her new world exterminate magical beings. Modern earth hates anything magical. In a way, present day earth can be viewed as a dystopian society in the eyes of Omorose and her father.

Her father has to work for the government in order for his and Omorose’s survival. As years go by, Omorose feels caged because she cannot use her powers. Her father forbids her from using her magic because he wants to protect her. He doesn’t want his daughter to be slaughter, but Omorose feels that by hiding her magic, she is hiding herself. Her classmates see her as the weird girl, and she hates living a second life of pretending to be someone she is not. She decides it is best to leave her father and pursue the beast. (It’s not like her father has been protecting her for years from their enemies.) The beast is a magical being that lives deep in the forest. The government has been trying to capture the beast and end magic, but his whereabouts are unknown.

The world building sucked. Completely sucked. There is no explanation on how two worlds ended up merging. It happens in the span of one chapter, the very first chapter may I add. There is no world building for Omorose’s home world. As the reader, you are left wondering what kind of world did she come from. I thought of a medieval setting, but that’s just me. I feel that if her world was based on the past, let’s say the 5th century, and somehow it merged to modern day earth, it would have been a better explanation. Anyways, the kingdoms of Omorose’s home world get transported onto modern day earth, and merge with cities. The government has been fighting off the magical users. There is no reason why there is discrimination. As you reader, you are left to assume that the present day earth is very advanced when it comes to the technology.

As for the characters, I didn’t love them. I had no attachments to the protagonist, love interest, nor secondary characters. Omorose was conflicting for me because she describes herself as strong, but honestly, she was weak for me. Her magical ability is cool. She is able to grow flowers, and every time she uses her magic, it takes a toll on her body. You would think that Omorose would be thankful for being able to survive on earth. Honestly, he father was protecting her life by forbidding her magic, but no. Unnecessary angst. Now moving on to the beast, he’s a shape-shifter and is a prince. He is angry and brooding, and isn’t loveable. Omorose and her relationship with the Beast happened instantly. At first, Omorose is completely terrified of the Beast, and he does nothing to prove her otherwise. And then, they instantly fall in love. I wasn’t a huge fan of their romance. 

After finishing Withering Rose, I won’t pick up the other books in the series. I liked the concept, but the execution wasn’t the best. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this book. A frustrating Beauty and the Beast retelling is not what I needed. I can recommend picking up A Court of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas or Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Summer Days And Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins

summer days and summer nights

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Genre: Contemporary, Short Stories, YA

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

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When I first read My True Love Gave To Me a couple years ago, I loved it. It was perfect for the holiday season. When Summer Days and Summer Nights was announced, I had to get my hands on the book as soon as possible. I saw a couple of mixed reviews on Summer Days and Summer Nights, and from what I saw it was not as hyped up like other books. All I have to say is wow…I really didn’t expect to take a month to finish a book. It wasn’t even long. The best way to describe the overall reading experience was meh.

There were a couple of stories that did stand out from the twelve. For example, Leigh Bardugo’s Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail was one of my favorites. It stood out because of the creepy atmosphere, and it was interesting all together. I would have loved for it to be standalone and longer. Another one of the strong stories had to be The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman

There were a couple of weak stories such as Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block…It had no plot whatsoever, and it was one of the depressing one from the bunch. I thought it didn’t fit in the stories format. What I liked from Summer Days and Summer Nights is that most of the stories weren’t contemporary. Cassandra Clare’s Brand New Attraction, had an interesting premise, though what’s up with the almost incest (cousins falling in love with each other). Although I did find myself enjoying a couple of the stories, Summer Days and Summer Nights didn’t have a lasting impression on me. It was enjoyable for only the time being and I don’t feel that I would reconsider rereading it.

  • Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • Magical story that would have been amazing if it weren’t a short story.
  • The End of Love by Nina Lacour ⭐️⭐️
    • It was cute, but definitely felt like it had a lot going to it.
  • Last Stand At the Cinegore by Libba Bray ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • I loved the creepy atmosphere, this one didn’t really have a summer-ish feel to it. It was more of a horror story that would have been perfect if it was in a Halloween anthology.
  • Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block ⭐️
    • Skip this story. Skip. It.
  • In Ninety Minutes Turn North by Stephanie Perkins ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • Though the story was definitely gushy and cute, but somehow this one didn’t have a “effect” on me.
  • Souvenirs by Tim Federle ⭐️⭐️
    • This one was a bit depressing, and the narrator made it hard to like him.
  • Inertia by Veronica Roth ⭐️⭐️
    • One of odd ones from the bunch. The world building was cool, but it was a bit confusing. This one could have been a standalone, and I didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters.
  • Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • A bit cheesy, but this one was really cute. It felt like a retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Several pairings, but this one had a definite summer feel.
  • Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • POV characters! Diversity! There is chemistry between the characters, and this one felt one very relatable, though I wish this one were longer.
  • Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare ⭐️⭐️
    • Again, this one had a Halloween feel to it. I’m not a huge fan of the incest, but interesting premise.
  • A Thousand Ways this Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • Loved how the author portrays autism. Cute romance.
  • The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    • Basically like Groundhog Day, and this was my second favorite story from the bunch. I liked the two protagonists and their adventures. It was a bit sad at times.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️